|WEEI.com Mock Draft, take 7: Three new Pats picks||04.03.11 at 11:45 pm ET|
Lots and lots of shakeups in the latest edition of the WEEI.com mock draft, and though this one has Marcell Dareus going first overall, I’m still not accepting it as a sure thing like everyone else. As a result of J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith both being projected to go in the first 10 picks, all three Patriots picks are different this week.
1. Carolina (2-14) Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
Happy now? I have no problem with Dareus being the first overall pick. In fact, I thought it was laughable earlier in the process when some didn’t have him in the Top 10, but I’m still not sold on him definitely being the first player drafted. That’s what happens when the draft’s best player is a cornerback, though. As for Robert Quinn being in this spot last week (something I still feel the Panthers should consider), don’t rule it out just because you haven’t heard a million people say it yet. Remember, nobody had Philip Rivers as a Top 5 pick in 2004 or Mario Williams as the top pick in 2006.
2. Denver (4-12) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
As was mentioned in the previous blurb, Peterson is the best player in this draft, and even impressive pro days from the other top prospects could not change that. Do the Broncos have bigger needs? Yes, but corner is big enough a need to make passing on Peterson’s talent a foolish idea.
3. Buffalo (4-12) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
A player involved in the lawsuit is showing that he doesn’t hate the NFL by agreeing to attend the NFL Draft? Why is this a story again? Miller’s a bright kid with elite talent, so anything he does that displays dominance on the field or maturity off it shouldn’t be a surprise. Miller not going in the top five picks, however, would be a surprise.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Gabbert is not likely to end up being one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so is he really worth the fourth overall pick? When a team’s incumbent wants nothing to do with the organization anymore, he might be. If the Bengals are forced to find a replacement for Carson Palmer, Gabbert is the only logical option this high.
5. Arizona (5-11) Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Whether it’s first overall, fifth overall or as Mr. Irrelevant, Quinn is going to be worth it for whichever team drafts him. He didn’t play a down last year due to an NCAA suspension, but neither his character nor his talents as a pass-rusher are in question.
6. Cleveland (5-11) Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
There was a time when it seemed Bowers could be the first overall pick, but that time ended after his knee kept him from participating in the combine. His bad pro day performance was seemingly a result of him trying to prove he was healthy when he wasn’t, and now he’ll be lucky if he doesn’t fall even farther than No. 6.
7. San Francisco (6-10) A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Two Top 10 receivers in three years? Before you go comparing the 49ers to Matt Millen’s Lions, consider that they (and whoever is throwing the ball) could use a receiver, and it’s very hard to pass on Green’s talent. The 49ers could go after a quarterback such as Christian Ponder in the second round.
8. Tennessee (6-10) Nick Fairley, DL, Auburn
Fairley is another guy who has fallen after being projected to go much higher in the earlier stages of the process. Talent-wise, he has what it takes to be a star defensive tackle in a 4-3, but he needs to prove that he can play motivated at all times.
9. Dallas (6-10) J.J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin
The more I see of J.J. Watt, the clearer it becomes that he is the best 3-4 lineman in this draft not named Dareus. I have assumed that either Cameron Jordan or Watt would be Top 10 picks, but not both. With their choice of either at No. 9, the bigger and more fundamentally sound Watt could be their guy. The need is certainly there for the Cowboys at defensive end.
10. Washington (6-10) Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
We’re starting to get a better idea of where players can expect to go, but it remains a wide range for Smith. His skill projects him as high as the 10th pick, the one-year wonder tag (he left after his sophomore season) could make him fall to the later teens. The Redskins have never been afraid to take risks (did you know that they once signed Albert Haynesworth to a contract?) so they might not hesitate when it comes to adding the young pass-rusher. Julio Jones is also a possibility here.
11. Texans (6-10) Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
I nearly moved Jordan into this spot, as he would it perfectly on the line in Wade Phillips’ 3-4, but both Mario Williams and Antonio Smith are capable of staying at defensive end in the new system. As a result, they’ll have to pass on the greater talent to fill the bigger need. Miami’s Brandon Harris has been the guy in this spot for a while, but the Texans would have to be thrilled to see Amukamara available at No. 11.
12. Minnesota (6-10) Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I’m still not willing to put Newton in the Top 10, and it’s not just because I believe he isn’t worth a Top 10 pick (in fact, I don’t think Newton is worth any first-round pick). The Panthers would be insane to spend the top pick on such a question mark, and the Bengals probably aren’t looking for a project. Same goes for the Titans and 49ers. The reason I do have him going in the first round is because, much like Tim Tebow last year, some team is going to take the risk. If that team is the Vikings, they had better cut Leslie Frazier some slack if the team stalls for a few years.
13. Detroit (6-10) Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Castonzo could be the first offensive lineman selected, but will it really take until the 13th pick for one to be drafted? Given how much defensive talent dominates the top of this draft class, it’s highly possible. Drafting Castonzo would give the Lions a future line that’s well-represented by former Eagles, as it also features Gosder Cherilus.
14. St. Louis (7-9) Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Rams found out that Sam Bradford is the real deal last season, and now they need to get him some real weapons. Jones’ combine performance was outstanding, and the fact that he did it with a foot fracture made it even more impressive. Assuming the foot doesn’t end up being an issue at the next level, he’ll be something special.
15. Miami (7-9) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Ingram still appears to be the first running back taken, and he may be the only running back drafted in the first round. What better team for him to be drafted by than one that could lose both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams?
16. Jacksonville (8-8) Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue
To clarify my stance on Kerrigan, I think that he is one of the best pass-rushers in this draft and one of the safest picks. I think he could make a difference as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but he’ll make a bigger and more immediate impact playing on the line in a 4-3 without the learning curve.
