Now that the 2010/2011 NFL season has concluded, the draft order for the first 20 picks in the upcoming 2011 draft have been decided.
The Panthers, who finished with a 2-14 record, will get the first pick in the draft. They must decide whether to spend that pick on quarterback prospect Andrew Luck or wait to develop last season's second round draft choice, Jimmy Clausen.
The Broncos, Bills and Bengals all finished with a 4-12 record and will be anxiously awaiting the Panthers' choice to figure out which direction they will be going in.
The Cardinals and Browns were the only two teams to finish with a 5-11 record. The tiebreaker for draft position is strength of schedule, which is determined by compiling opponents' winning percentage for this past season.
Now the fierce debate can begin: Who will the teams ahead of the Browns take and who will be left when the Browns draft in the sixth position?
And finally, who should the Browns select with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft?
Much will depend on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's decision to go pro or stay in school. A big factor in that decision will be whether his coach Jim Harbaugh stays at Stanford or takes another job.
It appears that Harbaugh is leaving, so I believe that Luck will turn pro as well.
Here's my take on what I feel will probably happen:
1. Carolina Panthers trade picks with the Arizona Cardinals, who select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck
The Panthers didn't get a very good look at rookie Jimmy Clausen this year. The offense was anemic with and without him. Still, they may want to wait before pulling the plug.
Another position of great need is wide receiver, but it's very unlikely that any team would spend the No. 1 pick on a wide receiver.
I think Carolina will trade down to the Arizona Cardinals, who will select quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford.
2. Denver Broncos select Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley
Denver was 31st in the league defending the run this season; Fairley is a disruptive force on the interior line.
This is a perfect match.
3. Buffalo Bills select Clemson defensive end Da'quan Bowers
Buffalo's biggest need is probably on the offensive line, but the front seven pass rush is close behind.
With no big time offensive tackles early in this draft, Bowers is the logical choice. He led all of college football with 15.5 sacks.
4. Cincinnati Bengals select North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn
This is the most unpredictable pick of the top five. The Bengals will presumably have a new coach who will want to take them in his direction.
They probably would've hoped that Bowers would have been available. Quinn may actually be the bigger talent, but he had to sit out this season because of NCAA violations.
5. Carolina Panthers select Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green
I hope this doesn't happen, but it seems more likely than using a high draft pick on a quarterback two years in a row.
The Panthers desperately need another wide receiver on the other side of Steve Smith, who isn't getting any younger either.
This would give them plenty of offensive weapons and make it easier to develop and evaluate Jimmy Clausen next season.
6. Cleveland Browns select...?
If A.J. Green should happen to still be available, I think it's obvious the Browns should draft him.
But even if he would be available, there would still be some debate.
The Browns could draft a defensive lineman like Alabama's Marcel Dareus or Iowa's Adrian Clayborn.
They could also draft a lock-down corner like LSU's Patrick Peterson or Nebraska's Prince Amukamara for the second year in a row.
They could also trade down and draft a different wide receiver such as Alabama's Julio Jones or Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon.
Teams like the Redskins, Vikings, Dolphins, Jaguars or Seahawks may all have interest in trading up if they fall in love with a quarterback like Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett. This would also presumably give the Browns extra draft picks to work with.
If I had to choose, trading down and getting more picks is always my choice, unless the perfect player with the perfect value is available when choosing.
For me, that player would be A.J. Green.
So, let the debate begin. Let me know your thoughts below.
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