Sitting down to do a "mock" draft is something I liken to going to the dentist – you know it is going to be a pain, but eventually, you know you have to "do it." With that in mind and gazing into my crystal ball, here is a look at the Round One consensus from the staff.
I hate the monikers "draft guru" or "draft expert," but in my best Brooklyn, N.Y., Italian-American style, "If I Wuz Da Boss" here is what I would have done if I was selecting on Draft Day.
Consensus: Cam Newton-QB-Auburn
Dave-Te's pick: Marcell Dareus-DT-Alabama
Consensus: I am really not sold on Newton, as I feel this kid is not going to be able to earn the respect of the team's veterans, especially if he takes that "I am an icon" attitude into the locker room. It will be real curious to see WR Steve Smith reaction if Newton shows up with that "ordained" attitude he seems to be taken since announcing he was going pro. After investing a second round choice last year in Jimmy Clausen, can the Panthers be compounding that mistake with yet another potential boom or bust choice?
What I Would Do: I am not a Clausen fan, but I am less a Cam Newton fan than most people on this planet, outside of Pro Football Weekly. The Panthers might be better served trading down and going for a defensive lineman, as that front wall has a crying need for an interior playmaker. They could possibly entice Cincinnati in trade discussions, as the Bengals covet Newton (remember the Akili Smith fiasco?), but Cincinnati has never been known for astute decisions on draft day and might be reluctant to kick in a second or third round pick it would take to get the deal done. Dareus is among the nation's most versatile defensive lineman and projects well to any scheme at the next level. At Alabama, he excelled as a defensive end in the Tide's 3-4 alignment, but was also effective in limited time as a reserve nose guard early in his career. For teams employing the 4-3 defensive scheme, Dareus can easily make the transition inside and be a dominant interior force capable of collapsing the pocket. He is incredibly stout at the point of attack, using his thick frame to anchor against the run. His terrific strength and leverage allow him to use his length to his advantage, as he locks out opposing blockers and disengages at the right moment to make stops on ball carries.
Consensus: Marcell Dareus-DT-Alabama
Dave-Te's pick: Von Miller-OLB-Texas A&M
Consensus: The Broncos have lots of pressing needs on defense, especially along the front wall and Dareus makes perfect sense to fill a pressing need. However, the draft has some very good quality at that position and an impact player like Oregon State's Stephen Paea or Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson could still be around when Denver picks in round two.
What I Would Do: I am not really disputing the Dareus pick, but feel an edge rusher or an outside linebacker might be a better fit for a struggling defense needing to add a little "flash" to the lineup. Miller has DeMarcus Ware ability and will provide the Broncos with that edge rusher they sorely need. If they did not give such a big contract to Champ Bailey, I would have no hesitation to bypass Dareus and Miller by going after LSU's Patrick Peterson, instead.
Consensus: Von Miller-OLB-Texas A&M
Dave-Te's pick: Tyron Smith-OT-Southern California
Consensus: In Miller, Buffalo gets the pass rushing outside linebacker that the defense is craving for. However, Buffalo's desired draft order is Newton, Dareus and Miller. If the Auburn QB is not taken by Carolina and neither the first or second pick in the draft is traded, look for Gailey and company to pounce on Newton.
What I Would Do: I am not a fan of either of the top two quarterbacks. With Ryan Fitzpatrick doing a pretty decent job under center last year, I can't see spending the third pick on a QB this year. If I did, Gabbert would be a better fit here than Newton. In order to get the offense rolling, I need a mauler at left tackle. First, I need one to protect Fitzpatrick's blindside and second, I need a drive blocker to create rush lanes for 2010 first round disappointment, C.J. Spiller. Enter Smith, the best tackle in the draft.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Dave-Te's pick: A.J. Green-WR-Georgia
Consensus: It looks like Chad Ochocinco/Johnson, or whatever he wants to call himself these days, will follow Carson Palmer out of town. Don't let the door hit you in the butt, big guy. With the team lacking playmakers at the receiver position, Green easily replaces Chad and Terrell Owens as the Bengals' go-to target.
