1. Buffalo Bills – Jake Locker QB, Washington
2010 1st round Draft Pick: C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
I know that Andrew Luck has made the top spot on many peoples 2011 QB rankings but Locker is a much better fit for Head Coach Chan Gailey’s offensive system. Personally I think Luck would be the better choice but Buffalo’s recent track record with draft picks has been spotty at best. None of Buffalo’s current stable of QB’s, Brian Brohm or Ryan Fitzpatrick, could be considered quality starting caliber NFL Quarterbacks. Without any elite talent at OT the Bills will have no choice but to take a QB of the future but they better address the Tackle spot at some point or it won’t matter which QB they take.
2. Carolina Panthers – A.J. Green WR, UGA
2010 1st Pick: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame
If available the Panthers have no choice but to take an elite talent like A.J. Green. They need someone to open up the passing game, be a dependable future target for the young Jimmy Clausen, and take the pressure off of Steve Smith as well as the running game. Green is an elite prospect whose game projects very favorably to Randy Moss. He’s tall and lanky, although he does have room to bulk up without losing his speed, with soft hands and none of the baggage that Moss carried with him for most of his career. They drafted Brandon LaFell in the third round of the last draft but so far this season he hasn’t contributed much. They also need to upgrade their pass-rush, either from the defensive end spot or at tackle. So both Marcell Dareus and Robert Quinn will both be tempting options here.
3. Cleveland Browns – Robert Quinn DE/OLB, UNC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Joe Haden CB, Florida
Cleveland has three glaring needs going into the 2011 draft. They desperately need to upgrade their receiving corps, generate a pass-rush, and find a quality signal caller. Unfortunately I don’t think Mike Holmgren is going to admit it was a mistake to draft Colt McCoy so I don’t think QB is a realistic option even with Andrew Luck sitting on the board. Plus if they do plan to target a QB in the offseason it’s more likely that they make a trade for Philly’s Kevin Kolb should the Eagles choose to deal him. With A.J. Green already off of the board the choice becomes a lot easier. Quinn has all the physical tools to convert into a dominate OLB at the next level.
4. Detroit Lions – Patrick Peterson CB, LSU
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska/ Jahvid Best RB, Cal
The Lions are definitely showing signs of improvement but are unfortunately still a year or two away from being truly competitive. What the Lions need most is a quality left tackle but there are currently none available that are worth a top 5 pick. If they don’t get some O-line help soon Matt Stafford will become the next David Carr. Peterson is being hailed as the next Darrell Revis. The term “Shutdown” corner is used a lot, but with regards to Peterson it may be true. He has a great size/speed combo, and is equally superior against the pass (in man and zone) as well as against the run. He’s also the best player available which fits the Lions drafting philosophy.
5. New England Patriots (via Oakland Raiders) – Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
The Patriots have been lacking a long-term answer for their RB woes for a long time. At this point Ingram is clearly the best RB of the 2011 draft and is a perfect fit for Coach Belichick’s scheme as he can play every down, including catching passes on third down. WR may also be a big need for them as they recently traded Randy Moss to the Vikings and Wes Welker is coming back from a serious knee injury this year. They drafted Taylor Price in 2010 but he will probably be a solid slot receiver at best. If they do go for a WR the Patriots will have a choice to make between Julio Jones and Jon Baldwin. Jones is a big time play maker who is similar to T.O., including a penchant for the occasional drop. The other option would be a 3-4 DE but with the signing of Damione Lewis and drafting of Kade Weston and Brandon Deaderick I think their need for a RB or WR will overcome their need on the defensive front. If Belichick were that concerned about the defensive front he would’ve taken Jared Odrick when he was available in the 1st round of the 2010 draft.
6. St. Louis Rams – Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
The Rams really need to add weapons for Bradford to succeed as well as adding pieces that take pressure off of workhorse back Steven Jackson. Unfortunately Green is already off of the board, Julio Jones is too inconsistent, and Jon Baldwin lacks the elite speed of a top 6 pick. P.A. may not fill the biggest position of need but he’s extremely talented whose skill set is only a shade below Patrick Peterson. Given Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo’s background it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take Alabama DT/DE Marcell Dareus. They need a stable pass-rushing presence as well as a replacement for disappointing former first round pick Adam Carriker. Spagnuolo’s past success in New York with generating a great pass-rush with lesser talent will probably influence him to forego using such a high pick on the defensive line.
