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2011 NFL Mock Draft

You’re on the clock…

Updated April 27th – Version 4.0 (The Finale, Ultimo, Last Hoorah, etc.)

1.) Carolina – Cam Newton (6’5 / 250 / Auburn / QB)I was reluctant to make Cam Newton my No. 1 pick for a while, but now I believe that it’s slowly becoming a reality for the Carolina Panthers. Newton is a very talented football player, that’s obvious. But how does he transition to the NFL? Is he the next Ben Roethlisberger or the next JaMarcus Russell? Personally, I lean towards the Big Ben side.

Many have been critical of Newton’s ability to read defenses and decision-making, but I believe Newton is welcoming of solid coaching. After so many have bashed Newton for his character and interviews around the time of the Combine, I feel that Newton is a leader on the field and a positive for a locker room.

With Newton as the pick, I should also note that I do not believe Jimmy Clausen is chopped liver. In fact, I think Clausen is deserving of another season. From talking to people familiar with the Carolina Panthers organization, the team will not look to trade Clausen and it’ll be an interesting training camp for the quarterback position.

A key factor in this selection — and it must be noted — Panthers owner Jerry Richardson loves Cam Newton.

Other Possibilities:

Marcell Dareus (DT / Alabama) – An absolute beast on the defensive line and the Panthers need the help.

Patrick Peterson (CB / LSU) – Top player on my Big Board and on many others, Peterson is also the safest and likely most deserving of the top pick.

A.J. Green (WR / Georgia) – It’s very possible that the front office is not done with Clausen. Giving him a primary receiver would help.

Previous Pick: Blaine Gabbert (QB / Mizzou)

2.) Denver – Von Miller (6’2 / 240 / Texas A&M / LB)This is a last-minute switch due to reports that the Broncos’ war room beginning to lean more towards Von Miller than Marcell Dareus. Although new head coach John Fox and the worst-ranked Denver defense from a year ago would benefit with the selection of either player, I have really good feelings about Miller.

Miller possesses the superb combination of pass-rushing AND pass-covering abilities. He killed his workouts, demolished the Combine and he’s a great character both on and off the field. The Broncos coaching staff could also be excited about the numerous looks that they could pose against opponents because of Miller’s versatility. Honestly, Miller could actually add something new to the playbook.

Other Possibilities:

Marcell Dareus (DL / ALA) – I believe the Broncos are torn down the middle with Miller and Dareus.

Previous Pick: Marcell Dareus (DL / Alabama)

3.) Buffalo – Marcell Dareus (6’3 / 306 / Alabama / DL)As much as head coach Chan Gailey would like to land Von Miller with this pick, he won’t be disappointed with Marcell Dareus. The team could look to draft a quarterback, but I don’t think they’re completely down on Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is only 28-years-old and his performance last season wasn’t necessarily a bad one. Fitz threw for 3,000 yards and tossed 23 touchdowns, finishing the year with an 81.8 qb-rating. General manager Buddy Nix has said he wants to draft a starter with the No. 3 pick and I don’t think a guy like Blaine Gabbert starts over Ryan Fitzpatrick in their first season.

Someone like Dareus along the defensive front is a no-brainer — he’d come in right away, fill a hole and make a difference. Dareus is an abnormal combination of size, speed, strength and agility. Without question, Dareus is a starting defensive lineman in the NFL for many years to come.

Other Possibilities:

 Blaine Gabbert (QB / MIZZ) – They need their quarterback of the future.

Previous Pick: Von Miller (LB / Texas A&M)

4.) Cincinnati – Blaine Gabbert (6’5 / 235 / Missouri / QB)There remains to be a huge question mark at the quarterback position for the Bengals and they have the opportunity to select arguably this class’s best passer. Filling the void of Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens may be a big deal, but it means nothing if Carson Palmer follows through with his retirement plans and there’s no one on the roster to throw the football.

Gabbert has the size, arm strength and mobility to succeed at the next level, but he’s inconsistent. Unlike most people, I don’t feel that Gabbert can come in and start right away. He’s a project.

