Tag:Julio JOnes
Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Three of top five 2011 picks voted to Pro Bowl

If there was any questions about the talent and immediate impact ability of the 2011 draft class they may have been answered yesterday when it was announced that three rookies were voted Pro Bowl starters.

The rookies, who incidentally were selected with the second, fourth and fifth picks overall were Denver pass rusher Von Miller, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green and Arizona cornerback/returner Patrick Peterson.

Miller, NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated senior prospect last year, currently has 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks for the Broncos. While Tim Tebow and the Broncos' dominant run game has garnered most of the hype this year, it has been Miller and the Denver defense that has been just as critical in turning the Broncos from one of the league's worst teams into the possible AFC West champions. Miller's success comes as no surprise as his speed off the edge, when coupled with that of Elvis Dumervil's, gave me reason to predict in August that the former Texas A&M Aggie would win this year's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

As impressive as Miller was making plays on the defensive side of the ball, it isn't difficult to understand why NFLDraftScout.com rated A.J. Green as the best offensive pro prospect in the draft. Green leads the Bengals with 63 catches, 1,031 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Though Calvin Johnson might beg to differ, statistically speaking Green has been the best big play wideout in the NFL this season, havihttp://rob-rang.blogs.cbssports
.com/mcc/blogs/edit-entry/13682485n
g caught 11 passes for 35  yards or more, thus far.

Peterson, who I ranked as the top overall prospect in the 2011 draft, proved to be every bit the playmaker on special teams that his fellow rookies were on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Peterson tied an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. He's struggled at times in coverage for the Cardinals, but has gotten better as the season has gone on, recording 60 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic asked star wideout Larry Fitzgerald about Peterson and his selection to the Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald's response is sure to make Cardinals' fans excited about Peterson's future.

"I remember in the draft everybody was talking about Von Miller this, Von Miller that -- and he's a fantastic player, a Pro Bowler as well -- but what Patrick has done us for this year, I think, has been the best in the league of anybody, except for maybe Cam Newton."

Fitzgerald was asked if he thought Peterson would make the Pro Bowl as a cornerback one day:

"I think he's right there. He's tremendously talented. I don't he even knows how talented he is. Talking to (Bengals receiver) A.J. Green after the game a little bit, and he's telling me Patrick was by far the best cornerback he's gone against. I feel the same way. When I compete against him, there are not many guys around the league that I play on Sundays who can match up with his physical tools. And then you talk about his ball skills, the way he's able to go attack the football at its highest point, tackle. I mean, the only thing he needs is experience, and I think playing every single game this year gave him that. His confidence you see is just continuing to rise week in and week out."


It should be noted that as good as these three were, one could make the argument that several other top ten picks from the 2011 draft could have been honored with a trip to Hawaii. Quarterback Cam Newton, who of course was drafted No. 1 overall by Carolina, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (Buffalo, No. 3 overall), wide receiver Julio Jones (Atlanta, No. 6 overall) and pass rusher Aldon Smith (San Francisco, No. 7 overall) each made huge impacts for their respective clubs as rookies.


Posted on: May 7, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- Wide Receivers


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

The 2011 wide receiver class was a unique one. While all of the attention was understandably heaped upon A.J. Green and Julio Jones, the so-called second tier talent of this group intrigued me. There wasn't a great deal of pure speed available in this class, but the number of elusive returners, tough slot receivers and big, physical possession wideouts made it a underrated strength of the 2011 draft. It will be interesting to see how many of these college stars prove to emerge as true No. 1 targets in the NFL. While I have some reservations about how many will be able to do precisely that, I am confident that a number of them will make immediate and lasting impacts at the pro level.

Earlier this week I broken down the quarterbacks and running back fits.
Good Fits:

Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys:
Quite frankly, I wasn't as high on the Cowboys' draft as many, but I did love the value of Harris in the sixth round. In Harris, I see the same type of toughness, wiggle and secure hands that I saw in Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby (now with the Cincinnati Bengals) and Davone Bess (Miami Dolphins) when they starred in college. Considering the talent outside in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, Harris could slide right into the slot and prove a steal.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons:
Let's be clear. I thought Atlanta paid too much to acquire Jones. With that said, it is easy to see why they made their aggressive trade, as Jones is the most physically-prepared receiver to make an immediate impact in this draft and is an ideal fit for Atlanta's offense due to his size, strength, and run-blocking. He is not as fast on the field as his 4.34 second time at the Combine might suggest, but at 6-3, 220 pounds, he is tough to bring down in the open field. Considering the other weapons the Falcons possess, he'll rarely see double coverage early in his career, meaning that Jones will often be only one broken tackle away from big plays.

