Tag:Auburn
Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Buffalo Bills Draft Preview

Buffalo Bills 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC East

2011 draft rundown - Nine total picks (round): 3 (1); 34 (2); 68 (3); 100 (4); 122 (4); 133 (5); 169 (6); 206 (7); 245 (7)

Top needs:   

Defensive line: The Bills' 2,714 rushing yards allowed was second most in team history and they allowed eight 200-yard rushing games. Aside from Pro Bowl nose tackle Kyle Williams, blue-chip talent required to stop the run and rush the passer is sorely lacking. Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers are in the discussion.

Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick's career-high 23 touchdown passes provides a level of comfort. The question is whether Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are "franchise" talents too good to pass up with the No. 3 overall pick. Or is there a prospect to take in Round 2 (No. 34) and develop? Florida State's Christian Ponder is a candidate for that scenario.

Linebacker: The Bills are in need of run stoppers and pass rushers at this vital position. Even with free agent Shawne Merriman in the fold, there is a general lack of star power on both the outside and inside and Paul Posluszny could be declared a free agent. The team is paying dearly for drafting Aaron Maybin 11th overall in 2009; he has yet to record a sack.

Offensive tackle: The Bills like four of their five starters, but right tackle was a revolving door in 2010. Mansfield Wrotto, Cordaro Howard and Erik Pears are expected to compete for the starting right tackle job but the team will add to the mix.


First-round focus   3rd overall -- The direction the Buffalo Bills go with the No. 3 overall pick all depends on their true feelings for veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The journeyman enjoyed a career year in 2010, passing for 3,000 yards and a respectable 23 touchdowns (against 15 interceptions) despite starting only 13 games. Considering the significant struggles the team had on the defensive side of the ball (including allowing eight 200 yard rushers last year), it might seem obvious that the Bills would look to address their defense. However, GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey eschewed their defensive needs last year to draft playmaker C.J. Spiller with the ninth overall pick and might be similarly tempted to draft a premier young signal-caller like Blaine Gabbert should he still be on the board. Having a year to learn the NFL ropes behind Fitzpatrick and IGabbert could prove an NFL star. The upside of the athletic Gabbert (or even more athletic Cam Newton, should he be available) would also be a wise move for a franchise looking to rebuild their fan base. If, on the other hand, the Bills like what they have in Fitzpatrick or decide to push off their concern for a young quarterback into the second or later rounds, there is plenty of defensive talent likely to be available at No. 3 that could fill areas of need. A stout run defender like Alabama's Marcell Dareus would seemingly be a perfect fit for the Bills and almost surely would be the pick if he were available. Experienced inside and out in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense while with the Crimson Tide, Dareus would make an immediate impact. So too would outside linebacker Von Miller, whose ability to rush the quarterback would help ease the suffering of the huge disappointment that has been former No. 11 overall pick Aaron Maybin. Cornerback is one of the team's relative strengths so LSU's Patrick Peterson would be a surprise, but the Bills have already shown their willingness think outside of the box with the selection of Spiller last year.

Five names on Bills' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU

Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:00 pm
 

Carolina Panthers Draft Preview

Carolina Panthers 2010 record: 2-14, fourth place NFC South

2011 draft rundown - Eight total picks (round): 1 (1); 65 (3); 97 (3); 98 (4); 132 (5); 166 (6); 203 (7); 244 (7)

Top needs:   

Quarterback: The Panthers finished last passing in 2010, so it doesn't take much to figure out their biggest need this offseason. In fact, even new coach Ron Rivera has come out and said his team's biggest goal is finding a franchise quarterback.

Defensive tackle: The Panthers have an equally pressing need on the other side of the ball at defensive tackle entering this year's NFL draft. Last year, the Panthers rotated Derek Landri, Nick Hayden and Ed Johnson in at the defensive tackle spots. All three might be considered decent role players, but none are exceptional and might not start for many other teams around the league.

Wide receiver: Yes, the Panthers drafted three wide receivers last year, including two in the third round in Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards and one in the sixth in David Gettis. But if the team decides to trade unhappy veteran Steve Smith, which is a possibility, they will need to replenish this position with a top-end talent.

Cornerback: Richard Marshall has said he doesn't think he'll be back and fellow starter Chris Gamble (who is owed $6 million) is coming off a poor season in which he was benched.


