1st Round Draft Analysis: 2011 NFL Draft Observations
Cam Newton: Hey, there can be plenty of naysayers out there gashing this guy and his personality woes, but don’t get it twisted – this guy isn’t JaMarcus Russell. He’s big, he’s black, and he has a cannon for an arm – but please, he is a completely different guy. First and foremost, Newton is one of the most competitive cats on the field at all times. Right there he completely separates himself from Russell. 2nd of all, Newton works his tail off to be great at this game. Why? Because of his competitive streak. 3rd, you question his character, but how about the way he stepped up and played the game of football when everyone was blasting him? All the allegations and questions – he just went out there and killed it. Football-wise, there’s some questions – there’s some growing time that needs to happen before he can be great at the next level – but he’s an elite athlete, has a solid throwing motion, decent touch, and the right competitive nature to succeed in the NFL. Solid pick by the Panthers.
Julio Jones: Good player, definitely, but Julio can’t be worth 2 first round picks, a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 4th. That’s what the Falcons traded to get a guy who won’t be as good as the guy they have. Sure, he’s an improvement at the #2 receiver spot over Michael Jenkins, but the Falcons have some options. In the slot they had Harry Douglas, who will be better a full season recovered from his knee injury. They have an aging but still reliable Tony Gonzalez. And Jenkins was decent. They need lots of help defensively, however, and I don’t know how they get there now with their draft getting donated to the Browns. Unless, of course, they get a couple heroes in free agency. We’ll see, but even for a guy that I liked a lot coming in, the treasure chest they handed over was too much.
Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder: One name doesn’t fit. Ponder was a huge reach, but I guess that’s what happens when quarterbacks start flying off the board. If you think you need one, you take the plunge. Of the three guys listed, it’s quite possible that Ponder is the most likely to be ready to start this coming season – so there’s something working on the Vikings’ side. Still, huge reach right there. A lot of people are calling Locker’s pick a reach as well, and while I’ve never been crazy about Jake’s quarterback play, I think the 8th overall selection for a guy of his makeup is completely justified. I watch him play the position and I’m not crazy about his feet, the way he always looks uncomfortable in the pocket, and his lack of accuracy – however, he has a cannon, he’s a super competitive kid with a drive for success. He’s always cared more about his teammates than himself, that’s been obvious – and he’s always been a leader, a big time leader. At #8, maybe a quarterback like that is more of a steal than a reach. Gabbert has all the tools as well. I know less about him than I know about Jake, but it’s obvious he’s a Top 10 guy. There’s nothing wrong with Blaine’s game – and a guy without holes is a nice pick at #10.
Steals: I’m not going to write a ton, but here’s a quick little taste…
Patrick Peterson: was the best secondary player in the draft and many had him rated as the best overall player. The Cardinals sucked everywhere last season, and it took a lot for them to skip over a couple QBs they weren’t crazy about to pick the best player on the board.
Nick Fairley: as far as I’m concerned, was the best defensive player in college football last season. I watched Auburn play to see this Newton guy, and it was Fairley impressing me the most. If the Lions find a way to get both he and Suh on the field, there will be no pockets for opposing passers. They are both forces against the run and pass. #13, steal.
Robert Quinn: dropped spots because a long time ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that is checked up on a ton, and has no immediate health risks. I have a couple moles that probably have more risk than Quinn’s situation. At #14 the Rams got a disruptive force – steal.
Prince Amukamara: has 5 sisters all with weird names like his – for example, Princess – and why not? That’s about where the questions stop with him. He didn’t have great technique, and doesn’t have perfect ball skills, but he lays hat, is real fast, and takes great angles. At #19? You bet!
Jimmy Smith: was said to have character concerns, like Talib – but stop it, they aren’t the same. Baltimore is the perfect place for him to go, Ray will have him straightened out in no time. Best cover guy in the draft at 26, please.
Cameron Jordan: is a perfect fit for the Saints who need a big bad man on the outside. They’ll be able to move him around and do some big things with him. Getting a guy with his size and versatility is a tough task late in Round 1, having him be a solid character guy makes it a great pick.
Muhammad Wilkerson: might be just as good as Cam Jordan, and he was picked 31st overall. The guy is a cat, flat out, he’ll be starting from Day 1 and giving the Jets something they didn’t have much of last season – good production from their DE spot.
