Ron Rivera bolted to Carolina. What will he do with the #1 Pick?
News with the NFL as of recent has been rather depressing.
But despite the lockout, the 2011 NFL Draft will still take place.
The Panthers could do a multitude of things with the No.1 pick in the draft, and a lot of people have them taking one of the top QBs in the draft as of recent.
However, not everyone agrees.
Dareus is what most consider a safe pick.
While he may not have the potential that Gabbert and Newton both have, he doesn't have as much bust potential as them either.
Dareus could be a dominant player in a year or two, and make the entire Panther's defensive line better by drawing attention towards him and taking players away from someone like Charles Johnson.
Since Ron Rivera is defensive-minded, and there are no sure QBs in this draft, it makes this pick all the more likely.
Say what you want about Da'Quan Bowers, but I still think he is one of the best defensive lineman in the draft.
Though he did have a knee injury and was a one-year wonder, Bowers was too good this past season against ACC competition.
Bowers drew double-teams, but almost no one could stop him.
And remember, this is John Fox we're talking about.
With the defensive line being a big need for the Broncos, Fox could be looking to draft the next Julius Peppers.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills can afford to brave out yet another season.
According to the statistics at NFL.com, the Buffalo Bills were ranked 27th in the league in sacks.
That means they generated little to no pass rush, which they did.
In comes Von Miller.
Von Miller is the top pass-rushing linebacker in the draft, and the Bills could certainly use him. As an added benefit, he has also shown that he can drop back into coverage, something a linebacker has to do every once in a while.
Miller has a blend of strength, speed, and athleticism and is the pick for the Bills at No.3.
AJ Green is another possibility here, but what good would he do without a talented QB? Without the labor agreement, teams can't trade and the draft is the way to go and grab a QB.
With Carson Palmer wanting to retire rather than play for the Bengals, QB is a big need.
At this point, it was a matter of Gabbert vs. Newton and while both have bust potential I feel that Gabbert is the safer pick.
Gabbert has all the traits you would like, but he needs to learn the ropes of an NFL system.
Gabbert has the potential, and the Bengals just can't pass on him.
Patrick Peterson is the best player on the board and does not get overlooked again.
Peterson could kill two birds with one stone if the Cardinals take him, as Peterson is an added benefit in the return game.
Cam Newton is still on the board here, but Whisenhunt doesn't seem like he wants to go with a QB here.
Though Arizona could choose someone up front like Robert Quinn, Whisenhunt should decide to choose the best player on the board and pair him with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to bolster their pass defense.
If you aren't sold on AJ Green yet, then you probably haven't seen this.
Not only is Green tall at 6'4", but he is also a good route-runner, fast, and can jump out of the stadium.
Colt McCoy has showed promise, and is set to be the Browns QB of the future. But what the Browns lack is an offensive playmaker to pair with McCoy.
By pairing Green with McCoy, they could create a formidable duo for years to come and bring life back to Cleveland sports.
Amukamara is the second-best defensive back in the draft and reportedly has a number of suitors.
Amukamara helped himself with a strong showing at the combine and could become a shutdown corner in several years.
Cam Newton has been slipping down the draft boards, and falls even further as the 49ers try to upgrade their pass defense.
It also appears that Jim Harbaugh has taken a liking to Alex Smith, and could certainly see him returning to the 49ers as their starting QB.
In a pass-happy league, shutdown corners are a necessity.
Had Cam Newton not fallen this far, Nick Fairley almost certainly would have been the pick.
However he does, and it is no secret that the Titans desperately need a new QB.
It is also no secret that Bud Adams loved the skill set of Vince Young, and Cam Newton has similar skills and could be much better than what Vince Young did at Tennessee.
And to aid in his development is Chris Johnson, who can always carry a load if Newton needs time to adjust.
JJ Watt is another of the safer top picks in the draft.
Scouts questioned his athleticism as a big man, but any of those doubts were tossed away with his performance at the Combine and Wisconsin's Pro Day.
The Cowboys also need help on the defensive line, as they have several under-achievers and some free agents.
JJ Watt is a good five-technique defensive end and should take some pressure off of Demarcus Ware.
The Redskins could go defense with this pick, but their offense is in such a bad state that Rex Grossman was starting.
And to add to that, Rex Grossman wasn't the biggest problem on offense, the receivers were.
Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the draft. Heck, even some think that he is the best receiver in the draft.
