It’s January, and with the NFL Playoffs here and the college bowl season coming to an end, it’s time to start projecting where more athletes are headed.
NFL Soup has provided you with a first round mock draft in November, and a second round mock draft in December. It’s time to move on to three rounds, as we continue our non-stop 2011 NFL Draft coverage.
There’s a lot of speculation, and it’s still very early, but we will be making tweaks throughout the Draft Season.
We present the 2011 Three Round NFL Mock Draft.
1) Carolina (2-14)- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson*
Carolina just can’t get any Luck. No, really, Andrew Luck isn’t coming out, and they’ll have to wait another year to potentially take a franchise quarterback most likely. But there’s nothing wrong with getting the most dominant pass rusher out of the last couple years on your team. Bowers is a big, powerful defense end who is athletic and gets to the quarterback better than anybody else.
2) Denver (4-12)- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU*
Denver needs a lot of help defensively, and while they have Champ Bailey, who has succeeded this year, he is aging, and they still need another corner on the other side. Peterson has game changing ability as he’s able to shut down receivers and is a ball hawk. He’s also a very solid tackler who isn’t afraid to make a play behind the line of scrimmage. He’s just the aggressive defender the Broncos need.
3) Buffalo (4-12)- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri*
Ryan Fitzpatrick was solid for a few weeks in Buffalo, but he’s not a franchise quarterback, and most likely won’t be a guy that they can rely on to get them to the playoffs. With Gabbert they get a project quarterback with a great throwing motion, excellent arm strength, and improved accuracy. He has the arm to get the ball to deep threats like Stevie Johnson, Lee Evans, and Roscoe Parrish, and he’s a smart quarterback who is raw, but can be groomed to be a star at the next level.
4) Cincinnati (4-12)- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia*
A lot of people want Cincinnati to go quarterback here, but after losing out on the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, they decide to go with a stud receiver to boost the offense. Carson Palmer may still have a couple of years left, but Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are both likely gone after the season. Look for the dominant possession receiver A.J. Green to step in and make an immediate impact for the Bengals.
5) Arizona (5-11)- Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas*
Even the blind can see what the absence of Kurt Warner has done to this football team. It’s time they get a legit quarterback. With down field threats like Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, the Cardinals would have a quarterback that can make all of the NFL throws. Despite comparisons to Derek Anderson, Mallett is actually fairly accurate, although he still needs work.
6) Cleveland (5-11)- Marcel Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama*
Stopping the run for Cleveland has been quite the struggle for most of the season. While the defensive line isn’t terrible, having a big, true 3-4 defensive end moved in there with Ahtyba Rubin and Kenyon Coleman could really help the linebackers roam freely to make tackles. Dareus already comes from a 3-4 scheme in Alabama and is dominant. He rushes the passer, penetrates the backfield and gets double teamed consistently. With A.J. Green off the board, the Browns fill their next biggest need.
7) San Francisco (6-10)- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn*
Cam Newton’s stock is soaring right now, and with guys like Vince Young and Tim Tebow going in the first round, Newton seems like a lock to join them. Newton can throw the ball as well as run. He’s not just a scrambling quarterback. He has the arm to get the ball down field and is a natural play maker. He’ll need some work, but he is a very talented football player.
8 ) Tennessee (6-10)- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn*
While Tennessee’s defensive line isn’t bad at all, it could use an upgrade at defensive tackle. Later in the season, Tennessee gave up more plays against the run each game, and struggled to close down the middle of the offensive line, often giving up big plays. Fairley can stop the run, and is an excellent penetrator that would fit perfectly here.
9) Dallas (6-10)- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Dallas was one of the worst teams in the NFL in shutting down the pass in 2010. While they fared well in creating turnovers, they also tied with the Texans for giving up the most touchdowns in the air. Having a true shutdown corner in Amukamara is crucial. They have talented corners, but they just aren’t developing properly, and Amukamara is one of the more NFL ready talents.
10) Washington (6-10)- Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
It’s no surprise that the Redskins defense struggled this year. Making the transition to the 3-4 defense is no easy task. Not every defensive lineman can make the switch successfully, which is why Washington grabs Adrian Clayborn who fits the 3-4 end mold quite well. He’s strong, and faces double teams at times, and does a nice job at taking up space.
