2011 NFL Mock Draft: Round 2 Updated Mar. 31st
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33. New England Patriots (From Carolina): DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State-
With the Patriots addressing their offensive needs in the first, I think they will look to land a top defensive talent with this pick. Heyward is a first round talent, but will likely fall into the early 2nd round due to his injuries this offseason. While none are considered serious, it has kept him from working out, which is the reason for the slide. Heyward would be a good fit for the Patriots and with the return of Ty Warren, would give New England a formidable defensive line.
34. Buffalo Bills: QB Christian Ponder, Florida State-
I think the Bills have to take a quarterback with their first two picks, but I can’t get behind them taking Locker right now. At least not with Ponder still on the board. Christian Ponder is quite possibly the most NFL ready quarterback, and would be a good fit for Buffalo. His stock is rising fast and there is a chance he sneaks into the first round, but if not Buffalo could look to take him here.
35. Cincinnati Bengals: RB Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech-
Williams is the 2nd best back in this draft class, and would be a solid value pick for the Bengals here. While they could look to add a receiver, my guess is they will wait a round to do so. Williams has the benefit of being able to really take some pressure off Cam Newton, and offer the Bengals a consistent ground threat. Cincinnati has big needs along the defensive line, but I’m guessing they still go offense with this pick.
36. Denver Broncos: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State-
Paea is one of the best defensive tackles in this draft class, and while his stock took a hit with a knee injury at the Senior Bowl, this is still great value for the Broncos. Their defensive front 7 is basically a one man show and he is coming off a major injury. Adding Bowers was a good first step, but getting an elite run defender in the middle is key as well. The Broncos could consider a running back or linebacker with this pick, but DT is more important. Remember John Fox comes from a defensive background, and he saw in Carolina that you can win with just okay QB play if you have a good running game and defense.
37. Cleveland Browns: DT Christian Ballard, Iowa-
The Browns are another team that is making a transition to a 4-3 defense, and now need to add the correct personnel. While the Browns have multiple needs for their new defense, adding Ballard would be a great addition here. They already have more of a run-stuffing DT, so now they need to add one who can generate a bit of a pass rush up the middle. Ballard is a relentless player, who’s motor never stops running. Ballard should give good pressure up the middle, and fill a major need for the Browns.
38. Arizona Cardinals: G Danny Watkins, Baylor-
If the Cards take a quarterback in the first round, then I think they will ensure his protection with an offensive lineman in round 2. Watkins should be able to start at guard from day one (and could even potentially lineup at RT). While he is an older prospect, he will be an immediate addition to this team and give them a great blocker. Watkins is one of the more physical offensive linemen in this draft and if he gets his hands on you, he will stop you cold.
39. Tennessee Titans: QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas-
Personally I don’t think Mallett is worth a top 50 pick given his character concerns, but if a team believes he can mature they won’t hesitate to pull the trigger. If Jeff Fisher were still in charge, I’d say no way this happens, but as it stands now the Titans have a huge void at QB and are getting a lot of pressure to fill it. The Titans brought in Chris Palmer specifically to work with a young quarterback so I have to believe they take one here. Look for them to also potentially pursue a trade up for Jake Locker if the opportunity presents itself.
40. Dallas Cowboys: T/G Ben Ijalana, Villanova-
The Cowboys will likely be looking for either a safety or an offensive lineman with this pick. If Ijalana is still on the board, I think they will go the offensive line route. Ijalana could fit in as either a guard or a RT, two positions of need for Dallas. Overall I think he is a better guard, but if the Cowboys haven’t filled their right tackle void I think he is more than capable of handling that.
41. Washington Redskins: G/C Rodney Hudson, Florida State-
I know the Skins have needs at RB, WR and QB, but until they get an offensive line in place it’s really not going to matter whom the Redskins have at their skill positions, as they simply won’t have the blocking to be effective. While the Redskins could look long and hard at NT Phil Taylor or DE Cameron Heyward, they need to upgrade this line in 4 spots. Hudson is preferred by some as a center, but I think he is a perfect zone blocking guard. He has quick hands and feet, and anchors extremely well. If the Skins grab him and stick him next to Trent Williams, they will be set on the left side of their line for years to come.