Greg Little, Cleveland Browns:
Little and Jones will forever be linked due to the fact that Cleveland used one of the picks they received from the Falcons to select a similarly built (6-3, 231) and skilled wideout 52 picks later than Atlanta selected Jones. Like Jones, Little uses his extraordinary combination of size, strength, underrated speed (4.53) and body control to be effective. A former running back, Little's RAC skills could result in plenty of big plays in Cleveland. He is one of the few wideouts in this class who I believe could ultimately emerge as a true No. 1 target. It will be interesting to compare in a few years to take a look back and see what kind of value the Browns got with Little at No. 59 compared to what the Falcons got out of Jones at No. 7.

Greg Salas, St. Louis Rams:
I could have just as easily listed the first wide receiver the Rams selected in 2011 -- former Boise State star Austin Pettis (No. 78 overall) -- as an ideal schematic fit, but with Salas taken 34 spots later, he could ultimately prove the better value. Each are tall, well-built possession receivers whose game is built on precise route-running and soft, reliable hands -- precisely the type of wideouts Sam Bradford so desperately needed last year.

Titus Young, Detroit Lions:
Young was hyped by some draft analysts as the No. 3 receiver in this class, but inconsistent route-running, hands, toughness and slim build (5-11, 174) kept him as my No. 7 rated wideout (No. 6 by NFLDraftScout.com). There is no denying, however, that Young fits in well schematically with the Lions, who needed a big play threat opposite Calvin Johnson and to take advantage of Matt Stafford's amazing arm. 

Questionable Fit:

Jon Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs:
Considering the success that Scott Pioli had in helping build the Patriots' dynasty as well as the successful renovation of the Chiefs, it might be seen as almost blasphemous to knock one of his first round picks. And yet, here I am doing it. I understand the Chiefs' need to add a secondary receiver to take pressure off of Dwayne Bowe and certainly acknowledge Baldwin's extraordinary combination of size (6-4, 228), speed (4.49), explosiveness (42" vertical jump led all Combine WRs), but quite frankly, on tape Baldwin isn't the sum of his parts. He isn't as physical as his size would suggest, nor as fast as he timed. Baldwin struggled against press coverage in college and will only face more of it in the NFL. He is blessed with a great deal of natural talent and Todd Haley has shown the ability to coax such talent from surly receivers throughout his career. There is no denying, however, that Baldwin was a significant gamble at No. 26 overall.
Posted on: May 1, 2011 9:49 pm
 

2011 NFL Draft -Twitter chat Monday 1pmET/10amPT

It seems that there are plenty of people who disagree with my team grades of the 2011 NFL Draft. I'm sure there are plenty of other questions out there, as well.

Why did Ryan Mallett fall as far as he did? How much of a "reach" was James Carpenter to the Seahawks at No. 25 overall? Is Julio Jones worth the gamble the Falcons took in their big trade up?

Rather than answer question by question on the blog, I thought I'd take as many questions as readers would like to ask in a Monday question-answer session on Twitter.

All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and send me questions @RobRang. I've done dozens of radio interviews throughout the draft weekend and today, but rather than just talk to radio DJs, I want to reach out to the ones that matter -- the passionate, intelligent fans out there. I know first-hand that sometimes the fans know their teams and the players every bit as much (or more) than the so-called experts.

My only request... let's leave the courtroom drama for the lawyers. There are plenty of NFL reporters out there more qualified to answer your questions about the labor unrest.

I'd rather talk draft and how your favorite teams, players, etc. did. 

Again, just follow me on Twitter and send me any and all draft questions at @RobRang. I'll do the rest...  If you'd like, send in your questions now. I'll get to them tomorrow during the scheduled "chat" hour of 1-2 pm Eastern/10-11 am Pacific.

"See" 'ya then

-- Rob Rang

Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Friday morning hangover

A few thoughts from last night's proceedings from Radio City Music Hall:

1. Atlanta's trade up with Cleveland to select WR Julio Jones cost them five picks in addition to the one they traded out of (27). I like Jones' potential as a playmaker for QB Matt Ryan across from Roddy White, but it's tough for me to see one player (especially a non-quarterback) worth that sort of value. Giving up 2011 and 2012 fourth-round picks isn't a king's ransom in and of itself, and Atlanta's late second-round pick this year is not as valuable as some believe. Adding the 2012 first-round selection, however, could come back to bite the Falcons--especially if injuries or other unexpected occurences cause the team to become mediocre (or worse) in 2011.