What I Would Do: I am not a fan of either quarterback, but if I had my ‘druthers, I think that Blaine Gabbert fits the Cincinnati offensive system better than Newton. Why? He's much more advanced in the pro-style game, despite playing in the spread at Missouri. Still, I think I would role the dice and see what QB might still be around when I pick again at #35, where TCU's Andy Dalton or Florida State's Christian Ponder might be more pro ready than either Gabbert or Newton. Taking Green to team with Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, Andre Caldwell and company at the receiving unit will give whatever quarterback that takes over the helm a wide variety of weapons to throw to.
Consensus: Blaine Gabbert-QB-Missouri
Dave-Te's pick: Patrick Peterson-CB-Louisiana State
Consensus: Most everyone says that the Cardinals need to address the quarterback issue this year, but I still feel that the staff would prefer a veteran QB over a rookie. With Larry Fitzgerald in the final contract year, if he has to deal with breaking in yet another inexperienced quarterback, he is certain to bolt the desert after the 2011 season.
What I Would Do: Peterson is the best player in this draft, hands down. The Cardinals have other pressing needs, most notably at outside linebacker and defensive end, but with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Peterson at cornerback, along with Adrian Wilson at safety, the Cards will compensate for any deficiencies in their defensive front seven.
Consensus: Julio Jones-WR-Alabama
Dave-Te's pick: Julio Jones-WR-Alabama
Consensus: Colt McCoy looks like a "keeper" at quarterback, but he needs a big play receiver to stretch the field and keep defenses honest. The Browns would really like to get their hands on Von Miller to give their pass rush an immediate boost, but he will more likely be gone by the time the Browns pick. Do not be surprised if the team listens to trade offers, moving down to snatch a defensive end like J.J. Watt, Ryan Kerrigan or Cam Jordan. Dallas might be a partner in a trade, especially if Cam Newton is still on the boards.
What I Would Do: If Miller slides, I take him in an instant. If Green and Jones are both there, I go with Green, as he has much better hands and with Mohamed Massaquoi, I already have a receiver with the case of the drops. Still, Jones is the likely pick, as the drop-off at WR after Jones and Green is considerable.
7. SAN FRANCISCO
Consensus: Patrick Peterson-CB-Louisiana State
Dave-Te's pick: Blaine Gabbert-QB-Missouri
Consensus: The 49ers need a quarterback, but the new staff will go the "best available athlete" route. This leads to Peterson becoming the defense's "golden child." Nate Clements could be a salary cap casualty and Shawntae Spencer is a little long in the tooth, making the cornerback position just as pressing of a need as QB and outside linebacker.
What I Would Do: I don't think that Peterson or Von Miller will be around when San Francisco picks. Harbaugh sees a lot of promise in Gabbert, especially when matched up vs. Cam Newton's boom or bust potential. If you look at the success that Harbaugh has had with developing quarterbacks, this could be a perfect marriage.
Consensus: Nick Fairley-DT-Auburn
Dave-Te's pick: Cam Newton-QB-Auburn
Consensus: With Newton and Gabbert gone, the Titans might opt too early for Jake Locker, but decide to bolster their interior line instead by taking Fairley. They liken him to Albert Hayneworth, but to me, the similarities to those two in the locker room and away from the field will make me bow off on Fairley, who I think has just as much boom or bust ability as the player I chose here.
What I Would Do: Well, not really what I would do, but what I feel that Tennessee will do, considering the lack of talent on the depth chart at QB. Who knows, Newton might find a home here, as he does have Steve McNair ability on the field. Unfortunately, his field smarts rival that of Vince Young's and that is not a good thing. Something in Newton's character just gives me a feeling he will be another Vince Young, unless the veterans force him to grow up in a hurry. There is nothing worse than a quarterback needing pampers.
