1 – Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
2 – Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
4 – Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa
5 – Brandon Burton, CB, Utah
6 – DeMarcus Love, OT, Arkansas
6 – Mistral Raymond, S, South Florida
6 – Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock
6 – Ross Homan, OLB, Ohio State
7 – D’Aundre Reed, DE, Arizona
7 – Stephen Burton, WR, West Texas A&M
Thought the vikings have been an organization that has usually conducted a ‘best-available’ approach in the past, their surprising selection of Ponder (right) at No. 12 overall was a pick based on need. It’s a choice that has been panned by many due to Ponder’s lack of elite arm strength and concerning medical history. But to be fair, the cerebral former Seminole was a potential target of the Redskin’s at No. 16, so Minnesota had to pull the trigger in the first round to snare its intended long-term answer at quarterback. Taking Rudolph, the clear-cut best tight end in this class, in the mid-second round drew far more praise from critics. He’s an outstanding receiver who can present a mismatch for opposing defense, but an inability to stay healthy in college caused his stock to drop. Ballard also saw his draft status slip after failing a drug test at the combine, but has the physical tools to develop into a starting base end in a 4-3 defense and could also be implemented as a situational pass-rushing tackle
Ballard’s combination of size and skill is comparable to many of the defensive lineman that came off the boards in the first two rounds, and his versatility is an added plus. He could wind up replacing possible free agent Ray Edwards, perhaps as soon as this coming season.
While the Vikings would ideally liked to have taken Ponder at a later spot and were handcuffed by a missing third-round from the ill fated Randy Moss trade, personnel director Rick Spielman did pretty well in getting three players who may be able to start as rookies with his first three picks. Some of the late rounders have some upside aswell.
1 – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
2 – Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky
3 – Alex Green, RB, Hawaii
4 – Davon House, CB, New Mexico State
5 – D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas
6 – Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah
6 – D.J. Smith, ILB, Appalachian State
6 – Ricky Elmore, OLB, Arizona
7 – Ryan Taylor, TE, North Carolina
7 – Lawrence Guy, DE, Arizona State
One year after snatching Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga with the 23rd overall choice, the Packers took an offensive tackle with their first-round pick. Sherrod (right) is light on his feet and a skilled pass protector who could be the future successor to Chad Clifton on the left side. Green Bay may have also found Donald Driver’s eventual replacement in the dynamic Cobb, a one-time quarterback at Kentucky who’s one of the best route runners in this class and could make an instant contribution as a return man. Green is a strong and physical inside runner with some receiving ability as well, but is a bit unrefined from playing in a pass-heavy offense in college.
Best Value Pick
House was rated as a second-round talent on some boards due to his appealing combination of size and speed. Guy is an early entrant who would have been better off staying in school, but has the physical tools to develop into a valuable rotational piece in time.
Thompson’s philosophy of taking the best player available held true in this draft, as none of these picks will be asked to step into important roles on a deep roster unless injuries strike. Still, guys like Sherrod, Cobb and House appear to have bright futures.
1 – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
2 – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
3 – Chris Conte, S, California
5 – Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho
6 – J.T. Thomas, OLB, West Virginia
An offensive line that was a turnstile for much of last season got a necessary key piece in Carimi (right), a four-year starter for the Badgers who is expected to be the regular right tackle. Paea, who turned heads in February by setting the combine record for bench-press repetitions, could also be an instant starter on a defensive front that’s also going through a transition phase along the interior. Conte is a former cornerback at Cal with good speed but limited experience. He’ll probably begin his career as the third safety as he gains more seasoning. Chicago dealt away its fourth-rounder to move up nine spots to land Paea.
Best Value Pick
The Bears were crossing their fingers that Carimi would fall to them at No. 29 overall and had a trade agreement in place with Baltimore to vault up to the 26th pick and take him, only GM Jerry Angelo pulled out at the last minute and created a brief moment of chaos.
Carimi was a solid choice and Paea should emerge as a steady run stopper, but the Bears were too tied at the hands to adequately fill all their needs.
1 – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
2 – Titus Young, WR, Boise State
2 – Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois
5 – Doug Hogue, OLB, Syracuse
7 – Johnny Culbreath, OT, South Carolina State
Though the Lions were already well set at defensive tackle, they couldn’t resist the urge to bring in one of the draft’s elite talents Fairley (right), once a serious candidate for the No. 1 overall pick before questions about his maturity and a limited body of work caused a slide. Head coach Jim Schwartz has proven in the past he can get the most from his d-linemen (see Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee). Detroit also did quite well in the second round, as Young is a polished slot receiver with outstanding speed and big- play potential and Leshoure offers a powerful between-the-tackles complement to home-run threat Jahvid Best. Don’t be surprised if the Illinois early entrant leads the team in rushing this coming season.
Best Value Pick
Getting Fairley at No. 13 was a major coup for GM Martin Mayhew, and Leshoure could have easily gone higher than the late second-round slot (No. 57) the Lions traded up with Seattle to obtain.
Detroit is no longer a laughing stock when it comes to the draft. Only the lack of picks that could have satisfied voids at linebacker and cornerback prevents a higher grade.
