1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I do not agree with the pick, but all signs are pointing to the Panthers picking the controversial signal caller. A change at head coach often means a switch at QB and Ron Rivera has told reporters he has been sold on Newton’s physical attributes. The question remains if Newton has the mental toughness to lead a team immediately. With a poor season by Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike’s inexperience, there will be pressure for Newton to be the guy from day one.
2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
This seems to be the biggest no-brainer of the top 10 picks. Dareus is a game-changing player. Some will say Denver needs to upgrade with a pass rusher here (the team finished last in the NFL in sacks with just 23), but they will be getting back former sack leader Elvis Dumervil this season. The Broncos released Jamal Williams and Justin Bannan this offseason, leaving just three defensive tackles with experience left on the roster. Dareus is an ideal fit.
3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The second biggest no-brainer. The Bills swung and missed on Aaron Maybin in 2008, and AFC East foes have feasted on the Buffalo secondary with no threat of a pass rush. Miller is a physical freak, who ran a 4.6 40-yard dash and will cause havoc in backfields immediately.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
With the status of Carson Palmer up in the air, the Bengals might be tempted to pick Blaine Gabbert with this pick. But owner Mike Brown has shown he does not grant player trade requests, and with the current labor situation, the Bengals have to enter the draft as if Palmer will be in orange and black next season. Terrell Owens and possibly Chad Johnson (yes, no more Ochocinco) are headed out the door. Green is an instant difference maker, and is one of the highest rated players in the draft. There have been rumblings that the team likes Julio Jones a bit more, but I believe Green’s exemplary physical tools put him above Jones on the Bengals draft board.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Here is where it starts to get interesting. It would make absolute sense for the Cardinals to look for a future franchise quarterback like Gabbert. However, many in the organization believe Arizona is closer to a playoff team than their 2010 record indicated. Couple that with the fact that Ken Wisenhut and GM Rod Graves could be shown the door fit they don’t win soon, there seems to be a better chance that the team will bring in a veteran QB (Palmer, Kevin Kolb, Marc Bulger, Donovan McNabb) in the offseason. Instead, the Cardinals pick the best player on their board (and possibly in the draft), and immediately push their cornerback position into the conversation for best in the league. Some highly respected draft experts (and me) have compared Peterson to Champ Bailey. That makes Peterson a tough prospect to pass up.
6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
I’m split 50/50 on this pick. Quinn and Julio Jones both make sense for a Browns team that is looking to make the next step toward relevancy. In the end, Quinn wins out because you can’t win the AFC North without a stellar defense. The Browns are switching to a 4-3 defense under defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, and they need a major talent boost quickly. Quinn simply blew people away at his pro day, and a number of scouts say they’d be surprised if Quinn lasts through the top eight picks. The Browns will likely field calls from teams looking to trade up to get Jones, but if they stay put, I believe this is the pick.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The 49ers have to be thrilled if this scenario plays out. Gabbert is rated as the number on quarterback on many teams’ boards, and Gabbert would be a great fit for John Harbaugh’s offense. He’s smart and athletic, and would enter a situation with good pieces around him. This would be an ideal situation for both parties involved.
8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Fairley entered the draft process neck-in-neck with Dareus for the top-rated defensive tackle. A poor Combine and injury concerns have dropped his stock to this point, but he did some much-needed damage control at his pro day. As I wrote in my top-5 breakdown, Fairley has exceptional athleticism and footwork, and fills a big need for the Titans. Tennessee has had a huge void at defensive tackle since Albert Haynesworth has departed, and Fairley could change that. The Titans will be pick a quarterback somewhere in the draft, but with no viable options at this point, they’ll likely wait until the second round. Julio Jones is also an option, but wide receiver is not as big of a need.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Do not be surprised to see the Cowboys trade down from this pick. There is huge interest in Jones from teams like St. Louis and Washington and Dallas could easily get a good offensive tackle prospect in the mid-first round. If the team stays here, Smith is the pick. The team got almost no protection from Marc Colombo, and Doug Free might be better suited as a right tackle. Smith has wowed people with his athleticism, and has bulked up to 310 pounds. Jerry Jones has never selected an offensive lineman in the first round, but that could change this year.