Reaches: I don’t think these guys are bad, in fact, I really like most of them, I just think they were reaches in Round 1 because of the value of the draft…
Von Miller: will probably be a very good player, but an OLB at #2, I just don’t know about that. I think Dareus and Fairley and Peterson will all do more for their teams. Miller reminds me a lot of Aaron Curry, and while I think Curry is a solid player, a guy that will be much better this coming season, I don’t think he was worth his draft spot, either.
Julio Jones: Even without giving up 1st round picks, a 2nd, a 3rd, their unborn children, 6th overall was a little high for Julio in my opinion. It’s very possible that it could have been Cleveland’s reach if Atlanta didn’t trade up to get him, but it’s a reach nonetheless. Good player? Yessir! Great blocker, team guy, tough for a receiver – definitely – but there’s just some things you don’t do – draft WRs that aren’t amazing in the Top 10 (A.J. Green is the exception), draft RBs that aren’t Adrian Peterson in the Top 10, and trust Al Davis with a sharp pencil.
Aldon Smith: Love Harbaugh, hope I’m wrong and that Aldon proves his worth right off the bat, but this is a reach for a very unproven DE prospect. 7th overall? Yikes. Maybe the new coach is trying to get a project guy to help their cause for next season – I mean, in hopes of getting Andrew Luck.
Christian Ponder: But at least Jim didn’t pick Christian Ponder. Text message to my buddy after the Ponder pick: “christian ponder… haha. if the hawks had traded up to 12 to make that pick. i’d be boycotting everything blue and florescent green.” Pretty much. (PS- Home team here in the NW is the Seattle Sea-Chickens)
Mike Pouncey: Center, 15th overall, bad, bad, bad. I know Pouncey can play guard, and I know the Dolphins needed help inside more than just about anything else, and I also am pretty sure that Pouncey is going to be good – but he isn’t as good as his brother, and he climbed up to 15 because he’s got a twin brother that beat some ace last season. Reach.
James Carpenter: I actually like Carpenter a lot – and if they couldn’t trade back at all, I kind of get the pick, but he wasn’t on anybody’s 1st round list (well, except mine, see pick #31) and I think he was a reach for the Hawks. He will be a good player and help right off the bat as a starter for a team with no consistency on the offensive line, so it was a solid pick – just a reachy pick when Da’Quan Bowers, Brandon Harris, Gabe Carimi, and Jimmy Smith were on the board.
Jonathan Baldwin: Baldwin could be good. If you draft a receiver in the first round, you better be damn sure that he’s going to be good. I’m not sure. Reach.
Perfect: These guys were perfect fits, perfect value, and they all got perfect on the wonderlic (or so I lie)…
Marcell Dareus: This guy is a beast, and the Bills needed him more than anything. If he had been gone, I think they would have ended up doing something stupid – so not only was he a perfect value, a perfect fit, and one of the best players –but he saved the Bills from themselves – they’ve needed a guy to do that for a long time!
A.J. Green: You never pick a WR in the Top 10 unless he’s a guy like A.J. Green – write that down, it’s a draft day rule. Falcons, I said WRITE THAT DOWN! A.J. will be a star and he instantly makes the Bengals’ passing attack better.
Tyron Smith: The Cowboys got the best offensive lineman in the draft at Pick #9, and that would usually be a steal except this kid is still just 20 and may need some time. They have time, he’s a perfect pick.
Ryan Kerrigan: How bad did the Redskins need a consistent performer on the defensive line that would line up at safety or kicker if you asked him to? This kid is the anti-Haynesworth and he’s going to be good for a long time. Perfect pick value and situation at #16.
Nate Solder: Some people thought this was a reach, but the Patriots know offensive linemen as well as the Giants do, and the Giants were crushed when the Pats grabbed Solder two picks ahead of them. Talk about in the nick of time.
Anthony Castonzo: Maybe the most ready OT in the draft to help Peyton Manning stay clean. Safe and perfect.
A Real Mock Draft – For Better (OR WORSE) Team LL.Com Makes the Pick!
Alright, so I had this idea about a mock draft that I thought would be twice as good as your late mock that all but copies the super-NFL writers that have all the inside information and basically know the picks heading into draft. This one is different. This isn’t a “what will happen” mock draft, this is more of a fantasy rookie draft. The fantasy? Team LuckyLester.com gets a random number, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (it would have been 5, but Red Red Ryan was “too busy” – scoff!). They pick for the team at that number all the way down the draft. Josh (JA) picked #1 out of the hat, I (LL) got #2, Papa Weimer (PW) got #3, and Nate Kuhns (NK) got last, #4, but at least he doesn’t have to pay his guys as much…
So Josh has picks #1, #5, #9, and so on. I pick #2, #6, and on and on. Papa #3, #7… Nate #4, #8….
