The 2011 NFL draft is almost here and every year something stunning seems to happen. It could be a great move, a major guffaw or an amazing trade, but inevitably something happens on draft day that makes headlines.
This year is already different with the lockout looming over the festivities. Here is a list of 50 bold predictions that will happen with draft day quickly approaching.
The Carolina Panthers are focused on defense and now have a defensive head coach in Ron Rivera. That is why it comes as no surprise that they use this pick on defense. Von Miller has been impressive leading up to the draft and would be a good fit on a team that is looking to improve in more than one area.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan is in charge of the discussions to try and iron out an agreement, and he is not messing around.
He has ordered talks and given both sides homework over the weekend that will aid in coming to an agreement. It could be close, but this could be settled by the time the draft starts.
Alabama’s Mark Ingram is the best running back in the NFL draft. He has been linked to plenty of teams, but lately medical concerns have teams thinking again. The life of the running back seems to be getting shorter and shorter and with that in mind, Ingram will fall to the second round.
If the lockout is not settled, the rookies want to show that they are not scabs in the draft process. They will attend the draft because they don’t want to miss out on their moment, but in a show of loyalty to the players union, they will refuse to shake hands with the NFL commissioner.
The New England Patriots are known for trading down in the draft and stockpiling picks for the future. Not this year.
The Patriots will combine their first two picks and trade up in this year’s draft. The sudden strategic change is because the Patriots do not have as much room on their roster with the successful draft in 2010, and could obtain an elite player.
This may not come as a shock because it is obvious that the Vikings will be looking for a veteran to trade for once the lockout is lifted.
Assuming that they can trade for a veteran or sign a free agent, the Vikings pass on a quarterback and instead draft to fill other needs on the team.
Da'Quan Bowers was once a No. 1 overall pick, but medical concerns dropped him deep into the first round of the draft. Many of the latest mock drafts had him dropping all the way to Tampa Bay at No. 20.
After a recent clean bill of health, teams will reconsider Bowers and he will again jump into the top 10 of the draft.
With Da’Quan Bowers jumping up in the draft, someone has to drop and that someone is Nick Fairley. The defensive juggernaut out of Auburn will drop due to character issues and only one impressive year. Fairley will still be a first-round pick, but he will stumble out of the top 10.
Thanks to a great combine and a talented public relations department, Julio Jones' stock is rising.
Several NFL analysts have already placed him above A.J. Green and it will show on draft day, when Jones gets the call before Green.
A year ago Jake Locker could have been the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Locker decided to stay for another year and it was a disaster.
His stock quickly dropped, but team meetings and workouts have got the NFL buzzing about him once again. That buzz will be enough to propel Locker into the first round of the draft.
Everyone was waiting for it, and it will happen on draft day. With all of the talk about quarterbacks in the draft, Brett Favre is ready to take some of that spotlight.
Since Jenn Sterger has had interviews about the incident with Favre, all of the distractions will be behind him and the old cowboy will be ready for one more ride...but will anyone want him? Stay tuned.
With the lockout looming teams are warned that trading for picks beyond this year will be at their own risk. The NFL teams will take this to heart and there will not be one trade in this year’s draft that will involve future picks.
The Redskins will mortgage their future for their present and trade up to get Cam Newton. John Elway and Mike Shanahan are very familiar with one another so it is not far-fetched to believe the Broncos could trade the No. 2 pick overall.
The price will be heavy as Washington will give up both picks this year and the No. 1 next year, but Newton will be a Redskin.
Ryan Mallett is a very tall quarterback that ran an offense in school that is very similar to the one that Jim Harbaugh will run in San Francisco. The 49ers make a move and get Mallett in the draft.
With a handful of teams trying to get a quarterback in this draft, trades will be plentiful. If the lockout is lifted before the draft, the trades will increase even more.
Player trades are not allowed unless the lockout is lifted so this prediction, along with the others, is based on the labor dispute ending.
That said, Donovan McNabb will be traded to Cincinnati. The Bengals will build on the future by drafting a quarterback in this year’s draft but will be looking for a veteran to help them win now. This happens by acquiring McNabb.
Mike Brown does not want to trade Carson Palmer, but will quickly realize that people are willing to pay for Palmer. The team that will pay the most is the Seattle Seahawks.
Pete Carroll is well aware of what Palmer can do and he should fit right in with Seattle.
The Titans and Hasselbeck are very familiar with one another and this signing makes sense. The Titans need a veteran signal-caller that can groom any quarterback that they draft this year. Since the Seahawks are heading in a new direction they won’t fight for Hasselbeck.
