Over at SB Nation's Mocking the Draft, we recently began the 2011 Writer's Mock Draft. As the picks wen t on, I found that not a lot of team's were taking the Patriots' 3-4 front seven targets, leaving a lot of potential picks on the board when the Patriots went on the clock.
My first choice, Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt went off the board to the Minnesota Vikings at 12th overall. Unfortunately for me, trades are not allowed in this mock draft. I likely would have tried a trade up from Robert Quinn, Julio Jones, or JJ Watt once the Redskins were on the clock at 10. If I hadn't pulled that trade, at 17, with the options still available, I likely would have traded down a few spots. Instead, because of the rules, I remained at 17 and made my selection. While it was very, very difficult to pass up Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, Mike Pouncey, and Muhammad Wilkerson, I ultimately settled on Gabe Carimi, the offensive lineman out of Wisconsin.
Read my full explanation after the jump!
Here was the official explanation I gave for the pick:
At pick 17, the Patriots had a lot of potential targets left on the board, especially for their 3-4 defense. At outside linebacker, Ryan Kerrigan and Aldon Smith remained on the board. At defensive end, Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward were still there (although J.J. Watt, who would have been a tempting pick, was not). Along the offensive line, the likes of Gabe Carimi, Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder and Mike Pouncey were all still available. Ultimately, I settled with Carimi, the versatile offensive tackle out of Wisconsin, with the 17th pick.
The reason I opted not to select Kerrigan or Smith is because both of these players are projections for the Patriots' system. Smith is an athletic pass rusher, but would certainly have a ways to go before being a polished 3-4 outside linebacker that has the ability to set the edge. Kerrigan has questions surrounding his fluidity and ability to make that transition to linebacker, making him a bit of a risky pick for the Patriots. Wilkerson was a very intriguing option at this spot, but with a high likelihood that there is a run on tackles in the 20s (that would leave the Patriots with limited options at 28), Wilkerson became somewhat of a risk.
Why Carimi? I absolutely love his combination of size, toughness, versatility, strength and ability. Cairmi stands in at 6'7" and 315 pounds. He has good footwork and agility, excelling as both a pass blocker and a run blocker. His ability as a blocker makes him a first-round talent. However, the underlying reason I love Carimi as a prospect for the Patriots is because of his versatility. At this spot, I also considered Nate Solder. Solder, however, is pretty much locked into playing as a left tackle in the NFL. I chose Carimi because he can play the left or right tackle spot, and possibly even guard. Remember that the Patriots have had a lot of turmoil along the offensive line this off-season. Matt Light is now an unrestricted free agent, Logan Mankins was given the franchise tag and has an uncertain future with the team, Stephen Neal retired, and Dan Koppen is entering the last year of his contract. Carimi is a player that because of his versatility, could give the Patriots multiple options along the offensive line, and represents a good value at 17.
So, what do you think of my choice?