It makes sense, I’m sure of it.
For this mock, we get to be the team owners, the GMs, the coaches, whoever decides the guy we’ll pick in Round 1. You’ll notice that I make all the best decisions… (as the editor, I get to write that without getting it deleted)
I have the initials down at the end of the write up, letting you know each guy who made the pick for each team, so you know who to write in (firstname.lastname@example.org) and trash. I’ll be posting good trash talking, arguments, agreements, etc – so write in!
Josh is on the clock….
1. The Carolina Panthers select Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Taking Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton will be the temptation here, but both are risky picks that weren’t projected as first rounders before Andrew Luck decided to stay in school and Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett faded down the stretch. Bowers will give the Panthers a pass-rushing monster to pair with Charles Johnson on the other side, wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. The Panthers need to stay ahead in turnover margin (-8 in 2010) for them to be successful, and getting pressure on the quarterback results in those impact plays that a defense feeds off of. I know his “knee concerns” will have him out of this spot, but I think he’ll be a very good player for a very long time. JA
2. The Denver Broncos select Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I originally had the Broncos drafting Nick Fairley here, and while he came across poorly during the combine, I still think he’s the best defensive tackle in the draft (yes, better than Marcell Dareus) and he should be considered here. I watched the kid cause ruckus on the line all season long, and despite playing on the same team as Cam Newton, he was the best player on the field plenty of big games this season. However, I love me some Patrick Peterson, and think he has the make-up to be one special player on the outside. In a game that is becoming more pass friendly than ever, a player like Peterson can’t be overlooked. LL
3. The Buffalo Bills select Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Like Lucky said, Fairley was the best defensive player in college football last season. He affected games from the DT position similar to the way Suh did last season. Now, I don’t think Fairley is Suh, but he certainly has an amazing skill set for a big man on the line, and Buffalo needs to stop the run and rush the passer, two things that Fairley can do from the time he steps foot on the field. A quarterback might be tempting here, but Fitzpatrick is solid, at least, and this is a team that needs to start finding ways to win. A young project QB isn’t the answer if winning is the goal. They might be able to trade down and get him, but either way, Fairley would help this team more than anybody else on the board. PW
4. The Cincinnati Bengals select A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Green simply put is a beast at 6’4′ and 212 pounds with 4.38 speed, Green has the tools to make an immediate impact. With Ochocinco kicking balls instead of catching them, as well as Owens departure, the Bengals will need to look for an incumbent and Green is their man. I typically like to build inside out with the Top 5 picks, however with this kind of talent on the board, Green is my guy. NK
5. The Arizona Cardinals select Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Another QB-needy team will look to address those needs either later in the draft or via a trade or free agency. As pressing as the need is I remain unconvinced that either Gabbert or Newton will put the Cards over the edge in the NFC West in the coming seasons. Von Miller would be an immediate upgrade to an Arizona defense that relies on the big play rather than being a shutdown unit. Bringing him off the edge in Ken Whisenhunt’s 3-4 scheme would instantly improve a pass rush that struggled to get to the quarterback at times during the 2010 season. I expect the Cards to make a major push for Kevin Kolb, and if they are able to attain his services with a package of 2012 draft picks and nab a top defensive talent like Miller with this pick, they could well be in position to return to the top of the weakest division in football sooner rather than later. JA
6. The Cleveland Browns select Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Dareus is just too good of a find here. With AJ Green already off the board, Von Miller headed to Arizona, Peterson gone early to Denver, Fairley slipping in at 3, the Browns are still lucky to get Dareus here. They won’t be looking for a quarterback at this point – Colt McCoy seems like the guy in Cleveland. I don’t think they’d reach for Julio Jones, and unless the like Robert Quinn more than Big MD, this one is tough to pass on. Dareus has proven to be a beat up front throughout his college career, and has done plenty for himself in the off-season. Many have Dareus plowing past Fairley as the top DT, and getting a game changer in the middle with the 6th pick will be great for the Browns. LL
7. The San Francisco 49ers select, Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