The Redskins need to add a true No.1 Wide Receiver with this pick, and Julio Jones should develop into that.
By picking Julio Jones here, it also allows the Redskins to explore different options with their round two pick.
Leading up to the Combine, much of the focus was on the UNC athletes and whether they would be able to perform after some of them missed an entire year.
Quinn quieted those who thought he would be in poor shape and look a little rusty.
Unfortunately for the Texans, their No.1 need is not available, as there are no cornerbacks worth taking at this point.
So if you can't get pass coverage, why not add an edge-rusher opposite Mario Williams to put pressure on the opposing quarterback?
Tyron Smith has things that you look for in every offensive lineman.
He is strong, athletic, and has done his job in his time at USC.
With a new QB starting for the Vikings in 2011 (or whenever the NFL next occurs), the Vikings would like to get some help on the offensive line.
Not only would it benefit the QB, but it would also help Adrian Peterson.
The best offensive lineman in the draft would be a great pick for the Vikings at No.12.
The Lions are a team that were hit by injuries and underachieved.
It seems that if the Lions want Matthew Stafford as their Franchise QB then they should protect him better.
They add Nate Solder, arguably the second best lineman in the draft to help them with that task.
Solder has good size measuring in at 6'8" and 319 pounds and is good in both pass protection and run blocking.
Solder should be able to play from Day One and help keep Matthew Stafford healthy.
At this moment in time, Nick Fairley somewhat represents Albert Haynesworth.
They are both talented DTs, but both have some character concerns.
That said, Albert Haynesworth's character concerns are much, much more of a problem then Nick Fairley's.
While the Rams would have liked to take someone like Julio Jones with this pick, he isn't available and no other receivers worth taking are here.
That leads them to take a defensive lineman, where Nick Fairley has graciously fallen to them.
As if you couldn't have guessed this one.
Like many, I project the former Heisman Trophy winner to go to Miami.
Ingram is probably the only RB worth taking in the first round, and the Dolphins snap him up.
Ingram has a good blend of power and speed and barely showed any signs of slowing down after his injury last season.
With Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown both possibly gone, the Dolphins take a running back.
The top need for the Jaguars is most likely a good pass rusher.
Luckily for them, this draft is filled with them.
The Jaguars top sack leader had 5 sacks. It's safe to say they need to do much better than that in 2011.
Aldon Smith was a top pass rusher at Missouri, and his game could translate to the NFL if he can add some weight with no side effects.
Aldon Smith is a bit of a raw player, but his athleticism should be able to make him a good player in years to come.
Cameron Jordan is the son of former NFL Player Steve Jordan.
Whatever he did to help his son has certainly paid off.
Jordan does not take plays off and is one of the harder workers in this year's draft. It is evident that hejo works hard as he has continued to improve in each of the years he played at Cal.
Jordan has all the things that Belichick likes to see in his players, and the Patriots could stand to use a pick on their aging defensive line.
The Chargers were well near the top of almost all the major categories, but they still managed to miss the playoffs.
Though Clayborn did not live up to the hype coming into his senior season at Iowa, Clayborn hasn't dropped his label as a first round talent.
Clayborn also faces questions about his work ethic and character, as he seemed to take plays off when it suited him.
Still, Clayborn has a huge upside and could reward them greatly, but if the questions about his work ethic turn to be true then he could also be a huge bust.
The Giants biggest weaknesses are OLB and their offensive line.
Akeem Ayers is one of the top true OLB, but I'm not sure if the Giants would want to take him this high.
Besides, it's their offensive line that needs the upgrade more than their defense as they have talented ends such as Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
Castonzo is probably the most pro ready offensive lineman. He doesn't have too high of a ceiling, but will be able to become a more than serviceable starter if he improves his footwork some.
Muhammad Wilkerson has been rising up draft boards in the past couple of months, and for good reason.
Wilkerson was a force for Temple as a DT, but many think he'd be more suited to play DE in the NFL.
This fits a perfect need, as the Buccaneers have Gerald McCoy to pair with Muhammad Wilkerson to make a formidable and young defensive line.
There is no more pressing need than defensive end for the Bucs, as they look to compete for a playoff spot in the NFC next season.
Ryan Kerrigan is one of those players who is a coaches dream.
Not only does he have loads of talent, but he also has a relentless motor.
Questions about his size project him to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, which is what Kansas City runs.
