Even though the owners locked out the players on Friday, there will still be a NFL Draft to talk about. So, once again, we take a look at different prospects the Patriots could be taking on April 28th. But, will they be at Radio City or at the NFLPA party?
Pick #28 – DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue
Their Take: Kerrigan is just the kind of defensive end/outside linebacker “tweener” with strong intangibles that Bill Belichick can get the most out of (Mike Vrabel anyone?). New England needs to upgrade their outside pass rush and with 25.5 sacks over the last two seasons, Kerrigan looks to be a good fit. Moreover, his work ethic and other intangibles are in synch with the “Patriot way” of doing things. If Kerrigan falls this far, it’s only because other teams view him as a player without the huge upside of others at his position.
My Take: I am not a fan of the hybrid DE/OLB kind of players. Kerrigan has been as high as pick number sixteen on a lot of mock drafts, but I think Aldon Smith or Akeem Ayers who we have discussed before are better picks for New England than Kerrigan. In the Big Ten, he had a productive last season at Purdue, but how much of the upside that he has is going to be seen right away, which is what New England needs in 2011. I like the pick, but wouldn’t love the pick from a pass rushing potential. To quote Mel Kiper Jr. , maybe a nice value pick.
Pick #28 – DL Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
My Take: Wilkerson is a name that is quietly creeping up draft boards. He has great athleticism and he is a solid five technique defensive lineman who could sure up the run defense for the Patriots. At the combine, he ran a 4.96 40 yard dash, which is pretty agile for a defensive lineman. He is a strong tackler and at 315 pounds and 6″5, it would be very tough to block him. I would like this pick late in the first round.
Pick #17 – OL Tyron Smith, USC
My Take: If New England does not retain Matt Light, this is a guy who has not been hyped up that can come right in and contribute. Smith came into the combine and gained more healthy weight to get him to 307 pounds and has an arm span of 36 inches, which is incredible. He also has played in the Pac-10 in a pro style system while shutting down another first round prospect in Cameron Jordan of Cal earlier in the year. If Light leaves, Smith can play left tackle while Vollmer can move to right tackle, a position where he is familiar with.
Pick #28 – DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
Their Take: Top rated player at the Pats top need position. He is just too good a player to be available here come Draft day, but stranger things have happened. Pats have some extra picks and can afford to take a chance on a guy who was truly great in 2009 and played terrible in 2010 do to injury.
My Take: This is another value pick that I could see Belichick taking a chance on. Clayborn was dominant during Iowa’s 2009 run to the Orange Bowl. But, he might have stayed in school a year too long. Injuries and ineffectiveness hurt his stock in 2010, but he has natural ability to get after the quarterback. The question is can he still get by lineman on a first move when he is 100%. We know his potential and upside, but can he actually bring production like the 11.5 sacks he had in 2009 to the table? This is a player I would rather take early in Round Two rather than with a first round pick.