Probably the only certain part of the 2011 off-season is the draft. Since 1936 players from universities around the United States anxiously wait 2 days 3 days to learn about their football future. Lots have changed since 1936 with the evaluation of players and it has now one of the most popular parts of sports in general. Today, number5 will put on his general manager hat and evaluate 32 teams. Enjoy.
Format: Team, Needs, Pick
1. Carolina (2-14), Biggest Needs: (QB, WR, OL, DL, CB), Pick: DE - Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
While a team is built around a quarterback, the Carolina Panthers need all the help they can get on both sides of the field. The best possible choice is to pick one of the top BPA that can make an impact immediately. Enter Da'Quan Bowers. Bowers is arguably top three talent wise and has polished skills.In 2010 had career numbers with 16 sacks and 67 tackles. However, he needs to show that he can be consistent. He will improve an DL that has little talent outside of rising star Charlie Johnson.
While Cam Newton talent wise is the best player in the draft, he won't fit with the Panthers because of too many question marks surrounding his game to the pros and many off the field concerns as well.
2. Denver (4-12), Biggest Needs: ( WR, OL, DL, LB, DB), Pick: DT - Nick Fairley, Auburn
Fox's offense is set nicely with a QB and skill positions around whom ever is the starting quarterback. Running Back Knowshon Moreno is a young and the Broncos have Demetrius Thomas several decent compliment receivers. However, the defensive side of the ball is a wreck. It's easier just to say the Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey are the two parts of the defense that is reliable and good. With a transition to a 4-3, the Broncos need someone that can collapse the pocket, stuff the run, and bring inside pressure when Elvis Dumervil forces opposing quarterbacks to step up. Fairley is easily a top ten talent and played a a high level versus quality opposition. He played a very dominate game the last time he played against Oregon in the BCS National Championship. He was one of the biggest contributors to that game behind Cam Newton. With Fairley and Dumervil, the Broncos pass rush immediately becomes something to fear.
3. Buffalo (4-12), Biggest Needs (QB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB), Pick: QB - Cam Newton, Auburn
Buffalo is in a similar situation as Carolina, needing players at almost every position. At least the Bills have a young and bright running game with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. Buffalo will choose the best talent available and draft Cam Newton. Here's why this marriage will fit. One, Chan Gailey. Gailey loves athletic quarterbacks with rocket arms. Two, the running game. The running game is the only thing the Bill got. Both sides will immediately get better. Cam can let the running game drive the offense, while the play action works for the both the quarterback and the running back, kinda like a VY or Mike Vick effect, freezing the back side DE and LB watching if Newton will just keep it. Three, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick proved to be capable to run be a temporary stop plug and more than capable back up. Let Gailey develop his product into a more accurate and precise quarterback. Four, Building around Cam. With so many question marks on both sides of the ball, the Bills can build around Cam rather than making him something he is not. Five, they need a icon :P.
4. Cincinnati (4-12), Biggest Needs (QB, RB, WR, OL, DL), Pick: DE- Robbert Quinn, North Carolina
Although they need some help offensively, the Bengals defense was just as bad as Carson Palmer. The Bengals just cut ties with Antwan Odom. They have some young guys in Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, however none of these guys are at the pure talent level Quinn is at. An improved pass rush will help Leon Hall and Johnathon Joseph return to 2009 form. He is arguably 1a in the top defensive end class along with Bowers.
5. Arizona (5-11), Biggest Needs (QB, OL, DL, LB), Pick: QB - Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
From one of the top ten offenses and Super bowl appearance in 2009 to last in the division in 2010. Kurt Warner's retirement had left a mark on this offense. The Cardinals went through everyone from Matt Leinart to Max Hall. Hell, i wouldn't be surprised to hear that the Cardinals staff went to all of the local supermarkets looking for a strong armed bag boy. They have strong outside threats in Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald. Throw in a strong armed and accurate QB like Gabbert and its a race again in the NFC West.
6. Cleveland (5-11), Biggest Needs (WR, OL, DL, LB), Pick: WR - AJ Green, Georgia
With McCoy settling in as the starter after a strong performance in 2010, he needs an deep threat to throw to. Green is probably after Cam Newton talent wise and is the best prospect since Randy Moss. He has impressive career numbers with 166 catches, over 2,000 receiving yards, and 23 TD's. What is really impressive is that over his three year career is he had 800 or more receiving yards and averaged about 50 catches per season. He has a great frame and can run any route on the field, which is needed in a west coast system like the Browns.
