Mock thoughts: Watt & Ayers

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
6:30
AM ET
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com produces his post-Combine mock draft, and it has a defensive feel for the Patriots. Rang gives the Patriots defensive end J.J. Watt of Wisconsin at No. 17, and then outside linebacker Akeem Ayers of UCLA at No. 28.

Watt has size and strength that "make him an ideal fit as a 3-4 defensive end", according to Rang.

As for Ayers, Rang writes, "his ability to rush the passer and drop back into coverage would be valued by Belichick and his staff."

ANALYSIS: If there is one prospect who has been the consensus pick for the Patriots among draft analysts, it's Watt. Wisconsin held its Pro Day on Wednesday and Kevin Weidl of ESPN's Scouts Inc., believes Watt continued to build momentum. "The pre-draft process could not be going much better for Watt, who is solidly in the top 15 overall," Weidl writes, opening the possibility that he will be off the board before the Patriots pick. As for Ayers, he did not run well at the Combine, where he measured 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds. While Watt seems to be solidifying his status, Ayers might still have a few questions to answer. I think the big question the Patriots will have is whether he is sturdy enough to hold up on the edge of the defense.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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