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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Is Da'Quan Bowers Tops?

SB Nation’s latest NFL mock draft lists Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers as the likely top overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. That seems pretty likely. The Panthers were prepared to take Andrew Luck with the top overall pick, but since Luck decided to stay at Stanford, Carolina might as well just stick with young quarterback Jimmy Clausen and take someone who plays a different position. Bowers, who ranks among the top few picks in just about every mock, is as good a guess as any, although other mocks have suggested Carolina could take Georgia receiver A.J. Green instead.

As for the Steelers, this draft has offensive linemen Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo being taken before the Steelers pick, and suggests Pittsburgh will forgo an offensive lineman in the first round:

Allen Bailey, Miami (FL). The offensive line is clearly going to be a big priority for the Steelers when their season ends, but Bailey makes too much sense here — particularly with Aaron Smith’s durability in serious question.

That makes sense too. There seems to be a giant clump of offensive line talent right now and little agreement about how to differentiate it – Sherrod ranks as a first-rounder in pretty much every mock, and Castonzo and Smith are appearing more and more as well, but after that there are a lot of guys like Carimi and Mike Pouncey who could well slip out of the first round. So the Steelers could try to take a defensive end and hope someone from that class falls to them in the second.

The only area player listed in this mock is Pitt’s Jon Baldwin, who goes to the Ravens with the 28th pick.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.