Well, this is it. The last time we take a look at other mock drafts until the real one begins on Thursday night. With the news of Judge Nelson putting an injunction on the lockout, it makes the draft that much more exciting. In this edition, we take a look at some prospects we highlighted in earlier versions as well as giving their take and my take on the prospects.
Pick #17: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Their Take: Amukamara can play corner and safety – and Coach Belichick has let it be known that you can’t have enough quality defensive backs. If the top defensive ends are all picked in the top half of the draft, expect Belichick to pull another shocker. That said, it would certainly be ideal if JJ Watt or Muhammad Wilkerson were to fall to this spot.
Pick #28: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Their Take: Castonzo is a strong but nimble blocker that should help solidify the Patriots offensive line, which has some holes. The former BC left tackle can play guard or tackle, and the Patriots love the versatility.
My Take: Out of the two prospects listed, I like Castonzo more because he is one of the top offensive linemen in this draft. Like the website said, he is a very versatile player and a local prospect. The Patriots’ offensive line has a ton of holes with Matt Light and Logan Mankins potentially leaving and Stephen Neal retiring. I would be thrilled to see Castonzo at 28, but I think he is going to be picked at worst in the top 15. As for Prince, I am high on this royal corner. He has dropped off of most boards in recent weeks, while Jimmy Smith is on the rise as the second best corner behind Patrick Peterson. Smith is the better man on man corner while Prince is better in zone coverage. However, as good as these prospects are, I don’t see New England taking a cornerback till late in the draft with the success of Devin McCourty in 2010 and the return of Leigh Bodden in 2011.
Pick #17: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Their Take: His versatility makes him the best choice here. Jordan can line up as a DE or shift around to LB and still be effective. With the signing of Marcus Stroud, the Pats focus should be a DE to get after the QB. Jordan is raw, but his athleticism would make him a dynamic addition.
Pick #28: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Their Take: A great pick up if he is still available. He has the intelligence, and work ethic, to play more than one position along the line and is the kind of tough minded player Belicheck loves
My Take: Cameron Jordan is my favorite realistic defensive end prospect for the New England Patriots. He has so much raw ability and is a solid pass rusher. Again, I will give a shoutout to my friend Wes Mills who follows California football. He told me back in February that if Jordan was a prospect from a larger school like USC, he would be a top ten pick. This kid is the real deal and with that free agent signing of Stroud, New England can really sure up their front seven defensively.
As for Carimi, this is the kind of player Belichick likes. A tough offensive lineman from a physical school like Wisconsin is the ideal fit for an offense that needs to protect Brady and get more physical. With Smith, Pouncey, and Castonzo off the board, Carimi could be here for the taking, but I think a team like the Chiefs, Colts, or Eagles will snag him first.
Pick #17: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Their Take: I’ve had Cameron Jordan here what seems like forever. He’s still an option, but he’s not available in this version of my 2011 NFL Mock Draft despite being seemingly available. I’ll explain in the Tampa pick. If Jordan isn’t on the board, I don’t think the Patriots will look at a five-technique at No. 17. J.J. Watt is not an option because Bill Belichick hates his agent with a passion, while Muhammad Wilkerson could be a slight reach (though it wouldn’t shock me if he were the pick).At that point, the Patriots would almost have to look at Tyron Smith. Matt Light is a 33-year-old free agent who struggled in pass protection last season. Belichick needs to make sure Tom Brady has the best pass protection possible. By the way, I went with Smith over Anthony Castonzo because the Boston College tackle is another Tom Condon client.
Pick #28: Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
Their Take: The Patriots will probably trade this selection. With so many quarterback-hungry teams, someone is bound to trade up for a signal-caller. And if that’s Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota, Buffalo or Cincinnati, New England could land a potential top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Heck, if they do the same thing with No. 33, they could have three first-rounders (two in the top 10 with a rookie wage scale) next April. Wouldn’t that be insane? If New England stays put, Justin Houston is a strong option. The Patriots really need some help at rush linebacker, and Houston would be a really great fit in Bill Belichick’s defense.
My Take: I can’t see anyway Smith falls to New England. He is rated by many draft experts to be one of the top offensive linemen in the draft, if not the best. He won’t even make it past the top ten with his vast amount of talent. As for Justin Houston, I would not be mad with this pick. Houston has been climbing up draft boards with his ability to get after the quarterback and like Walter said, he can fit very well in Belichick’s scheme.
Let’s spice this up a bit. I will give my picks for New England’s 1st round and you give me your take:
Pick #17: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
My Take is located above.
Pick #33: I think they trade the 28th pick to a team that needs a quarterback, but at Pick 33: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
My Take: This could be the steal of the draft for the Patriots if Ingram’s knee issues are cleared up. This guy is the perfect physical running back for this Patriots’ offense. Just picture him trucking a linebacker to get that extra yard or two to extend a drive. He is a Nick Saban guy, which Belichick loves and can produce a very good 1-2 rushing combo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Ingram.