It is officially mid April; the 2011 NFL Draft is barely a week away and misinformation is abundant. Teams are now finalizing their board after several weeks of pro days. In what has been a tumultuous few months for the league, the draft will go on as planned. Fans are excited as ever for this year's event and ratings should reach record heights.
Mock drafters have toyed around with possibilities for months. Rumors are abundant and there is certainly plenty of smoke in the air. This slideshow illustrates my take on one of many scenarios that could play out on draft weekend.
Cameron Newton - Quarterback - Auburn
It is hard to say if the decision has been made in Carolina as to who will be the first overall pick. The list of needs for the Panthers is a long one that includes several key positions such as defensive end, defensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver. The team’s Achilles heel last season, however, was the play at the quarterback position. Jimmy Clausen did not prove himself enough to deter the Panthers from taking the top quarterback on their board.
Cam Newton has the upside to be a franchise signal-caller. His college resume is small but highly decorated and his physical tools are unparalleled. He will need some time to develop, but Newton offers the franchise a true face and direction moving forward. Carolina may decide that Cam is too risky to warrant such a lofty selection and may instead target LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, or Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
Marcell Dareus - Defenisve Tackle - Alabama
There is little doubt that the Broncos will target a defensive player with their first pick at second overall. The team is in dire need of help in the front seven and starters will need to be added on the interior defensive line. With Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil penciled in as starters on the edge, drafting a defensive tackle early will be a top priority.
Marcell Dareus is a very big, stout, defensive lineman with excellent athleticism and light feet. He projects as an instant starter at defensive tackle in 4-3 schemes and could be a disruptive force in the backfield for years. The team could also look at cornerback Patrick Peterson or Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller with this pick. If available, it's hard to say if Auburn's Cam Newton would entice the new coaching regime in Denver.
Von Miller - Outside Linebacker - Texas A&M
Many would argue that a quarterback is the most pressing need in Buffalo, but filling out their 3-4 defense with a pass rushing linebacker may be the higher priority here. After striking out on Aaron Maybin in 2009, the Bills would have to be sure to draft the position again this high.
Von Miller looks to be as safe a pick as any in this draft. He excelled as a rush backer in college and is as explosive as they come. His ability to get after the quarterback would instantly upgrade Buffalo's chances to fight for a wild card spot.
The team could also go quarterback, where Missouri's Blaine Gabbert would be the pick. A 5-tech such as Wisconsin's J.J. Watt or Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers could be tempting if they choose to go with another defensive position.
A.J. Green - Wide Receiver - Georgia
It’s no secret that Marvin Lewis’ Bengals will be targeting offense early in the NFL Draft after a disappointing 2010 campaign. They’d surely take a long look at Newton were he available, but the next best offensive move would be to take a true No. 1 wide receiver such as A.J. Green. The team is in dire need of a young primary receiver to complement Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, two impact rookies from this past season.
Green is an extremely gifted and fluid athlete with excellent size, speed, and a huge catching radius. Though not a traditional west coast offense fit, he brings an elite deep threat to a team starving for big plays. Other options for Cincinnati’s fourth pick include quarterback Blaine Gabbert, cornerback Patrick Peterson, and defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
Blaine Gabbert - Quarterback - Missouri
Despite rumors of trading up to get their man, the Cardinals stay put here and land their franchise quarterback. The team looks to be in a position to fight for a division title if they are able to get steady play from the position.
While Blaine Gabbert needs time in my opinion, he would be counted on to start immediately in Arizona. He possesses the size, mobility, arm, and intelligence to become a very solid NFL starter, but mental toughness will be a question.
This is the ideal situation for the team here and Gabbert would more than likely be the pick here if he fell to them. Other options on draft day include Patrick Peterson and North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.
Da'Quan Bowers - Defensive End - Clemson
With the exit of coach Eric Mangini also comes the abandonment of the Browns' largely unsuccessful 3-4 defensive scheme. A front seven player will more than likely be Cleveland’s top priority early in the NFL Draft.
Da’Quan Bowers has been rumored to be slipping lately, but personally I do not buy it. The meniscal injuries do not appear to be serious or long-term. His injuries may scare some teams off; but when healthy, Bowers is a dominant player with size, closing speed, and three-down ability. He instantly gives Cleveland a building block along the defensive line for their new 4-3 scheme.
The team could target a different defensive end in North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.
Patrick Peterson - Cornerback - LSU
If neither Newton nor Gabbert fall to San Francisco here, expect the Niners to look defense. They have to be happy that Patrick Peterson falls all the way to seventh overall. The team has desperately lacked a playmaker in the defense backfield and it's uncertain how many good years Nate Clements has left with the 49ers.
Peterson is a rare athlete and gifted ball-hawk at cornerback. Early in his career he could be one of the leagues premier punt returners in addition to a starting corner. Though this pick would be a steal, there are some other ways San Francisco could go here. Wide receiver Julio Jones may be appealing if they want to go offense. The team may also consider adding a 5-tech such as Wisconsin's J.J. Watt and California's Cameron Jordan.
Julio Jones - Wide Receiver - Alabama
Tennessee produces the first big shocker of the opening stanza as they bypass larger needs at quarterback and defensive tackle. The Kenny Britt situation will be one to keep an eye on for Titans fans, as he will likely serve a suspension to start the 2011 season.
Julio Jones gives the team another bona fide option at wide receiver, where they lack talent and depth. While his concentration was an issue at times in college, Jones has terrific size, speed, and toughness. He projects as an instant impact player on offense or special teams and is among the most dynamic players in this class with the ball in his hands.
If they go quarterback, it would likely be Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. Cornerback is an option and they may consider Nebraksa's Prince Amukamara. At this point, most expect them to take Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
Tyron Smith - Offensive Tackle - USC
Few teams were as disappointing in the 2010 season as the Cowboys. Dallas had problems along the offensive line and in the secondary all year. According to most sources, the team's first pick will be used to address one of those areas.
Tyron Smith did not play any left tackle in college, but he projects to the blind side in the NFL. He lacks elite bulk, but is an outstanding natural athlete with light feet. His frame is far from maxed out and he appears to have elite size potential. If not on the left side, Smith would crack the Cowboys lineup at right tackle right away. Dallas may instead target cornerback Prince Amukamara or a defensive end such as J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan.
