Hey guys, I'll get things started by introducing myself as this is pretty much my first appearance here on the Pulpit (although I've been reading this site for a while now). I started following the NFL in 2007 and immediately fell in love with the Patriots for reasons I'm pretty sure i don't have to explain. I've been a die hard Pats fan ever since and haven't missed a single Patriots game from then on. I'm from Britain (England to be more exact) but the NFL is by far my number one sport and I try to watch and read about it as much as possible. Anyway aside from watching the actual games my favourite thing about the NFL is the draft so I thought I'd put together a mock draft and share it with you guys. Feel free to criticize any pick or write up you disagree with, I look forward to all your opinions. Just to warn you guys it's a pretty long read, all the picks are in bold if you just want to skim through it.
1. Carolina Panthers - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - 6-4 210lbs
With Andrew Luck returning to school and no other quarterback worthy of the top overall pick it appears as though the Panthers will stick with Jimmy Clausen for another year at least, either that or sign a veteran free agent (Billy Volek, maybe). Either way whoever starts at quarterback is going to need some help. Steve Smith is a shell of his former self and is no longer a viable threat, neither Brandon LaFell or David Gettis will ever be more than number two or number three options at best and DeAngelo Williams looks set to leave in free agency, needless to say the Panthers offence needs some help. Enter A.J. Green. Green is a big, fast, physical receiver with great route running ability and terrific hands, the best receiver prospect to come along in years Green will immediately upgrade the Panthers anemic passing attack and quickly become Jimmy Clausen's (or a veteran of choice) new best friend. 1000+ yards and 10 touchdowns is a possibility, even with Clausen throwing him the ball.
The Panthers may be hesitant to pay a wide receiver number one money (assuming a rookie salary cap isn‘t in place), if that's the case either Nick Fairley or Da’Quan Bowers will be the pick here.
2. Denver Broncos - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn - 6-4 299lbs
With John Fox as the new head coach in Denver, the Broncos are likely to revert back to the 4-3, if that’s the case and Nick Fairley is still on the board then he‘ll be the pick. Fairley is a big, play making defensive tackle with the ability to get to the quarterback and make plays against the run. The Broncos have nothing next to Justin Bannan so Fairley fills a huge need and with the success of Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy last year the Broncos won’t hesitate to take Fairley this early.
If Champ Bailey leaves during free agency (which he won‘t) then Patrick Peterson will likely hear his named called here, also if the Broncos don’t like Fairley for whatever reason then Da’Quan Bowers and Marcell Dareus will be considered.
3. Buffalo Bills - Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama - 6-3 306lbs
The Bills were absolutely abysmal against the run last year and desperately need to get Kyle Williams some help along the defensive line. Luckily for them Marcell Dareus is still on the board. Possibly the most underrated first round prospect this year (seriously, how is Dareus not considered a top five lock) Dareus is a big, space eating defensive lineman equally adept at playing in both the 4-3 and the 3-4 which will suit the Bills down to the ground as they run a lot of both. Not only is Dareus a beast against the run he can also rush the passer just as effectively, just ask Colt McCoy.
If the Bills decide to go best player available then Patrick Peterson could be the pick. Da’Quan Bowers, Robert Quinn and Von Miller will all be considered here.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson - 6-4 280lbs
The Bengals really struggled to get after the quarterback this past year, only Carlos Dunlap resembled anything close to a consistent threat, this despite having two top tier cornerbacks in Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. Obviously this has to improve, Antwan Odom would help but he can’t stay healthy and didn’t look very good when he was playing early in the year anyway. I’m not as high on Da’Quan Bowers as most people but there’s no denying the potential is there, if he ever puts it all together at the next level then he could be something very special. I’m not so sure he will though, after a disappointing first two years at Clemson, Bowers finally produced last season, and in a big way too, did everything finally just click or did Bowers see a big contract on the horizon. The Bengals don’t seem to mind drafting players with question marks though so this won’t be an issue, Bowers fills a big need and has a ton of potential so he’ll likely be the pick regardless of any character concerns.
