17. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Mike Pouncey, C, Florida. Chizzy, in response to your Miami comments, I’ve partied in South Beach. Quite the time, and I'm sure Ryan Mallett would love it. However, the Dolphins closer to Fort Lauderdale, and the stadium is closer to the Everglades than civilization. I'm hoping they lock Mallett up there, but I like to imagine the 26 day binger he'd go on in South Beach after the season. It'd make "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" look like a Disney movie. Onto the Patriots pick. I'd bet $50 they trade one of their first round picks. If there's one thing Bill Belicheck as an affinity for, other than videotaping teams and trading picks, it's tabbing Florida Gator players. Chad Jackson, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, and Aaron Hernandez have all been selected in the first four rounds in the last four years. For all the hemming and hawing over the Patriots and their being so good at drafting; they really aren't that great at hitting picks in recent years. Ron Brace, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Wilhite, Terrance Wheatley, Kevin O'Connell, Bo Ruud, Matthew Slater, Darius Butler, Tyrone McKenzie, Rich Orhnberger, George Bussey, Myron Pryor, Daryl Richard...remember them? ESPN sure doesn't. With that in mind and the Patriots O-line getting older, not to mention Stephen Neal’s retirement and Logan Mankins wanting out of town, the Patriots play it safe and take the best interior prospect in Florida C Mike Pouncey. He'll step in at RG from day 1 and won't look back for 12 years. Pouncey's got great size, good athleticsim, and bloodlines. His brother, Maurkice of the Steelers, might be the best young C in the game not named Nick Mangold. Mike, while not quite his brother, is a damn solid prospect in his own right and is a typical Belichick pick. He'll make Tom Brady rest easier at night, not that he'd be tossing and turning next to Gisele and/or Bridget Monyhan. Hell, he's probably in the middle, ponytail and all. Pouncey will help Danny Woodhead and - I'm going to make a fearless forecast here - Ronnie Brown run through some holes next season as Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, and everyone else failed.
18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS. JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin. KD, I'm extremely pissed at you for that pick. The Philadelphia Eagles were jonesin' for Pouncey with the 23rd pick. You better make amends when you pick for my team. Now, for the Los Angeles, I mean, San Diego Chargers' first round pick, they're going to select one of the numerous DE's in this slot. The Chargers don't really have a lot of weaknesses, but they could stand to upgrade the D-line, especially with an explosive passrusher. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt fits that mold, and I think he's a perfect fit for the Chargers. In a 3-4 defensive scheme, he won't be asked to drop back in coverage, something he never had to do at Wisconsin. He's strong, so he can break through the O-lines of the weak AFC West to stop the run or get to the quarterback if he drops back to pass. This is a great fit for the Chargers. The New York football Giants are now on the clock.
19. NEW YORK GIANTS. Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College. The Giants thank the football gods that an offensive tackle falls into their laps. They had more linemen play than any team in the NFL last year. Injuries to David Diehl, Rich Suebert, and Shaun O'Hara dealt major blows to their playoff hopes. That, and that rookie punter's decision to kick to DeSean Jackson. Anyways, David Diehl trained on at the NFL level at G, and he's been playing the all-important left tackle spot for the past few years. This pick is right in the Giants wheelhouse as they select Boston College's Anthony Castonzo. A native northeasterner, this pick will be loved by everyone, even Eli Manning, who’s more emo than Jay Cutler. Ouch. Castonzo could stand to add some bulk, but he's got a good frame, good feet, and a decent hand punch. He won't gore a DE like Jake Long or Joe Thomas do, but he can mirror and slide with them in pass protection, like Ryan Clady. In the run game he's solid; not quite Gabe Carimi level, but solid. This pick makes life easier for Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Brandon Jacobs. The Tampa Bay "should have made the playoffs" Buccaneers are on the clock.
20. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. The Buccos were hands down the most surprising team in the NFL last year. Their offense improved by leaps and bounds with pre-season question mark Mike Williams being a steal in the 4th round and Josh Freeman emerging as a budding superstar. This year, look for coach Raheem Morris to upgrade the other side of the ball in the draft. Last year they took care of the DT position, so this year I think they focus early on linebackers and defensive ends. In the NFC South, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan like to throw a lot of short slants and mid range passes, and I think finding a playmaking LB is more important in a weak draft for the position. So I'm drafting UCLA LB Akeem Ayers for two reasons: (1) I think he is a good coverage LB that has an eye for the ball, which is something the Bucs haven't had since Derrick Brooks; and (2) I know you were taking him with the Eagles, I don't want to see the Eagles draft him, so I had to get him off the board. In my mind, that works for me. In a deep DE draft and a lot of teams before them looking to select a QB, I think the Bucs find a great value DE in the second round.
21. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS. Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor. The Chiefs were a close second to Tampa Bay in terms of surprise teams last year. They have some explosive playmakers on offense with Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. Rookie TE Tony Moeaki was a pleasant surprise, and really their only weakness is at RT. While Gabe Carimi might make sense here, he's a LT in my opinion. What the Chiefs lacked - and this was evident against the Ravens in the playoffs - was a run stuffer on the D-line. They've invested high picks there in recent years with Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, and they'll do so again with Baylor NT Phil Taylor. There have been some foot issues swirling about Taylor as of late. While he's not quite as big as some NTs like Vince Wilfork, Haloti Ngata, and Paul Soliai, he's in the next weight class down. The above three guys are planet sized; Taylor's just moon sized at 6'3" 334lbs. His technique is raw, and he can disappear for whole series at a time...which is hard for anyone that size to do. However, if he can rotate with Shaun Smith for at least part of the 2011 season until he's up to speed, he could become a Casey Hampton type in the middle for KC. The Indianapolis Peyton Mannings are on the clock.
22. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. Nate Solder, OL, Colorado. The Peyton Mannings haven't used a first round pick on an OL since Bill Polian has taken over as GM. After last season, Polian said he should've used his first round pick on an OL. The question is whether they go with Wisconsin OL Gabe Carimi or Colorado OL Nate Solder. There are questions about Carimi's pass protection ability, and I don't think that's something Peyton needs after getting the worst beating of his career last season. They need an immediate starter that can both protect Peyton and create holes for whatever back happens to be running for the Colts on that particular day. So the Colts go with Solder, who started off as a blocking TE at Colorado, then added 30 pounds to become their left tackle. I think in the NFL he translates to either tackle position, but my guess is the Colts do not put a rookie on Peyton's blind side. Solder starts at right tackle, and becomes a long-time figurehead of the Colts O-line for years to come. Now, on to the most important pick of the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles! E-A-G... L-E-S... EAGLES EAGLES EAGLES!!! Don't screw this up KD. We live in the same city you know.
23. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL). I feel some pressure picking for the Iggles. Andy Reid, never one to shy away from wheeling and dealing on draft day, is forced to stay put. The Eagles made due with Dmitri Patterson and Joselio Hanson playing opposite Asante Samuel at CB last year. Respect to Patterson and Hanson, but they're better suited to nickel and dime backs. As Chizzy stole Jimmy Smith earlier in the round, pissing off Andy Reid, he goes back to the talent well better known as "The U". Brandon Harris is the pick here. While "The U" hasn't been a talent factory since Larry Coker's departure, you can still get some talented payers. Harris is one of those lightning quick CBs that has a knack for getting his hands on the ball, breaking up 25 passes the past two years. He follows the pedigree of Miami DBs who've had success in the NFL with Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, and last year's undrafted superhero Sam Shields, who replaced Charles Woodson in the Super Bowl. Harris is a shade under 5'10", and while he's not going to come in and knock you out like Vontae Davis or Antoine Winfield, he's a solid wrap and drag tackler. He's aggressive in coverage and has plenty of experience with 39 starts under his belt. A two-time semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award (nation's top defensive back), Harris gives the Iggles some versatility as he can shift into the slot if need be and man up guys like Wes Welker, Davone Bess, and Harry Douglas or he can stay on the outside. I think he provides Philly with a nice #2 CB to team with Asante Samuel with the potential to be a #1 CB down the road.
24. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS. Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal. KD, I'm disappointed. I threw you a softball and you dribbled it to the pitcher, as this guy wanted Carimi to shore up an O-line that struggled to protect Michael Vick last year. But alas, what's done is done. I still know where you live. The New Orleans Saints are now on the clock. I was in New Orleans last year for the shellacking they received at the hands of the 8-8 Seahawks, and let me tell you something. Win or lose, this city knows how to party. I can't even imagine what life was like on Bourbon Street when the 'Aints won the Super Bowl two years ago. What's funny is that this team still really doesn't have any pressing needs. But I'd like to see them find a DE to team up on the other side of the line from Ohio State alum Will Smith. As the best prospect left on the board, I think the Saints throw a bone to DE Cam Jordan out of California, who has risen faster than anyone up draft boards the last few months. His stats suffered in the 3-4 D that Cal ran, so I think he could thrive on the opposite side of a perennial All-Pro candidate. Jordan bolsters the Saints D and helps to shore up a run defense that really struggled last year.
25. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU. Gabe Carimi was too much of a softball for Philadelphia. I think he's going to play left tackle, and Philly has Jason Peters there already. The Seahawks are on the clock here, and they provide the first real shocker of round 1. The eschew Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan AND local boy Jake Locker and select TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. I hate myself for picking Dalton in the first round as this will cause Todd McShay to go from 6 to midnight. Dalton hails from the Horned Frogs offense where slip screens and TE pops are the same as deep balls. He's a solid fit for Pete Carroll's west coast offense (WCO) and can learn for a year, or three, behind Matt Hasselbeck and "Clipboard Jesus" himself, Charlie Whitehurst. Dalton's stock has been fire for the last week...I'm not sure why. Even Peter King mocked Dalton to Miami at 15...needless to say, if this happens, I'll be 100 times more pissed off than when they took Ted Ginn with Patrick Willis sitting on the board (sorry Chizzy, and OSU fans, Ginn sucks). Dalton can play in the WCO, and he'll probably have success which will fuel my hate of Todd McShay (McFraud) even more.
26. BALTIMORE RAVENS. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. Wow. Suffice to say, I'm shocked the Hawks don't take Mr. Locker. Snubbing the homeboy in favor of a Texan? How dare you. The 12th Man will not be happy. Now one of my least favorite teams in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, are on the clock. The Ravens don't need much, but they could use some upgrades on the defensive side of a ball for a unit that has been slipping the last two or three years. Alleged murderer and sure-fire Hall of Famer Ray Lewis is getting older (weird to use those two statements in the same sentence), so they need someone to take his throne in the next few years. But I think the Ravens have an immediate need for an elite playmaker CB prospect, because when was the last time anyone in the Ravens' secondary made a play besides TD machine Ed Reed? With four CB's off the board already, the Ravens get the last elite CB prospect in this draft in Texas CB Aaron Williams. The Steelers are not happy with this pick, which makes me happy. He's a smart, aggressive player who excels in pass coverage, and was known as a playmaker before Big 12 offenses stopped throwing his way this year. I really like this pick for the Ravens.
27. ATLANTA FALCONS. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. The Atlanta Falcons are a very well put together football team, except for one area - the D-line. John Abraham, once a feared pass-rusher, is nearing the end of his career. He looks to be replaced by Kroy Beirmann in the near future. Biermann is a good situational pass-rusher for now, but he'll have another year or two to be groomed behind Abraham. Opposite Abraham is ultra-bust, Jamaal Anderson. He was taken 9th overall in the 2007 Draft, and if not for Vernon Gholston, he'd be the biggest defensive bust of the decade. Atlanta goes to the Big 10 here, and has to choose between Adrian Clayborn or fan favorite Cameron Heyward, whose father Craig "Ironhead" Heyward played fullback for the Falcons for three seasons in the mid 90s. The Falcons choose Clayborn as he's a better fit for their 4-3 defense (Heyward is a better prospect, but in a 3-4 defense). Both players suffered dropoffs in play their senior seasons, but Clayborn gave Wisconsin T Gabe Carimi fits. Heyward was abused by Carimi in Ohio State's meeting with the Badgers (sadly, I was there to witness it - thanks for the tickets JM!). Clayborn notched 20 TFL's and 11.5 sacks in 2009, and from what I've heard, that's what a lot of NFL scouts are looking at as opposed to 2010 where he played through some minor injuries. The one warning sign for Clayborn is that he's been diagnosed Erb's Palsy in his right shoulder, a condition that inhibits the nerves and causes a difference of strenght from his right arm to left arm (hence his low bench press performance at the combine). If Atlanta plays him at LDE, as I expect they will, his upfield shoulder will be his right one - used for all moves, wrong-arming gaps, and taking on lead backs, so, buyer beware label here.
28. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. I'm really disliking the fact that I'm having to pick back to back to back for the Ravens, Pats, and Jets. Who does this to a man? KD, next year I get the first pick. Now I think that the Pats, the only team with two first round picks, could easily trade this one to a team that wants to pick up either QB Christian Ponder or Jake Locker. But, I'm stuck with this pick like white on rice. The Pats shored up the OL concerns earlier this draft with C Mike Pouncey, a great pick. Nopw the Pats need to find a RB to run through Pouncey, Matt Light, and Logan Mankins. You predicted earlier that Ronnie Brown would be running for the Pats next year, but I don't necessarily think that he's the answer. I think the Pats take Alabama RB Mark Ingram with this pick, who has visited with the team and is the thoroughbred back that the Pats are looking for. The fact that this is the earliest any team is even considering a Heisman Trophy winning RB really shows the transition of how teams value the position. Teams are scared of investing a ton of money in a position that has a shelf life of 3 years in most cases. Just look to the fact that very few top 15 draft picks have been used on RB's the last few years, and that current Pats tandem of fearless midget Danny Woodhead and workhorse "Law Firm" Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, both of whom were undrafted. While they both had solid seasons last year, I think that Pats grab Ingram because he has the potential to be one of the best bruising backs in the league, and the new rookie wage scale that will be implemented will prevent the team from being forced to invest too much in a player with injury risks. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Ingram will make the Pats even MORE dangerous on offense.