J.J. Watt - Defensive End - Wisconsin
The Redskins are yet another team that would ideally like to add a young signal-caller with their first pick. It is unlikely that Mike Shanahan will be reaching to get his guy here with so much defensive talent to be had early in this draft.
J.J. Watt was the talk of the defensive line group at the NFL Combine after showcasing surprising athleticism and feet for a 290-pound end. He burst onto the scene this past season in the Big Ten where he recorded 21.5 tackles for loss. His length and power should make him an effective defensive end in any scheme. Watt would fill an enormous void at 5-tech for the Washington defense and projects as an early contributor. Other possibilities with the tenth pick include outside linebacker Robert Quinn and Washington quarterback Jake Locker.
Prince Amukamara - Cornerback - Nebraska
It appears the Texans must address their secondary if they are looking to compete next season, as they finished dead last in pass defense in 2010. Despite having spent a first round pick on Alabama cornerback Kareem Jackson a year ago, the team could absolutely target the position high in the draft again in 2011.
Prince Amukamara is the consensus second-ranked corner in the class behind Peterson, but there is not as wide a gap as some think. Prince has some very impressive tape and is the complete package with excellent size and athletic ability. He instantly upgrades Houston's pass-defense in a division where Peyton Manning has ruled through the air for years.
Additional options for the Texans include linebacker Robert Quinn or even potentially a game-breaker such as wide receiver Julio Jones. They would also look at defensive ends Aldon Smith and Cameron Jordan.
Cameron Jordan - Defensive End - California
There is little doubt the Vikings would prefer to add a quarterback here, but new head coach Leslie Frazier may look defense if it presents a better value. With Ron Edwards' future with the team in jeopardy, Minnesota could look to draft a big, athletic end in their mold.
Cameron Jordan has good burst, power, and quickness. His versatility makes him very appealing here as he could also rotate into the 3-Tech spot. If they decided to go quarterback it could be Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett here. Were they looking for more of a pure pass rusher, Robert Quinn would be the pick.
Aldon Smith - Defensive End - Missouri
After landing a building block a year ago in Ndamukong Suh, the Lions will likely try to fill out their defense early in this draft. Starting spots will be available at cornerback, linebacker, and defensive end.
Aldon Smith would be a good pick for Detroit here. He possesses the length, power, and straight line speed to develop into a very effective pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme. It is possible they favor Robert Quinn at defensive end. Offensive line is another area of concern and Boston College left tackle Anthony Castonzo could be tempting.
Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
Corey Liuget - Defensive Tackle - Illinois
The Rams took a huge step forward last season after rookies Sam Bradford and Roger Saffold immediately established themselves as very capable young players. There are still a lot of gaps that must be filled, but St. Louis looks to be an organization with aright future. The front four figures to be addressed early on draft day.
Corey Liuget is a very athletic lineman with light feet and impressive power. He has the potential to be a very disruptive 3-tech in the Rams' 4-3 scheme. There is a chance the team goes with a cornerback here, likely Colorado's Jimmy Smith. They may also look at a defensive end such as Robert Quinn.
Jimmy Smith - Cornerback - Colorado
In this scenario, the Eagles trade up yet again to land their guy in the first round. The Dolphins will be shopping this pick because they have several holes to fill on offense, but only two picks on Thursday and Friday. Philadelphia uses this pick to add a player many consider to be this draft's most naturally talented cornerback.
Jimmy Smith has drawn comparisons to Nnamdi Asomugha due to his size, athleticism, and confidence. His technique will need some work and some teams may have doubts about his character, but Smith will command early attention on draft day due to his talent level. This appears to be a very good fit as the Eagles must add size and ability at the cornerback position. If the team chooses not to go corner in the first, they may look to address the offensive line. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is a typical Andy Reid lineman whocould fit in the first round.
Miami gets: 1st Round Pick #23, 3rd Round Pick #85, 4th Round Pick #120
Philadelphia gets: 1st Round Pick #15
Jabaal Sheard - Defensive End - Pittsburgh
At last year's draft, the Jaguars shocked fans and experts alike by going out on a limb for Tyson Alualu at tenth overall. While many analysts bashed the pick, Alualu lived up to that spot on the field as a rookie. This year, do not be surprised to see Jacksonville go out on a limb again.
Jabaal Sheard has been overlooked in the draft process, but rushes the passer with tremendous variety and a non-stop motor. He is among this class' most natural and diverse pass rushers. There have been some questions about his character after an isolated off-the-field incident, but he is very competitive and a team leader in the locker room.
It is possible the Jaguars target a different defensive end such as Robert Quinn or Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. The team desperately needs help at linebacker and cornerback, but the value does not match up here.
Robert Quinn - Outside Linebacker - North Carolina
The Richard Seymour trade landed the Patriots here in the middle of the first round. While the team appeared very ready to compete for a Super Bowl a year ago, New England has some holes to patch with multiple picks in the first two rounds. They may get lucky here, as an elite talent in Robert Quinn falls to them at seventeen.
Though he is likely to go a bit higher, Quinn could fall do to a lack of 2010 tape, inflated stats the year prior, and potentially some medical questions. Still, he possesses incredible athleticism for his size, elite explosiveness, and more than enough fluidity to rush the passer from a "stand-up" role. The team would be overjoyed to have him fall into their laps here.
Were they to go a different way with this pick, Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward fits. If they were looking at another outside linebacker, Justin Houston and Ryan Kerrigan would figure to be considered.
Anthony Castonzo - Offensive Tackle - Boston College
A slow start ultimately doomed the Chargers in 2010, as they failed to win the AFC West and make the playoffs. With three picks in the draft’s first two rounds, San Diego will be aiming to return to the playoffs next season with some new faces. Though the Chargers could go a number of ways with this pick, value seems best at offensive tackle.
Anthony Castonzo is this class’ most NFL-ready pass protector, capable of playing either the left or right side. He has great size, feet, technique, and starting experience. If San Diego chooses to go another way with their pick, it is likely that they look to the front seven on defense. Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Akeem Ayers would surely tempt the team with this pick.
Nick Fairley - Defensive Tackle - Auburn
Finally, the draft day free fall ends for National Championship star Nick Fairley. The Giants would be more than happy to welcome Fairley into their strong organization here with this pick. Surrounding him with positive influences and a winning team can only increase his chances of fulfilling his true potential.