Ideally Cincinnati would like A.J. Green to fall to them here and if the Panthers decide to pass on him he’ll be the pick. Robert Quinn and possibly Julio Jones will also be considered here.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M - 6-3 237lbs
First of all forget Arizona drafting a quarterback here, it’s not going to happen. There’s no quarterback worth taking this high and John Skelton looked promising last year, a bridge player while Skelton develops is much more likely. So with that out of the way let’s move on to what Arizona might do at this spot. To win in this league you have to be able to pressure the opposing quarterback, the Cardinals couldn’t do that on a consistent basis in 2010 so something has to be done. I’m not a huge fan of Von Miller, he’s a little undersized for the NFL and didn’t do much in college other than get after the quarterback, which won’t be as easy in the pros. A great Senior Bowl week however has improved Millers draft stock immensely. He did a great job against the run and looked good in coverage as well as continuing to get pressure on the quarterback. I don’t like to put too much stock into the Senior Bowl but Miller definitely impressed. Still this is way too high for Miller, there are better prospects available at the outside linebacker position and Millers size has to be a big concern. Adam Schefter however recently tweeted that right now Miller is likely a top five pick, only the Bills and Cardinals make sense and I don’t see Buffalo passing on Marcell Dareus so it appears as though Miller will be a Cardinal in 2011.
Robert Quinn is the superior prospect and should be the pick here. Patrick Peterson will also be considered.
6. Cleveland Browns - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - 6-4 220lbs
Let me start off by saying I don’t think Cleveland will take Julio Jones at number six. If the draft plays out this way then there’s no way Cleveland stays put. Dallas have already expressed an interest in trading up for Patrick Peterson and if he makes it past Arizona at five then they’ll make their move. With the 49ers picking next this is as far as Peterson falls, some team will make a move for him here. Regardless of where Cleveland is picking their biggest priority this off season has to be to get Colt McCoy some weapons. The running game is set with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty but the Browns are very thin at receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie could be nice number two and number three options but the Browns have nothing in terms of a number one receiver, Julio Jones would be just that. A big, physical receiver Jones would instantly provide Colt McCoy with a go to option, something he severely lacked in 2010. Jones does struggle with drops at times and needs to work on his route running but the potential is there for him to be an elite wide receiver in this league.
Robert Quinn and Cameron Jordan will also be considered, Patrick Peterson may also get a look but after taking Joe Haden last year that seems unlikely.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - 6-1 212lbs
It’s extremely unlikely that Patrick Peterson falls to the 49ers, but since I don’t predict trades in my mock drafts and Peterson is on the board then he’s the pick. The 49ers biggest need is obviously quarterback, this years quarterback class is pretty terrible however so I don’t see Jim Harbaugh reaching for a guy like Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton. Their next biggest need is corner. Patrick Peterson just happens to be the best cornerback prospect to come along in a long time. A true shutdown corner with off the charts athleticism Peterson is also a major weapon in the return game. I have Peterson as the top rated prospect in this draft so he’s a steal at number seven
If Harbaugh likes Gabbert or Newton enough then one of those guys will be the pick. If Peterson is off the board then Prince Amuakamara, Robert Quinn and Cameron Jordan will all be considered.
8. Tennessee Titans - Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn - 6-6 246lbs
Jeff Fisher and Vince Young are both gone meaning Tennessee are in the market for a new head coach and a new quarterback, Bud Adams will get the latter here. This is way too high for Newton. He’s basically a bigger, smarter more polished version of Vince Young. He struggles reading coverages, tries to make too many plays with his legs and doesn’t do well when forced to throw in the pocket. Adams won’t care though as Newton has great size, a big arm and was an explosive player at Auburn, with Michael Vick's recent success Adams will see a bigger, stronger version of Vick.
