2011 NFL Mock Draft: Atlanta Falcons and an In-Depth Analysis of Picks 25-32


This is the last of four parts featuring my 2011 NFL Mock Draft. Picks 26-32 represent teams that made the 2011 NFL playoffs. They either lost in the divisional round, championship round, or they are the Packers and Steelers and they are playing in the Super Bowl.

Teams picking in this grouping include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks.

After the break you can see who I think each team will take as well as an in-depth analysis of each player.

For more first round analysis of every pick, you can find that here: 1-8, 9-16, 17-24,

32. Pittsburgh Steelers: DeMarcus Love, OT

Projected Round: 2

Overall Rank (Position): 46 (6)

School: Arkansas

Vitals: 6-5, 318 lbs.

40 time: 5.18

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Pass blocking: Good initial quickness off the snap, but possesses only moderate balance and agility in pass protection overall, making him likely to play right tackle or guard in the NFL. Doesn’t gain enough depth with his kick-slide or possess the foot speed to handle NFL-level explosive speed off the edge. Possesses long arms and very strong hands, using them well to stun and control his opponent. When he gets his hands on the defender, he can usually ride them out of the play. Doesn’t have elite balance or quickness, making him susceptible to counter moves to the inside. Good power and use of leverage. Keeps his butt down, providing the anchor to stop the bull rush. Has been a very productive pass blocker, but is protected by this scheme.

Run blocking: Good size and strength as a drive blocker. Strong hands and good placement to lock on to the defender. Plays with good leverage and has the leg drive to push the defender off the ball. Keeps his legs driving and has good awareness of when to abandon double-team and release to the second level. Only marginal balance to re-direct in space.

Pulling/trapping: Good initial quickness off the snap for the pull, but loses momentum quickly and struggles if he has to change direction. Generally a reliable trap blocker but struggles against quicker defensive tackles.

Initial Quickness: Lacks the initial quickness to remain at left tackle. Can be beaten around the corner with pure speed and is forced to compensate, leaning outside and leaving himself vulnerable to the counter. Quick enough to consider keeping him outside at right tackle.

Downfield: Shows some burst in his initial get-off and can surprise defenders getting to the second level. Struggles re-directing, however, looking like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Loses his balance too easily and is forced to lunge after the back-seven defender, resulting in some devastating blocks but also misses the target at times. Good effort. Flashes a nasty, no-prisoners demeanor. When he gets a hand on linebackers, isn’t afraid to grab hold and pound him into the turf for an emphatic pancake.

Intangibles: A two-time team captain. Started 37 games for the Razorbacks in four seasons. Redshirted in 2006. Hasn’t sustained a serious injury in his career and had already earned his degree (kinesiology) by the end of 2010.

31. Green Bay Packers: Gabe Carimi, OT

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 29 (5)

School: Wisconsin

Vitals: 6-7, 315 lbs.

40 time: 5.12

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Pass blocking: Has the elite agility and nimble feet to protect the quarterback’s blindside. Very difficult to turn the corner against because of his lateral movement and solid footwork. Also protects the inside lane well. Delivers a strong hand punch capable of knocking back an opponent, and is able to recoil and extend again. Uses his length to block his man with one hand and knock an edge blitzer off his path with the other. Quick to cut on bubble screens and reverses, though he could get more of his man’s legs to be truly effective. Bends at the waist while engaged; usually holds on to prevent secondary rush but will also end up on the ground too often.

Run blocking: Known as an athletic pass protector, but is a strong blocker for the Badger run game. Has strong upper and lower body builds despite his height. Plays with leverage against stout defensive ends and tackles on the edge, can get under their pads and churn his legs to move them down or off the line. Effective combo blocker, gets a hand on a tackle and still manages to push ends out of the play on strong-side runs. Leans or bends at the waist to latch on at times, will get shed and lose his balance.

Pulling/trapping: Usually not asked to pull or trap from the outside, but down-blocks often and has the quickness and footwork to move behind the line. Gets his quick hands out in front to get a piece of inside defenders before moving to the MIKE linebacker. Can sustain blocks in space because of his length and nimble feet.

Initial Quickness: Elite first step in his kick slide and lateral movement, does not get beat off the edge very often. Also explodes off the ball on run plays, is capable of driving his man back a few yards. Defenders will take advantage of the quickness to take him upfield or knock him off balance, however.

Downfield: Excellent footwork and agility to get downfield. Reaches linebackers at the second level and defensive backs further downfield equally well. Knows the proper angle to cut off defenders from the ballcarrier. Good lateral movement once engaged, gives effort to sustain against smaller defenders. Tends to bend at the waist and punch instead of moving after initial contact.

