2011 NFL Draft (cont.)
11. Houston: The Texans wanted Patrick Peterson badly, but never had a shot to trade up for him. They're praying J.J. Watt can be the edge presence to help take the pressure off Mario Williams and Brian Cushing.
12. Minnesota: Christian Ponder is, quite simply, the classic example of a quarterback who was overpicked in the first round, the way we'd heard so many of them would be. But the Vikings obviously figured they liked Locker and Ponder, and they couldn't trade down to gather currency in rounds two or three. So they sat at 12 and picked a developmental quarterback they felt they had to have.
13. Detroit: Nick Fairley. Manna from heaven. Fairley and Suh, next to each other, rushing the passer? Why, that's unfairly.
14. St. Louis: Would have been very happy with Corey Liuget here. Much happier with their top rush defensive end on the board. Robert Quinn's a risk because of a four-year-old brain tumor and playing but one full college season, but I think he's a good risk at 14.
15. Miami: Mike Pouncey's not sexy, but unless you think Andy Dalton's clearly better than Chad Henne and should have been the call, Pouncey's a good, solid choice here. Remember, though, he's had some problems making the shotgun snap.
16. Washington: Ryan Kerrigan's not what they did best. Picking up the 49th pick in the draft for passing on a couple of quarterbacks they liked ... that's the good thing here. The Redskins had discipline, and now they have the ninth and 17th picks on day two of the draft.
17. New England: Repeat after me, Patriotland: In Bill We Trust. Nate Solder's not a strike-up-the-band pick, but he's a solid tackle prospect who should form a good long-term combination with Sebastian Vollmer. If you wanted to see the Pats take Mark Ingram instead of deal him for the 56th pick today and next year's one for the Saints, you're not alone. But this draft will have very good rushing prospects down the line between picks 50 and 125.
18. San Diego: Corey Liuget's ideal for the Chargers, a good penetrating nose man who can also play inside on four-man lines. Lucky he got by the Rams.
19. New York Giants: Prince "Of The City'' Amukamara was such a surprise to the Giants that they never spent a lot of time considering him in the last couple of months, certain he'd be gone by 10 or 12. He probably should have been. Every team needs three good corners, or four, and Amukamara is unexpected high-quality depth for a team that never thought they'd be picking one here.
20. Tampa Bay: Two months ago, the Bucs never thought they'd be passing on Da'Quan Bowers. In fact, when I saw GM Mark Dominik at the Scouting Combine in February and mentioned Bowers' name, he shook his head and said he'd never be there at 20. Well, Bowers is there at 33, sunk by a bum knee. And Adrian Clayborn now becomes the speed guy around the edge the Bucs are desperate for.
21. Cleveland: Very interesting pick upon trading down to 27 and then trading back up to 21. Nose tackle was not a big need position for the Browns after unknown Ahtyba Rubin came out of nowhere to be so solid late last season. But they picked the best nose guy in the draft, Phillip Taylor of Baylor. Tom Heckert told me last night Taylor's more than a nose, and he had some experience playing the three-technique in college. Cleveland needed reinforcements on the line for the switch to the 4-3.
22. Indianapolis: Polian father and son take 3.2 seconds to call in the name of Anthony Castonzo at number 22. Peyton Manning takes 1.6 seconds to call Castonzo and say, "Be at the facility at 7 in the morning. Time to go to work.'' (Kidding. Probably.)
23. Philadelphia: The good -- Danny Watkins is a day-one starter, mature and experienced, and can play either guard and, in a pinch, tackle, where he played last year at Baylor. The bad -- He'll be a 27-year-old rookie this fall.
24. (& 28.) New Orleans: In the span of 31 minutes, the Saints got a bargain in taking Cam Jordan, the versatile defensive end from Cal, and dealing up with New England to get Alabama running back Mark Ingram at No. 28. I think new Orleans would have preferred Adrian Clayborn over Jordan, but the combo-package of these two good day-one performers is better than anyone could have imagined.
25. Seattle: Last year, the odd pick was Tyson Alualu to Jacksonville. This year, it's James Carpenter to the Seahawks. Seattle couldn't trade down, and was left to pick its top run-blocking tackle on the board. Pete Carroll Tweeted early this morning that Carpenter, in the Seahawks' minds, was exactly that. Was that a smile I saw on Marshawn Lynch's face?
26. Kansas City: Jonathan Baldwin is the kind of playmaker that's in short supply in Kansas City at wide receiver, and will be in shorter supply if they don't re-up Dwayne Bowe for the long-term. After K.C. used a first-rounder on Baldwin, I question whether the Chiefs will pay two receivers.
27. Baltimore: Jimmy Smith's a dynamite pick if he can stay on his best behavior. It's probably worth the risk, considering the Ravens are going to be facing three speed receivers in Pittsburgh and A.J. Green in Cincinnati for the next five or six years.
29. Chicago: After Jerry Angelo screwed up the trade with Baltimore (Chicago was going to move from 29 to 26 to ensure getting Gabe Carimi), the Bears were lucky to come away with Carimi, the tackle line coach Mike Tice wanted all along. The Bears need him to be a day-one starter.
30. New York Jets: There's a reason Rex Ryan went to most of the defensive-lineman workouts this spring. He wanted to see which big-bodied guy fit best in his malleable defensive front. Muhammad Wilkerson, all 315 pounds of him, had 22.5 tackles behind the line for Temple last year, and he should get a shot in the defensive-end rotation, where the Jets need some youth.
31. Pittsburgh: Some guys should be Steelers. Cam Heyward fits very well there. He's a versatile defensive end who can play the run well and penetrate well to bother the passer. Might be the long-term replacement for Brett Keisel, who turns 33 in September. But I'm like everyone else: I think Pittsburgh should have gone corner here, with such a desperate need at the position, or offensive tackle.
32. Green Bay: Tackle Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State and Bryan Bulaga, last year's top pick, will soon be the heirs at tackle, with the aging populace at tackle for Green Bay. If Sherrod's 80 percent the player early on that Bulaga was last year, Ted Thompson's made a great pick.
*Oakland: Only team without a pick in the first round. Oakland gets the 16th crack at it today, when round two begins. I think it's safe to say Al Davis would like to draft someone fast.
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