7. Seattle Seahawks – Marcell Dareus DE/DT, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Picks: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State/ Earl Thomas FS, Texas
Seattle had one of the best drafts in 2010, although that’s not hard to do with two 1st rounds picks, securing a cornerstone LT and a shutdown FS. Unfortunately they still need a lot of building blocks to be able to crawl out of the perpetual state of rebuilding. Matt Hasselbeck is nearing the end of the line, and the recently acquired Charlie Whitehurst is nothing more than a career clip board holder. There’s a reason he could never beat out Billy Volek for the #2 QB job behind Phillip Rivers in San Diego. If Hasselbeck gets injured at some point this season, which is likely given his history, then Whitehurst will be exposed as the weak link he is and this pick will definitely be for the best available QB. Jake Locker would be ideal but as he is already gone the next available QB who fits Coach Carroll’s scheme is Andrew Luck. Aside from the aforementioned problems at QB the Seahawks also have a serious lack of a pass-rush. Dareus is a beast playing in Alabama’s 3-4 and could potentially be even better playing in a 4-3. And lucky for the Seahawks the 2011 draft is also loaded with top tier WR talent which is something they could also use. Coach Carroll signed Mike and Reggie Williams this offseason because he values size at the position. With A.J. Green already off of the board it’ll really come down to which ever player Carroll values more, either 6’3” Michael Floyd, 6’4” Julio Jones, or 6’5 Jonathan Baldwin. But given the wealth of WR’s in the 2011 draft they could easily wait until the second or third round and take LSU’s Terrance Toliver, OSU’s DeVier Posey, or Boise State’s Austin Pettis.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars – Andrew Luck QB, Stanford
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Tyson Alualu DT, Cal
After having a phenomenal draft in 2009 I’m not sure what Gene Smith was smoking in 2010, reaching for two DT’s in the 1st two rounds with so many other more pressing needs. I like Alualu but they could’ve taken him where they drafted in the 2nd round. In 2011 the Jags will have a few pressing needs. The first is for a FS because former 1st round pick Reggie Nelson was traded because he was so damn awful. The second is for a #1 receiver. They signed Kassim Osgood and Mike Sims-Walker is pretty good, but both of them and Troy Williamson will all be free agents in 2011. Even still, after a great 1st year David Garrard has been a disappointment since signing his fat contract extension. If the Jags are drafting in the top 10 again it will most likely mean the end of the Jack Del Rio era in Jacksonville. New regimes usually mean new QB’s, especially when the current starting one is struggling so much. Luck would be the top choice but given that he’s a Redshirt Sophomore he may not declare for the 2011 draft in which case Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett would go here.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
Tampa Bay certainly upgraded the interior of their defensive line with 2010 picks Gerald McCoy and Brian Price but they added nothing to the DE spot. Coming into the 2011 draft this is going to be a huge need for them. Fortunately there is a plethora of quality 4-3 DE’s in this draft to choose from. Despite his past off the field indiscretions Clayborn is a relentless pass-rusher and certainly warrants a top 10 pick. The Bucs could also use a replacement of the ageless wonder Rhonde Barber and if Prince Amukamara or especially Patrick Peterson were available then this pick could easily change.
