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NFL draft analysis: Picks 17-32

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With each pick in the first round of the NFL draft, FOXSports.com provides expert, behind-the-scenes analysis. We continue with the remainder of Round 1.

 

Meet the draft experts
JOHN CZARNECKI
FOX NFL Sunday
Czar will analyze each team's draft-night war room, the reasoning behind every first-round pick and why teams did or didn't cut a deal.
ADAM CAPLAN
FOXSports.com
Adam provides a breakdown of each player selected, with an inside look at how the draftees may fit in with their new NFL teams.
CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Colorado’s Nate Solder has tremendous feet and wingspan, but he hurt his stock at the Senior Bowl and with poor strength tests at the Combine. A lot of scouts said he got bull-rushed on the outside and failed to cope with the rusher’s power. However, Solder was considered by the Patriots to be a top 10 pick in this draft because of his skill set. All he has to do now is hit the weight room and improve his strength because he already has the footwork to be a quality left tackle in the NFL. No question this was the best athlete at tackle in the draft. This was the pick the Patriots got from Raiders owner Al Davis for defensive lineman Richard Seymour. If Davis is unable to trade back into the first round, it will be the first time since 1989 that his team won’t make a selection on the first night of the draft.

CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: Nate Solder was considered to be a first-round pick by many teams, so his selection by the Patriots shouldn’t come to much of a surprise. Solder is known in scouting circles for having great feet for his size. Look for him to play on the left side of the Patriots’ offensive line for years to come with Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle. Solder’s selection probably ends left tackle Matt Light’s career with the Patriots.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Corey Liuget is considered a 4-3 defensive tackle and could be lost in the Chargers’ 3-4 alignment. Yes, Lieget is perfect value at the 18th spot, but he may be wasted as a nose tackle. Defensive ends aren’t very productive in 3-4 alignments and the Chargers rarely get big numbers out of starters Luis Castillo and Jacques Cesaire. But we all knew San Diego was going defense with this pick because of how the Raiders ran for 251 yards against them in a must-win game back in December. Liuget wants to play every down and it’s a question how he fits the San Diego scheme. Odd pick, but a very good football player with a high motor.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Chargers surprisingly selected Liuget over defensive end Cameron Jordan with the 18th overall pick. But personnel sources said Liuget was perhaps one of the most versatile defensive linemen in this draft because he has the ability to play end and tackle in a 3-4 scheme. Jordan probably is best used in a 3-4. Look for Liuget to start immediately for the Chargers.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara was never projected for the Giants, who were looking for defensive tackles and offensive linemen. But Amukamara ranked high on GM Jerry Reese’s draft board and it made sense to grab a player who slipped for whatever reasons. The Giants have a strong secondary, but it wilted against the Eagles without a pass rush. Amukamara has tremendous size and he can play press coverage. Now, a lot of teams questioned his ball skills and that’s why he fell. The Rams were arguing between him and Quinn when their pick came up. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network loved this pick, but Amukamara had only five interceptions in 31 starts at Nebraska, including none in his senior season.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS:The Giants made a surprising selection with Amukamara, but there’s simply no way that they could pass up the defensive back with their first-round selection because he has tremendous value. He was projected to go off the board much earlier, perhaps as a top-10 selection. Look for Amukamara to compete for a nickel job initially, but to start by 2012 opposite veteran cornerback Corey Webster.

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Bucs made it official. Teams are definitely afraid of Da'Quan Bowers’ right knee. Most teams believed the Bucs would pull the trigger on Bowers, but GM Mark Dominik went for another questionable defensive player in Iowa pass rusher Adrian Clayborn. A lot of teams downgraded Clayborn because of his unusual condition, Erb’s Palsy, a disorder that caused nerve damage in his right shoulder and arm. Clayborn had only three sacks this past season, but he is a fighter. I know it has been reported that the Bucs will dump troubled cornerback Aqib Talib, but there’s no way that this first-rounder will be simply released. Talib has good trade value even if he’s facing a four-game suspension once the lockout is officially lifted. You can bet that the Redskins (former Bucs GM Bruce Allen) would have an interest in a hard-hitting cornerback.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Buccaneers were looking for much needed pass rushing help and got some with the selection of the talented Clayborn. The Buccaneers, according to one personnel source, spent a lot of time evaluating Clayborn’s medical condition called Erb’s Palsy. The congenital condition caused nerve damage on the right side of his body. A personnel source said he probably will be able to play only on the right side in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 defense.

