You can't argue with Mel Kiper; Or can you?

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
9:34
AM ET
ESPN draft monger Mel Kiper has released his first post-combine mock draft.

Along with his projections for the AFC East's five first-round picks, I've added my opinions.

No. 3 Buffalo Bills

Kiper's pick: Marcell Dareus, Alabama defensive tackle

My thoughts: Kiper has the Carolina Panthers taking Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Bills passing on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. No one can argue the Bills need better D-line play, and Dareus is highly versatile. He could play five-technique defensive end. But a couple things Bills general manager Buddy Nix said at the combine stick out to me. Nix was asked specifically about having two defensive tackles in Pro Bowler Kyle Williams and Torell Troup and flatly replied, "I don't think that's an area of need. I don't." Nix added that Troup, last year's second-round draft pick, would rate "probably first or second" on this year's draft board at nose tackle. But maybe the Bills are comfortable Dareus can play the end and go with him here.

No. 15 Miami Dolphins

Kiper's pick: Mark Ingram, Alabama running back

My thoughts: Ingram to the Dolphins in this spot is the most common projection among all the mocks out there because it makes so much sense. In all three of Kiper's mocks, he has stuck with Ingram at No. 15. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams aren't under contract. Ingram is considered the best running back in this year's draft, and analysts believe he'll be available when the Dolphins hand their card to the commissioner. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner is explosive. The biggest knock is that he ran his combine 40-yard dash in a disappointing 4.62 seconds. But he came in at 4.55 seconds at his pro day.

No. 17 New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders)

Kiper's pick: Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue outside linebacker

My thoughts: Kiper has slotted a different player in this spot for each of his mocks. He originally pegged Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt, who's now projected 11th to the Houston Texans. Then Kiper had California defensive end Cameron Jordan ticketed to New England here. But the Ouija board is spelling Kerrigan this time. Coach Bill Belichick certainly could use a nasty pass-rusher. The Patriots were close to average with their 36 sacks, but their outside linebackers combined for only 13.5 sacks. Four individual outside linebackers had that many elsewhere in the league.

No. 28 New England Patriots

Kiper's pick: Leonard Hankerson, Miami receiver

My thoughts: I don't see receiver as a first-round need for the Patriots. Kiper acknowledges the Patriots make for tricky speculation because they own two picks in each of the first three rounds and aren't bashful about trading. But he has liked an offensive skill player at No. 28 all along -- just not the same prospect. His first mock named Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure. The second mock had Maryland receiver Torrey Smith. But Hankerson's stock is rising, as evidenced by his debut on Kiper's radar. Hankerson is thin at 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, but he has a knack for making difficult catches look easy.

No. 30 New York Jets

Kiper's pick: Rahim Moore, UCLA safety

My thoughts: Kiper leaves the 30th slot unchanged from his last mock. Coach Rex Ryan must get a safety. Brodney Pool, Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo all are without contracts. Jim Leonhard is rehabbing from a broken shin. Kiper admits the Jets need defensive linemen in a bad way, but justifies his prediction by noting this year's D-line class is deep. Moore is considered by many to be the best safety amid a pedestrian group. In other words, if the Jets don't get a safety here, then they might regret not plucking the best one off the board. Moore is ball hawk who intercepted 10 passes two seasons ago. He had only one interception last year, but his tackle total soared in more of a strong safety role.

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