With the Shrine Game over and Senior Bowl festivities in full swing, it is time for us to give you our third installment of our 2011 Patriots Mock Draft. Not a ton of changes up top, but some new names in the middle rounds are sure to get some people intrigued.
1st Round – #17
Not much has changed since our last Mock Draft Update – the Patriots still need to get some consistent pass-rush. Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan was nearly the pick, but Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri) has the ability to play in space that gives him the edge over Kerrigan.
Smith’s freakishly long arms, speed, and devastating rush moves are just what the Patriots need opposite Jermaine Cunningham. He still has room to grow muscle and refine his technique, which could easily turn him into a dynamic force in the Patriots defense.
If Coach Belichick feels that Smith can develop into a decent run-stopper, expect this Tiger to be the pick.
1st Round – #28
The offensive line is good enough to beat the majority of defensive lines in the NFL, but come playoff time the last few years, holes have started to show up. Anthony Castonzo (OT, Boston College) would help to shore up the future at the tackle position. He can play left-tackle or flip to the right side if the Patriots feel that Sebastian Vollmer’s future is on the left side.
Castonzo is a very balanced blocker, good against the run and the pass. He has a great punch and decent feet.
Colorado’s Nate Solder, Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi or Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod are other possibilities here.
2nd Round – #33
Ever since Richard Seymour was traded, the production out of the 5-technique DE positions has been sub-par. Muhammad Wilkerson (DE, Temple) is a prospect with the great measurables and athletic ability that the Patriots look for.
He sheds blocks with ease, allowing him to play the run as well as get after the quarterback. He takes on double-teams well, which will help keep the Patriots linebacking corps clean.
In the early 2nd-round, Cam Heyward from OSU could be another choice. If the Patriots are able to trade up, Alabama’s Marcel Dareus or Cal’s Cam Jordan would also be great 5-technique prospects.
2nd Round – #60
There is a lot of debate out there over whether the Patriots need to upgrade their wide-receiver corps. We’re in the camp that it can’t hurt to add some more competition. Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami) had a wonderful senior season and is having a wonderful Senior Bowl, where he was seen talking with Patriots scouts. He could be the consistent intermediate/deep threat that the Patriots need to develop.
Vincent Brown of SDSU and Titus Young of Boise State are two other WR’s that are shooting up draft boards.
3rd Round – #74
As was stated earlier, the Patriots need to get more physical at the point of attack, especially in the playoffs. John Moffitt (OG/C, Wisconsin) would give the Patriots some versatility on the line, while also providing another dose of nastiness that could be missing if Logan Mankins isn’t re-signed.
Moffitt moves pretty well for a 320-pounder and has experience snapping the ball in the shotgun and with the QB under center.
Penn State’s Stefen Wisniewski is another guard/center combo that the Patriots could target, although he will probably be drafted around the end of the 1st day. Danny Watkins of Baylor could also get a look here.
3rd Round – #92
Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have the starting RB positions all but locked up. That said, there will be some movement in the depth categories. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris aren’t getting any younger. Delone Carter (RB, Syracuse) would give the Patriots some much needed youth and depth at the position.
Davon House (CB, New Mexico State) is an ideal nickel/dime corner to play behind Leigh Bodden and Devin McCourty. He can compete with Kyle Arrington and Darius Butler for reps in sub-packages in 2011. He shows a great ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, a trait that Coach Belichick is often very high on.
It has been hinted around Foxboro that the Patriots might carry three QB’s in 2011. Ricky Stanzi (QB, Iowa) would be an ideal fit for the Patriots. He has some experience, is still improving, and is very coachable.
If Colin Kaepernick of Nevada falls past the 2nd round, the Patriots might get a wild hair and look his way instead.
Kevin Kowalski (OC, Toledo) is just kind of nasty, which is exactly what the Patriots need at the center position. He might be a practice-squad guy at first, but he has the tools to develop into a solid backup if not a starter.