2011 NFL Mock Draft Picks 17-32 Updated Feb. 24th
17. New England Patriots (From Oakland): DE J.J Watt, Wisconsin-
The Patriots could look to go in a number of directions here, including DE (the 3-4 variety), RB, WR, OT, OG, or Rush LB, and I think they will take the best player available at one of those needs. Given their propensity to focus on defense I think that is where they will look. While they could go for one of the top rush guys on the board, I think they will target J.J. Watt here. He improves their pass rush from his end position and will help free up their linebackers. I’m sure the Patriots will want one of the top rush linebackers, but I don’t see them reaching for a guy like Houston or Ayers here, not with Watt still on the board.
New England is a prime candidate to trade up (or even trade down), but right now I think Watt is their prime choice.
pick change: Jan. 25th previous selection OLB Aldon Smith
Feb. 18th update: The Patriots will give Cam Jordan a long hard look, as well as Julio Jones. I think Watt is still their pick and he will be an immediate starter.
Feb. 25th update: Watt almost looks like he was born to be a Patriot, and while there are some other interesting options I still see this as they way they go.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Cam Jordan, Cal-
The Chargers have franchised Vincent Jackson so at least one of their receivers are coming back. While they could still look at Julio Jones here, I think the Chargers take the best player on the board in Cam Jordan. Jordan is a great young defensive end that absolutely dominated during Senior Bowl week. Jordan fills a big need for the Chargers and makes their top defense even better. If they can’t land a receiver or retain Floyd in free agency this could change quickly.
pick change, Jan. 25th previous pick: DE J.J. Watt
pick change, Feb. 3rd previous pick: WR Julio Jones
Feb. 25th update: I’d still be pretty shocked to see Jordan fall this far, but it is possible. If he does the Chargers almost have to take him.
19. New York Giants: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA-
Although a number of teams could target Ayers, I see him falling a little bit, since he is more of a 4-3 OLB, than a 3-4. Sure he rushes the passer, but guys like Smith and Miller do it better. Ayers plays better in coverage and diagnosing runs, making him a more ideal fit for a 4-3 team. The Giants desperately need to upgrade their back 7 (and could also look DT). He can be useful blitzing the quarterback, but can go out in coverage as well. He would be a big upgrade for the G-men, and should be able to start from day 1.
Feb. 3rd update: Giants still will look at a few other positions, but I don’t see them passing up Ayers and a big upgrade to that defense.
Feb. 17th update: I know some people are looking for the Giants to take an offensive lineman , but I don’t see it in the first round. Not with Ayers on the board.
Feb. 25th update: Ayers to the Giants is one of the biggest no-brainers in this draft, and barring them landing a top LB in free agency I can’t see how they look elsewhere.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue-
I’ve been mocking them an offensive tackle for some time, but I really think Tampa could be happy with Ryan Kerrigan. He has fallen some in my book and this is a bit high for him, but he can get after the quarterback. Sacks didn’t come easy for the Buccaneers last season, and that has to change for them to take their game to the next level and become a playoff team. I worry about Kerrigan in the ground game, but I do still like him as a pass rusher.
pick change: Jan. 25th previous selection OT Nate Solder
pick change: Feb. 3rd previous selection OT Anthony Castonzo
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection OT Gabe Carimi
21. Kansas City Chiefs: OLB/DE Justin Houston, Georgia-
The Chiefs might be desperate for a receiver, but there is no one on the board here worth taking. I realize that they have been drafting pretty steady on defense of late, but they do have their tight end, running back, and quarterback (at least they believe so) positions set. Offensive line looks pretty good assuming they resign their free agents (not big name stars so I see them coming back). Receiver is a big issue, but it will need to be addressed in free agency to find a real fix. I think the Chiefs will look to add another pass rusher to compliment Hali, and Houston is a great fit. While the Chiefs defense did a lot of things well this season they were really a one man show when it came to rushing the passer. If they can add a second threat it will strengthen the entire defense.
Feb. 3rd Update: The Chiefs still are in need of a complement to Hali, and I think Houston is the perfect fit for them.
Feb. 18th Update: Justin Houston still looks like a great pick for the Chiefs, though Julio Jones will tempt them. If they have not added anyone via free agency, Jones could be the pick, otherwise Houston and Hali will wreck havoc on the AFC West.
