2011 NFL Mock Draft Picks 17-32 Updated 4/07
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17. New England Patriots (From Oakland): WR Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh-
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. Although I would typically look for them to fill one of their defensive needs, I’d be a little shocked if they let Jon Baldwin get past them. Baldwin has big time speed and play making ability, and he could be the perfect replacement for Randy Moss.While I know there are some concerns about his attitude, overall I think Baldwin will be an exceptional addition and offer great value to the Pats.
New England is a prime candidate to trade up (or even trade down), but right now I think Baldwin is their prime choice.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin-
With the Patriots passing on J.J. Watt, San Diego lands a player worth of a top 10 pick in the 2nd half of round 1. The Chargers could consider an offensive lineman or receiver here, but defensive end is their biggest need and Watt should fill it exceptionally well.
19. New York Giants: C/G Mike Pouncey, Florida-
All along I’ve been mocking Akeem Ayers here given the Giants need at OLB, but I think his stock is dropping into the mid-20’s, which makes him a bad pick here. While a lot of people would target a tackle with this pick, I think the interior line is their bigger need. This could be slightly high for Pouncey, but he can help them at either need area. Pouncey should be able to be an immediate starter for the Giants and will keep their offensive line exceptionally strong.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa-
The Buccaneers need a defensive end and Clayborn would be a fantastic value at number 20. Clayborn will give Tampa the outside pass rusher they have been lacking. He is strong enough that he should be an effective anchor against the run as well. Tampa still has needs at OT and CB, but DE is their most pressing need, and should be addressed here.
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.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College-
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. Castonzo I thought preformed well at the Scouting Combine, and looked to be the 2nd best tackle in the draft. I don’t think he is the perfect tackle, but he should be a day one starter and protect Peyton’s blindside for a number of years.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Brandon Harris, Miami-
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 Brandon Harris has great starting potential. Given the level of talent of the Cowboys and Giants receiving corps, the Eagles need to matchup if they want to stay competitive.
24. New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram, Alabama-
Even with resigning Pierre Thomas I can see the Saints drafting Mark Ingram. Running back has been a revolving door for a couple of years and Ingram could finally be their answer. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory have done well, but both are injury prone and neither looks to be the answer. Ingram gives the Saints great value at this pick and should help balance their pass happy offense.
25. Seattle Seahawks: DT Corey Liuget, Illinois-
The Seahawks have a number of needs so I think they will go with the best player available strategy, and at this point no player has more value than Liuget. Liuget has the makings of a star defensive tackle. While he could potentially play outside in a 3 man front, his best position is DT. Seattle could be looking at losing their best D-lineman in DT Brandon Mebane, so Liuget could possibly be his replacement. Even if they keep Mebane, pairing him with Liuget would be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
26. Baltimore Ravens: CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia-
The Ravens have one of the elite defenses in the league, but their corner back play is still average at best. Dowling is moving up draft boards, and while this is a bit high fills the Ravens’ biggest need. He should be an instant starter and should be a good fit for Baltimore’s defense.
27. Atlanta Falcons: TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame-
Although the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush, there aren’t any good 4-3 ends available at this pick. They could grab a guy like Heyward or Ballard and kick him inside on passing downs, but I’m guessing they go in a different direction. They could target an offensive lineman if they lose one of their starters in free agency, but for now I like Kyle Rudolph with this pick. No it isn’t the wide receiver they are hoping for, but Rudolph, should still be a good weapon in year one, despite being Tony Gonzalez’s understudy. Surround Matt Ryan with as many weapons as possible is key for Atlanta, and Rudolph definitely qualifies.
28. New England Patriots: OT Derek Sherrod, Miss. St.-
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. Sherrod is 4th on my OT board, but I see him as a guy the Patriots will like. He can play on either side and is more of a pass blocker than a run blocker. The Pats need him, because with Matt Light on the way out, and 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.
29. New York Jets: OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA-
The Jets could go for a defensive end with this pick, but with Ayers on the board New York might opt for the pass rusher. Ayers stock has fallen some due to a poor combine, but the game tape tells a different story. Ayers during game action always seems to be around the ball and shows great pursuit of the ball carrier. His greatest strength is his pass rush ability which would be a huge benefit for the Jets. As good as New York’s defense has been, they don’t have an elite pass rusher. Ayers could be the answer the Jets have been looking for.
30. Chicago Bears: OT Nate Solder, Colorado –
Nate Solder is a boom or bust tackle, and I consider him the 5th best OT in the draft. I do think he will go higher than others and remain a first round pick because of that unlimited upside. I liked what I saw from Solder in the offensive lineman drills at the Combine, but his lack of upper body strength does worry me. He’s a good fit for Chicago, given his quickness, but he needs to maintain leverage if he is going to be a star.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin-
I’ve had Pouncey going to the Steelers for quite some time, but I could see him off the board by this pick. If that is the case Pittsburgh should waste no time turning in their card for Carimi, who is a perfect fit for them. Last season both of their starting tackles missed a significant amount of time due to injury, so it is a major need for Pittsburgh. Carimi could have been born to play in Pittsburgh as he is a pure road grinder, with a blue collar attitude. He will be devastating in run blocking and more than hold his own in pass blocking. He’s probably a better fit on the right side, but since both tackles need upgraded he fits in Pittsburgh.
32. Green Bay Packers: DE Marcus Wilkerson, Temple-
Cullen Jenkins is very likely to leave this offseason and the Packers will need to find a replacement. Wilkerson looks to be an instant starter at a 5-technique, and should fill in for Jenkins nicely. He has good upside and is just scratching the surface of his potential. By grabbing Wilkerson the Packers will assure their defense stays strong and keeps up their hopes for repeating.