- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
So away we go…
Tennessee Titans, No. 8
McShay: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
"The Titans picked offensive skill players in the first round in 2008 and 2009 (RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt), but this year could mark a second straight defensive lineman in the first round after Tennessee took DE Derrick Morgan in 2010. Fairley is the most naturally gifted interior pass rusher in this draft and has a lot of upside, but the Titans need to decide if they are willing to take a chance on a player who could be a perennial Pro Bowler or turn into the next big DT bust thanks to questionable work ethic and football character."
Beyond the first round: Second -- Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet; Third -- Texans CB Curtis Brown.
"Defensive line probably falls lower on the list of team needs behind the obvious question of who will be taking snaps, but it's not a minor need. And to get the most productive interior lineman in the college game last year, a player who was simply unblockable in a number of key games, is a solid get for the Titans at No. 8 overall. Fairley gives you immediate help at a spot they need to address, and he offers the value of a top-five pick. Disruptive versus both the run and the pass, he will help this defense now, and they can look for a linebacker later on."
Kuharsky: Fairley is almost a consensus guy for the Titans at the spot and I understand the rationale and am very intrigued. But if there are concerns about him dogging it once he gets a big payday, the Titans had better sniff them out. A new regime doesn’t need a big dose of that. And it shouldn’t put too much stock into the opinion of one guy, considering former Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, now in the same post with the Titans, is brand new.
Houston Texans, No. 11
McShay: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
"With [Von] Miller and [Robert] Quinn gone there is no outside linebacker on the board who can address the Texans' need for a pass rusher, and while California's Cameron Jordan or Wisconsin's J.J. Watt could also be the pick I believe Wilkerson has more upside than any other 3-4 end in this draft. Houston also has a need at cornerback, but new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips believes that if he has a solid front seven he can live with an average secondary."
Kiper: Quinn, LB, North Carolina
"Houston has needs all over the defensive side of the ball, and Quinn is the best player still on the board if they can get him here. A gifted natural pass-rusher, Quinn sat out all of 2010, but his talent should overcome any questions about rust. A physical specimen, Wade Phillips can find a way to use Quinn in his scheme, and DeMarcus Ware will be what he has in mind when he gets Quinn into camp. Yes, the secondary needs help, but the fastest way to make that group look better is get a pass rush."
Kuharsky: In my eyes, Quinn is more attractive than Wilkerson, who I’ve not seen this high anywhere I can remember. With so much defensive line talent available, if the Texans went McShay’s direction with Quinn off the board, they simply have to be right that Wilkerson is a better fit than all the other defensive ends still sitting there at this spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 16
McShay: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
"The Jaguars have bigger needs but defensive end offers the most value here. I would be tempted to take a shot on Bowers or the upside offered by Missouri's Aldon Smith here, but Jags GM Gene Smith has proved he will take the player with the higher floor rather than the higher ceiling. Kerrigan has some limitations but Jacksonville knows exactly what it would be getting, which is a player with the overall skill set to immediately push for a starting job opposite Jaguars DE Aaron Kampman."
Kiper: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
"Another guy I'm sticking with from the previous mock, Smith offers a raw talent package with a lot of upside. He's a player who could easily have been a top-10 pick in 2012 had he stuck around Missouri for another year of development. The Jags went for veterans to spackle over the holes at defensive end last year, but it's time to develop some edge talent to go with what is a really promising defensive interior. Smith is an ideal developmental option who can still help in 2011."
Kuharsky: I think McShay’s line about Gene Smith and floors versus ceilings is the single most interesting thing out of either of these files. I'll have to spend more time with it to see if I consider it totally accurate. From what I’ve heard and read, it seems Kerrigan is more ready to have an impact now, and he fits a lot of Smith's criteria.
Indianapolis Colts, No. 22
McShay: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
"This one is a no-brainer. The Colts' offensive line has struggled mightily over the last couple of seasons and Indianapolis must upgrade there. Not only do the Colts need to protect the face of their franchise in QB Peyton Manning, they also need to address a running game that ranked 29th in the NFL last season. Solder is a good fit for an offense that emphasizes quickness and athleticism over brute strength."
Kiper: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
"One more that stays the same from previous mocks, I just really like the fit. The Colts have to improve on the offensive line and even while Peyton Manning is a maestro working out of the shotgun, they need to be able to do more both in the run game and in pass protection. Castonzo is a smart, versatile tackle who has been consistently rated as a first-round tackle option. Indy has brought in some quarterbacks to work out, but Castonzo is more of an immediate help."
Kuharsky: I don’t know that I will ever be able to give you a super-quality read on which of the top tackles is the best fit for the Colts. If only USC’s Tyron Smith is gone as in Kiper's scenario, having their pick of the second tackle in the draft seems like an awfully good situation for the Colts. McShay's got Solder to Indy as the fourth tackle. Whoever is there, if Bill Polian feels like the gap between the tackle options at No. 22 and a second- or third-round tackle isn’t so big, he could grab a blue-chipper at another position.