1 – Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
2 – Jaiquawn Jarrett, S, Temple
3 – Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
4 – Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon
4 – Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
5 – Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh
5 – Julian Vandervelde, OG, Iowa
6 – Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati
6 – Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State
7 – Greg Lloyd, ILB, Connecticut
7 – Stanley Havili, FB, USC
The offensive line was a weak spot for the Eagles last season, prompting the team to eschew a glaring need at cornerback and take one of the draft’s most intriguing prospects in Watkins (right), a 26-year-old former firefighter who’s only played organised football for four years. A two-year starter at left tackle at Baylor, he’ll have to kick inside in the pros due to his squat build but has the strength, agility and competitiveness to make the transition. Jarrett went higher than expected in a weak safety crop, but he’s a hard hitter who excels in run support and could be the future on the strong side. Marsh ran very well at the combine but is a project, having spent his first two years at Utah State as a running back. One of the more interesting picks was Henery, a legitimate NFL kicking prospect whose addition likely spells the end of David Akers’ 12-year reign with the organisation.
Best Value Pick
Havili is perfectly suited for Andy Reid’s West Coast offence as an undersized fullback with above-average receiving skills. He’s got an excellent chance to stick on the 53-man roster.
The lockout roster freeze really hurt the Eagles, who could have parlayed backup quarterback Kevin Kolb into a premium draft choice or two had player trades been allowed, and the absence of a ready-made cornerback suggests the team may make a hard run at Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. As for the newcomers, Watkins should be a solid starter off the bat and Henery’s selection is actually justifiable, but Philadelphia reached a bit in the second and third rounds and the remainder of the lot are mostly backup types.
1 – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
2 – Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
3 – Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
4 – James Brewer, OT, Indiana
6 – Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan State
6 – Tyler Sash, S, Iowa
6 – Jacquian Williams, OLB, South Florida
7 – Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland
The Giants received an unexpected reward when Amukamara (right), considered a top 10 player in many circles, fell to them with the 19th overall pick. The Nigerian descendant is solid in all phases and will be an immediate contributor as a nickel back at worst. Austin brings a similar level of talent but far more risk, as his collegiate production rarely matched his exceptional skill set and he was suspended for his entire senior season at North Carolina for interaction with an agent. Jernigan’s small size may limit him to the slot as a pro, but he possesses above-average hands and speed and is extremely elusive after the catch, making him an asset in the return game as well. His addition suggests the Giants are concerned about the long-term prognosis of Steve Smith, who underwent microfracture knee surgery in December.
Best Value Pick
Austin, if he’s willing to put the work into maximising his considerable potential. Jernigan was a nice get in the third round, while Jones was a highly productive player in the Big 10 whose instincts compensate for his short stature and questionable strength.
Though they weren’t able to solve their most pressing needs on the offensive line and at outside linebacker, the Giants brought in worthwhile prospects with just about every selection they made.
1 – Tyron Smith, OT, USC
2 – Bruce Carter, ILB, North Carolina
3 – DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
4 – David Arkin, OG, Missouri State
5 – Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo
6 – Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina;
7- Shaun Chapas, FB, Georgia
7 – Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsi
An offensive line that was getting a bit long in the tooth received a necessary shot of youth and athleticism with the selection of Smith (right), who may have the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman in this draft. Just 20 years old, he’s got the length and quick feet to develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle, though he’s clearly still a work in progress. Carter has plenty of ability as well, as the ex-Tar Heel entered his senior season as a likely top 20 pick before sustaining a torn ACL in November. He figures to be brought along slowly as a rookie before eventually taking over a starting role at inside linebacker. Murray is a big back with above-average receiving skills who will likely make the high-priced Marion Barber expendable.
Best Value Pick
Carter, as long as he can retain the speed and explosive qualities that made him such a coveted prospect before his injury. Thomas is fast and tough and could have a chance for immediate playing time in a shaky Dallas secondary.
Dallas stuck to its board and ended up with three pretty good players in the first two days, so commend Jerry Jones for showing some restraint instead of gambling for the big prize. The Cowboys still weren’t able to fill some glaring needs, but that may come in free agency.
1 – Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue
2 – Jarvis Jenkins, DE, Clemson
3 – Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami-Florida
4- Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
5 – Dejon Gomes, S, Nebraska
5 – Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska
7 – Brandyn Thompson, CB, Boise State
7 – Maurice Hurt, OG, Florida
7 – Markus White, OLB, Florida State
7 – Chris Neild, NT, West Virginia
The quarterback-needy Redskins passed on Missouri prospect Blaine Gabbert with their original first-round pick (No. 10 overall), instead opting to trade down six spots with a possible eye on Florida State’s Christian Ponder. When Ponder surprisingly went to Minnesota at No. 12, the team switched gears and took Kerrigan (right), a high-motor player who racked up 13 sacks as a defensive end at Purdue last season. Though there are questions as to whether he’s fluid enough to be able to play in space as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Washington plans to start him alongside pass-rushing terror Brian Orakpo immediately. Jenkins, picked 10 spots ahead of more heralded Clemson teammate Da’Quan Bowers, should also see time as a rookie on a defensive line that needed a stout run stuffer who’s young. Hankerson gives head coach Mike Shanahan’s offence a desired big-bodied receiver, but struggled at times with drops during his college career.
Best Value Pick
Helu, the first of three consecutive Nebraska players chosen by the Redskins, is a big back with cutback skills that make him well-suited for Shanahan’s zone-block scheme. He’ll give the brittle Ryan Torain a run for his money to be the team’s feature back this fall.
This was the antithesis of a typical Redskins draft, with Allen continually dealing down to acquire more young players instead of following the old regime’s lead of squandering valuable picks for veteran stopgaps. While the Redskins did bring in some rookies who can surely help, there seems to be more quantity than quality and Kerrigan’s a questionable fit as a linebacker in a 3-4. And there’s also the fact that Washington is still without a quarterback.