Consensus: Tyron Smith-OT-Southern California
Dave-Te's pick: Robert Quinn-DE-North Carolina
Consensus: It is certain that Dallas will address their offensive line issues and while Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo are more finesse types, I would prefer a mauler to develop at left tackle and Smith is the best mauler in this draft class.
What I Would Do: If Smith is still there, I would also take him, but on my board, he's the draft's first day surprise in a Bills uniform. If he's gone and I am Dallas, intent on getting an offensive tackle, I look at Minnesota or Miami and try to entice those QB-hungry teams to trade up for a chance at Locker. If I hold on to the pick, I have to address defensive end issues and Quinn is the best athlete in the draft at that position.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Dave-Te's pick: Nick Fairley-DT-Auburn
Consensus: Washington is going to try to find a home for Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan wants to start from scratch in developing his own quarterback. As good as he is athletically, Locker's accuracy issues remind me of former Houston bust, David Carr.
What I Would Do: Alright, I've been hard on this kid, and rightfully so. He reminds me a lot of Warren Sapp, when he brings his "A" game, but that work ethic of his can rival Albert Haynesworth. I think that dropping this far in the draft will make him an "angry" young man next year, out to prove teams wrong in their evaluation of him. Quinn would be my hands-down choice if he slides this far, but my feeling is that Washington will try to trade down and get a few extra picks, as they have lots of holes to fill with only five choices.
Consensus: Robert Quinn-DE-North Carolina
Dave-Te's pick: Prince Amukamara-CB-Nebraska
Consensus: All the chatter coming out of Houston camp is to make the defense a prime area for an upgrade. With Wade Phillips looking for more pass rushing from the front wall, Quinn makes sense, but let's not forget the 2009 second rounder, Connor Barwin, who missed most of last year with a knee injury. Now that he's fully recovered, another defensive end is needed, but not as pressing as their needs in the secondary.
What I Would Do: Amukamara has some problems in man coverage and needs to stop biting on play action and misdirection, but take a look at Houston's secondary. They should have never let Dunta Robinson bolt. The thing I like about this Husker is his ability to step up and support vs. the run. If Barwin is over leg woes, I can wait to find a defensive pass rusher like Akeem Ayers-UCLA or Justin Houston-Georgia still on the draft boards when Houston picks again at #42.
Consensus: Da'Quan Bowers-DE-Clemson
Dave-Te's pick: Cameron Jordan-DE-California
Consensus: Didn't they learn anything by gambling on another injured down lineman in Erasmus James a few years back? The Vikes are looking for pass rush help, but if Locker slides, Bowers' draft freefall could continue, if Minnesota does not bite on the Clemson Tiger.
What I Would Do: It's a natural fit, sort of like Cinderella and the glass slipper. Over the past four seasons, Jordan has been an imposing figure from the demanding "five technique" defensive end position in the Bears' 3-4 alignment. His non-stop motor and violent usage of hands allow him to work past blocks and create havoc in the backfield. In his career, he's produced 16.5 sacks for minus 89 yards, 34.0 stops for losses totaling 122 yards and 11 quarterback pressures.
Consensus: Prince Amukamara-CB-Nebraska
Dave-Te's pick: Anthony Castonzo-OT-Boston College
Consensus: With Dre' Bly long gone, there is a crying need for another shutdown cornerback to team with Chris Houston. The team could really use an outside linebacker more, especially after dumping Julian Peterson, but there are no linebackers worth the 13th pick in the draft after Von Miller is selected.
What I Would Do: Has anyone looked at the date on Jeff Backus' birth certificate? With fellow BC tackle Gosder Cherilus looking like a first round bust and dealing with leg issues, the time to address offensive line needs is now. The BC running backs used their left tackle to grind out the most of their "real estate" on the ground, as the Eagles registered nine 100-yard rushing performances for the 2010 season, compensating for the team's struggles with their passing game. By the time Castonzo finished playing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, the offensive lineman had established a new school career-record with 54 consecutive starts.
