Race for the 2011 NFL Draft No. 1 Pick

Lee JohnsonSenior Analyst IDecember 14, 2010

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There are three weeks left in the NFL season. Teams are not only positioning themselves for the playoffs, but there are a handful of teams that are in a race for a position they don’t necessarily want. In the coming weeks the top spots in the 2011 NFL Draft are going to be determined. Below we have the five teams closest to the first pick in the next draft. Let’s have a look at what some of them may do with their early draft picks.


Carolina Panthers (1-12)vs. Arizona, @Pittsburgh, @Atlanta

If you shook a magic eight ball it would tell you that all signs point to the Panthers being the team in the top spot. They appeared to get a bonus pick with Jimmy Clausen last year, but things are not shaking out. Not to say that Clausen cannot be the guy there, but if Andrew Luck is available and they have a chance at him, that makes for a very attractive pick and Clausen could become trade bait.

Something that the Panthers noticed this season was just how good they had it with Julius Peppers. Another appealing option for them is Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers. The Panthers could also look at defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus.


Cincinnati Bengals (2-11)vs. Cleveland, vs. San Diego, @Baltimore

There is a chance the Bengals don’t win another game this season and Carson is a making a heck of a case for the Bengals to move on, isn’t he? The Bengals would have a tough time passing on Andrew Luck, potentially even having him sit like Palmer himself did. The Bengals would also be interested in the services of Bowers.


Denver Broncos (3-10)@Oakland, vs. Houston, vs. San Diego

How about that Tim Tebow pick? The Denver situation is going to be interesting to watch as they bring in a new coach. It is unlikely the Broncos go the QB route if Luck does come out, though we are certain to hear about how Tebow is not the new coach’s problem. Surely they do not want to be faced with that choice. What would really make Denver happy is to get their hands on cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (LSU) or Prince Amukamara (Nebraska).


Detroit Lions(3-10)@Tampa Bay, @Miami, vs. Minnesota

Of all the teams listed here we think that Detroit would be the least likely to get Lucky. Except for the injury thing, they appear to be very happy with Matthew Stafford. If Detroit somehow ended up with the first pick we could see them snagging a stud on the outside like Bowers. Imagine Bowers lining up next to Suh…wow.

We don’t think that Detroit gets the first pick, in fact they could potentially win a couple more games. We could see Detroit picking one of the two cornerbacks.


Buffalo Bills(3-10)@Miami, vs. New England, @NY Jets

Of these teams, the Bills are the one that could benefit most from a top QB. While we could see them losing the next three games, chances are the Panthers don’t win enough to give the Bills top choice. If Luck does come out we could see some maneuvering by the Bills…make that should see.

While the Bills still need help at offensive tackle, at this point they may be picking too high for the available linemen. If a lineman does not work his way up, we could see the Bills target one of those cornerbacks or look at another playmaker for when they do get a QB and grab wide receiver A.J. Green (Georgia).


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