1 – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
3 – Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida
3 – Sione Fua, DT, Stanford
4 – Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia
5 – Kealoha Pilares, WR, Hawaii
6 – Lawrence Wilson, OLB, Connecticut
6 – Zack Williams, C, Washington State
7 – Lee Ziemba, OT, Auburn
With a rocket and accurate arm, prototype size and an uncanny ability to elude pressure and make plays with his legs, there’s no denying that No. 1 overall pick Newton (right) has the physical qualities to become a franchise quarterback. Though there are some well-publicised off-field concerns regarding the reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, his biggest obstacle to stardom is a lack of experience and a foreignness to a pro-style offence. Having squandered their second-round choice to trade up for former Walter Payton Award honoree Armanti Edwards last year, the Panthers used their next two picks to help fortify a barren scenario at defensive tackle. The jury’s out as to whether they succeeded, however. McClain has ability but had an inconsistent career at South Florida, while Fua is merely a try-hard type who can fill gaps but offers little playmaking potential.
Best Value Pick
Wilson is undersized but is one of the better coverage linebackers in this draft. If he can add some bulk, the Panthers may have a nice sleeper on their hands.
Newton gives Carolina fans something to get excited out, but the rest of the Panthers’ first draft for new head coach Ron Rivera is littered with either marginal prospects or guys with question marks. The success of this class will ultimately be determined by whether or not Newton’s remarkable gifts can translate into victories.
1 – Cameron Jordan, DE, California
1 – Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
3 – Martez Wilson, OLB, Illinois
3 – Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville
7 – Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
7 – Nate Bussey, OLB, Illinois
The Saints went into the draft seeking a strongside defensive end who can both stuff the run and pressure the passer and got their man in Jordan (right), the son of former Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan who fell to the 24th overall pick only because of the extraordinary depth at his position in this class. GM Mickey Loomis then got aggressive, trading New Orleans’ second-round choice and next year’s first-rounder to New England to land 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Ingram, a ready-made NFL back with exceptional vision whose presence likely makes the high-priced Reggie Bush expendable. Wilson was the fastest linebacker at the combine and can fit inside or out, though he’ll need to improve his tackling skills and feel for the game to become a reliable starter.
Best Value Pick
Jordan was a great get at No. 24, but Romeus could be an absolute steal in the seventh round. The 2009 Big East Defensive Player of the Year was considered a first-round talent entering his senior season at Pitt, but missed nearly all of his final year with a bad back and torn ACL. He could be an impact pass rusher at the next level if able to regain his pre-injury form.
The Saints made the most of their six selections and should have two instant contributors in Jordan and Ingram, while Wilson, Patrick and Romeus all have the potential to be starters in time. The only negative is the relinquishing of next year’s first-rounder.
1 – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
3 – Akeem Dent, ILB
5 – Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State
6 – Matt Bosher, K, Miami- Florida
7 – Andrew Jackson, OG, Fresno State
7 – Cliff Matthews, DE, South Carolina
General manager Thomas Dimitroff swung for the fences right off the bat, shipping their No. 27 overall selection and second and fourth-round picks in addition to next year’s No. 1 to vault 21 spots and take Jones (right), a fast and physical target who should help draw double coverage away from All-Pro receiver Roddy White. The Falcons stayed in their own backyard with their choice of Dent, who has the speed and versatility to play both inside and outside and offers protection for middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who underwent surgery on both knees in the offseason. The third day was highlighted by the acquisition of the diminutive Rogers, who could immediately take over injury-prone Jerious Norwood’s old role as the third-down back.
Best Value Pick
Don’t be turned off by Rogers’ small stature. He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards during a prolific career at Oregon State and is strong enough to be an effective inside runner. His vision and durability are both pluses as well.
Jones is an excellent football player and will be a worthwhile addition to a dangerous offence, but may be the only every-down starter the Falcons get out of this draft. Atlanta is clearly going for broke to make a run at a Super Bowl this year, as the future has been compromised somewhat with the blockbuster trade.
1 – Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
2 – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
3 – Mason Foster, ILB, Washington
4 – Luke Stocker, TE, Tennessee
5 – Ahmad Black, S, Florida
6 – Allen Bradford, RB, USC
7 – Anthony Gaitor, CB, Florida International
7 – Daniel Hardy, TE, Idaho (6-4, 249)
After grabbing a defensive tackle with his first two choices of the 2010 draft, GM Mark Dominik turned his attention to the end position this time around and reeled in two players with great upside in the first two rounds. Bowers (right) is the ultimate wild card of this draft, a pass- rushing beast and early candidate to go No. 1 overall before the revelation of a degenerative knee condition caused him to tumble down the board. Clayborn can also get to the quarterback, something the Bucs didn’t do enough of last season, and is a sound run-stopper as well who should start immediately at right end. Foster was a tackling machine at Washington and gets high marks from scouts for his instincts. With Barrett Ruud to hit free agency, it’s not out of the question that Foster becomes the opening week starter at middle linebacker if he’s quick to pick up Raheem Morris’ scheme.
Best Value Pick
Bowers may not have a 10-year career in the league because of his bum knee, but players of his caliber that aren’t character risks don’t typically fall to the 51st pick. If healthy, he and Clayborn could form the best tandem of young ends in the NFL.
Bowers may be a gamble and cornerback could have been addressed earlier on, but by adding two defensive ends with Pro Bowl potential and a possible starter at middle linebacker, this has the makings of a third straight strong draft under Dominik’s direction.