Gabbert has a ton of natural ability and his ceiling is relatively high, but I wonder how he’ll respond when he’s thrown into the fire.

Other Possibilities:

A.J. Green (WR / UGA) – The consensus pick for most of the season, Green will fill a big void as arguably the best receiver in this class.

Previous Pick: A.J. Green (WR / Georgia)

5.) Arizona – Patrick Peterson (6’1 / 218 / LSU / DB)Although the Cardinals will be praying to have Von Miller fall into their lap at No. 5, they have no choice but to be happy with the best overall prospect in this draft. Peterson has elite speed, he’s the best cover corner in this draft, he has ball-hawking abilities, he’s versatile in the sense of being able to play safety and he presents a real threat in returning duties. Peterson has a ton of potential to become a lockdown corner in the NFL for many years.

I’ve seen a lot of people that believe the Cardinals snag a quarterback at this position, but I don’t feel that coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to take that risk with a team that isn’t in the position to rebuild. Second-year quarterback John Skelton is a very interesting prospect and I think the team will look to him in training camp. And of course there’s always the chance that Whisenhunt brings in a veteran free agent like Marc Bulger or Donovan McNabb.

Other Possibilities:

Blaine Gabbert (QB / MIZZ) – Never say never.

Robert Quinn (DL / UNC) – The Cards’ could use a pass-rusher and Quinn is the best available.

Previous Pick: Von Miller (LB / TAMU)

6.) Cleveland – A.J. Green (6’4 / 190 / Georgia / WR)Now that the Browns have committed to Colt McCoy as their quarterback of the future (great move), the team will look to draft a weapon to place into his arsenal. Thanks to the Bengals jumping on Gabbert at No. 4, the Browns luck out with the player who is tops on their big board in Green.

Green is an electrifying receiver with elite speed, hands and agility. The addition of someone like Green is exactly what the Browns’ offense needs and this will be helpful to both McCoy and running back Peyton Hillis (Madden 2012 cover boy). Typically, I call the receiving position a very hard transition from college to pros — but Green makes this jump without issue.

Other Possibilities:

Julio Jones (WR / ALA) – If Green goes to Cincy, Jones is the next best available. Also, the Browns are reportedly fans of Jones anyway.

Previous Pick: Julio Jones (WR / Alabama) 

7.) San Francisco – Prince Amukamara (6’1 / 200 / Nebraska / CB)The Niners could really benefit from Peterson slipping a couple of spots, but I don’t think PP gets past Arizona AND Cleveland. Not to be disappointed, San Francisco addresses a huge need with this draft’s second best coverage corner.

Amukamara has been mocked as late as No. 13 to Detroit, but I feel like his stock has been gaining ground lately. Robert Quinn is an option for a pass-rush that could use some help, but the Niners aren’t all that interested in Robert Quinn at No. 7. New head coach Jim Harbaugh also needs to draft “his guy”, but the team is only lukewarm on Gabbert (if he falls).

That being said, recent reports have claimed that Harbaugh and the Niners are big fans of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. However, because I’m assuming there’s no trades and I believe that No. 7 is entirely too high for a guy like Locker, I’ll keep this selection sane for the San Francisco franchise.

Other Possibilities:

Jake Locker (QB / WAS) – Like I said, the team apparently likes him the best.

Julio Jones (WR / ALA) – No one is talking about this; but why not? Elite talent, bolsters any offense.

8.) Tennessee – Nick Fairley (6’4 / 299 / Auburn / DT)Even with all of the reports claiming that the Titans are set to take Jake Locker at No. 8, I’m reverting back to my original pick of Nick Fairley. And while the stock of Fairley appeared to be decreasing, his name is now everywhere and there’s buzz of him going as high as No. 2 to Denver.

 Many have called Fairley a one-hit wonder and claim that he’s the “typical JUCO player”, but he is a perfect fit with the Titans if he’s productive like he was last season at Auburn. Fairley comes with explosion off the line, a great first step and some of the best skills required to penetrate the pocket.

Since releasing Vince Young, the Titans are set to start the season with Kerry Collins under center, which is very similar to the Titans starting Larry King under center. The team needs a quarterback and they could very well pull a risky trigger.