I have to believe that we’re wrong up to this point, and a quarterback has already been taken (I know I’m not wrong, it must me one of the other guys) – but if we aren’t, and teams are actually following our path of sound advice, then the 49ers will get their choice at QB. There’s no Andrew Luck in this class, as new headman Jim Harbaugh certainly recognizes, but I’m willing to bet there’s enough in Gabbert’s upside to woo the Stanford coach into taking a chance. Gabbert has a cannon, he worked out as well as any QB on the board, and he’s looked comfortable under pressure and in the pocket. I think he’s the choice here, even though this QB class scares me a bit. The 49ers could go for Cam Newton instead, but I think they’ll be more smitten with Blaine. Prince Amukamara is another very good player that would probably help this team more than a QB, but that chance of hitting gold might be too much to pass up if their favorite signal caller is still on the board. PW
8. The Tennessee Titans select Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
With the majority of high impact defensive players off the board, including highly targeted Da’Quan Bowers, the Titans will look to address the most important offensive position on the field at QB. Fisher has targeted athletic QB’s in the past, and will look to do so again. The risk here remains high, however with K. Collins going into his 18th season and the debacle surrounding V. Young, Tennessee and Fisher will look for the next signal caller. NK
9. Dallas Cowboys select Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Jerry’s crew should be thrilled to land Amukamara with the 9th pick in the first round. While Patrick Peterson profiles as the better athlete with the slightly higher ceiling, in my opinion Prince is more technically sound and possesses the higher floor. The cornerback position opposite Terence Newman has been a black hole for the Boys for years now and grabbing the heir to the throne both in name and position-wise would make too much sense to ignore. Securing the former Husker would allow the Cowboys to bump Mike Jenkins to the nickel back role or possibly transition Newman to safety as he approaches his age 33 season. JA
10. Washington Redskins select Julio Jones, wr, Alabama
With no true star at receiver, the redskins would have a tough time passing on a possible star in jones. His speed/size combo is very impressive and it’s even better that he’s not a princess like most star college receivers. This guy is as good a blocker as he is a playmaker and he’s big time in both areas. Think Brandon Marshall size and speed with no crazy tendencies. LL
11. The Houston Texans select Robert Quinn, de, Carolina
Robert Quinn would be a nice pick here, the Texans have needed production from the opposite DE spot as teams plan around Mario Williams but this corner is super talented and Houston needs more help in the secondary desperately. Tough choice. I’m going with Quinn here because his pressure will help the secondary as well as against the run. Pressure is a secondaries best friend. PW
12. The Minnesota Vikings select Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The glaring need here shines on the QB position, however with both top QB prospects off the board, Minnesota will look to solidify up front. Smith has the size and athleticism to become an impact player in both the run game as well as the pass. An investment here in Smith will increase the chances of the new QB in Minnesota staying off his back, as well as the Vikings getting back to a more balanced attack. NK
13. The Detroit Lions select Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
In the first real shocker of the draft, I like the Lions to avoid drafting based on need. If Amukamara slips this far I think he becomes the pick, but in this scenario Prince is long gone. Ingram is not a burner, but the presence of second-year man Jahvid Best allows the Lions to pair Ingram’s thump and grinding approach with Best’s big-play ability. The defense in Detroit has taken a major step forward under the guidance of DC Gunther Cunningham (not to mention an influx of talent headed by a boy named Suh). With the recent upgrades at the skill positions, this team is ready to ascend to the next level if QB Matthew Stafford can stay healthy under center. JA
14. The St. Louis Rams select J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
I know Watt has been pegged an ideal 3-4 DE and thus is linked to a lot of teams moving to that style of defense, or looking for an end to plug in. But Watt has a great size to be any kind of defense end in any style of defense. His relentless motor and strength is going to immediately upgrade the Rams pass-rush and run defense. He truly is in the mold of those New York Giant defensive linemen that Steve Spagnuolo has first hand knowledge of. He already has his quarterback, there’s not a receiver worth drafting here, I like him improving that defensive line. LL
15. The Miami Dolphins select Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Despite being known for the wildcat offense, a run-heavy attack, and possessing two very talented runners last season, the Dolphins really had trouble running the ball. We all know they have one very talented OT in Jake Long, but they could use another and Constanzo is the best on the board. Not many people realized that the Dolphins struggled on the line last season, but it didn’t go unnoticed form my point of view, and something tells me the Dolphins realized it as well. Rarely do you get a chance to pick arguably the best offensive tackle in the draft at pick #15, and with Mark Ingram already off the board, Costanzo’s the next best (maybe first best?) way to get that running game going again. PW
