Pete’s Mock Draft: Picks eleven through fifteen

Peter Holland Jr. / Staff Writer

It’s April and the NFL Draft is only five weeks away. The top 10 picks have been published and we now focus on picks 11-15. These picks are intriguing because it’s the mid-first round from teams that finished right in the middle of the pack and also because the Miami Dolphins currently hold the number 13 pick after trading away their original number eight pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell.

11. Chicago Bears (6-10) DeForest Buckner 6-foot-7, 287-pounds defensive lineman University of Oregon

NFL evaluators are very high on Buckner not because of his monstrous size, but because how disruptive he is against offensive linemen. Playing for the Bears seems like a better fit because he came from a 3-4 scheme back in Oregon. He is definitely a day one starter who can get off blocks and swallow up quarterbacks consistently.

12. New Orleans Saints (7-9) Jaylon Smith 6-foot-3, 229-pound linebacker Notre Dame University

The Saints’ defense has been a major issue all season long for head coach Sean Payton. The main problem for them is linebacker help. Saints have struggled to make tackles and gave up 29.8 points per game. Smith has been a defensive juggernaut for Notre Dame in the past two seasons. He is a sideline to sideline tackler.

One red flag for Smith that could really drop his first round status is his recent knee injury he sustained two months ago during the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. He’s currently recovering from a torn ACL and LCL. Some said he could have had nerve damage that could keep him out the entire year.

His highlights say first round, but whoever takes him will most likely medically redshirt him until he is fully 100 percent.

13. Miami Dolphins (6-10) Ezekiel Elliott 6-foot, 225-pound running back Ohio State University

A lot of Miami Fans are dying to know who are they going to pick after trading down 5 spots and holding the Philadelphia Eagles’ original pick. The Dolphins have a lot holes they need to fill offensively and defensively.

Right now the biggest need for the Dolphins is running backs now that former Dolphins’ starter Lamar Miller decided to play for the Houston Texans.

Ezekiel Elliott could be a home run pick for the Dolphins if he’s available at number 13.  Also known as Big Freak Zeke, he has all the tangibles to be every down back due to his size and breakaway speed. He could make 5-yard gain into a 50-yard gain in one carry.

14. Oakland Raiders (7-9) Jack Conklin 6-foot-6, 326-pound, offensive tackle Michigan State University

The Raiders are this close in becoming a legitimate contender in the AFC conference. Adding a tackle makes sense for the Raiders since they struggled to protect their young franchise quarterback Derek Carr. Conklin provided size and power back at Michigan State. His pass-blocking skills could be a huge asset for the Raiders.

15. Los Angeles Rams (7-9) Reggie Ragland 6-foot-2, 258-pound linebacker University of Alabama

The debut of the L.A. Rams first pick could be an interesting one. They could easily go quarterback in this round since they don’t have a legit QB who can win them games, even back when they were still the St. Louis Rams.

Yet, there are still some veteran quarterbacks that could sign in the free agent market. For now, I have the Rams drafting a middle linebacker and picking Ragland makes sense now that they released their starting middle linebacker James Laurinaitis just to save cap room.

Ragland is everywhere on the football field and is a tackling machine back in Alabama. Having Ragland up the middle on defense could be a huge upgrade for the Ram’s defense whose strength is their defensive front.

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