Though Kansas City already has a star linebacker in Tamba Hali, the other OLB spot is Kerrigan's to take.
The main priority for the Colt's is protecting one of the best QBs of all time.
While pass protection isn't his strongest trait, the mammoth lineman from Wisconsin still does an good job of it.
His run blocking ability could also help Joseph Addai in the run game, and make the Indianapolis offense more potent.
This was a toss-up between cornerback and offensive lineman, but the truth is Jimmy Smith is just too talented to pass up here.
Jimmy Smith could have gone earlier, but his stock is slipping due to character concerns. And as we know, the Eagles don't always put character concerns first.
Smith doesn't have gaudy stats for a corner, but that's because he rarely allows a completion.
He is a good cover corner who happens to fall to the Eagles due to character concerns.
As evidenced by Marshawn Lynch Beast Mode, the Saints really need to improve their front seven.
Liuget is another person who's stock has been rising as of late, as he had a strong showing at both his combine and Illinois' Pro Day.
Liuget specializes as a run stuffer, and played DT in college but might be able to switch to DE if needed.
Liuget could have an immediate impact on a Saints team that hopes to avoid another early playoff exit.
Matt Hasselbeck wants to return to the Seahawks, and will probably get the starting job.
That would create an ideal situation for both the Seahawks and Jake Locker.
Jake Locker has potential, but needs to sit down and improve some before leading a team. Seattle is also in Washington, so he doesn't have to travel far.
Hasselbeck is old, and is nearing the end of his career.
Though Charlie Whitehurst got a nice contract, I don't believe for one second that he is the quarterback to come after Hasselbeck is gone.
Again, we have a team with multiple needs.
The Baltimore Ravens are known for their defense, but surprisingly lacked good pass defense even with Ed Reed. Brandon Harris is the top cornerback available at this point.
The other need is receiver, which is what they go for here.
The Ravens take former Terrapin Torrey Smith, who could become a returner and an explosive receiver.
Smith is a quick receiver with good hands who helps fill a need the Ravens thought they filled when they acquired Anquan Boldin.
The Falcons are another team from the NFC South that needs a defensive end. See a trend?
Normally I would have Justin Houston as an OLB, but he bulked up and seems pretty committed to playing the end position so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Houston is a battle tested player as he competed in the SEC for a good three years.
Houston is a good pass rusher and could stand to work more on his run stuffing. If no one has taken him this far in the draft, the Falcons will easily oblige to pick him up.
Mike Pouncey is the most talented lineman left, and while it would be nice for him to reunite with his brother in Pittsburgh, it just won't happen.
Pouncey wasn't his best when at center, but showed that he has versatility on the line.
The help provided by Pouncey would be well appreciated in New England, as their offensive line isn't getting any younger.
Jay Cutler prays for this pick to be an offensive lineman, and his prayer is answered.
The Bears take the all-around good lineman that Derek Sherrod is. Sherrod isn't spectacular in any one area, but he does everything well.
Though some may not like it, Jay Cutler will be the Bears QB for a while, and you might as well protect him.
The offensive line is the biggest need for the Bears, and they snatch up possibly the last remaining lineman worth going in the first round.
The Jets are in need of someone who can truly dominate the opposing offensive line.
That man is Phil Taylor.
Phil Taylor controlled the middle during his time at Baylor, and at approximately 350 pounds is a mammoth of a nose tackle.
Taylor moves surprisingly well for a man of his size and could come in and control the middle right away for the Jets.
Many people forget that the Steelers need to upgrade their secondary.
Though the Steelers didn't rank that bad in pass defense, they have the luxury of taking a possible star corner without any available lineman worth taking here.
This need is overshadowed by the offensive line which was the talk of the nation leading up to the Super Bowl.
Brandon Harris was a beast of a corner for Miami and could be coached up to be even better.
Plus, it looks like the Steelers are thinking of taking Harris.
I know people say it a lot, but the Packers don't have a single area where they are especially weak.
That doesn't mean they couldn't use some upgrades, and they could be looking to upgrade just about any position on the field (except for QB of course).
I was tempted to put Leonard Hankerson of Miami to add a tall, fast wide receiver to the Packers, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
Ayers's stock has been falling due to questions about speed (he ran a 4.9 on the 40 yard dash) but appears to be faster in film than he was on the dash.
Another possible pick would be Brooks Reed, who if picked would be yet another Packer linebacker with long blonde hair.