11) Houston (6-10)- Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
This could be a bit of a controversial pick, but Houston needs a legit penetrator next to Amobi Okoye and Mario Williams. Shaun Cody isn’t getting it done against the run, and Nevis is a good pass rusher who is above average against the run. Nevis is excellent at disrupting plays in the backfield as well.
12) Minnesota (6-10)- Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA*
Moore is one of the most well rounded safeties in this draft class. He’s got the size, speed and athleticism to play both safety positions and possibly even corner. He’s a ball hawk, and is extremely exceptional in zone coverage. The Vikings need to improve against the pass. While injuries are one reason for their lack of success, not having the right personnel is the biggest reason.
13) Detroit (6-10)- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fl)*
It’s no secret that Detroit’s secondary is the biggest reason for their lack of defensive success. They didn’t have problems getting to the quarterback with an improved defensive line, but they really need a top notch corner to get out there and make plays. Harris is an excellent man corner, although a bit raw. He’s quite fast, and does well in changing directions.
14) St. Louis (7-9)- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama*
This is a no brainer pick right here for the Rams. Sam Bradford had an effective rookie season after the Rams fell one game short of making the playoffs. But Bradford needs a true number one wide receiver, and Julio Jones is a great fit. Jones will excel in a vertical offense like St. Louis, and is a play maker after the catch. He has some drops issues, but is a physical wide receiver with excellent speed.
15) Miami (7-9)- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama*
Miami has a few holes they need to get figured out, but drafting Mark Ingram will fill a big need. Ingram is the physical, but speedy running back that fits perfectly in their system. He knows how to run the wildcat and there’s a good chance that the Dolphins will only be able to re-sign one of either Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown.
16) Jacksonville (8-8)- Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina*
Jacksonville has struggled for quite awhile in getting to the quarterback. They’ve plugged in different defensive ends for the last 5-6 seasons and keep struggling. Quinn falls a bit, and while he’s not really a Jack Del Rio type of player, his talent is too good to pass up as a pass rusher. He could jump in right next to Terrence Knighton and be a force in getting to the quarterback.
17) New England (From OAK) (8-8)- Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia*
Houston is a pure pass rusher who plays both defensive end and outside linebacker in Georgia’s complicated defensive scheme. The Patriots have done well with a seemingly plug and play system making players out of anybody who they put in, but they could use a tough pass rusher to lineup outside in their 3-4. Houston fills a need and is one of the best players on the board.
18) San Diego (9-7)- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama*
Hightower is an absolute animal. I had the pleasure of watching him in person at the Capital One Bowl and he plays even bigger than he already is. Hightower plays inside in a 3-4 defense at Alabama and is a dominant run stuffer who does it all. He’s not bad in coverage, and he gets off of blockers well, using his strength. San Diego could use a prototypical inside linebacker in the middle of an already tough defense.
19) New York Giants (10-6)- Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina
The Giants seem to be the most well balanced team with the least amount of holes. But somehow they just can’t seem to put it all together. Bruce Carter stepping in gives the Giants a great sideline to sideline tackle who can make plays in the passing game, and is an exceptional wrap up tacklers.
20) Tampa Bay (10-6)- Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida*
You have to love the improvements that Tampa Bay has made in 2010. They went from being one of the worst teams in the NFL to one of the more respected teams. But their secondary hurt them all season long. Ronde Barber is aging, and they don’t have an established CB2 that can make plays. Jenkins gives them a speedy corner who excels in man coverage, as well as making tackles in closed spaces.
21) Seattle (7-9)- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Pete Carroll has played against Locker, and he knows just how talented this kid can be with the right amount of work. Seattle’s quarterback play has been too inconsistent. Aging Matt Hasselbeck still has a few years under his belt, and would be an excellent veteran presence for Locker to sit under for a season or two. Locker can make plays on his feet, and does a nice job completing the short-intermediate passes. With a bit of touch and accuracy, he could become an elite quarterback at the next level.
22) Kansas City (10-6)- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State**
Some may think I’m crazy with this pick, but I think having Justin Blackmon for the Chiefs could really put them over the top offensively. We saw how great the Matt Cassel-Dwayne Bowe connection was in 2010, but the Chiefs fail to have a legit #2 receiver. Blackmon could line up in the slot, at flanker, split end, anywhere. He’s just a special talent, and he could utilize his speed to stretch the field and make plays, forcing defenses to respect him AND Bowe, as well as the running game. It could cause big time problems for opposing defenses.