16. The Jacksonville Jaguars select Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The plethora of talent from the DE position holds true with the selection of Kerrigan from the Boilermakers. An athletic smooth mover, Kerrigan, will help specifically with pressure on the quarterback, as well as add versatility to the defensive scheme. If I’m going to miss, I’m going to swing after a guy with a motor like Ryan’s. NK
17. The New England Patriots select Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Pats will enter this draft looking to improve along the front seven and Jordan will give them a boost on the outside to pair with a healthy Ty Warren. When you factor in space eater Vince Wilfork the Patriots should be very stout against the run. Not a true sack master, Jordan has excellent intangibles and does everything well, a perfect fit for a Bill Belichick coached team and an excellent value in the middle of the first round. JA
18. The San Diego Chargers select Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Wilkerson is a beast and will go to some team looking for a 3-4 defensive end in this draft. He may not have that big school pedigree, but when you watch him play the game, you certainly see how impressive the young man is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone by this pick, but if he’s still on board, the Chargers will pounce at the chance to improve their defensive line at #18. LL
19. The New York Giants select Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
If you ask the draftniks which offensive lineman has the most upside, 3 out of 4 will tell you that Colorado’s Nate Solder is the guy. I know that Mike Pouncey has great name recognition, and that he may be the more versatile of any 1st round lineman, but I think Solder’s upside at #19 is quite the steal for a team without many holes. The Giants could go a lot of directions with this pick, but I see them improving their offensive line, a position that has gotten old over the years – when you’re not talking about cheese or wine, aged isn’t a good thing. PW
20. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Tampa Bay keeps it in Colorado selecting another Buffalo in Jimmy Smith. Smith has the size speed and athleticism to make it at the next level. Jimmy’s past run in with the law has spawned character issues, and is the main reason why Smith is still on the board at 20. The Bucs will take the risk. NK
21. The Kansas City Chiefs select Gabe Carimi, OT, Boston College
The Chiefs certainly have needs, like any team, but it’s easy to see how much better they are when Matt Cassel gets time. He’s a very accurate passer when he’s not rushed, and Carimi would just add one more piece to an impressive offensive attack that produced the best rushing attack in football, and a solid passing game that saw KC in the playoffs in 2010. JA
22. The Indianapolis Colts select Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Liuget is probably the best player that people know the least about coming into this draft. I’m not sure he’s going to slip this far in the real world, because he’s really good. Not only is he very quick on the line, solid against the run, and able to rush the quarterback, but the DT from Illinois has a great motor. It’s tough to find big talented bodies that give the effort he does. The Colts are usually in the business of going offensive line with this pick, but a little help on the defensive side of the ball could go a long way. Liuget is a Top 15 talent, and thus his value at a spot of need is too good to pass up, here. LL
23. The Philadelphia Eagles select Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida
The Eagles could be bummed if the draft goes like it did in our mock. They waited and waited and had 2 great fits left with just 2 teams to pick ahead of them, and whammy, both guys get drafted before it’s their turn on the clock. Carimi could really help an Eagles team that needs to get better on the offensive line (especially OT). Liuget would have been a steal for a team like Philly, looking to get more beasts of burden on the defensive line. As is, both those guys are gone, so I think the Eagles should go get Mike Pouncey. Pouncey is the type of guy that immediately upgrades your offensive line, because he can fit at multiple spots. He’s not a stud OT, but will be a really good player at either center or guard, and building your line with a piece like that is perfect. I do think Jake Locker is an interesting fit here, and the Eagles may consider it. I’ve never been crazy about Locker’s jitters in the pocket or just the way he looks player quarterback, but the Eagles could be without Kolb, and Vick isn’t a tadpole, either, he’s in his 30s and the way he plays, health isn’t a guarantee. The Eagles did well improving Vick’s accuracy, and Locker has the arm and athleticism that Andy Reid seems to love in his quarterbacks. That would be a huge surprise here, but I’m wouldn’t be stunned at all. Still, I think Pouncey’s the pick if I’m on the clock. PW
24. The New Orleans Saints select Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia
The Saints needs are clearly highlighted on the defensive board. The need help on the defensive line, as well as speed in the secondary. With a strong showing at the combine, Houston makes himself a legitimate first round pick. Justin’s hybrid ability to play standing up allows for support on the edge as well as the ability to rush the QB. If Ingram some how slips to this position, even with all of the needs on the defensive side you might see Peyton go for a steady ball carrier, where the Saints will again be chasing points opposed to zeros. NK
