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2011 NFL Draft - New England Patriots
Colorado OT Nate Solder
Colorado OT Nate Solder
Posted Apr 30, 2011

New England Patriots - AFC East, 2011 Draft Selections & Prospects

New England Patriots

2011 NFL Draft Analysis
1st Round (1-5) | 1st Round (6-10) | 1st Round (11-15) | 1st Round (16-20)
1st Round (21-25) | 1st Round (26-32) | 2nd Round | 3rd Round
4th Round | 5th Round | 6th Round | 7th Round | Top Free Agents

2011 NFL Draft Team Analysis - AFC
EAST Buffalo | Miami | New England | NY Jets
WEST Denver | Kansas CityOakland | San Diego
NORTH Baltimore | Cincinnati  Cleveland | Pittsburgh
SOUTH Houston | Indy | Jacksonville | Tennessee

2011 NFL Draft Team Analysis - NFC
EAST Dallas | NY Giants | Philadelphia | Washington
WEST Arizona | San Francisco | Seattle | St. Louis
NORTH Chicago | Detroit | Green Bay | Minnesota
SOUTH Atlanta | Carolina | New Orleans | Tampa Bay 

- 2010 New England Draft Breakdown 

First Round
OT Nate Solder, Colorado 6-8, 319
Overall Pick No. 17 CFN Overall Ranking: 28

This is Bill Belichick saying he doesn’t believe in his tackle situation going into this year, but Solder isn’t an out-of-the-box starter. He’s going to need a little while and he needs to get into the weight room, and while it’s hard to question a Belichick pick, he could’ve been had down the draft a bit and it’s stunning that there wasn’t a trade down to get him. He’s a pure athlete, though, and he might be asked to shine right away to keep Tom Brady upright. This is NOT a sure thing at the 17.

CFN Analysis With great size and a fantastic frame, he’s tough to get around with long arms and the room to get even bigger and bulkier. However, there might not be much of a need to do much to get larger if it’ll cost him any of his great athleticism. Very quick and great on the move, he’s an ideal pass protector who’ll wall off pass rushers without a problem. He’ll also do the work needed to improve; he’s always trying to get better and he’ll be happy to do whatever the coaches ask. With his height and lack of strength, though, he’s not going to beat up anyone for the ground game. He needs to be in the right system, and he’s not going to work in a power-running attack.
CFN Projection: First Round

Second Round    
CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia 6-1, 198
Overall Pick No. 33 CFN Overall Ranking: 69

The Patriots went with Devin McCourty in the first round last year, and now the Patriots have the running mate for the other side. Dowling slipped a bit on several draft boards after having durability concerns, but when he’s right, he’s big, fast playmaker who should be better as a pro than he was as a senior … as long as he stays healthy. He couldn’t get through the Combine without getting hurt.

CFN Analysis: A long, lean defender with terrific speed, he looks the part of an NFL corner. Unlike some of the other big corners in this draft, Dowling can cut on a dime and has no problems whatsoever staying with the quicker receivers. He’s not going to blow anyone up with his hitting ability, but he’s not afraid to tackle and he’ll work in the weight room and will do whatever is needed to get better. Hurt, he was never quite right all throughout last year and he slipped. A much hotter prospect going into last year than he is now, durability is the main problem that will knock him down a bit. He’ll never be 100% and he’ll have to fight through problems, but he’s a good character guy who’ll never dog it.
CFN Projection: Third Round

Second Round
RB Shane Vereen, California 5-10,
Overall Pick No. 56 CFN Overall Ranking: 57

Okay … now it makes sense. However, Vereen had better be Mark Ingram. The Patriots could’ve had the Heisman winner in the first round, traded out of it, and took the very speedy Vereen who’s a great fit for the New England offense. He’s not an every down thumper, but he won’t have to be. At the very least he’s an instant upgrade over anyone the Pats currently have in the backfield.