14. ST. LOUIS
Consensus: Aldon Smith-DE/LB-Missouri
Dave-Te's pick: Corey Liuget-DT-Illinois
Consensus: The Rams really coveted WR Julio Jones, but with the receiver off the boards and no other pass catcher worth a top 14 pick, they opt to stay local and improve their pass rush with Smith. I say, buyer beware there, as Smith is a clone of Buffalo bust, Aaron Maybin.
What I Would Do: Fred Robbins was a godsend at defensive tackle, but he enters his 13th season at age 34 in 2011 and his defensive tackle mate, Clifton Ryan, is expected to test the free agent waters. With Liuget, the Rams continue their youth injection up front, as he tandems with DE Chris Long on the left side of the front wall. With Liuget utilized in the front wall's shuttle system in 2009, the Illini finished 91st in the nation in total defense (403.25 ypg), 96th in scoring defense (30.17 ppg) and 76th in rushing defense (154.42 ypg). Once he took over the leadership role in 2010, Illinois greatly improved as a unit, allowing 351.31 yards per game in total offense (38th in the nation), 23.46 points per game (48th nationally) and 130.77 yards on the ground (32nd in the NCAA).
Consensus: Mike Pouncey-OG/C-Florida
Dave-Te's pick: Mike Pouncey-OG/C-Florida
Consensus: The Dolphins need to address the QB picture, but with Pouncey still on the draft board, they have to improve their interior blocking, especially after the bad investment in Jake Grove last year. Pouncey could take over left guard duties with Richie Incognito shifting to center. I am more sold on Pouncey as a guard than as a snapper, thus dictating the Incognito shift.
What I Would Do: Well, what do you know, the boss (me) agrees with my staff one more time. The consummate team player, Pouncey sacrificed personnel success for that of the team, moving to center as a senior, even though most talent evaluators project him as an offensive guard in the National Football League. Playing without his twin brother, Maurkice, a 2010 first round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, for the first time in his career, the brothers hold out a dream to be reunited in the professional ranks in 2011. I just don't see Pouncey still being around when Pittsburgh chooses at #31.
Consensus: Ryan Kerrigan-DE-Purdue
Dave-Te's pick: Ryan Kerrigan-DE-Purdue
Consensus: Again, both boss and staff agree. The Jaguars brought in multiple defenders from their 2010 draft, but none impressed, especially as a pass rusher. Kerrigan is a lot like Aaron Kampman, only much healthier and his arrival lets Jacksonville get rid of their former first round mistake, Derrick Harvey.
What I Would Do: Look for Kerrigan and 2010 fifth rounder Austen Lane as Jacksonville's starting defensive ends in 2011. Kerrigan ranks second among active FBS defenders with 33.5 quarterback sacks and third in lost sack yardage (229). He is also listed fourth in the nation with 57.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, generating 289 yards in total losses. His seven forced fumbles in 2009 set the school season-record and was one shy of the Big Ten Conference annual mark.
17. NEW ENGLAND
Consensus: Cameron Jordan-DE-California
Dave-Te's pick: Mark Ingram-TB-Alabama
Consensus: While I have Jordan going to his dad's former team, it is evident that the Pats need to further upgrade their front wall, as health issues cost Ty Warren the entire 2010 season. If Jordan's name sounds familiar in National Football League circles, it's because he comes from football bloodlines. His father, Steve, played 13 seasons as a tight end in the National Football League after graduating from Brown University. He spent his entire professional career with the Minnesota Vikings, where he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection.
What I Would Do: Understand this about Bill Belichick, he is a draft master. And, with multiple picks, he generally gets what he wants. Yes, the defensive and offensive lines need attention, but this move to grab Ingram gives NE an Emmitt Smith clone and a work horse missing in the backfield since the days of Curtis Martin. Even though Ingram started just 24 contests during his 39-game career with the Tide, he ranks seventh among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers with 42 rushing touchdowns and also with 46 total scores. His 3,261 yards on the ground placed 15th among active players. Few of those 2010 collegiate performers can boast Ingram's success where it counts most for a running back – inside the red zone. From 20 yards away from the goal-line, the junior amassed 24 of his rushing touchdowns, scoring 22 times on goal-line plays during his last two seasons. Operating in those close quarters during that span, he was stopped for a loss just five times on 78 carries.
