It’s The Final Countdown!

  1. Carolina PanthersCam Newton (Quarterback/Auburn). Cameron was a preacher’s son, and when his daddy would visit he’d come along. We all know about Cam’s baggage. We also know about his talent. Physically, he has everything you look for in a quarterback, but there are real question marks about his maturity and intelligence. All indications are, though, that the Panthers will roll the dice with the son of a preacher man.
  2. Denver BroncosMarcell Dareus (Defensive Tackle/Alabama). The man who ended Colt McCoy’s collegiate career might be the safest pick in the NFL Draft. Denver is desperate for help at the defensive tackle position. It just fits. However, the Broncos might move back if they can get the right deal.
  3. Buffalo BillsVon Miller (Linebacker/Texas A&M). This will probably boil down to Von Miller or Blaine Gabbert. The pass-rushing Aggie is a much safer pick, and the Bills’ defense is wretched.
  4. Cincinnati BengalsA.J. Green (Wide Receiver/Georgia). If not for Carson Palmer’s threat to trade him or he’ll retire, I would have no problem penciling in Green here. However, Palmer seems to be serious, and Gabbert is still out there, which should lead to a spirited debate in the Cincinnati war room. I still think they’ll take Green and look to target a quarterback in the second round.
  5. Arizona CardinalsPatrick Peterson (Cornerback/LSU). Arizona’s biggest need is quarterback, but the buzz from Arizona is that they will target a veteran after the labor situation is settled. Cornerback isn’t their biggest need, but Peterson is too talented to pass.
  6. Cleveland BrownsJulio Jones (Wide Receiver/Alabama). Cleveland could perk up their defense with either Robert Quinn or Nick Fairley, but Colt McCoy needs his professional version of Jordan Shipley. Playing in Alabama’s offense, Jones didn’t put up elite numbers, but he is an elite talent. No word if he can catch passes on a moving boat.
  7. San Francisco 49ersBlaine Gabbert (Quarterback/Missouri). Quinn and Prince Amukamara would both help the 49ers’ defense, but I don’t think Jim Harbaugh will be able to resist taking a quarterback with Gabbert still on the board.
  8. Tennessee Titans Robert Quinn (Defensive End/North Carolina). Everybody seems to be putting Nick Fairley here, due in good part to the Titans hiring his collegiate position coach, Tracy Rocker. However, I think Quinn’s ability to rush the passer will be more attractive to the Titans. Don’t be surprised if the Titans reach for Jake Locker, either.
  9. Dallas CowboysTyron Smith (Offensive Tackle/USC). The Cowboys seem like a prime candidate to trade back if offensive tackle is the direction they are going to go. They might be able to get Smith or several other guys like Anthony Castonzo or Nate Solder later on. If they stay, the debate will likely be between Smith and Amukamara. Smith has played right tackle, but has the skills to move to the left side, and that flexibility should be attractive to Dallas.
  10. Washington RedskinsJake Locker (Quarterback/Washington). Yep, this is a reach. No, I wouldn’t do it. However, somebody is going to take Locker in the middle of the first round, and with Green and Jones off the board, I think the Shanahans will put their jobs in Locker’s hands.
  11. Houston TexansAldon Smith (Outside Linebacker/MIssouri). Smith has a lot of pass rush ability, but is young and raw. As a Texans fan, I’m not crazy about this pick, as the Texans need help immediately, and Smith may be a project. Amukamara is much more of a sure thing. However, the Texans can probably patch up their secondary in the second round and through free agency. Their biggest need, by far, is a pass rushing linebacker. If they can’t move up to get Miller or Quinn, Smith almost has to be their pick. We can take a corner when we’re picking in the top ten next season, and I’m pretty sure we will be.
  12. Minnesota VikingsNick Fairley (Defensive Tackle/Auburn). Minnesota’s defensive line is quickly going from being a veteran line to being an old one. It’s time to start rebuilding, which makes gambling on a quarterback here a possibility, but it’s hard to see Fairley falling much further.
  13. Detroit LionsPrince Amukamara (Cornerback/Nebraska). The Lions’ war room will erupt with joy when Amukamara falls to them. Ndamukong Suh will be happy to welcome in his fellow Black Shirt.
  14. St. Louis RamsCorey Liuget (Defensive Tackle/Illinois). The poor Rams are on the outside looking in here. They really could use Julio Jones, but they would have to trade up to get him. If Jones makes it to the Cowboys at nine, I could really see that trade going down. If they stay, Liuget would be a solid addition to their front seven. Ryan Kerrigan, or maybe even Da’Quan Bowers, could make sense, as well.