10. San Francisco 49ers – Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers/Mike Iupati OG, Idaho
Current QB Alex Smith is in the final year of his contract and needs to be replaced. The 49ers are lucky to have Mallett fall this far. Mallett is a tall (6’7”) classic pocket-passer whose arm strength rivals that of Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler. If Andrew Luck does not declare for the 2011 draft then Mallett will most likely not make it this far. Current #1 CB Nate Clements is not nearly worth the huge contract he has as he is on a serious downswing so if available look for them to take one of the top tier CB’s. San Fran also has needs for rush linebackers so a serious option for them to consider is UCLA DE/OLB Akeem Ayers whose stock has risen dramatically this season.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Aaron Williams CB, Texas
2010 1st Draft Pick: Chris Cook CB, Virginia
What a difference a year makes. I’m sure this time Brett Favre wishes he had stayed retired. He’s recently stated that 2010 will definitely be his last year but how many times have we heard that from him already? In addition to Favre’s retirement it will also probably be the last year for Pat Williams as well. He’ll be a 38 year old free agent in 2011 and it’s time for the Vikings to look for replacements for the Williams’ wall as Kevin Williams will be 31 years old. Add to that Ray Edwards will also be a free agent and the Vikings stout D-line could look very different at the start of the 2011 season. Throw into the mix Sidney Rice’s hip injury and 2011 free agent status as well as Percy Harvin’s migraine issues and the Vikings, with a seemingly loaded roster, will potentially have a lot of holes/issues to address. This pick will depend entirely on whether there is a QB available. I doubt the Vikings front office has any faith going into the 2011 season with Tavares Jackson as the starting QB. So in all likelihood I could definitely see the Vikings trading up for Mallett, Locker, or Luck. Some like Chris Ponder but I can’t see him going this early. They drafted Chris Cook last year but still have a lot of needs in the secondary as Cedric Griffin is very injury-prone and Antoine Winfield will be 34 years old to start the 2011 season. If they opt to find a replacement for Pat Williams they could certainly take a long look at USC’s Jurrell Casey.
12. Kansas City Chiefs – Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
Given how weak Matt Cassel’s arm has looked this season it’s a miracle that Chiefs are so far undefeated. That luck will eventually run out at some point though. Unfortunately none of the top tier QB’s are left. The second and third biggest needs will be to find a pass-rusher to pair with Tamba Hali and another weapon for Cassel or whoever takes his place. Chris Chambers will be 33 years old and is not nearly the player he once was when in Miami. Dwayne Bowe has been on the outs in the past with Head Coach Todd Haley and has been somewhat inconsistent since having a strong rookie season. Baldwin is a force to be reckoned with at 6’5”, 225lbs and will be a huge red zone target. The only negative about him is his lack of elite speed. If they choose to take a pass-rusher Akeem Ayers would be the choice.
13. Dallas Cowboys – Joseph Barksdale OT, LSU
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have a pretty stacked roster but do have a few slight concerns. The first being the OT position as they released Flozell “Hotel” Adams. Doug Free is not the answer and that position needs to be upgraded. Right now Barksdale is the only 2011 Tackle prospect I would be comfortable taking in the top half of the draft. He has good size at 6’5”315lbs, great athleticism, and is very technically sound. If he’s available and no other Tackle prospect moves up, I can’t see the Cowboys not pulling the trigger on him. They also have a need at Free Safety. Alan Ball is decent but the position could definitely be upgraded.
14. Cincinnati Bengals – Travis Lewis OLB, Oklahoma
2010 NFL Mock Draft Pick: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
Andre Smith is a fat load who’s been nothing but a disappointment since the scouting combine before the Bengals made him the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft. If he can’t shed some weight and live up to his first round billing this coming year it will be time to find his replacement. However I can’t see the Bengals making the same mistake and drafting a RT in the top half of the first round. Aside from OT their biggest need is on the back end of their defense, particularly at Safety. Travis Lewis doesn’t fill their greatest position of need but he is a phenomenal talent. Current MLB Dhani Jones will be a 33 year old free agent in 2011. Not resigning him means they can move Rey Maualuga inside to his natural spot which would leave a hole that would be more than filled by the addition of Lewis.
15. Washington Redskins – Julio Jones WR, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
The Redskins addressed their absolute most dire need in the 2010 draft by taking OT Trent Williams. Unfortunately McNabb doesn’t have a lot of options to throw to. Santana Moss is getting old, Malcolm Kelly looks to be a bust, and Devin Thomas is starting to show some promise but is still probably a number two WR at best. Julio Jones has concentration issues but he’s still considered an elite talent with great size and speed.
16. Tennessee Titans – Brandon Harris CB, Miami
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
The Titans have a big need for a CB to play opposite Courtland Finnegan. In a division where they have to play Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub each twice a year you can never have enough Cornerbacks. They could also use a replacement for the play and leadership lost when they cut Keith Bullock so if Travis Lewis were to be available he would be in play as well. And ever since Albert Haynesworth left town they’ve had a hole along the defensive front for a massive space-eating DT.