Despite falling due to concerns about his conditioning and character, he remains one of this class’ most gifted football players. His explosiveness, quickness, and violence make him an intriguing fit in the team’s front four. New York has to feel lucky to land him here despite not having a pressing need inside.
If they choose to let Fairley slide further, the pick could instead be Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Additionally, the Giants could look to bolster the offensive line by selecting Gabe Carimi or Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod.
Justin Houston - Defensive End - Georgia
Few Buccaneers fans could have anticipated their team becoming a contender as quickly as they did a year ago. Quarterback Josh Freeman looks like a star in the making and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy could be a cornerstone on defense. It was all too evident last season that McCoy, in particular, would benefit from front four help. Tampa Bay would be wise to add an end who fits their explosive, Tampa-2 mold.
Justin Houston, though primarily a linebacker in college, appears to be one of this class’ most talented and dynamic pass rushers. His presence would give the team the edge rusher they so desperately lacked in 2010. If they choose to target a different end, Ryan Kerrigan and Akeem Ayers could be in the mix. Offensive line will be an option as well, with Gabe Carimi fitting their typical profile.
Mike Pouncey - Offensive Guard/Center - Florida
In this scenario, the Dolphins are forced to trade back up in the first round to secure their guy. Finally, this trading sequence nets Miami another valuable day-two pick and ensures the team of landing the player they really want.
While most agree that Mike Pouncey is an inferior NFL prospect to his brother, he has a similarly great combination of size, strength, and athleticism. In fact, many high level sources have claimed he is one of this draft's surest bets. Though he played out of position this year at center, he showed the ability to pull, block on an island, and make the offensive line calls. He definitely struggled to snap the ball and move simultaneously however, which is why most project him to guard at the next level. For Miami, he could step in at center or either guard spot immediately.
If the Phins go another direction with this pick, it could be a running back such as Mark Ingram or quarterback in Ryan Mallett.
Kansas City gets: 1st Round Pick #23, 4th Round Pick #120
Miami gets: 1st Round Pick #21
Stephen Paea - Defensive Tackle - Oregon State
Last season seemed to mark the tides turning in the AFC South. Though the Colts once again took the division, their grip certainly loosened. Indianapolis' window of opportunity is slowly but surely closing and a strong draft class will be needed to put this team back in the Super Bowl conversation.
Stephen Paea is the type of trench player who can make his impact felt immediately for a contender. The stout tackle is quick and explosive, with tremendous power. He projects at either 1-Tech or 3-Tech in the team's Tampa 2. The Colts' primary need is at left tackle, so Derek Sherrod or Colorado's Nate Solder would make sense.
Phil Taylor - Nose Tackle - Baylor
No playoff team in the AFC faced tougher odds than the Chiefs, who went from picking in the top five a year ago to AFC West champions this season. They trade back here to add a fourth round pick in this draft. For years, Kansas City’s 3-4 scheme has been held back by the lack of a big, space-eating nose tackle in the middle.
In Phil Taylor, the team gets the big two-gap plugger they need. He’s huge, athletic, and plays with a high motor. Immediately, Taylor would step into a starting spot and fill the team’s greatest need. Recently, concerns have surfaced over his durability, so it would not be a shock to see him on the board later than expected. The Chiefs could also look at a right tackle such as Gabe Carimi, a wide receiver like Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin, or an outside linebacker a la Akeem Ayers.
Mark Ingram - Running Back - Alabama
A number of Saints fans are likely shaking their heads as they see this pick in the late first round. While Pierre Thomas is back with the team and Chris Ivory is coming off an excellent rookie season, the future of the position in New Orleans is still in question.
Mark Ingram is a more talented and natural runner than anyone currently on the offense. Though he does not fill a need per se, he comes into the NFL very ready to contribute for a Super Bowl contender. His physical ability is ordinary, but his running instincts, vision, balance, and burst are exceptional. He will need reps as a receiver and pass-blocker, but should be able to stay on the field for three downs early on.
If the Saints choose not to go with a luxury pick here, they may instead prefer a defensive tackle such as North Carolina's Marvin Austin. In an ideal world, New Orleans would trade down here to a quarterback-needy team.
Ryan Mallett - Quarterback - Arkansas
The Seahawks shocked fans and NFL personnel alike by upsetting the Saints in the wild card round of the 2010 playoffs. Pete Carroll's early success in Seattle is bittersweet however, as the team finished with a losing record and lacks the stability at quarterback to contend in the future.
Ryan Mallett is one of this draft's most polarizing prospects, with some grading him in the top ten while others say he is barely draftable. I tend to side with the former, drawing attention to his arm strength, poise, football IQ, and polish as a pocket passer. More so than any quarterback in this class, Mallett has the ability to step right into a starting role in the NFL.
While Seattle would ultimately look like fools if they passed here, it is possible they choose to go defensive tackle or cornerback instead. Marvin Austin looks to be a viable option with this pick.
Gabe Carimi - Offensive Tackle - Wisconsin
Having made major strides in 2009, it came as a surprise that the Ravens offensive line took a step back a year ago. Second year player, Michael Oher, did not adjust to the left side quite as smoothly as many expected. Though they have a few needs that could be considered more pressing, it would not be a shock if Baltimore used their first round pick on a tackle.
Gabe Carimi is tailor-made for the gritty AFC North. He possesses the size, grit, and power to assert himself early as a run blocker. While choppy at times, he seems to have more than adequate feet and athleticism for an NFL right tackle. If they choose a more need-based approach, it seems as if a cornerback, defensive end, or outside linebacker would be the pick. Akeem Ayers and Cameron Heyward both fit the team's profile.
Ryan Kerrigan - Defensive End - Purdue
After falling short of an opportunity to play for the Super Bowl, the Falcons will be looking to make a splash early in this draft. One reason Atlanta was unable to stop the Packers in the playoffs was a lackluster pass rush. Expect the team to add talent and depth to their front four before taking the field in 2011.
Ryan Kerrigan is a try-hard end in the Patrick Kerney mold. Though he lacks explosiveness and variety, his motor made him one of college football's most prolific pass rushers. He is put in a position to succeed early here, playing across from John Abraham.
If not defensive end, the Falcons may look to add a receiver capable of threatening both the slot and downfield such as Boise State's Titus Young. They would love if a left tackle fell to them here, but it is unlikely they reach for the position.
