17. Patriots – Julio Jones (WR Alabama)
My take at the time: The biggest need on offense last season after Moss left was a wide receiver who could stretch the field. Jones accomplishes that and more. It’s debatable which WR will be better between Green and Jones, but Jones might be the better fit in New England. Offensive line, defensive line and pass rusher are bigger needs for the Patriots, but if a player like Jones is available, they’ll realize the kind of value they’re getting. Brandon Tate and Taylor Price were supposed to fill this need, but Tate has shown inconsistency with his hands and in routes. Tate can still provide a lot of value as a return man and was definitely still worth the 3rd round pick we selected him with. No one knows what we’re getting out of 2010 3rd round pick Taylor Price since he was essentially redshirted his rookie year, but he’s nowhere near the talent that Jones is. If Taylor can prove to be a consistent 3rd receiver, he too will be worth the third round pick we selected him with. A passing game with Brady, Welker, Gronkowski (2nd in Defense adjusted Yards Above Repalcement for a tight end), Hernandez (5th in DYAR for a tight end) and Julio Jones would make defenses shake.
The Patriots can address any other needs they have with the other first round pick they have and two second round picks.
My take: As great as it would be I don’t see any possibility Jones slips this far.
My pick: Corey Liuget
18. Chargers – Muhammed Wilkerson (DT Temple)
Their take: With no glaring needs for the Chargers and an inability to select an entirely new Special Teams unit in the 1st round Wilkerson will be a nice fit for an already stout Chargers defense. Wilkerson is a good fit for the Chargers 3-4 defense and with multiple DL free agents who cannot be counted on to return Wilkerson will offer flexibility in that he can also play DE if necessary.
My take: I think the pick is right for the Chargers.
My pick: Wilkerson
19. Giants – Akeem Ayers (OLB UCLA)
Their take: For a team that has been known for its defense every season, the Giants really lack any sort of linebacking depth (or youth, for that matter). MLB Jonathan Goff had a great season in the middle of the defense, but there are serious questions about the outside linebackers with OLB Michael Boley and old man OLB Keith Bulluck so for me this pick is about taking the best fit available, and that fit is Akeem Ayers.
My take: I like the idea of a linebacker for the Giants, but this seems like a slight reach. Offensive line is a bigger need.
My pick: Nate Solder
20. Buccaneers – Ryan Kerrigan (DE Purdue)
Their take: Tampa hasn’t had a double-digit sacker since Simeon Rice in ’05 and is looking to inject some more youth into the defensive line. While Alex Magee, Tim Crowder, and Michael Bennett are decent backups, none of them have shown to be starters yet. Kerrigan would provide an instant upgrade over Stylez G. White, who may not even be with the team next season.
My take: I agree with taking a pass rushing threat with this pick, in my mock, there’s just a better player for their system available.
My pick: Bowers
21. Chiefs – Derek Sherrod (OT Mississippi State)
Their take: He’s got to be better than the head case Barry Richardson, and we need a RT that can keep his cool and not shit himself on the field in the middle of the huddle. Sherrod comes from a program that posted a 619:288 run-to-pass ratio last season, which is very similar to the Chiefs run first mentality, and I think he could fit right in terms of offensive scheme.
My take: While I agree the Chiefs could use some help along their line, I think they need to address the hole in the middle of their defense more.
My pick: Phil Taylor
22. Colts – Nate Solder (OT Colorado)
Their take: The Colts need to make up for the mistake of drafting Tony Ugoh. They have had a badly rebuilt offensive line for the last couple years and if they want to keep Peyton Manning from getting injured early then they will need to start fresh with a new Left Tackle.
My take: I agree with the pick, they still need defensive run support, but protecting Manning is a priority.
My pick: Carimi
23. Eagles – Corey Liuget (DT Illinois)
Their take: Listed at 6’2″ 300, The Eagles will finally have legitimate size at the D-tackle position as opposed to the undersized trio of Patterson, Bunkley, and Laws. The Eagles seem to always draft the best player available and that is Liuget at this spot, and he actually fills a position of need as well.
My take: Grabbing a cornerback to line up across the field from Asante Samuel should be their priority. They took enough defensive linemen last season.
My pick: Jimmy Smith
24. Saints – Cameron Heyward (DE Ohio State)
Their take: The Saints will need some help with the pass rush to improve their overall defense. Heyward will bring them a strong pass threat as well as a great run stopper. You could easily go DT or RB here, but I think Heyward will have a bigger impact than the players available at those 2 positions.