Other Possibilities:

Jake Locker (QB / WAS) – Ruston Webster. Google him.

Previous Pick: Jake Locker (QB / Washington)

9.) Dallas – Anthony Costanzo (6’7 / 305 / Boston College / OT)This pick appears surprising, but it’s really a smart move by the Cowboys. According to reports, the Cowboys would ideally like to move down and gain additional picks to address multiple needs. But, assuming no trades, the Cowboys are high on J.J. Watt and Anthony Costanzo.

One of Jerry Jones’ top priorities is to protect Tony Romo, and the Cowboys struggle with doing that right now. Costanzo is the most experienced and NFL-ready tackle in this draft class and he’d could be a Pro Bowl tackle for 10+ years in the NFL. For starters, Costanzo at right tackle would allow him to get used to the speed and motion of the pro game. After one season, Dallas is looking at its blindside protector for many years to come.

Other Possibilities:

 J.J. Watt (DE / WISC) – He’s a perfect fit as a defensive end in the 3-4 scheme and the Cowboys could upgrade on one side.

Tyron Smith (OT / USC) – He’s apparently the third guy on Dallas’ big board.

Previous Pick: Tyron Smith (OT / Southern Cal) 

10.) Washington – Robert Quinn (6’5 / 268 / North Carolina / DL)An ideal situation for Washington would be to trade back, but I won’t predict that here. Assuming that the team stays with the No. 10-overall pick, they’ll have a very hard time trying to pick anyone other than Robert Quinn.

After posting a solid freshman season at Chapel Hill and following it with a very impressive sophomore season, Mel Kiper had Quinn ranked as the top-overall prospect in this draft class before the start of his junior season. Unfortunately, Quinn allegedly accepted a little more than an education while enrolled in school and he was suspended for his entire junior year. Although he has been away from football for a year and many scouts are questioning Quinn’s character, I personally don’t believe there’s any doubt that Quinn is a player at the next level.

Quinn is a natural football player that could line up as a defensive end in a 4-3 or as an outside pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4. Quinn’s combination of size, speed and strength is what really impresses teams and I don’t believe he misses a beat once he gets the pads back on. This young man has been a beast since his high school days in South Carolina and I think it’s only a matter of time before he and Patrick Willis are ripping the opposition apart. One thing I do question is Quinn’s ability to drop back into coverage – not a whole lot of experience there.

Other Possibilities:

Cameron Jordan (DE / CAL) – One of my favorite prospects in this entire draft, he’d fit perfectly in Washington.

Julio Jones (WR / ALA) – He’d be a hit, but I believe that there’s more pressing needs.

Previous Pick: Cam Jordan (DE / California) 

11.) Houston – Aldon Smith (6’4 / 258 / Missouri / DL) – For a while now, I thought Amukamara in Houston would be a great fit. However, after recent reports, the Texans are set on Aldon Smith as their guy if he’s around at No. 11. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is a huge fan of Smith and he has claimed DeMarcus Ware-like potential for the young man out of Mizzou.

Smith is considered unexperienced after spending one season as a medical redshirt, but his potential is huge. Personally, I’m calling Smith one of the most overrated players in this draft class and I’m not sure he’ll be a solid contributor as soon as teams would imagine.

Previous Pick: Prince Amukamara (CB / Nebraska)

12.) Minnesota – Jake Locker (6’3 / 225 / Washington / QB)It’s easy to see by past mock drafts and a few opinionated lists that I’m not a firm believer in Jake Locker, but that’s why I’m not a draft expert. The latest rumors surrounding Locker is that he’s very likely to be drafted in the top-20 and the Minnesota Vikings are huge fans of his play and potential.

It’s not that I think Locker is a bust in the NFL, but I do believe that he has a little farther to go than people realize. Again, I’m not one of those fancy draft experts, but Locker has serious issues regarding his accuracy, his vision and his tendency to force things at the worst times. On the bright side, Locker has the intangibles that everyone talks about, he has a very good combination of mobility and arm strength and he has the potential to be really good. To draft him as high as No. 12, I think is a little risky.