If Tennessee doesn’t fall in love with Newton then Blaine Gabbert, Prince Amukamara and Robert Quinn will all be considered here.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska - 6-1 200lbs
Patrick Peterson is the best player in the draft in my opinion, but Prince Amukamara isn’t too far behind. The Cowboys will likely trade up for Peterson if the draft plays out this way but if they do stay put at nine then Amukamara is a terrific consolation prize. Much like Peterson, Amukamara has tremendous size for the position and is a true shutdown corner. Amukamara is a day one starter capable of locking down his side of the field from the start. Dallas desperately need help at corner as Terence Newman is on the decline and Mike Jenkins just isn’t very good. If either Peterson or Amukamara are available when Dallas are picking then one of the two will be the pick.
I really can’t see Dallas going any other way but if both players are off the board then Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt and Nate Solder will all be considered.
10. Washington Redskins - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - 6-5 240lbs
Donovan McNabb is on the on the way out and although Rex Grossman did an admirable job filling in for McNabb at the end of last season everybody knows he’s not the answer so Washington will be looking for a new quarterback this off season. Blaine Gabbert is the top rated quarterback in this years draft (which isn‘t saying much), he has great size for the position, a big arm and can make all the throws, so Dan Snyder and Mike Shanahan will fall in love with him and if he’s available at ten then he’ll be the pick. Gabbert though just isn’t very good right now. He isn’t very accurate (a must for the west coast offence), operated out of a spread offence in college and isn’t a particularly good decision maker. Gabbert definitely has potential though and if he’s allowed to sit for a year or two behind an established veteran then he could be a pretty good quarterback one day. This won’t happen though, Dan Snyder wants to win now so Gabbert will be asked to start immediately on a poor Redskins team which could spell disaster.
If Washington doesn’t like any of the quarterbacks then Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan and J.J. Watt will all be considered.
11. Houston Texans - Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina - 6-5 280lbs
Houston’s defence is an absolute mess right now, they have needs almost everywhere so this pick basically comes down to who the Texans believe is the best defensive player available, that would be Robert Quinn. Before the season Quinn was a top five lock and a candidate to go first overall but a ridiculous suspension forced Quinn to sit out the entire year. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Quinn has a huge combine and moves back into top five consideration so to get him at eleven would be an absolute steal. A dominant pass rusher capable of playing as a either a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker Quinn would instantly upgrade a porous Houston pass defence taking double teams away from Mario Williams and not allowing opposing quarterbacks as much time to abuse Houston’s secondary. With Wade Phillips coming in and implementing the 3-4 the Texans need pass rushers and Quinn is exactly the that.
Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan and Brandon Harris will all be considered here.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Cameron Jordan, DE, California - 6-4 287lbs
Brett Favre has retired and Tavaris Jackson is done which means Minnesota will be looking for a new quarterback this off season. Unfortunately for the Vikings there’s no quarterback worth taking here so they turn their attention to the defensive line. Ray Edwards is likely to leave in free agency and Everson Griffen just got arrested for assaulting a police officer and doesn’t look like starting material in the NFL anyway, so a starter on the left side has to found. Cameron Jordan had a terrific week at the Senior Bowl improving his draft stock immensely, as I mentioned earlier I don’t like to put too much stock into the Senior Bowl but Jordan looked unblockable at times, add that to a terrific season at Cal and Jordan is now an elite prospect. If he impresses at the combine then Jordan could move into the top ten. Right now though this seems like a good spot for Jordan, a big pass rushing end who is constantly in the opponents backfield, he would take a lot of pressure off of Jared Allen and reignite a disappointing Vikings pass rush.
If the Vikings like Jake Locker enough then he’ll be the pick here. J.J. Watt, Akeem Ayers, Ryan Kerrigan and Brandon Harris will all be considered.
13. Detroit Lions - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA - 6-4 252lbs
The Lions really came on strong at the end of last season and if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy for a full year then Detroit could be a playoff team this coming year. Having said that the Lions still have some big holes on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback and outside linebacker are the most notable and with the top two corners off the board Akeem Ayers is the pick here. Ayers is the most well rounded linebacker in the draft, he’s a great run defender as well as probably the top cover linebacker in this years class. He doesn’t have much of pass rush yet but Detroit already has Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril for that so he won’t be asked to get after the quarterback much anyway.