18. SAN DIEGO
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Dave-Te's pick: J.J. Watt-DE-Wisconsin
Consensus: San Diego is looking for a pass rusher opposite Luis Castillo and GM A.J. Smith favors big college players. But, Clayborn has had arm issues (Erb's palsy) and look at his drop-off in statistics last year, as he went from 20 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and 70 tackles in 2009 to 52 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 7.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2010. Arm issue or not, I am scared to draft this guy.
What I Would Do: Watt might be the best defensive end in this class after a few pro seasons. Understand, he was a tight end before walking on at Wisconsin and has just two seasons of DE experience. In only 26 games at the strong-side defensive end position, Watt has produced 43 stops behind the line of scrimmage (assists/solos) that included 11.5 quarterback sacks. Ten of his 28 quarterback pressures have caused interceptions, as eight other hurries saw those passers try to escape his onslaught, only to be sacked by other Badgers defenders in the process.
19. N.Y. GIANTS
Consensus: Anthony Castonzo-OT-Boston College
Dave-Te's pick: Gabe Carimi-OT-Wisconsin
Consensus: The Giants had lots of injury issues throughout their offensive line last year and are not getting any younger up front. They take Castonzo, move David Diehl to left guard and solidify that side of the line.
What I Would Do: Actually, I'd pounce on Mark Ingram if he is still available, knowing that the Giants have had good success in finding offensive linemen later in the draft. But, with Ingram gone, I can't take Mikel Leshoure, as I need a tailback with good receiving skills. I like Castonzo, but more so for right tackle, as he seems too tall to get his pads down low vs. edge rushers, the same problem that Colorado's Nate Solder has. Carimi might not be as athletic as Castonzo, but after Tyron Smith, he's the best pure left tackle in the draft. I later look to draft John Moffitt in the mid round for Big Blue, as he seems to bring out the "best" in Carimi when they lined up on the left side for the Badgers.
20. TAMPA BAY
Consensus: J.J. Watt-DE-Wisconsin
Dave-Te's pick: Jimmy Smith-CB-Colorado
Consensus: The Bucs desperately wanted a pass rusher and were hoping that Bowers or Kerrigan would slide. But, with both expected to be gone by #20, they get a great "consolation" prize in Watt, who I put among my top ten players in this draft, talent wise.
What I Would Do: If any of the Watt/Kerrigan/Jordan trio slide down this far, I am on one of them in a nano-second. While Smith's off-field issues have been openly discussed and the Bucs are dealing with their own "problem child" in Aqib Talib, who is likely to get cut, Smith is a priority need pick here. He had a few brushes with the law, two minor-in-possession charges and a positive drug test while at CU, which the National Football League recently learned about. But, he was front and center on those topics during the interviews conducted by the league at the recently concluded 2011 Combines. He was caught with an opened beer container just after he turned eighteen. In his junior season, police raided a Boulder bar and carded everyone. Smith hadn't turned 21 yet. His positive drug test came in 2007. Smith played in 47 games at Colorado, starting his last 27 contests as right cornerback. He recorded 163 tackles (129 solos) with 3.5 stops for losses totaling six yards. He also returned three interceptions for 41 yards (13.67 avg) and one touchdown while deflecting 18 passes.
21. KANSAS CITY
Consensus: Gabe Carimi-OT-Wisconsin
Dave-Te's pick: Danny Watkins-OG-Baylor
Consensus: The Chiefs are rapidly aging on their front wall and QB Matt Cassel needs better protection in the pocket to be efficient. Left tackle Branden Albert has had a few mediocre seasons and Carimi's arrival would let the team shift Albert inside to guard, where he was a better performer than at tackle during his college days.