17. Denver Broncos – Allen Bailey DT/DE, Miami
2010 1st round Draft Picks: Demaryius Thomas WR, Georgia Tech/Tim Tebow QB, Florida
Given Head Coach Josh McDaniels interesting drafting style this could be a hard pick to predict. On the defensive front the team has a lot of old rentals and they will be even older come 2011. This pick could easily be Ole’ Miss. NT Jerrell Powe as well, as the oldest player on the front is 34 year old Jamaal Williams. They desperately need help at Defensive End as well. Bailey has tremendous athleticism and has played outstanding so far this year.
18. New York Giants – Bruce Carter OLB, UNC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul OLB, USF
In my opinion it was pretty ridiculous to take a DE with their 2010 first round pick when they really needed Linebackers, especially when Sean Weatherspoon was on the board. Although not as elite as Travis Lewis, Carter is still a great player with exceptional range and would be a perfect fit for Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell’s scheme. On paper it seems like the Giants have a pretty well-stocked roster so picking a player for them is a little difficult. They could probably use an upgrade at RB where Brandon Jacobs is wearing down. It may be a little bit of a reach but Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas would be a great replacement for Jacobs.
19. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Williams RB, Virginia Tech
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jared Odrick DT/DE, PSU
In the 2011 offseason Ricky Williams will be a 33 year old free agent and Ronnie Brown will be a free agent with a history of injury issues. Ryan Williams will only be a redshirt sophomore so the Dolphins will be getting him without a lot of wear and tear. They could also use an upgrade over Randy Starks and Paul Soliai so Jerrell Powe will also be a very likely option. If Ryan Williams doesn’t declare and Jerrell Powe isn’t available there is also a great option at Safety to replace the marginal Yeremiah Bell in Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel. Also, if they elect not to resign Ronnie Brown they could take Daniel Thomas, who was a high school QB, to run the Wildcat offense.
20. Indianapolis Colts – Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jerry Hughes OLB, TCU
Charles Johnson, Tony Ugoh, and Adam Terry will all be free agents in 2011. Add to that Jeff Saturday will be 36 years old and his body has already started to break down. The Colts are in desperate need of an offensive line overhaul. Castonzo is the type of athletic offensive tackle that could be a cornerstone for the rest of Manning’s career. They could also target OG’s Rodney Hudson or Mike Pouncey, PSU OC Stefen Wisniewski. Aside from the O-line they could also use an upgrade at DT. They have plenty of average talent but someone like UNC’s Marvin Austin would be a definite upgrade.
21. Arizona Cardinals – DeAndre McDaniel S, Clemson
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dan Williams NT, Tennessee
The Cards suffered a lot of losses to free agency and retirement in the offseason, most notably is the retirement of Kurt Warner, and it has really affected them this year. The only reason I have them drafting this far back in the first round is because of how horrible the NFC West is this (and just about every) year, so they will most likely win their division and be bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. There’s a chance they take Chris Ponder here but I just don’t see him as a first round talent. Plus I really don’t know what to make of the so called “potential” the front office sees in Max Hall. And add to that 2010 late round pick John Skelton, who many believe will develop into a quality starter with a couple years of NFL experience, and I just can’t see them taking at QB here. One of the many losses being felt thanks to free agency is the loss of Antrel Rolle in the secondary. They signed Kerry Rhodes to replace him but that was a poor investment. Currently McDaniel is the top rated Safety prospect. He’s very athletic and versatile enough to play either safety position.
22. San Diego Chargers – Cameron Heyward DT/DE, OSU
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ryan Matthews RB, Fresno State
So LT Marcus McNeill finally signed his tender. Most likely he will be resigned this offseason so that will no longer be an issue in San Diego. They will also have to come to terms with losing Vincent Jackson as it is extremely unlikely they will workout a new contract. The relationship between Jackson and GM A.J. Smith is broken and he will be traded at some point. And if that weren’t bad enough Malcolm Floyd will also be a free agent in 2011. The Chargers love big, tall WR’s and there are plenty in this draft to be had and I’m sure that Jon Baldwin will be at the top of their list. Unfortunately he’s not available so the third biggest need will have to come into play which is for a DE to replace 2011 free agent Jacques Cesaire. Heyward is the prototypical 3-4 DE. He’s been somewhat inconsistent this year which is why he’s fallen on many draft boards.
