As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, the teams with the top five picks must set their sights on the players that they would like to draft with their top five pick.
The teams with the top five picks are arguably under the most pressure to find a player who can be an immediate solution to one of their needs. These teams must find a player who can step in and be a playmaker, or just do a solid job week after week. Some of these teams will go after the best player available, while others will draft players to address their specific needs.
Here is a mock of the top five picks in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The Carolina Panthers finished the 2010 season with a 2-14 record and a plethora of needs.
One of their biggest needs comes on the defensive line.
The Panthers get good play from their defensive ends, but they need help on the inside at defensive tackle. DT Nick Fairley of Auburn would fit their needs perfectly.
Fairley would provide the internal penetration the Panthers need in run defense. He would require attention on the middle of the defensive line, which would free up the defensive ends for rushing the quarterback.
Drafting Fairley would make perfect sense, and it would be a major boost to the Panthers' defense.
With star corner Champ Bailey not likely to return, the Denver Broncos will have a need at cornerback.
Patrick Peterson is the man for the job.
Peterson is one of the best talents in the draft, and he has all the essentials of a excellent cornerback with good size (6-foot-1, 220 lbs.), good speed and good hands. His combination of these fundamentals, along with his natural instincts, make him a dangerous player on the field.
Peterson would address a glaring need for the Broncos, especially if Bailey does not return.
The Buffalo Bills have several needs, and the largest of their needs is on defense.
The Bills' defense was far too vulnerable last season, especially in run defense where they allowed 4.8 yards per carry to opposing running backs. That average was best for the worst in the NFL. They also had the fourth fewest number of sacks, with just 27 during the 2010 season.
It is evident the Bills need help on the defensive line, and the second best defensive lineman in the draft is a good fit.
Da'Quan Bowers led the NCAA with 15.5 sacks last season. His dominant presence will be just what the Bills need to continue building toward a strong defense.
With Terrell Owens likely on his way out of Cincinnati and Chad Ochocinco/Johnson possibly on his way as well, the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves with a huge need for a wide receiver.
They can not find anyone better than A.J. Green.
Green has fantastic size (6-foot-4 and 207 lbs.), blazing speed and great hands. This lethal combination of skills makes him the best wide receiver to come out of the draft since Calvin Johnson went second overall in 2007.
Green is a dangerous receiver, and he would be an excellent playmaker for the Bengals.
The Cardinals may be afraid to draft a quarterback after the Matt Leinart ordeal, but Blaine Gabbert has the skills to convince Arizona he is worth the pick. After the discouraging play the Cardinals received from their quarterbacks this past season, they will be desperate for a fresh face.
Gabbert had a good season for Missouri in 2010, throwing for more than 3,000 yards with 16 touchdowns. Not only can he make throws, but he is good on his feet, rushing for 232 yards on 112 carries.
His size (6-foot-5, 235 lbs.), arm strength and mobility make him a top pick in the draft, and Gabbert will fill the need the Cardinals have at quarterback.