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
I would be surprised if Jones lasts this long, with a team likely to trade up and grab him. However, in this scenario, there’s no chance he’ll get past the Redskins. Washington has a number of needs, but they have not had a dynamic receiver such as Jones in recent memory. He would be a great compliment to Chris Cooley and Santana Moss. Washington has been linked to Jake Locker, but they could likely trade back into the first round if that’s the direction they want to go. Washington beat writers say the team has DE J.J. Watt rated very high on their board, and that would likely be the pick if Jones is off the board.
11. Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Watt fills a need for the Texans, who are looking for a 5-technique defensive end. Watt has impressed throughout the draft process with his relentless motor and elite strength. He projects as a stronger Aaron Kampman. The Texans will also consider a pass-rushing OLB, but I do not see a prospect rated higher than Watt.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Disclaimer: The buzz right now is that the Vikings are looking very hard at Jake Locker. While it’s certainly a possibility, I believe that’s just too high for a prospect who is still a year or two away from making an impact. The Vikings went to the NFC Championship in 2009, and have a number of good pieces. Ray Edwards is a free agent, and is not expected to be back. Jordan is an extremely strong player, good against the run, and would be a great fit opposite of Jared Allen.
13. Detroit Lions: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Lions would be thrilled to see Amukamara fall to them at 13. They desperately need help in the secondary, and the word is a number of teams have Prince rated near Peterson. Even if Chris Houston is resigned, he provides and instant upgrade at the cornerback position.
14. St. Louis Rams: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Rams are expected to make a furious push to move up and get either A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but if they fail, they’ll look to bolster their run defense. This pick will likely come down to Smith and Corey Liuget. Smith offers Coach Steve Spagnola more versatility, as he can play with his hand in the ground or up as a rush-end.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Teams are allegedly souring on Ingram because of concerns over his knee. I think that might be a bit of a smoke screen. Even so, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Dolphins look at Florida guard Mike Pouncey. That being said, Ingram fills a much bigger need, and is a player who will line up day in and day out for 10 years. Ingram is short but stout, and is extremely hard to bring down. Ronnie Brown and/or Ricky Williams will not be back, and the Dolphins must find a replacement in this draft.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Jags are high on the Purdue product, both for his versatility and his motor. Even with Da’Quan Bowers still available, GM Gene Smith has leaned toward high character players. Jacksonville would like to boost their pass rush to create more pressure on QB’s like Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub, and Kerrigan can do that immediately.
17. New England Patriots: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
The local product would be a good fit for the Patriots, who do not know what the future holds with LT Matt Light. Even if Light were resigned, New England would be smart to start building depth on the offensive line. With two 1st Round picks, the Patriots can take the top-rated tackle now and wait to select a pass-rushing OLB.
18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
The team needs an upgrade at the 5-technique from Jacques Cesaire, who might not be back with the team. Wilkerson is big and strong, and could even slide inside in a 4-3 defense. But in the Chargers 3-4, he is an ideal fit. The team also needs to upgrade the offensive line, which means Gabe Carimi has to be on A.J. Smith’s radar, but I think Wilkerson will be the guy.
