With the NFL Season entering crunch time, the NFL Draft is within site. The top ten is starting to take form, and the speculation and debate will soon follow. Will Andrew Luck come off of the board first? How high can Patrick Peterson go? And who will be the second quarterback taken, Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton, or Jake Locker?
Here are my top ten picks in the NFL Draft, stay tuned for a full mock draft to come within the next few days.
1. Carolina Panthers — A.J. Green, WR Georgia — The Panthers are a total mess. I had high hopes for this team coming into the season, but it appears as though they may go the remainder of the season without another victory. Most will be ready to write off Jimmy Clausen after this season, but let’s keep his 2010 performance in perspective.
Clausen has been far from impressive this season, but his supporting cast is nothing to write home about. The offensive line has been terrible without the service of Jeff Otah, while the receivers are a mediocre bunch. The Panthers need to surround Clausen with some talent before selling him down the river. A.J. Green is arguably the most talented player in the draft.
2. Detroit Lions — Patrick Peterson, CB LSU — Patrick Peterson is considered by the majority of scouts to be a once in a generation cornerback prospect. I am still weary of his LSU pedigree, given the amount of busts that school has produced in recent memory, but it is tough to ignore this kid’s talent.
The Lions desperately need help in the secondary, and while this may seem high for a cornerback, he is the most talented player on the board, and that has been Detroit’s draft strategy recently.
3. Cincinnati Bengals — Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson — The Bengals desperately need a pass rusher, as they are last in the league with just 12 sacks.
Bowers was a bit of an under achiever, before bursting onto the scene and becoming a dominant player for Clemson this season. Sounds like a Bengals draft pick to me.
4. Buffalo Bills — Andrew Luck, QB Stanford — The Buffalo Bills are starting to play respectable football, which is unfortunate because they are risking losing out on a potential franchise quarterback. Some are starting to become enamored with the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick and are ready to anoint him the franchise quarterback in Buffalo. I personally do not see how anyone could think the weak armed Fitzpatrick provides a better future for this franchise than Andrew Luck.
5. Arizona Cardinals — Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas — Anyone who has watched Derek Anderson play this season knows that the Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback.
I am not convinced that Ryan Mallett is worthy of this selection, but his stock has begun to soar to the point where he will be taken within the first 15 picks. I would say this is Mallett’s ceiling at this point in the process.
6. Denver Broncos — Nick Fairley, DE Auburn — The Broncos need upgrades all over their defense. The most glaring hole is on the defensive line, as Denver ranks 30th in rushing yards allowed per game.
Enter Nick Fairley, a dominant defensive lineman who fits any scheme. Fairley has been a force for the Auburn Tigers, and is a big part of why they will be playing for the national title.
7. Dallas Cowboys – Marcell Dareus, DE Alabama — The Cowboys need a some help on their defensive line, as they rank in the middle of the league in sacks and rushing defense. They have been getting scored on a ton as well.
Marcell Dareus is a great fit for this Cowboy defense.
8. San Francisco 49ers — Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska — The 49ers are underachieving once again. This could lead to the firing of Mike Singletary, if things do not turn around.
New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks, but Prince Amukamara will not slip past San Fran. The 49ers secondary is in need of multiple upgrades, and Prince is not far behind Patrick Peterson as the best corner in this class.
Need meets value for the 49ers, as they get the best player available at a premier position they desperately need.
9. Minnesota Vikings — Cam Newton, QB Auburn — The Vikings have a new regime in place, and that means a new quarterback will soon follow.
Cam Newton is being hyped like crazy right now, and with good reason. He is dominating in the SEC, and showing off his great athleticism and arm strength.
I really do not think Newton is ready to play in this league. He needs to learn how to read defenses and go through progressions before being an elite signal caller.
That being said, some team in desperate need of a quarterback will reach for Newton hoping for the next Michael Vick. The Vikings fit the mold.
10. Cleveland Browns — Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina — Robert Quinn has fallen in many mock drafts due to his suspension earlier this season. Nobody is questioning this guys talent. He would be a great fit for a Cleveland defense that could sue an upgrade at outside linebacker. Quinn excels in pass rushing, and would help take this defense to another level.