1 – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
2 – Lance Kendricks, TE, Wisconsin
3 – Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
4 – Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii
5 – Jermale Hines, S, Ohio State
7 – Mikail Baker, CB, Baylor
7 – Jabara Williams, OLB, Stephen F. Austin
7 – Jonathan Nelson, S, Oklahoma
The Rams got a player with an incredibly high ceiling when they snared Quinn (right) with the 14th overall pick. the former Tar Heel would have easily gone much higher if not for a brain tumor sustained while in high school (which hasn’t been a problem since) and a relative lack of experience. He’ll start out as a situational pass rusher for Steve Spagnuolo’s defence. Kendricks is a move tight end with intriguing receiving skills and could be utilised as an over-sized slot receiver under new offensive coordinator josh McDaniels. St Louis made an effort to upgrade an uninspiring wide-out corps later on, and both Pettis and Salas were productive college players who give Sam Bradford two good-sized targets.
Best Value Pick
Quinn has the explosive first step and athletic skills to become a premier pass rusher in the pros once he refines his game, which would make him a bargain at No. 14.
Quinn could emerge as an impact player in time, but there’s not much to get excited about over the remainder of the crop. Pettis and Salas aren’t big-play threats and the late-rounders are all special-teams types.
1 – James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
3 – John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin
4 – K.J. Wright, OLB, Mississippi State
4 – Kris Durham, WR, Georgia
5 – Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
5 – Mark Legree, S, Appalachian State
6 – Byron Maxwell, CB, Clemson
7 – Lazarius Levingston, DE, LSU
7 – Malcolm Smith, OLB, USC
The Seahawks deemed adding talent and a physical presence to the offensive line as the No. 1 goal for head coach Pete Carroll’s second season, hence the selections of Carpenter (right) and Moffitt with the team’s first two picks. Though a slightly surprising first-round choice, Carpenter was an All-SEC performer for the Crimson Tide and has the requisite size and run- blocking skills to step right in at right tackle. Moffitt, the projected starter at right guard, comes out of a Wisconsin program known for churning out quality linemen and competes with a mean streak Carroll likes. The fourth round produced Wright, an athletic and instinctive player who could be a starter down the road, and the 6-foot-5 Durham, who raised his stock by running at his Pro Day with scouts flocking to see college teammate A.J. Green.
Best Value Pick
Wright was a productive three-year starter at Mississippi State with prototype size for strong-side linebacker. He’ll provide good depth and should be an immediate contributor on special teams.
The Seahawks are building a potentially formidable offensive line filled with high draft picks, but there still isn’t a young quarterback that can make a difference on the roster and a defense that needed a jolt got only some spare parts.
1 – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
2 – Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech
3 – Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic
4 – Sam Acho, OLB, Texas
5 – Anthony Sherman, FB, Connecticut
6 – David Carter, DE, UCLA
7 – DeMarco Sampson, WR, San Diego State
Though in the market for a young long-term answer at quarterback, the Cardinals passed on one in favour of taking possibly this draft’s best all-around player, Peterson (right), with the fifth overall pick. It’s hard to argue with the decision, as the ex-LSU sensation possesses a blend of size and speed (ran 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) that is almost unheard of for a corner-back and plays at a position of need to boot. Williams, a powerful back with legitimate big-play potential, was a stranger choice at No. 38 overall considering the team drafted the injury-prone Beanie Wells in the first round just two years ago, and Williams has durability issues of his own after missing much of last season with a hamstring problem. Housler made himself a second-day prospect by flashing elite athleticism at the combine and could provide the Cards a pass-catching threat at tight end the organisation hasn’t had in years.
Best Value Pick
Acho was a defensive end at Texas who will be asked to convert to outside linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 arrangement. Albeit a project, judging by his intelligence (he won the 2010 Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman”) and impressive performance in combine agility drills, he could very well make a successful switch in time.
While this draft didn’t come that close to solving all of Arizona’s problems, the team did get good prospects in each of the first four rounds and Peterson and Williams could be special. Expect the Cardinals to target a stopgap veteran quarterback in free agency.
1 – Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
2 – Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
3 – Chris Culliver, CB, South Carolina
4 – Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
5 – Daniel Kilgore, OG, Appalachian State
6 – Ronald Johnson, WR, USC
6 – Colin Jones, S, TCU
7 – Bruce Miller, OLB, Central Florida
7 – Michael Person, OT, Montana State
7 – Curtis Holcomb, CB, Florida A&M
After preferred target Patrick Peterson failed to fall to the No. 7 overall pick, the 49ers pulled off a mild surprise by taking the raw but gifted (right) at that spot. A draft-eligible sophomore who played defensive end at Missouri, he possesses tantalizing pass-rush skills and an ideal build for a 3-4 linebacker, though scouts have questioned whether he can be can effective in space and his college experience was limited. San Francisco also made a splash in the second round, trading up nine spots to snare Kaepernick and give new head coach Jim Harbaugh a quarterback to mold. The two-time WAC Player of the Year’s athletic gifts rival that of No. 1 overall choice Cam Newton and gets high marks for his leadership abilities as well, and finds himself in a good landing spot playing for a coach with a track record of developing signal-callers. Culliver has intriguing size and was one of the fastest defensive backs at the combine, but had more success as a safety at South Carolina than the corner-back position the Niners envision him playing.
Best Value Pick
Hunter is an elusive open-field runner and good receiver who could find a niche in the offence as a third-down specialist.
Acquiring Kaepernick, who’s every bit the prospect as several other quarterbacks who went much earlier in the draft, helps take the sting out of a class with a number of curious selections, highlighted by that of Smith. There isn’t a player out of this group that you can say for certain will be a dependable starter at the next level.
