2011 NFL Mock Draft: New England Patriots Select Tyron Smith

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans flanked by Tyron Smith #70 and Ronald Johnson #83 runs off the field after the Trojans scored a touchdown during the first half of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 18 2010 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With the 17th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2011 NFL Mock Draft, the New England Patriots select USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith. Mavyrk is serving as the Patriots' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.

I'm somewhat torn with regards to the choice I have to make here. By far, the biggest need for the Patriots is in the front seven. With nine of the first sixteen choices in the draft being front seven prospects, I find myself lacking in options with regards to selecting a pass rusher.

I could make sure I'm not caught with my pants down later by choosing someone like Ryan Kerrigan out of Purdue, but that would be ignoring the tremendous opportunity I have in front of me. Outside of selecting a pass rusher, New England needs some help on the offensive line, particularly tackle, and all of the top tackles are on the board still.

I'm forced to weigh my options between Gabe Carimi, Tyron Smith, and Derek Sherrod here. I feel Carimi is the most pro-ready prospect of the three, but his upside at the LT position is limited. Tyron Smith is very athletically gifted, but has very little experience at left tackle. Sherrod, on the other hand, is well tested at the left end and brings four years of experience with him.

At the end of the day, I have to go with youth and upside here in selecting Tyron Smith. As a physical specimen, he is unmatched in the draft. He looks primed to add yet more bulk to his frame, and I don't buy into concerns about the learning curve in switching to the blind-side. I'm all about value, and Smith has the most value left on the board by a very wide margin.

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