25. The Seattle Seahawks select Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I don’t know that this is a match made in heaven but I do know that Carroll recruited Locker hard while at USC then had a front row seat to the QBs athleticism for the next three years. I think there are a lot of areas Locker needs to improve upon, but I also know his toughness, leadership and work ethic are second to none on this class. A year or two to study under Hasselbeck would do his career a world of good, allowing him to grow more comfortable in a pro offense as well as giving him time to hone his accuracy and pocket presence. JA
26. The Baltimore Ravens select Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
One wonders if the Ravens could steal Aldon Smith here, despite him not really having a perfect fit in their defense. He doesn’t have the size to be an End anchor in that 3-4, and I don’t know if he has the athleticism to be even a OLB that rushes the passer more often than not. I just don’t think he fits. I think the Ravens go for Akeem Ayers here, to do the same kind of thing they tried to draft Sergio Kindle to do last year. Everyone hopes Kindle gets healthy again, but a young stud athlete that moves around the field very well – seems like a good move for an aging Ravens defense. Ayers is only falling because of some sub-par numbers at the combine, but he’s really good at football – that should count for something. Corner here might be an option, as I still like Brandon Harris, Ras I Dowling, and Aaron Williams, but I think Ayers potential upside, and his great value, is too much to pass up. LL
27. The Atlanta Falcons select Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
This kid is a stud. He has some issues with his shoulder, a nerve condition, but he’s been tough and solid throughout his career. He’s not a “best of the bunch” pass rusher, run defender, or numbers guy – but he’s an NFL starter right out of the gate because he does everything well. Not okay, but well. He only had 4 sacks in 2010 after tallying 11 in 2009, but he was still one of the best defenders on a great defense in the Big 10. I think Clayborn is a great value pick here, and the Falcons could definitely use some punch at DE. PW
28. The New England Patriots select Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Already selecting a defensive end to man the 3-4 spot with the 17th pick, New England can afford to go elsewhere with this decision. There are still a ton of really talented options on the board, guys that certainly have 1st round ability, but I’m not sure there’s a guy that really fits what the Patriots need desperately, Randy Moss in his prime. Since there’s not a guy like that in draft, and the closest thing to that will get picked in the top 5. I think the Patriots grab talented depth at a key spot, the line. They could go for Derek Sherrod here, a talented OT, maybe even a guard like Danny Watkins – but I think they head over to the defensive side of the ball and pick upside with Aldon Smith. Guy is a freak physically, and while he hasn’t played OLB much, and certainly isn’t refined coming in, the Patriots could really use his tools at that position. Smith is a Top 15 talent and a steal here. NK
29. The Chicago Bears select Derek Sherrod
The Bears need to take the best offensive lineman on the board if indeed there is one of top tier guys. Sherrod is a solid guy that would instantly improve one of the weakest links on a good Bears squad. Aldon Smith might be the pick here, if he’s available, but a very good defense doesn’t have as much need to improve as their sieved of an offensive line. JA
30. The New York Jets select Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
The Jets need a nose tackle to crush up the running game in the middle, and provide a physical force inside that can eat up blockers so the linebackers and pass rushers get a chance to make plays against single coverage. The Jets had a great player on their roster, Kris Jenkins, but the big man just couldn’t stay on the field, and a great player on paper doesn’t mean much during the playoffs. This team is very good, and a couple key players away – a big, bad defensive nose-tackle could be that guy. LL
31. The Pittsburgh Steelers select, Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
The Steelers have a stud defense in the front 7, and they are solid in the secondary – they just need more speed and coverage ability on the corners. Harris has plenty of speed, and he measures out as a great athlete. He has good ball skills and he’ll immediately give the Steelers another body in the secondary, something they desperately need. Help on the offensive line is always an option, and a guard like Danny Watkins would be a good move, but they can get a good guard later and a very solid corner prospect right now. That seems like the best option. PW
32. The Green Bay Packers select Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
How do the rich keep getting richer? Like this. Cameron Heyward has some medical issues, he had Tommy John surgery on his elbow, and somehow that scares off everyone else in the first round except the Super Bowl Champs. It’s not like Heyward is going to be throwing 60 yard bombs or 30 yard outs, not for the Packers – they have Aaron Rodgers to do that type of work, and if he gets hurt, Matt Flynn ain’t bad either. Heyward will be fine holding his own as a 3-4 DE for the Packers, and the rich get richer! NK