29. CHICAGO BEARS. Marvin Austin, DT, UNC. Chizzy, that's pretty disgusting, and I'm sorry I made you go through that. I should've let you pick for Philadelphia and we could've gone from there. Next year, please give Andrew Luck to Miami if that's where they're picking. Sadly, I feel like Miami's D is too good to let that happen. Onto the Bears. They're really tempted to go with Gabe Carimi at this juncture. But the Bears pride themselves on their D, which revolves around solid interior play. Tommie Harris is gone, and Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams leave you with a lot to be desired. Chicago, who was sad to see Corey Liuget off the board, narrows it down to UNC DT Marvin Austin and Hampton DT Kenrick Ellis. What’s that? You've never heard of Kenrick Ellis? Trust me, you will. But Chicago goes with UNC's Marvin Austin. Austin, who was suspended for the whole season in the agent scandal in Chapel Hill was considered a possible top 5 pick before the season. He's a very solid player, but like Baylor's Phil Taylor, he can just flat out disappear for long stretches. And just when you're about to ask why your team drafted him, he'll knock a pass down at the line, make a tackle in the backfield, and strip-sack the quarterback 3 plays in a row. At 6'1" and 309lbs, he ran a 4.90 time in the 40 and is very athletic for a big man. If the Bears can get him to harness all that talent and make him consistent, he'll be a Pro Bowl DT in less than 3 years. Book it.
30. NEW YORK JETS. Cameron Heyward, DE, THE Ohio State University. I love that you picked someone who I don’t know for the Bears. The Jets have somehow been on the verge of the Super Bowl the last few years with Mark Sanchez as QB1. I'm not really sure how, but a little common sense says that the defense has something to do with it. A top 5 unit the past few years under Rex Ryan's helm, one may think why the defense needs upgrading? I'm glad you asked. Basically, in football years, their 3-4 D-Line is a bunch of old geezers. DE's Shaun Ellis and Jason Taylor have been around forever and are wearing down, and DT Kris Jenkins has been injury plagued the last two seasons. While in my mind, Jenkins’ injury concerns are a bigger issue than Ellis and Taylor aging, I still take DE Cameron Heyward. Rex Ryan may fear a repeat Buckeye-bust like like Vernon Gholston, but Heyward has a football pedigree and will provide a pass rush to this Jets D. Not only that, but he’s one of the best tacklers in the this year’s draft. He’s a versatile player, which makes him a perfect fit for the Jets D; his aggressive style will make Rex Ryan a happy man. Just not happy enough to put down the Double Cheeses.
31. PITTSBURGH STEELERS. Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin. The Steelers have never spent a 1st round pick on a CB, their #1 position of need. With the top 5 off the board they turn their attention elsewhere to the OL. They have an outstanding center in Maurkice Pouncey, and a pair of solid guards in Chris Kemoeatu and Ramon Foster. Willie Colon or Flozell Adams will suffice at RT for another year, but the struggle has been at left tackle. Max Starks - when healthy - is solid. Problem is he's never healthy. Jonathan Scott took over his duties last year and was marginially effective. The Packers steal a local product from right under the Packers’ noses and select Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi. The Steelers recently spent a pick on former Wisconsin guard Kraig Urbik, who is waiting in the wings behind Kemoeatu. Carimi is a mauling left tackle, and while not quite in the class of Anthony Castonzo or Tyron Smith, he's good in his own right. He dominated his matchup against Cameron Heyward this year, but struggled against Adrian Clayborn. But given Ben Roethlisberger's athleticism, if Carimi can merely slide and mirror his man, he'll be effective in pass-blocking. He'll have no problem run-blocking in the NFL and his demeanor just fits the sense of the Steelers. The Packers are on the clock to finish off round 1 and the first annual TGTS Mock Draft.
32. GREEN BAY PACKERS. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. The defending Super Bowl Champion Packers don’t need much, but they want to pick a player who fits into their mold. Ryan Kerrigan can do what Aaron Kampman could not in Green Bay: He can thrive in Green Bay’s 3-4 Defense. If he can improve on his strength, he can be versatile enough to rush the passer as a DE. If he works on his pursuit angles, he can drop back into coverage as an OLB and defend TE’s. There are question marks about his ability to do this, but I think you have to draft him and watch to see if he can thrive in one of the two positions above. He’s a tweener, but he’ll find a role in that D.
Frankly, I don't know about you KD, but I'm tired. This took a really long time, but I think we did a solid job. It's good to know that none of this will happen next Thursday night in Radio City.
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