New England has two picks in each of the first three rounds of the 2011 draft. Stephen offered his thoughts on the first round of the draft last week, projecting the Patriots will land a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman to add some power in the trenches. This week, we’ll be looking at how the second round might shake out. As always, feel free to offer your thoughts (or wish me a happy 31st birthday and make fun of my waning youth) in the comments.
33. New England Patriots – Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
I’m going out on a limb on this pick, but Reed is one of the better OLB prospects that you may have never heard of. With good game smarts and a relentless motor, he fits the mold of a New England player to a T. Originally projected as a late 2nd round pick, don’t be surprised to see him flying up draft boards after the Combine. The Pats would probably rather trade down a half-dozen picks and take the same player.
34. Buffalo Bills – Christian Ballard, DE/DT, Iowa
The Bills tried to transition to a 3-4 defense last year with a roster full of undersized defensive linemen, and the results were disastrous. Ballard would provide a physical presence on the line next to Pro Bowl DT Kyle Williams.
35. Cincinnati Bengals – Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois
LeShoure has the potential to be an every-down back that would take some of the heat off of Carson Palmer and make up for the possible loss of Cedric Benson. Could end up being a steal in the 2nd round.
36. Denver Broncos – Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma
My friend Chuck the Broncos Fan said that if Denver doesn’t use all of the team’s picks on defense, he’s going to take a hostage. From what I saw of that defense, I’m inclined to agree.
37. Cleveland Browns – Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
The Browns need a playmaker to help 2nd year QB Colt McCoy, and Hankerson showed a knack for making big plays during the Senior Bowl. He may have leap-frogged Pitt’s WR Baldwin at this point.
38. Arizona Cardinals – Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas
The Cardinals are getting old at both OLB spots, and Acho would help fill the need for a reliable pass-rusher. If any of the legitimate 3-4 DE prospects fall this far, they’d probably rather go that route.
39. Tennessee Titans – Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Watkins had a terrific week at the Senior Bowl and could end up being taken much earlier than this. The Titans have plenty of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, so they could go a lot of different directions here.
40. Dallas Cowboys – Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA
Dallas will likely have the luxury of taking the best player available at this spot, and Moore has the potential to be a difference-maker for the Cowboys. Having great safety play is a must if the Cowboys want to dethrone the Eagles in the NFC East.
41. Washington Redskins – Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
It would be a mild surprise to see Kaepernick get picked ahead of Locker and Ponder, but the Nevada QB showed a lot of promise at the Senior Bowl. He has a high ceiling, and the Redskins have the peices in place to let him develop before throwing him into the fire.
42. Houston Texans – DT Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
The nose tackle position in the 3-4 is one of the hardest to fill, so the Texans may gamble here. Character concerns and questionable effort have hurt Ellis’s draft stock, but his imposing 6’5”, 336 pound frame would make him an ideal candidate to play nose tackle.
43. Minnesota Vikings – Benjamin Ijalna, OG, Villanova
This pick could easily be a QB, but the offensive line should be one of Minnesota’s highest priorities this offseason.
44. Detroit Lions – Martez Wilson, ILB, Illinois
Detroit’s defense desperately needs playmakers, and Wilson showed a great nose for the ball. His skills should translate well to the next level as a middle linebacker.
45. San Francisco 49ers – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
The 49ers are probably more likely to address their QB need through free agency. Locker has struggled with his accuracy, but if he can improve in that area, he could easily take the starting job in San Fran.
46. Denver Broncos – Allen Bailey, DE/OLB, Miami
Bailey is a physical freak that would add some power to Denver’s porous front seven. He’s a bit raw and could run the risk of being the next Vernon Gholston, but he is worth the gamble here if Denver addresses its secondary with its first two picks.
47. St. Louis Rams – Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Sam Bradford had a solid rookie year under center for the Rams, but he needs more playmakers in the passing game to take the next step in his development. Baldwin had a productive career at Pitt and could provide some big play ability on the outside.
