by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
As we note every year here at PD Draft Central, you can make your list of picks, but you’ll never accurately predict where the top players will go. Hey, they call them mock drafts for a reason.
So, what if we took the guesswork out of it?
On your behalf, dear reader, we have scanned various websites for their top-rated draft prospects and matched them up with New England’s first six picks for 2011 (17, 28, 33, 60, 74, 92). It seems that these computer thingies just might catch on.
28 – Justin Houston (6-3, 270) OLB, Georgia
33 – Kyle Rudolph (6-6, 259), TE, Notre Dame
60 – Marcus Cannon (6-5, 358) OT, TCU
74 – Daniel Thomas (6-0, 230) RB, Kansas State
92 – James Carpenter (6-4, 321) OT, Alabama
Human commentary: You know what? I dig this. New England addresses their needs in the defensive front seven while bolstering the offensive line and adding a horse to their running back stable. While yesterday I wrote about trading up to get a game-changer like North Carolina pass-rusher Robert Quinn, I’d feel more than content with these six players coming to the Patriots. (You may argue against drafting a tight end, but Rudolph could become another Rob Gronkowski. That just might be illegal.)
Trade the later three picks for the future and invite a ton of rookie free agents to camp, and this looks strong to me.
17 – Mark Ingram (5-10, 215) RB, Alabama
28 – Nate Solder (6-9, 315) OT, Colorado
33 – Justin Houston, OLB (see 28 above)
60 – Brandon Burton (6-0, 185) CB, Utah
74 – DeMarco Murray (6-1, 207) RB, Oklahoma
92 – Kenrick Ellis (6-5, 340) DT, Hampton
Human commentary: That Houston guy deserves another look, apparently. While the addition of Ingram could only help, and the size of both Solder and Ellis look intriguing (not to mention Ellis’ 5.05-second 40-yard dash), this random lineup fails to fit as well as the previous one. Still, it proves that the depth of this draft gives our Patriots a great shot to improve this year (six shots, actually).
17 – J. J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin (same ranking as CBS)
28 – Jake Locker (6-3, 230) QB, Washington
33 – Jeremy Beal (6-3, 267) DE, Oklahoma
60 – Dontay Moch (6-1, 245) DE, Nevada
74 – Martez Wilson (6-4, 250) LB, Illinois
92 – Marcus Cannon OT, TCU (number 60 on CBS)
Human commentary: Watt has made his mark this season and would be welcome in Foxboro, as would Beal – although he seemed more solid than spectacular when watching him last fall. At his size and speed (an eye-busting 4.42 in the 40), Wilson looks under-ranked here, but if he falls to the third, the Pats could do some damage with the versatile linebacker.
17 – Corey Liuget (6-3, 300) DT, Illinois
28 – Justin Houston, Georgia
Human commentary: Hmm… that Justin Houston thing can’t be mere coincidence, can it? (Note: Yes. Yes, it can.) He’s a player to keep in mind, especially after running a 4.62 40-yard dash and putting up 30 bench reps of 225 pounds at the combine. After watching his highlight reel, he only seems to have one pass-rush move, but it’s a doozy. While Liuget looks like he has potential to become a solid contributor, he lacks the wow factor that I’d like to see (which, looking at my past scouting record, pretty much guarantees him a spot on the Patriots).
MOCK DRAFT LOOK
Just for the heck of it, let’s compare the above random selections with an intentional one. This is from Walter Football:
17 – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
28 – Muhammad Wilkerson (6-4, 315) DL, Temple
33 – Mikel Leshoure (6-0, 227) RB, Illinois
60 – Titus Young (5-11, 174) WR, Boise State
74 – Rashad Carmichael (5-10, 192) CB, Virginia Tech
92 – Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada (ranked 60 by FFToolbox)
Not bad, Walter. I’ve been a fan of Leshoure all year – he gained nearly 1,700 yards with every opponent looking to stop him. His bulk and quickness (6.82 seconds in the 3-cone drill) set him apart from most other backs. Carmichael has good feet and could impress at corner. Wilkerson’s got the size of a versatile 3-4 defensive lineman. Speaking of size, I think Moch’s lack of height will keep him off New England’s draft board, though his speed (4.40 40, faster than Young) and production (22 tackles for loss in 2010 as a DE) should get him off the board before the fourth round. While I like Young’s playmaking ability, at 175 pounds he might be a better paperweight than NFL receiver.
We’ll be keeping an eye out for more mocks (and mocking, to be sure). In the meantime, tell us your Pats picks for April.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org