Like I was saying last week, big names have taken some tumbes in a mere matter of days. Jake Locker had his pro day and did nothing to show he can be accurate outside the numbers, Da’Quan Bowers had a bad pro day but thought he did pretty well, that is hurting his stock pretty bad. Not that he didn’t perform well but that he thinks he did. So there are two guys who are falling hard. On the rise are Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, it is all but certain at this juncture that they both will be taken in the top five picks come this April 28th. This will help you get a handle on who your favorite team is leaning toward.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Jerry Richardson doesn’t like paying for players. But with the new rookie wage scale in place he won’t have to right away. Cam Newton has the most athletic talent at quarterback since Vince Young came out. Ron Rivera could very well go with a defensive lineman, but that doesn’t seem likely anymore.
2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, LSU
Patrick Peterson is the best player in the draft. If there ever could be a guaranteed success in a draft Peterson is it. He will do a lot of things for Denver as they rebuild. Besides teaming with Champ Bailey to give the line more time to get after the passer. Peterson will return kicks and give the team an edge in field position.
3. Buffalo Bills: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Bills desperately need a quarterback so they take the best one on the board in Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert is the fast, athletic and smart quarterback that Chan Gaily can mold into a star for Buffalo.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
The Bengals face a difficult situation. QB Carson Palmer is threatening retirement if he is not traded. Even when they had great receivers they couldn’t win, why take someone like A.J. Green here? I believe they will take a top three talent in Von Miller and attempt to launch the defense into a new era of dominance. They have good players on defense and Miller would be a huge impact immediately.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
The war room for Arizona won’t be able to believe that Marcell Dareus is available. They wanted one of the quarterbacks here. But Dareus is a decent consolation prize. The Cards needs help in so many areas, but solidifying a dominate defensive line could help them make huge strides. … Ryan Mallet in round two?
6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
The Browns are trying to build a respectable franchise. The defense doesn’t have much going on at this point. But the offense is still needing something extra. With Colt McCoy coming off his decent rookie debut and the emergence of Peyton Hillis as a dominant force the Browns have a chance to establish a very good offense. The only thing missing? A.J. Green. Green is an explosive talent and one of the best overall players in this draft.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The 49ers dream pick would be Patrick Peterson. But if Denver has half a brain they won’t let the best player in the draft, and player of his position since Charles Woodson slip past them. But Amukamara certainly is no slouch. The 49ers will enjoy him locking down an entire half of the field for them.
8. Tennessee Titans: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Bowers doesn’t slip from his place at number eight that I pegged him at last week. He had a chance to reestablish himself towards the top five best players available. He didn’t get the job done. The Titans will take a chance on him after his slide and they probably will be rewarded right away.
9. Dallas Cowboys: JJ Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin
The Cowboys have a franchise quarterback and a ton of talent on offense. The defense is at the doorstep of becoming truly dominate. The only thing missing is a lineman who can open lanes for DeMarcus Ware to plow through to the quarterback. Dallas has a chance to build a top three defense if Watt pans out.
10. Washington Redskins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Mike Shanahan is probably still thinking quarterback. His offense is in disarray, particularly at receiver, but everywhere else too. But Shanahan will think back to his days with Terrell Davis and decide a workhorse running back might be his quickest route to success in Washington.
11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE, NCU
The Texas were so close to getting things in line and making a playoff run. With a great offense that can score from anywhere on the field, putting up points isn’t a problem. The Texas will be switching to a 3-4 scheme which means they will need pass rushing linebackers. Quinn fit’s the bill perfectly.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Vikings will be looking to get Adrian Peterson and whatever quarterback they have next year some help on the line. Adding Smith opens the door to move Bryant McKinnie to the right side and big Phil Loadholt to RG. Getting the best OT in a draft at 12 is great value.
13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OL, Boston College
The Lions have needs along the entire offensive line. In Castonzo they have a chance to fill the need for a left tackle to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side. It’s a good pick because of Castonzo’s versatility. If he doesn’t pan out well at left tackle or the Lions add another tackle he can be moved to a different spot on the line and produce very well for years to come.
14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The odds are starting to pile up against the Rams getting Jones with this pick. Teams are becoming interested in jumping ahead of the Rams to nab him. The Rams are also starting to show an interest to move up and make sure no one does get in front of them. The Rams made huge strides last year and are showing promise. In Sam Bradford they have the potential to stay competitive regardless of who catches passes. But if Julio Jones can be had then the greatest show on turf might be booked for a return.
15. Miami Dolphins: Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
The Dolphins are starting to develop a top notch defense, adding Fairly to the line with Cameron Wake would make them devastating. It’s the best value for them, and even though they need help on offense the help they want isn’t here.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
The Jaguars are secretly wanting a quarterback, but with the top two gone they won’t reach for Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton. The Jaguars made strides last season and could have taken the Colts place in the division. However, bad quarterback play, and a typically slow pass rush foiled those plans. So the Jaguars will go back to the well like last year for a defensive linemen. Adrian Clayborn was a top ten talent last year. Injuries and double teams put his numbers down some last year. But make no mistake, he will help this defense in their never ending battle with Peyton Manning.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders): Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
The Patriots remain patient and get exactly what they want. Cameron Jordan dominated the Senior Bowl and the best offensive tackles from around the country couldn’t block him to save their lives. So Brian Belichick will take Jordan and unleash him. The Patriots struggled mightily getting any pass rush last season. Just what the doctor ordered.
