It's about that time where we start to see final mock draft predictions across the internet, and it's no different here at SB Nation. Pats Pulpit, our New England Patriots blog, has released its final mock for the 2011 NFL Draft.
With the Patriots' first pick (No. 17 overall), Pats Pulpit projects that Bill Belichick and company will select Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, who has been projected to go as high as No. 13 overall by some experts.
17. New England Patriots (14-2) Anthony Castonzo (6'7 - 308lbs) OT Boston College
The Patriots will think long and hard about trading back from 17 into the twenties and trying to pick up a 2ndrounder in the process but they doubt Castonzo will make it past the Giants. Dante Scarneccia already worked with Castonzo at the Boston College Pro Day, so will have first hand input into his suitability to the Patriot system. Like Sebastian Vollmer, Castonzo can play either tackle position, and is a talented pass protector and run blocker. While he has a little trouble with speed rushers, he will learn his craft under the best line coach in the league and form a dominating bookend tackle combination.
Pats Pulpit also predicts that the Patriots will trade up to the No. 25 overall pick, in exchange for the No. 28 overall pick and the 125th overall pick, and draft Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward.
TRADE: Seattle Seahawks trade the 25th pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for the 28th & 125thpicks.
25. New England Patriots (14-2) Cameron Heyward (6'5 - 294lbs) DE Ohio State
The Patriots cannot afford to wait their turn to get their right defensive end since they know Baltimore will be interested as will the Jets and Packers. Therefore, they move up to select the Ohio State product who draws many comparisons to Richard Seymour. Heyward has ideal size and strength to hold up against double teams in the Patriots two gap system and has tremendous pass rush ability. He has faced top competition in his career and has flashed dominance. He will need to improve his consistency but could thrive under Bill Belichick.
Here's a look at the projected draft philosophy for Belichick and the Patriots, also from Pats Pulpit.
With their first pick in the first round, the Patriots address a key position of need, by taking a player who fits their mold and system. Castonzo is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the draft and the Patriots will have an immediate contributor. Out of need, the Patriots trade up from 28 surprising many as a number of commentators have them moving down from that spot. However, with most of the top tier five technique defensive ends off the board, the Pats make a solid move to nab Cam Heyward, who will be an ideal replacement for Richard Seymour.
At the very top of the draft, Pats Pulpit projects that the Carolina Panthers will draft Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. With the second pick, the Denver Broncos will select Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus, and the Buffalo Bill will draft Von Miller at No. 3 overall. The blog also has the Cincinnati Bengals drafting Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Arizona Cardinals taking speedy LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson at No. 5.