If the Lions don’t re-sign Cliff Avril and don’t feel Kyle Vanden Bosch has much left then J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan and Aldon Smith will all be considered here. Brandon Harris may also be considered.
14. St. Louis Rams - Titus Young, WR, Boise State - 5-11 174lbs
Much like Cleveland with Julio Jones at six I don’t think St. Louis will take Titus Young at 14. With all the top offensive tackles still on the board I expect a team like the Giants or the Eagles to move up here and have their pick of the litter. But since I don’t project trades I’m going to put Young in this spot. With Sam Bradford as the franchise quarterback, Steven Jackson as the feature back and a solid offensive line things look promising in St. Louis, the only thing missing is a number one option for Sam Bradford. Titus Young was incredible at the Senior Bowl and really helped his draft stock. A lot of people are comparing Young to the Eagles DeSean Jackson and that seems like a fair comparison. Young has terrific speed, is a fluid route runner and really showed off his hands in Mobile, he’s a little small but that was the major knock on Jackson coming out of college and he’s done ok for himself.
If St. Louis stays put and doesn’t like Young then Mike Pouncey could be the pick here. J.J. Watt and Ryan Kerrigan may also be considered.
15. Miami Dolphins - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - 5-10 215lbs
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are both free agents this off season and both are likely to leave. Brown was horrible last year anyway and although Williams did ok he’s expressed his frustration with the current regime and likely won’t be back. Miami absolutely has to find a feature back this off season, if there relying on Chad Henne to win games then they’re going to be seriously disappointed. Mark Ingram is the top running back in this years draft and it’s unlikely he makes it past Miami at 15. After a sensational Heisman Trophy campaign as a mere sophomore Ingram regressed a little as a junior but that was bound to happen, he still put up good numbers with a solid average yards per carry and don’t forget Ingram started the year on the sidelines with an injury. Ingram is facing all the same questions as a certain Emmitt Smith was coming out of college, he’s pretty small for the position and lacks the speed teams covet in the NFL, he also apparently has skinny legs. Ingram though is a bruising runner who fights for every inch and finds the hole with a purpose, he very rarely loses yards and almost never fumbles. Ingram can also the catch the ball out of the backfield so is a potential every down back.
If Miami likes Jake Locker enough then he’ll be the pick here. Mike Pouncey will also be considered
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue - 6-4 255lbs
As has been the problem for the last few years the Jaguars just couldn’t get after the quarterback in 2010. Aaron Kampman started off well but suffered a season ending injury after eight games, his second in as many years. Kampman can no longer be relied upon. Other than Kampman the Jaguars have very little in terms of a pass rush, Ryan Kerrigan would instantly change that. Kerrigan was constantly in the opponents backfield in college either sacking the quarterback or making tackles for loss, he has a blue collar work ethic and a motor that never stops, qualities that the Jaguars will fall in love with. Kerrigan had a great week of practice at the Senior Bowl, beating the top rated offensive tackle, Nate Solder, on a consistent basis as well as embarrassing former first round prospect DeMarcus Love in the game. As a 4-3 end Kerrigan’s size will be a concern and he doesn’t have that explosive first step that a lot of teams look for but Kerrigan more than makes up for it with his effort and determination.
J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith and Brandon Harris will all be considered here.
17. New England Patriots - Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri - 6-4 260lbs
If the Patriots want to advance in the playoffs they need to be able to do two things, protect Tom Brady and pressure the opposing quarterback, they haven’t been able to do either in their last three playoff outings. Aldon Smith would go a long way to solving problem number two. Smith has the ideal size that Bill Belichick looks for in his outside linebackers, and is also a solid run defender, another must in the Patriots system. Smith's main asset though is his ability to get after the quarterback, Smith has an explosive first step and knocks his blocker backwards on seemingly every play, after a monster freshman year at Missouri Smith cooled off a little in his sophomore year but that had a lot to do with an early season injury, when he got back to 100% later in the year he really came on strong. Smith's inexperience is a concern, Bill Belichick rarely if ever, selects redshirt sophomores in the first round but with the recent lack of a pass rush he may make an exception for Smith.