23. Chicago Bears – Derek Sherrod OT, Miss. State
2010 1st Pick: Major Wright FS, Florida
If Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz is going to continue to have QB Jay Cutler take 7-step drops then they definitely need to upgrade the offensive line. Even though Devin Hester is showing flashes of potential this year he is still not a true number one receiver. Unfortunately this is too early to dip into the second tier of WR’s that include Terrance Toliver, DeVier Posey, and Austin Pettis On the defensive side they could certainly use some help in the secondary and there is still some great prospects in UNC’s Duenta Williams and UCLA’s Rahim Moore.
24. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan DT/DE Cal
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
The Patriots have had a hole at DE since the Richard Seymour trade to Oakland and didn’t address the need in the 2010 draft until the 7th round. They also have needs along the offensive line. Current LT Might Light will be a 33 year old free agent in 2011. The Patriots may move Sebastian Vollmer to the left side but that would create a hole on the right side. It also appears as though the Logan Mankins situation will not be resolved anytime soon.
25. Atlanta Falcons - Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sean Weatherspoon OLB, Missouri
Right now the Falcons biggest needs are for a pass-rushing DE and for a solid compliment to Roddy White. Jamaal Anderson has been a complete bust and needs to be replaced, and John Abraham will be 32 years old. Kroy Biermann has played well so far this year so it has lessoned the need somewhat for a DE. Right now the only thing keeping Michael Floyd from being a top 15 pick is his injury history but he’s a real bargain here. He’ll be another weapon for budding superstar Matt Ryan and a sure upgrade over Michael Jenkins.
26. Philadelphia Eagles – Janoris Jenkins CB, Florida
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Brandon Graham DE, Michigan
With the exception of Trevard Lindley in the later rounds I thought the Eagles had a great 2010 draft. They filled a lot of needs and got plenty of quality players. However one of their bigger holes was at CB, especially after trading Sheldon Brown to Cleveland, and they failed to invest an early pick at the position. Given current LT Jason Peters’ struggles and serious work-ethic issues it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Eagles draft an OT like Arkansas’ DeMarcus Love who would fit the mold of a bigger (6’5”, 315lbs.) lineman that Coach Reid prefers.
27. Houston Texans – Rahim Moore FS, UCLA
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kareem Jackson CB, Alabama
The Texans have done a good job so far of taking control of the AFC South from the Colts but if they are to continue this trend they will need to keep adding pieces to the secondary to contain Peyton Manning and his areal assault. That means spending another 1st round pick on a DB. Moore is a ballhawk that would replace the oft-injured Eugene Wilson. They also need help along the defensive front, especially along the interior. With Jurrell Casey still on the board he will be real tempting but Moore compares very favorably to Former Texas Safety Earl Thomas.
28. New York Jets – Akeem Ayers DE/OLB, UCLA
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Jets have serious issues along the defensive line. Nose Tackle Kris Jenkins is out of the year again and he may very well retire this time. Also Defensive End Shaun Ellis will be a 32 year free agent in 2011. Unfortunately due to the run on 3-4 DE’s that need will have to wait. They may consider Ole. Miss NT Jerrell Powe but they also have a need for pass-rushers. They signed 36 year old Jason Taylor who’s in the twilight of his career and in 2011 the Jets will probably finally be fed up with first round bust Vernon Gholston.
29. New Orleans Saints – Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Patrick Robinson CB, Florida State
It’s a pretty safe bet that the Saints will draft defense here as their offense is as potent as any in the league. Their biggest needs are at OLB and for a DE to play opposite of Will Smith. So with that I’m expecting Von Miller, Sam Acho, or Kerrigan to be the pick. It’s also possible that they would take MSU’s Greg Jones as well.