2. Jacksonville found out the hard way about giving up a lot of picks in the 2008 to get Derrick Harvey (some of which helped Baltimore find starting quarterback Joe Flacco), but they made a shrewd move giving up just a second to get their own potential signal-caller in Blaine Gabbert. Though there's no guarantees about Gabbert, just like any other pick, the Jaguars could not assume David Garrard or Trent Edwards is the future of the franchise.

3. Alabama running back Mark Ingram may have had knee issues, but he's one of my favorite players in the draft due to his vision and toughness. But again, the Saints' trade to give up their current second-round selection as well as a 2012 first-round selection to New England (like they need more talent) appears short-sighted-- especially considering the success the team had with undrafted running backs Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory in the recent past and the relative depth at the position this year.

4. I'm guessing New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan saw a lot of former Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Sam Adams in Muhammad Wilkerson. Ryan had a star defender in Adams during the team's Super Bowl run in the early 2000's, and Wilkerson's athleticism, size, and upside give him a chance to be very good in that role.

5. In radio interviews leading up to the draft, I thought the rumors of New England moving up to Cleveland's number six selection made a lot of sense. It was easy to see them coveting pass rusher Aldon Smith in that spot, and they had plenty of extra picks to work with. As it turns out, Bill Belichick would have needed to make that move to get Smith, as the 49ers picked Smith with the next selection. Smith's upside is undeniable, and he had violent hands like few others in this class, and there's no doubt some in the league view him as the next Demarcus Ware. He seems a little stiff-hipped and straight-line to me, and he needed to move inside to get a fair number of his sacks, which is always a flag to me. 

6. Tennessee found their anti-Vince Young in Jake Locker in terms of perceived character and leadership, but it is tough to find any game tape that says he deserved to be a top ten pick. His mobility, toughness, and accuracy on the run are easy to see but NFL quarterbacks make their living in the pocket--something he hasn't proven able to do. I've made the argument all year that his surrounding cast is less than ideal, and the Titans may believe a strong offensive line and better receiving corps will give him a chance to succeed.

7. I thought Phil Taylor's past issues may keep him out of the first round, but Cleveland's willingness to give away one of the picks they received in the Julio Jones deal showed teams were willing to overlook his dismissal from Penn State and average film prior to the 2010 season. Marvin Austin, however, wasn't so lucky. The fact the North Carolina defensive tackle was suspended independently of Robert Quinn (who went 14th to St. Louis despite his suspension and the brain/spinal tumor) and others involved in the NCAA investigation was a major red flag. And his 2009 tape simply wasn't good enough to mitigate the risk. A team could get a good value in Austin in the second round, however, because he has potential to be an explosive 4-3 defensive tackle.

8. TCU Andy Dalton was a winner at TCU, is an outstanding young man, and may turn into a starting NFL quarterback in time. But the rumors going out about his landing in the first round make little sense when evaluating his game tape. His arm strength is simply not enough to earn that sort of consideration, and his decision-making and accuracy are not top-shelf, either. As a second-round pick, though, a coach like Jim Harbaugh may believe he could be worth a shot--though the success rate of top 64 passers John Beck, Kellen Clemens, etc, does not portend great success as a starter. A solid back-up and spot starter worth looking at in the top 75? Absolutely.

9. I think it's fairly clear that Philadelphia/head coach Andy Reid would not have taken Baylor OL Danny Watkins without new offensive line coach Howard Mudd (who came over from the Colts) whispering in his ear. Watkins is simply not the sort of lineman Reid coveted in the past. Although Watkins is 26 years old, it's been clear to me for quite some time he's worth a first-round pick. Whether playing inside or at tackle, the Eagles should be able to count on his presence on the field until he's 34 or 35 years old--and eight or nine seasons is more than acceptable from a late first-round pick.

10. Most of the first round picks went in the general area in which they were expected to fall. The closest thing to a "steal" would have to be Detroit getting Nick Fairley at 13. I think Fairley's "dominant" play has been overblown a bit, especially in the BCS Championship Game, but to get that sort of player in the mid-first could be a fine investment. He has the potential to be a Kevin Williams-like disruptor inside because of his length and quick first step. Minnesota's new quarterback, Christian Ponder, as well as Chicago's mercurial Jay Cutler, may have a hard time staying healthy when facing Fairley and Suh twice a year.