If the Patriots don’t like Smith then Cameron Hayward, Mike Pouncey, Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo will all be considered. Of course trading down is also a very good possibility.
18. San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin - 6-6 287lbs
San Diego really doesn’t have any glaring needs (except for a new head coach), if Vincent Jackson and Michael Floyd both leave then wide receiver becomes an issue but expect at least one to be re-signed. Defensive end is probably their biggest need as Jacques Cesaire is likely to depart in free agency. J.J. Watt would fill that position immediately. Watt had a great season at Wisconsin and is an absolute beast against the run. He was constantly in the opposing backfield making tackles for loss and also did a good job pressuring the quarterback. Watt has a blue collar work ethic and is a terrific leader he isn’t the most athletically gifted player but makes up for that with sheer determination. He lacks elite speed and could stand to work on his pass rushing skills but Watt would be a 3-4 end starter from day one.
Nate Solder, Cameron Hayward, Adrian Clayborn and Justin Houston will all be considered here.
19. New York Giants - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado - 6-8 314lbs
New York’s biggest priority this off season has to be to find a new left tackle. William Beatty doesn’t look like he has what it takes to be a starter in the NFL so they’ll have to find their guy through the draft. Nate Solder is the top rated offensive tackle in the draft. Solder is a bit raw at the position but has incredible upside. He’s already shown his potential in college going up against the likes of Cameron Jordan and Justin Houston and is only going to get better. Solder is a big athletic tackle with quick feet and fluid hips. He needs to work on his footwork though and could stand to put on some strength, but at his size that doesn’t appear as though it’ll be much of a problem.
If the Giants don’t like Solder then Gabe Carimi, Anthony Costanzo, Tyron Smith and Derek Sherrod will all be considered. If they don’t go offensive tackle then Mike Pouncey and Mikel LeShoure will be looked at.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa - 6-3 282lbs
Gerald McCoy had a terrific year as a rookie until his injury and Brian Price should be ready to start by the beginning of next season so the interior of Tampa’s defensive line should be set for years to come, the problem, they have absolutely nothing on the outside. Everything I’m hearing tells me the Buccaneers absolutely love Adrian Clayborn. I’m not a huge fan myself, he has some serious off the field issues and was way too inconsistent in his senior year. Clayborn has talent though and if he can stay out of trouble he could potentially be a solid starter on Tampa’s defensive line. Clayborn has great size and strength and really excels versus the run, he won’t provide much of a pass rush at the next level though as he lacks a great first step and is slow getting off the line. In my opinion Clayborn is a much better fit as a defensive end in the 3-4 so I’m not quite sure why Tampa seemingly loves Clayborn so much, right now though everything points to him being the pick.
Cameron Hayward, Muhammad Wilkerson and Corey Liuget will also be considered here. I’d be absolutely shocked if the Buccaneers don’t go defensive end here but if they don’t then Gabe Carimi and Mike Pouncey will both be considered.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia - 6-3 257lbs
Aside from Tamba Hali the Chiefs really struggled to get after the quarterback this past year. Even if Hali doesn’t leave through free agency (which he won‘t) the Chiefs still need to find someone else to rush the passer. Justin Houston would do exactly that. Houston is an explosive pass rusher with a great work ethic and a motor that never stops. He’s also solid against the run. His coverage skills are questionable though but the Chiefs won’t be asking him to do a whole lot of that and as long as he’s getting to the quarterback they’ll be happy.