Cameron Heyward - Defensive End - Ohio State
San Diego makes a move up the board here after talking to the Patriots over a potential swap for months. A Super Bowl does not appear outside the realm of possibility for the Chargers if they are able to make the right moves on draft day. The team is in dire need of front seven help and Cameron Heyward fills a gaping hole opposite Luis Castillo at 5-Tech.
Heyward is a prototypical two-gap end with excellent size, power, and good quickness. Many feel he will drop on draft day, but he remains a very good fit in a traditional 5-Tech role. The Chargers could instead target an outside linebacker, with UCLA’s Akeem Ayers still on the board. Wide receiver is a distant option for the team if they are to trade back into the first, with Jonathan Baldwin appearing to be the best fit.
New England gets: 2nd Round Pick #50, 3rd Round Pick #89, 2012 3rd Round Pick
San Diego gets: 1st Round Pick #28
Nate Solder - Offensive Tackle - Colorado
Few playoff stories were as widely discussed as the Bears offensive line woes and Jay Cutler's injuries. There is little doubt that Chicago will look to add trench players early in the upcoming draft. This team has the talent to compete for a Super Bowl, but it is very unlikely they can return to the NFC Championship game without making changes to protect Cutler.
Nate Solder may lack readiness, but his upside at left tackle is as high as any player in this class due to elite size and athleticism. While he lacks consistency and technique, he moves like a tight end. If he can survive early struggles, the sky will be the limit. Because Solder is raw, Chicago could instead favor a more polished tackle such as Derek Sherrod. If not offensive line, expect a defensive tackle with this pick.
Akeem Ayers - Outside Linebacker - UCLA
Again, the Jets defied the odds by making a deep playoff run despite relatively average quarterback play during the regular season. Rex Ryan has officially given this team a personality and the confidence to exceed expectations. New York still must add depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball, with the front seven standing out as the primary area of need.
Akeem Ayers, despite uneven college tape, possesses a very intriguing skill-set that translates best into a rush backer role at the next level. His instincts are shaky, but he moves well, is fairly explosive, and could excel with his responsibilities simplified.
If the Jets choose to go for another outside linebacker, Arizona's Brooks Reed may tempt them here. Ideally, New York will be able to find a trade partner and sell this pick to the highest bidder. Additional positions that could be addressed include: nose tackle, wide receiver, and safety.
Aaron Williams - Cornerback - Texas
It did not take long for the Steelers to bounce back after missing the playoffs a year ago. Despite not being perfect, Pittsburgh clawed their way back to another Super Bowl with health issues lingering all the way. An offensive lineman may again be the top priority for the team, but if there’s value at the cornerback position, youth and talent is needed.
Aaron Williams perfectly fits the team's brand of defensive back. He offers size and physicality on an island, projecting as an instant impact man-corner who could help Pittsburgh right away. If the team does go offensive line, Marcus Cannon and Villanova’s Ben Ijalana fit their mold.
Danny Watkins - Offensive Guard - Baylor
The Super Bowl champions enter this draft as confident as any team, having no glaring holes that must be filled. Green Bay is set to compete at a high level for a long time, with a solid offensive and defensive core. That is not to say the Packers could not make some improvements, of course. The offensive line has to be the biggest concern entering the 2011 season, so it would be somewhat of a surprise if the team chose not to go in that direction with their first pick.
Danny Watkins is an excellent fit here, with the toughness, grit, technique, and athleticism to start immediately. He will likely play guard, but even left tackle is a possibility in Green Bay's zone blocking scheme. If the Packers choose to wait on offensive line, they may instead look to add a capable outside linebacker such as Illinois' Martez Wilson. A real surprise would be wide receiver, where Boise State's Titus Young seems to fit their mold.
33. Minnesota Vikings (f/NE) - Jake Locker - Quarterback - Washington
Expect the Patriots to hold this pick hostage, selling it in the end to the highest bidder. With an enormous demand present for quarterbacks in this draft, New England is more than likely to be bombarded with offers by teams looking for a new signal-caller. In this scenario, it is Minnesota that moves up on draft day to land their guy, Jake Locker. Though many agree he is not ready to start away, Locker gives the franchise a face and a direction to build around.
Trade details: Minnesota gets #33, New England gets fourth round pick #106 and 2012 first round pick
34. Buffalo Bills - Christian Ballard - Defensive End - Iowa
Most believe the Bills will select a quarterback in the first two rounds, but they could instead opt to address their front seven. Since implementing a 3-4, Buffalo has been both thin on the depth chart and lacking in talent. A pass-rusher in the first will be all the more effective if the team is able to land a solid 5-Tech to occupy blockers and push the pocket. Christian Ballard is an intriguing athlete and a very good fit in the Bills hybrid 3-4 front. He offers the team an instant starter and a potentially high upside player down the road.
35. Cincinnati Bengals - Adrian Clayborn - Defensive End - Iowa
The Bengals passing on a quarterback two rounds in a row may come as a shock to some. My theory is: if their guys aren't there (Newton in the first, Mallett in the second,) then Mike Brown will remain stubborn on the Carson Palmer front. I feel Marvin Lewis will be lobbying for a defensive lineman or linebacker with this pick. Adrian Clayborn fits their mold of defensive lineman with a solid build, a high motor, and the versatility to play right end or even 3-tech on passing downs.
36. Denver Broncos - Kyle Rudolph - Tight End - Notre Dame
It would be hard to turn down an offensive talent like Kyle Rudolph here, even with the Broncos' array of needs on the other side of the ball. The former Irish tight end has excellent size, hands, and athletic ability. He’d start right away and contribute both in the passing and rushing game as a rookie. Front seven and secondary help remain huge needs for Denver if they go offense here.
37. Cleveland Browns - Ras-i Dowling - Cornerback - Virginia
After nabbing a cornerstone lineman in the first, the Browns turn their attention to the secondary. Despite having drafted Joe Haden in the first a year ago, Cleveland is still in dire need of cover corners to compete in this increasingly pass-happy league. Ras-i Dowling sat out most of 2010 with injuries, but packages speed and cover-skills with NFL size. He could instantly bolster the team's secondary and fight for playing time right away.
38. Arizona Cardinals - Derek Sherrod - Offensive Tackle - Mississippi State
Fortunately, the Cardinals landed their franchise signal-caller in the first round when they selected Blaine Gabbert. The next step for the team, if they are serious about setting their rookie quarterback up for success, will be to bolster his protection. Derek Sherrod is among this class' most polished and battle tested linemen. He projects as an instant starter for Arizona at left or right tackle.