What I Would Do: I think that Watkins is a better solution, as KC needs interior blockers more than a tackle. Brian Waters and Ryan Lilja are both long in the tooth and since Will Shields retired, the Chiefs have been lacking a dominant blocker to widen rush lanes. This way, Albert does not need to adjust, Watkins pushes Waters to the trade front (waters has asked out of KC before) for possibly a mid-to-late round pick and the KC front office filled with former Patriots employees thwart their old boss' desire to take Watkins at #28.
Consensus: Corey Liuget-DT-Illinois
Dave-Te's pick: Nate Solder-OT-Colorado
Consensus: The Colts wanted one of the top three offensive tackles, Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo or Gabe Carimi, as they need to have better protection up front. With that trio expected to be gone, Bill Polian is not going to complain about filling a need on their other front wall. Liuget is an aggressive bull rusher who would be an instant upgrade over Daniel Muir at left defensive tackle.
What I Would Do: I am not convinced that Liuget will slide this far and medical concerns about Phil Taylor-Baylor's feet will scare the Colts off. While the "Big Three" offensive tackles are all expected to be drafted before #22, the Colts rely more on technique and finesse from their blockers. His athleticism and hand placement technique earned Solder All-American first-team honors in 2010, becoming Colorado's first offensive tackle since Stan Brock in 1979 to receive first-team national recognition. A durable performer in the trenches, he performed in 2,540 out of a possible 2,542 plays on offense from the beginning of his sophomore season through the end of his senior campaign.
Consensus: Jimmy Smith-CB-Colorado
Dave-Te's pick: Akeem Ayers-OLB/DE-UCLA
Consensus: Ellis Hobbs' neck injury could prove to be a career-ender and the Eagles look at Smith as the shutdown cornerback needed to let Asante Samuel to freelance often on the other side of the field. Smith started all twelve games at right cornerback in 2010, despite suffering a midseason concussion and finished third on the team with 68 tackles (57 solos), including 2.5 stops for losses totaling four yards. He also deflected five pass attempts and returned a fumble 22 yards.
What I Would Do: While Winston Justice's injury woes could see Philadelphia opt for an offensive tackle, such as Derek Sherrod, their dire need for a playmaking linebacker is a more pressing matter. Stewart Bradley continues to battle the injury bug and Ernie Sims was deemed unwanted after a mediocre season at right linebacker. Ayers started 28-of-37 games at strong-side linebacker, recording 183 tackles (128 solos) with 14.0 sacks for minus 85 yards and 29.5 stops for losses totaling 135 yards. He caused seven fumbles and recovered four others for nine yards and one touchdown. He also intercepted six passes for 100 yards (16.67 avg) and two touchdowns, adding 10 pass deflections and one blocked punt.
24. NEW ORLEANS
Consensus: Akeem Ayers-OLB-UCLA
Dave-Te's pick: Adrian Clayborn-DE-Iowa
Consensus: The Saints wanted Cameron Jordan or Ryan Kerrigan, but feel that with that duo gone, taking a quality outside linebacker is their next biggest need.
What I Would Do: Clayborn failed to live up to his 2009 season the following year and has some medical concerns (arm), but he's a tough cookie in the trenches and plays with better consistency that Ayers. Even though the Saints could use a quality outside linebacker, a one-armed Clayborn is worth the investment for a team with minimal pass rushing talent. He started 37-of-50 games at right defensive end for Iowa, including his last 30, as he made 192 tackles (73 solos) with 19.0 sacks for minus 155 yards and 37.5 stops for losses totaling 207 yards.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Dave-Te's pick: Christian Ponder-QB-Florida State
Consensus: Pete Carroll wants a physical three-technique defensive tackle and even though Austin sat out the 2010 season, the Seahawks are not scared off by what is considered a lack of work ethic on Austin's part. Prior to the 2010 season, Austin had professional scouts and talent evaluators comparing him favorably to NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, feeling that the Tar Heel would establish himself as the dominant force on the defensive front wall during his senior campaign. Both possess excellent hand placement skills and natural raw strength to easily handle double-team coverage.