Torrey Smith and Jonathan Baldwin will both be considered here. If the Chiefs finally realise that Brandon Albert isn’t a very good left tackle then Derek Sherrod and Anthony Castonzo will also be considered.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State - 6-6 312lbs
Other than injuries the Colts biggest problem last season was their offensive line. You have to wonder why Bill Polian didn’t address this in the 2010 draft, especially after he basically threw the entire line under the bus after Super Bowl XLIV. He’ll partially make up for that mistake here though as he takes the best left tackle available in Derek Sherrod. Sherrod is an athletic offensive tackle with great footwork and excellent speed. Equally adept in pass protection and run blocking Sherrod has the potential to be an elite left tackle for the next decade. He needs to work on how to use his hands better but that is easily coached.
Gabe Carimi, Mike Pouncey, Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo will all be considered here. If Polian still insists on not taking an offensive lineman then Corey Liuget will likely be the pick.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin - 6-7 313lbs
With the emergence of Michael Vick the Eagles top priority this off season has to be to find a quality right tackle to protect Vicks blind side. Gabe Carimi is one of the top tackles in this draft class and looks best suited on the right side at the next level. Carimi is a big, strong, physical player who excels in run blocking and has proven to be an effective pass protector as a four year starter on the left side in college. Carimi plays with a real nasty streak and his work ethic is second to none, he’d be an immediate starter on Philadelphia’s offensive line and would help keep Michael Vick healthy for a full season. The Eagles are always a candidate to trade up and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up to the mid to late teens to grab someone like Nate Solder.
Mike Pouncey, Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo will also be considered, as will Brandon Harris and Cameron Hayward.
24. New Orleans Saints - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois - 6-3 300lbs
The Saints continue to have one of the best offences in the NFL and as long as Drew Brees is under center that isn’t going to change. The running game could be improved but after giving up 41 points to the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs defence will remain the priority in New Orleans. Sedrick Ellis needs some help along the defensive line, specifically on the inside as Remi Ayodele just isn’t starting material. Corey Liuget would provide that help immediately. One of the most underrated prospects in this years draft Liuget is a very talented defensive tackle with great size, strength and explosiveness. He’s a terrific run defender but is even better at getting pressure on the quarterback and is consistently in the opposing backfield. Liuget reminds me a lot of Warren Sapp both in terms of their size and their ability on the football field. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Liuget turns out to be the better pro than Nick Fairley.
Cameron Hayward, Anthony Castonzo and Tyron Smith will all be considered. Mike Pouncey could also be considered either as a possible replacement at guard for Carl Nicks or more likely as a replacement for Jonathan Goodwin at center.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Brandon Harris, CB, Miami - 5-11 195lbs
Despite winning their division and ousting New Orleans in the playoffs this team still has a lot of holes to fill, both on offence and defence. One of those holes is at corner. Kelly Jennings is likely gone but isn’t that good anyway so a starter across from Marcus Trufant has to be found. Brandon Harris is the best corner available and could go as high as 13 to Detroit so to get him at 25 would be a steal. Harris is an athletic corner who excels in man-to-man coverage. He only has average size for the position but makes up for that with great technique and cover skills. He isn’t a particularly great tackler and needs to improve in zone coverage, but the potential is there for Harris to become an elite corner.
If the Seahawks like Jake Locker enough then he’ll be the pick. If Raheem Brock isn’t retained then Cameron Hayward and Muhammad Wilkerson will be considered. Jimmy Smith, Anthony Castonzo and Jonathan Baldwin will also be considered.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Cameron Hayward, DE, Ohio State - 6-6 287lbs
The Ravens could go a number of ways with this pick, a number one corner and a wide receiver who can stretch the field are both definitely options but Cameron Heyward is arguably the best player available and also fills a need for the Ravens. Terrence Cody and Kelly Gregg have the nose tackle position set and Haloti Ngata is one of the top defensive players in the NFL, Cory Redding though is the weak link along Baltimore’s defensive line and could definitely stand to be upgraded. Cameron Heyward was considered a top 10 lock a year ago before returning for his senior season at Ohio State. He didn’t have the kind of year a lot of people anticipated and subsequently fell down many draft boards, Heyward though absolutely dominated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl and is back into mid to late first round consideration. Heyward is an athletic defensive end with great size and a fantastic work ethic, a terrific run defender and an assured tackler Heyward would be a great fit in Baltimore’s 3-4 defence. Heyward doesn’t posses as much of a pass rush as you would expect from a player his size but with the right coaching that’s something that could he could improve on.