48. Oakland Raiders – Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU
Offensive line is Oakland’s greatest need, and the mountainous 350-pounder would provide a physical presence in the trenches. If Cannon is off the board, look for Oakland to take the best offensive lineman available (unless there is a really, really fast WR Al Davis likes better).
49. Jacksonville Jaguars – Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
The Jags keep it in-state by taking a QB to groom behind David Garrard. I would not be surprised if the Jags went with a DB here if one of the top players drop, but I’m not sure any of the remaining prospects on the board here would trump their need for a QB of the future.
50. San Diego Chargers – Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh
Sheard could end up going higher than this because he could likely play as a DE in a 4-3 or OLB in a 3-4. He seems to be a sure-fire top 50 pick that could provide immediate help for the San Diego pass rush.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College
Herzlich would have been a slam-dunk first rounder in 2008, but bone cancer derailed his 2009 season. Health concerns aside, he’s a tough player with a nose for the ball and tremendous instincts, so I won’t be surprised if some team takes a chance on him in the second round.
52. New York Giants – Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
A four-year starter for the Spartans at MLB, Jones has the athleticism and pass-rushing skills to play any linebacker position in a 4-3. He’s another player with the potential to go 10 or more picks higher than this projection.
53. Indianapolis Colts – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Paea impressed a number of scouts at the Senior Bowl before suffering a knee injury. If he drops this far, the Colts will almost certainly leap at the opportunity to improve their run defense with a potentially disruptive force in the backfield.
54. Philadelphia Eagles – Stephen Wisniewski, C/OG, Penn State
The Eagles need to upgrade their offensive line to prevent Vick from getting smeared again next year. Wisniewski has a strong body of work as a four-year starter and should be a sought-after commodity for teams in the 2nd round.
55. Kansas City Chiefs – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
The Chiefs need a WR to take some of the pressure off of Dwayne Bowe, and Smith’s speed and big-play ability could be an important asset for the offense. If they don’t find a WR they like in the first, they will almost certainly take one in the second.
56. New Orleans Saints – Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
The Saints could use an upgrade at DT to pair with Sedrick Ellis, and Wilkerson could bring a first-round value at a second-round price. I won’t be surprised if some team takes him in the 30s because of his extremely high ceiling.
57. Seattle Seahawks – Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh
Pinkston was a standout at left tackle for Pitt, and he would seem like an ideal fit for a Seahawks team with desperate needs along the offensive line.
58. Baltimore Ravens – Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
We projected that the Ravens would take a corner in the first round, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t take one in the second as well. The Ravens have very few pressing needs other than the secondary, and Brown has the potential to be a fine player in the NFL.
59. Atlanta Falcons – Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
The knock on Nevis is his size, but he would be an ideal candidate to serve as a #2 DT in a 4-3. The Atlanta pass rush was little more than a rumor against the Packers in the playoffs, so adding a playmaker on the defensive line will be a priority this offseason.
60. New England Patriots – Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Cornerback isn’t a high area of need for the Pats, but Dowling fits the profile that the Patriots like to see (hard worker, high character, good football IQ). He has plenty of good tape, so the key will be how well he interviews and performs at the Combine. If he runs a 4.4 in the 40, he probably won’t be available at this spot.
61. Chicago Bears – Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi
Powe projects to be a solid NT for a 3-4 team, but the Bears could use his prowess as a run-stuffer in the 4-3 as well. His 331-pound frame would help keep blockers off Chicago’s talented stable of linebackers.
62. San Diego Chargers – Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
If he were about 20 pounds heavier, Hudson would be a lock to go in the first round. He doesn’t fit the prototype of an offensive lineman for the Chargers, but his production in college would make him hard to pass up at this point in the draft.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers – Orlando Franklin, OG, Miami
Franklin generates a decent push in the running game and is excellent in pass protection. Pittsburgh’s offensive line has a lot of question marks, so adding another capable blocker would probably be their best bet.
64. Green Bay Packers – Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
The Packers had trouble running the ball all year, and Ryan Grant is about as dynamic as a rotary telephone. If Williams falls into the middle of the 2nd round, I would imagine a few teams will be trying to trade up to take him.