21 — Cleveland Browns — Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
(Note: The Browns traded up from 27 to get Kansas City's 21st overall pick).
Pros: Incredibly agile for his size (6-foot-4, 337 pounds), Taylor's faster in a five-yard radius than anyone this big should be. Very quick off the snap, and it doesn't take him long to get his weight redistributed if he needs to get off a pass rush and back off to cover or help stop a running play. Locks on well and can fool blockers with a quick spin move. Will split double-teams with speed more than power. Taylor isn't limited to zero- and one-tech looks, he'll occasionally shade outside the guard and become a real problem as a huge three-tech - he has the skill set to do so.
Taylor has surprising sideline-to-sideline speed, and he doesn't get gassed after a 20-yard run. He is excellent at sliding off single blocks and accelerating to the ballcarrier. Flashes decent pass-rush for his size and role; as a three-tech tackle, he can get pretty low and get around a blocker to harass the quarterback. Would seem to transfer well to a role right over center if need be because he engages double-teams and doesn't lose them - this would be a crucial attribute for a player his size. Good with his hands; has the upper-body strength to push a guard out of the way with a quick slap. Really turned it on at the Senior Bowl and should impress in the agility drills at the scouting combine.
Cons: For a one-gap tackle, Taylor is disturbingly easy to push sideways and out of the play - if he doesn't get the first burst, he doesn't always win the power battle. Hasn't run a lot of loops and twists and doesn't seem particularly effective when doing so; the Baylor defense seemed more straight-ahead with its defensive linemen, so this may be a matter of technique over time. Transferred to Baylor after two years at Penn State; was suspended and then kicked off the Nittany Lions' roster after his alleged role in a fight at a student union function and sat out the 2008 season as a result. Occasional lapses in play; he'll need to find more consistency at the next level.
Conclusion: It's difficult for me to grade Taylor as a nose-over-center tackle in the mold of Casey Hampton, Kris Jenkins or Vince Wilfork; those players are less likely to get pushed aside by guards. And for all his size, Taylor isn't a squatty guy - he's a bit more lean and muscular in a way that makes me wonder if a 3-4 team might not want him to put on 10 pounds or so.
Right now, he's an interesting hybrid player who would most easily succeed in a system where he's all over the line - he could have a Justin Smith-style impact if he's on a 3-4/4-3 line where he's all over the place. Looking at the height/weight and immediately assuming that he's an instant nose tackle who just has surprising speed would be a rather large mistake. If he answers any character concerns and finds the right spot, Taylor could be a dominant defender for years to come.
22 — Indianapolis Colts — Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Pros: Castonzo has tremendous power and footwork at the second level -- he's rare in that he's almost more effective with leverage once he gets up a head of steam off of chips and at linebacker depth. Attacks aggressively in run blocking -- he could do so even more if he added strength to his 6-foot-7, 305-pound frame. Can pull and trap very well for his height -- he's got very good short-area agility. Backpedals and blocks areas very well; could have a bright future as an NFL zone blocker. Gets good push in goal-line and other shorter-area situations, and he showed more in-line power at the Senior Bowl.
Cons: Needs to learn to extend the block, turn the corner quicker, and flash more aggression in pass protection -- he'll lose elite edge rushers on the back half and give up sacks behind the pocket. Occasionally stands too upright at the snap and can get led by defenders who get under his pads. Doesn't always finish blocks; he'll tend to swipe and push off and let defenders where they shouldn't be. Has a good kick-step outside, though it can get choppy at times and disappears when he gets too upright.
Conclusion: Each of the first-round tackles in the 2011 draft class have little things -- little adjustments they need to make -- before they'll be able to take on the NFL full-bore. Castonzo has the experience and intelligence needed, as well as many aspects of the technique set. What he needs is more pure power, more consistent footwork, and better pad level. Primarily, he'll need to gain weight and strength for point-of-attack battles. But there's no question that he's worth a first-round pick as is, and given a season or two to round out his skill set, Castonzo might have elite potential, simply based on the development he's shown already.
- Phil Taylor