23) Indianapolis (10-6)- DeAndre McDaniel, SS, Clemson
We are all familiar with the run defense, or lack thereof, in Indianapolis. Bob Sanders can’t seem to stay healthy, and he can’t be relied on. McDaniels is like Bob Sanders with height. He’s a hard hitter who can be a ball hawk and make plays. McDaniel was a four year starter at Clemson and was a leader of a respectable defense.
24) Philadelphia (10-6)- Marcus Cannon, OG/OT, TCU
The Eagles could use more consistent guard play, and what better than to have a versatile offensive lineman like Marcus Cannon? Cannon is a monster at 350 pounds and is athletic enough to play offensive tackle at the next level as well. Cannon could shore up either guard spot.
25) Green Bay (10-6)- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The Packers have had some problems with injuries at the tackle position. They drafted Bryan Bulaga to be the future at left tackle, but they could still fill both spots and get two young guys to protect Aaron Rodgers. Sherrod could play both tackle positions, but would fill in nicely at left tackle with his excellent ability in pass protection. Having Sherrod groomed behind Chad Clifton could allow Bulaga to continue improving on the right side to create bookend tackles.
26) New Orleans (11-5)- Christian Ballard, DT/DE, Iowa
Ballard could play both defensive end and defensive tackle. His versatility makes him an intriguing option for the Saints who could move him around as the situation calls for it. He’s an excellent penetrator who has good agility and can move well laterally. He’s a big body that does need to improve his strength.
27) New York Jets (11-5)- Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
The Jets defensive line has had some minor struggles, and they could use a bit of a youth movement. Losing Kris Jenkins at nose tackle for the year early on hurt quite a bit, but they still need to improve at defensive end. Jordan is a strong bull rusher who can take up space, and get to the quarterback.
28) Baltimore (11-5)- Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Pitt
Baltimore’s defense was great as usual, but they just weren’t themselves this year in the pressure department. They were 27th in the league in getting to the quarterback, and it hurt their secondary at times as they failed to get pressure. Jabaal Sheard is a top notch pass rusher who is very physical, and also very quick off the line. He’s going to rise up draft boards.
29) Chicago (11-5)- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Anybody that watched Jay Cutler get sacked nine times in one half of football realizes just how bad that offensive line is in pass protection. Enter Anthony Castonzo. Castonzo is an excellent pass blocker who is quite athletic and has solid footwork. He needs work in the run game, but the most important thing is protecting Cutler.
30) Pittsburgh (12-4)- Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
What a perfect story this is. What’s not to love about twin brothers playing for the same high school offensive line, college offensive line, and then joining each other in the NFL? The Steelers drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the 2010 NFL Draft to shore up the center position, but injuries, and poor play will force them to stick with drafting on the interior line.
31) Atlanta (13-3)- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is just a brute strength pass rusher who’s quick enough to work around the edge as well. The Falcons have struggled getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which has been a big reason for their issues in the secondary. Kerrigan and John Abraham opposite each other would be a nasty combination, and would give Atlanta one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
32) New England (14-2)- Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
One may question this pick with the way BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have played, but the Patriots have to want a true feature back in that system with Tom Brady. Thomas can do it all, as he has exceptional ball skills out of the backfield, and can run well north and south. He’s one of the best backs in this draft and quite underrated.
33) New England (From CAR) (2-14)- Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Patriots need to establish some youth on the defensive line, and grabbing Heyward would be a huge boost. Heyward dominated in the Sugar Bowl, even while getting double teamed, and he’s a very good run stuffer. Heyward can take up space and bolster that defensive line.
34) Buffalo (4-12)- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Buffalo needs an offensive tackle that give Blaine Gabbert some time to throw the football. Solder excels in the run game, but is still solid in pass protection, using his quick feet to stay in front of his defender.
35) Cincinnati (4-12)- Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Cincinnati needs some work on the defensive line, especially at defensive tackle. Paea would give them a dominate penetrator who forces double teams at times. The Bengals need work in stopping the run, and Paea lined up next to Domata Peko could be fierce.
