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Eerily, Arizona's Brooks Reed a fringe first round pick in 2011 NFL mock drafts

It's amazing what the word "potential" can do for a guy. Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed is projected to go No. 31 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by

I think that's a little crazy for a guy who is arguably the second-best end on his college team. After all, it was Ricky Elmore who led the Pacific 10 Conference in sacks the past two seasons. And while Reed has more upside because of his size and ability to continue playing the DE position at the NFL level -- Elmore will likely slide to linebacker -- to bump Reed up in the draft to that point is questionable.

We'll all find out in three days.

Luckily, Brian Galliford from the mothership doesn't have Reed in his top 32 picks.

This isn't the NBA Draft, where potential could end up making any given GM look like a genius. In the NFL, go with what's a sure-fire thing in the first round. You have so many picks, not to mention so many positions to fill, that you can take your risks in the fourth and fifth rounds, maybe even the third. But first? Second?

Don't get me wrong. I think Reed will end up being a solid NFL player. As much heartache as the Arizona Wildcats have put you through in Mike Stoops' head coaching tenure, you have to admit the guys Stoops has sent to the NFL haven't fizzled out.

See Mike Thomas on the Jacksonville Jaguars and Rob Gronkowski on the New England Patriots as examples. Even Earl Mitchell saw some time with the Houston Texans.

But watching Arizona over the past few seasons, it was Elmore that impressed me more than Reed, who injured himself in his junior year and played hurt. Credit him for playing in pain, but was he so effective during that time?

That injury, I would think, was enough cause for concern if I'm a team owner.

Let's put it this way; if you're going to take a risk on a guy like Reed, who didn't have numbers that would blow you away, why not consider a guy like Elmore? No, he doesn't have the build of Reed, but he sure does have all the intangibles that I'd like in a football player.

Which makes it all the more odd to see Reed projected so high. He has a decent push, a little speed, but the sacks didn't show and neither did the penetration on running plays. Nothing jumped out.

So what'll it be? We'll see on April 28.