39. Tennessee Titans - Colin Kaepernick - Quarterback - Nevada
Many have the Titans pegged to reach for a quarterback in the first round. If value is not there, I think they will take the opportunity to add a potentially game-breaking wideout or front four player with that pick. In the second, their plan comes to fruition as they land a signal-caller to groom for the future. Colin Kaepernick has abundant physical ability, one of the class' strongest arms, and an excellent head on his shoulders. He's raw mechanically and throwing from under-center but possesses the potential to develop into an NFL starting quarterback.
40. Dallas Cowboys - Rahim Moore - Safety - UCLA
Having addressed their offensive line woes in the first, the Cowboys will look next to bolster their struggling secondary. Though many see cornerback as the team's primary need on the back end, they would benefit most from a playmaking safety. Rahim Moore was not the same player in 2010 as he was the year before, but he still possesses the ball and cover skills to make a large impact at the next level. He instantly would give Dallas the ball-hawking center fielder they need.
41. Washington Redskins - Andy Dalton - Quarterback - TCU
It is unlikely that the Redskins get through the first two rounds without rolling the dice on a quarterback. They may lack the assets to make a major move up the board, but should be set to add a starter if they stay put in the second round. Andy Dalton's stock has sky-rocketed during the process and several teams appear to view him as a very capable quarterback prospect. If drafted, he would be counted on as the week one starter.
42. Houston Texans - Randall Cobb - Wide Receiver - Kentucky
The heat is on for Gary Kubiak, who faces the tall task of leading his Texans to their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Most of the question marks appear to be on defense, but adding another dynamic option for Matt Schaub will be very tempting. Randall Cobb is an all-purpose, "gadget" player who possesses the speed, quickness, elusiveness, and toughness to make his mark early. His best position appears to be receiver, but he will also be an asset on special teams.
43. Minnesota Vikings - Orlando Franklin - Offensive Tackle/Guard - Miami
After moving up at the top of the second round, this figures to be an all or nothing draft for Minnesota. In addition to a starting quarterback and defensive end, the Vikings will be faced with the task of bolstering their offensive line. Orlando Franklin is a big, physical tackle who could be moved inside to guard if need be. He projects as a potential left or right tackle and should be able to fight for playing time immediately if he lands in Minnesota.
44. Detroit Lions - Brandon Harris - Cornerback - Miami
The value at cornerback was not there in the first, so Detroit upgraded their defense with an end to play next to cornerstone Ndamukong Suh. Here the Lions are able to address their struggling secondary. Brandon Harris is a gifted man corner with agility, ball skills, and the competitiveness necessary to play at the next level. Since the team is starving for bodies at cornerback, Harris would receive playing time and perhaps a starting spot immediately.
45. San Francisco 49ers - Christian Ponder - Quarterback - Florida State
Without trading up, the 49ers are unlikely to add a quarterback in the first round. It appears as if Alex Smith will be a part of the competition this summer, but who will he be competing against? I expect Jim Harbaugh to take an intelligent signal-caller to fit into his west coast offense. Christian Ponder has a very high football IQ and is a well-rounded player. He would not be rushed onto the field, but would be given a chance to fight for the starting spot from day one.
46. Denver Broncos (f/MIA) - Mason Foster - Outside Linebacker - Washington
As the Broncos transition back to the 4-3, it is likely that they keep veteran D.J. Williams in the middle to quarterback the defense. With their prior outside backers (Dumervil, Ayers) moving down to defensive end, expect Denver to look to add a new starter. Mason Foster is an underrated weak-side prospect who is a good tackler with very good instincts. He could surprise evaluators by impacting the game early on.
47. St. Louis Rams - Torrey Smith - Wide Receiver - Maryland
The Rams have to be happy with their draft a year ago, as Sam Bradford and Roger Saffold immediately established themselves as solid starters at premium positions. If St. Louis really wants to make the most of their investment, they will target a receiver in the first two rounds this year. Torrey Smith is somewhat raw but flashes explosive ability on offense and special teams. He offers the team size, speed, and upside at wide receiver and could be groomed into a primary or secondary role in the Rams offense.
48. Oakland Raiders - Marcus Cannon - Offensive Guard/Tackle - TCU
With Robert Gallery leaving the Raiders, their first pick could now be used to address the offensive line. Cannon is an enormous physical wonder, capable of playing inside at guard or at right tackle. He’d start right away in Oakland and perfectly fits the Al Davis draftee mold. Other options for the team include a cornerback or quarterback.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Martez Wilson - Outside/Inside Linebacker - Illinois
The Jaguars are one of several teams in this draft that will be looking to revamp their front seven with their first few picks. After nabbing a high-motor end in the first, Jacksonville next will turn their attention to linebacker or cornerback. In this scenario, Martez Wilson falls into the middle of the second, where he provides a good value for the team. He could take over the starting strong-side or middle linebacker spot immediately and has the size and speed to develop into a better pro than college player.
50. New England Patriots (f/SD) - Ryan Williams - Running Back - Virginia Tech
A swap with San Diego netted the Patriots this pick in the late second. Having addressed defense in the first, the team could look to add talent to the other side of the ball with their next pick. Ryan Williams flashed elite talent when healthy in 2009, but was hampered by hamstring injuries this past season. If he can return to his prior form, this is an excellent value here for New England.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ben Ijalana - Offensive Guard/Tackle - Villanova
Most assume the Buccaneers will be looking defense with their first two picks, but it’s crucial to protect their franchise passer in Josh Freeman. Though a small-school guy, Ijalana has the size, length, and agility to start immediately at guard or perhaps tackle. He’s a good run-blocker and pass-blocker who upgrades Tampa Bay’s line immediately.
52. New York Giants - Colin McCarthy - Outside Linebacker - Miami
After spending their first pick on the defensive side of the ball, the Giants keep their attention on bolstering the front seven. While the linebacker value was not there in the opening round, they are able to land a starter here. Colin McCarthy has risen to every challenge in the pre-draft process. He possesses the instincts and tackling ability to challenge for a starting spot in New York.