42. Houston Texans: NT Phil Taylor, Baylor-
Although I figured the Texans wouldn’t forgo the opportunity to grab a corner in the top two rounds, I now think they might stay focused on their front 7 in the early rounds. Phil Taylor would be a great fit in Houston and give the Texans the classic nose tackle they are lacking. The last thing the Texans can afford to do is not bring in 3-4 talent, because if they don’t their defense won’t be able to stop anyone. Corner and safety are still major needs, but ones that I think Houston can address later.
43. Minnesota Vikings: QB Jake Locker, Florida State-
The Vikings will likely be adding a veteran quarterback this offseason, but they also need add a young guy, who can start in a year or two. Locker isn’t a perfect fit for Minnesota since I think he will need a couple years of development time, but that is also why he could still be available at this pick. Locker could do well to develop under Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave.
44. Detroit Lions: LB Martez Wilson, Illinois-
I know some prefer Wilson as an ILB, but I think he is an excellent strong side linebacker prospect. He offers good bulk to anchor against the run, and great speed for pursuit after the ball carrier. I think Wilson has immense upside, and the Lions should be quite thrilled with his selection in the 2nd round.
45. San Francisco 49ers: OLB Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh-
The 49ers will stay on the defensive side of the football as they look to improve their pass rush. Sheard is a great value in 2nd round and should quickly develop into the elite pass rusher the 49ers are looking for. Sheard has been moving up draft boards and this is a great fit for him, as I think he fits better in a 3-4 than a 4-3.
46. Denver Broncos (From Miami): DT Drake Nevis, LSU-
I know some people might not get behind the idea of using their top 3 picks to fix the defensive line, but that is exactly what they should do. Yes they still need some help at RB, but they can get a decent option in the mid-rounds, and while their secondary and linebackers still need some help, their need isn’t as great as the defensive line’s. Adding Nevis gives the Broncos a potentially elite unit, that John Fox used to have (and win with) in Carolina. I know it is a bit of a pipe dream for one team to devote 3 high picks on the defensive line, but that unit was so bad last year that it makes sense. If I was looking at the quickest way to return Denver to prominence, it would be by building an exceptionally strong unit, and that they can do with their D-line with these picks.
47. St. Louis Rams: OG Marcus Cannon, TCU-
The Rams landed their top flight receiver in the first round, which leaves them with one big hole on offense, right guard. Cannon is a perfect power guard and he open quite a few holes for Stephen Jackson next season. And while RG will be a position change for Cannon I think he should handle it considering he was a LT in college. By filling their final major weakness on offense, the Rams should be able to take off and really challenge for the division.
48. Oakland Raiders: C/G Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State-
Wisniewski’s uncle was an All-Pro center for the Raiders (and now their O-line coach), and I fully expect the Raiders to make Stefen their 2nd round choice if he is still on the board. While he could play guard for them, I think it is more likely he ends up their center.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Brandon Burton, Utah-
The Jaguars secondary is almost as much of a joke as their pass rush. They have to add some quality players who can cover. I think this is a little high for Burton, but Jacksonville has shown in the past that they are willing to reach for the player they want/need. While a player like Jimmy Smith is a higher value at this point, I don’t think Jacksonville will bite given his attitude and off the field issues.
50. San Diego Chargers: OLB/DE Sam Acho, Texas-
This could be a bit of a reach for Acho, but he had an impressive combine, and the Chargers could use a younger pass rusher. I like Acho’s upside and I see him developing into a very good OLB.
51. Tampa Bay: CB Chris Brown, Texas-
With some pending legal troubles for Tampa’s starting corner (Talib), the Bucs will likely look to address the position early in the draft. Brown is a good value here and someone who could start from day one if need be. Even if Talib isn’t suspended or cut for his actions, Tampa needs to think of the future as Ronde Barber might only have one more year in him.
52. New York Giants: FS Rahim Moore, UCLA-
Safety isn’t the biggest need for the Giants, then again it isn’t their biggest strength as well. While there might be more glaring needs, the Giants do appreciate value, and I could see them grabbing Moore here given his value relative to the draft position. If the Giants safeties continue to struggle, Moore gives the team the depth to make the necessary change.