CFN Analysis: Speed. He might not be the fastest back in the draft, but he moves quickly and decisively. If he gets a little room to move, bu-bye. While he’s not huge, he’s not afraid to use a little power from time to time and he was lineman-strong on the bench at the Combine. However, he doesn’t always run to his strengths, or more accurately, to his speed, and he isn’t going to produce on a consistent basis. While he’s not going to be anyone’s all-star, in today’s day and age, he’ll be perfect in part of a rotation.
CFN Projection: Third Round

Third Round   
RB Stevan Ridley, LSU 5-11, 225 (Junior)
Overall Pick No. 73 CFN Overall Ranking: 138

The Patriots are doubling-down on passing up on Mark Ingram by taking the hard pounding Ridley for the inside after taking Shane Vereen on the outside. Basically, the offense just upgraded from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead with two far more talented players. Ridley might not be a star, but he’ll be an ultra-productive part of a rotation if he’

CFN Analysis: A strong, powerful back who provides a thump, he managed to be the only thing that consistently worked for the painful LSU offense. Always working and always coming up with positive yards, he’s a physical producer who’ll come up with a few extra inches after getting stopped. While he’s not speedy and he’s not going to hit any home runs, he’ll be a good complimentary back if there are other fast options to play around with. While he doesn’t do anything at a high level, he’ll be strong enough a runner to get a long look in a backfield.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

Third Round   
QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas 6-7, 247 (Jr.)
Overall Pick No. 74 CFN Overall Ranking: 38

It’s the perfect situation for the sliding star of the draft. Mallett can be brought along slowly, develop, and be ready to hit the field in 3-to-5 years when Tom Brady is done. If Brady goes down with something catastrophic, Mallett might be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft and can step in and not be awful. There are still major question marks about his ability to handle any sort of a pass rush, but that can be cured a bit with a little bit of time. He’ll get that chance to develop and work on his game, and there are few better than Brady to learn from. If this pick doesn’t work, it’ll be Mallett’s fault because he’ll get every chance to succeed with no immediate pressure whatsoever.

CFN Analysis: If you could promise that he’ll get a three-Mississippi count, he’ll destroy NFL defenses. There’s no one in the draft who’ll be better with time and a clean pocket, with the arm to put a pass anywhere on the field and the ability to use the howitzer to put a deep ball on a line and stretch a defense. The issue is whenever there’s a slight bit of pressure. He locks on to one target way too often, and if there’s so much as a stiff breeze coming his way, it’s a toss-up whether or not he’ll make the throw or put it in the fifth row. There’s no mobility whatsoever and there’ll be times when his NFL offense will be shut down cold if the line isn’t doing its job. And then there’s the character factor. Forget about the rumors swirling, the big issue is a confidence level that’s occasionally a plus, but more often than not appears to rub people the wrong way. However, even with all the concerns and all the question marks, if he gets to play behind a top line, and if he learns how to get the ball out of his hands faster, the upside is there to be fantastic.
CFN Projection: Second Round
Fifth Round    
TE Lee Smith, Marshall 6-6, 266
Overall Pick No. 159 CFN Overall Ranking: 156

CFN Analysis: Very tall and with tremendous weight room strength, he’s an interesting prospect with enough tools to get some people very excited about his potential as a short-range pass catcher and a blocker. The problem is that he’s SLOWWWWW, but as one of the best run blocking tight ends in the draft, he’ll be great for a tough ground game. He’ll never be the type of star that fans get fired up about, but coaches will love him.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

Sixth Round   
OLB Markell Carter, Central Arkansas   6-3, 240
Overall Pick No. 194 CFN Overall Ranking: Unranked

CFN Analysis: A pure tweener who was a big-time playmaker at defensive end, but now he'll have to learn how to be a full-time outside linebacker. Purely a 3-4 pass rusher at the next level, he's a specialist who's job will be to get behind the line. He's never going to be a top three-down defender, but he could be disruptive if used correctly.
CFN Projection: Free Agent