1.Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Was absolutely dominant in the National Championship game, impacted the play every time he was on the field.
The Panthers have had success drafting defensive players high (Julius Peppers was a second overall pick for them in 2002) and having a quality defensive lineman, especially one not named Albert Haynesworth, has proved crucial for success.
Three out of four All-Pro defensive lineman have played for playoff teams, and the odd man out, Ndamukong Suh played for Detroit so it’s not like it was his fault.
2. Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Teams love replacing old expensive veterans with young expensive rookies and the Broncos would be dumb not too. Knowing that for the next 10 years there won’t be a single No. 1 receiver that burns your team? Yeah, that’s worth a second overall pick.
3. Bills: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
This is a must take situation.
If we learned anything from the Giants in 2007, it’s that a good pass rush can make all the difference in big games.
If Buffalo takes Bowers, then they might be lucky enough to play in a couple.
4. Bengals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Carson Palmer wants out.
TO and Ochocinco want out.
Cincy needs to hit the reset button, and if Gabbert is too terrible, than they can just take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick next year, I get the feeling it will be within reach.
5. Cardinals: Jake Locker, QB, Washington/Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Arizona needs a quarterback.
Larry Fitzgerald is about one more bad pass away from the first on field Hari Kari.
But with Luck choosing to be a broke college student in California rather than a millionaire in North Carolina, the drop off between Gabbert and the rest of the pack is steep.
Neither Locker nor Newton are within sniffing distance of being a “sure thing”. So, following a strong Senior Bowl/Combine performance from Jake Locker, this is his draft ceiling.
Now having said that.
Despite the vast potential that Locker displays, and the fact that teams love gambling on quarterback “projects” more than Antonio Cromartie loves unprotected sex, Arizona SHOULD see the red flags here.
The Senior Bowl is tailor designed for raw quarterbacks like Locker to prove they can compete against elite opposition and the general consensus from all of those who watched him practice is that he’s been doing a whole lot of nothing. For every pass he squeezed through tight coverage, there were plenty that he sailed over receiver’s heads, often to the hands of defenders.
I get the feeling he won’t be taking his talents to Phoenix.
The Cardinals need a solid cog in the machine, Prince is that cog.
6. Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
If they want Colt McCoy to have an honest chance at making it, then they need to get an honest receiver for him.
A top five talent who can’t really do much to help any of the above teams, short of turning himself into a Teen Wolf, fits perfectly with the Browns at No. 6.
He can make up the pay difference by selling his 2010 Liberty Bowl Jersey because what are the odds he gets caught twice?
7. 49ers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
San Francisco has the makings of a frightening defense.
Pittsburgh led the league this season in sacks and Green Bay was tied for second.
Both of those teams will be playing in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Do I have to keep saying it? Defensive lineman are important!
8. Titans: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
His stock has soared in the past year by him staying for his senior season.
Also, has the coolest name so far, and one of the few Top 10 picks not suspended part of last season.
9. Cowboys: Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN WIN FOOTBALL GAMES.
Plus, in the NFL he doesn’t have to lie about getting paid. So, he can’t get held out of games for that anymore.
10. Redskins: Jake Locker take 2/Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Jake Locker is easily the luckiest person in the draft. He is a second round talent, but due to a couple of teams with a large need at quarterback he has multiple chances to get drafted high. He is guaranteed a first round contract by simply not chopping off his arm between now and draft day.
If Locker continues his mediocre Senior Bowl show out, I predict he will go to Washington here. Dan Snyder is never hesitant to take big chances and Mike Shanahan is thirsty for a competent quarterback.
But if more red flags pop up, particularly regarding his inaccuracy continue to get raised during the Senior Bowl practices.And Cam Newton follows that up by having a killer combine workout and saying all the right things to reporter’s, it is possible Cam could leap frog him.
11. Texans: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Blake Griffin has showed us that sometimes being freaky athletic is all that matters. That’s what Aldon Smith brings to the table.
12. Vikings: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Wide receiver problems plagued them all year. If they aren’t sure they can keep a healthy unit out on the field, it might be time to get deeper.
13. Lions: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
If Detroit is serious about putting a winning team on the field then they need to continue revamping their defense. A solid linebacker like Akeem is not a bad start.
Plus the last athlete drafted in an American sport named Akeem turned into a pretty solid basketball player who later went by Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon.
I count that as potential.
