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2011 NFL Mock Draft: J.J. Watt Projected To Patriots At No. 17

The 2011 NFL Draft is a little more than two weeks away now, and it's Auburn's Cam Newton that is back at the top of SB Nation's Mock Draft, projected to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers. That is, of course, unless Missouri's Blaine Gabbert can close the gape between now and April 28. 

As for the New England Patriots, who own three of the first 33 picks, including two in the first round, the SBN Mock Draft has Bill Belichick and company eyeing a defensive end with their first selection: 

17. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. If Bill Belichick and the Patriots are looking for value rather than filling a need with their top pick, Watt is by far the most sensible player for the team. He might be the most sensible from a need standpoint, as well.

Watt was redshirted in 2008 at Wisconsin, but started every game in 2009 and 2010. This past year, Watt recorded 62 tackles and had seven sacks on the way to winning the Ronnie Lott Award, given to college football's Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. 

With the No. 28 overall pick, SB Nation has the Pats solidifying their offensive line: 

28. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. With Watt - the instant-impact defender - on board, the Patriots may choose to address a pressing concern on the other side of the ball with more of a project. The idea of pairing Solder with Sebastian Vollmer at tackle is tantalizing.