18. San Diego Chargers: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
After ranking number one in defense a season ago the Chargers will do whatever they can to make sure they don’t regress. Getting the extremely gifted Smith at 18 is great value. Smith will rush hard every down and develop into the hole left by Shawn Merriman.
19. New York Giants: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA
New York has always been known for great pass rushing defensive ends. But the time has come to bolster the entire front seven. The defense was lackluster and too slow last season. A particular handicap when you play Michael Vick twice a year. So Tom Coughlin will grab the big and fast Ayers to shore up the woes that stopped the Giants march into the NFC playoffs last year. Offensive line wouldn’t be out of the question either.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan is in my humble opinion the most underrated defensive lineman in the whole draft. He is ideally sized, very much like Jared Allen. His motor is non-stop and he plays every down. His 12.5 sacks are a testament of his ability. The Bucs are in dire need of pass rush, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan were able to take them apart down the stretch. Ryan Kerrigan will change that right away.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
I’m sticking with this pick. The Chiefs are looking to make things easier for Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe. Kyle Rudolph will stretch the field and make some great catches over defenders. Stretching the field will in turn open the running game up for Jamaal Charles. This pick will definitely be a big upgrade and a huge lift for the Chiefs offense.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Colts need to keep Peyton Manning safe will result in them taking Solder at 22. Solder has a huge wingspan and is very strong. Defenders will have their hands full trying to get around him. His slower feet will cause him to drop to this pick, Indy won’t mind that.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Eagles need someone to block for Michael Vick’s blindside. Carimi is exactly that guy. He considers himself to the best tackle in the draft. His knock is that he cannot play the left side. But in Philly the right side is the blind side, so this is a match made in heaven.
24. New Orleans Saints: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Saints are getting older and vulnerable in the secondary. Adding the drafts best safety to step in and add speed, youth, and excitement is exactly what they need. Moore can play the entire field and has the ability to play against the run. The Saints defense needs pass rush help too, but Moore is the sleeper and they won’t lose him.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Christian Ponder was widely considered one of the top prospect going into his senior year of college. A few injuries later mixed with inconsistent play and he was pushed down the QB list. But after an MVP performance at the Senior Bowl he started to rise. At this point he has reestablished himself as a late first round prospect. With the Seahawks desperate for a quarterback and the top four gone they will settle for Ponder.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Jimmy Smith has two knocks against him. Character and the lack of interceptions. When it comes to character concerns only the Ravens can decide. But the interception totals are completely misleading. Smith was never targeted by opposing offenses thanks to his great coverage skills. The Ravens play a tough guy style on defense. Jimmy Smith is one of the toughest and hardest hitting corners in the whole draft. So there you go. With a locker room full of upstanding stars don’t be surprised if the Ravens gamble on Smith.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia
The Falcons were undoubtedly hoping to take Jimmy Smith here. With Smith gone Texas corner Aaron Williams might be a possible reach. But Houston is going to be something special if he is coached along properly. The Falcons draft for need and they really need a pass rusher.
28. New England Patriots: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida
The Patriots have plenty of options here. If they stay put they will get the best interior lineman of the draft and will have excellent pass blocking and run blocking inside for years to come. The Patriots can have success on the ground with just about anybody. Pouncey keeps that standard in place.
29. Chicago Bears: Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
The Bear are desperate for anything on the offensive line. Running has become hard and they can’t protect Jay Cutler at all. Derrick Sherrod is the best remaining tackle and they will take their chances with him. Almost any player in this draft would upgrade that line. Another possibility is wide receiver. But what good would that do until they can keep defenders off Cutler?
30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Taylor has started to stall a bit, but the Jets needs their Vince Wilfork. Taylor is the biggest defensive tackle in the draft, fast too. The Jets are looking to get some push with their front seven. Plugging big Phil in there should provide that. Just about any other DT is a possibility being the teams biggest. The Jets need pass rush, if Justin Houston is available they would grab him in a heart beat.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
As long as the Steelers play vicious defense they can get into the playoffs. Casey Hampton is getting up there in years, the Steelers won’t have to rely on Wilkerson immediately but can take advantage of his skills as a rotational lineman. If any of the top offensive linemen fall here the Steelers would rather go that way. But they won’t reach for someone like Danny Watkins just yet.
32. Green Bay Packers: Brooks Reed, OLB/DE, Arizona
The Packers always take the best player available, always. So despite having glaring needs at offensive line they will take the man who is the closest comparison to Clay Matthews in this draft and put him on the other side from Matthews. Reed is super fast and strong. Getting him in that system would allow time to develop and then explode onto the scene when ready.