53. Indianapolis Colts - Clint Boling - Offensive Tackle - Georgia
It's doubtful that the Colts can make another deep playoff run without first strengthening their offensive line. Peyton Manning is still very capable of leading the team to a Super Bowl provided he has adequate protection. Clint Boling is a versatile lineman who could start in Indianapolis at right tackle, or either guard spot. I doubt the team fails to address their offensive line in the first two rounds, but it is possible they target another player here.
54. Philadelphia Eagles - DeMarco Murray - Running Back - Oklahoma
Many will argue that the Philadelphia Eagles do not need to spend an early pick on a running back in this draft. While starter LeSean McCoy appears very much to be the real deal, durability remains a question. DeMarco Murray is a very interesting fit in the team's offense. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield may make him too good to pass up here. This pick adds insurance at the running back position and another potential game-breaker. You can bet Murray's impact would be felt early on offense and perhaps special teams as a kick returner.
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Leonard Hankerson - Wide Receiver - Miami
The Matt Cassel experiment can be considered to be a reasonable success as of now, with the Chiefs making a playoff appearance in 2010. If Kansas City really wants to put him in the best place to succeed, they will go out and get him a secondary receiver to complement Dwayne Bowe. Leonard Hankerson offers tremendous value here in the late second and would be a nice fit in the team's passing game. If drafted, "Hank" appears plenty capable of making an impact here as a rookie.
56. New Orleans Saints - Marvin Austin - Defensive Tackle - North Carolina
The Saints are one of the few teams in this draft capable of picking for luxury, which is exactly what they did in the first round. They have no glaring needs this offseason and appear ready to make a Super Bowl run in 2011. In this scenario, they add a Tarheel brimming with upside. Few defensive tackles in this class can match Marvin Austin's combination of size, power, and raw athleticism. He has high upside as a 1 or 3-Tech in the NFL and could develop into an impact player if his head is on straight.
57. Seattle Seahawks - Bruce Carter - Outside Linebacker - North Carolina
If the Seahawks were to not go quarterback with their first pick, a linebacker would no doubt be one of their next best options. There is far too much uncertainty for Seattle in the front seven to not come away with anything on the draft's first two days. Bruce Carter is extremely athletic, with the size and speed the team needs at linebacker. He offers a good value here and would compete for playing time immediately.
58. Baltimore Ravens - Brooks Reed - Outside Linebacker - Arizona
Not many expected the Ravens to target an offensive lineman in the first stage. Now that their hole up front has been patched, Baltimore could turn their focus to a linebacker. Brooks Reed has been on fire during the pre-draft process. The college end is an interesting fit standing up in this team's hybrid 3-4 scheme and he may have the speed to develop into an effective edge rusher in the AFC North.
59. Atlanta Falcons - Titus Young - Wide Receiver - Boise State
Though Matt Ryan and the Falcons appeared to be firing on all cylinders at times a year ago, adding a receiver to complement Roddy White appears necessary. Ideally, the team would like to add a player capable of stretching the field vertically as well as work the slot. Titus Young is tailor-made for Atlanta's needs. His deep speed, quickness, and ability to separate both underneath and over the top could make him a terrific second option here.
60. New England Patriots - Jarvis Jenkins - Defensive End - Clemson
It is another pick here for New England and you can bet they will continue to try to add impact players for next season. Playing time will be available at defensive end for the coming season and the team figures to target the position with one of their picks in the first three rounds. Jenkins is effective against the run with good mass, length, and strength. He could give the Patriots a solid starter at 5-Tech for years.
61. San Diego Chargers (f/NYJ) - Jonathan Baldwin - Wide Receiver - Pittsburgh
Quarterback Philip Rivers is among the league’s elite, but the receiver position in San Diego has been plagued by injuries and a high-profile hold out. Baldwin is an extremely gifted athlete with excellent size, speed, and leaping ability. Upon leaving Pitt, he had some things to say about his teammates and coaching staff. Despite his immature reputation, he fits right in for the Chargers as a dangerous vertical option.
62. Chicago Bears - Terrell McClain - Defensive Tackle - South Florida
The Bears' top priority in this draft will be to add talent and depth in the trenches. Having selected an athletic left tackle in the first, Chicago turns their attention to the interior defensive line here. Terrell McClain is flying under the radar but appears to have the size, explosiveness, and energy the team covets inside. They could, instead, double up on offensive linemen here in the second.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers - Marcus Gilbert - Offensive Tackle - Florida
After addressing their secondary in the first, the Steelers will turn their attention to shoring up their offensive line. The team is most likely to go for an offensive tackle due to a lack of youth, depth, and talent at the position. Marcus Gilbert is largely unproven, but he fits the Pittsburgh image with tremendous mass and length. He would be given a chance to compete for a job from day one.
64. Green Bay Packers - Edmond Gates - Wide Receiver - Abilene Christian
En route to the franchise's fourth Super Bowl, the passing game paced the Packers all season. The team appears set for next season with Driver, Jennings, Nelson, and Jones; however I think they could take this opportunity to add some real speed on the outside. Gates is very fast, a smooth athlete, and a natural catcher. Outside linebacker remains a position that Green Bay could upgrade.
65. Carolina Panthers - Curtis Brown - Cornerback - Texas
You can expect the Panthers will be working the phones hard on draft day to trade out of the first spot and add a few more early picks. On paper that sounds ideal, but it rarely works that way in the NFL. For a team with a laundry list of needs, this third-rounder is a very tough pick having gone quarterback in the first. Curtis Brown fills the void at cornerback that Richard Marshall will more than likely leave behind. Though his production on the ball is low, Brown has great size, feet, and cover skills.
66. Cincinnati Bengals - Mikel LeShoure - Running Back - Illinois
After striking out on quarterbacks in the first two rounds, the Bengals choose not to force a pick here. With Cedric Benson's future with the team still in jeopardy, Cincinnati may choose to target a big, pounding back in the first few rounds. Mikel LeShoure has the size the team covets and excels as a one-cut, down-hill runner. He could step in right away and complement Bernard Scott in the team's backfield.
67. Denver Broncos - Johnny Patrick - Cornerback - Louisville
Many feel that Denver could address their cornerback need as early as second overall with Patrick Peterson. Having bolstered their front seven in the first two rounds, the Broncos turn their attention to the defensive backfield here in the third. Johnny Patrick is a very good cover corner with the size, hips, and agility to help out immediately.