Intangibles: Solid player with strong work ethic, as well as football and general intelligence. Received multiple Academic All-American and All-Big Ten awards. Missed three games in 2008 with right MCL sprain, but played through maladies in 2009: slight tear in right MCL scarring, left AC joint (shoulder) sprain.

30. New York Jets: Stephen Phea, DT

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 23 (3)

School: Oregon State

Vitals: 6-1, 312 lbs.

40 time: 4.98

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Pass rush: Doesn’t provide much in terms of a pass rush. Is able to split gaps due to his burst off the snap, but doesn’t have quick feet or agility to chase down the quarterback. Relies on his bull rush to knock interior linemen into the pocket and flush the passer into the arms of teammates. Lacks the height and arm length required in consistently altering passing lanes.

Run defense: Is quick enough to surprise his opponent with a burst through the gap, but will make his NFL millions due to the fact that he is a natural run plugger due to his short, squatty build and rare upper- and lower-body strength. Can be knocked off the ball when double-teamed, but flashes the ability to split them and is rarely pushed far before he’s able to plant his legs in the ground and create a pile. Doesn’t have the lateral agility and balance to beat runners to the sideline, but hustles in pursuit.

Explosion: Fires off the snap low and hard, flashing a sudden burst that surprises opponents. Burst is short-lived and only extends to his ability to go straight upfield. With his strength and bowling ball-like frame, Paea can explode into the ballcarrier if he gets a running start.

Strength: Ranks as one of the country’s strongest players, reportedly boasting a 600-pound squat, 500-pound bench press and the ability to churn out 44 repetitions of 225 pounds. Is even stronger than his weight-room numbers indicate due to his natural leverage. Doesn’t disengage from blockers as well as his strength would indicate due to the need to refine his hand technique and average lateral agility.

Tackling: Stays squared and low to knock down the ballcarrier near the line of scrimmage. Flashes explosive hitting ability, with a proven ability to knock the ball free. Tied the OSU record with four forced fumbles in 2009. Good upper-body strength to drag down ballcarriers as they attempt to go past him. Doesn’t have the speed or change of direction to offer much in pursuit.

Intangibles: High-effort player was voted a team co-captain in 2009, in his second year in the program as a junior. Proved his toughness in 2008 by playing the final month of the regular season despite a painful bursa sac injury in his knee. Born in New Zealand, grew up in Tonga and dreamt of becoming a professional rugby player. Learned the English language after moving to the United States at age 16.

29. Chicago Bears: Aaron Williams, CB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 32 (4)

School: Texas

Vitals: 6-1, 195 lbs.

40 time: 4.49

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Read & React: Reads routes well and starts to close when receivers throttle down to catch curl or hitch. Sniffs out bubble screens. Gets fooled on double moves and misdirection when receivers and backs sell their routes. Recognizes run immediately in man or zone coverage and gets around the receiver to make the play.

Man Coverage: His size makes him a prototypical outside corner, able to stay with NFL pass-catchers down the sideline. Usually matches up with opponent’s biggest receiver. Shows relatively quick feet when in the slot. Mirrors receivers on most straight-line routes but struggles to stop and return on throws behind him. Stays too high in his pedal, however, lets receivers eat up cushion too quickly. Needs to play more physically; usually plays well off the receiver, fails to land his hands when on the line. Gets pushed around too easily, allowing separation outside.

Zone Coverage: Practiced as a zone defender. Comes off of initial target a bit late, but gets to the ball in a hurry once he picks up the quarterback’s read. Adjusts to jerk routes and can change his angle on the fly. Gets a hand on passes thrown over his head when underneath. Lacks great suddenness to change direction with quick slot receivers over the middle.

Closing/Recovery: A bit slow transitioning forward to plant and drive, but likes to make big hits and is tough for receivers to escape when he closes. Owns only adequate hands for the interception; picks off some easy passes but drops high and wide throws when in position to make the play. Able to knock away passes by swiping his long arm in front of receivers and winning jump balls. Lacks recovery speed if beaten off the line and does not gain ground running down the field.

Run Support: Solid run defender on the edge. Not afraid to take on large outside receivers and reacts quickly to get around potential blockers to make the tackle on running plays to his side of the field. Gets outside of the blocker to funnel plays back inside, but could do a better job shedding blocks when he’s not able to elude them. Takes deep angles to be a last line of defense.

Tackling: Inconsistent tackler who displays the length and aggressiveness to wrap up ballcarriers but lacks great strength. Like to hit running backs on the edge and usually leads with a shoulder. Gives good effort, coming off his man to help teammates and laying out to make ankle tackles. Blitzes effectively due to his straight-line speed and size. Height can be a detriment against smaller, quicker ballcarriers; will leave his feet instead of dropping his hips to wrap and tackle. Gets dragged for extra yardage by stronger receivers.

