1. Carolina Panthers – QB – Cameron Newton – Auburn
If I were the Panthers there’s no way I would take Newton. Everywhere he’s been, trouble has followed and I don’t think it’s coincidence. That said, the Panthers appear to be leaning in the Newton direction and the pick has potential for huge reward.
2. Denver Broncos – DT – Marcel Dareus – Alabama
As long as Dareus isn’t the guy taken off the board by the Panthers, he seems like a perfect fit for the Broncos. He’ll provide them with a figure to build the new Denver defensive scheme around.
3. Buffalo Bills – LB – Von Miller – Texas A&M
The Bills can go in a few directions with the third pick, but from a value perspective and a rebuild perspective, Miller is probably their best choice. He will provide a center to a defense that needs to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – WR – A.J. Green – Georgia
At this point it’s too early in my mind to take a quarterback to replace the disgruntled Carson Palmer. Instead they can take one of the draft’s best talents, A.J. Green to replace loudmouth Chad Ochocinco.
HOUSTON TEXANS TRADE PICKS 11, 42, 105 TO ARIZONA CARDINALS FOR PICK 5
5. Houston Texans – CB – Patrick Peterson – LSU
The Texans pass defense was atrocious in 2010 and they desperately need help to fix that area. Enter Patrick Peterson, perhaps the best prospect in the 2011 draft and an instant help to their dismal secondary.
6. Cleveland Browns – DE – Robert Quinn – North Carolina
Cleveland is another team that is making a scheme change and needs players to help lighten the transition. Robert Quinn provides the Browns with a pass rushing nightmare to anchor their rebuilt defensive line.
7. San Francisco 49ers – CB – Prince Amukamara – Nebraska
The 49ers could definitely use an upgrade at the cornerback position. Amukamara is a top 10 talent that the 49ers will be able to insert into their defense right away and expect solid contribution.
8. Tennessee Titans - QB – Jake Locker – Washington
Surprise, surprise. Jake Locker comes off the draft board before Blaine Gabbert does. Locker gives the Titans the replacement to the mess that was Vince Young and the second-coming of Brett Favre, in my opinion.
ARIZONA CARDINALS TRADE PICKS 11, 38, 103 TO DALLAS COWBOYS FOR PICKS 9, 40
9. Arizona Cardinals – QB – Blaine Gabbert – Missouri
The Cardinals could’ve taken Gabbert at pick 5. Instead they grab him four spots lower for a cheaper contract and essentially add a second round pick to their stash. Gabbert will give the Cardinals the quarterback they so badly need to replace the loss of Kurt Warner.
10. Washington Redskins – DT – Nick Fairley – Auburn
Sitting tight at 10 didn’t work out too well for the Redskins who missed out on the two quarterbacks that both went consecutively prior to them going on the clock. Instead they get the replacement for the free agent bust of the decade, Albert Haynesworth.
11. Dallas Cowboys – OT – Tyron Smith – USC
Jerry Jones and co. would’ve liked to have traded down a little further than two spots; however, screwing a division rival out of their target quarterback gives the war room a chuckle. They end up taking the player they wanted all along, a guy that will prevent Romo’s arm from exploding again in 2011.
12. Minnesota Vikings - DE – Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson
I don’t buy the hype that Bowers will even come close to falling out of the first round. He has the potential to be an elite player in the NFL and a team is going to take a risk and draft the talented defensive end. The Vikings who are aging rapidly along the defensive line could use an infusion of youth like Bowers.
ATLANTA FALCONS TRADE PICKS 27, 59, 2012 4TH ROUNDER TO DETROIT LIONS FOR PICK 13
13. Atlanta Falcons – WR – Julio Jones – Alabama
The Falcons want an elite receiver and the dropoff after Jones is a long one. They couldn’t wait another pick because the Rams would almost surely scoop Jones up if given the opportunity. So they make the steepest trade of the draft to get the elite target for Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TRADE PICKS 21, 86, 140 TO ST. LOUIS RAMS FOR PICK 14
14. Kansas City Chiefs – G – Mike Pouncey – Florida
The Chiefs established themselves as a great running team in 2010 and they’ll likely want to maintain that identity moving into the future. To do so, they’ll need to replace the aging interior lineman with a player like Pouncey for Jamaal Charles to run behind. There was no way the Chiefs could allow the Dolphins, Jaguars or Patriots to consider taking him though so they had to get in front.
15. Miami Dolphins - OT – Anthony Castonzo – Boston College
The Dolphins could’ve used some interior line help and can definitely use a new quarterback. However, the guy they’re targeting (Ryan Mallett) is not going in the first round and they can instead use the pick to snag a bookend tackle across from Pro Bowler, Jake Long. If they’re taking Mallett they’re going to need good lineman to protect the statue.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS TRADE PICKS 28, 74, 159 TO JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS FOR PICK 16
16. New England Patriots – DE – Cameron Jordan – California
If you’re the Patriots, it’s probably much more advantageous to target a few elite players with the incredible amount of draft ammunition available to them instead of grabbing late round guys. With two guys on the top of the board that they like they trade up so they can take consecutive guys.
