Talk about waiting til the last minute. Well, almost. Last minute before I run out of battery on the cel. So let’s get to it:
1) Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.
2) [TRADE] Houston Texans, Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Just have a feeling the Texans are desperate and Elway wants to pad his pick stock to lessen the impact of a whiff.
3) Buffalo Bills: Marcel Dareus, DT, Alabama. They desperately need help at every defensive position, and he is one of the least risky picks and will start day 1. I like Miller also, but the rule is “inside-out” so you start closest to the ball. That means DT before LB.
4) Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR, Georgia. Four straight SEC picks if you’re counting. Like the Big-12 dominance in last year’s first round, get used to hearing “SEC” tonight. Maybe Carson Palmer is quitting and maybe he isn’t. Either way, Green is a home-run at the position the team so desperately needs new blood. And new attitude. And focus.
5) Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M. Cards need help damn near everywhere on the field. Even QB, but don’t think they’re in love with any of the passer prospects enough to use this pick on them. Maybe later…
6) Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. Oh, sure, Holmgren has hinted the pick is for sale, but he needs PLAYERS in all caps, not just more players. Quinn is a pass-rush phoenom and will make their defense look better immediately.
7) [TRADE] Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Lots of people believe Harbaugh’s new regime goes QB here. I say not so fast. Harbaugh has had a solid track record of working with young passers, so maybe he decides to try to help Alex Smith. Also, no quicker way out of a head coaching job than tethering yourself to a rookie passer. Harbaugh plays it safe and slides back a few slots, following Elway’s earlier example. Skins are dumping McNabb (who could, ironically, land in SanFran! Oh, the IRONY!) and have mediocrity behind him. Shanahan was anxious to move to 2 to get Gabbert, but is able to reign in his nerves slightly and lessen the price paid.
8) Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Titans have shown a high tolerance for high-talent players with red flags - and Fairley is a full-tilt player on both sides. He’s unblockable some plays, unmotivated others. Some say he’s dirty and a cheap-shot artist, some say he doesn’t really have a drive to play the game.
9) Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, Southern Cal. We all know how much Jerry Jones loves to collect pretty shiny things. But this year, he has to swallow his pride and get his quarterback a personal protector. Don’t worry, JJ, lots of fun toys to be found in later rounds.
10) San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. NFC West isn’t scaring anyone right now, so the Niners can take a more conservative approach. Play better D and let your offense [snicker] carry you to the win. Actually, Gore, Crabtree and Davis are excellent pieces and their offensive line is solid. They could grind out wins if they could just shave a few points off the opponents’ totals. Enter Prince. Nate Clements really hasn’t paid dividends like the team expected. Time for the next generation.
11) Denver Broncos: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Elway takes a reciever. SHOCKER! Well, it makes sense. Jones is a big, strong, fast guy who will stretch defenses and make more room for Royal, the tight ends and Moreno underneath. He’s also a physical player - hard to tackle and a violent blocker in the run game. Denver will love him and he will fill the void left by Marshall.
12) [TRADE] Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE, Mizzouri. YES THIS IS A TOTAL HOMER WISH PICK. I PRAY this happens. Bucs need sacks. No choice but to make a move for the second-best pass rusher in this draft. I also am not a fan of Bowers with his questionable knee or Clayborn and his iffy arm. Vikes need every thing and why not move back 8 slots to garner an extra pick or two? Besides, the next group of QB’s will still be there.
13) Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College. Could there BE a more obvious pick? Should take about 1.9 seconds to get this one in. Lions have a gazillion dollars invested in Stafford, and after surrounding him with lots of toys, must now focus on keeping him upright.
14) St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. Also would not be surprised to see the Rams try to sell this pick. I’m betting Julio Jones was the guy they desperately hoped would fall, but were not willing to trade up to get him. Rams made some noise in a crappy division, and just like the Niners, could easily win the West with a marginally improved defense.
15) Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. I don’t believe the rumors. Knee, schmee. Dude put up sick numbers after coming back from his “procedure” to clean up cartilage. Wasn’t a ligament repair/replace, and I’ve heard that James Andrews dude knows what the hell he’s doing when he cuts athletes open. Fins two feature backs are sketchy at best. Ricky Williams is probably higher than Courtney Love right now, and Ronnie Brown has suffered two major leg injuries. Again, like Minnesota, QB can be addressed later…
16) Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. Jags also need more backfield disruption. Kerrigan is the prototypical high-motor guy. Not the fastest, not the strongest, but maybe the most willful. Never gives up on a play, and will just out-try the other guy.
