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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Da'Quan Bowers Could Be Pivot For Broncos' Front Seven

Now that John Fox has been hired and his coaching staff for the Denver Broncos is mostly in place, it is becoming clear that some sort of 4-3/3-4 hybrid defense will take shape. Accordingly, SB Nation's 2011 NFL Mock Draft is starting to move beyond the "best player available" route for the Broncos.

For the past several versions, Brian Galliford has stuck with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson as the Broncos' selection. That's a choice that still makes sense. John Fox and Broncos management say that it is too early to determine what direction they pursue with impending free agent Champ Bailey, but it is widely assumed that Bailey will leave the Mile High City. Peterson would help fill the expansive void Bailey's departure would create. Peterson actually goes to the Buffalo Bills at No. 3 in the latest mock. Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara is also a possibility, and he goes No. 9 to the Dallas Cowboys.

But for the Broncos at No. 2, Galliford projects Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers at this time. Note the hybrid defensive scheme likely to be put in place, Bowers, who had 15.5 sacks in 2010, would be a building block for either defensive front.

The No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers is Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley. He put himself into contention for the top spot with a strong BCS National Championship performance. The Broncos would also look at him at No. 2 should the Panthers go in a different direction.

Colorado Buffaloes cornerback Jimmy Smith remains the pick for the New England Patriots, but at No. 28 this time since they lost to the New York Jets last Sunday.