With whispers and rumors that the Carolina Panthers have floated some contract parameters to quarterback Cam Newton and his agents, that gets the ball rolling on the 2011 NFL Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, quarterback from Auburn University. Newton has great size and arm strength. Plenty of questions exist about his character, but talent-wise, he is the real deal.
2. Denver Broncos select Von Miller, outside linebacker from Texas A&M University. Miller would pair greatly with Elvis Dumervil to give the Broncos a formidable pass rush to rival any team in the league. Other possibilities here, but this seems to be the pick.
3. Buffalo Bills select Marcell Dareus, defensive end/tackle from the University of Alabama. The Bills get Mike Mayock’s favorite player in the NFL draft and a dominant end to pair with defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Dareus can also play multiple defensive line positions, both in the 3-4 and 4-3, so he will be a great asset no matter what alignment the Bills are currently playing.
4. Cincinnati Bengals select AJ Green, wide receiver from the University of Georgia. Yes, the Bengals remain unsure what will be happening with quarterback Carson Palmer, so quarterback Blaine Gabbert could be in play here. However, Green is the better prospect and it may help keep Palmer there.
5. Arizona Cardinals select Blaine Gabbert, quarterback from the University of Missouri. The Cardinals are looking to sign a deal with pending free agent quarterback Marc Bulger. At this point in his career, he is a stop-gap for the Cardinals. So they get a starter for this year and a developmental prospect for long-term.
6. Cleveland Browns select Julio Jones, wide receiver from the University of Alabama. Cornerback Patrick Peterson garners serious consideration to pair with Joe Haden to form a dynamic duo, but with new head coach Pat Shurmur having an offensive background, this pick makes sense. Jones will be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Browns from day one.
7. San Francisco 49ers select Patrick Peterson, cornerback from Louisiana State University. Arguably the best player in the draft, he falls to the seventh overall pick—and the 49ers are happy for that. He can step in and help the pass defense from day one and has the ability to be one of the best corners in years.
8. Tennessee Titans select Nick Fairley, defensive tackle from the Auburn University. Yes, he has character concerns. However, there is no denying that when he wants to dominate, he is the best defensive lineman in the draft. The Titans’ defense has not been the same since Albert Haynesworth left, and Fairley can fix that.
9. Dallas Cowboys select Tyron Smith, offensive tackle from the University of Southern California. The Cowboys have had protection issues for the past couple of seasons. Smith can come in and fix that.
10. Washington Redskins select Jake Locker, quarterback from the University of Washington. Once considered a potential first overall pick, his stock has fallen due to a disappointing senior season. However, talent around him was minimal at best. With a switch to the NFL’s Washington, his offensive line will be greatly improved.
11. Houston Texans select Prince Amukamura, cornerback from the University of Nebraska. The Texans had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season. They could very well go pass rusher, but Amukamura is a terrific cornerback that will definitely help them improve.
12. Minnesota Vikings select Ryan Mallet, quarterback from the University of Arkansas. If the Vikings can keep him upright, they have the necessary weapons to be a good-to-great offense for years to come.
13. Detroit Lions select Anthony Castonzo, offensive tackle from Boston College. Matthew Stafford has shown he can be a good quarterback when healthy. The problem for the Lions is that they have been unable to protect him. Problem solved.
14. St Louis Rams select Corey Liuget, defensive tackle from the University of Illinois. Liuget will help the Rams’ defense in a big way, both in ability to push the pocket and defend the run. He will also help to free up defensive end Chris Long.
15. Miami Dolphins select Andy Dalton, quarterback from Texas Christian University. He has been compared to quarterback Drew Brees as of late, who the Dolphins had passed on in free agency before Brees wound up with the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins have an elite left tackle to help protect him and good wide receivers. Chad Henne is not the answer.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars select Jimmy Smith, cornerback from the University of Colorado. With one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season, the Jaguars could go either pass rusher or cornerback here. With Smith being regarded as one of the top corners in the draft, there may be defensive ends who could help in the second round, but no corners as good as Smith.