What I Would Do: There is uncertainty in re-signing Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst proved he has a long ways to go before he can be a decent starting quarterback. If Carroll opts for a passer here, Ponder's pro-style system experience and much better accuracy trumps that of local product, Jake Locker.
Consensus: Cameron Heyward-DE-Ohio State
Dave-Te's pick: Derek Sherrod-OT-Mississippi State
Consensus: The Ravens had eyes for Colorado CB Jimmy Smith, but also need to improve the depth on their defensive line. While the OSU product is not really a great pass rusher, the Playboy All-American selection recorded a career-best 48 tackles (23 solos) that included three sacks, as his 13.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage tied for fifth in the league. He also rumbled 80 yards with an interception vs. Miami.
What I Would Do: Jared Gaither has serious back issues and missed most of 2010. He's also expected to bolt via free agency. Sherrod's selection allows Baltimore to move Michael Oher back to right tackle, where he is more comfortable. Oher was flagged for eight false starts in 2010, as he had cadence issues.
Consensus: Brooks Reed-DE-Arizona
Dave-Te's pick: Kyle Rudolph-TE-Notre Dame
Consensus: The Falcons feel that Reed can be the eventual replacement for aging John Abraham at one of the DE spots and could possibly see playing time at outside linebacker. He was hampered throughout 2009 by a nagging high ankle sprain, but returned to full strength as a senior and enjoyed a productive season that garnered first-team All-Pac-10 Conference honors. The right defensive end registered 47 tackles (26 solos), including 10.0 stops for losses totaling 71 yards. Reed tied for seventh in the conference in sacks (0.50 spg), as he totaled 6.5 sacks for minus 62 yards. He added two pass deflections and a forced fumble.
What I Would Do: Tony Gonzalez has indicated the 2011 will be his final season and Rudolph is the best tight end in this year's class with Gonzalez/Dallas Clark pass catching ability, if he could only stay healthy. He could be long gone by this selection, as he's also drawn serious interest from St. Louis, Miami and the Giants. His comparisons to New England's Rob Gronkowski are inevitable. Both are blessed with that impressive combination of great size, strength and deceptive speed, along with displaying tremendous ball skills when attempting to snatch football out of air. However, both are linked in another fashion – injuries that sidelined them during their sophomore and junior campaigns.
28. NEW ENGLAND
Consensus: Danny Watkins-OG-Baylor
Dave-Te's pick: Da'Quan Bowers-DE-Clemson
Consensus: The Pats covet Watkins, but gambled that he would slide down this far after bypassing him with the #17 pick. Even if Logan Mankins and the front office settle their years-long contract squabbles, their other starting guard, Steve Neal retired and Watkins has instant starting ability.
What I Would Do: I'm thinking like Bill Belichick here. Bowers was once considered the favorite to be the first player taken in this draft, but knee surgery and concerns that the injury would affect his career have other teams backing away from this Tigers' pass rusher. Since the Pats have multiple picks, and need a pass rusher in the worst way, I'd roll the dice that Bowers can stay healthy enough to play up to his All-American level.
Consensus: Derek Sherrod-OT-Mississippi State
Dave-Te's pick: Phil Taylor-DT-Baylor
Consensus: It's a no brainer that Chicago's Achilles heel has been their offensive line. Orlando Pace had nothing left in the tank when they claimed him on waivers from St. Louis and it has been a revolving door of mediocre talent at the tackle positions. Sherrod's arrival to man the left tackle position allows the team to keep an earlier first round bust, Chris Williams, inside at guard.
What I Would Do: Cutting Tommie Harris could be a benefit in ridding a locker room cancer, but on the field, the Bears need a big body to handle multiple blockers, thus freeing up their linebackers to make plays, like they did in previous seasons. There are some teams concerned with Taylor's foot woes, but when healthy, he
earned All-American honorable mention and All-Big Twelve Conference second-team accolades as a senior. He registered a career-best 62 tackles (35 solos) with two sacks, adding seven stops for loss and three pressures. He also caused a fumble and batted down a pair of pass attempts.