53. Indianapolis Colts: DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina-
The Colts addressed their OT need (well at least half of it) in the first round. They will need to try to fix their DT need in the 2nd. Austin, has some red flags heading into this offseason, but so far he seems to be doing all the right things to answer those questions about him. If he checks out, the Colts should be highly interested in him. Austin would be a good fit in the middle of the Colts line and should cause all sorts of disruptions in the opposing backfield.
54. Philadelphia Eagles: G Will Rackley, Leigh-
The Eagles need to upgrade the right side of their offensive line, and Rackley is quickly moving up draft boards. This could be slightly high for him, but I see him as a good fit in Philly and a guy who will shore up that offensive line. Philly still needs to find a RT, but I don’t see any tackles that make sense for the Eagles right here.
55. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami-
Hankerson could be nabbed earlier, but if he does last this long then I think the Chiefs will be quite thrilled. Kansas City needs to keep adding quality targets to Matt Cassel‘s arsenal and Hankerson would be a good fit. Hankerson isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver, but he should excel at the next level. The one real concern is his hands as at times he loses concentration and will have a multi-drop game, but otherwise he looks like a very good starting WR.
56. New Orleans Saints: OLB Bruce Carter, North Carolina-
The Saints have a major need at weakside linebacker and Carter is one of the best LB’s in this class, making this both a value and a need pick. Carter has the skill set to be an instant starter and should help upgrade the Saints defense.
57. Seattle Seahawks: CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia-
The Seahawks need to add a corner in the first two rounds of the draft, as there secondary got torched last season. Dowling has some injury concerns, and has disappeared at times, but he has incredible potential. If he can stay healthy he projects as a number 1 corner, capable of shadowing the league’s top receivers.
58. Baltimore Ravens: WR Titus Young, Boise State-
The Ravens receiving corps is vastly improved, but they are still looking for that home run threat. Young would be that speed weapon and a perfect compliment to Boldin and Mason. Young still needs to work on his secondary skills (getting out of breaks, route running, and working against press coverage), but he has the potential to be a star.
59. Atlanta Falcons: WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy:
Although the Falcons need another DE to compliment John Abraham, I’m thinking they continue to add weapons on offense. Roddy White is a great receiver, but the rest of their pass catchers are in need of an upgrade. Jernigan offers a legitimate burner for Matt Ryan and someone who will stretch the field, which should help open up the middle for the Falcons tight ends.
60. New England: RB Mikel Leshoure, Illinois:
The Patriots have a lot of picks to play with, so I see them going best player available with this pick and adding another weapon. While their ground game was nice last season, it didn’t have an elite feel to it, and it let them down when it mattered most. While the Pats have some talent in the backfield I really don’t think anyone of them is a legit number one tailback. Leshoure has that number one back potential, and is a steal late in the 2nd round.
61. San Diego Chargers (from New York Jets): OT James Carpenter, Alabama-
The Chargers could use an upgrade on the right side of their line, and while Carpenter isn’t projected as a top 2 round guy, his draft stock is moving up and he is a good fit here. I think Carpenter has a lot of potential and could be the answer the Chargers are looking for at their right tackle spot.
62. Chicago Bears: CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado-
When you face Aaron Rodgers twice a season you better be prepared. Although the Bears could go in a number of directions I see them going corner with this pick. If Jimmy Smith is available I think Chicago will be more than happy to add him to their ‘Rodgers prevention’ unit. Smith has the ability to be an elite corner, but red flags will make him fall. If Chicago doesn’t see any major concerns, I think he is a great value at this pick.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers: OG Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh-
The Steelers desperately need to improve their offensive line this offseason, and adding a G like Pinkston will go a long way to helping. While Pinkston was a tackle in college, he likely fits best on the inside. I really like his upside and considering he was a local product the Steelers will have plenty of knowledge of what he brings to the table. The Steelers do need a corner, but I think they might go guard here and corner in the next round.
64. Green Bay Packers: OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona-
Reed has been compared to Clay Matthews, so adding him to Packers LB corps could just be scary. I don’t think Reed is as elite as Matthews, but he is a relentless pass rusher who gets after the quarterback. If the Packers can get a book end to Matthews their defense could very well be unstoppable. I know some people rank Reed higher, and I could see him going a few spots higher, but I really don’t see him going too much higher than this pick, given the talent at other positions.