11. James Carpenter proved to be the Duane Brown of this draft, as the Alabama left tackle went to Seattle at the 25th overall pick partially because of the lack of depth at tackle in the middle-rounds. Brown was picked 26th by Houston as the eighth offensive tackle selected in the first round in 2008. Carpenter's toughness and versatility are difficult not to like, however, and his work ethic is unquestioned. There will undoubtedly be comparisons between Carpenter and Derek Sherrod, who went 32 to the Packers and was generally considered a better prospect. Coaches will tell you that "it all starts up front", so getting a technically-sound, aggressive, and surprisingly athletic player like Carpenter (whose overall intensity probably put him above Sherrod on Seattle's board) is preferrable to me than reaching for a quarterback or taking a player at another position with some upside but also headaches. That's why the pick is not the "reach" some will paint it as--in fact, I'm fairly sure Green Bay would have looked strongly at Carpenter if he were available to them at the end of the round.

12. New Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith should change his name to Chris McAlister, Jr. Look for Smith to be a valuable playmaker with size that makes that defense even stronger than it already was--but don't be surprised if Smith's character concerns flare up during his career with the Ravens. Baltimore's "passing" on their pick brought up memories of their botched first-round trade with Minnesota in 2003, which caused the Vikings to be late on their pick. Kansas City, who jumped up to get WR Jonathan Baldwin when the Ravens stalled Thursday night, ended up winning a battle for DT Ryan Sims the previous year as the Vikings tried to submit their pick of Sims ahead of the Chiefs when it appeared their time had run out. The NFL ruled the Chiefs maintained their selections (though Sims' lack of success meant the Vikings got the better end of that deal). Although the administrations in place in those two teams were different then, it was just ironic how they were involved yet again in these sort of strange circumstances.


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: April 28, 2011 7:30 pm
 

Falcons moving up for a WR?

Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com (and working today for The NFL Network) is reporting that the Atlanta Falcons are talking trade with the Cleveland Browns in an attempt to get Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.

The deal would make a great deal of sense for the Falcons. They have one of the league's best wideouts in Roddy White, of course, but, didn't get enough production from their secondary targets. Other than future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (arguably the best 35 year-old player in history), the Falcons' next most productive "receiver" was running back Jason Snelling -- who caught 44 passes for 303 yards.

Jones is the big, physical and fast wideout the Falcons were hoping to get when the previous regime invested a late first round pick in Michael Jenkins. Jones, of course, was viewed as a clear second option behind Georgia's A.J. Green -- until he beat Jones in virtually every measurable category at the Combine.

On tape, however, Green is a significantly more reliable route-runner and pass-catcher than Jones -- which is why I have the Georgia receiver as one of the four elite players of this year's draft and Jones as a very (but not elite) prospect as the ninth best prospect. There is no doubt, however, that Jones would be perfectly suited as the "secondary target" for the Falcons, rather than expected to come in and be an immediate No. 1 target as Green will no doubt be. 

The potential to move down also makes a great deal of sense for the Browns. Cleveland's biggest need is in transitioning from a 3-4 defense to the 4-3. With few defensive linemen currently on the roster that fit the scheme -- and run on such linemen expected to occur in the late first round -- the move makes sense. It also, of course, would give a young Browns' team more picks with which to grow.
Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Late rumblings: Fairley in play for Broncos?

While there is plenty of attention in Denver to the fact the Broncos will transition back to a 4-3 alignment under new coach John Fox, the club is perhaps even more concerned with identifying a defender who can make what one club executive termed "a really big difference" on third down.

As reported late Wednesday by ESPN, the Broncos still have four players under consideration for the No. 2 overall choice - defensive linemen Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley, linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Patrick Peterson - and not surprisingly all four are guys who can influence a game on third down. The Broncos remain somewhat puzzled by how they could best utilize Miller, the best pass-rusher in the draft, but Fox has said he will not hesitate use former 3-4 linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers at end in his 4-3, so perhaps size doesn't matter as much as upfield burst to him.

Don't discount Fairley, who some Denver scouts feel is a better third-down defender than is Dareus.

