While watching the coverage of the Combine I got a bit bored and started playing around with the possibilities of the upcoming draft. I had previously explored the sorts of trades made during the draft and even suggested a possible trade with the 49ers, sans players. This time I went a little more in depth. You're on the clock at #34.
The Carolina Panthers have a new coach in Ron Rivera. He's got 3, maybe 4, years before his tenure is threatened. Right now the Panthers have a possible starting QB in Jimmy Clausen. However, if he doesn't pan out Rivera will be down to 1 or 2 years to draft, develop and win with a different QB. What's Rivera's motivation for sticking with the Pickle?
1. Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton (Rivera rolls the dice on a guy he hopes is the next Mike Vick just without the dog fighting predilection.)
Denver is in an enviable position. With Newton off the board, teams that need QBs (Buffalo, Cincy, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, Minny) need to trade up to secure Gabbert. Meanwhile, the Broncos insist that Orton and Tebow are sufficient to handle the QB duties. Denver has an extra second but no 4th or 5th. Trading down is a great option and Arizona makes it happen. Denver gets the #5 and Arizona's 2012 first rounder for #2 and Denver's 2012 second round pick.
2. Arizona Cardinals: QB Blain Gabbert (Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.)
Buffalo is on the clock and every defender is on the board. It's way too early to take Locker or Mallett. Unfortunately, every other team knows that as well. Plus, the depth of defensive players in the draft means that teams can wait and trade up with teams after Buffalo if needed. Throw in the Maybin Factor (Buffalo can be counted on to screw up first round picks) and the Bills use the #3 pick.
3. Buffalo Bills: DT Marcell Dareus
Cincy is in something of a jam. It's too early to take a QB - a team need due to Palmer's threat to retire - and there are still lots of quality defenders on the board. Denver comes to the rescue. With a pair of 2nd rounders (not to mention the 2012 1st round pick from Arizona), the Broncos overpay a tad and send 5 and 67 to Cincy for 4 and 100. John Fox gets a defender who could have gone first overall.
4. Denver Broncos: DT Nick Fairley
The Bengals would love to trade down a bit farther but the price of corn is just too high. Instead, the team has to choose between the first CB, first LB, first WR and first DE off the board. In the end, Marvin Lewis is a defensive coach.
5. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Von Miller
Mike Holgrem stated flatly that Colt McCoy is his QB. Now that could just be a lie but it doesn't matter. There's no way Cleveland takes a QB at 6. The Browns wind up with essentially the same choice that faced the Bengals, minus the LB position.
6. Cleveland Browns: CB Patrick Peterson
The 49ers have a new coach, like so many teams in the top 10. John Harbaugh has been wooing Alex Smith. Again, even if it is a smoke screen there's no chance that Locker or Mallett go this high. It would be tempting to add to San Fran's offensive weapons (Davis, Crabtree, Gore, Westbrook) but defense makes a lot more sense.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DE Da'Quan Bowers
Tennessee is just a disaster. Jeff Fischer is gone and Vince Young won't be on the opening day roster. The team badly needs a QB and trading down would be attractive as it would allow the Titans to trade back into the end of the first round. It's hard to see anyone jumping up the board at this point. Instead, Ron Rivera starts to rebuild in the trenches.
8. Tennessee Titans: DE Robert Quinn
Dallas has issues in the secondary even though Jerry Jones seems loathe to acknowledge it. Terrance Newman is getting up there in years and was toasted often in the Cowboys games I saw. I'm guessing that it's a smokescreen.
9. Dallas Cowboys: CB Prince Amukamara
Washington enters the 2011 draft crippled by previous trades. The team also needs help at QB, RB, WR, DT among other positions. Trading down would be ideal but who really stands out as trade bait? The Redskins stand pat and replace Santana Moss.
10. Washington Redskins: WR Julio Jones
Houston benefits from the Washington pick. The first of the WRs is off the board and teams in need of receiver/playmaker help have to worry about the Vikings either taking a WR or trading to someone who will. One of those teams, the Rams, sends 14 and 78 for the 11 pick.