1 – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
2 – Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
3 – Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
4 – Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel
5 – Chris Carter, OLB, Fresno State
6 – Keith Williams, OG, Nebraska
7 – Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech
Age and injuries created some problems for the Steelers along the defensive line during last season’s Super Bowl run, so personnel director Kevin Colbert took advantage of this year’s deep crop of end prospects to pluck Heyward (right), the son of former NFL running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, near the end of round 1. The ex-Buckeye is stout at the point of attack and disciplined in his assignments and should be an eventual starter. Gilbert sports impressive athleticism considering his large size and will likely be groomed as the future successor to 36-year-old Flozell Adams at right tackle. Cornerback was probably the biggest sore spot on the roster, so Colbert went out and got two big ones with upside in Brown and Allen. The former is the more polished of the pair and may have an opportunity to push for playing time right away.
Best Value Pick
Carter was the WAC Defensive Player of the Year as a defensive end in 2010 and has an advanced array of pass-rush moves for an incoming player, making the Fresno State product a nice get in the fifth round.
Not a lot of sizzle, but enough good solid prospects that will replenish depth and give the Steelers a sound base for the future.
1 – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
2 – Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
3 – Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada
4 – Clint Boling, OG, Georgia
5 – Robert Sands, S, West Virginia
6 – Ryan Whalen, WR, Stanford
7 – Korey Lindsey, CB, Southern Illinois
7 – Jay Finley, RB, Baylor
The Bengals may be bidding adieu to Chad Ochocinco and possibly Carson Palmer as well, after finding potential replacements with their first two picks. Green (right) is as close as a sure thing you’ll find in this draft, a receiver with size, deep speed, strong route-running skills and exceptional hands, and should have no problem becoming a game-changer early in his career. He could be hauling in passes from Dalton in the very near future with Palmer at odds with the organisation, and the red-headed rookie may be up to the task following a highly successful career as a four-year starter at TCU. Though not blessed with great physical gifts, Dalton is intelligent, competitive and accurate and is considered a natural fit for the West Coast system being installed under new coordinator Jay Gruden. Moch, on the other hand, is a freakish athlete who will convert from a collegiate defensive end to outside linebacker due to size limitations. Extremely raw, his best chance to contribute early on is as a situational pass rusher.
Best Value Pick
Considering Christian Ponder, a quarterback with a similar skill set and traits to Dalton, was taken by Minnesota 12th overall, the Bengals did well by staying pat and getting their man at No. 35. Lindsey, a 2010 Buck Buchanan Award finalist with very good ball skills, may have went a lot higher in the draft if not for hamstring injuries during the scouting period.
Cincinnati obtained a premier receiver in Green and protected itself somewhat in the Palmer saga by landing a quick study in Dalton, which is enough to warrant a solid score. There doesn’t appear to be any surefire starters among the remainder of the group, however, which brings the grade down a bit.
1 – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
2 – Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
3 – Jah Reid, OT, Central Florida
4 – Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
5 – Chykie Brown, CB, Texas
5 – Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State
6 – Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
7 – Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech
The Ravens could have a legitimate shutdown corner on their hands in Jimmy Smith (right), whose size and athletic ability rivals that of Arizona rookie Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall choice in this year’s draft. Smith went 22 spots later because of a litany of character issues that included multiple failed drug tests, but Baltimore believes it has the right support system in place to keep him in line. The Ravens added a needed dose of youth and speed to the receiving corps with the second-round selection of local product Torrey Smith, who should see the field immediately as a No. 3 wideout and return man. Reid has the skill set to develop into an eventual starter at right tackle, but it’ll take time.
Best Value Pick
Cornerbacks with Jimmy Smith’s tools are hard to find, and he’ll be well worth the initial headaches that Ravens fans experienced with his selection if he’s able to stay out of trouble.
The true measure of this class will be revealed down the road, as Reid, Doss and Brown are project players that probably won’t see much time as rookies, but the Ravens did pretty well by landing the two Smiths.
1 – Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
2 – Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
2 – Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
4 – Jordan Cameron, TE, USC
4 – Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford
5 – Buster Skrine, CB, Tennessee-Chattanooga
5 – Jason Pinkston, OT, Pittsburgh
7 – Eric Hagg, S, Nebraska
The decision-making tandem of president Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert quickly addressed the Browns’ two greatest needs through this draft. A defensive line that was devoid of starting-caliber talent added two likely Day One regulars in the beefy Taylor (right), who perfectly fits the profile new coordinator Dick Jauron wants in a tackle, and Sheard, a skilled pass rusher and high-energy player who went a bit overlooked due to the outstanding depth of this year’s end class. Little will need some coaching up after sitting out the entire 2010 season for his involvement in North Carolina’s well-publicised agent scandal, but he’s a physical specimen with strong hands and the potential to eventually emerge as the No. 1 receiver Cleveland is seeking for its West Coast offence. The best move the Browns made, however, was trading down from the No. 6 overall spot and collecting four high picks from Atlanta that included the Falcons’ first-round choice in 2012.
Best Value Pick
Sheard would have been a first-rounder in most drafts but was a victim of a well-stocked assortment of talent at his position. His teammate at Pittsburgh, Pinkston, was a two-time All-Big East honoree at left tackle, but the Browns believe he can eventually become a starter at guard.
By filling glaring voids on the defensive line and wide receiver with worthwhile prospects and picking up an extra No. 1 pick for next year, the Browns come out as one of the big winners in this draft.