14. Rams: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
A Top 10 talent who got pushed back a little bit due to the sheer volume of quality defensive lineman in this year’s draft.
So far it’s been nothing but positive news about Kerrigan coming out of the Senior Bowl. He weighed in at a surprisingly light 255 pounds, but is said to possess the strength of a much larger man.
This further increases his appeal to NFL teams by giving them the option of either playing him at defensive end or throwing him in at outside linebacker for a 3-4 formation. He has excellent closing speed, and if he continues to impress scouts then Robert Quinn’s spot isn’t safe.
15. Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Sometimes a flashy pick beats a stable pick. If he can run against SEC defenses every week; he can run in the NFL.
16. Jaguars: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
In a realistic world, I don’t see Cam Newton passing Jake Locker for the spot at Washington and have him ending up here.
Last year, the Jags ended up with a draft pick too high to draft golden boy Tim Tebow with. He might have proven this year that they made a mistake. Fans in Jacksonville need to be rejuvenated. It’s been the same names for too long.
Cam can do at least 75 percent of what Garrard can do, but has the ability to do 150 percent of what Garrard can do. Cam Newton is a winner, and winners only do one thing. Plus he’s tall
17. Patriots: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
New England needs to upgrade from a pop warner front seven to a championship contending front seven. Throw a big body like Paea in there and its one helluva start. He’s been receiving rave reviews coming out of Senior Bowl practices and his draft stock is upward bound.
18. Chargers: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Best offensive lineman in the draft. Simply have to take him if he’s still on the board at 18. It’s been reported that his arms are a ridiculous 35 inches long.
If he manages to keep doing what he’s been doing, than it will be impossible to ignore him, and it is very likely he will jump up to Miami’s spot at 15, before the Senior Bowl is even played.
19. Giants: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Like Nate Solder, except not as good
20. Buccaneers: Justin Houston, OLB, UGA
A bit of a reach for the Buccaneers, seeing as he could still be available in the second round, but if they legitimately want help at the linebacker position, this is the best they can do.
Also capable of playing defensive end.
21. Chiefs: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Because every quarterback deserves to spend a little less time on the turf.
Scouts are drooling over his strength and footwork.
22. Colts: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
The Colts take care of Peyton Manning the way Michael Vick takes care of his dogs, except the exact opposite.
23. Eagles: Mike Pouncy, G/C, UF
The fact that he refuses to play in the Senior Bowl results in him sliding to here.
He's already hurt himself enough by staying for his senior season, and this skid should continue unless he steps up and does something to change it.
24. Saints: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
A disappointing senior campaign, followed by his withdrawal from the Senior Bowl will do nothing to help him in the eyes of NFL scouts.
But the Saints also know the Seahawks could never have beaten them if they were knocking Matt Hasselback down every play
25. Seahawks: Jake Locker take 3/Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
If Jake Locker manages to absolutely destroy his value over the course of Senior Week/Combine, then this is the worst it gets for him. Late first round to Seattle. However, this is the unlikeliest of scenarios.
On the other hand, Colin Kaepernick has been blowing scouts away. Nobody made a better first impression and if he can keep this up it,he should be able to sneak him into the first round.
When quarterbacks increase their value, it’s almost always because of one thing—scouts were blown away by their amazing arm strength. Having established that, Kaepernick has phenomenal arm strength.
26. Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, UM
There are worse ways to use a draft pick than on a player that could be a potentially effective nickel back.
27. Falcons: Cameron Haywood, DE, OSU
When a quarterback crucifies your team in a playoff game, it might be time to start generating pressure from the outside—in case you forgot already.
28. Patriots: Traded to San Diego for Vincent Jackson WR, Chargers take Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
I most definitely expect the Patriots to try and trade a first round pick for a receiver this draft.
They stood pat this year because they failed to realize early enough how close they were to a Super Bowl.
29. Bears: Leonard Hankerson, WR, UM
The Bears could use an upgrade at the wide receiver position and Hankerson could increase to first round value with the show he’s been putting on at Senior Bowl practices. Hasn’t dropped a pass yet.
30. Jets: Ryan Williams, RB, VT
LT is getting old and Mark Sanchez is not giving anybody the impression he can carry this team by himself. An increased running game is crucial for when Mark Sanchez isn’t quite feeling it.
31/32. Packers/Pitt: Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt and Torrey Smith WR, Maryland
Both teams have a need at receiver and not many other holes.