As always, I haven't adjusted pick numbers to reflect compensatory selections as those compensatory selections have zero trade value.
Everything I've read about Carolina points to Newton. The guy looks like the second coming of Michael Vick, sans the dog fighting and interstate gambling operation. He's raw and he'll need time to develop. The newly installed coaching staff has 3 years to get him up to speed. The team could use a face of the franchise that doesn't pummel other guys on his team and Newton will be exactly that. Yeah, the criticisms of Newton as a guy who says the right things (possibly not entirely meaning them) works in his favor--he's smart enough to (a) know that he has to say the right things and (b) know what those right things are.
1. Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton
Cincy and Arizona are each hurting for a QB. Each team has a motivation to stay ahead of each other and also the Bills, who might have designs on Gabbert as well. Fortunately for Buffalo, either team would have to absolutely cripple their draft in order to leapfrogging Buffalo....something neither team can afford. The Broncos don't mind sitting pretty and making a selection. Moving back to the 4-3 the Broncos could use some help at DT and pick a guy who figures to contribute immediately.
2. Denver Broncos: DT Marcell Dareus
Buddy Nix has already said that people have asked about moving to #3. I'm betting that those calls have come from Cincy, Arizona and Minnesota. With Buffalo wanting either Miller or Peterson, the Vikings are put on indefinite hold. The Lady Gaga hold music lets them know that Nix has very little respect for whatever their offer is. Nix resists the temptation to be too clever by half by (a) feigning interesting in Gabbert or (b) trying to play Cincy and Arizona against one another. Instead he just asks for their best offer.
Cincy's offer: 3 and 68 for 4, 35 and 100
Arizona's offer: 3 and 164 (6th round) for 5 and 38
Each offer has an appeal. The Cincy offer would:
- leave Buffalo with a choice of either Miller or Peterson
- upgrade a third round pick to a second round selection
- add an additional fourth round pick
The Arizona offer would:
- leave Buffalo with either Miller or Peterson and possbily a choice between the two
- upgrade a sixth round pick to a second round selection
- leave Buffalo with a third round choice
Nix is, by nature, a farily conservative guy so his inclination is to take the Cincy deal. However, having a pair of second rounders along with a third is too much to resist.
3. Arizona Cardinals: QB Blaine Gabbert
Cincy isn't happy to have lost out on Gabbert but doesn't have long to lament the loss. San Fran checks in with an offer of 4 for 7, 76 and 107 (San Fran has a pair of fourth rounders). The Bengals, looking to get into position to grab a QB jump on the offer. Trades within the top five for non-QBs are almost unheard of, but Harbaugh is looking to put his stamp on the organization in a decisive way. The 49ers, if Peter King is to be believed, love Patrick Peterson.
4. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Peterson
Buddy Nix doesn't even answer the phone.
5. Buffalo Bills: OLB Von Miller
Cleveland reportedly has two guys on top of their draft board. The speculation is that one of those guys is AJ Green. Standing pat works beautifully for the WR challenged Browns. Like Nix before him, Holmgren doesn't even bother to entertain any offers. The talking heads start looking at their watches and grumbling that the draft is turning into a speed chess match.
6. Cleveland Browns: WR AJ Green
Cincy is back on the clock and still in something of an awkward spot. The extra 3rd and 4th round picks from the San Fran trade won't be enough to get the Bengals into the back half of the first round to get a QB--at least without basically cleaning the team out through the next two rounds. Mike Brown has never been afraid to reach for a guy a la OT Levi Jones. The run on QBs has officially begun in earnest.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: QB Jake Locker
Bud Adams has never shied away from taking players with character issues (Pacman Jones), or standing by guys who later demonstrate character flaws (Vince Young, Albert Haynesworth). It's true that there is a new sherrif in town but it's also true that Bud Adams calls the shots. With three QBs off the board and the Titans unlikely to get into the back of the second round without mortaging the future, Adams demands a signal caller.