7. San Fransisco (6-10), Biggest Needs (QB, C, DL, LB, CB), Pick: CB - Patrick Peterson, LSU
With Gabbert and Newton gone, Harbaugh won't force his hand and draft a QB. He will look to improve his secondary and more specifically opposite of Nate Clemons. The 49ers are getting the BPA available and one of the top talents in this draft. This allows 49ners to also draft another CB later for Clemons replacement. Clemons is already 31.
8. Tennessee (6-10), Biggest Needs (QB, TE, OL, DL, LB), Pick: DT - Marcell Dareus, Alabama
The Titans will look to replace their best talent in Albert Haynesworth. Dareus is the second best DT in the draft after Fairley. Dareus can instantly play along side Jason Jones, a undersized DT. This will allow whom ever plays defensive end will get some sort of inside pressure.
9. Dallas (6-10), Biggest Needs (OL, DL, LB, CB, FS, SS), Pick: OT - Tyron Smith, USC
The Cowboys have learned a valuable lesson last season, the offensive line is important. Inconsistent play from each and every position killed their season, running game, and of course Tony Romo. The average age for the Cowboys offensive line last year was 30.5 (Alex Barron 28, Leonard Davis 32, Kyle Kosier 32, Doug Free 27, Andre Gurode 32). Tyron Smith is one of the top tackles in the draft, a freak of nature (height: 6'5'', 309 lbs, and 37'' arms) and will be a solid starter. Plus he's 20. He'll Jerry might need some protection as well from all the heat from the Super bowl seating fiasco.
10. Washington (6-10), Biggest Needs (QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, S), Pick: LB - Von Miller, Texas A&M
The Redskins transition to the 3-4 was a poor one. In 2009, they had a a top ten defense with 40 sacks. This year? Bottom half of the leagues defenses and only Brian Orakpo had over 2.5 sacks. Von Miller will make a great transition to the 3-4 defense and is a natural play-maker. He has a variety of moves to get to the quarterback and has plenty of speed when he explodes out of his stance. He had an amazing Senior Bowl to say the least and is drawing comparisons to Clay Matthews in the 3-4.He does struggle a little in coverage and run support, but those can be improved upon.
11. Houston (6-10), Biggest Needs (OL, DL, LB, CB, S), Pick: CB - Prince Amukamara, Nebraksa
The Texans pass coverage was a joke. Many times in very close games, opposing teams would find a hole in the Texans coverage and score the game winning touchdown. Hell, even when the Texans were in perfect position to stop a game winning Hail-Mary against the Jaguars and still lost. Statically they were ranked last overall, 4th in most points allowed, 6th in completion percentage, second in average pass with 8.2, and tied for first with touchdowns allowed with 33. Kareem Jackson, last years first round pick, has been a disappointment so far, but everyone was burnt last year. Prince Amukamara is the second best corner in the draft with great range and ball hawking potential. If they select Prince Amukamara, I see a huge improvement from last year.
12. Minnesota (6-10), Biggest Needs (QB, OL, DL, LB, CB, FS, SS), Pick: QB - Jake Locker, Washington
The Vikings are in the same boat as the Cardinals. One year removed from the playoffs and with a strong offensive core. However, number 4 didn't produce any magic this year, Tarvaris Jackson has been confirmed as a bust, and Joe Webb, whom the Vikings drafted as a WR, was their most impressive quarterback. Having a young and talented QB like Locker will boost their offense. Locker has all the intangibles, is extremely athletic, and has a strong arm. However, questions about his accuracy haunt his status. If the Vikings can get a great QB coach, Locker will become a superstar.
