Last week’s newest feature here at Musket Fire pretty much blew up the entire world wide web and set the actual world on fire. Or, at least, I’d like to think so in my head.
Either way I’m back for the second ever installment of ‘This Week In Mock Drafts.’
I’m going to be taking a look at Sports Illustrated NFL writer Don Banks this week and go over his mock draft picks for the Patriots. Up to this point the man’s given us five versions of his mock drafts.
The one thing I like the most about his mock drafts, which other people hate, is he tries to be creative with them and project trades. What gives him the right to do that in a mock draft people argue. I say he can do whatever he wants. These are his mock drafts and if he feels a trade needs to be mocked up then let him do his job.
Of course trading during the draft this year might not be as active because of the trade restrictions stemming from the lockout. However, that hasn’t stopped Banks from sprinkling a trade or two in his mock picks.
Okay, so, let’s get this mock draft party started.
In his latest mock draft, version 5.0 that was released on April 13th, for the Patriots first first round pick Banks went with Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. A name that’s been circulating around the Patriots and their 17th pick ever since pundits started publishing their 2011 mocks. It’s no secret that the Patriots could use some help along the defensive line and in their linebacking corps where Watt might move to.
With their second pick in the first round, 28th overall, Banks went with a little bit of a curveball. I mentioned that he likes to go full out when he’s wearing his GM hat and he did so by proposing a mock draft between the Patriots and the Vikings. We’ve all seen Belichick’s propensity to trade and trade and then trade again during drafts. Shipping out and shipping in picks and players. It’s what he does and it’s one of the reasons why the Patriots are always so fully loaded each draft year.
It’s also no surprise that Banks has the Vikings trading back into the bottom of the first round for the 28th pick so they could select a quarterback. The quarterback of the future is not on the Vikings current roster. Banks and anybody else who follows football on a regular basis knows this so Banks gives the Vikings Washington quarterback Jake Locker.
The only thing is that Locker might not be available by then. The 2011 NFL Draft has the potential to topple the record for most first round quarterbacks drafted. The current record is held by the 1983 draft that had six quarterbacks taken. Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Ken O’Brien, Tony Eason, and Todd Blackledge all went in that draft.
Eleven teams, at the very least, head into the upcoming draft with a strong need at quarterback: Jacksonville, Carolina, Buffalo, San Francisco, Washington, Tennessee, Miami, Seattle, Cincinnati, Arizona and Minnesota. Only the Seahawks, who pick 22nd, even though they had a 7-9 record last season, don’t pick in the top half of the draft.
There are currently seven names being touted as first round quarterbacks: Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder, Christian Kaepernick and Andy Dalton.
Newton and Gabbert are expected to go in the top five. The other five could go anywhere in the draft, really. It all depends on how badly a team is willing to use a high pick on a not-so sure thing who isn’t really worthy of being drafted in the first round or how much they are willing to give another team to trade back into the second half of the first round.
What we do know is that there is a premium on quarterbacks and if you hit on one in the first round like Atlanta did with Matt Ryan, Baltimore did with Joe Flacco and Tampa Bay did with Josh Freeman the fortunes of your teams’ future can change for the best in an instant. The Patriots know this and with the luxury of having two first round picks they will surely be listening to offers for either one of their first round picks.
If they don’t trade it, Banks said that the Patriots could go with either Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure or offensive tackle Derek Sherrod out of Mississippi.
In Banks’ 4th and 3rd mock drafts he once again goes with Watt at 17th overall for the Patriots. He then went with Baylor offensive tackle Danny Watkins at 28 in his mock draft 4.0 and offensive lineman Mike Pouncey out of Florida with the 28th pick in his mock draft 3.0.
Mock draft 2.0 from Banks saw a couple of different names. Cameron Jordan, defensive end out of California at 17 and Torrey Smith, wide receiver from Maryland at 28.
Now we end back where we started. In his first mock draft of 2011, all the way back on January 27, Banks mocked linebacker from Georgia Justin Houston to the Patriots with the 28th overall pick in the first round and, once again, J.J. Watt at 17.
It looks like Banks thinks there’s a strong chance of the Patriots taking Watt at 17 and it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll do with the 28th pick. Which is pretty much standard when it comes to mock drafts. Anything can happen.