In many years, the team drafting No. 1 overall has a deal in place with their pick prior to the draft beginning. However, this year will be different. Going into the draft tonight there is still a fair amount of speculation about who Carolina will pick. Who they select will have large ramifications for the rest of the first round and the draft as a whole. So, without further delay, here are my guesses for the first round.
Carolina selects: QB Cam Newton. Newton is high-risk, high-reward. Carolina will try and trade Jimmy Clausen for a draft or help along its defensive line.
Denver selects: LB Von Miller. I've gone back and forth between Miller and Marcell Dareus, either could be the pick here. But I'll go with Miller, who is the best pass-rusher in the class and can stop the run as well.
Buffalo selects: DT Marcell Dareus. Buffalo lost a lot of games last year because their defense couldn't stop anyone. Gabbert is a possibility, but I think Buffalo is eying one of the QB's who should be available at the top of the second round.
Cincinnati selects: WR A.J. Green. Green is one of the best overall players in the draft. With the departures of Terrell Owens and possibly Ochocinco, the Bengals need a big-play, number-one type receiver. Green is that type of player.
San Francisco selects: CB Patrick Peterson. The 49ers would have loved to get one of the top two quarterbacks, but baring an unlikely trade, they instead greatly improve their secondary with the best corner in the draft.
Tennessee selects: DT Nick Fairley. Tennessee's defensive line has not been able to replace Albert Haynesworth. Fairley is not Haynesworth, but he is a good pass-rusher, and is able to hold his own against the run.
Dallas selects: OT Anthony Castonzo. OT Tyron Smith has been a popular name here as has DE J.J. Watt and CB Prince Amukamara. I think Dallas addresses the glaring need at LT. They need to keep Romo on his feet and Castonzo is the most ready to start of the OT's in my opinion.
Washington selects: DE/LB Robert Quinn. Washington takes a risk here that Quinn won't have a letdown in his skill set after missing a year. Quinn was one of the most feared pass-rushers during his college career and would pair nicely with Brian Orakpo to scare offensive coordinators.
Houston selects: DE Aldon Smith. Smith would give the Texans a pass-rush threat opposite Mario Williams. The secondary isn't horrible and an improved pass-rush could reap benefits similar to the improvement in Detroit last year.
Minnesota selects: OT Tyron Smith. Minnesota wants to move down and get more picks, plus be in a better spot to draft a QB. I think they end up with Smith who gives them some versatility on the offensive line as he can play both RT and LT.
Detroit selects: CB Jimmy Smith. The run-on guys with the last name Smith continues. I think Detroit would like to trade down and add another pick in the third round and still get Smith. It will be a difficult decision between Smith and Prince Amukamara, but I think the added athleticism Smith brings will tip the balance in his favor.
Miami selects: RB Mark Ingram. They may go different directions, including trading down to be in a "better" spot to draft a QB. If they stay here, I think Ingram makes sense as Miami's RB's are all free-agents and getting old.
Jacksonville selects: DE J.J. Watt. Watt is fast, strong, a great pass-rusher and also anchors well against the run. Watt never stops, and the Jags need a lot of help along their defensive line.
New England selects: DE Cameron Jordan. The Pats improve their defensive line with a versatile player who can play wherever the team needs him.
San Diego selects: DE Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson will help provide the pass-rush that was missing for most of last year.
New York Giants select: OT Nate Solder. They need to improve the offensive line badly. Solder is a big LT and could end up solidifying the position for years to come.
Tampa Bay selects: CB Prince Amukamara. Amukamara may come off the board to the Lions at 13. If that happens, I expect CB Jimmy Smith or DE Da'Quan Bowers to be the pick here. Amukamara is an excellent cover-corner who will immediately improve the secondary in Tampa.
Kansas City selects: DE Da'Quan Bowers. This is a case of a player having way too much talent to pass up. Assuming the Chiefs are satisfied with his medical reports, they are getting a player with top-five talent. Bowers will radically improve the defensive line in KC.
Indianapolis selects: OT Gabe Carimi. Carimi can play either tackle spot and will help improve the run game for the Colts.
Philadelphia selects: DE/LB Akeem Ayers. Ayers gives the Eagles some versatility and will help improve the defense. The Eagles would have loved to add a corner but there isn't one worth taking at this spot.
New Orleans selects: DE Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan is a player who's motor never stops. He will help improve one of the weak spots in the Saints lineup.
Washington selects: QB Jake Locker. Seattle needs to find their QB for the future. Locker has the skill set and will have a year to sit and learn.
Baltimore selects: DE Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn is a natural pass-rusher, and will fit in with the attacking defense in Baltimore.
Atlanta selects: OG/C Mike Pouncey. Pouncey is the best interior lineman in the draft and will be an immediate boost to the offensive line in Atlanta.
New England selects: DE/OLB Brooks Reed. New England continues the overhaul of its defense through the draft.
Chicago selects: OT Derrick Sharrod. The Bears offensive line is bad. Selecting Sharrod is a move in the right direction.
New York Jets select: DT Phil Taylor. The defensive line needs to be upgraded. Taylor is the best DL available.
Pittsburg selects: DE Cameron Heyward. The defense is the bread and butter of the Steelers, and they would add a good playmaker here in Heyward.
Green Bay selects: OG Danny Watkins. The offensive line needs to get younger. Watkins is a very solid pick here.