1 – Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
2 – Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State
4 – Edmond Gates, WR, Abilene Christian
6 – Charles Clay, TE, Tulsa
7 – Frank Kearse, DE, Alabama A&M
7 – Jimmy Wilson, CB, Montana
After getting inconsistent play out of the interior of the offensive line last season, the Dolphins made one of the safest selections in the draft in grabbing Pouncey (right), the twin brother of Steelers Pro Bowl centre Maurkice Pouncey, with the 15th overall pick. Like his brother, he’s very nimble and can explode out of his stance and should start right away. Miami was without its original second-round choice due to last year’s trade for Brandon Marshall, but moved up from the third to No. 62 to take the powerful Thomas, who stands to become the team’s feature back with both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams headed to free agency. Gates is a blazer who burst onto the scene by running a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but is extremely raw and will need time to develop.
Best Value Pick
Clay had nearly 200 catches during his collegiate career and is very versatile, having lined up at tight end, H-back and even tailback at Tulsa. He could surprise as a seam-stretching tight end to complement blocking specialist Anthony Fasano.
With an outstanding defence already in place, Miami was smart to focus on giving Henne a better supporting cast. Sure, a franchise quarterback would have been nice, but GM Jeff Ireland should get some credit for staying true to the board and obtaining two good prospects in Pouncey and Thomas instead of reaching for one.
1 – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
3 – Kenrick Ellis
4 – Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
5 – Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU
7 – Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
7 – Scotty McKnight, WR, Colorado
The Jets viewed upgrading the defensive line the top priority in this draft and used their first two selections to nab potential starters for their 3-4 front. Wilkerson (right) has terrific length and is surprisingly agile for a man his size, making him an enticing prospect as a five-technique end. His addition could signal the end of free agent Shaun Ellis’ long tenure with the team. Kenrick Ellis’ upside as a space-eating nose tackle is also considerable, as he can get off the ball quickly and is tough for opposing linemen to move. The South Carolina transfers main issues come off the field, having been dismissed from the Gamecocks’ program for a number of rules violations. Powell is a powerful inside runner who put himself on scouts’ radar with an outstanding senior season, but needs to show he’s not a one-year wonder.
Best Value Pick
McElroy doesn’t have the size or arm strength teams look for in a starting quarterback, but he’s incredibly smart, experienced and a proven winner. He’ll have a long career in the league as a capable backup.
Both defensive linemen are promising players and McElroy could be a valued understudy to Mark Sanchez, but two other prime needs — finding an impact edge rusher and adding depth to the offensive line — were ignored.
1 – Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
2 – Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
3 – Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LS
4 – Da’Norris Searcy, S, North Carolina
4 – Chris Hairston, OT, Clemson
5 – Johnny White, RB, North Carolina
6 – Chris White, ILB, Mississippi State
7 – Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond
7 – Michael Jasper, NT, Bethel-Tennessee
Dareus (right) was absolutely what the Bills needed for a defence that was the worst in the NFL against the run last season. The 21-year-old is both exceptionally strong and assignment-sound, having starred as a base end in a similar 3-4 system at Alabama that he’ll play in the pros, and his first- step quickness is rare for such a big man. Most of Buffalo’s other picks went towards bolstering that side of the ball as well, with GM Buddy Nix plucking a safety-sized corner with starter’s skills in Williams, a highly-athletic inside linebacker who can also aid in run support in Sheppard and a possible successor to the likely departed Donte Whitner at strong safety in Searcy, who showed impressive coverage ability during his time at North Carolina.
Best Value Pick
Searcy is a very fluid player despite his size and if he can learn to become more physical against the run, has a chance to develop into a quality strong safety.
Credit Nix for making an effort to get the Bills more competitive on defense and Dareus is a perfect pick for the team and should make an instant impact. Williams, Sheppard and Searcy will also get opportunities for playing time, but it remains to be seen whether any of them can be part of the solution.
1 – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
2 – Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
2 – Shane Vereen, RB, California
3 – Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU
3 – Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
5 – Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU
5 – Lee Smith, TE, Marshall
6 – Markell Carter, OLB, Central Arkansas
7 – Malcolm Williams, S, TCU
Solder (right), a converted tight end at Colorado with excellent length and agility, could very well be a Week 1 starter at left tackle if he gains a little strength. His addition likely means the end of free-agent Matt Light’s stay in Foxborough. Dowling had injury issues during his senior season in college, but with his combination of size, 4.4 speed and impressive instincts, it can be argued that’s he’s an even better prospect than new teammate Devin McCourty, a first-rounder last year who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The two running backs offer contrasting styles, with Vereen a dangerous open-field runner and receiver in the Kevin Faulk mold and Ridley, a physical north-south runner who could wind up as a short-yardage specialist. The Pats ended the second day with the surprise selection of the polarizing Mallett, who owns a big-time arm and is well-versed in a pro-style offence, but slid into the third round because of maturity questions.
Best Value Pick
Getting Mallett with the 74th overall selection was a worthwhile move, but Cannon could turn out to be the biggest steal in the draft. The massive tackle was a consensus second-round talent before being diagnosed with lymphoma shortly before the draft, though he’s expected to make a full recovery.
A tough one to grade. New England did bring in two possible high-end starters in Solder and Dowling, while Mallett and Cannon were both outstanding picks. However, finding reinforcements to the front seven of the defence may have been a better avenue to take than going back-to-back on complementary running backs on the second day.
