Andrew Luck has decided to spurn millions of dollars to return to Stanford for his junior season. While it remains to be seen who his coach is, the NFL draft will be shaken up now that the sure-fire top pick won’t be in the draft.
How does this news change the draft?
1. Carolina Panthers – DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson
With the news that Luck is headed back to Stanford, the Panthers take the best available player here. Bowers is one of the best pass rushers in college football and he would have an immediate impact in Carolina.
2. Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Champ Bailey is a free agent and he will likely not be back in Denver. Peterson is a corner in the body of a safety. He will also be a great return man in the pros.
3. Buffalo Bills – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
A.J. Green is probably the most skilled receiver in college football. If he is added to the Bills, he would provide a much-needed playmaker to the Bills offense and would help give Ryan Fitzpatrick a go-to guy on offense.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama
The Bengals need to add talent wherever they can find it. Dareus is a rare talent. He has the size and strength to play inside, but the pass rushing skills to play end.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
The Cardinals need a quarterback more than any team needs anything else. Mallett would be a huge arm that could be able to deliver the ball to the talented receivers in Arizona. He will be the first quarterback taken.
6. Cleveland Browns – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The Browns need some help on defense and Fairley is one of the best defensive prospects in this draft. He will start from day one and be a great addition to any team.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
With no quarterback here that the 49ers really want, they look elsewhere. Amukamara is the closest thing to a shutdown corner in this draft. While Peterson has the size and speed that make teams salivate, Amukamara has the ball skills to make him a future stud.
8. Tennessee Titans – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
With the departure of Vince Young, the Titans need a quarterback. Newton is Young with an arm, an upgrade over the former Texas quarterback.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina
The Cowboys have enough pieces to be contenders, but they can add talent by taking Quinn here. Quinn is a perfect 3-4 outside backer and will be great in Dallas.
10. Washington Redskins – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Redskins will be looking long and hard for a quarterback this offseason. Gabbert has seen his stock rise and will be picked somewhere in the top 10.
11. Houston Texans – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Houston is likely switching to the 3-4 with the hiring of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. Paea could play inside or outside in the 3-4 and would be a great run-stopping defensive lineman for the Texans.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
The Vikings need a quarterback desperately. Locker might not be as highly thought of as he was last year, but he still has talent and will be a good pro.
13. Detroit Lions – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
The Lions have been adding talent at every level. This year they look to the secondary to upgrade. Harris could end up being a steal in this draft if he progresses like I expect him to.
14. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The most glaring weakness of the Rams reared its ugly face during their loss to the Seahawks. The Rams need to get Sam Bradford a receiver and Blackmon is a star in the making. If he and Bradford can form some rapport, the Rams will be the team to beat in the NFC West.
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Dolphins struggled this year behind an aging running attack of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Ingram would be a huge get for the Dolphins, as the only running back worth a first-round pick this year.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The Jaguars almost beat the Colts for the AFC South title, but they lacked a go-to receiver on the outside. Jones would make the Jags a potent offense. Team him with Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis, and the Jags offense is suddenly scary.
17. New England Patriots – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Patriots defense is young and inexperienced, but they get the job done. Kerrigan would be a guy they could plug in to increase the productivity of the front seven. He could end up playing outside linebacker in a 3-4.
18. San Diego Chargers – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
The Chargers' biggest need is on special teams. Ayers is not a special teams player, but he would help add a star to the linebacking corps, which could trickle down to special teams. Ayers can rush the passer or fall back into coverage. He could also put his hand down in some situations.
19. New York Giants – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
The Giants always seem to find these guys that can play any position on the defensive line. This year is no different. Heyward might not have the motor of some lesser guys, but he will make plays for the Giants.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The Bucs are an up and coming team with a bunch of young playmakers on offense and defense. Miller would be a great addition to the linebackers in Tampa. He is a pass rushing specialist, and would help the Bucs make a jump in the NFC South.
21. Seattle Seahawks – Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami (FL)
When Pete Carroll was on top of college football, the thing that made his teams so good was a solid front four on defense. Bailey is a guy that could play either tackle or end on the defensive line and he would help upgrade an area of need for Seattle.
22. Kansas City Chiefs – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The only receiver that the Chiefs have worth anything is Dwayne Bowe, but he can’t do it alone. Floyd is a fantastic possession receiver that would be another weapon for Matt Cassel to rely on.
23. Indianapolis Colts – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts have had a problem with people getting to Peyton Manning and opening running lanes for their stable of running backs. Solder is a skilled big body that would start from day one in Indianapolis.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
The Eagles' offensive line has let Michael Vick down this year. The constant pressure has forced Vick into bad decisions. Pouncey would be an upgrade at guard and help in both the running game and pass protection. He could also play center if needed.
25. Green Bay Packers – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Carimi won the Outland Trophy this year, which is awarded to the top lineman in college football. He will be able to protect Rodgers’ blindside and be able to help the Packers' running game, which struggled for much of the year.
26. Chicago Bears – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
The Bears are at their best when Jay Cutler is not facing a lot of pressure. Castonzo would help in that area at either left or right tackle.
27. New York Jets – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
With both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes headed for free agency, the Jets need to add a receiver in case they lose someone. Baldwin is a huge receiver that would help the passing game, and provide a target for Sanchez that could make big plays.
28. Baltimore Ravens – Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Ravens' Ed Reed is on the decline. Moore has modeled his game after Reed and he would be able to sit and learn from the future Hall of Famer.
29. New Orleans Saints – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Saints have very few holes on offense, but on defense they need some help. Jordan gets to the passer constantly and would be a nice addition to the Saints' front four.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The only thing preventing the Steelers from being a force in the AFC is the fact that their offensive line is terrible. They need someone to protect the quarterback because if they had anyone other than Ben Roethlisberger, they would be without a healthy quarterback. Sherrod would be a help, but they need more than just him.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
The Falcons have been the class of the NFC this year. However, they struggle at times on the defensive side of the ball. Nevis could be a great tackle and would help add a weapon on the defensive line.
32. New England Patriots – Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
The Patriots get to address two needs in the first round. They need a big receiver, but could really use another cornerback to help with a below average pass defense.