First-round focus   1st overall -- The Carolina Panthers are widely expected to select quarterback Cam Newton with the top overall pick, but some believe the team is struggling to come to grips with the thought of investing the first pick on a player with only one season of starting experience at the BCS level. It is easy to understand why the Panthers might be tempted by some of the other players in this draft class. Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green also play positions of need and are widely viewed as considerably safer prospects. North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn could prove a Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher -- something the Panthers could use considering their loss last year of free agent Julius Peppers -- and would be a popular selection given his close regional ties, as well. Ultimately, however, the way to improve in the NFL is to improve at the quarterback position. Considering the relative talent of the other quarterbacks in the NFC South division (Atlanta, New Orleans, Tampa Bay), the only way for the Carolina Panthers to realistically get back into contention for the divisional crown, they need improved play at quarterback. Newton is a gamble, but his 51 touchdowns against SEC competition and poise both on and off the field in driving Auburn to the BCS Championship, is the stuff of legend. At this point, it would be an upset if Carolina selected anyone other than Newton with the first pick -- though with no second round selection and holes throughout the roster, they'll be working the phones to the last second in an effort to trade down.

Five names on Panthers' board:   
QB Cam Newton, Auburn
QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina

Posted on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:08 pm
 

Denver Broncos Draft Preview

Denver Broncos 2010 record: 4-12, fourth place AFC West

2011 draft rundown - Seven total picks (round): 2 (1); 36 (2); 46 (2); 67 (3); 186 (6); 189 (6); 247 (7)

Top needs:   

Defensive tackle: Denver tied a franchise-high by allowing 26 rushing touchdowns and the 2,473 yards allowed were second-most ever. The team will switch from a 3-4 back to a 4-3 front under new coach John Fox and after cutting two veterans (Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan) and likely losing two other players in free agency (Marcus Thomas, Ronald Fields), the cupboard is nearly bare. It would be something of an upset if either Alabama's Marcell Dareus or Auburn's Nick Fairley isn't Denver's first-round pick, when all is said and done.

Linebacker: The Broncos are in desperate need of someone to shore up middle linebacker. D.J. Williams has been mentioned as a possibility there but he simply hasn't demonstrated a knack for playing in the kind of traffic that position entails. Williams is best suited for weak-side linebacker. A player such as UCLA's Akeem Ayers, Washington's Mason Foster or Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal would make sense with one of the team's two second-rounders.

Safety: Brian Dawkins missed time last year with a pair of knee problems and is still as fierce and dedicated as ever. But he turns age 38, and free safety Renaldo Hill also is on the wrong side of 30. With little reliable developmental depth behind him, the team needs athletic defenders who can match up on a tight end and have the range to patrol the middle of the field. There has been a revolving door of veterans and fill-in types in Denver for several years without producing long-term, in-house options.

Tight end: Denver traded Tony Scheffler last summer and never found a replacement with sure hands that could stretch the middle of the field. The Broncos have since cut position reception leader Daniel Graham, a team captain, and the Broncos continue to wait for 2009 second-round pick Richard Quinn to emerge as a viable two-way threat. Either Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph, Arkansas D.J. Williams and Wisconsin's Lance Kendricks could hear their name called by Denver at some point draft weekend.


First-round focus   2nd overall -- It is widely assumed that the Denver Broncos will select Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with the No. 2 overall pick considering their gaping hole at defensive tackle, but with plenty of needs and no picks between No. 119 selections between their third and fourth picks, Denver will be listening to any and all offers to trade down. Dareus would fill a need. The powerful run-plugger has the size and strength to lock down a starting spot inside for a decade, but the team is also thought to have similar grades on LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley -- and could nab one of these players a few spots lower in the draft should they be find a willing suitor to trade. The Broncos have done their due diligence on the top quarterbacks of the 2011 class, but league insiders believe they are more satisfied with their current passers than some have suggested and are simply trying to drum up interest in trading down.

Five names on Broncos' board:   
DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama
CB Patrick Peterson, LSU
OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn

Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Podcast - Yahoo.com's Farrar and I talk NFL Draft

I'm a visual learner and learn more when I read it, but for those of you who like to listen to information, Yahoo.com's Doug Farrar and I recently had a conversation about this week's upcoming NFL Draft.

We touched upon many subjects, including which quarterbacks each of us prefer (not named Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert), as well as breaking down some of the year's top offensive linemen, a safety who might fit bit dropping down to cornerback and much, much more.