8. Tennessee Titans: QB Ryan Mallett
Jerry Jones is a wheeler-dealer type of owner. He's staring at Fairley, Quinn, Bowers, Jordan, Watt and Amukamara and thinking that trading back a few slots would be in his best interest. With four QBs coming off the board in the top 8 picks, Minnesota calls in an effort to move up to get ahead of QB needy Washington. Jones takes the offer, getting 12 and 43 for 9, 71 and 109. The epic QB run continues.
9. Minnesota Vikings: QB Christian Ponder
Dan Synder may have a hankering for overpriced free agents and unwise trades but he really isn't a complete idiot. (Idiots, by and large, don't amass hundreds of millions of dollars or somehow make a losing franchise the league's most profitable.) The Washington war room takes stock of the quality of defensive players left on the board. It dawns on them that no other team is truly desperate for a QB. Sure, Buffalo, San Fran, Miami, and Seattle could all use either an upgrade or a developmental guy....but none of those teams are likely to jump back ahead of Washington if the Redskins trade down a little. Snyder would also like to stockpile some picks to replaces the 3rd and 4th rounders he already frittered away. Teams who are hunting for great value check in. Ultimately, the team with the most juice offers just what Snyder wants: 10 for 17, 74 and 92.
10. New England Patriots: OLB Robert Quinn
Houston's entire secondary is a shambles. The new 3-4 defense also needs front seven players. Thanks to the glut of QB selections in the top 10 a number of quality front seven defenders have been pushed down the board. Houston gets an offer of 11 and 104 for 18 and 50 from San Diego. The Chargers need someone for Phillip Rivers to throw the ball to and have more than enough juice to move up the board. Figuring that some of that defensive talent will be on the board at 18, Houston does the deal and adds a second round pick.
11. San Diego Chargers: WR Julio Jones
Jerry Jones is back on the clock. He's always willing to entertain offers to move back but he already has converted a third and fourth into a second round pick. The offensive line needs help and DE Marcus Spears may be on his way out of Dallas. OT or DE? Jones thinks back to watching Jon Kitna helm the Cowboys, shudders, and goes offensive line.
12. Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith
The Lions envy Houston's secondary. Look for this to be a lightening quick selection.
13. Detroit Lions: CB Prince Amukamara
The Rams can't have been too happy to see Jones plucked off the board. At the same time DT is a huge need for the Rams and the once much ballyhooed Nick Fairley is still sitting on the board...and in the little waiting room on TV agonizing as the cameras zoom in for the unnecessary close ups.
14: St Louis Rams: DT Nick Fairley
The Dolphins have Matt Ryan envy. Jake Long has been a good OT but he's not a face of the franchise type of guy. Neither is Chad Henne. Five QBs have come off the board (Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Ponder) so the thought is QB. The Dolphins don't have a second round pick (He's got stiches in his belly as of this writing.) so taking a developmental guy wouldn't help the team improve this year. Dropping back a little would help and, well, Dan Snyder just can't help himself. The Redkins ship Miami 17 and 92 (from New England) to Miami for 15.
15. Washington Redksins: QB Colin Kaepernick
A horde of QB selections in the top 15 have pushed all kinds of defensive line talent down the draft board: Watt, Smith, Jordan, Kerrigan, Bowers. The Jaguars aren't shy about moving around the board, flying way up the board in 2008 for Derrik Harvey. Jacksonville gets quite a few calls but Buffalo's pick at the top of the second round is too tempting to pass up. For 16, the Bills send the Jags 35, 38 and 99 (after offering 35, 38 and 121).
16: Buffalo Bills: DE Cameron Jordan
The Bills finish the second round right in the middle of the first. OLB Von Miller and DE Cameron Jordan have been added to the team and Nix still has 1 third, 1 fourth, 1 fifth and a 2 seventh round picks in the 2011 draft. Any QB that is added to the roster would amount to little more than a flyer on a developmental guy who may or may not push Levi Brown off the roster.
It was only the extraordinarily QB heavy top half of the draft that made this outcome possible. With free agency only a possibility at this point I can see teams pushing a little harder for QBs than normal. Also, the Panthers, Titans, Vikings, and Redskins all have new (or within 1 year of hire) coaching staffs who have time to develop a QB. For Cincy, the trade down allowed for a QB selection at a better value.