13. Detroit (7-9), Biggest Needs (WR, OL, DE, LB, CB, SS), Pick: OT - Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
This will give the Lions offense a huge boost when Matthew Stafford comes back from his shoulder injury. The Lions had a good season, something most football fans and analysts haven't said in a while. The Lions almost finished with a .500 record and won the last 4 games, one of which broke their 20+ losing streak on the road. The Lions are one of my teams that will take a huge jump in the NFC picture, as long as Matthew Stafford can play a full season. Enter Anthony Castonzo, the best tackle in this year's draft behind Tyrod Smith. Castonzo has great size at 6'7'' and 300lbs, yet athletic enough to get to the second level of blocks. He has the best footwork of any offensive lineman and has good technique. Oh, and has a huge wing span. He needs to learn how to handle the bull rush more effectively. A healthy Stafford could equal a playoff birth.
14. St. Louis (7-9), Biggest Needs (WR, TE, OG, DE, LB, CB, S), Pick: WR - Julio Jones, Alabama
Sam Bradford had a impressive season and proved the theory that a franchise QB makes a huge difference across the board for a football team. However, the Rams offense is far from elite, Bradford is in his "Donovan McNabb stage" where he needs some explosive toys outside of Steven Jackson. Either his weapons on the outside got injured like Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton or he had no names on the outside. I'm a football geek and know most of the NFL's roster (minus kickers, punters, and long snappers), however there was a point that I had no idea who the Rams were starting at WR minus Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson (and I only know him because he was a former Eagle). Julio Jones is a big deep threat that can run the 9 and 6 routes kinda like T.O. He will give Bradford his "DeSean Jackson."
15. Miami (7-9), Biggest Needs (QB, WR, TE, OL, DE, LB, S), Pick: QB - Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Tony Sparano is in a win now mode with the Dolphins. After making the playoffs his first season as the head coach, he has had two unproductive seasons and his job there was in questions. They have made commitments to the offense like Brandon Marshall, but with their inconsistent quarterback play from Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, and Tyler Thigpen its no surprise that Sparano job is in jeopardy. Ryan Mallett is a young and extremely talented quarterback that can make all the throws. The Dolphins know how important a quarterback is based of the success from the Rams and the failure of the Vikings. Although their are red flags surrounding his intangibles as a leader and his work ethic, but his ability and more importantly the Dolphins need along with a weak quarterback class will help Mallett's draft position.
16. Jacksonville (8-8), Biggest Needs (QB, WR, OL, DL, LB, CB, S), Pick: DE - Cameron Jordan, Cal
The Jaguars are a mess on defense. A poor secondary complimented with a defensive line that as a team had only 26.0 sacks. Sad to say the least, however they have made moves to improve them by signing Aaron Kampman from last year, whose season was cut short by another ACL injury and drafted Tyson Alualu at DT, who was team mates with Jordan at Cal. Cameron Jordan is an interesting prospect with good size at 6'4'' 280 lbs and is explosive off the line of scrimmage. He had good footwork and is very athletic. He has good technique using his hands and fights double teams well. Could also be an undersized DT.
17. New England (14-2), Biggest Needs (WR, RB, OL, DL, LB), Pick: T Nate Solder, Colorado
With their defenses strong play from last season, the Patriots focus on the offensive side and fortify their protection. Nate Solder is one of the top offensive linemen with a lot of upside. He is freakishly big at 6'8'' 310 lbs and has a rare combination of athleticism and agility for his size. This allows a stronger core for the Patriots who can start Solder immediately or can have him sit behind Nick Kasur. However, the later sounds good because his technique is still very raw, but Bill Belichick has a good track record with getting rookies to not only start, but play at a high level.
18. San Diego (9-7), Biggest Needs (WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, CB), Pick: LB - Aldon Smith, Missouri
The Chargers are looking to find someone to fill Shawne Merriman production when he was "lights out". Aldon Smith translates to a 3-4 outside linebacker well because of his long arms and had extremely good tackling technique, probably the best out of all the the 3-4 LB prospects.
19. New York (10-6), Biggest Needs (OL, DT, LB, CB), Pick: LB - Akeem Ayers, UCLA
Probably the one team that undervalues linebackers as much as the Eagles are our rivals the New York Giants. The Giants get low production from their linebackers and haven't had a star for ages. Akeem Ayers is a prospect with great size and talent, but has some red flags regarding effort, block shedding, and tackling along with willingness to make contact.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6), Biggest Needs (DE, LB, CB, S), Pick: DE - Ryan Kerrigan, Purde
Probably the team with younger talent than the Eagles yet the same production, the Bucs had a huge 2010 season, both sides of the ball played extremely well. Their rookie, Gerald McCoy, played extremely well, however the Bucs don't really have a edge rusher. Ryan Kerrigan is a college player that produced well against Big Ten opponents, achieving double digit sack numbers every year. He uses a good technique along with his hands to beat tackles and is a "high motor" guy.