1 – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
3 – Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh
4 – Cecil Shorts, WR, Mount Union
4 – Chris Prosinski, S, Wyoming
5 – Rod Issac, CB, Middle Tennessee State
Jaguars relinquished their second-round pick (No. 49) to move up six spots to select Gabbert (right), who has the size, arm strength, intelligence and leadership skills to become a top-flight quarterback but will need time to adjust from a pure spread offence in college. Rackley was an All-America left tackle at the FCS level but will likely kick inside in the pro game because of a lack of height, though he’s technically sound and exceptionally strong. Shorts’ draft slot was the highest for a Division III product in history, two rounds ahead of former teammate and current Colts wideout Pierre Garcon. He’s got good hands and may have an opportunity for playing time in an ordinary Jacksonville receiving corps.
Best Value Pick
Rackley has the strength and ability to become a solid starter early in his career, and the Jaguars think he’s athletic enough to possibly handle centre.
Getting Gabbert, who could turn out to be the best quarterback in this draft, was a nice call, but the absence of any noteworthy additions to the defence doesn’t bode well for a team that plays in the same division as the Colts.
1 – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
2 – Benjamin Ijalana, OG, Villanova
3 – Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
4 – Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse
6 – Chris L. Rucker, CB, Michigan State
The Colts weren’t happy with the play of last year’s offensive line, especially in pass protection, and quickly took initiative to address that area with their first two selections. Castonzo (right), the most polished tackle in this class, was a steal with the 22nd overall pick and will be immediately inserted in as Peyton Manning’s blind-side protector at left tackle. Ijalana, the premier lineman in the FCS ranks, could be a long-term answer at right guard and provides a needed physical presence up front. Nevis is an undersized penetrator who fits the mold of a prototypical Colts’ defensive tackle, and his production as a senior at LSU was comparable to that of his more highly-regarded SEC counterpart, Auburn’s Nick Fairley.
Best Value Pick
GM Bill Polian had to be ecstatic to have Castonzo, a player he can plug in right away at arguably the Colts’ weakest position, fall into his lap at No. 22. Rucker is a big corner and good tackler who’s adept in zone coverage, which Indianapolis plays a lot of.
Not much to nit-pick about another fine haul by Polian, who accomplished his main goal of finding players who can help keep Manning upright and brought in a potential difference-maker on the defensive line.
1 – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
2 – Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
3 – Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
4 – Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami- Florida
4 – Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson
5 – Karl Klug, DE, Iowa
6 – Byron Stingily, OT, Louisville
7 – Zach Clayton, DT, Auburn
7 – Tommie Campbell, S, California-PA
Tennessee a team that was as desperate for a quarterback as any wasted little time in grabbing one, taking the highly-athletic Locker (right) with the eighth overall selection. It’s a choice that has triggered a wide range of opinions, however, with some insiders raving about the former Husky’s arm strength, mobility and terrific intangibles while others wonder if he’ll be able to overcome the erratic accuracy and decision making he displayed in college. The Titans also went with high-risk, high-reward players from the Pac-10 with their next two picks, snaring the inconsistent Ayers with pick No. 39 and tabbing the somewhat-undersized Casey in the third round. Ayers is a great talent with the skills to be an asset both in coverage and a pass rusher, but his on-field production hasn’t always matched his potential because of questionable instincts. Casey is shorter than ideal for an interior lineman, but is strong and competitive and actually adds some beef to a defensive tackle corps that’s relied on smaller, quicker players in recent years.
Best Value Pick
In contrast to Ayers, McCarthy isn’t a premium athlete but is regarded as one one of the most instinctive and best tackling linebackers in this class. With possible free agent Stephen Tulloch’s status in limbo, the Miami product may get a shot to start as a rookie.
GM Mike Reinfeldt showed he wasn’t afraid to roll the dice in this draft, but it’s reasonable to wonder whether those gambles will pay off. Ayers could flame out just as easily as break out, while there isn’t a whole lot of upside to speak of among most of the mid-to-late picks. Locker is the key to this class, however, and the grade obviously changes if in fact he makes the grade in the NFL. But as previously mentioned, there are plausible reasons to believe that he won’t.
1 – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
2 – Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona
2 – Brandon Harris, CB
4 – Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
5 – Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho
5 – T.J. Yates, QB, North Carolina
7 – Derek Newton, OT, Arkansas State
7 – Cheta Ozougwu, OLB, Rice
Determined to improve one of the NFL’s most abysmal defences from last season, the Texans used their first five selections on that side of the ball and may have come up with three rookie starters in Watt (right), Reed and Harris. It’s a group that also won’t lack energy, as both Watt and Reed are accomplished pass rushers with motors that never stop. The former is also strong in run support and has the perfect build for a five-technique end in new coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme, while Reed eased concerns that he may not be athletic enough to transition from a down lineman to outside linebacker with an impressive showing at the combine. Harris is a short but feisty cover man whose best fit may be as a nickel back assigned to the slot.
Best Value Pick
Harris was a projected first-round pick before measuring under 5-foot-10 at the combine and experienced enough to play right away, giving him good value in the late second round (No. 60). Yates was worth a flier in the fifth for a team that doesn’t have much behind Matt Schaub at quarterback.
It’s no secret the Texans have to get better on defence in order to compete for a playoff spot, and the additions of the top three picks do indeed give Phillips a few more chips to utilise. Watt’s the lone member of the group that probably has a chance to become an above-average regular, though.