Feb. 24th update: 3-4’s succeed because of their line (which is improving) and their pass rush, adding Houston ensures the latter of those two is going to be very good.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin-
I finally gave in and now have the Colts taking an offensive tackle. They could take one in free agency, but they might not want to pay the high price tag with having to resign Peyton this offseason. Look for the Colts to add a good defensive player or two in free agency to allow them to take an OT. Carimi isn’t the perfect fit for the Colts as he is a better run blocker (which given their ground game isn’t a bad thing), but he will also be an upgrade in the pass blocking department as well. He’s a day one starter and that is what’s most important for the Colts, because their time to win is now.
pick change: Jan. 25th previous selection DT Stephen Paea
Feb. 18th update: I realize I’m going against the grain here as most people have them targeting a tackle. I just feel strongly the Colts will use free agency and the rest of the draft to fill their OT need. Ballard is a great fit for them and fills a huge need.
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection DT Christian Ballard
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado-
The Eagles have a pressing need at offensive tackle and I’m not buying their faith in Winston Justice, but I am starting to think they might look elsewhere in the draft. Corner back is almost as big of a need as offensive line, and Jimmy Smith is moving up draft boards. He is a big strong physical corner, that will have no problem matching up with the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Smith should really shore up that secondary and turn it into a strength. The Eagles will need to still find an offensive tackle, but they should have some options in free agency to do so.
Feb. 3rd update: Although I’d personally prefer Carimi, I’m thinking Sherrod will go higher in the draft. Unless they upgrade OT in free agency the Eagles need to strengthen that line.
Feb. 18th update: Sherrod could move a little higher, but this seems like a good spot for him. If the Eagles haven’t addressed their corner need a guy like Brandon Harris is a legitimate option.
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection OT Derrek Sherrod
24. New Orleans Saints: DT Drake Nevis, LSU-
I think Mark Ingram would have been their pick if he was available. With him off the board I think the Saints will look at shoring up their defensive line. Drake Nevis would be a good fit next to Sedrick Ellis and give New Orleans a strong front four. Nevis holds up well against the run and gets a very good pass rush. His addition would have, DC Gregg Williams salivating, and should help keep the Saints defense highly productive.
Feb. 3rd update: More and more I’m thinking the Saints will look at Ingram with this pick. Their lack of a consistent running game is their only flaw on offense. And while the running back by committee approach worked two years ago, this year was a fairly big disaster. Ingram alleviates that, and can be the true feature back for them.
pick change: Feb 18th previous selection RB Mark Ingram
Feb. 24th update: There are a couple ways the Saints could go, but adding a DT, could really bring this defense together. I know it is a number of years straight taking a defensive player first, but without another first round quality running back, I can’t see that trend changing.
25. Seattle Seahawks: CB Aaron Williams, Texas-
The Seahawks has a number of needs despite being a playoff team, while I could see them addressing their pass rush or long term quarterback situation, I think they will look to add a top notch corner. I have Williams and Brandon Harris in basically a dead heat to be the 3rd CB off the board, but think Williams makes a bit more sense for the Seahawks. He is a little bit bigger and taller, which should matchup better against the top receivers in the NFC West.
pick change: previous selection DE Cameron Jordan
Feb. 17th update: Aaron Williams still makes sense at this pick, though D-line is still an option. A lot could depend on whether or not they bring Brandon Mebane back at DT, if he leaves there is a pretty big hole for the Seahawks to fill.
Feb. 24th update: I still like Williams with this pick, but with so many needs, it is very possible they go in a different direction.
26. Baltimore Ravens: CB Brandon Harris, Miami-
The Ravens have one of the elite defenses in the league, but their corner back play is still average at best. Harris is a promising young corner, who has the skills to develop into a number one corner. Until then the Ravens will be quite happy with him being number two, and a big upgrade.
Feb. 3rd update: Ravens could target defensive line or linebacker, but I’m fairly confident this pick is on defense. CB remains their biggest need and Harris is a good fit for them.
Feb. 17th update: This is pure need over desire. Julio Jones would look nice in a Ravens uniform, but they have to fill that hole at CB.
