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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More positive news on Da’Quan Bowers’ knee

For nearly a month, most of the reports on defensive end prospect Da’Quan Bowers and his surgically repaired knee were negative.

First came the report that his draft stock was falling. Then there was one that his knee surgery was more serious than Bowers claimed. Then came the rumors that he failed at least two physicals, that he was being removed from multiple teams’ draft boards and finally, that he may need microfracture surgery.

Oh, and he also turned in a less-than-spectacular effort at Clemson’s Pro Day.

But finally, with less than a week to go before the first round of the draft, we have some positive news surrounding Bowers’ health.

Lions’ GM Martin Mayhew and Browns’ GM Tom Heckert both said this week that team doctors have cleared Bowers’ knee. Neither GM went into detail, but there’s now reason to believe that the reports on Bowers over the past month have been overblown.

“Our doctors have looked at him 100 times,” Heckert said. “He went to the recheck, so we’ve done our due diligence. I don’t want to get into all the medical stuff, but we think his knee is going to be all right.”

Granted, both Mayhew and Heckert could be misleading the media and, in turn, other teams as well. If you’re a GM and you know you’re not going to draft someone, make sure you have nothing but positive things to say about that prospect. You want other teams thinking that you’re going to snag a player that they want so there’s at least a possibility that you can trade and potentially acquire more picks.

But hey, that said: here’s hoping Bowers’ knee is fine and he’s still a top-10, or at least a top-15 selection. He’s a great prospect and could wind up being a steal depending on where he’s taken.

Does Bowers need micorfracture surgery?

Every week there seems to be a new report about defensive end prospect Da’Quan Bowers’ knee and every week it’s negative.

This week, Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki told reporters that teams are concerned that Bowers may need microfracture knee surgery. Rotoworld.com has more details.

Nawrocki says all of the medical red flags could push Bowers into the back half of round one. We’d heard the microfracture rumors before, but there wasn’t anything substantial enough to run with them. Nawrocki insists there are. Bowers will be in Indianapolis Friday for a medical recheck. At that point, doctors will determine whether he needs a surgical procedure that would almost certainly cost him the entire 2011 season.

Once considered a potential candidate to be taken No. 1 overall, Bowers is probably listed behind North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, Missouri’s Aldon Smith and Cal’s Cameron Jordan. Depending on how freaked out teams are about Bowers’ knee, Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan might be listed ahead of him as well. The bottom line is that this is a deep draft for defensive ends and teams probably won’t think twice about moving him further down their draft board.

That said, the Saints (No. 25) and Falcons (No. 27) are two defensive end-needy teams that select in the bottom of the first round and if Bowers falls, maybe he’ll be too good to pass up at that point. After all, we’re talking about a young man who many pundits thought would go in the top 5, if not No. 1. Then again, if his knee is too big of a concern then there’s no telling how far Bowers could fall.

Report: Bowers “really struggled” at Pro Day

We knew that Da’Quan Bowers’ Pro Day on Friday was important after several reports have come out this month indicating that teams are worried about his knee. Unfortunately for Bowers, it doesn’t appear as though he put those concerns to rest.

According to Pro Football Weekly, Bowers “really struggled” at his workout on Friday.

He clearly looked fatigued, and left evaluators strongly questioning whether he will be ready in his first season. One evaluator in attendance estimated that Bowers’ knee appeared to be 70 percent healthy, at best.

“If he falls to us, we would have to discuss it,” said one evaluator, whose team holds a pick in the back half of the first round, “and I’m not sure we would pull the trigger. We’ll listen to our doctors. He had a real difficult time bending. I question whether he will be ready.”

Another evaluator added: “He’s not ready. He was hobbling around out there. The shuttles were bad. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. He cost himself millions of dollars.”

Ouch. Once regarded as a top-5 pick, it appears as though he’ll fall considerably at the end of the month. There’s always a chance that teams are sending out negative vibes about him in hopes that he’ll fall, but there hasn’t been one positive report about his knee since he had it scoped following the 2010 season.

Making matters worse for Bowers is that this year’s defensive end class is deep. North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, Missouri’s Aldon Smith, Cal’s Cameron Jordan, Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn, Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, Georgia’s Justin Houston (considered to be a “tweener”) and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan are all regarded as first round picks. It would be easy for a defensive end-needy team to simply move Bowers down and one of those prospects up, causing Bowers to fall. Of course, depending on how far he drops, he could also be considered a major bargain. (Assuming his knee does eventually heal, of course.)

We’ll see. There’s still a month before the draft and that means a month of recovery more of recovery for Bowers. This news is certainly disappointing but who knows what teams are thinking at this point? His draft fate will be decided soon enough.

Report: Clemson’s Bowers removed from two draft boards

ESPN’s Todd McShay is reporting that two teams have already removed defensive end Da’Quan Bowers from their draft boards.

From Rotoworld:

“I already know of two teams that have failed him,” McShay said on Thursday morning’s SportsCenter. “He’s off their board.” McShay’s statement is eerily similar to Peter King’s in Monday Morning Quarterback. We’ll give McShay the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t rip the info off King. Either way, McShay makes it sound like Bowers’ knee problem is a big concern in league circles. Many in the media have tried to downplay the injury.

Dear Lord, are there any good reports on this poor kid? Every time I find an article on Bowers’ pre-draft status, it’s always negative.

There’s no doubt about it: his Pro Day on Friday is crucial. There’s one way for him to put rumors to rest and that’s by going out and proving to teams that his knee is fine. If he struggles, then there’s no telling how far he could fall in late April.

Two months ago this was a prospect that was seemingly guaranteed to be selected in the top-5 and now he might not even crack the top-10. We’ll have a good idea on Friday just where his draft stock really is. If Bowers slides, it’ll be interesting to see how far prospects like Von Miller, Julio Jones and Cameron Jordan will rise.

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