Hot-lanta: It's not in the intrinsic DNA of Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff to make a huge jump in the first round - although his New England background has prepared him well for wheeling and dealing - but there definitely is something to the rumor instigated by Peter King of S.I. that the Falcons are thinking about a major deal for a shot at wide receivers A.J. Green or Julio Jones.

While the rationale of some who saw the Falcons dismantled by Green Bay in the playoffs is that Atlanta must address its defense - either with a left end, linebacker or a cornerback - the game equally demonstrated to team officials the need for a more explosive receiver than Michael Jenkins to pair with Roddy White. Despite a faster 40-yard time, the feeling around the NFL is that Jones isn't quite the playmaker that Green is.

Not that this has any bearing on the Atlanta draft, but locals have been very vocal that the Falcons need to make an effort to somehow land Green, whose exploits at Georgia are well known to Falcons patrons.

No deal: Old buddy Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wasted little time on Wednesday dismissing a rumor that the Steelers were trying hard to trade up in the first round for Florida guard Mike Pouncey, and reunite him with twin brother Maurkice Pouncey, the club's Pro Bowl center. Bouchette termed the rumor, "a fantasy," and after talking with a couple team officials, we couldn't agree more. The draft stock of "the other" Pouncey is ascending, and while it's true the Steelers love him, they can't deal high enough to land him without undermining a lottery in which the club has to address several needs. Given the draft value points chart that many franchises use, Pittsburgh would probably have to surrender first-, second-, and third-round choices for a shot at Pouncey, who could go off the board right around the middle of the first round, and that historically isn't how the Steelers do business.

Trade mart
: We're still uncertain if all the smoke about trading up or down in the first round will amount to much fire, but expect a lot of later deals, team officials and player agents have suggested. If the league still has a moratorium against signing undrafted free agents, teams will be looking to land additional sixth- and seventh-round choices, and select players that might otherwise have been considered as priority free agents instead of gambling they'll be able to sign them.

Punts
: If Miller is not available at the fifth overall pick, it will still be a bit of an upset if Arizona chooses a quarterback with the choice. Some people feel that, in such a scenario, the Cardinals will try hard to bail out of the pick, while others have suggested the club will opt for a wide receiver to complement Larry Fitzgerald. ... The No. 5 and No. 6 picks (Cleveland) definitely are in play if the prospects the two teams have targeted are off the board. ... A lot of people in the league feel the Cardinals already have an understanding with pending free agent quarterback Marc Bulger. The Cardinals would have liked to sign Bulger last year, and coach Ken Whisenhunt lobbied for a deal, but Arizona had already agreed with Derek Anderson and management didn't see a way to bring in two veterans. ... Statistical oddity I: Dimitroff, who along with coach Mike Smith has resurrected the Falcons in three years, has exercised 26 draft choices, but has never taken a Big 10 player. In fact, the last Big 10 player chosen by Atlanta was Ohio State center Doug Datish, a sixth-rounder in 2007, when current team president Rich McKay was still running the Falcons' drafts. ... Statistical oddity II: Dallas has now gone 29 straight drafts without choosing an offensive lineman in the first round. The Cowboys selected Missouri tackle Howard Richards with their top pick in 1981. ... There aren't likely to be many players who "jump" a round - who move up from, say, the second to the first stanza, but there are a few guys who seem to have picked up some steam in the last day or two, and could go perhaps a half-round sooner than expected. Two such players, among others, are wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (Troy) and corner Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson). 

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange 

 

Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Cincinnati Bengals Draft Preview

Cincinnati Bengals 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC North

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 4 (1); 35 (2); 66 (3); 101 (4); 134 (5); 167 (6); 207 (7); 246 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: With Carson Palmer stating that he is done playing in Cincinnati, the Bengals have to address the position early. Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour are on the roster but they have thrown a combined 15 passes in regular-season games and are not the long-term answer. Whoever they draft, it won't be a situation like 2003 where Carson Palmer got to sit for a year and learn the offense. He will be expected to play immediately.

Wide receiver: Cincinnati needs to draft a young playmaker who can stretch the field because Chad Ochocinco, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are all entering the final year of their contracts. With Ochocinco's production declining the past three years and scheduled to make $6 million this year, the odds of him being on the opening-day roster are slim. The Bengals haven't drafted a receiver in the first round since 2000 but they have squandered nearly $25 million in free agency the last two years in trying to find someone to line up opposite Ochocinco.

