Wow, the NFL season is really cranking along faster than most of us expected, isn't it?
Here we are heading into Week 13 of NFL action already.
You know what that means? Playoffs!
But hey, who wants to focus at the task at hand when you can easily start looking forward? I mean, a good amount of teams have already been removed from the playoff hunt, so as far as I'm concerned, now seems like the perfect time to start looking at the top 10 draft picks in April.
These teams are really going to need some good talent, so why don't we give them a leg up with some suggestions as to who might be worth their while?
Here is a look at how the top 10 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft should (and could) look like.
(As a sort of post scriptum, I'm using current NFL standings to determine drafting position. It makes things much less complicated).
With the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select...
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns seem to have a lot of their offensive skill positions locked up. They have Peyton Hillis as their running back of the future, Colt McCoy as their guy at quarterback and they have an underrated receiving corps featuring Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Brian Robiskie and Ben Watson.
The real thing that the Browns need to focus on is defense. While they have a few positions that they could address, I don't think that anything would help them more than a dominant defensive end, and that is what you'll be getting with Clayborn.
In all likelihood Da'Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn will be off the board by the time it comes to the Browns, but those two will also be at the top of the Browns list.
With the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select...
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
I know, I know, the 49ers are going to be pushing hard for a new quarterback come April.
However, at No. 9, they may be out of options. Minnesota, Arizona, Buffalo and Carolina are all poised to pick before them, so the three big quarterback prospects will likely be off the board at that point.
Considering that, why not focus on defense? The 49ers could really benefit from having a great defensive end, and right now Da'Quan Bowers is the guy. At 6'4" and 280 lbs, Bowers could stand to gain a little weight, but that will happen naturally at the professional level. Besides, the 49ers are already running an undersized 3-4 defensive end in Justin Smith, so what is to keep them from going after Bowers?
Should any of the three big quarterbacks drop this far, though, expect the 49ers to jump on the opportunity.
With the No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select...
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
I still scratch my head every time I think about the Viking's 2010 draft class. They could justify picking Chris Cook with their first second round pick, but with Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy still on the board, the Vikings chose Stanford running back Toby Gerhart instead, when they knew that they needed a quarterback to groom behind Brett Favre.
Now the Vikings are in crisis mode. Favre is done, Tarvaris Jackson is set to become a free agent and there is no way that the Vikings are about to hand the reigns over to sixth round pick Joe Webb.
Despite the rocky season that Locker has had this year, the Vikings simply cannot afford to pass up this opportunity.
With the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select...
Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida
43 tackles, three interceptions and one sack. Not too bad.
Janoris Jenkins has seen his draft stock shoot up this year, and for good reason. He has really improved as a player.
The Cowboys don't seem to have any trepidations when it comes to picking players who have had brushes with the law, which really opens the door for this kid who is, apparently, very humble. He carries a team-first mentality at all times, which sounds like the kind of player any coach would want.
The Cowboys could use a little work in other places, but their defensive backfield seems like the place to start. If they decide to pass up Jenkins, I could see them trading down in the first round, picking an extra mid-round pick, and grabbing Rahim Moore out of UCLA.
With the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select...
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Simply put, the Broncos need Stephen Paea. As it stands right now, the Broncos are featuring ailing nose tackle Jamal Williams, but we all know that Williams is headed for retirement very soon.
Stephen Paea may not quite be up to the size one looks for in a 3-4 nose tackle, but this guy is freakishly strong, surprisingly fast and deceptively agile. He will take up the double team (more or less the ultimate goal of the nose tackle), but he will also always be a threat to split that double team and take off for the quarterback, which could put him in the ranks of the valuable three down nose tackles.
The Broncos could also elect to pick Donta Hightower, which would round out a great group of linebackers, or they could choose to work on their aging defensive backfield.
With the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select...
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Does this one even require an explanation?
Remember when, in the beginning of the season, everyone was saying that the stable of quarterbacks in Cleveland (Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace and Colt McCoy) was the worst in the NFL?
Who's thinking that now?
Neither Derek Anderson nor Max Hall will be a franchise quarterback. Ever. So it's time for Arizona to pick up someone who could restart their passing game before guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston start getting fed up.
With the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select...
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Detroit Lions have done a great job of building up young talent on their team, and they have good leaders posted at almost every section of the field. Adding Amukamara would be a huge boost to their defensive backfield, and could be the final piece they need to totally revitalize their defense.
I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the Lions were to chase a defensive end. Kyle Vanden Bosch is aging, and consequently won't be long for Detroit. However, I think he has enough gas in the tank where the Lions can put off that need to a later round or the 2012 draft.
With the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select...
Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Despite the fact that Robert Quinn will have not played football for over a year, there is no doubt that he is a physical freak, and a player that can really help Cincinnati where they need it most. The tremendous upside of drafting Quinn will likely be too much for the Bengals to pass up.
With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select...
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Oh yes, people, that's right: Patrick Peterson.
For those of you still unconvinced, you better start believing that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be the quarterback next year for the Buffalo Bills, and perhaps even further than that. He has really started to prove that he is capable of everything a team wants in a starting quarterback.
What the Bills really need is a defensive playmaker, and that would be Peterson.
I remember the first time I watched tape of this kid, and I knew from that point that he was something special.
Peterson is a freak athlete, a fantastic cover guy, he's got hands like fly paper and he can do pretty much everything a defensive coordinator would ask him to do.
I will say that there is still a slight chance that they go after a quarterback, but think about it. Does that really make the most sense?
With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select...
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Before I go any further, I do have to say one thing. I believe that Andrew Luck will stay at Stanford for another year. It is more than likely that he wants to finish his degree and win a PAC-10 championship, and that may outweigh the money he may or may not lose should a rookie wage scale be a part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
I know that the Carolina Panthers drafted Jimmy Clausen last year, but they're in DEFCON 1 here. If they don't fix their offense by next season, they may spontaneously combust. Or leave Carolina. Either way.
In all seriousness, though, this doesn't mean that the Panthers are throwing in the towel on Clausen. Well, perhaps a little. But, in any case, it's really about options. Andrew Luck is a guaranteed pick. Unless he gets seriously hurt, it really is hard to imagine him not succeeding. However, should he not succeed, they still have Clausen as an option.
Honestly, though, no team could benefit from this guy more than the Carolina Panthers.
The draft is fun, so let's talk about it. Hit the comments section below.
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