Houston Texans (1.11) -- JJ Watt (DE/Wisconsin) -- JJ Watt, who has been a sleeper DE in the draft (compared to Bowers, Quinn, and others) is the Texans' first step towards improving one of the worst defenses in the league last year. The offense has always been there with Houston, but they lost a bunch of horse-races as their over-matched defense got out-run by most opposing offenses. JJ Watt is described as a high-motor guy (so is everyone who's ever come out of Wisconsin) and new Defensive Coordinator Wade "Beardless Santa" Phillips is hoping his pass-rush translates to the NFL. Increased pass rush should help the Texans' secondary.
Minnesota (1.12) -- Christian Ponder (QB/Florida St.) Wow. The Vikings blog is gonna collapse on itself like the Metrodome roof. I almost feel like this was a panic move by a team that once failed to make their first pick in the draft. it sounds like they were trying to trade out of #12 and were unable to do so. Rumor has it that Locker was their guy and maybe they got caught scrambling. Regardless, they get a guy that most analysts had pegged as a 2nd round pick and they're hitching their proverbial wagon to Ponder. I think Ponder was far from the best QB remaining, so to say this a reach is an understatement in my mind. However, I've also thought that Minnesota was one of the best situations a rookie quarterback could end up in. He may just hand the ball off a lot and feast off of play-action passes. This one may work out, but I imagine it would've worked out better with someone like Ryan Mallett.
Detroit (1.13) -- Nick Fairley (DT/Auburn) This could be the hardest team in the league to run on in three years. Fairley will line up next to last year's first-round pick, Ndamukong Suh and, while there may be some rookie adjustments, will have the chance to face a lot of one-on-one match-ups as teams continue to double-team Suh. By grabbing a top-tier interior player in consecutive years, the Lions' draft approach is showing itself to be much different than it was in the Matt Millen era. I think this is a pick that a lot of analysts are going to drool over. Home run, in my book.
St. Louis (1.14) --Robert Quinn (DE/North Carolina) -- Realistically, Quinn is mostly here because NCAA violations cost him his 2010 season at UNC. The Rams pass on DT Corey Liuget to add a pass-rushing complement to high-ceiling youngster Jake Long. Together, they create a combo that has the potential to terrorize Seattle quarterbacks for years. The big question for Quinn will be whether or not he kept himself in top football condition during his suspension. The step from college to the pros is big enough without taking a year off. Maybe he'll bust like fellow year-taker-offer Mike Williams so the Seahawks can grab him a few years later
Miami (1.15) -- Mike Pouncey (OL/Florida) After ESPN spent the entire interim between the 14th and 15th picks talking about how Mark Ingram would fit in Miami, the Dolphins send the broadcast team scrambling by grabbing athletic, energetic G/C Mike Pouncey. I don't know how much the success of his older brother Maurkice Pouncey improved Mike's draft stock, but he should be talented enough to start on Day One. Kiper's calling him a better fit at center, whereas I thought he'd project better as a guard. Pouncey is the first player taken that I realistically hoped would fall to the Seahawks. It should be interesting to see how much further Ingram falls now.
Washington Redskins (1.16) -- Ryan Kerrigan (LB/Purdue) The least enthusiastic crowd response of the evening thus far, you'd think Kerrigan was 6th-Round filler instead of the first pick by a struggling franchise. Lots of attempts to justify this pick by the analysts on TV, but I can honestly say that I'm non-plussed. What on earth will this team do at QB right now? They traded out of the chance to grab Gabbert (or Ponder), but apparently the lure of pairing Kerrigan with Brian Orakpo overrode their desire to snag any of the remaining signal-callers. It makes sense, on some level, as the Redskins were simply awful on defense last year; I just don't see Ryan Kerrigan as a tremendous difference maker for them -- not with Da'Quan Bowers, Prince Amukamura, Cameron Jordan, and Jimmy Smith still available. Ok, time for the Worldwide Leader to begin their verbal fellatio of the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots (1.17) -- Nate Solder (OT/Colorado) With an awkward "New England sucks" chant as his background, Goodell announced that Colorado tackle Nate Solder is the latest addition to Belichick's squad. Solder is huge and remarkably quick, so I can't help but think that this helps a team with fewer holes than most. I've long felt that Solder would be an excellent pick anytime in the late first round, so this selection, while earlier than I would've predicted, has a good chance to be looked back on as a strong pick for the Pats.