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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Has Broncos Selecting Nick Fairley

ESPN's Mel Kiper released his latest NFL Mock Draft (Insider subscription required for most of the article), and the Denver Broncos take one of the top defensive prospects in the draft in Auburn's Nick Fairley. The Carolina Panthers went with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert at No. 1, though Kiper sees the Panthers' interest in Gabbert, while likely true, as a means to let teams know they could trade for the pick.

With Gabbert off the board, the Broncos have every top defensive player available, and Kiper believes Fairley is the best of the bunch:

The Broncos are between defensive systems, have major needs along the defensive line where their ability to stop the run was a problem as was their pass rush, and they have a shot to take the best defensive lineman in a remarkably deep class.

Fairley is running neck-and-neck with Alabama's Marcell Dareus, who goes to the Bills at No. 3. Kiper sees Dareus as a player who can fit either a 34 or a 43 scheme.

Other players that the Broncos could draft at No. 2 include pass rusher Von Miller (No. 5 to the Cardinals), whom the Broncos scouted at his pro day on Wednesday. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson went seventh overall to the 49ers.

With the Broncos having such a high pick, whomever they should select will not come as a huge surprise.