I strongly considered putting Jimmy Smith here and wouldn’t be surprised at all if he was the pick. Jonathan Baldwin and Torrey Smith will also be considered.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh - 6-5 225lbs
Other than Roddy White the Falcons had absolutely nothing at the wide receiver position in 2010. Tony Gonzalez was the only other viable option Matt Ryan had all year. Needless to say the Falcons top priority this off season has to be to surround Matt Ryan with better weapons. Jonathan Baldwin was absolutely sensational in his sophomore year at Pittsburgh but dropped off considerably in his junior year. A major reason for that was horrible play at the quarterback position, it also didn’t help that Pittsburgh’s running game deteriorated as well. Baldwin though is a supremely talented player with great size, strength and athleticism. He has terrific hands and is great with the ball after the catch. Baldwin is a reliable target over the middle and is also a consistent deep threat. He needs to work on his route running but Baldwin has the potential to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL.
Torrey Smith will be the other wide receiver considered here. Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo will also be considered.
28. New England Patriots - Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College - 6-7 305lbs
The Patriots addressed one of their two biggest needs with the 17th pick, they address the other one here. As previously stated if the Patriots want to advance in the playoffs then they have to be able to protect Tom Brady. With Matt Light headed for free agency Sebastian Vollmer is expected to move over to left tackle leaving a void on the right side. Anthony Castonzo would fill that void from day one. Perhaps the most NFL ready offensive tackle in this draft class Castonzo has experience at both left and right tackle and became a starter in his freshman year at Boston College. He has great size and is surprisingly athletic. Castonzo has quick feet and great technique and a blue collar work ethic. He is equally adept at both pass protection and run blocking and should be a fixture on the offensive line for the next decade or so. Castonzo could do with bulking up a little as he’s a little light for the NFL but that shouldn’t be a problem with his frame.
If Logan Mankins is allowed to leave then Mike Pouncey will garner serious consideration here. Stefan Wisniewski and Muhammad Wilkerson will also be considered.
29. Chicago Bears - Tyron Smith, OT, USC - 6-6 285lbs
The Chicago Bears did an absolutely miserable job of protecting Jay Cutler this past season. They did improve during the second half of the season but still finished dead last in sacks allowed. Serious upgrades need to be made along the offensive line. Tyron Smith is the last of the top tier offensive tackles available in this draft class and likely would have been a top 10 pick in next years draft had he stayed in school. Smith is an extremely athletic tackle with quick feet and sound technique. An excellent pass protector Smith has all the tools to be an elite left tackle in the NFL. The main concern regarding Smith is his size. At 285lbs Smith definitely needs to bulk up some as he will be overpowered in the NFL at his current weight. If he can put on the necessary weight without losing much speed then Smith could turn out to be the best offensive tackle to emerge from this class.
Mike Pouncey was the other player I considered here. Stefan Wisniewski may also be considered.
30. New York Jets - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland - 6-1 205lbs
With both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes set to hit free agency the Jets will likely be in the market for a wide receiver this off season. Mark Sanchez remains the key to the Jets Super Bowl aspirations and it is absolutely imperative that they surround him with as many quality weapons as possible, if either Holmes or Edwards are allowed to leave then they’ll have to be replaced. Torrey Smith is fast emerging as one of the top wide receivers in this draft class. He has great speed to go along with great size and is one of the top athletes in the entire draft. He’s also a terrific return guy. Smith needs to work on his route running and being able to catch the ball with his hands rather than his arms and body but with the right coaching Smith has the potential to be an outstanding receiver in the NFL.