The Vikings currently have Tavaris Jackson and Joe Webb on their roster, which implies to me that Locker may be listed as the starter sooner rather than later. A large benefit for Locker, assuming he does start this season, is that he has a solid defense, arguably the best running back in the NFL and decent receiving targets.

Leslie Frazier could begin to address his offensive line with someone like Tyron Smith, but I think he has the idea of sitting Locker behind Donovan McNabb for a year or two. Sound familiar?

Other Possibilities:

Tyron Smith (OT / USC) – It needs to be addressed, as Bryant McKinnie isn’t getting any younger.

Previous Pick: J.J. Watt (DE / Wisconsin) 

13.) Detroit – Tyron Smith (6’5 / 307 / Southern Cal / OT) – Maybe the Lions’ first priority is to give Ndamukong Suh some pass-rushing help, but protecting Matthew Stafford is way more important. Smith would likely start at right tackle, but he has all the potential in the world to be one of the top lineman in the nation.

Previous Pick: Aldon Smith (DL / Missouri)

14.) St. Louis – Julio Jones (6’4 / 210 / Alabama / WR) – I know that all the insiders say that the Rams are set on taking Illinois’ Corey Liuget at No. 14, but I can guarantee that those insiders don’t think Julio Jones will be around at this point either.

Like the Browns, the Rams are looking for a weapon for their sophomore starter Sam Bradford. Julio Jones was nothing short of impressive at the Combine and in his workouts, as he has all the tools to become a very solid receiver in the NFL. Jones does not possess the same vertical speed as Green and some have questioned Jones’ inconsistent hands, but there’s no doubting his ability. Jones is a very physical receiver and he is a playmaker with the ball. What many, including myself, like most about Jones is what he does without the ball in his hands – which includes blocking downfield, serving as the perfect decoy and making sure the opposition is always on their heels.

Other Possibilities:

Corey Liuget (DT / ILL) – Reported by rumor, Liuget is the pick here at No. 14.

Previous Pick: Corey Liuget (DT / Illinois)

15.) Miami – Mark Ingram (5’10 / 215 / Alabama / RB)Although Miami would love to score a quarterback at No. 15 and upgrade over Chad Henne, there isn’t a prospect worth taking at this point. The team has reportedly flirted with Ryan Mallett, but that would be a HUGE mistake here.

Mark Ingram is the best running back in this draft and the team will need a replacement for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Lately, injury concerns have surrounded Ingram and his stock, but I don’t think the Dolphins flinch with this one. Ingram is a workhorse type of runner and he has the ability to do just about anything. He may not have elite top-end speed, but he’s very shifty and he has great vision in terms of finding the seam and making people miss.

NOTED UPDATE: Dr. James Andrews has cleared Ingram’s knee with a good bill of health.

Other Possibilities:

Colin Kaepernick (QB / NEV) – I know it’s a little high, but rumors claim Miami to be front-runners in lading Kaepernick.

Mike Pouncey (OL / UF) – The team needs help along the offensive line and Pouncey is versatile on the interior.

Previous Pick: Robert Quinn (DE / UNC)

16.) Jacksonville – Ryan Kerrigan (6’4 / 263 / Purdue / DE) Head coach Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat and he needs an immediate contributor to help energize the team and franchise. Although a player like Cam Newton would be ideal (in terms of creating excitement), perhaps Del Rio doesn’t want to take that big of a risk.

The team’s pass-rush could use some help and Kerrigan would fit the scheme. Not only have the Jacksonville coaches been all over Kerrigan, but the Purdue defensive end would also bring leadership and good character to the locker room. Some have blasted Kerrigan for lacking athleticism, but he has plenty of speed at the position and he is always working on the line with some impressive moves.

Other Possibilities: 

Aldon Smith (DE / MIZZ) – If he falls, Smith could bring some explosiveness to the defense.