36) Denver (4-12)- Deunta Williams, FS, North Carolina
Brian Dawkins isn’t going to stay forever and isn’t playing at the same level he did a few years back. Denver grabs their FS of the future with Deunta Williams who’s an excellent coverage guy and a ball hawk.
37) Cleveland (5-11)- Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Cleveland gets a steal in Von Miller who somehow slides down to round two. They need a surefire pass rusher who is aggressive in getting to the quarterback, and that’s just what they get in Miller who has played in a 3-4 defense at Texas A&M.
38) Arizona (5-11)- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa**
Arizona needs to be able to protect their investment in Ryan Mallett, and better to do that with a fantastic tackle which excels in pass protection. Albeit raw, Reiff has Top 10 talent and upside.
39) Tennessee (6-10)- Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Tennessee grabs Ayers here, who is another first round talent that barely slides into the second round. Ayers is a versatile linebacker who plays well sideline to sideline and is a sure tackler. He’s not bad in coverage either.
40) Dallas (6-10)- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
This is a no brainer for Dallas who needs to shore up the right side of the line. Carimi is a mauling blocker who will move to the right side as he doesn’t have the skillset to succeed as a left tackle in the NFL. He’s still a top notch tackle with fantastic work ethic.
41) Washington (6-10)- Jeremy Beal, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
Washington continues to fill their 3-4 personnel with a dominant pass rusher to go opposite of Brian Orakpo. Beal is athletic enough to work in coverage and become a solid all around linebacker. He will be able to put his hand down in 4-3 situations as well.
42) Houston (6-10)- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Houston grabbed Kareem Jackson last year and while Glover Quin has been solid, he didn’t play to his potential. To grab Jimmy Smith here would be a steal. He’s an athletic corner who plays very physical defense, and excels in press coverage.
43) Minnesota (6-10)- Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina
It’s crucial for Minnesota to upgrade one of the linebacker spots. Sturdy Sturdivant is one of the better wrap up tackling prospects. He’s a fantastic sideline to sideline player and is quite versatile, able to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3.
44) Detroit (6-10)- Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State
Greg Jones still falls down into Detroit’s lap to give them a dominant physical linebacker who wraps up and gets into the backfield to make tackles. He’s not the best block shedder, but he shouldn’t have a problem behind Ndamukong Suh.
45) San Francisco (6-10)- Marvin Austin, DE/DT, North Carolina
Austin could be the biggest steal of the draft with this pick. His character concerns make him fall to pick 45, as well as the fact that he hasn’t played football in a year. But Austin could fill in opposite Justin Smith as a dominant 3-4 defense end, and space eater.
46) Denver (From MIA) (7-9)- Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State
Denver must improve the guard play, and Hudson gives them a smaller, more athletic blocker to shore up either spot. Hudson is a strong run blocker who is solid in pass protection as well. He can afford to bulk up a bit.
47) St. Louis (7-9)- Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
St. Louis must improve its play in the secondary. Aaron Williams gives the Rams an ideal zone coverage athlete who needs to improve in man coverage if he wants to start. Williams has first round potential, so getting him here is excellent value.
48) Oakland (8-8)- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State**
Oakland could shore up a defensive tackle spot with this dominant space eater. Worthy commands double teams often and is a natural run stuffer. His strength often goes unmatched and while he’s a bit raw, he’s just the physical specimen Al Davis likes to draft.
49) Jacksonville (8-8)- Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt
Mike Sims-Walker just isn’t getting it done. He’s too inconsistent, and he doesn’t make enough big plays. Mike Thomas has developed nicely, but he’s no more than a WR2, and Baldwin has the physical skillset to become a dominant possession receiver if he can learn to create separation.
50) San Diego (9-7)- J.J. Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin*
San Diego has to be looking to improve one of their defensive end spots. Watt would give them a strong, physical defensive end who overpowers defenders and gets into the backfield. Watt could be used as a situational guy for a season or two and develop into a dominant starter in a season or two.
51) Tampa Bay (10-6)- Allen Bailey, DE, Miami (Fl.)
For a second straight pick, Tampa Bay decides to keep it close to home, grabbing Bailey who’s a natural 4-3 pass rusher. Bailey is solid against the run, but could afford to improve. He moves well upfield, getting a good push off the line.