68. Buffalo Bills - Jah Reid - Offensive Tackle - Central Florida
Strangely, the Bills don't take a quarterback in the first three rounds of this mock draft. With Ryan Fitzpatrick looking comfortable last season, I doubt they force a pick if their guy isn't available. Jah Reid fills a large need for Buffalo on the offensive line, where he appears to have potential to play left or right tackle. He joins a unit that may have overachieved a bit a year ago and adds the size and grit they have lacked.
69. Arizona Cardinals - Kelvin Sheppard - Inside Linebacker - LSU
Having addressed key offensive needs in the first two rounds, Arizona opts to go defense here in the third. Though the outside may be a bit thinner, the Cardinals may prefer the value and fit here inside. Kelvin Sheppard has the potential to be an impact inside backer at the next level with the size and speed to transition to the pro game. He would battle second year player Daryl Washington, for playing time on defense right away.
70. Cleveland Browns - Greg Little - Wide Receiver - North Carolina
After focusing on defense in the first two rounds, the Browns take this opportunity to add a talented receiver for Colt McCoy. The Cleveland wide receivers have disappointed in recent years and it’s becoming increasingly evident that they do not have much room for growth on their current roster. Greg Little, although immature, projects as a perfect flanker in a west coast offense. Though lacking in college experience, he has potential to be a primary receiver if he keeps his head on straight in the NFL.
71. Dallas Cowboys - Muhammed Wilkerson - Defensive End - Temple
With their primary needs addressed in the first two rounds, expect Dallas to turn their attention to the defensive line. They appear to be moving from Wade Phillips’ hybrid 3-4 to a more traditional version of the scheme. Muhammed Wilkerson may lack anchor strength, but he possesses the size, length, and athletic ability to develop into a quality 5-Tech. Though unpolished, he could fight for a spot in the team’s rotation early.
72. New Orleans Saints (f/WAS) - Allen Bailey - Defensive End - Miami
For a team without many needs, playing time will be tough to come by as a rookie. While the Saints have few glaring holes now, they would be wise to bolster their front seven for rotational and future purposes. Allen Bailey looks to be a terrific left end project for New Orleans. Blessed with elite size and athletic ability, Bailey must be coached up if he wants to make his impact felt at the next level. Though he would be unlikely to start right away, this pick could come to fruition in a few years.
73. Houston Texans - Sam Acho - Outside Linebacker – Texas
As the Texans build their 3-4 defense in the Wade Phillips role, they need to consider versatility more than ever. Houston will surely be mixing in looks with a four-man front at times and it is important that they add pass rushers who are not necessarily scheme specific. Sam Acho is a blue-collar linebacker prospect who will be making the transition from college end. He may lack elite explosiveness, but he has a great work ethic and should be athletic enough to play in space. If drafted to play in Houston, he should compete for playing time immediately.
74. New England Patriots (f/MIN) - Rodney Hudson - Offensive Guard/Center - Florida State
The Patriots acquire this pick through their trade in the early second round. For a team with so few glaring holes, playing time will need to be earned by draftees. Rodney Hudson possesses the polish and athletic ability to immediately contribute at center or left guard. For such a future-minded organization, this pick could go a long way in shoring up the interior offensive line for years to come.
75. Detroit Lions - Ross Homan - Outside Linebacker - Ohio State
The defensive overhaul continues here in the third round for the Lions. Starting spots are up for grabs in the front seven and you have to figure that a weak-side linebacker is near the top of Detroit’s priority list. Ross Homan may not be viewed by many as a value pick here, but he has enough talent to start in the NFL whether it be in the middle or outside. Those who do not believe he is physically capable of playing the pro game need to look at players like Pat Angerer and Lofa Tatupu for examples. Homan is very instinctual, moves well, and has excellent character. He projects as a first year starter in Detroit.
76. San Francisco 49ers - Kenrick Ellis - Nose Tackle – Hampton
Having gotten their quarterback of the future in the second, the 49ers turn their attention back to defense. San Francisco may not have Aubrayo Franklin long term and the team will likely be eager to draft a replacement. Kenrick Ellis has some character concerns, but he has the mass, athleticism, and motor to occupy a two-gap role in the NFL. Depending on what happens in free agency, Ellis could be looking at early playing time.
77. Tennessee Titans - Quan Sturdivant - Middle Linebacker - North Carolina
After what many would describe as a shocking first two rounds for the Titans, they settle down here and make a safe pick. Stephen Tulloch is a good starter in Tennessee, but their linebacking corps must be bolstered through the draft. Quan Sturdivant is an extremely underrated inside linebacker who should play upwards of ten years at a high level. He is capable of immediately winning a starting job here.
78. St. Louis Rams - Marcus Gilchrist - Cornerback/Safety - Clemson
The Rams got off to a good start on draft weekend in this scenario, as they addressed their two most pressing needs in the first couple rounds. Here St. Louis turns their attention to the secondary, where they will continue to add versatile, capable players. Marcus Gilchrist is able to play anywhere in the secondary and even offers some special teams value. For a team thin in the defensive backfield, he would likely step into a large role in his first year.
79. Miami Dolphins - Jacquizz Rodgers - Running Back - Oregon State
You can bet the Dolphins will be pushing hard to trade back in the first round to add a second round pick, but this will be their second selection if they are unable to find a partner. With Ronnie Brown’s tenure with Miami in jeopardy, expect the team to go out and find a ball-carrier early on draft weekend. Jacquizz Rodgers is not built for a full time role, but don’t be fooled by his diminutive stature. He is tough as nails, versatile, and extremely quick. It would not be hard to find a spot for him immediately in the Phins offense.
80. Jacksonville Jaguars - Rashad Carmichael - Cornerback - Virginia Tech
The defensive draft continues here for the Jaguars, as they fill another hole with this pick. Jacksonville has needed an injection of young talent for some time and this appears to be an appropriate spot to pull the trigger. Rashad Carmichael is one of this class’ best athletes and displays the ball skills to make an impact on the NFL game. He figures to be capable of playing in nickel or dime packages as a rookie.
81. Oakland Raiders - Chykie Brown - Cornerback - Texas
As Nnamdi Asomugha’s future with the Raiders is very much up in the air, expect them to use of their first two picks to address the cornerback position. Oakland is notoriously superficial when it comes to draftees and Chykie Brown appears to fit their mold. Though he must improve his tackling and consistency, Brown has the size, speed, fluidity, and ball skills to earn time on defense as a rookie.