Previous Pick: Aldon Smith (DE / Missouri)

17.) New England – Cameron Jordan (6’4 / 290 / California / DE)As much as the front office would like to draft an offensive player like Mark Ingram (gone) or Mike Pouncey (available), the defense is pressing. Judging from late last season, the defense needs to upgrade its pass-rush and Jordan is a very explosive and versatile lineman that can play the end position in a 3-4 scheme. What Bill Belichick loves most about this players is their versatility, and that’s why he has fallen head over heels for Jordan.

Other Possibilties:

Mike Pouncey (OL / FLA) – Versatile lineman with the ability to play right away.

Muhammed Wilkerson (DL / TEM) – Versatile defensive lineman that has already attended a private workout with the Pats.

Previous Pick: Muhammed Wilkerson (DL / Temple)

18.) San Diego – J.J. Watt (6’6 / 292 / Wisconsin / DE)I’ve had an offensive tackle mocked here for a very long time, but the Chargers have been linked to J.J. Watt and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team ignore the need on the offensive front…yet again.

Watt is a very nice defensive end prospect and he has the look of being the solid bookend that a 3-4 scheme requires. Watt was very impressive at the Combine, running a 4.78-second forty, repping 34 times on the bench and recording a 37-inch vertical. Although Watt may not be the pass-rushing talent that many teams would look for, he is very solid against the run and he’s a surefire tackler. A solid work ethic and leadership in the locker room also makes Watt a very attractive prospect and the Chargers would be gaining a lot by taking him in the middle of the first.

Other Possibilities:

Gabe Carimi (OT / Wisconsin) – The Chargers need help along the offensive line and Carimi is already an elite right tackle with the potential to take over at left.

Previous Pick: Anthony Costanzo (OT / Boston College)

19.) New York Giants – Gabe Carimi (6’7 / 327 / Wisconsin / OL)After Anthony Costanzo went top-ten to the Dallas Cowboys and Tyron Smith goes to the Lions at No. 13, Wisky’s Gabe Carimi is the best tackle prospect on the board.

The Giants are in need of an upgrade and Carimi is a versatile lineman with so much talent. I would assume that Carimi starts his career at right tackle, but I do believe that he could block the blindside after feeling the speed of the NFL and studying tape. While I wouldn’t count out a lineman like Mike Pouncey with this pick, I think the Giants want a true tackle prospect.

Previous Pick: Anthony Costanzo (OT / Boston College) 

20.) Tampa Bay – Adrian Clayborn (6’4 / 285 / Iowa / DE)After becoming a household name during his junior season, Clayborn finished his collegiate career somewhat on the quiet side. It wasn’t because Clayborn had slacked or was only capable of being a one-hit wonder, it was because opposing teams HAD to double him.

Clayborn has been criticized for his work ethic, but his talent is immense and an up-and-coming team like the Buccaneers could be a great fit for him. The Bucs need help on the pass-rush and Clayborn would be a force when teamed with second-year tackle Gerald McCoy. I also believe that head coach Raheem Morris is the type of coach that will get the most out of a player like Clayborn.

Other Possibilities: 

Ryan Kerrigan (DE / PUR) – High motor, good character, very talented.

Previous Pick: Ryan Kerrigan (DE / Purdue)

21.) Kansas City – Phil Taylor (6’3 / 334 / Baylor / NT) Taylor is another prospect whose stock began to soar following the Senior Bowl. Many have speculated that general manager Scott Pioli is in favor of finding his huge, and necessary, nose tackle. Enter Big Phil.

UPDATE: After running a 5.18 forty-yard dash at the Combine, Taylor continued to impress at his Pro Day as well. I believe that Taylor is a first-round pick and the Chiefs would be happy to bring him on.

Other Possibilities:

Torrey Smith (WR / Maryland) – Adding another receiver alongside Dwayne Bowe would strengthen an already explosive Chiefs offense.

Pass-Rusher (LB/DE, N/A) – Because I don’t think Scott Pioli will fall for a reach, I think the only chance they take a 3-4 LB is if a prospect surprisingly falls down the board.

Previous Pick: Leonard Hankerson (WR / Miami)

22.) Indianapolis – Derek Sherrod (6’5 / 321 / Miss. State / OL) No matter how old he is, protecting Peyton Manning is a top-priority for the Colts.

