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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper's Latest Projections Vaults Blaine Gabbert

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ESPN's draft expert Mel Kiper has released his latest 2011 mock draft, version 3.0. The top of the draft is still a majority of defensive players, with six defensive players going in the first ten. However, the quarterbacks of the draft headline this year's draft, according to Kiper's projections. Both Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton are due to be picked in the first four selections, but Blaine Gabbert becomes the prize at number one overall, going to the Carolina Panthers

Newton also will be gone before the Arizona Cardinals have their selection, as Kiper projects that the Cincinnati Bengals select the Auburn Heisman Trophy winner one pick before Arizona, as Carson Palmer appears to be on the way out of town or sitting at home for the 2011 season with his retirement threat.

As for the Cardinals?

Mel Kiper sticks with his previous projection of Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. Here is what Kiper says:

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 5-11

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

I'm sticking with this selection from the last mock. Joey Porter won't be back and Miller would represent an immediate pass-rushing upgrade on the edge of Arizona's 3-4 scheme. Miller, who has come a long way since a junior year in which he was considered mainly a sack artist, could certainly provide a pass-rushing presence for the Cardinals, but also has a great deal of athleticism and should hold up for three downs in this system.

As for the Cardinals' NFC West rivals, Kiper's projections have the 49ers selecting Patrick Peterson, the Rams taking Illinois DT Corey Liuget and the Seahawks drafting Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

To see the entire first round of Kiper's mock draft, you must be an ESPN Insider, but you can still read his first five picks.