17. New England [from OAK (8-8)] Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Here’s a pick that should be turned in with lightning speed if Jordan is still on the board. The Patriots are getting a healthy Ty Warren back this season, and drafting Jordan would make the Pats’ three-man front rather terrifying. Jordan had six sacks in his final two seasons at Cal.
18. San Diego (9-7) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
There is a bit of a drop-off from the Watts’ and Jordans’ of the world to a guy like Heyward, but he and Muhammad Wilkerson are among the draft’s more underrated prospects. Heyward can be a rock at the five-technique, and the Chargers would probably prefer him to Jacques Cesaire and Travis Johnson, who saw time at end last season.
19. New York Giants (10-6) Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Smith could also be the first tackle selected, but since nobody seems to agree on there being a clear-cut leader in this class of tackles, it all depends on who’s making the pick. For example, if the Cowboys elect to go for a lineman at No. 9, they could easily choose Smith over Castonzo. Regardless of which of the two gets taken first, it’s hard to imagine either falling into the 20s.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Clayborn had four sacks as last season, but his senior year won’t be the selling point for the St. Louis native. He proved as a junior that he can play at an elite level with 11 sacks, and if the Buccaneers can have both Clayborn and Gerald McCoy performing like they were two years ago, Tampa Bay’s defensive line could be a star-studded one for years to come.
21. Kansas City (10-6) Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida
Some might question whether it’s actually worth it to spend a first-round pick on a center, but Pouncey’s brother made the Steelers feel good about their investment a season ago. He would fill an eventual need in Kansas City, as Casey Wiegmann will be 38 at the start of next season.
22. Indianapolis (10-6) Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
We’ll flip-flop Solder and Gabe Carimi this week, as Solder’s ceiling is higher than Carmi’s. That’s generally why we’ve had Carimi — more of a sure-thing — projected to the Colts recently, but if they want to go for one of the biggest (pun intended) risk/reward players, Solder could be a beast throughout his NFL career.
23. Philadelphia (10-6) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
How would Carimi, who declared himself the best tackle in the draft, feel about being the fifth offensive lineman selected? Probably not great, and that chip on his shoulder could make a player who plays with an attitude even more motivated.
24. New Orleans (11-5) Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois
The inside linebacker class is extremely weak this year, and Wilson might not get all the attention he deserves as a result. Capable of playing either inside or outside and possessing good speed, Wilson is worth a late first-round pick and would be a very solid find in the early second round if available.
25. Seattle (7-9) Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I still think that if three quarterbacks end up going in the first round, Locker will be one of them. The recent buzz that Colin Kaepernick could go in the first round is interesting, but his arm is far less impressive than his size. Speaking of arms, Locker’s accuracy will always be called into question, but if Pete Carroll like what he saw while attending Locker’s pro day, he could bring him in to eventually replace Matt Hasselbeck.
26. Baltimore (12-4) Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
Houston has produced more than some of the one-year wonder pass-rushers in this draft class, so he has that going from him. He would provide the Ravens with a solid pass-rusher after they thought they had one with Sergio Kindle.
27. Atlanta (13-3) Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Plenty of offensive tackles should go in the first round, but Sherrod should be the last of them. He could take Sam Baker’s job at left tackle if the Falcons elect to move Baker over to the right side.
28. New England (14-2) Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
This is quite a fall for Harris compared to his spot in previous mock drafts here (11th overall), but it’s more of where he belongs. The Texans would have to reach to select Harris that high, but he makes sense for the Patriots in the late first round. He would eventually be a starter with Devin McCourty, and he is the type of corner the Patriots generally go after.
29. Chicago (11-5) Corey Liuget, DL, Illinois
Well, at least it wouldn’t be a far trip from college to the pros for Liuget. The Bears’ two biggest needs are on the offensive and defensive line, and Liuget might represent a bit more value than any offensive tackle they could take here.
30. New York Jets (11-5) Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
How many different ways can we rephrase that Taylor fits perfectly with the Jets? Instead, we’ll give you a fun fact that involves Taylor. He will be the second player drafted in as many years to share his name with a rock musician. Phil Taylor has the same name as Motorhead’s Phil Taylor, while Atlanta’s Joe Hawley has the same name as Tally Hall’s Joe Hawley. Taylor will definitely be the Jets’ pick in the next mock, so we’ll see what other fun stuff we can come up with.
31. Pittsburgh (12-4) Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Watkins is among the most intriguing players in this entire draft. A firefighter from Canada, Watkins attended the junior college at which Aaron Rodgers once played as he sought a degree in fire sciences. He played football for the first time there, and is now a potential first-round pick at 26 years of age.
32. Green Bay (10-6) Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The advantage that Ayers has over other outside linebacker prospects is that he actually played the position in college, unlike the many who played defensive end. The disadvantage for Ayers is that he was far from a speed demon at the combine. He ran a 4.84 40-yard dash in Indianapolis but reportedly ran a more respectable 4.70 at his pro day. While he may not be as fast as he looked in college, he would provide the Packers with an outside linebacker to pressure the quarterback with Clay Matthews.
33. New England [from Carolina (2-14)] Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
If the Patriots can’t get their hands on Quinn or Aldon Smith, they’re better off not thinking about outside linebacker until this pick, as they could do an adequate job addressing it here. Like many players we’ve projected to play outside linebacker for the Patriots, size might be the biggest question, as Reed measures in shy of 6-foot-3. If he’s available, the Pats might be wise to overlook his height in favor of his athleticism. Reed, who ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, is among the pass-rushers the Patriots have worked out in the pre-draft process.
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