52) New York Giants (10-6)- Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, Temple*
The Giants drafted Linval Joseph early last year, but can’t pass up another big guy in the middle with Wilkerson who is HUGE. Wilkerson is a huge penetrator that uses his size to bully guards and centers.
53) Seattle (7-9)- Benjamin Ijalana, OG, Villanova
Seattle needs to start protecting the quarterback. It started with Russell Okung, and it will continue with Ijalana who is a fantastic pass protection, and good strength in the run game. Ijalana may be the best overall guard who has played both guard and tackle in college.
54) Indianapolis (10-6)- Nate Potter, OT, Boise State*
Indy has struggled finding a true left tackle, and keeping them healthy and productive. Potter is a great pass blocker who plays very smart. He’s just the tackle that Peyton Manning needs to keep defensive ends out of his face, and help bolster a talented offensive line.
55) Philadelphia (10-6)- Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Philly has Asante Samuel, but they are still very young at the corner position. Dimitri Patterson improved somewhat at the end of the season, but they still need a solid CB2 to play opposite Samuel. Dowling is a physical corner who’s not afraid to come up and make a tackle, as well as jam the receiver in press coverage.
56) Kansas City (10-6)- DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas
Kansas City needs some help at tackle, and Love is a nice fit to play on the right side due to being more of a mauler. He’s not bad against quicker edge rushers, but gets bullied against bull rushers, which is why he’s a better fit on the right side.
57) Green Bay (10-6)- Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma*
While Lewis may not have ideal 3-4 OLB size, he is athletic enough and has room to bulk up. Green Bay needs more of a utility linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, and Lewis is a sure tackler who plays well in coverage, and could help them improve against tight ends.
58) New York Jets (11-5)- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame*
The Jets will lose one of Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Edwards is likely gone, and Floyd is just the physical receiver they need to replace him. Floyd isn’t the fastest receiver, but he has good hands, and makes catches in traffic.
59) Baltimore (11-5)- Omar Bolden, CB, Arizona State
To play in the AFC North means to play physical. Bolden is a solid man coverage corner who is one of the most aggressive corners in the NCAA. He makes tackles behind the line of scrimmage and gets a good jam off the line.
60) New Orleans (11-5)- Stefen Wisniewski, OG/C, Penn State
New Orleans doesn’t need much help in many places, but they could use some depth at the guard position, and maybe groom a center. Wisniewski is a very smart center who plays with good leverage, and is quite versatile.
61) Chicago (11-5)- LaMichael James, RB, Oregon**
It’s hard to imagine James falling this far, but the Bears could use a compliment to Matt Forte who’s mostly dominant in passing situations. James can catch as well, but hits the hole hard and has electrifying speed to turn the corner.
62) Pittsburgh (12-4)- Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska*
Pittsburgh has faced adversity dealing with injuries to guys like Aaron Smith. Crick gives the Steelers a strong defensive end in a 3-4 that can hold the point of attack and take up blockers for the Steelers complicated zone blitz defense.
63) Atlanta (13-3)- Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
Atlanta once drafted a guy named DeAngelo Hall. They get a guy similar to him, but better in coverage. Carmichael is a speedy corner who can hold his own in man coverage. He needs to improve his tackling, but he could come in and make an impact at the nickel for his first season or two.
64) New England (14-2)- Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (Fl.)
New England is another team that doesn’t need much help overall, but grabbing Hankerson would give them a nice sure handed pass catcher with good size, and whom is a threat in the red zone. Hankerson had an excellent season despite poor quarterback play in Miami.
65) Carolina (2-14)- John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin
If Carolina is going to improve offensively, it’s going to start up front. Moffitt is a pure mauler, but he’s good enough in pass protection to help out young Jimmy Clausen. The Panthers still need to improve run blocking, however, for their stud running backs in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams who hopes to be 100% by season start.
66) Cincinnati (4-12)- Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware
Cincinnati needs a quarterback to groom for the future. Grabbing a guy like Devlin in the third round is a great start to groom behind veteran Carson Palmer. While Devlin lacks in arm strength, he more than makes up in accuracy and intangibles. He would have the advantage of sitting for a year or two to learn under a solid veteran, and will get to throw to A.J. Green in a year or two.