Intangibles: Showed great maturity working though disappointing dropped punt against Oklahoma last fall. Missed UCF game in 2009 with a right knee injury. Uncle, Ken Taylor, played defensive back at Oregon State (1981-84) and Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears.

28. New England Patriots: Mikel LeShoure, RB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 16 (2)

School: Illinois

Vitals: 6-0, 230 lbs.

40 time: 4.53

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Inside running: Powerful back, gets behind his pads when running inside. Runs with lean, and has a small strike zone for which opponents to get a square hit. Good vision to cut away from traffic, very smooth in his cuts. Keeps legs moving after initial contact. Can jump over piles near the line. If the line provides a big hole, he has an elite burst to hit second level at full speed. Excellent ball security, keeps it high and tight. Must avoid stopping to run outside when defenders penetrate, instead taking the couple of yards behind his line. Usually uses his fullback when in the I-formation, but must trust him in short yardage situations. Sells fake handoffs.

Outside running: Thick upper- and lower-body build but he has the vision and quick feet to bounce outside as if he were a smaller back. Exceptional burst makes him capable of turning the corner to break off chunks of yardage. Has patience and vision to take a pitch and find a cutback lane and explode through it. Keeps his pad level low outside, which combined with a low center of gravity and strong legs, make him tough to tackle. Not afraid to push a pile or carry a defender a few yards after initial contact. Does not go out of bounds right away, willing to lower a shoulder to get a couple of extra yards.

Breaking tackles: Very strong runner who is difficult for one defender to bring down. Effective stiff-arm, especially against oncoming defensive backs. Runs over would-be tacklers in the open field due to his strength and forward lean. Can sidestep in the backfield, though he’s best as a north-south runner. Lacks great elusiveness in short areas, but can juke a lesser defender in the open if he has some space.

Blocking: Willing blocker who plays with better attitude than technique. Thick and strong, should be effective in blitz pick-up with some coaching, making him a three-down back. Provides a pop when giving linemen help inside.

Receiving: Bigger than a typical college receiving back, but is reliable enough to be lined up outside to create positive matchups. Runs inside and outside routes fairly well, but needs to make hard cuts consistently instead of rounding off. Can make a quick cut to avoid a defender or run over a cornerback. Catches the ball with his body on non-swing passes, but has some ability to adjust to wide passes.

Intangibles: Suspended for September 2009 matchup against Illinois State for violating team rules. Suffered broken jaw in 2008, losing 17 pounds, reportedly during a fight with teammate Jeff Cumberland. Looks to have matured, however, changing eating habits and putting in weight room work to be lighter and stronger for the 2010 season.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Houston, OLB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 28 (4)

School: Georgia

Vitals: 6-3, 258 lbs.

40 time: 4.73

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Read and React: A work in progress. Typically asked to rush the passer in the Georgia scheme but shows moderate overall awareness dropping into coverage. Locates the ball quickly and shows good flexibility and balance to scrape and pursue.

Run Defense: Lacks the bulk to move back to defensive end on a full-time basis in the NFL. As a linebacker, has good upper-body strength and arm length to fight off blocks at the point of attack. Locates the ball quickly. Keeps blockers off his chest and shows some explosiveness in his hands to disengage. Good balance and lateral agility to keep his feet while fighting through blocks.

Pass Defense: At his best rushing upfield. Fires off the snap with an explosive burst from a three-point stance and as a stand-up pass rusher. Shows some agility to elude blockers. Good flexibility and balance to dip under the blocker’s reach and the burst to plant his foot and drive toward the ballcarrier. Has a closing burst when the ball is near.

Tackling: Has good but not elite lateral agility to break down in the open field to make one-on-one tackles. Good strength for the drag-down tackle. Generates explosiveness as a hitter, bringing his hips through to launch himself into the ballcarrier. Has the awareness to attempt to knock the ball out in pursuit but had only two forced fumbles in three seasons.

Pass Rush/Blitz: His greatest strength is his explosive burst upfield. Varies his speed off the edge, showing the speed to cross the pass blocker’s face and beat him around the corner, as well as the quick feet and balance to fake outside and cut back inside. Learning to use his hands, but is not as developed in this area as you might expect, considering his time as a defensive end. Relies on his burst to beat blockers, and lacks a repertoire of rush moves. A bit of a one-trick pony. Too often stymied when his speed off the edge is contained.

Intangibles: Wrestled with the decision to leave school early. Was thought to be leaning that way, but reconsidered amidst private and public “re-recruiting” by the Georgia coaches. Ultimately declared on January 15, the NFL-imposed deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft. Was suspended in May 2009 for reportedly violating university substance abuse policy.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Torrey Smith, WR

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 31 (3)

School: Maryland

Vitals: 6-1, 205 lbs.

