1. Carolina Panthers – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Ron Rivera is a new coach and new coaches tend to bring in “their guy” to quarterback. The Panthers have plenty of holes to fill, but with Gabbert’s fantastic pro day and Adam Schefter’s rave reviews he looks like the top dog in this years class.\
2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
John Fox loves his linemen. He was spoiled with Julius Peppers in Carolina and will look for some as disruptive on the inside for his new team. Dareus should shore up the run defense and provide some support for Elvis Dumervil to transition back to a defensive end.
3. Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Chan Gailey has a history with mobile quarterbacks (see Stewart, Kordell) but has never had a guy with the talent of Cameron Newton. Cam’s got a rocket arm for the cold wins in Buffalo, is a play maker, and a leader. He also will have time to sit under Fitzpatrick while they develop his drop back abilities.
4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
With both quarterbacks off the board, the Bengals will look to give their new signal caller (Carson looks to be out) a dominant weapon. Some scouts are down on Green because they couldn’t see his pro day adequately and his wonderlic numbers were reportedly lacking, but he’s the body of Calvin Johnson and opposite Ochocinco will look nice on paper.
5. Arizona Cardinals – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Another team seeking a quarterback will have to throw their chips in the Kevin Kolb Sweepstakes. They could trade down if the markets there for Peterson, but with Von Miller on the board, the Cardinals will try to address a sometimes lack luster pass rusher. Miller’s the best rusher in this draft and should be elite in their 34 system.
6. Cleveland Browns – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The Browns failed to pick up Haloti Ngata a few years back and have struggled on defense because their line hasn’t had a dominant presence. They cut Shaun Rodgers which means they’re even weaker at the position that the rest of the division dominates (Hampton, Ngata, Peko). Fairley should be disruptive in Zimmer’s 4-3 defense.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Jim Harbaugh will also be looking for his guy, or he may try to hold out for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. With the top two off the board, he’ll look towards another weakness – the secondary. Nate Clements has struggled last few years. Peterson’s size and speed combination is elite and even if he doesn’t work out at corner, he could transition back to free safety i.e Malcolm Jenkins a couple years ago. He’s the surest prospect in this draft.
8. Tennessee Titans – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
An unsure prospect, Bower’s nagging knee injuries are causing concern among scouts. His size and athleticism are off the charts however, and should be stellar opposite Babin.
9. Dallas Cowboys – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cowboys apparently covet Patrick Peterson, so look for a move up to grab him. If they can’t get there, Amukamara will be a nice consolation prize. He’s another elite corner with a great size and speed combination.
10. Washington Redskins – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Julio Jones stood out at the combine by running in the 4.3. Scouts like him more for a west coast system, which might lean Cleveland towards him over A.J. Green, but here the Skins get him to bolster a feeble receiving corp. They’ve tried in the past to update it and this time they should finally find that compliment Santana Moss… if they bring him back again.
11. Houston Texans – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Texans are working on transition to the 34. What they’d really love is a corner, so look for them to trade up for Peterson or Amukamara. If they sit pat, Cameron Jordan will fit nicely as he has experience playing the 34 at California. He should help those players inexperienced in the scheme adjust.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
The Vikings may pull the trigger on Locker here. There’s rumors swirling that they like the signal caller from Washington. It looks a bit early for him so instead they’ll replace Ray Edwards and Everson Griffin. Quinn slips because he didn’t play last year but has elite size and speed.
13. Detroit Lions – Tryon Smith, OT, USC
The number one priority for the Lions has to be protecting Stafford. With him playing the Lions can compete for a playoff spot, but without him they’ll be forced to lose close games again next season. Even if they reach they have to address the problem, particularly with Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and Clay Mathews in the division.
14. St. Louis Rams – Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
Chris Long has started to step up, but they could use some help opposite him. Their preference would be a defensive tackle, but there’s a big gap between the top two and the next group. Therefore, they’ll snag Smith here to pair with Long.
15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Dolphins declared they want to be a run first team which is good because they’ll get a shot at the top running back in this years draft. Ingram is a workhorse back which should allow them to retain Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown to split with him.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
The Jaguars spent two day one selections on defensive ends three years ago. Neither has really panned out. They’ll look to address that need again with Kerrigan, a blue collar player with a high motor. He works hard which seems to have been the problem with their previous picks.