Safety: The Bengals could go into the season with Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson as the starters (Roy Williams is an unrestricted free agent), but could get caught short for the third straight year due to injuries. They could find a safety or two in the middle rounds but Lewis has already said that the quality in this year's class is not good.

Offensive line: Guard is an immediate need with Bobbie Williams entering the final year of his contract and Nate Livings inconsistent. Depending on if Andre Smith can come back from his third foot surgery since being drafted two years ago, there could also be a need at right tackle. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander has done a solid job developing linemen, but those have been mostly undrafted players.


First-round focus  4th overall -- Like the Buffalo Bills picking immediately before them, the Bengals are in the unenviable position of reading the tea-leaves with their current quarterback. Should the Bengals take Carson Palmer at his word and believe that he will never play for them again, they'll feel the pressure to select either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, should either be available to them at No. 4. If neither is, the Bengals are expected to select Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green with the fourth pick. Not only would he help the Bengals' passing game (and potentially help convince Palmer to come back), he also would provide Cincinnati with some flexibility at the receiver position -- something they need desperately considering the precarious status of their current receiving corps. Alabama's Julio Jones is a more physical blocker and ran faster at the Combine. He is viewed by some as a better in the West Coast Offense due to his size and strength, but isn't nearly as consistent as Jones in the all-important categories of route-running and catching passes with his hands. Though the Bengals have rarely moved on draft day (they've been apart of only three first round trades since 1992), this could be the year to do it. There will be plenty of interest in Green and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, as well as Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller should he still be on the board. The Bengals may be forced to trade back into the late portion of the first round if they're unable to trade back from No. 4 as they desperately need a quarterback -- and potentially one who could contribute immediately. Most view Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton as the most pro-ready quarterbacks of this year's draft. There is no guarantee that either will be available when the Bengals select in the second round (No. 35 overall).

Five names on Bengals' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
WR A.J. Green, Georgia
WR Julio Jones, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Posted on: April 22, 2011 1:00 pm
 

St. Louis Rams Draft Breakdown

St. Louis Rams 2010 record: 7-9, second place NFC West

2011 draft rundown    Seven total picks (round): 14 (1); 47 (2); 78 (3); 112 (4); 145 (5); 216 (7) 228 (7)

Top needs:   

Wide receiver: The arrival of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator seemingly makes it likely that more playmakers would be added. Complicating the situation are injury issues facing Donnie Avery, who missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury, Mark Clayton, who missed the final 11 games with a knee injury and is a free agent, and Danario Alexander, who had had five surgeries on his left knee. McDaniels has been successful in the past without what would be considered elite pass-catchers.

Safety: James Butler has been a disappointment in his two seasons with the team, and Craig Dahl is a solid backup, but shouldn't be a starter. What's needed at the position is an all-around player that can be a tough run-stopper and defends the pass. With Oshiomogho Atogwe having signed with Washington, an obvious replacement is needed. There are only three safeties currently on the roster: Dahl, James Butler and Darian Stewart

Running back: The search continues for a viable and productive back behind Steven Jackson. The ideal would be a complement to Jackson, who could keep defenses honest with the ability to get to the edges consistently.

Guard: The Rams had their best success running the ball last season when John Greco was sharing time with Adam Goldberg at right guard. But because of some injuries at tackle, the Rams had Renardo Foster active instead of Greco for the final eight games of the season. The running game suffered as Goldberg had to play virtually every snap.


First-round focus   14th overall -- The St. Louis Rams would love to see a playmaking wide receiver like Alabama's Julio Jones somehow slip to them, but that isn't likely to happen. There are some rumblings throughout the league that if the team isn't able to get a speedster to take advantage of Sam Bradford's arm, the Rams might reach a bit to draft Notre Dame tight end Kyle Rudolph, who could become the security blanket in the middle many teams like to provide their young, developing signal-callers. The Rams have also shown a great deal of interest in adding a running back to take some of the burden off of Pro Bowler Steven Jackson and could surprise with Mark Ingram. Depth at the position and greater needs elsewhere, however, make this unlikely. A more likely scenario might have the Rams looking to address the need for more youth, playmaking ability on the defensive line. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo deserves a great deal of credit for piecing together a productive defensive line last year largely with duct tape, but might have a hard time passing up a stout defensive tackle like Illinois' Corey Liuget or a pass rusher such as Missouri's Aldon Smith, should either be available at No. 14.

Five names on Rams' board:   

WR Julio Jones, Alabama
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri
RB Mark Ingram, Alabama
TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com