67) Denver (4-12)- Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall
Like we’ve discussed earlier, Denver’s defense has really struggled. Mario Harvey is a very underrated linebacker who made a name for himself in Marshall. Harvey is an excellent wrap up tackler who gets off blocks well. He will struggle in coverage, but he could be just the sledgehammer they need in the middle of the defense.
68) Buffalo (4-12)- Quinton Carter, FS, Oklahoma
Jairus Byrd isn’t going to cut it for much longer in Buffalo. While they aren’t terrible in giving up scores, the Buffalo secondary gives up way too much yardage. Carter is a pure zone coverage safety who can come up and make a big hit on the ball carrier.
69) Arizona (5-11)- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame*
Arizona has weapons at wide receiver, and it’s time they get one at tight end. Ryan Mallett loved D.J. Williams at Arkansas and he’ll love the even better Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph is a great pass catcher who should come off the board sooner than this, but he slides due to all the other talent in the draft.
70) Cleveland (5-11)- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma*
Tom Heckert loves his smaller, quick receivers. He drafted Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson who are great in Philly, and he gets a third round steal in Ryan Broyles who is an excellent return man, and is a burner.
71) Dallas (6-10)- Ahmad Black, S, Florida
If Black was 6’0 or taller, he’d probably go much higher. But his 5’9 frame may scare some teams away, and Dallas has a huge void at both safety positions. Black played strong safety at Florida, but is versatile enough to play either at the next level. He’d be an immediate upgrade for Dallas.
72) New Orleans (From WAS) (6-10)- Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College
Sean Payton loves high character guys, and Herzlich is a fantastic man, and story. He was once thought to be a high first round pick, but after missing time with cancer he’s regressed. He still has the physical talent to be a solid outside backer at the next level, however.
73) Houston (6-10)- Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU*
Houston’s offensive line could use some depth, and Matt Reynolds is a raw prospect who excels in run blocking. He may be best at on the right side of the line, and could help pave the way even more for Arian Foster and maybe even Ben Tate in the future.
74) New England (From MIN) (6-10)- Cliff Matthews, DE/OLB, South Carolina
New England sticks with its best player available philosophy and grabs Matthews who’s a physical specimen. He’s a big, athletic pass rusher who could play outside backer in a 3-4. He needs to be groomed a bit, but he makes for an excellent situational player.
75) Detroit (6-10)- DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Despite drafting Jahvid Best in the first round in 2010, the Lions still need a guy who can run between the tackles. Murray is a quick, yet powerful runner who can make plays out of the backfield as well. A tandem of Murray and Best could be dangerous for an already powerful offense.
76) San Francisco (6-10)- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri**
San Fran continues to bolster the defensive side of the ball. Manny Lawson has been a disappointment, and while Smith is quite raw, he has huge upside. He’ll need to be developed, but he has excellent pure pass rushing skills.
77) Tennessee (6-10)- Orlando Franklin, OG/OT, Miami (Fl.)
Tennessee needs to build some depth on the offensive line, and Franklin can play both guard and tackle. His calling will almost be guaranteed as a guard, and he needs to improve his footwork. But he can move the pile in the run game, and has decent athleticism.
78) St. Louis (7-9)- Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State*
St. Louis takes a chance on this scat back to spell another former Oregon State product, Steven Jackson. Jackson is slowing down, and while he’s still effective, he’s not going to be able to carry the load. Rodgers isn’t bad between the tackles and has excellent speed, he can make plays in the passing game as well.
79) Miami (7-9)- Brandon Burton, CB, Utah*
Burton will join fellow Ute Sean Smith in the defensive backfield in Miami. Burton doesn’t excel at any particular thing, but he’s well rounded and has the quickness to stick with most wide receivers.
80) Jacksonville (8-8)- Jeron Johnson, S, Boise State
Jacksonville needs help in the secondary, and what better to grab one of the most underappreciated safeties in the NCAA. Johnson makes receivers fear catching the ball over the middle, and has great instincts. He’s solid in run support also.
81) Oakland (8-8)- Jack Crawford, DE/OLB, Penn State*
Oakland continues to build the defensive line with Crawford who is versatile and athletic enough to play both linebacker and defensive end. His bulk suggests he’ll play with his hand down like he did in 2010, however. He’s a solid pass rusher, and does well in contain.