  15. Miami DolphinsMike Pouncey (Offensive Line/Florida). The local product is a very safe pick for the offensive line-minded Tony Sparano.
  16. Jacksonville JaguarsRyan Kerrigan (Defensive End/Purdue). The Jags can use help across the defense. Kerrigan doesn’t have spectacular upside, but should be a productive NFL defensive end.
  17. New England PatriotsJ.J. Watt (Defensive End/Wisconsin). Probably not their biggest need, but New England has the luxury of taking the best player available, and many have Watt as one of the top ten prospects in the draft.
  18. San Diego ChargersCameron Jordan (Defensive End/California). I can’t even type San Diego without thinking of "a whale’s vagina." When in Rome, right? Cameron Jordan fills a need, and might just be the best player available. Plus, he is highly unlikely to take Dorothy Mantooth out to a nice seafood dinner and then never call her again.
  19. New York GiantsMark Ingram (Running Back/Alabama). It has become very popular to push Ingram out of the first round, but I think somebody will take him in the back half of the first round. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are both just complimentary pieces. Ingram is an every-down back.
  20. Tampa Bay BuccaneersDa’Quan Bowers (Defensive End/Clemson). It wasn’t long ago that Bowers was considered a possibility as the first player taken overall. Questions about health and a poor workout have caused him to slip. However, I think the upside here is just too much to pass for one of the NFL’s biggest up-and-coming teams.
  21. Kansas City Chiefs Anthony Costanzo (Offensive Tackle/Boston College). The consensus is that Chiefs need an offensive tackle. It is just a matter of who they have rated highest.
  22. Indianapolis ColtsGabe Carimi (Offensive Tackle/Wisconsin). The Colts are also likely to take an offensive lineman with their first pick.
  23. Philadelphia EaglesJimmy Smith (Cornerback/Colorado). I’ve heard a lot of "experts" state that Smith might be the best pure cover corner in the NFL Draft. There are character concerns, but late in the first, you can gamble on that if you’re getting a top ten-ish talent.
  24. New Orleans SaintsMarvin Austin (Defensive Tackle/North Carolina). Marvin Austin has too much talent to not go in the first round.
  25. Seattle SeahawksRyan Mallett (Quarterback/Arkansas). Seattle is difficult to forecast, but there seems to be a lot of smoke about them selecting Matt Hasselbeck’s heir apparent. Mallett has bust written all over him. As Tipsy Gypsy told me the other day, he and Matt Jones will do their best to make sure a quarterback from Arkansas is never drafted in the NFL again, but I think somebody will take Mallett and his monster arm.
  26. Baltimore RavensCameron Heyward (Defensive End/Ohio State). Honestly, I don’t like this pick, but there seems to be a consensus that Baltimore is excited about the son of the late "Ironhead."
  27. Atlanta FalconsJustin Houston (Defensive End/Georgia). Houston’s positive drug test could scare teams off, but the Falcons need to add a defensive end. Unless they think Adrian Clayborn can play in their system, Houston makes the most sense.
  28. New England PatriotsNate Solder (Offensive Tackle/Colorado). What are the odds the Patriots are actually picking here? I think it’s highly likely that somebody moves up to take a quarterback here, but if the Patriots stay, Solder seems like the best fit.
  29. Chicago BearsDerek Sherrod (Offensive Tackle/Mississippi State). The Bears need to do a better job of protecting Jay Cutler. Sherrod has the size and feet to play left tackle.
  30. New York JetsPhil Taylor (Defensive Tackle/Baylor). Kris Jenkins is probably done. Injury concerns have caused Taylor’s stock to slip a little, but guys of his girth are hard to find.
  31. Pittsburgh SteelersAaron Williams (Cornerback/Texas). I’m not certain if Williams is better as a corner or safety, but he’ll play right away for the Steelers.
  32. Green Bay Packers Akeem Ayers (Linebacker/UCLA). Ayers also slipped a little due to a less than stellar workout, but he is a good football player and might be able to play any spot in Dom Capers’s 3-4.

Obviously, if it comes out in the next 24 hours or so that the Panthers are taking somebody other than Newton, I'll have to edit. There are going to be a bunch of trades that screw everything up, as well, but those are impossible to forecast, so this is my best guess. Criticize away.

Note: If I have time, I'll try to put up a second round forecast some time Friday after the first round dust has settled.

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