21. Kansas City (10-6), Biggest Needs (WR, OL, DT, LB, S), Pick: NT - Corey Liuget, Illinois
Although they transition to a 3-4 successful behind Romeo Cornell, Cronell knows that the heart of a 3-4 defense is a Nose Tackle that will eat up blocks in the run game. Currently they don't have one/don't have a very good one. The 6'3'' 300 lb Liuget is a great/will make a great NT for several reasons. He has a great explosion of the ball and change direction extremely well for someone his size and position. Can get pressure from both the nose and 3 technique with a punch of the line that is flat out violent. Has a strong upper body, yet plays low with a strong base and is a excellent tackler. The only concerns with him are his conditioning during the game, whether he can play with 100% effort in the fourth and his speed chasing guys from behind.
22. Indianapolis (10-6), Biggest Needs (HB, OL, DT, CB, S), Pick: RB - Mark Ingram, Alabama
Probably my biggest surprise pick after Ryan Mallett to the Dolphins. Picking Ingram makes slightly more sense since the offensive line class is so deep this year. Ingram is a powerful runner that will take what you give him and run you over like Wild Eagle runs over trolls at this site. Ingram is 215 pound monster that can catch the ball really well, something that the Colts need out of their backs.Ingram reminds me of Steven Jackson more than Adrian Peterson only because Peterson has more speed. The Colts really struggled in the middle of the season with a either ineffective running game or injured running backs. The Colts look to be ready to part ways with Addai and adding Ingram will help both Manning and Ingram. Ingram can learn how to pass protect for one of the greatest quarterbacks during camp and Donald Brown can become Ingram's compliment and 3rd down back in passing situations.
23. Philadelphia (10-6), Biggest Needs (RG, RT, DT, LB, CB, SS), Pick: CB - Jimmy Smith, Colorado
This was really tough with Camiri still on the board, but Jimmy Smith overall is the better athlete and talent wise is the best still on the board. Jimmy Smith is a very complete corner who is physical, fast, big at 6'2'', Ball Hawk skills like our own Asante Samuel. Most of all he is a willing and good tackler, which is something most of our corner backs don't posses. His impact is made known on the field as he is barley target and has he has only allowed 11 completions. While most want to compare him to VietNam (Peterson is more like), I think he is more like a Charles Woodson, physical, a long strider and a ball hawk.
24. New Orleans (11-5), Biggest Needs (RB, C, DE, DT, LB), Pick: DT - Phil Taylor, Baylor
With the Saints getting abused by the Seahawks running game, the Saints need to strengthen their front seven. Phil Taylor is a perfect compliment to Sedrick Ellis at NT. Talyor is overall just huge at 6'3'' 350 lbs and is violent on the snap. He is explosive and can deal with double teams well. However, his athletic ability isn't as strong as he can't change direction very well and has weight problems, but then again boulders are heavy, boulders are better than Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley, Taylors weight resembles a boulder, so Taylor = good.
25. Seattle (7-9), Biggest Needs (QB, WR, OL, LB, CB, S), Pick: T - Gabe Carimi
The Seattle surprised everyone this year when defeating the ex-Super Bowl champs Saints in the Playoffs. However, reality quickly sat back in when they played a Bears defense that brings the heat. They needs help at offensive line badly. Camiri is the best offensive linemen on the board and can play either tackle or can make a strong transition to guard.He has great size and plays nasty like a Harvey Dahl. He is extremely powerful in the run game and has short fast bursts although overall he isn't that fast. However, he doesn't have very long arms for tackle and often reaches out at defenders because of it, losing balance. He can become a very good guard at the next level and I would place him at left guard next to their best lineman Max Unger (HPA grad!), making a Peters Herremans combo.
