|NFL Mock Draft, Take 2: Ryan Kerrigan to Patriots at No. 17?||02.01.11 at 6:31 pm ET|
Since last week’s first installment of WEEI.com’s mock draft, we saw players both boost their stock and see it evaporate in the Senior Bowl. The pass-rushers looked good in Mobile, while Jake Locker once again failed to prove that he is anything better than a second-round prospect. Here’s the latest mock:
1. Carolina (2-14) Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson Having the top pick is generally a good thing on draft day, but the Panthers aren’t in a position to get help where they need it, and that is at quarterback. Opting for the best player available in Bowers or trading down seem to be their only options.
2. Denver (4-12) Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn The addition of Fairley, coupled with the return of a healthy Elvis Dumervil would likely go a very long way in improving the numbers of a Broncos defense that finished tied with the Bengals with a league-worst 18 sacks. This also appears to be a pick that could be shopped.
3. Buffalo (4-12) A.J. Green, WR, Georgia Here’s a case in which the team’s offseason leading up to the draft will play a huge role. Lee Evans, chosen with the 13th overall pick back in 2004, had the worst season of his seven-year career in 2010. He played in 13 games (the first time in his career that he didn’t play all 16) and had career-lows in receptions and yards. Those two facts are directly related, but with a $1 million bonus due to him this offseason, it isn’t crazy to think he could be done in Buffalo. In that case, Green, who had nine catches last season despite being suspended for the first four games, could be the pick.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU Here’s something you don’t see every day. Cornerbacks going in the top five isn’t a very common occurrence, as the last two to be drafted in the first five picks were Terence Newman in 2003 and Quentin Jammer in 2002. Neither of those guys had the size/speed combination that Peterson has, and if the Tiger becomes a Bengal, he’ll be the first cornerback to go fourth overall since 1998 (Charles Woodson).
5. Arizona (5-11) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Miller had a great week in Mobile, but it’s hard to really say he greatly improved his stock at the Senior Bowl. Should the fact that he made Colin Kaepernick’s day difficult surprise people? Miller’s got the speed to chase anybody down, and teams will gladly overlook his size for the sake of landing this draft’s premier pass-rusher.
6. Cleveland (5-11) Cameron Jordan, DE, California As has been proven over the years throughout the league, strengthening the lines strengthens the team. Jordan killed it in Mobile and may have leap-frogged Alabama’s Marcell Dareus as the best five-technique prospect in this draft. Luckily for those other 3-4 teams, including the Patriots, there are definitely more five-technique options early on than in last year’s class.
7. San Francisco (6-10) Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska Peterson was in this spot last week, and though his selection at No. 7 would represent tremendous value, landing Amukamara here wouldn’t be the end of the world for the 49ers. Amukamara would provide San Francisco with a long-term No. 1 corner to eventually replace Nate Clements, as well as an immediate upgrade over Shawntae Spencer.
8. Tennessee (6-10) Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina This would be a great scenario for the Titans. Defensive ends Jason Babin (12.5 sacks last season) and Dave Ball (7.0) are both free agents, with the former’s future with the club in serious question given the number of suitors he will likely have. Quinn and a healthy Derrick Morgan will create a scary image for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
9. Dallas (6-10) Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama Both Marcus Spears and Stephen Bowen (the latter of whom replaced the former when Spears, the 20th pick in the 2005 draft, went on IR with a strained calf) are headed for free agency, leaving Igor Olshanksy as the team’s lone starting end from a season ago.
10. Washington (6-10) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Locker was in this spot last week, but right now he’s not in the first round at all. Gabbert would be a better value here than at No. 5, where he was projected in the first edition of this year’s mock draft. Whether Gabbert is realistic for Washington depends on the future of Donovan McNabb.
11. Texans (6-10) Brandon Harris, CB, Miami To nobody’s surprise, the Texans were a team opposing offenses chose to throw against, and those offenses had success. A year after losing 2004 first-rounder Dunta Robinson to free agency, the Texans allowed a league-worst 267.5 passing yards per game last season. A big reason for that was the fact that Kareem Jackson, selected 20th overall last year, didn’t produce. In starting all 16 games, Jackson – and this is a stat that’s all over the web but that I’m not sure the NFL actually keeps – allowed the second most passing yards in the league. This is high for Harris, but the Texans need all the help in the secondary they can get.
12. Minnesota (6-10) Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College There won’t be a clear-cut top tackle in this draft until after the combine, but for now Castonzo holds the edge of Gave Carimi, who seems better suited for right tackle, and Nate Solder, who is too raw to be considered a safe pick this high.
13. Detroit (6-10) Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida If and when Matthew Stafford ever plays a full season without running into injuries (he was most recently plagued by multiple instances of separating his throwing shoulder), the Lions, who at the very least seem set at tackle for the coming year (Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus, the former of whom is in the last year of his deal), would be wise to solidify their line in front of him. Pouncey could step in and start over Stephen Peterman.
14. St. Louis (7-9) Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Julio Jones, WR, Alabama Donnie Avery missed the entire season after tearing his right ACL in the preseason against the Patriots, but even with him healthy (and a free agent after the 2011 season), Sam Bradford needs more weapons. With the addition of Jones, who needs to improve his hands to be a No. 1 receiver, the offensive Rookie of the Year (they haven’t announced it yet, but who are we kidding here?) will have a better chance at furthering his success in the coming years.
15. Miami (7-9) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama People love to throw the “all-around back” or “well-rounded back” tag on guys who are good at everything, but not necessarily great at anything. That’s the way I view Ingram. If Ronnie Brown doesn’t re-sign with the team, it wouldn’t be hard to see the Dolhpins grabbing Ingram, but the team would be better off addressing defensive tackle depending on what happens with Paul Soliai.
