Earlier, we published an assessment of the first 16 picks selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Let's now turn our attention to the second half of the first round and the guys selected in the bottom half of Thursday evening's opening round. Many thanks to barnerburner for the help on this, and for the fine work he put in sizing up the league's selections in the first of seven rounds this weekend. - Michael B. -
17. New England Patriots - Nate Solder OT, Colorado
Patriots need a bookend to go with Sebastian Vollmer, since Matt Light is ready to be gone. I suppose the question is whether Solder will be a LT or RT in New England?
Either way, it's worth noting that Belichick went for the project with who knows how much upside in Solder, over the hometown kid that's supposed to be ready to play now in Anthony Castonzo.
18. San Diego Chargers - Corey Liuget DT, Illinois
Mike Mayock has some questions about the scheme-fit because he saw Liuget as a prototype 3-technique much more than the ideal 5-technique. So did pretty much everyone else though. I'll choose to take this as evidence that we as armchair GMs at home really shouldn't be so rigid in how we see players and their projected position, not to mention how we should remind ourselves to try to be imaginative when looking at potential fits throughout the speculative pre-draft process.
19. New York Giants - Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
Whether it's the NFL Draft or your fantasy league, good managers trust their board. Let the board come to you, and good things will happen. In this case, the Giants got a guy that many thought was top-10 type talent almost ten picks after that range.
Yes, they could still use more youth on their OL. Yes, they are still hurting for LBs. Yes, they probably could use another RB. But you don't pass on a talent like Amukamara when he falls into your lap. With a deep rotation at DL that they replenished in last year's draft, and an even deeper rotation now in their secondary - Corey Webster (2nd round, 2005), Aaron Ross (1st round, 2007), Kenny Phillips (1st round, 2008), Terrell Thomas (2nd round, 2008), and last year's free agent signings Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant - they could go with bums off the street at LB and it may not matter.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
After taking Gerald McCoy and Brian Price as their top two picks in last year's draft, and thoroughly poaching the developmental DL talent off of our practice squad (Al Woods, Doug Worthington), the Bucs DL rebuilding project continues.
I just hope that this won't squeeze one of the best names in the league - Stylez G. White - out the door.
21. Cleveland Browns (via Kansas City Chiefs) - Phil Taylor DT, Baylor
Does anyone else want Phil Savage back as the Browns GM?
I much preferred it when they blew picks chasing specific guys (see: Quinn, Brady) over their successful attempts in recent years at accumulating picks while still landing great players.
This is the second time in three years that the Browns have found a way out of the top-10 and into the 21st slot (seriously, what's with teams trading into the exact same spot that they'd recently picked from?), with an incredible haul of extra draft picks to boot. They're trying to build for the long haul, and depending on what they can do in the rest of the draft and how they use Atlanta's No. 1 next year, Julio Jones might've inadvertently been responsible for giving a shot in the arm to the Browns' revival, and in turn the recently dormant Steelers-Browns rivalry.
Maybe this is some kind of karma for LeBron dumping the city of Cleveland in a tacky, ceremonious fashion this past summer?
22. Indianapolis Colts - Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College
Colts finally get their plug-and-play OT.
The last time the Colts took an offensive lineman in the first round was Tarik Glenn, back in 1997, and whose retirement in 2007 precipitated the mess of experiments with Tony Ugoh and Charles Johnson at LT. Castonzo had 53 career starts in college and has gone toe-to-toe with plenty of NFL-caliber talent. His development will be key in whether or not Peyton can pull down anymore Super Bowl rings before he retires.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Danny Watkins G, Baylor
The former Canadian firefighter that discovered football at Butte Community College (same community college that some guy named Aaron Rodgers attended) has landed across the state.
Maybe he is 26 years old, and as a result may not have the same potential career length as the rest of the rookies. Maybe he has been playing football for only four years. But according to Rich Eisen, his parents stopped going to his youth hockey games because they got tired of seeing him sit in the penalty box the whole time.
Now that's the right attitude for a lineman, and you can't really teach that. Either you have it or you don't.
24. New Orleans Saints - Cameron Jordan DE, California
Saints get exceptional value here - maybe the most versatile defensive lineman in the entire draft that Mike Mayock had as the 11th player overall on his board. Jordan played 3-4 DE at a high level for the Golden Bears, and has great bloodlines as well. He's the son of Steve Jordan, a former six-time Pro Bowl TE for the Minnesota Vikings that obviously raised his son on football. The younger Jordan will probably find himself all over the line in Gregg Williams' defense.
Want some more light reading? Mike Silver also did a piece on Jordan (Silver being a die-hard Golden Bear fan mind you).
25. Seattle Seahawks - James Carpenter OT, Alabama
And the third former member of the Crimson Tide comes off the board! His name just doesn't happen to be Mark Ingram.