My take: I like the Saints going defensive line here, but I simply like a different player more.
My pick: Adrian Clayborn
25. Seahawks – Jake Locker (QB Washington)
Their take: While there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding Locker, the chance to get his talent at #25 is too difficult to pass up. Seattle has other holes, but with rumors of acquiring Carson Palmer, a 2 year apprenticeship under Palmer would do wonders. Locker is supremely talented but nobody really knows what he can do with quality players around him. Will he be overwhelmed by the NFL or will he step up? It’s a risk worth taking this late in the first round.
My take: I like the pick, it would be a great situation for Locker no matter who’s starting above him.
My pick: Ponder
26. Ravens – Jimmy Smith (CB Colorado)
Their take: The biggest weakness of the Ravens defense is at cornerback and I see them trying to fix it this off-season and drafting Smith is a good first step. Smith was one of the best corners in the Big 12 and his speed is a welcome addition on this team. Three of their four current CB’s on the roster are free agents (and not really that good either) so I think taking Smith in the first round makes sense for the Ravens with Heyward and a couple others off the board.
My take: Corner is definitely one of the biggest positions of need for the Ravens, if they can get Smith it would be scary.
My pick: Brandon Harris
27. Falcons – Brooks Reed (DE Arizona)
Their take: Reed’s athleticism and tenacity will make him a good fit for a Falcons defense in need of a pass rushing upgrade. Atlanta was already a great team but adding a quality defensive end only makes them better, especially if their defense is able to match their play from this past season.
My take: I like taking a defensive lineman here, but I think a different player is a better fit.
My pick: Cameron Heyward
28. Patriots – Justin Houston (OLB Georgia)
Houston comes from the classic mold of a Belichick OLB. He has similar size to Willie McGinest and Adalius Thomas and he can definitely play the same role in the Patriots defense. Houston excelled in Georgia’s 3-4 defense last season recording 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. He still needs some work against the run, but that can come in time. He’ll be mostly used on third downs his rookie year, but in time a linebacker crew of Houston, Spikes, Mayo and Cunningham will be dominant for years. I’m not concerned with his failing a drug test. As I said earlier, we took a flyer on Hernandez and Spikes last season and both worked out well.
Houston was the last pass rusher I felt worthy of a first round pick, whereas there are multiple guards, tackles, defensive linemen and defensive backs that will be available in the 2nd round.
29. Bears – Mike Pouncey (G Florida)
Their take: Chicago has what is very likely the worst OL in the NFL which needs upgrades at every position. Pouncey can play either G or C and will be an immediate upgrade over the scrubs Chicago played at those positions last year. The Bears can’t afford to continue letting Jay Cutler get destroyed by opposing pass rushers every Sunday, and the pick of Pouncey will go a long in preventing that.
My take: Perfect pick for the Bears
My pick: Pouncey
30. Jets – Phil Taylor (NT Baylor)
Their take: Will be the perfect replacement in the 3-4 for Kris Jenkins and the Jets always need to have good penetration up the middle to stop the run.
My take: This seems like one of the biggest wildcards of the first round. No one seems to know where the Jets will be leaning here. I see a need for a pass rusher.
My pick: Ryan Kerrigan
31. Steelers – Aaron Williams (CB/FS Texas)
Their take: This is a brutal spot for Pittsburgh. Jimmy Smith is a far better cover corner, but the Ravens took him. Mike Pouncey almost fell to them, but he went at 29. And Phil Taylor, the big guy they could use to shore up our aging D-line for when Aaron Smith takes his now yearly injury, just left the pick before. Aaron Williams is not a lockdown corner, but he is good in coverage, and he is physical, which fits the defensive scheme. He also provides the added benefit of providing safety depth in case Ryan Clark or Polamalu get hurt.
My take: I can see Williams in a Steelers uniform, but my guess is that they take the best lineman available.
My pick: Derek Sherrod
32. Packers – Gabe Carimi (OT Wisconsin)
Their take: The Packers offensive line showed major strides in improvement last year, but how long will Pro Bowler Chad Clifton be productive?
My take: This is another wildcard and I think the Packers will probably take the best player available.
My pick: Brooks Reed
Continue to NEPD’s 2011 NFL Mock Draft.