 

21. CLEVELAND BROWNS (from Chiefs)
CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Browns swapped first-round picks with the Chiefs, plus gave up a third-rounder, in order to take Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor to plug the middle of their defense. Taylor will replace Shaun Rogers, who was released by the Browns. Taylor seems to be a perfect fit for new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron’s 4-3 scheme. Taylor was announced by Browns running Peyton Hillis, the coverboy for the upcoming Madden video game. Taylor is a load and a player Cleveland needs to be a star in order to contain the Pittsburgh and Baltimore running games. Solid pick. The Browns have a lot of needs and Mike Holmgren has enough picks to get the job done this weekend.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: Taylor, who was tremendous during Senior Bowl practices, was thought by many to be the best nose tackle available for the 2011 draft. Not only will he compete for playing time right away, but he’ll start as a rookie. With Taylor in the fold, the Browns can now look to add a few defensive ends and linebackers to help accommodate their switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme this season.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: There were rumors that Colts GM Bill Polian was thinking of drafting a future replacement for Peyton Manning, but he backed off Andy Dalton and took an offensive tackle in Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo. Castonzo could be an immediate starter and he showed a lot of versatility by playing three different offensive line positions at the Senior Bowl. This is a smart kid and the Colts definitely have an need on the offensive line. There has been a ton of talk that Polian is unhappy that Peyton is squeezing the team for every dime in his current contract talks with the Colts. Yes, he’s a great quarterback. But he eats up 25 percent of the salary cap and he still has only one Super Bowl ring.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Colts were very lucky to be able to select the talented Castonzo because he was projected to go off the board much earlier in the first round. He’ll be expected to start as a rookie at left tackle. With a young blindside protector onboard, they could re-sign veteran offensive lineman Charlie Johnson and play him inside at guard.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Baylor guard Danny Watkins, a volunteer firefighter, discovered football when he went to Butte Junior College in California. Yes, the same school that produced the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Watkins used to be a hockey player, having grown up in Canada. Offensive line was a priority with the Eagles, who need to protect Michael Vick. Watkins started 25 games at Baylor and he’s a tough guy, a known fighter. His attitude should appeal to Philadelphia fans. The Eagles have traded up in the first round four times in the last eight years, including in 2010, but they didn’t have the ammunition to do it. They were hoping to secure another first-round pick this year by trading their backup quarterback, Kevin Kolb. But the NFL labor troubles prevented that. Honestly, there are a lot of teams that took quarterbacks today who wouldn’t have swapped their first-round pick for Kolb. Solid choice by the Eagles and about where Watkins ranked.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Eagles decided to pass on offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in order to select a true guard in Danny Watkins. The 26-year old interior offensive lineman will compete for the starting right guard job with the Eagles. With Watkins in the mix, Philadelphia could look at filling a need at cornerback later in the draft.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Saints have been looking for someone to go with Will Smith, the team’s only quality defensive end. Cal’s Cameron Jordan fits the bill and he’s the son of former Vikings tight end Steve Jordan. Jordan might not have Smith’s pass-rush skills, but he’s a solid overall player. He should be very good against the run. This was a good value pick. It should be noted that teams are passing on Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was pegged for the Eagles in most mock drafts. Smith has top-10 talent, but he’s been busted for marijuana and he’s had other off-the-field issues. Smith deserves watching.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Saints were looking for a defensive end, so they went with the athletic Jordan. What makes him such an attractive selection for New Orleans is that he’s capable of playing end or tackle within their 4-3 defensive scheme. He’ll also be able to play inside in nickel situations.

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Seahawks spent all their time on the clock, desperate to trade out of the first round and the 25th overall pick. Many had them pegged for Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who was long gone. The Seahawks used 10 different starting offensive line combinations last season, and have needs at three different positions. They chose Alabama’s James Carpenter, who could start at either right guard or right tackle. The Seahawks averaged just 89 rushing yards a game, second worst in the league last season, and Carpenter can move bodies although he has questionable pass-rush skills.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The underrated Carpenter has the kind of positional versatility which will come in handy for the Seahawks. While he is projected to play right tackle at the next level, he could also play inside at guard. Because the Seahawks have no depth on their offensive line, he should be able to compete right away for a starting job.

 

26. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (from Falcons through Browns)
CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Ravens were also trying to trade out of the first round and they started days ago to sell their pick, 26th overall, and they failed to it, leaving this pick for the Chiefs after their time elapsed. Kansas City jumped in and took Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin, who was always considered the third-best receiver in this draft. The Chiefs definitely need playmakers opposide Dwayne Bowe and GM Scott Pioli is crossing his fingers that Baldwin will deliver. Nobody knows why Pioli passed on Wisconsin offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, who seemed to be a good fit.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: Baldwin was considered to be one of the top three wide receivers available in this draft, so they got nice value with him. Because the Chiefs are thin at the position, this tall receiver should be able to compete for a starting job as a rookie. Baldwin has drawn comparison to San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson because of his size and speed.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Ravens made a bold pick with Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, maybe the biggest problem athlete in the first round. However, personnel people who spent time with Smith and interviewed him, liked him. Said Lions GM Martin Mayhew, who passed on him: “I feel better about him. He was a guy who made some mistakes but who seems to now realize the mistakes that he made. He’s a young guy who’s very talented. He has a really good skill level, good size and speed and if you look at our corners, we don’t have that.” Smith’s measurables are eye-popping. He’s 6-foot-2 1/4, 211 pounds, and he ran a 4.37 at the Combine. He has a long reach (77 inches) and thrives on playing physical, press coverage. But, Smith failed four drug tests at Colorado. He was busted for possession. His intensity and work ethic were criticized. And he raised more flags when he showed up seemingly out of shape at his pro day workout. The Ravens are hoping that Ray Lewis puts him under his wing.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Ravens were clearly looking for help at cornerback because their secondary was very inconsistent in coverage last season. The tall defensive back should be able to come right in and compete for a starting job immediately. While some would call him a great value this late in the first round, there’s a reason why he dropped so far. His off-the-field issues were a deterrent for many teams.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Saints made a trade with the Patriots in order to take the draft’s best running back in Alabama’s Mark Ingram. A lot of teams questioned Ingram’s top-end speed, but he was very productive in 2009 when he won the Heisman Trophy. He rushed for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns that year. He was hurt this past season, but still finished his college career with 42 touchdowns and a 5.7-yard average per game. He’s the son of former Giants’ Mark Ingram, Sr. Ironically, Ingram’s father was also drafted with the 28th overall pick. Ingram is a quality inside runner and he could flourish in the Saints’ offense, one that loves to spread the field.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Saints seemingly had good depth at running back, but they didn’t really have anyone who was capable of being a featured back on their roster. Ingram not only is capable of playing on first and second down, but he can handle a pass catching role on third downs. Ingram’s versatility could impact the future of running back Reggie Bush. Bush is almost certain to take a huge pay cut from his scheduled $11.8 million base salary.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Bears GM Jerry Angelo had been trying to trade out of the first round, but he definitely feels good about landing Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, who has the toughness and ability to force his way into the starting lineup. Chicago has a definite need on the offensive line, one that failed to protect brittle quarterback Jay Cutler last season. The Bears were looking at Danny Watkins and then they passed on defensive lineman Marvin Austin.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: The Bears probably didn’t think they would have a chance at Carimi this late in the first round, but they wound up selecting him. The talented offensive lineman is capable of playing right or left tackle, but personnel sources said he’s better off on the right side. Some teams actually believe he can play guard.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Jets took a bit of a reach in the first round, but defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson is a player on the rise and a big reason why the Temple Owls had a decent team this past season. He is a very good athlete (played AAU basketball) and could end up being a decent under tackle under Rex Ryan. This was kind of a need for the Jets, who are aging up front on the defensive line. Wilkerson is a New Jersey kid and he’s pretty excited about being a Jet, considering they are now a New Jersey team.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: Wilkerson, according to personnel sources, was projected to go to the Jets because of his ability to play defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. Wilkerson easily should compete for a starting job because of the team’s lack of depth on their defensive line. He’s one of two Temple players projected to go off the board within the first three rounds.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Steelers always make solid picks and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward is a perfect fit in Pittsburgh. Several mock drafts had him going here, so GM Kevin Colbert wasn’t hiding his interest in this all-around defensive end. Hewyard, the son of the late Ironhead Heyward, became the 12th defensive lineman to be taken in the first round, a NFL record. Eleven were taken in 2003. And this selection means that teams were definitely afraid of Da’Quan Bowers, who had meniscus surgery on his right knee at the end of the season at Clemson. Had the draft been held in January, Bowers was pegged as a top five player. But he failed so many club physicals because of the fear that he may need microfracture surgery, with bone rubbing against bone inside his right knee. With the Pittsburgh line aging, Heyward could be a force with all those pass-rushing linebackers.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: Heyward was listed as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in this draft, so it comes to no surprise that the Steelers wound up selecting the talented defensive lineman. Heyward, once he becomes acclimated to their defensive scheme, could eventually replace veteran defensive end Aaron Smith, who has dealt with various injury issues in recent years.

 

CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: As usual, the Packers simply followed their draft board in taking Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod, who will give Green Bay solid depth on the offensive line. He was pegged to be taken among the bottom 10 picks. Sherrod graduated in August 2010 with 3.54 grade point average in business. Sherrod took graduate classes in financial risk management during his final season and could help teammates with their retirement plans. He started at both right and left tackle at Mississippi State and gives the Packers some insurance if Chad Clifton, who had a remarkable 2010 season, doesn’t return to his old form. Clifton has chronic knee problems.


CAPLAN'S ANALYSIS: General manager Ted Thompson made a very solid value selection with Sherrod since many personnel evaluators projected him to go off the board at least five spots earlier. Sherrod will play behind veteran left tackle Chad Clifton this season, but he’s projected to be Green Bay’s long-term replacement at this important position. With Bryan Bulaga on the right side, the Packers have their bookend tackles of the future.

 

 

MORE ANALYSIS: Picks 1-16

Tagged: Packers, Steelers, Chad Clifton, Aaron Smith, Kevin Kolb, Chiefs, Dwayne Bowe, Ravens, Bears, Raiders, Patriots, Chargers, Browns, Colts, Peyton Manning, Peyton Hillis, Giants, Buccaneers, Matt Light, Corey Webster, Saints, Eagles, Will Smith

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