11. St Louis Rams: WR AJ Green
The Vikings have evidently abandoned the charade regarding Tavaris Jackson being the QB of the future. It's still a bit early to take a QB and there are defensive end and offensive line issues to consider. San Diego has the juice to move up for JJ Watt but could trade up later for Cameron Jordan if the Vikings went with Watt.
12. Minnesota Vikings: DE JJ Watt
The Lions seem to have found their QB of the future in Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, he's somewhat brittle and has missed significant time due to injury. The Lions take their highest rated offensive lineman.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Anthony Castonzo
San Diego wouldn't believe that the Texans were a threat to take Cameron Jordan, given all of the high picks invested in their curiously non-dominant defensive line. There is, however, a danger that someone else could move up to get him. Instead of waiting and hoping the Chargers send 18 and 61 to Houston for 14 and 104.
14. San Diego Chargers: DE Cameron Jordan
Miami has featured a pair of running backs that could start for most teams in the league. Ricky "Pothead" Williams is nearing the end of his career and Ronnie Brown has had some injury issues. Sitting pat works out well for the Dolphins in this scenario.
15. Miami Dolphins: RB Mark Ingram
Jack Del Rio still believes in David Garrard so it's unlikely the Jags would take a flyer on Locker or Mallet. The interior line is falling apart and the secondary gets to face Peyton Manning twice a year. Del Rio likes to go with big boys early in the draft....at least when he's not drafting WRs in a Millen-esque fashion. With no WRs on the board worth taking at 16, the Jags go for the trenches.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: C/G Mike Pouncey
There is absolutely no chance that the Patriots will use both first round picks (17, 28). Instead, look for Belichek to deal one of the first rounders for a 2012 first rounder and/or other picks. Instead of drafting OL to keep Tom Brady upright (chances of quality OL being available in the 2nd are pretty good) Belichek restocks the defensive cupboard.
17. New England Patriots: LB Akeem Ayers
Houston is on the clock for the 3rd time in the first round. Like the Jaguars, the Texans reside in a division with Peyton Manning. Also like the Jags, the Texans have a lackluster secondary. Unlike Jacksonville, the Texans have no qualms about taking little guys in the first round.
18. Houston Texans: CB Aaron Williams
The Giants are in pretty good shape. Tackle, LB and RB are all mentioned as areas of need but none seem to be dire. Additionally, the Giants pick in the territory where it's possible for teams to begin looking to trade back into the first round. A top 10 second rounder this year and a second rounder in 2012 might get it done. (That's over 1000 on the draft chart for 875.) Instead of trading out, the Giants shore up the offensive line.
19. New York Giants: OT Tyron Smith
Last year the Buccaneers took a flyer on LeGarrette Blount, who had all kinds of character concerns. Blount rewarded Tampa Bay by earning the starting RB role. The Bucs need to add some pass rush. There just happens to be a guy on the board who has some character concerns.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Adrian Clayborn
Scott Pioli has ties to New England, where trading down to stockpile second rounders is an art form. The teams that were unable to pick up a QB in the early part of the first round (Buffalo, Cincy, Tennessee, Washington, Minny) are busily trying to get back into action. The 1000ish draft chart value has now hit the seemingly magic 20% premium. While KC needs a fat guy to clog the middle there's an excellent chance that that wide body will be available early in the second round. Cincy wins the bidding war, thanks to the trade with Denver at the top of the second. The Bengals get 21 for 35, 67 (from Denver) and a 2012 2nd rounder.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Jake Locker
Indy lives and dies with Peyton Manning. Bill Polian stated flatly that the Colts lost the Super Bowl because the offensive line didn't play well enough. There's no doubt that Polian will listen to offers for the pick but Manning's window is closing.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Gabe Carimi
Like Indy, the Eagles have offensive line issues. Vick masks them to an extent just because he's not the stature Peyton Manning is. Vick, unlike Manning, has an injury history. So, while Vick can avoid rushers who beat blocks he tends to get hurt...leaving the teams in the hands of a less-than-content Kolb. If Andy Reid was willing to trade a 1st and 3rd for Jason Peters he's comfortable with using a late rounder on the offensive line.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Nate Solder
The Saints don't have a lot of holes, which isn't a surprise given that they have been a playoff team for a couple of years. Defensive line is a possibility but those calls from teams seeking Mallett. Tennessee pulls off the trade with pick 39 and a 2012 second rounder.