1 – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
2 – Rodney Hudson, C, Florida State
3 – Justin Houston, OLB
3 – Allen Bailey, DE, Miami-Florida
4 – Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado
5 – Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
5 – Gabe Miller, OLB, Oregon State
6 – Jerrell Powe, NT, Mississippi
7 – Shane Bannon, FB, Yale
The Chiefs’ greatest weakness heading into the draft was the absence of a pass-catching threat to pair with Pro Bowler Dwayne Bowe, hence the selection of the gifted Baldwin (right) with the 26th overall pick. There’s some risk involved with the choice, however, as the former Panther had the label of an underachiever in college, but his skills are undeniable and he’s in a good landing spot, as head coach Todd Haley is renowned for his work with receivers. Hudson was a two-time All-American as a guard at Florida State but has the smarts and flexibility to play centre in the pros. He could push 37- year-old Casey Wiegmann out of a job if up to the task. Houston had 10 sacks as a junior last season and wowed at the combine with his measureables, but his motor is known to run hot-and-cold and he failed a drug test in February, causing his stock to slip. Bailey is athletic, hard-working and versatile, having played both end and tackle for the Hurricanes, but may lack the bulk to hold up as a five-technique end in a 3-4.
Best Value Pick
Powe has the strength and mass to be an effective run stopper and could develop into a possible starter at nose tackle. If Houston plays up to his talent, he would be a steal in the third round.
A good haul with the potential to be great, provided Baldwin and Hudson can make immediate impacts as rookies and Houston doesn’t turn into the second coming of Vernon Gholston.
2 – Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State
3 – DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami-Florida
3 – Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
4 – Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Ohio State
4 – Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington
5 – Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee
6 – Richard Gordon, TE, Miami-Florida
7 – David Ausberry, WR, USC
The Raiders were without a first-round choice, having dealt that pick away to New England in the 2009 trade for veteran defensive lineman Richard Seymour, but did take steps to rebuild a problematic offensive front with two of their first three selections. Wisniewski (right), the nephew of former Raiders great Steve Wisniewski, is hard nosed and a sound technician who will push for a starting job at ethier centre or guard in camp, while Barksdale is a right tackle prospect who’s more athlete than football player at this stage. It’s a well-know fact Al Davis craves speed in his players, and the longtime owner stayed true to his roots by snaring Van Dyke, the fastest player at the combine (4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) in the third round and bringing in three other burners in Chekwa, Jones and Moore later on.
Best Value Pick
Moore showed good hands in college and is rather polished for a rookie, which gives him a chance to crack an inconsistent Oakland receiving crops right off the bat.
Another typical Raiders draft in which speed and athleticism are emphasised over on-field production. Wisniewski’s a good player, but there are too many hit-or-miss guys to make this a class to feel comfortable about.
1 – Corey Liuget, DE, Illinois
2 – Marcus Gilchrist, CB, Clemson
2 – Jonas Mouton, ILB, Michigan
3 – Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State
3 – Shareece Wright, CB, USC
6 – Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut
6 – Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan
7 – Andrew Gachkar, ILB, Missouri
The Chargers may have landed an immediate starter in Liuget (right), a quick and active disruptor as a 4-3 tackle with Illini who will be used as a base end in the team’s three-man front and should have the natural strength to make the switch. Gilchrist was a nice find as well, a tough and physical corner who could play a lot in nickel situations as a rookie. He’s also a competent return man who could assume those duties if Darren Sproles isn’t retained. Scouts differ greatly in their opinions of Mouton, with some teams viewing him as a late-round prospect because he doesn’t have great timed speed or change-of-direction ability. The Chargers love his instincts and toughness, however, and will give him a chance to earn a starting job inside during camp. Brown also won’t blow anyone away with his feet, running a pedestrian 4.71 in the 40 at the combine, but the local product is a savvy route runner with reliable hands.
Best Value Pick
Todman was a key part of Connecticut’s surprise Big East championship squad last season and has the speed to possibly take over Sproles’ role as a third-down back and kick returner.
There are things to like about this class, as Liuget is a terrific talent and each of the first six picks have a chance to make contributions right away. However, there’s too many selections that have limited ceilings to give anything above an average grade.
1 – Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
2 – Rahim Moore, S
2 – Orlando Franklin, OT
3 – Nate Irving, ILB
4 – Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma
4 – Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State
6 – Mike Mohamed, OLB, California
7 – Virgil Green, TE, Nevada
7 – Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma
The Broncos entered this offseason with the intent of overhauling a defence that was one of the NFL’s most porous units in 2010 and began the rebuilding process with the selection of Miller (right) with the second overall choice. A devastating pass rusher with the athleticism to be effective in coverage as well, the Texas A&M senior will serve as a strongside linebacker in Denver’s new-look 4-3 alignment while also deployed as an end in nickel situations. The next step was to find replacements for the two aging safeties presently atop the Broncos’ depth chart, hence the choices of Moore in the second round and Carter in the fourth. The former is a proven ball-hawk who led the NCAA with 10 interceptions as a sophomore in 2009, while Carter is an aggressive run stopper and strong leader who could be the future at strong safety. Franklin is a good-looking athlete with questions about his football IQ, but still figures to get an early opportunity to start at right tackle with incumbent Ryan Harris not expected to be retained.
Best Value Pick
Green is a premier athlete and one of the stars of this year’s combine who should have gone much higher based on potential, but a previous microfracture procedure on his knee scared off teams until the seventh round. If healthy, he’s got a real chance to contribute at a position where the Broncos are woefully thin.
A mixed bag in the first draft overseen by franchise legend John Elway. Miller could be a star and third-round grab Irving is an underrated player who could emerge as an every-down middle linebacker, but there are questions about Moore’s tackling ability and Franklin is a boom-or-bust project. Plus the absence of a defensive tackle was a curious decision.