The latest speculation insists that the Minnesota Vikings are after Donovan McNabb, but Kevin Kolb just makes more sense. The Vikings will acquire Kolb and automatically become the front-runners in the NFC. The trade will come at a high price, but it will be worth it.
Despite the recent troubles of wide receiver Kenny Britt, the Titans pass on a wide receiver in the draft. The Titans offense is powered by the running game of Chris Johnson and by drafting defense over wide receiver, the Titans will be a better team.
The flamboyant wideout wants one last shot in the NFL and the Miami Dolphins are interested. T.O. will give the Dolphins a deadly set of wideouts that will be hard to deal with in the AFC East. T.O. is filming season three of his reality show in South Beach, making this an easy signing.
The Dolphins are not done with their free-agent frenzy as they are the next team to take a chance on Brett Favre.
Favre will be brought in to mentor younger quarterbacks and try to bring the Dolphins to the Super Bowl. Since the Dolphins will sign T.O. the circus atmosphere will be at a fever pitch in South Beach.
Mike Pouncey is a highly touted offensive lineman out of Florida, but his draft stock will drop like a rock. He is not as talented as his brother and after leaking information on Twitter, teams will stay away from him.
The Cleveland Browns are a team on the rise and they need a few more weapons on offense. With a solid running game and brand new quarterback, Julio Jones makes sense for this team. Forget defense, the Browns make Jones the No. 6 overall pick.
In hindsight, the best quarterback selected in the 2011 draft will be Christian Ponder. Ponder has all of the tools that an NFL-caliber QB needs and he is willing to learn. Ponder will go in the second round, but will play better than all of the other QBs taken before him.
The Titans may have to make some trades to get him so they will not miss out, but Ponder will be a Titan. Ponder will be given time to succeed in the Titans system and he will not disappoint.
The Buffalo Bills will have dibs on the talented wide receiver out of Georgia. Green will fit fine in Buffalo and be a future face of this fantastic franchise.
The QB seems to be the most sought-after position in this year’s draft. Because of this, teams will trade up to get the guy that they want. Once this happens it will open up a floodgate of activity. The Bengals will try and wait out the frenzy and will be without a rookie QB when the draft is complete.
The Arizona Cardinals have a decent rookie quarterback in John Skelton, but they are still willing to take a chance on Gabbert. Ken Whisenhunt has downplayed the top QBs in this draft, but that is a smoke screen that will allow them to take Gabbert with this pick.
This move is ideal for the Broncos as they need some beef up front, as they switch to a 4-3 defense. This will be another part of the blockbuster deal that gives the Redskins the No. 2 pick overall and Cam Newton.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for offensive line help and this scenario just fits. Mike Pouncey would be reunited with his brother, Maurkice Pouncey, and would be a mainstay on the Steelers offensive line for years to come.
The little RB that could out of Eastern Washington will be a great draft pick for some NFL team. Jones needs to be polished, like most of the players in the draft, but he has the ability to perform like Ray Rice in the future. The New York Giants and New England Patriots will have an eye on him.
The NFL draft will receive the best TV ratings since becoming a three-day televised event. The new format is a success and will pay off with huge ratings.
This could easily be circled as one of the boldest predictions in this list. Russell was ousted by his own life coach and seems to be going nowhere quick. This will be the smack in the head that Russell needed and he will focus on football. There will be a team out there that will take a chance on him as a third-string QB.
This may seem outlandish, but in 2003 that is exactly what happened to the Minnesota Vikings. They were unable to make a trade within the deadline and had to pass on their pick. With all of the trades that could happen this year, it is possible.
Robert Quinn is a highly touted player out of North Carolina, but will drop like a rock on draft day. Quinn sat out all of 2010, and will be a high risk for a team that could consider drafting him early in the first round.
The Lions will be one of the few teams that are not overly active in the first round with trades, but it will pay off. The Lions nab Prince Amukamara with No. 13 in the draft and get one of the best players in the draft.
In an interview for an ESPN show featuring the day he was drafted, Tom Brady was brought to tears recalling the fateful day. Captured by a wave of emotion, Brady cries as the Patriots trade up in this year’s draft.
Kyle Rudolph is the best tight end in the draft and he is turning heads as draft day approaches. The Atlanta Falcons draft him as a future backup for Tony Gonzalez.
Tampa Bay is going to draft a defensive end and the Bucs will be pleased to see that Cameron Jordan will be left on the board this late in the first round. They scoop him up and add a game-changer to the front line of their defense.
The Dolphins will need a quarterback for the future and Tyrod Taylor had a good workout with the Dolphins. The Dolphins make him a late-round pick and hope that he will grow into a great quarterback.
The draft day is weeks away, but the buzz is getting louder. It will be interesting to see how the draft turns out and how many of the 50 bold predictions come true.