30. Baltimore Ravens – Stefen Wisniewski, OC/OG, Penn State
2010 1st Draft Pick: Sergio Kindle DE/OLB, Texas
Everyone knows the Ravens biggest weakness is in the secondary. They have a lot of short-term solutions for a long-term problem. Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, Domonique Foxworth, and Lardarius Webb are all currently suffering from either injuries, lack of talent, or both with Webb being the only quality one of the bunch in my opinion. However we also know the Ravens don’t reach in the draft and without any other first round talents available at the position they will have to look elsewhere or trade back which is something they’ve also been know to do. Current starting OC Matt Birk will be 35 years old at the time of the 2011 draft and Wisniewski has the versatility to also play OG which could come in handy as Marshall Yanda has had serious knee injuries. This offseason Ed Reed gave some serious consideration to retirement as his mounting injury history is taking a toll on his body and as such 2010 may be his last season. Because of this I would expect the Ravens to target Duenta Williams or Rahim Moore if he is within reach.
31. Green Bay Packers – Shane Vereen RB, Cal
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
For being the eventual runner-up to the Super Bowl the Packers will have a few holes to fill. For one, as good as he is Charles Woodson is not going to play forever. They need to find an eventual successor. Unfortunately there isn’t one left that is worthy of this pick. They also need to find a replacement for Ryan Grant, and it’s not going to be Brandon Jackson. Shane Vereen is almost like a Jahvid Best clone and would be a perfect fit for the Packers offense. There’s also talk of them trading former top 10 pick A.J. Hawk who hasn’t lived up to his potential playing in a 3-4 defense in which case Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower could be an option.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Pouncey OG, Florida
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey OG/OC, Florida
With him still on the board at this point how could you not see this coming? Mike P. has shown so far this season that he is not cut out to play Center but is can still be a force at Guard. He plays with a lot of power and athleticism just like his brother, with a knack for getting to the second level. As I’ve stated previously, how great would it be to have both of the Pouncey twins playing side by side for their NFL careers? RG is a huge position of need for the Steelers. And an added bonus would be that come contract time in the future both would most likely take a discount to continue playing together. Sitting at 3-1 and welcoming Big Ben back into the fold injury concerns are the only things I think the Steelers may not be able to overcome as the season wears on. From an injury stand point fans will always need to worry about having capable back-ups for Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu. As of right now, heading into the 2011 draft the top needs will be RG, CB, and FS. Even after trading for the return of Bryant McFadden most are still worried about the CB group. In 2011 Ike Taylor will be a 31 year old free agent. Personally I think that Ike will resign as there isn’t a huge market for over 30 Cornerbacks with hands of stone. Although I think there will be a little feet stomping and searching for greener pastures a la Ryan Clark but eventually he’ll be resigned to a moderate contract. So far the youngsters in the secondary haven’t really shown that they are capable enough to jump into a starting role. Even so the simple fact is that in the Steelers 3-4 Zone Blitz Defense you don’t really need great CB’s and as such I can’t see them taking one this late in the first round. Fortunately though there is plenty of talent at both safety positions. The Steelers resigned Ryan Clark to a short, front-loaded contract so if the Steelers value someone enough in the 2011 draft they can release him without taking a big cap hit. In any event every Steelers fan knows how badly the team missed Troy Polamalu when he was injured and having a capable back-up for him is worth a first round pick. Someone like Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel who is versatile enough to play both Safety positions would be an ideal target if he’s available at this point. If they prefer a pure FS prospect that is more in the quicker, ball-hawking mold then UCLA’s Rahim Moore would be more than suitable as he had 10 interceptions in 2009 alone. Other notable considerations would be NT Jerrell Powe to replace Casey Hampton or a DE prospect. Ziggy Hood will eventually supplant Aaron Smith but the team will still need someone to replace Brett Keisel in a couple of years and currently the team only has Sunny Harris.
33. Buffalo Bills – Kyle Rudolph TE, Notre Dame
The biggest need at this point for the Bills is definitely for a LT but unfortunately the market is thin in this draft. The next best thing would be some weapons for their new QB. Rudolph would be a good safety valve for whichever QB they take first overall given how quickly they’ll need to get rid of the ball sine they have no Offensive Tackles.
35. Cleveland Browns –Ryan Broyles WR, Oklahoma
Whoever ends up playing Quarterback for Cleveland next year, they will need someone to step up and actually catch the ball. And as an added bonus Broyles can take the kick return duties away from Josh Cribbs so that he can become a more prominent fixture on Offense.
36. Detroit Lions –Greg Jones ILB, MSU
The Lions get a local boy who would be a great fit/addition to a rebuilt defense.