82) San Diego (9-7)- Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
This is more of a luxury pick for San Diego. Antonio Gates isn’t going anywhere and is still the best tight end in the NFL. But having Kendricks gives Philip Rivers another solid passing option which can play the slot, and can also be insurance if Gates goes down.
83) New York Giants (10-6)- Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Perhaps one of the biggest steals of the draft could be Curtis Brown. He has a very high ceiling but lacks the production in college. He’s a speedy corner who is a ball hawk and a threat to make a big play at any time.
84) Tampa Bay (10-6)- Alex Wujciak, LB, Maryland
Tampa Bay struggled through injuries over the course of 2010, but they need to improve against the run. Wujciak is a nice wrap up tackler who lacks great athleticism, but makes up for it in work ethic and football IQ.
85) San Diego (From SEA) (7-9)- Mark Barron, S, Alabama*
Barron gives Seattle an athletic safety who plays like an extra linebacker at times in Alabama’s 3-4 defense. Barron punishes defenders over the middle and is an excellent tackler. He’d make a nice compliment to Eric Weddle.
86) Philadelphia (10-6)- Jerrell Powe, DT, Mississippi
Powe is a strong run stuffing nose tackle who holds the point of attack very well. Philadelphia has been suspect in giving up runs up the middle, and Powe could be a solid rotational guy for them in the interior defensive line.
87) Kansas City (10-6)- Jarvis Jenkins, DT/DE, Clemson
Glenn Dorsey has been above average at best, but Kansas City could afford to get defensive end that can hold his own. Jenkins is a space eater who does well in penetration as well. He should have no problem moving to a 5 technique in the NFL.
88) Indianapolis (10-6)- Lucas Nix, OG, Pitt
Nix struggled at times playing tackle at Pitt, but has improved steadily in pass protection playing inside. He’s got tackle size, but plays better as a guard in run situations. He’s a well rounded guard who could be groomed to start eventually.
89) Green Bay (10-6)- Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
Green Bay gets a steal with Hunter falling this far. Hunter has fringe first round talent. He’s a speedy running back who runs with power and can turn the corner or run between the tackles. He makes plays in the passing game and will be excellent insurance and a compliment for Ryan Grant.
90) Baltimore (11-5)- John Clay, RB, Wisconsin*
Willis McGahee just isn’t getting it done. He’s too inconsistent and can’t be relied on any more to make a play. Clay is a big time bruiser who could compliment the speedy, yet powerful Ray Rice. Clay could be the Brandon Jacobs to Baltimore’s Ahmad Bradshaw.
91) New Orleans (11-5)- Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
Barksdale would give New Orleans a versatile tackle to groom. They could improve his pass protection and feature him on the left side in the event of an injury, or he could start at right side as a hard nosed mauling run blocker.
92) San Diego (From NYJ) (11-5)- Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
San Diego is looking for their replacement for Jamal Williams. They drafted Vaughn Martin last season later in the draft, and can’t resist passing up the huge Hampton product in Kenrick Ellis. Ellis is a physical nose tackle who commands double teams and stuffs the run.
93) Chicago (11-5)- Sam Acho, DE, Texas
Drafting Acho gives Chicago a bull rusher to groom for when Julius Peppers is ready to retire. Acho gets into the backfield regularly, and has a nice inside move when rushing the passer.
94) Pittsburgh (12-4)- Jason Pinkston, OT, Pitt
Pittsburgh continues to go offensive line in hopes to replace Flozell Adams who has been terrible on the right side of the line. They haven’t had much luck with injuries, and Pinkston gives them a solid run blocker with upside in the passing game.
95) Atlanta (13-3)- D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas
Tony Gonzalez is aging and doesn’t seem to be playing at the level he was a few years back. D.J. Williams gives them another big tight end who’s physical and sure handed. Williams is a nice blocker in most situations, but is great in short-intermediate route running.
96) New England (14-2)- Kris O’Dowd, C, USC
New England grabs some depth on the offensive line providing insurance and a potential replacement for Dan Koppen. O’Dowd is an athletic, intelligent leader of the offensive line who is fantastic in pass protection, which is crucial with Tom Brady back there.
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