17. New England Patriots – OT – Gabe Carimi – Wisconsin
The Patriots have no dire need on their team, but they could use an infusion of youth on the offensive and defensive lines. Jordan and Carimi provide that and give them day one starters.
18. San Diego Chargers – DE – J.J. Watt – Wisconsin
J.J. Watt perfectly fits the model of a 3-4 defensive end and is exactly the kind of player that A.J. Smith would target. Watt just looks and feels like a Charger to me.
19. New York Giants - LB – Akeem Ayers – UCLA
The Giants need help at linebacker and Ayers provides that. Many might consider this the reach of the draft due to his lackluster measurables, but his game tape shows that he’s a player to be reckoned with and he could be the Brandon Spikes of 2011. That is to say, the linebacker that outplays his supposedly poor athleticism.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE – Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue
Why trade up for a starting defensive end when one will just fall in your lap? Kerrigan will give the Buccaneers exactly the type of defensive end that fits their Tampa Two defense and will help to continue to rebuild the defensive line from the inside out.
21. St. Louis Rams – DT – Corey Liuget – Illinois
There’s a lot of speculation that the Rams are targeting Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph and after a trade into the early 20’s, that pick would make sense. However, the Rams instead fill a need at defensive tackle with Liuget.
DETROIT LIONS TRADE PICKS 27, 107 TO INDIANAPOLIS COLTS FOR PICK 22
22. Detroit Lions - CB – Jimmy Smith – Colorado
The Lions need a cornerback to continue the rebuild of their young defense. Had they waited one more pick, the Eagles would’ve almost definitely scooped up the talented Smith from Colorado.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - LB – Aldon Smith – Missouri
While the Eagles didn’t get the cornerback they needed to bolster their pass defense they may be able to help stop the pass in another way. That would be by selecting the talented, young Aldon Smith of Missouri. He has the potential to be a nightmare for NFC East quarterbacks.
24. New Orleans Saints – DT – Muhammad Wilkerson – Temple
Youth on the defensive line could really benefit the Saints and Wilkerson is a perfect fit for their defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks – QB – Andy Dalton – TCU
This guy is not a top 10 pick in my eyes and hardly even a first rounder. However many teams are reportedly in love with Dalton. The Seahawks might even be getting great value for Dalton in the late first round and he gives the Seahawks a legitimate opportunity for a franchise quarterback.
26. Baltimore Ravens – DE – Cameron Heyward – Ohio State
When I think Baltimore Ravens, I think hard-hitting defense. They’ve managed to stay on top of the defensive rankings for the last decade due to good, consistent drafting for their defense and Heyward allows that trend to continue.
27. Indianapolis Colts – OT – Derek Sherrod – Mississippi State
Bill Polian has already essentially admitted that he made a mistake by not selecting Roger Saffold in the first round of the 2010 Draft. For him to again pass on a potential starting left tackle would just be bizarre. With Sherrod on the board, this is as about no-brainer as any pick you’ll see.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB – Colin Kaepernick – Nevada
Why is Kaepernick the 5th quarterback off the board? No really, why? His arm measured as the strongest one at the combine. His Wonderlic score was one of the best in the entire draft. His production was through the roof at Nevada. His character is squeaky clean. The Jaguars get a steal by taking their new franchise guy at pick 28.
29. Chicago Bears – DT – Phil Taylor – Baylor
The Bears need to find a replacement for defensive tackle Tommie Harris. Corey Liuget would’ve been nice, but Phil Taylor is a great consolation for Chicago.
30. New York Jets – DE – Adrian Clayborn – Iowa
Defensive lineman are at the top of the list of things the Jets need to address in this year’s offseason. Clayborn is the perfect defensive end for their 3-4 system and can start right away on a top notch defense.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB – Aaron Williams – Texas
As always, the Steelers have a need on the offensive line but they’re going to ignore it because they have no good lineman at the top of their draft board. Instead they can draft the versatile Aaron Williams that could find a spot at any of the four positions in the Pittsburgh secondary.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS TRADE PICK 190, 2012 1ST TO GREEN BAY PACKERS FOR PICK 32
32. San Francisco 49ers – QB – Christian Ponder – Florida State
With Amukamara at the top of their board in round one, the 49ers couldn’t pass on the opportunity to select him for a quarterback so they’re getting their quarterback now. It’s worth trading away a future 1st round pick for a guy that you believe will be your franchise quarterback and with Ponder, they feel it’s worth it.