37. Oakland Raiders – Ras-I Dowling CB, Virginia
This is a value pick. Oakland has a much bigger need for a LT but there simply aren’t any left. They also need someone of quality to play across from Nnamdi Asomugha.
38. St. Louis Rams – Jurrell Casey DT, USC
Simply put the Rams need to generate a better pass-rush from their front four.
39. Seattle Seahawks – DeVier Posey WR, OSU
Posey gives Coach Carroll the size and speed he loves in a receiver.
42. San Francisco 49ers – Von Miller OLB, Texas A&M
Patrick Willis can’t be the only one able to rush the passer. Miller has had an awful year due to a nagging ankle injury which is why he’s fallen out of the first round but is a great value pick here.
43. Minnesota Vikings –Chris Ponder QB, FSU
Someone will need to inherit the throne of Brett Favre in 2011.
45. Dallas Cowboys – Will Hill FS, Florida
The Cowboys need an upgrade over Alan Ball.
46. Cincinnati Bengals – Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin
It’s time to finally cut the cord on Andre Smith. .
48. Tennessee Titans – Mark Herzlich OLB, Boston College
Herzlich has beaten cancer and is just the sort of high-character leader the Titans need to replace Keith Bullock.
50. New York Giants –Daniel Thomas RB, Kansas State
Thomas is a bruiser with deceptive speed and would be a great replacement for the steadily declining Brandon Jacobs.
51. Denver Broncos (via Miami Dolphins) – Nick Fairley DT/DE, Auburn
Denver continues to revamp its defensive front to improve its run defense. Ideally at this point they really need a NT but with Jerrell Powe already gone the value just isn’t there.
53. Arizona Cardinals –Marcus Cannon OG/OT, TCU
At this stage of his career Alan Faneca just doesn’t have much in the tank. And adding to the eventual hole at OG is Deuce Lutui ballooning up to 400lbs. and being a pending free agent in 2011. Cannon has been phenomenal so far this year but given his size he will probably not have the lateral quickness to play Tackle in the NFL.
54. San Diego Chargers – Leonard Hankerson WR, Miami
Malcolm Floyd will be free agents in 2011. Even if he is resigned he’s not a number one caliber receiver. Hankerson is 6’3” and very athletic, and just the type of receiver the Chargers love.
55. Chicago Bears – Da’Quan Bowers DE, Clemson
Obviously the Julius Peppers signing in the offseason is paying dividends, but they have no one to play opposite of him as the Bears have cut Mark Anderson and Alex Brown.
56. New England Patriots – Clint Boling OG/OT, UGA
Boling has had a down year for UGA but is technically sound and extremely versatile playing LT and both Guard positions throughout his career.
59. Houston Texans – Marvin Austin DT, UNC
If Austin is available this pick is almost a no-brainer. Houston has long had an issue with generating a pass-rush from the DT position. Austin has all the physical talent you could want, the reason he’s still on the board at this point is the questions about his desire. Given his potential upside he’s worth the risk at the end of the second round.
60. New York Jets – Lawrence Guy DT/DE, Arizona State
Guy would be a great replacement for Shaun Ellis.
62. Baltimore Ravens –Blake Gideon FS, Texas
A replacement for Ed Reed who will probably retire at the end of the 2010 season.
63. Green Bay Packers – Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado
He’s an eventual replacement for Charles Woodson.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers – Austin Pettis WR, Boise State
I’m sure most people in Steelers Nation are saying “WTF!” but if the Steelers are drafting here it’s because they won the Super Bowl. Hines Ward has already stated that if/when the Steelers win their next Super Bowl he will retire. Currently Mike Wallace is the Steelers deep vertical threat and the only sure thing on the roster behind Ward. They spent two picks last year on WR’s Antonio Brown and Emanuel Sanders. Right now though I see Brown as better suited for the slot position, comparing well to former Steeler Nate Washington. While I have high hopes for Manny Sanders the fact is that he can’t beat out Arnaz Battle, who was only signed for his Special Teams skills for which he hasn’t done much this season so far, for the 5th WR spot on the active roster. Like Ward, Pettis is not the most athletic receiver but he’s very sure-handed, a good down-field blocker, and isn’t afraid to go across the middle.