With the seventeenth pick of the 2011 CSC Community Mock Draft, the New England Patriots (represented by FriarBob) select...
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Somewhere deep in the bowels of the New England coaching complex up near Foxborough, Bill Bellichick is probably furiously screaming nasty things about Mike Brown. Mike Brown? Why him, you say? Well back before the 2009 season, this looked like a sure-fire top-10 pick, practically for free. Oh sure they had to give up a very good player in Richard Seymour, but he was getting old and wouldn't have that many good years left anyway, and wrangling a top-10 pick for a guy probably worth a 2nd or 3rd rounder was a steal and a half!... right? Plus Al Davis was senile, Tom Cable had at least made the team play hard but didn't seem likely to turn the team into a contender anytime soon, and the only problem was they had to wait a full extra year to get their pick. So surely Bill should be mad at Hue Jackson for turning things around last year, right?
Nope, because if Mike Brown had the brains of an ant, he would have fired the most incompetent OC in all of sports (Bob Bratkowski) during the 2010 offseason, or possibly even back during the 2009 offseason when Marvin Lewis originally asked him to. And had he done so, Hue Jackson would have been the OC of the Bengals, and this would very likely still have been that top-10 pick New England was expecting. Of course, even if it had been a top-10 pick, Bill might well have traded down anyway, but having the ability to either do that or go out and grab whomever he wanted from the top of the draft class would have been a nice reward.
At any rate, now Bill must deal with what is instead of what should have been. And while Tom Brady is clearly an elite QB, if he has no protection then an elite pass rush can get to him and cause him to make mistakes. Yes they have a very good team (even against a weak schedule you don't go 14-2 just by falling off a log), but there are clearly some holes on both the offensive and defensive lines.
They badly need help on the DL and also the LB corps. Ty Warren spent the year on injured reserve with a hip injury, and even though he's expected to return it's not guaranteed, Gerard Warren is basically just taking up space on the field, Brandon Deaderick was a 7th round rookie who apparently got slotted in because they had nobody else to put there, their backups are a 2nd and 3rd year player who have made less than 40 solo tackles combined, Jermaine Cunningham was a rookie who was barely semi-tolerable, Tully Banta-Cain was probably the best player here and was still merely average (and frequently sick or injured),Eric Moore was a fringe/scrub player who probably had a roster spot purely for special teams and didn't get to play "for real" until week 14, and Rob Ninkovich was a former Saints draft pick who is now on his third team and while he was at least passable last year he hasn't exactly lit any fires with any of his teams so far. And while there are quite a few very good DL players and some good 3-4 OLBs available at this point, there are so many still available that somebody useful will still be available at 28 (or 33, or even 60) so they can afford to wait.
The offensive line is, frankly, even worse. That may sound ridiculous talking about a 14-2 team, but they lost in their first playoff game for a reason. Well, many reasons, but one key one was that they couldn't protect Tom Brady against even a 3-man rush. Matt Light is a 33 year old free agent who may not come back (and they may not even want back, especially at left tackle), Logan Mankins is their disgruntled left guard franchise player who wouldn't sign a pretty good long term contract last year because Bob Kraft hadn't apologized obsequiously enough for sticking him with a restricted FA tender, Nick Kaczur missed all of last season to back surgery and isn't exactly guaranteed to be available this year either, and Stephen Neal has retired. That's a whole lot of players who used to be key parts of their OL who suddenly aren't (or at least may not be) available. Oh and their current backup left tackle? He was an undrafted free agent. Now sometimes you get lucky on that, but that's a bit of a risk to take with an elite QB and basically an undrafted nobody behind him as a benchwarmer. Not, at least, on a team with the potential to play into January or even February pretty much every year. Even Jermon Bushrod, terrible as he is at times, was a 4th rounder, and Zach Strief was a 7th rounder. There just usually aren't very many LT players who are really any good and manage to go undrafted.
And unfortunately, there are just not that many good OT players available this year. There are a decent number of OG prospects, and they probably need at least one of those later on as well, but they can wait on him. There are, however, 10 teams between this pick and their next pick at #28, and seven of them need OT help, some of them quite badly. If they wait, there won't be a left tackle left worth drafting... unless, of course, they know of somebody they can steal in the 4th round because nobody else knows anything about the guy. But unless they have that guy firmly in their plans, they need a player who has the potential to step in on week one and keep Tom Brady from eating FieldTurf every third or fourth play. Derrick Sherrod is the last of the potentially elite left tackles who can also play this year. In the long run, Gabe Carimi and Nate Soldier might actually turn out to be very good players, perhaps even better, but they will need to be developed over time not thrown into the fire.
Since Mike Brown and the Raiders conspired to cheat them out of the top-10 pick they were expecting, Bill Bellichick can't draft Von Miller or some other elite DL/OLB player like they'd probably like to. And while there are still a ton of good ones available, there are so many good or even very good ones in the rest of the draft somebody else will be available to grab later on. And it's not like the Patriots don't have the ammunition to trade up if somebody starts a run on the type of players they need to draft later on. Granted they only have nine total picks, but they have six in the first three rounds, and the way they wheel and deal every year they can probably move up at first (if needed) and then move back down later to get some picks back. With the confidence they can find their other critical needs later, the Patriots will grab Derrick Sherrod and make sure they have a LT available no matter what happens with Matt Light.
Thanks to all the CSC members who participated in this years community mock draft. Without your help, none of this would be possible.
Below are the complete results from our community mock draft.
Catch up with all of the mock draft selections in our 2011 CSC Community Mock Draft Section.
|Pick||Team||Selection||Team Representative||Approval Rating|
|1||Carolina Panthers||QB Cam Newton - Auburn||DatFan||35%|
|2||Denver Broncos||DT Marcell Dareus - Alabama||Jeff.l.b||71%|
|3||Buffalo Bills||QB Blaine Gabbert - Missouri||SpreeGoogs||52%|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||DE Da'Quan Bowers - Clemson||coldpizza||73%|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||CB Patrick Peterson - LSU||GRIZZ||61%|
|6||Cleveland Browns||DE Cameron Jordan - Cal||theprogrammerman||11%|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||LB Von Miller - Texas A&M||who dat patate||68%|
|8||Tennessee Titans||WR A.J. Green - Georgia||shipgoalie05||48%|
|9||Dallas Cowboys||CB Prince Amukamara - Nebraska||saints fan in cowboyland!||67%|
|10||Washington Redskins||WR Julio Jones - Alabama||VAsaintsfan||56%|
|11||Houston Texans||DE/OLB Robert Quinn - UNC||Jon Banks||62%|
|12||Minnesota Vikings||OT Tyron Smith - USC||HansDat||46%|
|13||Detroit Lions||OT Anthony Castonzo - BC||NorthFan||48%|
|14||St. Louis rams||DT Nick Fairley - Auburn||hakimdropstheball||54%|
|15||Miami Dolphins||RB Mark Ingram - Alabama||SpreeGoogs|
|16||Jacksonville Jaguars||DE J.J.Watt - Wisconsin||Jay Preece|
|17||New England Patriots||OT Derek Sherrod - Mississippi St.||FriarBob|