Finally the last piece of our mock. Though there has been quite a lot of activity (the cutler trade and raji smoking the reefer) berman and myself have agreed we would not change our drafts at this point.
There are scorpion bowls at stake here so this is serious business.
Alex – Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Their defense is top notch, and after missing on Troy Williamson and the jury still out on Sidney Rice, they need to give themselves one more weapon for an offense that has let the team down despite the presence of Adrian Peterson. Whoever wins the “QB competition” (Sage, no doubt) needs another target to throw to. If the passing game can become a factor, it will allow Peterson to run wild.
While there is risk that Nicks is already overweight and lacks top-flight speed, he has sure hands and had outstanding numbers for the Tar Heels. His Junior season, he had 68 receptions for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns. This is a high-risk, high-reward pick for Minnesota but I think it will pay off.
23 New England
Alex – Clay Matthews, OLB, USC
With a need at the position and the family pedigree, Matthews is the pick for the Patriots. Critics point to the fact that he didn’t start for the Trojans until the third game of this season, but that sort of stuff doesn’t bother Belicheck (remember a certain Trojan that didn’t start for them at all? Bill does.) Matthews only received one scholarship offer coming out of high school, and had to work hard to walk on at USC. Belickheck loves hard workers more than he cares about statistics. Matthews is a smart, sure-tackling prospect that will fill a need and contribute early in his career for the Patriots.
Alex – Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Freak of an athlete, just like his brother Vernon. But like his brother, he might just be an athlete and not a football player. He can contribute in the return games, and shows the ability to play a good corner. Whether or not it translates to the NFL is the question. Strong tackler who can become what DeAngelo Hall was supposed to be, a shutdown corner.
The only other option here is if a tackle drops or possibly Brandon Pettigrew, the TE.
Alex – Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forrest
This senior is the career leader in interceptions for the Demon Deacons, with 21. He’s an athlete that would fit in on a defense that lacks skill in the defensive backfield. Parcells will like that he doesn’t just cover the pass, but will come up to stop the run too. After having solidified the safety position, cornerback is the biggest need on this team, especially given the talent the AFC East has at WR. If Miami wants to keep contending, they need to make a pick like this.
Alex – Darius Butler, CB, UConn
While they have a need at WR, this division is based on defense. He started for 4 years and is a ball-hawk. He is fast and can make big hits, a staple of the Ravens D. After losing McCallister and Rolle, the Ravens need to add depth to the position. Butler will instantly start at nickel and could push Fabian Washington in a year.
Alex – Evander Hood, DT, Missouri
A continuous weak spot for the Colts defense, they need to address the defensive tackle position. After giving up a league worst 167 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry, Hood is a much needed pick. He is a strong, physical tackle who can also help with the pass rush.
Despite the loss of Marvin Harrison, the Colts must address their defense and Hood is the perfect person to help.
28 Philadelphia (from Carolina)
Alex – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
They need reassurance behind Brian Westbrook, who hasn’t been able to hold up and is turning 30 this year. While most people predict a bigger back to compliment Westbrook, I think the Eagles need to get his replacement. Moreno is fast, able to hit the cut-back, and can catch passes. The fact that he faced the nation’s top competition in the SEC ensures he’s ready to face the NFC East.
29 New York Giants
Alex – Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
New York picks the hometown kid from Jersey. The Giants have a good and deep defense, and despite the loss of Derrick Ward, have depth at running back. With the uncertainty regarding Plaxico Burress, the Giants need to find help for Eli. Since they can’t make him grow some balls, they can give him a big target to underthrow on the field.
At 6′3, Britt can give them the tall receiver they lost in Burress. He’s a tough guy who can withstand a big hit, an important characteristic needed in the NFC East. With his size, he is a red zone threat. The Giants have to go receiver with this pick, but you can never rule out defensive line depth, where they already have 100 guys.
Alex – Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
One of the most explosive players in the draft, Harvin can contribute to the team in many ways. The receiver corp is still weak, despite the signing of Nate Washington from Pittsburgh. Washington is a deep threat, and they need a sure-handed receiver to do the little things. Harvin does it all, making all the catches while still being able to go over the top. The only question is if any of their quarterbacks can get the ball to him.
Also, he’ll provide them an explosive option in the return game, which they’ve lacked since PacMan made it rain. The only knock on him is his size, which has caused him to get banged up in the past. But Tennessee isn’t a pass-first team, so they can afford to take a risk on him.
Alex – Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State
I personally like Donald Brown more, but Beanie is the pick here. Whisenhunt has been dying to have a strong, physical running game since he arrived a few years ago. Edge already has his bags packed and we saw that Timmy Hightower is not the answer as the primary back. Beanie was a physical player at Ohio State, sometimes so much that he got hurt more often than he should. He doesn’t catch passes, but Hightower can pick up those responsibilities. Beanie can give the Wiz the punishing, downhill runner he’s been craving. In addition to his strength and toughness, he has top-end speed in the open-field. It’s scary to think how good this offense could be with a good running game.
Alex – William Beatty, OT, UConn
After losing Marvel Smtih to the 49ers, Pitt will draft for offensive line depth. But I think Beatty can push Willie Colon or Max Starks for the job if they struggle like they have in the past. Beatty was the key to the nation’s leading rushing offense at UConn in 2008. Also a very good pass rusher, he will give the league’s most sacked passer more time make a play. Although that doesn’t mean that Big Ben won’t keep holding the ball too long and getting hit.