30. NEW YORK JETS
Consensus: Phil Taylor-NG-Baylor
Dave-Te's pick: Aldon Smith-OLB-Missouri
Consensus: While Taylor can play DT, Rex Ryan looks at the Baylor defender's wide body and sees an All-Pro nose guard in the Kris Jenkins mold. Taylor started 22-of-25 games at Baylor – nine at strong-side defensive tackle and 13 at nose guard. He recorded 87 tackles (43 solos) with 2.5 sacks for minus 18 yards, 9.5 stops for losses of 31 yards, eight quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, an interception, two pass deflections and two blocked kicks
What I Would Do: Yes, Smith looks like the second coming of Aaron Maybin and Vern Gholston, but if Rex Ryan can get him to play up to 2009 form, when he had 64 tackles (44 solos), including 11.5 sacks for minus 99 yards and 19.0 stops for losses totaling 126 yards, the Jets could solve their problem of a lack of playmakers at the outside linebacker position. If Jason Taylor returns, the Jets have a great mentor for Smith to learn from.
Consensus: Aaron Williams-CB-Texas
Dave-Te's pick: Randall Cobb-WR-RET-Kentucky
Consensus: If the Steelers are looking for a solid man coverage cornerback, I'd look elsewhere, as Williams is one of the worst in one-on-one match-ups among the so-called elite corners in this draft. I like him much better in the zone and think he will be better suited for safety in the NFL, but the Steelers are enamored by his size and feel he can replace Ike Taylor in the lineup.
What I Would Do: There is little chance that the Steelers will go for a receiver this early, but Hines Ward is getting long in the tooth and Cobb is a young Hines Ward clone. In 35 career games at Kentucky, Cobb accumulated 4,674 all-purpose yards and ranks fourth all-time at the school in that category. His mark is surpassed only by Derek Abney (5,856; 2000-03), Rafael Little (5,343; 2004-07) and former teammate Derrick Locke (4,973; 2007-current). In 2010, Cobb set the Southeastern Conference season record for all-purpose yardage with 2,396 yards, breaking the previous mark of 2,310 yards by Darren McFadden of Arkansas in 2007.
32. GREEN BAY
Consensus: Muhammad Wilkerson-DT-Temple
Dave-Te's pick: Mikel Leshoure-TB-Illinois
Consensus: If the Packers stick to the "best available athlete" format, Wilkerson looks like their man. He is a dominant player, when the "light goes on" upstairs, but if you look at 2010 film from the Connecticut, Akron and Ohio University games, you can see that his motor is inconsistent. Still, when he brings his "A" game, he can be a load to handle. He ranked third on the team and led the league's down linemen with a career-best 70 tackles (45 solos), as he led the Owls and ranked second in the MAC while placing 12th nationally with 9.5 sacks for minus 75 yards. He also tied for fifth in the conference, 57th in the nation and led the squad with 13.0 stops for losses totaling 60 yards.
What I Would Do: This was a tough choice for me, as Cameron Heyward could ease the possible loss of Cullen Jenkins at defensive end. If Jenkins returns, Heyward's experience at DT helps earn him playing time in a rotation up front. But, even with the late season exploits of James Starks, I need to address the running back issues. Leshoure is a bruiser running inside, but lacks receiving skills. If Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams was not an injury report candidate waiting to happen, I would have gone with him, but I am really concerned with his durability issues. In 2010, Leshoure established a new school season-record with his 1,697 yards on the ground. His seventeen scoring runs tied another Illini annual mark, while his 281 carries in 2010 are the second-highest total in school annals. He also ranks second with 1,893 all-purpose yards and set the Illini season-record with nine 100-yard rushing performances, tying for second all-time by going over the "century" mark twelve times during his career.