Muhammad Wilkerson and Phil Taylor will both be strongly considered here. Mike Pouncey and Stefan Wisniewski may also be considered.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Mike Pouncey, G, Florida - 6-5 320lbs
As has been the case for the last several seasons the Steelers top priority this off season is to upgrade along the offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey had a terrific rookie year at center and Willie Colons rehab has apparently gone well so the Pittsburgh is clearly making strides in this area. Guard is still a problem though and it just so happens the top guard in this draft class is still on the board. Mike Pouncey didn’t have the kind of season that was expected of him as he moved from his old position of guard to his new position at center. Once he’s moved back to guard though Pouncey will remind everyone why he’s the top rated interior lineman in this years draft. Pouncey is a strong, athletic guard capable of playing on either the left or right side. Pouncey has great technique and does everything well. Pouncey like his brother Maurkice would be able to step in immediately and has the ability to be an elite guard in the NFL for many years.
If Pouncey is still on the board I’d be absolutely shocked if the Steelers didn’t take him, if he’s gone then Jimmy Smith would likely be the pick. Ben Ijalana, Rodney Hudson and Stefan Wisniewski would also be considered.
32. Green Bay Packers - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple - 6-5 301lbs
When the Packers are healthy they really don’t have any glaring needs. A rush linebacker opposite Clay Matthews is perhaps their biggest need but there’s no player at that position worth taking here. It appears as though best player available will be the way the Packers go here and in this scenario that would likely be Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson is a big, space eating defensive end who excels against the run but also does a great job pressuring the opposing quarterback. Wilkerson is equally adept at playing either end in a 3-4 or as a defensive tackle in 4-3. He’s an extremely solid player who doesn’t have many weaknesses, the biggest concern surrounding Wilkerson is the level of competition he played against in college and weather or not he’ll be able to continue his success against much superior opposition.
Stefan Wisniewski and Ben Ijalana may also be considered here. As will Rahim Moore and Mikel LeShoure.
33. New England Patriots - Stefan Wisniewski, C, Penn State - 6-3 298lbs
34. Buffalo Bills - Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame - 6-6 260lbs
35. Cincinnati Bengals - Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois - 6-0 230lbs
36. Denver Broncos - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado - 6-2 205lbs
37. Cleveland Browns - Aaron Williams, CB, Texas - 6-1 189lbs
38. Arizona Cardinals - Rahim Moore, S, UCLA - 6-1 197lbs
39. Tennessee Titans - Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State - 6-2 291lbs
40. Dallas Cowboys - Benjamin Ijalana, G, Villanova - 6-4 320lbs
41. Washington Redskins - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami - 6-2 205lbs
42. Houston Texans - Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor - 6-4 337lbs
43. Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker, QB, Washington - 6-2 228lbs
44. Detroit Lions - Curtis Brown, CB, Texas - 6-0 180lbs
45. San Francisco 49ers - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada - 6-5 225lbs
46. Denver Broncos - Allen Bailey, DE Miami - 6-3 278lbs
47. St. Louis Rams - Drake Nevis, DT, LSU - 6-1 287lbs
48. Oakland Raiders - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas - 6-7 238lbs
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina - 5-9 181lbs
50. San Diego Chargers - Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois - 6-4 250lbs
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mason Foster, OLB, Washington - 6-1 241lbs
52. New York Giants - Bruce Carter, OLB, North Carolina - 6-3 235lbs
53. Indianapolis Colts - Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State - 6-1 295lbs
54. Philadelphia Eagles - John Moffitt, G, Wisconsin - 6-4 314lbs
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy - 5-9 189lbs
56. New Orleans Saints - Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech - 5-10 206lbs
57. Seattle Seahawks - Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU - 6-5 335lbs
58. Baltimore Ravens - Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville - 5-11 185lbs
59. Atlanta Falcons - Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma - 6-1 211lbs
60. New England Patriots - Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa - 6-4 288lbs
61. San Diego Chargers - Sam Acho, OLB, Texas - 6-2 257lbs
62. Chicago Bears - Marcus Cannon, G, TCU - 6-6 350lbs
63. Pittsburgh Steelers - Brandon Burton, CB, Utah - 6-1 187lbs
64. Green Bay Packers - Danny Watkins, G, Baylor - 6-4 312lbs