16. Jacksonville (8-8) Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Some, including myself, didn’t put it past the Jaguars to move down in the first round last year and try to draft Tim Tebow as a project QB/big name to sell tickets. They obviously opted for Tyson Alualu – which, as much as everyone (again, myself included) killed them for based on value – was an absolutely terrific pick expected the Jaguars – but this year they can go for that project QB. Newton is far more talented and, though considered a risk to a degree, is nowhere near the risk Tebow would have been.
17. New England [from OAK (8-8)] Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue Kerrigan is another guy who boosted his stock in the Senior Bowl, and it seems we can now start talking about him in that mid-first-round range rather than as a potential late-first or early second-rounder. Kerrigan is relentless and doesn’t just want to crush the quarterback (he had a sack on Saturday) – he wants to get the ball, a point illustrated by his five forced fumbles in his senior year. He would play outside linebacker in the 3-4.
18. San Diego (9-7) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa If it isn’t Clayborn, it will have to be another defensive end. The Chargers neglected the position – which now has Jacques Cesaire and Travis Johnson hitting free agency – when they made the questionable jump to No. 12 in the first round to take running back Mathews. This year, they shouldn’t make the same mistake.
19. New York Giants (10-6) Nate Solder, OT, Colorado Last year, the Giants took a big risk on the defensive line when they took ultra-talented but glaringly raw defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Could they take a similar risk on the offensive line a year later? Solder, at 6-foot-8 2/8 and 314 pounds is a giant, but he seems a work in progress.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6) J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin The argument against this pick will be that Watt would probably be better suited to play end in a 3-4 than in a 4-3 given his size, but that’s what makes this a good pick for Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-6, 292-pound Watt could play either end or defensive tackle for the Buccaneers, and that sort of versatility should be welcomed given how poorly they were against the run without Gerald McCoy.
21. Kansas City (10-6)Corey Liuget, DL, Illinois Ron Edwards is a free agent, so the Chiefs would be in good shape if they scooped up a guy capable of playing anywhere on the line in their 3-4 defense. If healthy and productive, a defensive line of Kareem Jackson, Liguet, and Glenn Dorsey (all first-round picks) could be something special.
22. Indianapolis (10-6) Tyron Smith, OT, USC Indianapolis would be a great landing spot for Smith, who doesn’t have great size (6-foot-5, 280 pounds), is very athletic, and could be a productive zone-blocking offensive lineman at the next level. Plus, it’s hard to imagine the Colts bringing Charlie Johnson, who did a sub-par job at left tackle last season and is a free agent.
23. Philadelphia (10-6) Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia While everyone focuses on the quarterback situation (which, by the way, will only be prolonged until the Eagles give Michael Vick a multi-year deal), the Eagles can go out and add a guy like Houston who can supplant Moise Fokou on the strong side. Houston had 10 sacks last season, his junior and final year at Georgia.
24. New Orleans (11-5) Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois Pierre Thomas, who will be coming off ankle surgery, does not have a contract for 2011, so with him potentially gone, Leshoure would make perfect sense for the Saints as they look to complement their passing attack with a good-sized back (6-foot-0, 230 pounds) who isn’t afraid of contact. Leshoure had 17 touchdowns last season.
25. Seattle (7-9) Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas Locker is a possibility in this spot if the Seahawks opt for a signal-caller, but his underwhelming showing at the Senior Bowl served as the latest reminder that he is just that: Underwhelming. The strong-armed Mallett holds the edge over him for now.
26. Baltimore (12-4) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State Here’s a guy the Patriots might like to see fall to them at No. 28. He can play in either the 4-3 or 3-4, but he seems better suited as a five-technique. As he recovers from Tommy John surgery and won’t be able to do much at the combine, Heyward can’t really see his stock go up or down, so he’ll have to hope others don’t surpass him.
27. Atlanta (13-3) Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri One week later, the awfulness of the Jamaal Anderson pick hasn’t changed. While they don’t actually need to replace bodies for next season like the Chargers, the Falcons could use an eventual replacement for John Abraham (a free agent after next season) and a youngster who can provide far more bright spots than Anderson.
28. New England (14-2) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin Whether or not Carimi falls this far is based on two things. For starters, it depends on the combine (same as everyone else). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it depends on how many teams are in the market for a right tackle. If Matt Light leaves and the team decides to bounce Sebastian Vollmer over to the left side, the Patriots might find themselves in that group.
29. Chicago (11-5) Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia Based on size and talent, Dowling would come off the board much higher than this, but after deciding against declaring last year, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Dowling played in only three games of his senior season. He missed the rest due to knee and ankle injuries, so he’ll have to prove he can stay on the field.
30. New York Jets (11-5) Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor I really can’t promise you’ll see this pick changed at all in the weeks leading up to the draft, but anything can happen. Why wouldn’t the Jets go after a big (351 pounds) nose-tackle who has rub some people the wrong way?
31. *Green Bay (10-6) Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA Ayers would be a great value pick for the Packers this late in the first round. While he isn’t going to wow anyone with his tackling, he can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, meaning Clay Matthews won’t be the only guy other teams will worry about.
32. *Pittsburgh (12-4) Benjamin Ijalana, OT, Villanova The Steelers could use help along the offensive line, and though it’s unlikely he could fall to the bottom of the first round, it would be interesting to see if they would try to team up the Pouncey brothers. They’d have to be satisfied getting Ijalana here though, as he has no injury concerns and could also help out at guard.
*Subject to Super Bowl result
Check back next week to see who the Pats might take at No. 33.
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