With the draft just over 2 weeks away, I think it's a good time to talk about our 6 best options at #23 and who would we take if somehow they were all available. The 6 best options at pick #23 after the jump.
6. Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA- When I first started reading up on Ayers and watching him at the combine and his highlights I thought he was a bigger Ernie Sims. I doubted his instincts and didn't believe he could be a starter in a 4-3 scheme. He is really starting to grow on me and I believe if he has a good strong work ethic he can improve his instincs and become a stud weakside linebacker. Ayers is an outstanding blitzer, either is a linebacker or coming off the line. Very good in run defense, good size and good speed combo. Biggest weakness is his instincs. He seems to bite on playaction and any other type of fakeout by the offense. If he can improve on that area then I see no reason why he can't become a pro bowl Weakside LB in the 4-3, if not he is as worthless as Ernie Sims.
5. Muhammed Wilkerson DT Temple- If I thought we really needed a Defensive Tackle I'd put Wilkerson #2 or #1 but we don't. Antonio Dixon is already pretty solid and he hasn't even reached his potential yet. Patterson and Bunkley both disapointed a little bit in 2010 but both could thrive for Jim Washburn and Trevor Laws started showing promise this past season as well. Dominated the opposition at Temple despite getting double and triple teamed. Has a ton of strength and uses it well but lacks the explosion you would want from a first round DT prospect.
4. Mike Pouncey OG/C Florida- The popular pick two months ago. The fact that he can play all three interior line positions is a plus but the thought of him as our starting center gives me nightmares. He clearly is the best option at RG in the draft and appears to be one of the safest options in the first round at any pick. Free agency could make RG a bigger need if we addressed the need at Cornerback and Right Tackle, but for right now with Mike McGlynn possibly adding competition at the position this doesn't seem like a serious need. Pouncey would be a great addition to our line, especially with Coach Mudd. Pouncey is probably the can't miss pick of the latter portion of the first round but he doesn't have as high of a ceiling as others.
3. Da'Quan Bowers DE Clemson- Bowers' draft stock has really fallen in the last 2 months. A lot of scouts had him as the #1 pick in late February and now he may fall completley out of the first round. He has gone from being compared to Julious Peppers to now looking like a huge injury risk. If his knee is fine he still could fall to the Eagles at #23 because of future injury concerns and lack of productions his first two college seasons. We know Big Red would love this pick as he gets top 5 caliber player late in the first round because of injury concerns. Our front office drafts well enough that we don't have to hit a home run in the first round , we do it in the 7th round(Kurt Coleman, Jamar Chaney) or we find undrafted guys with big potential(Jamal Jackson, Quintin Mikell).
2. Gabe Carimi OT Wisconsin- My favortie Offensive Line prospect. Projects to be a Right Tackle but has ability to be a Right Guard as well. Great footwork and lateral movement gives him the advantage againist much more athletic pass rushers. Good intensity and work ethic, not the type of player to take plays off. You gotta believe that with Coach Mudd pushing him he could be just as good if not better than the guy he replaced at Wisconsin, Joe Thomas.
1. Jimmy Smith CB Colorado- The sky is the limit for this kid. Great size for a Cornerback at 6'2 210+. Good speed, ran a 4.4 40 at his combine and his pro day. Maybe the best man cover corner in the draft, was only thrown at 20 times the entire 2010 season in man coverage. His physical ability and techniques aren't really what will keep him out of the top 20 in the draft. His attitude and off the field issues will. He has had positive drug tests, but all in his first two years at Colorado and Smith did elaborate on them:
"I went to college and I made some mistakes," he admits. "I've told (NFL team) I'm a great person. I was a young player who made young mistakes. But I grew as a person."
His cocky persona is another major issue. He is a self proclaimed shutdown corner who said he compares to Nnamdi Asomugha except for one thing "I think I have better ball skils". If he can back it up and work hard in practice and in the film I have no problem with his attitude. DeSean Jackson was thought to have an attitdue problem and it has yet to hurt us. If we either sign Nnamdi before the draft(pending on a judge's decision in MN) or our front office believes we will sign Nnamdi (maybe they've had secret talks already), then we don't need to draft Jimmy.