17) New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. How ecstatic is Belichick to see this guy still on the board? Perfect 3-4 defensive end. The 28th pick is now for sale.
18) San Diego Chargers: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin. Would not surprise me to see the Bolts take Watt’s teammate Carimi here, but I think their need to pressure the QB outweighs their need for a right-side mauler on the o-line.
19) NY Giants: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida. Rumors persist that the Steelers dream of reuniting the Pouncey brothers, but the bottom line is, Pittsburgh NEVER trades up. Giants need help up front, and Pouncey is the best interior lineman, able to play center or guard.
20) Minnesota Vikings: Jake Locker, QB, Washington. He’s gonna need some coaching and talent around him. But the Vikes’ brass just won’t be able to pass up on the guy who was mentioned as the possible #1 overall in 2010. Odds are strong Minnesota will sit Jake behind Jackson, Webb or a TBD vet: McNabb? Kolb? Favre? HAHAHAHAHAHA
21) Kansas City Chiefs: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State. Suprise, surprise. Chiefs probably will have to address receiver whenever player signings are again allowed. Current LT Branden Albert just hasn’t progressed as much as hoped. Sherrod is a strong, nimble guy who can start on the right side immediately and possibly take over the left side before the season ends.
22) Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. Peyton’s last hurrah requires protection. Carimi does not project to be a left tackle, but he is a tough, mean SOB who will plow the right side of the field in the run game and stifle any rushers attempting to get to the QB.
23) Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor. Foot, schmoot. This kid is a beast and blocking is what Vick needs. Lots of talk about the Iggles making the bold move to take the uber-talented but troubled Jimmy Smith, but Philly just doesn’t need a headache like that.
24) New Orleans Saints: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor. It’s a run on Bears! Ok, just a two-pick run, but still - when was the last time two Baylor players went in the first round - ever? Agree with Mayock - put this monster in the middle and he plays the role of McFarland to Sedric Ellis’ Sapp. Saints fans would be lucky to have this come to fruition.
25) Seattle Seahawks: Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson. And so the incredible slide ceases. Bowers was a consensus top-3 pick in January. Then he had knee surgery and was unable to participate in the combine drills. Then he looked out of shape and lethargic at his pro day workout. Bottom line is, the man was a helluva player in college and Carroll may just get the steal of the draft if Bowers fully recovers from his knee repair.
26) Baltimore Ravens: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. No questioning this guy’s talent. On the field, it’s debateable that Smith is better even than Patrick Peterson. Unfortunately, Smith’s repeated run-ins with the law and other off-the-field concerns push him this far down. The Ravens have the leadership to keep the locker room intact and make sure Smith keeps his nose clean - literally. Basically, Ray Lewis will kick his ass Michael Westbrook-style if he gets out of line.
27) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame. All the top pass rushers are off the board, so the Falcons go best player, and that is ok with Matt Ryan. Tony G’s days are numbered and he will be the ideal mentor to the incredibly athletic Rudolph.
28) [TRADE] Arizona Cardinals: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State. Like I said, they could address this later, and they should. Ponder is the most “pro-ready” of any of the quarterbacks in this draft. Unfortunately, he has been dogged by injuries with his throwing shoulder and elbow. Sounds like most team docs have given him the clean bill of health, so the Cards make the move to get their franchise QB. They hope.
29) Chicago Bears: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina. Bears are absolutely thrilled to see Austin available here. After releasing Tommie Harris, the monsters of the midway are in need of a large mass of chaos in the middle to free up Urlacher and Briggs to wreak havoc. Marvin is that mass.
30) NY Jets: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA. AYERS, A-AYERS!! Sorry, had to do that. What a perfect fit! An outside linebacker who excells when stood up and set loose on the passer. Rex Ryan is so happy now he would give Chewbacca a pedicure. With his mouth.
31) Pittsburgh Steelers: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Steelers desperately need help up front, both in pass protection and run blocking. Solder will initially play on the right side but the hope and expectation is that with a year or two of coaching, he could eventually take over the duties of left tackle. Big Ben will appreciate not running for his life from the snap.
32) [TRADE] Miami Dolphins: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. The Fins trade back into the first round and get their man. Drugs and aloof attitude aside, Miami LOVED Mallett. He’s got a cannon for right arm, is very accurate, and has a love for the game unrivaled by anyone. He also impressed scouts and press alike with his football IQ. No question the man can throw - the only doubts are if he can stay out of the South Beach club scene and learn to be calmer in the pocket.