15 Observations from the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft

The National Football League logo is displayed near the stage during round one of the 2011 NFL Draft Pick at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. UPI/Monika Graff

Here are 15 observations, thoughts and projections (sure to be wrong knowing my luck with predictions on prospects) from the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Hey kids, if you want to be a NFL quarterback…don’t…do…drugs. I’ve never seen so many quarterback-needy teams stay away from a prototypical pocket passer like they’re doing with Ryan Mallett this year. I may be in the minority here, but I think he’s going to be a steal no matter where he winds up. (Side Note: Before this article went live, I saw that Mallett got taken by the Patriots in the third round. Bill Belichick is going to make this kid a winner someday.)

2. Andy Dalton may not have the strongest arm but he’s a solid fit for Jay Gruden’s offense in Cincinnati. I’m thinking the dream scenario for the Bengals would be for Carson Palmer to suck it up for one more season and then they can turn the keys over to Dalton in 2012. But if Palmer is done, the Bengals can sign a veteran and bring Dalton along slowly.

3. It may take a couple of years but give Jim Harbaugh some time and he could turn Colin Kaepernick into a good pro quarterback. Kaepernick is a bit of a project but the kid has good size, a great arm and is one hell of an athlete. He has all the tools to succeed and if fans are patient, this could wind up being a beautiful marriage.

4. The Browns did well in the first two rounds. Not only did they acquire 62 picks from the Falcons in exchange for the No. 6 overall selection, but Mike Holmgren addressed needs along the D-line with Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard, and at receiver with Greg Little (who isn’t Julio Jones but he’s a solid prospect nonetheless). All three players should see action as rookies.

5. So what does it say about Beanie Wells if the Cardinals are taking Ryan Williams in the second round? If Williams stays healthy, he’s an explosive runner with good vision but he’s going to have to fight for carries next year in the desert. Given how many needs Arizona has, this is a strange fit.

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Can TCU’s Andy Dalton overcome past woes against Utah?

In his past two games against Utah, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton has zero touchdown passes and six interceptions. Both of those games resulted in losses for the Horned Frogs, including last year’s 13-10 defeat in Salt Lake City.

But Dalton has played with more confidence during the past month than he has at any point in his career and the TCU offense is starting to match the play of its outstanding defense. The Frogs rank eighth in total offense, sixth in scoring offense and also have the sixth best running game in the nation.

That said, the Utes’ defense has served as kryptonite for Dalton in previous years, so can he put those struggles behind him and keep TCU’s BCS bowl bid hopes alive?

Utah ranks 18th in total defense and 13th in pass defense, but they haven’t played an offense even remotely as potent as TCU. And for as good as the Utes’ defense has been this season, they’re susceptible against the run and that’s the Frogs’ bread and butter.

With so much on the line in this matchup, both teams need to take the pressure off their quarterbacks and run the football. But what will be interesting to watch unfold is which defense will stop their opponents’ running game first and force either Dalton or true freshman Jordan Wynn to beat them through the air.

This has the makings of a great game.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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