I’m sure the Colts would like to land a tackle like Costanzo or Carimi, but I think they’ll be just fine with an experienced and versatile lineman like Sherrod. I know, I know, Nate Solder is still around, but I think the experience and level of competition give the Colts a safer prospect.

Other Possibilities:

Nate Solder (OT / Colorado) – Obviously a lot of upside, I’m just not as crazy about him as most.

Previous Pick: Anthony Costanzo (OT / BC)

23.) Philadelphia – Jimmy Smith (6’2 / 211 / Colorado / CB) – Because the team is need of help at the cornerback position and the front office is reportedly very high on both Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith, this pick really doesn’t feel all too difficult.

Smith is arguably one of the best cover corners in this draft, but his character issues are a problem. Although his size is intimidating and his speed can hang with most receivers, coaches and teammates will always have to be worried about what Smith may do next.

Other Possibilities:

Brandon Harris (CB) – Character issues are the only drawback for Smith and I’m much higher on Harris than most. Both are top-notch prospects.

Previous Pick: Gabe Carimi (OL / Wisconsin)

24.) New Orleans – Corey Liuget (6’3 / 300 / Illinois / DT) – In the Saints’ defensive scheme, Liuget is an answered prayer. Mocked as high as No. 14 to St. Louis, Liuget is a beast as a tackle in the 4-3 and he has the burst and strength required to penetrate effectively. The Saints could afford to gamble on a guy like Da’Quan Bowers, but Liuget is a safe pick and the team will know exactly what they’re getting.

Other Possibilities:

Da’Quan Bowers (DE / CLEM) – Very risky, but a huge payoff if he turns out to be okay.

Brooks Reed (DL / AZ) – High character, high motor and crazy ability to get to the passer. Much safer than Bowers.

Offensive Tackle – How confident are the Saints in Jermon Bushrod at left tackle?

Previous Pick: Da’Quan Bowers (DE / Clemson)

25.) Seattle – Muhammed Wilkerson (6’4 / 308 / Temple / DL) – To me, Wilkerson is one of the most underrated players in this draft and the Seahawks make out pretty well at No. 25. I would have to imagine that the Seahawks and their fans were looking to land either Jake Locker or Jimmy Smith, but Wilkerson’s versatility and athleticism will drastically improve the Seattle defense.

Not to mention, Brandon Mebane is a free agent and Seattle is building for the future. Adding a guy like Wilkerson would set-up an anchor along the trenches and his skills look like they’ll translate well into the NFL.

Other Possibilities:

Jimmy Smith (CB / Colorado) – If he’s there, Smith is the pick.

Previous Pick: Jimmy Smith (CB / Colorado)

26.) Baltimore – Cameron Heyward (6’5 / 288 / Ohio State / DL)There’s a couple other players I’d like to put here instead of Lil’ Ironhead but, from what I’ve heard, the Ravens won’t pass on this young man if he’s still around at No. 26 (and I think he will be).

With Corey Redding coming to the end of his career, the defensive line is a priority for the Ravens. Last season, Cameron Heyward would have likely been a top-10 pick but he chose to return for an inconsistent senior season with the Buckeyes. In the right system with a solid supporting cast, Heyward can live up to his full potential.

Some scouting reports describe Heyward as soft and claim that he takes plays off, two of many negatives that I won’t argue with. But let’s not forget Heyward’s positives, like his technique and burst at the point-of-attack. I can see him improving in the Ravens system and becoming a force on the end.

Other Possibilities:

Torrey Smith (WR / Maryland) – Position of need, local product, extremely versatile.

Jimmy Smith (CB / Colorado) – If he’s here at No. 26, the Ravens will bite.

Muhammed Wilkerson (DL / Temple) – A man-child with versatility and strength…but he shouldn’t last this long.

Previous Pick: Muhammed Wilkerson (DT / Temple)

27.) Atlanta – Brooks Reed (6’3 / 263 / Arizona / LB)The Falcons would like to draft another receiver to accompany Roddy White, but they could also afford to upgrade their pass-rush. Brooks Reed is a natural when it comes to getting after the quarterback and he also has the ability to drop back into coverage.