Feb. 24th update: Corner back has to be number one on the Ravens wish list, and Harris is good value at this spot.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DT/DE Christian Ballard, Iowa-
This pick could change in a hurry if the Falcons lose one or more of their starting offensive linemen in free agency, but right now their top need is to upgrade their pass rush. Now I know Ballard doesn’t seem like a good fit, because he is traditionally a 4-3 DT, but despite having tackle size he has end speed. Ballard has a quick first step and is strong enough to bull rush his way to the quarterback. I see Ballard playing end on early downs and kicking inside to tackle, on passing situations. I know receiver is still a need for this team, but their primary focus needs to be their pass rush.
pick change: Jan. 25th previous selection TE Kyle Rudolph
pick change: Feb. 3rd previous selection WR Torrey Smith
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection WR Julio Jones
28. New England Patriots: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College-
While I like the idea of the Patriots grabbing a playmaker, I’m thinking they will take the more practical approach at take an offensive lineman. Castonzo is a local product, but that isn’t why he will end up a Patriot. The Pats need him, because with Matt Light on the way out, New England’s once elite offensive line is showing some holes. The Jets exploited some of those weaknesses in the Playoffs, as they were even able to get pressure with 3 and 4 men rushing. Unless the Patriots add a top tackle in free agency, they will have to address it early in the draft.
pick change: Jan. 25th previous selection DE Allen Bailey
pick change: Feb. 3rd previous selection WR Titus Young
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection WR Torrey Smith
29. New York Jets: DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State-
The Jets are likely to lose Shaun Ellis to free agency this offseason leaving a major void along their defensive line. I think this has to be New York’s top priority come draft time, and they should be quite pleased with Heyward. While some question his motor, he seems to read the snap count very well for a college player and a solid assortment of moves. The Jets will be quite pleased with Heyward going forward and he should help keep their defense near the top.
Feb. 3rd update: While Heyward’s injury could have him drop into the early 2nd round, I think the Jets will probably look past that. Now of course you never know and a lot will be dependent on how much he can workout before the draft. Right now I still think he is their pick.
Feb. 17th update: Jets franchised Harris and apparently their top targets are their two receivers. It looks as though they could need a corner, but I’m guessing they find another way to fill that need.
Feb. 24th update: A lot will depend on what they lose in free agency, but until then Heyward is the smart pick.
30. Chicago Bears: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi St. –
With no trades this pick could happen, but come draft day I’d be shocked if one of the top 4 tackles lasted to 30. That being said the Bears are in the market for a tackle and if needs be I’m sure they will be a team looking to trade up to ensure they get one. Sherrod is an interesting tackle prospect, I think he is very capable of playing either spot, and he has the upside to develop into a Pro Bowler. He’s not as much as a road grinder as some of the other tackles, but he should do okay in the run game. The real area he excels is pass blocking, something I’m sure Jay Cutler will appreciate.
pick change: previous selection OT DeMarcus Love
Feb. 17th update: I have some real concerns about Solder, and the more I watch him the less I like, but I am thinking he will still go in the first round. The Bears have a big enough need they, won’t let the concerns about Solder stop them.
pick change: Feb. 17th previous selection Nate Solder
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: G/C Mike Pouncey, Florida-
Sure it is a bit of a feel good story, but Mike Pouncey is deserving of hearing his name called in the first round. Now I don’t think he is as refined as his All-Pro brother Maurkice, but he has that potential. Mike fits better as a guard than a center, which is where the Steelers biggest need lies. He should step into their right guard spot and team up with his brother to form a great interior line. If Willie Colon can come back from injury the Steelers offensive line will go from a weakness to one of their strengths. Pouncey could get taken earlier, but I think it is a foregone conclusion that he won’t get past the Steelers first round pick.
Feb. 3rd update: CB and OT are still big needs, but grabbing another interior lineman is key. I don’t think there is anyway they let Pouncey slip by them.
Feb. 17th update: I know the Steelers have a need at corner, but their guards were getting pretty well manhandled in the Super Bowl. Putting the Pouncey boys together will be the best thing for both Roethlisberger and Mendenhall.
Feb. 24 update: I still think Pouncey and Pouncey is a dream scenario for the Steelers offensive line. Now if Willie Colon or Ike Taylor leave it could change their strategy.
32. Green Bay Packers: WR Torrey Smith, Maryland-
This is a bit of a luxury pick, but it makes sense as well. I know the Packers have some defensive and offensive line issues, but they also could have a huge issue developing at WR. James Jones is a free agent, and I’m guessing he’ll get priced out of what the Packers are willing to pay. On top of Jones leaving, Donald Driver is coming off his worst season and might only have one more year left. A good young receiver like Torrey Smith, does make some sense for the Packers. Their window is now, and adding weapons for Aaron Rodgers has to be a top priority. Smith has the speed and quickness to help stretch the field, and be a home run threat.
Feb. 3rd update: Packers could go in a different direction, but I think Liuget makes a lot of sense for them still.
pick change: Feb. 3rd previous selection DE/DT Corey Liuget
pick change: Feb. 18th previous selection WR Titus Young