The strength of this year’s draft class is in the middle rounds. This year’s class features numerous starters and potentially outstanding players likely to be taken in the second and third rounds.
There are two scenarios in which a draft can be spoken of highly due to the talent available after the first 32 picks. The first is it being a really top-heavy class, full of elite prospects. That’s partially true this year. The second, however, is the talent available after the first round is worthy of a first-round pick, but size or experience cause them to fall.
That’s a bit more fitting with this year, but each year brings with it more and more high-level talent not possessing prototypical physical stats (see: Brown, Antonio, 6th Round Steal).
Here are a few prospects I can see getting selected in the second or third rounds, and making an impact in the NFL.1. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State - Martin is a very good RB prospect with all the tools to be a dominant back. He has good speed (4.47 was his fastest time), great power, great vision, and a violent, violent stiff arm. He has the build of Ray Rice and the vision of Maurice Jones Drew and could be one of the biggest steals in this years draft. Some mocks even have him falling into late first round consideration.
2. Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami - if Stephen Hill is the most physically gifted WR in this class, Tommy Streeter is a close second. He ran a 4.40 at the combine which is incredible because he is 6’5″ 220 pounds. He is an above average route runner, has good hands, and knows the game but for some reason his production at Miami was not very good. However, as a mid second round pick a team is getting a player with top 10 potential.
3. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers - Unlike Streeter, Sanu had a “bad combine” according to the experts. He ran a paltry 4.65 on both attempts. However, that does not really mean anything. This is a guy who caught 115 balls at Rutgers (a Big East receptions record) while being double or triple teamed on every single play and catching passes from one the worst QB in Division I football for half the year. ESPN’s Todd McShay says he can’t get open. That’s not what I see. While Sanu may never be the elite No. 1 receiver that Hill, Blackmon and Floyd might become, he should be a very good No. 2 WR and a possible landing spot for him is back with his college head coach Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay.
4. Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin - Here is a Steelers prospect. Zeitler is the No. 2 rated guard in this draft and has all the tools to be dominant guard in all the phases. He is an excellent run blocker, a good pass blocker and has great strength. He is also versatile and has been working out as a center for some teams. Due to that versatility and talent, as well as the four-year body of work he has, he is a very likely pick for the Steelers if he makes it to them in the second round.
5. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California - Kendricks is about as safe as they come in terms of Day 2 prospects. He has the game film, production and the Combine performance to make scouts and GMs comfortably believe they are getting a good player with elite upside. The one knock on Kendricks is that he is only 5-foot-10, but he should be able to make up for that with a 38-inch vertical. Kendricks is also very versatile and can play really and of the linebacker spots in a 4-3 or a 3-4 but the Buck in a 3-4.
6. Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana Lafayette - Bentley is flying up draft boards and for good reason. He has the potential and ability to be an absolute lockdown corner at the next level. While at Louisiana Lafayette, he simply dominated the weaker competition he faced. Time after time after time he lined up in one on one coverage with a WR with no safety help and stone walled them every time. He could very well end up being a first round prospect and the second cornerback taken. He has no personal baggage and it’d be a steal to get him in the second round.
The Packers went into the NFL Draft last April without any glaring needs with allowed them to cherry pick players. The Packers went offense early in the draft. In the first round they took OT Derek Sherrod. It’s always a good idea to protect your franchise QB when you have one, so I liked that pick for the Packers. WR Randall Cobb and RB Alex Green were the next picks for the Packers and they both have huge upsides as they were good playmakers in college. TEs D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor will give Rodgers a couple of more targets in the passing game (like Rodgers needs those). CB Davon House gives the Packers another CB who they will have time to develop.
PROJECTED GRADE: B
While there may be questions surrounding the CBA and the lockout and their affect on the newly drafted players, that hasn’t prevented the Patriots‘ picks from shipping up to Boston. According to their Twitter accounts, both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are in New England today. Ridley posted that he was “New England bound” and Vereen stated “Just touched down. HELLO BOSTON!” I’m uncertain whether the players will be able to have contact with the Patriots’ coaching staff to receive playbooks, but they’re in the neighborhood just in case.
Patriots’ first round pick Nate Solder was in the neighborhood to make an appearance with owner Bob Kraft, but a stay on the injunction that lifted the lockout was granted in the middle of the second round, reinstating a temporary lockout. Hopefully, the new draft picks will be able to meet the coaches to be debriefed. Maybe the players will just have to meet other players on the Patriots’ roster in order to receive a playbook.
It will be interesting to see the interactions between the franchise and its draft picks over the next few weeks.
With the third and final day of the 2011 NFL Draft set to kick off in just over an hour, I thought now would be an excellent time to look at a few prospects who the Patriots could target in day three of the NFL Draft.
Overall, I would just like to see the Patriots add a couple of players along the front seven that the team could develop. I also would like to see the team pick up a bigger wide receiver as well as an interior lineman. Safety could also be an option.