19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
The Giants would be very happy to see Pouncey drop this far, with a number of teams ahead of New York taking a hard look at him. Interior lineman is a big need for the team after getting disappointing returns from C Shaun O’Hara and RG Chris Snee. Much like his twin brother did for Pittsburgh last season, Maurice can be plugged in immediately.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
One of the storylines to watch on Thursday will be how far Bowers falls after looking like a top 3 pick when the draft process started. Bowers has had injury and maturity concerns, but those he begins to look more like a steal at pick 20. If Bowers realizes some of him immense potential, this could prove to be a big pick.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Chiefs would be very happy and surprised to see Carimi still on the board at this point. Barry Richardson struggled last year at right tackle, and the organization is still not convinced former first round pick Branden Albert is the solution at LT. Carimi might not be a sexy pick, but he will provide steady production year in and year out.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts have struggled to replace Tarik Glenn. The team spent a second round pick on Tony Ugoh, but ultimately released him. Charlie Johnson has done an adequate job the past few seasons, but he’s better suited to play guard. Solder is an outstanding athlete who is still learning the position. Giving Peyton Manning time to throw is the difference between a Super Bowl season and just another playoff run.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Concerns over Smith’s mental toughness and character have subsided in recent weeks. Many scouts have Smith rated right up there with Peterson and Amukamara, and he fills a need for the Eagles. Asante Samuel had another Pro Bowl season, but Dimitri Patterson was regularly burned, especially in the playoffs. Smith provides instant solidification of the position.
24. New Orleans Saints: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Saints continue to look for a defensive end opposite of Will Smith. Clayborn started the 2010 season as a surefire top 15 pick, but his production was down his senior season as he faced constant double teams. Still, he has the size and pass-rush skills that New Orleans is looking for, and is very stout against the run. Cameron Hayward and Justin Houston will also be considered. Also, despite signing Shaun Rogers, Corey Liuget will also get a look.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Brandon Mebane is a free agent, and with the uncertainty of the labor situation, the Seahawks don’t have the luxury of waiting to see if a deal can be made. Liuget is the highest rated player available and would help improve a run defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league last season.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Ravens are looking for an upgrade at the 5-technique and Heyward is the big, strong player Baltimore seems to like. Cory Redding really struggled toward the end of the season, and Heyward has the pedigree and drive to make an immediate impact. The team could also look at taking an offensive tackle with the status of Jared Gaither still up in the air.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The Falcons could go in a number of directions with this pick, but with three offensive linemen up for free agency, investing in depth now seems to make sense. Sherrod works will on the move and is ready to play right now. The team could also look at TE Kyle Rudolph, WR’s Torrey Smith and Leonard Hankerson, or DE’s Brooks Reed and Justin Houston with this pick.
28. New England Patriots: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
Having already solidified the tackle position, the Patriots can now begin to add a pass-rusher to the mix. The Patriots inability to put pressure on Mark Sanchez in the AFC playoffs ended their season, and the team likes Reed’s motor and speed. Justin Houston is also an option.
29. Chicago Bears: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
The Bears will likely trade out of the first round if this scenario plays out. GM Jerry Angelo would like to strengthen the offensive tackle position, but is unlikely to reach for a player at this point. Tommie Harris was released earlier this year, and his replacement is not currently on the roster. Austin was suspended for his senior year after receiving improper benefits from an agent, and word is the team is not completely sold on him. Nevertheless, the hole at the 3-technique needs to be addressed. OG Danny Watkins and OT Brandon Ijalana remain possibilities.
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor
Word came down this week that Taylor has in inoperable foot condition, which could scare off the Jets. If it’s found out to be manageable, Taylor makes a lot of sense. The Jets have no depth behind Sione Pouha, and an upgrade is needed. If the team is scared off by the foot problem, look for a pass-rusher like Akeem Ayers or Houston to be the pick.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
The offensive line was a huge concern for the Steelers this past season. It held up well in the playoffs, but the Steelers quarterbacks took a beating in 2010 being sacked 48 times while being hit regularly. Watkins is a big prospect who could slide in next to Maurkice Pouncey and form a solid duo for the foreseeable future.
32. Green Bay Packers: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
With Ryan Mallett, Locker, and Christian Ponder still on the board, do not be surprised if the Packers field a number of calls from teams looking to trade up. If they stay put, Ayers is a very good value pick here. He would take a lot of pressure off Clay Matthews in the pass-rush, making the Packers defense even scarier. Ayers also has the versatility to slide inside if needed, and plays the run well. Houston is getting a lot of buzz leading up to the draft, and could be a possibility, even if the team decides to trade back.
Posted under Uncategorized
This post was written by Stephen on April 23, 2011