What many scouts like most about Reed is his relentlessness, his football IQ, his leadership and solid character. The Falcons are building a very solid foundation in Atlanta and Brooks Reed would fit perfectly.

Other Possibilities:

Torrey Smith (WR / Maryland) – The vertical threat and do-it-all player, only issue is small hands.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, ND) – Tony Gonzalez isn’t getting any younger.

Previous Pick: Torrey Smith (WR / Maryland)

28.) New England – Mike Pouncey (6’5 / 320 / Florida / OL)Assuming that the Pats hold on to this pick, I think they would opt to upgrade the offensive line after addressing the defensive trench at No. 18. Pouncey is a smart player with great versatility along the line and his Combine numbers were very impressive.

Mel Kiper believes that Pouncey’s stock is rising in large part because of his brother, Maurkice. But I’d have to agree with Todd McShay and label Mike Pouncey as one of the best offensive line prospects in this draft and well-deserving of a first round selection.

Other Possibilities: 

Akeem Ayers (LB / UCLA) – He seems like the perfect Patriots project to me.

Previous Pick: Akeem Ayers (LB / UCLA) 

29.) Chicago – Nate Solder (6’9 / 315 / Colorado / OT) It feels like the Bears have needed an offensive line for so long and this Draft will pay them dividends.

Solder is an absolutely massive offensive tackle with good athleticism and the potential to block the blind side of Jay Cutler for a long time. Although considered to be a little bit raw, Solder possesses a very high ceiling.

In my opinion, Solder had a pretty bad Senior Bowl in terms of what was expected, but the potential is there. Solder struggles with bull-rushers but good coaching and experience will help drastically.

UPDATE: Solder had a very impressive Combine and the once-converted tight end is really drawing serious praise. Perhaps deservingly so – I’m just not biting yet.

30.) New York Jets – Akeem Ayers (6’3 / 254 / UCLA / LB)New York’s top priority is getting after Tom Brady and the team must upgrade their pass-rush. While Ayers’ pass-rushing ability isn’t his best attribute, the Jets are reportedly very high on him.

Before his Combine performance, Ayers was one of my favorites in this draft class. He did rebound at his Pro Day and I still believe that he’s a natural football player with great instincts. What I’ve come to find myself saying about Ayers is that he does a lot of things good, but he does none of them great (and that will eventually come with time). This is a solid pickup by the Jets for a prospect that was originally projected as a top-15 draft pick.

Other Possibilities:

Da’Quan Bowers (DE / CLEM) – Not sure that he’d fit, but he could be worth the risk.

Previous Pick: Brooks Reed (LB / Arizona)

31.) Pittsburgh – Aaron Williams (6’0 / 204 / Texas / CB)The Steelers won’t like that Mike Pouncey is off the board and they’ll opt to go with the best remaining talent to fit their scheme.

Williams isn’t talked about a whole lot, but I really like his length, athleticism and versatility. If Williams doesn’t work at the corner position, the Steelers could opt to try him at safety because of his high football IQ and great instincts.

Other Possibilities: 

Ben Ijalana (OL / NOVA) – I can see B.I. going as high as No. 23 to the Eagles and the Steelers really need help on the line.

Previous Pick: Mike Pouncey (OL / Florida)

32.) Green Bay – Marvin Austin (6’2 / 309 / North Carolina / DL)I’ll admit that a franchise like the Packers drafting a red-flagged player like Austin is a little contradictory, but Austin has major upside in the NFL.

The Packers are currently dealing with their own defensive lineman problem (Johnny Jolly), but a guy like Austin could really mature in a locker room like Green Bay’s. He will not blow you away in interviews and he’ll certainly require some help and guidance, but Austin is huge, fast and he knows how to play.

Other Possibilities: 

Torrey Smith (WR / Maryland) – A perfect replacement for Donald Driver and one of the best personalities in the class.

Leonard Hankerson (WR / MIA) – Donald Driver isn’t getting any younger.

Previous Pick: Leonard Hankerson (WR / Miami)

 

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