82. San Diego Chargers - Chris Carter - Outside Linebacker - Fresno State
Many felt the Chargers reached a bit on Larry English when they selected him in the first round a few years back. That appears to be true, as he has failed to live up to expectations as a pass rusher. Chris Carter gives the team another pass rushing linebacker to try opposite Shaun Phillips. He would come in and battle English for early playing time in San Diego.
83. New York Giants - DeMarcus Van Dyke - Cornerback - Miami
There are several ways the Giants could go with this pick, including offensive line or running back. They may, instead, choose to bolster their secondary by adding a young cornerback. DeMarcus Van Dyke has NFL size, speed, and movement skills, but on film, he doesn't appear to be anything close to a third round pick. Still, he has done a nice job in the pre-draft process and his draft stock is gaining momentum.
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Doug Hogue - Outside Linebacker - Syracuse
Though the Buccaneers have made strides to add help on the defensive side of the ball, holes remain that must be filled. Tampa Bay has not gotten the production they have wanted from their linebackers and they could benefit from an injection of youth. Doug Hogue is a bit of a reach here, but has the speed and athleticism to excel in the team's Tampa-2 scheme.
85. Miami Dolphins (f/PHL) - Lance Kendricks - Tight End - Wisconsin
The Miami offense has several areas that could be addressed by the third round of this NFL Draft. In the past the team has valued more balanced tight ends like Anthony Fasano, but they would like to add a pass-catcher at the position this year. Lance Kendricks is an athletic receiving tight end who gives Chad Henne a security blanket and a potential option in the seam.
86. Kansas City Chiefs - James Carpenter - Offensive Tackle/Guard - Alabama
There are several directions that the Chiefs could go with this pick, but it seems likely that the team will look to add help at right tackle in this draft. James Carpenter projects as an early starter along the offensive line for Kansas City. His best position appears to be inside at guard, but he could develop into a solid starter on the right side.
87. Indianapolis Colts - Will Rackley - Offensive Guard - Lehigh
Few top teams are quite as desperate to add offensive line help as the Colts. After nabbing a versatile option in Boling, Indianapolis turns their attention to the interior line. Will Rackley is one of the top small school players in this class. He possesses the size, strength, toughness, and grit to boost the team's run game from either guard spot.
88. New Orleans Saints - Austin Pettis - Wide Receiver - Boise State
Not many would point to wide receiver as a need for the Saints. In fact, there should be few opportunities for early playing time in New Orleans. Despite having some talent and depth at the position, a young possession option is never out of the question. Austin Pettis is an excellent red-zone receiver and can help Drew Brees and company move the sticks immediately.
89. New England Patriots (f/SD thru SEA) - Nate Irving - Inside Linebacker - NC State
A trade in the late first round lands the Patriots this pick here in the third. Without many obvious needs to address, New England could go a variety of ways with this pick. They are lucky to land a quality inside linebacker prospect in Nate Irving. He has the instincts, toughness, and athleticism to battle Brandon Spikes for early playing time. If he cannot win time on defense, he may have to make his mark first on special teams.
90. Baltimore Ravens - Greg Salas - Wide Receiver - Hawaii
Quarterback Joe Flacco made major strides as a passer and game manager this season. Though he had a lot of success, he could benefit from a few more young targets to threaten the outside or the slot. Greg Salas offers the team another possession option here, with the hands, instincts, and toughness to fit into the Ravens fairly conservative offense. Some Baltimore fans would prefer a more vertical option, but Salas has some excellent tutors for the slot with T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Derrick Mason on board.
91. Atlanta Falcons - Kendall Hunter - Running Back - Oklahoma State
It appears time for the Falcons to complement Michael Turner with a smaller, quicker back to ensure their star stays healthy all season. A few running back projects have fizzled for Atlanta, but Kendall Hunter figures to be a very good secondary option for the team. He has the vision, instincts, burst, and quickness to make plays for a Super Bowl contending team while Turner rests on the bench.
92. New England Patriots - Tyler Sash - Safety - Iowa
Finally, the Patriots wrap up the second day with their sixth pick of the first three rounds. As a team without many holes to fill, New England could begin making picks based on their type of player and perceived special teams value. Tyler Sash certainly seems to fit the team's mold. His instincts, tackling ability, and ball-hawking ability make him similar to the Ravens' Tom Zbikowski as a prospect. Sash figures to be ready to play on defense, but his upside there is limited.
93. Chicago Bears - Stefen Wisniewski - Center/Guard - Penn State
With long-time center, Olin Kreutz, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the Bears could look to the draft for a young replacement. By now, everyone knows about the offensive line woes that Chicago had a year ago. Stefen Wisniewski is a versatile interior lineman who is comfortable quarterbacking the line from the center position or playing either guard spot. His technique, size, and experience ought to win him playing time immediately here.
94. New York Jets - Jerrell Powe - Nose Tackle - Mississippi
With Kris Jenkins' future with the Jets in serious jeopardy, nose tackle appears to be a very draftable need for the team. Sione Pouha has been able to fill in admirably in the past, but New York will be looking to add some stability and talent at the position. Jerrell Powe is a bit of an enigma. He possesses the talent to be a legitimate starter at the next level, but his play dropped off in 2010. If he can dedicate himself, he may be ready to contribute early on in his NFL career.
95. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dwayne Harris - Wide Receiver - East Carolina
The Steelers are another team that are so good that it will be hard for young, first year players to make their mark. Pittsburgh has a number of young, explosive options at wide receiver; but depth and toughness is needed at the position. Dwayne Harris is a weapon in the slot with good hands and strength. If not on offense, he could make his mark on special teams immediately playing on coverage units or as a kick returner.
96. Green Bay Packers - Jalil Brown - Cornerback - Colorado
There isn't much room for improvement on the Green Bay roster, as starting spots will be near impossible to come by for a third round rookie. Youth and depth must be added to the Packers secondary though. Jalil Brown made far too many mistakes in college, but has the size and movement skills to be a very good pro. He may have to make his mark early on special teams to justify this pick.
97. Carolina Panthers - Drake Nevis - Defensive Tackle - LSU
The Panthers wrap up the second day of the draft by addressing the interior defensive line, where playing time will be available right away for rookies. Drake Nevis is the type of penetrator in the front four who will help Carolina push the pocket next year. His quickness and explosiveness could allow him to be an effective 3-tech early on.