26. Baltimore (12-4), Biggest Needs (WR, DE, MLB, CB, S), Pick: CB - Brandon Harris, Florida
Although the Ravens probably had one of the best defenses of the past decade, they have struggled at the DB position for the past couple years. Multiple CB's had ACL injuries and Ed Reed has had problems staying on the field. Brandon Harris is a very athletic and fast prospect with a 4.45 forty. He has an amazing back pedal and very fluid hips and is a willing tackler if a running back gets to the second level. However, he isn't a very strong tackler and doesn't rap up all the time. Also, he is a better man to man corner than a zone corner, and isn't a ball hawk.
27. Atlanta (13-3), Biggest Needs (WR, TE, OL, DE, LB, CB, S), Pick: FS - Rahim Moore, UCLA
Although the Falcons were "the best team in the NFC", their defense was highly overrated as a whole and at DL, LB, DB. With most of the best defensive linemen gone, Rahim Moore is the most talented DB on the board. Moore is the definition of a ball hawk, causing a turnover when a quarterback threw 14 times. Moore has the hands of an elite wide-out and has the speed and fluid hips to cover one. He play a lot in the box last season and proved to be a solid run supporter, however he just makes plays in pass coverage. Great pickup.
28. New England (12-4), Biggest Needs (WR, RB, OL, DL, LB), Pick: WR - Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh
Also another head scratchier? Here's why not. The Patriots try to get the BPA available for their needs. Baldwin adds something the other Patriot wide receivers don't have, Ball Tracking Skills. He is a true possession receiver. He adds the Randy Moss factor to the Pats without all the drama. He has solid hands and a long strider with explosive speed, however he losses his speed when running routes, something he also has to work with. But the Patriots do such a good job coaching up rookies that this is a great pickup.
29. Chicago (11-5), Biggest Needs (WR, OL, DT, OLB, CB), Pick: T - Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
With Baldwin gone, the decision is easy for the Bears. Protecting Jay Cutler gives you the best chance to win. Derek Sherrod gives Jay Cutler something to look forward to as the Bears FO try to fix that horrendous offensive line that allowed the Giants to brutally butt rape Jay Cutler. Sherrod has perfect size and athleticism to play tackle. He explodes of the line well and is amazing in run blocking by sealing defenders. He also finishes blocks really well. He has to work on his hand work and he often lunges at defenders like Camiri. He is battle tested with 36 starts and was a team captain and leader. Tice is happy :)
30. New York Jets (11-5), Biggest Needs (OL, DL, OLB, FS, SS), Pick: 3-4 LB - Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburg
With the Jets win now attitude, they have forgotten the ages of their players. Calvin Pace is 30, Jason Taylor is 36, and Bryant Thomas is 31. They need a future 3-4 OLB. Jabaal Sheard is the perfect pick because their are no DB's worthy of being pick this high. Sheard has great size, speed, athleticism, a variety of moves, change of direction, block shedding, and a great run supporter. He is a violent player that looks to force a fumble. He needs to work on his bull rush and shedding double teams, but he is a solid pick up here.
31. Pittsburgh (12-4), Biggest Needs (OL, DL, LB, CB, FS), Pick: OG - Mike Pouncey, Florida
The Steelers will draft a offensive lineman first to protect their best player Big Ben. With Ben suffering ankle injuries and broken noses, protection overrules a CB right now. Mike Pouncey, shouldn't be confused with his twin brother who is also in Pittsburgh. Mike sucks at center and is no where near the blocker Marcus is. But, Mike is a more than capable guard with quick feet and solid technique. Also he plays extremely well with his brother by his side and the Steelers will try the brother combo. Hopefully they'll have better luck than us with the Andrew brothers sisters.
32. Green Bay (10-6), Biggest Needs (RB, OG, C, OLB, SS), Pick: RB - Mikel LeShoure, Illinois
The Green Bay Packers learned that a running game is a huge boost and while theirs was effective, it can improve greatly. Starks seems like a change of pace or part of a "smash and dash" combo. Ryan Grant hasn't been effective since 2007 and has injury problems. I like Mikel LeShoure over Ryan Williams for the Packers is because LeShore is more of a one cut, in-between the tackles guy. Someone who will flatten linebackers and defensive backs while Starks hits the outside. LeShore plays low and has smooth change of direction skill although lacking break away speed. He also can catch the ball out of the back field better than Ryan Grant can.
Whew, that was long. Biggest surprise (Bowers, Locker, Mallett, Ingram, Baldwin, or other)? Biggest Snub?