24. Tennessee Titans: QB Ryan Mallett
Seattle, for all of the wheeling and dealing in 2010, is short just a 3rd round pick and has an extra 7th. The Seahawks somehow managed to contain the Saints in the playoffs but that may have been due to the weather; Drew Brees is not known as an outdoor QB. The Seahawks, needing to cover terrific talent in San Fran and stifle Sam Bradford in St Louis, look to shore up the secondary.
25. Seattle Seahawks: CB Jimmy Smith
The Ravens need to add a fast WR. Mason just doesn't cut it anymore. Anquan Boldin isn't the fastest guy in the world. It's tempting to go with a guy like Titus Young but Ray Lewis isn't getting any younger. The Ravens have been competitive year in and year out due to defense. Time to groom a replacement.
26. Baltimore Ravens: LB Martez Wilson
The Falcons are in a similar position to the Ravens. A game breaking WR is a need but so is TE. (Would Tony Gonzales still be on the roster if it wasn't for his Hall Of Fame career?)
27. Atlanta Falcons: WR Titus Young
There's no way that the Patriots use this pick. Belichek has to be pissed that the top 4 QBs are all gone as trade bait is looking a little thin. Not to worry. Al Davis will have made it into the office by this point and have some bizarre pick he insists on making. For just a 2012 first rounder (almost certain to be a top 10 selection), Al Davis gets to make a selection.
28. Oakland Raiders: DT Stephen Paea (He set a Combine record for most reps on the bench press.)
Jay Cutler won't be able to walk much longer if the Bears don't get some help on the offensive line. As the Bears are the outdoor version of the Colts Lovie Smith all but has to spend this pick on a lineman.
29. Chicago Bears: G Danny Watkins
The Jets have more issues than are immediately apparent. Jenkins is old, tired and needs to be replace. Shaun Ellis is slowing down. The WR position is a mess. But the Jets live and die by the run. They've been so successful on the ground because they've stocked the offensive line with first round talent. Look for that to continue.
30. New York Jets: G Clint Boling
The Steelers, for all the blue collar talk, are a pass first offense. Roethlisberger extends plays due to his size but the Packers figured out how to get him down in the Super Bowl. Sooner or later the team has to upgrade the offensive line. The first step was taken last year with Pouncey.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Derek Sherrod
The Packers could use some defensive line help, though it's certain that Clay Matthews will lobby for Casey Matthews. Of perhaps greater concern is the OT situation. Green Bay did reasonably well without a top flight RB but a more explosive player could make the offense scary. Look for the Packers to play it a bit safe.
32. Green Bay Packers: OT Ben Ijalana
It shouldn't be a surprise to see the Patriots with the first pick in the second round. There is a very good chance that teams try to trade up for this pick, trying to snag a guy who made it out of the first round. With seven first round trades a few teams like Houston, KC, and New Orleans are in prime position to trade up. The Pioli connection to New England makes it a fairly painless swap. Pioli sends 35 and 117 for 33.
33. Kansas City Chiefs: NT Phil Taylor
Before Buffalo even gets on the clock the phone is ringing. Unlike #3 the cost is far lower for #34. Also, every team has guys on the board who were graded as first rounders. With Macell Dareus added in the first round the Bills would like to add an inside linebacker. Only one ILB is off the board so Buffalo can drop back in the round and still get one of those guys. So, what do you do?