Apparently the Seahawks had been trying to trade out of the first, but couldn't find the right return package that they wanted. It's very interesting that they'd go for Carpenter with guys like Carimi and Sherrod still on the board. However, if they think they found their matching bookend to go with Russell Okung (6th overall last year), then more power to them. Pete Carroll, not Mel Kiper Jr., is ultimately at the controls in Seatte. Regardless of who the selection was, so long as it was an offensive lineman, the logic stays the same -- why not get the line ready so your QB of the future has a chance at staying upright? Assuming they ever get around to finding him that is....
26. Kansas City Chiefs (via Atlanta Falcons through Cleveland Browns and leapfrogging Baltimore Ravens) - Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
Serious confusion about what was happening as this unfolded in real time - the Chiefs were slotted at 27 behind the Ravens at 26. But the Ravens let their allotted 10 minutes tick away and the pick got passed to the Chiefs, who promptly ran in their card to jump ahead. More on that very soon.
Cassell's now got two big targets in Baldwin (6'5) and Dwayne Bowe (6'2). If their running game stays among the best in the league, this has the potential to be a seriously dangerous offense. It's ride or die on Matt Casell's performance now.
27. Baltimore Ravens - Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado
Apparently the full story behind the confusion that resulted in their passed pick is that the Ravens had arranged for a trade with Chicago, who was targeting Gabe Carimi and the Bears were nervous that Kansas City would tag the Wisconsin OT before they picked at No. 29. The Ravens called the trade in, which Eisen and the guys on NFL Network reported at the time. Then a wave of confusion broke loose, as the Bears apparently didn't carry out the necessary measures on time in order to execute the trade.
At the end of the day, the Ravens still came away with the guy that everyone thought they were going to take with the 26th pick. Who knows, perhaps the Ravens front office and management is recently conditioned to be thrifty in these tough economic times and figured they could save a buck or two off their first round draft pick's rookie contract by dropping back a spot.
On a more serious note, the Steelers' biggest rival just landed a prospect with the size and tools of a top-15 pick in Smith. The character concerns surrounding Smith dropped him 10 spots, but he's probably lucky that a team took a chance on him that high. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is showing confidence that the guys in his locker room will be able to keep the kid on the right track.
28. New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots) - Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
Saints decided to continue the proud(?) tradition of forking over a future 1st round pick to the Patriots! I'm not sure that won anyone's pool for who it was going to be, but definitely let us know in the comments if so.
Ingram is a hardnosed former Heisman Trophy winner that has always played with a chip on his shoulder. Once projected to go as high as 15th overall to the Dolphins, his slide all the way down to 28 can only mean that the chip is probably even bigger now.
Ingram's selection here is interesting for a couple of reasons: 1). It's the longest it's taken for a RB to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft; and 2). It prompted Reggie Bush to tweet, "It's been fun New Orleans."
Maybe Bush is just being a Drama Queen, but it's no wonder the Saints grabbed Ingram.
29. Chicago Bears - Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin
The Outland Trophy winner for best offensive lineman in college football has landed close to home.
There was a very strange weather pattern observed recently - a high pressure system looming over Indiana in the month of February. Recent evidence suggests that such conditions can cause team management to completely botch trades, and while we're waiting on satellite confirmation, that same weather system seems to have moved over Illinois in the past two months. That's a long way of saying that the Bears are pretty darn fortunate to have still managed to get their guy.
Carimi has gone up against four DEs that already went in this first round - Clayborn, Kerrigan, Jordan, and Watt (during practice) - as well as a young man from Ohio State that we'll very soon be getting to know quite intimately.
30. New York Jets - Muhammad Wilkerson DT, Temple
Jets pass on the OLB talent here (Akeem Ayers of UCLA and Justin Houston of Georgia) to go with a young man from the Temple Owls that has an intriguing combination of size and athleticism. He's been beating up on smaller school competition his whole career thus far, but Rex Ryan evidently thinks he's ready to play with the big boys.
That's an incredible 11 DL prospects that have gone off the board so far, and we're not even done yet...
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Cameron Heyward DE, Ohio State
Not the Aaron Williams pick that everyone and their mother had the Steelers pegged for here. Instead, Kevin Colbert throws in another little DL surprise as he is wont to do at the bottom of the first round (see: Hood, Evander "Ziggy").
Plenty is going to be written about him by better than me in the coming days and weeks, but seriously - with a father known as "Ironhead" that came out of Pitt, how was this not meant to be?
For some more light reading on the young man, check out this piece from Yahoo!'s Les Carpenter.
I love it. Welcome to the family, sir. The boys in black and gold are just brothers that you never knew you had, and you'll fit right in just fine.
32. Green Bay Packers - Derek Sherrod OT, Mississippi State
The Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers (yeah, that taste is still a little bitter) get themselves a fine and refined OT with the last pick of the first round.
Despite getting to the Pro Bowl this past year, Chad Clifton at LT is getting old (he'll be 35 come the end of June). This is a great grab for the Packers as Sherrod is tailor-made for LT and Bulaga's demeanor and mean-streak is perfect to stay at RT. With two young bookends for one of the best QBs in the league and young pieces on defense that are still growing into their prime, their outlook is about as good as any Super Bowl champion is recent memory.