40 time: 4.37

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Release: Good burst off the snap to eat up the cushion. Possesses very good straight-line speed, making it risky for defenders to attempt press coverage. Quick hands to slap away the initial jam and has the balance, flexibility and strength to absorb a pop, gain freedom quickly and accelerate downfield.

Hands: Reliable pass-catcher, though he needs to be more consistent with catching with his hands. Shows the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. Long arms and good body control to contort in space to make the difficult reception of a poorly thrown ball. Can absorb the big hit and hang on. Good vision and balance to track the ball over his shoulder.

Route running: Remains a work in progress in this area, though he showed significant improvement as a junior. Generally asked to run only vertical, comeback drags across the middle and quick screens in this offense. Has been able to gain separation largely due to his speed, though he shows good footwork and balance to develop in this area.

After the catch: His best attribute due to his agility, straight-line speed and vision. Gliding runner who accelerates quickly and changes directions without sacrificing speed. Can make defenders miss in the open field, but doesn’t possess elite lateral agility to juke in tight quarters. Good straight-line speed to separate. A threat to score from any point on the field.

Blocking: Willing to help his teammates downfield, but this is an area that could use some development. Has the agility and competitiveness to mirror, but possesses only average strength and physicality.

Intangibles: An ascending talent who may be only scratching the surface of his potential. His 2,983 yards as a kick returner set the ACC record. Endured a tough childhood in which he was often asked to help his raise his younger brothers and sisters while his single mother worked two jobs. Described by head coach Ralph Friedgen as “God created a perfect person” due to Smith’s humility and dedication, as well as his athletic talents. Graduated in December with a degree in criminology and criminal justice – the first male in his family to earn a college diploma. Made the special teams captain by Friedgen.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallet, QB

Projected Round: 1-2

Overall Rank (Position): 38 (4)

School: Arkansas

Vitals: 6-6, 238 lbs.

40 time: 5.12

Analysis, from CBS Sports:

Accuracy: Flashes very good accuracy on short and intermediate throws. Consistently hits the receiver in stride on crossing routes, slants and post patterns. Shows good touch and ball placement for the fade route. Throws with a flat trajectory on deep routes, showing only moderate accuracy on deep throws overall. Can make the “wow” throw and there isn’t an NFL route he can’t hit. Accuracy nosedives, however, when he is forced to move his feet, as his long legs prevent him from re-setting quickly and he throws with just his arm. When his feet aren’t set, Mallett whips the ball, leading to passes sailing high and others diving low, making his throws difficult for receivers to predict or track and set up for yardage after the catch.

Arm Strength: Mallett’s greatest trait. Possesses as strong an arm as there is in the country. Can fit the ball through closing windows, making him capable of completing throws most cannot. Drives the ball on the deep out and can zip the back shoulder throw against tight coverage. Has a tendency to get overly confident with his arm and will attempt to make ill-advised throws into coverage. Has learned to take some speed off when needed.

Setup/Release: Takes most of his snaps out of the shotgun, though he has shown the ability to drop back from center. Gains depth due to the length of his gait rather than foot quickness. Though his long arm makes for an awkward-looking windup, Mallett possesses a fluid, over-the-top release that generates momentum, resulting in the ball exploding out of his hand. Steps into his throws when he has room in the pocket, but loses accuracy when forced to rely solely on his arm.

Reading Defenses: Excellent height to see over the top of his linemen and read defenses. Good field vision, showing the ability to check down from his first and second options to drop passes off to outlet receivers. Flashes the ability to look off the safety, but most do this more consistently. Generally reads the blitz coming and can make defenses pay for their aggression by hitting the hot route, but doesn’t possess the athleticism to escape the pocket when he is surprised.

On the Move: Can slide laterally to avoid the rush. Improved significantly as a junior in stepping up in the pocket to buy time. Willing to take a big hit to complete the pass. Has heavy feet and long legs, however, causing him to take longer than most to set his feet and throw accurately when forced to vacate the pocket. Threw critical interceptions late against Alabama and Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl when this occurred. Willing to tuck the ball and run when he’s given a free lane and has exhausted his throwing options, but is no danger to consistently gain yardage as a scrambler. Doesn’t get low enough or show more than average leg drive for the QB sneak.

Intangibles: Some have concerns over his maturity level. Has a brash personality that has caused some to question whether he possesses the leadership to handle an NFL huddle. Was never voted a team captain with the Razorbacks despite the fact that quarterbacks are often pushed by coaching staffs as such. Very confident in his own talent and early in his career wasn’t known for his dedication to the film room.

For more first round analysis of every pick, you can find that here: 1-8, 9-16, 17-24,