I'm flattered to be part of Doug's "Draftmaster" series, which also features my fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and Charles Davis of the NFL Network.

You can listen to my episode here.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 6:00 pm
 

New York Giants Draft Preview

NEW YORK GIANTS
   2010 record: 10-6, second place NFC East
 
2011 draft rundown
   Eight total picks -- 19th overall, 52 (2nd Round), 83 (3rd), 117 (4th), 185 (6th), 198 (6th), 202 (6th), 221 (7th)
 
Top needs
   Center -- Starter Shaun O'Hara is aging and ailing, as is backup Rich Seubert. Both are rehabbing surgeries and may not be available for the start of training camp.
   Defensive Tackle -- Starter Barry Cofield is coming off a strong season and could be tempted by a big free agent contract. Though the Giants selected DT Linval Joseph in the second round, they may need more depth with veteran Rocky Bernard turning 32 by the time next season begins.
   Linebacker -- The Giants have struggled to fill this role with recent draft picks and with the team not likely to re-sign free agents Wilkinson, Keith Bulluck, and Chase Blackburn, New York will probably add another linebacker to their mix for depth, and hope that Sintim is ready for a full-time role in 2011.
   Safety -- Deon Grant will be an unrestricted free agent, and has, in the past, stated a desire to be a starter again. Meanwhile last year's third-round pick, Chad Jones, is not expected to be ready to play in 2011 as he continues his rehab from serious injuries suffered in a car accident last June. With the Giants not tendering their other safety, Michael Johnson, a former sixth-round pick, this position becomes very thin if Grant departs.
 
First-round focus
   19th overall
   -- Following the season, general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin each made it clear that injuries to starters and a lack of depth at key positions were the culprits for a disappointing season. The Giants were hit hardest by injury at center and along the defensive line, making these two areas a focus in the first round. Florida center Mike Pouncey would make a lot of sense due to his size, toughness, and durability. He also possesses the charismatic personality to handle the pressures of playing in New York. Under Reese, the Giants have been extraordinarily aggressive in re-stocking talent along the defensive line and may elect to take advantage of this year's bounty of run-stuffers and pass-rushers likely to be available at the No. 19 pick. Safety and linebacker, while clear concerns, simply don't offer the quality of prospects to consider so early. Those looking for a darkhorse candidate for the Giants might want to key on Alabama running back Mark Ingram. Not only would the son of former Giants' standout wide receiver be a popular selection with fans, his consistency, toughness and ball-security would be a welcome addition to a backfield that didn't always boast their characteristics with incumbent starters Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
 
Five names on the Falcons' board
   C Mike Pouncey, Florida
   OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
   DT Corey Liuget, Illinois
   DT Nick Fairley, Auburn
   RB Mark Ingram, Alabama


Posted on: March 24, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Video -- Risers/Fallers and a look at the DL

My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I each get the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Shehadi each week as we prepare loyal CBS readers and viewers of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Chad discussed this week's Risers and Fallers, highlighting a receiver from the WAC who I'm quite high on. Among other things, Chad also explains why West Virginia safety Robert Sands left scouts a bit disappointed during his recent Pro Day workout.

Lauren and I spoke about several of the top defensive linemen in the draft. We began the conversation breaking down the differences between Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley and also why I (and more importantly scouts) were nervous about Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers before concerns about his knee.

Lauren is always kind enough to ask a question about some lower level prospects that I don't think are getting enough national attention. I mention three players (all defensive tackles) this week -- one of whom I fully expect to make the first round. The other two, however, are players that few college fans have had an opportunity to watch, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see wind up as Top 100 selections.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:31 am
 

Big surprise - Panthers focusing on QBs for No. 1

Just as he did during the Combine, Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera has highlighted a group of eight prospects for the No. 1 overall pick.

He cited three quarterbacks among those prospects -- Auburn's Cam Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and, perhaps surprisingly, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.

Though there are another five players potentially in play for the top pick -- presumably defensive linemen Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley, cornerback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver A.J. Green -- the Panthers' focus seems pretty intent on finding another quarterback to compete with (and potentially replace) incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen, at least according to a report from Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Person notes that the Panthers "could go after" one of the five "other" picks in the draft, but only if "If the Panthers decide to bring in a veteran quarterback through a trade or free agency, assuming the lockout is resolved early enough."

Clearly, Person believes that the Panthers are acknowleding that quarterback is the number one priority and will be addressed. 

Person quotes Rivera as saying, “We have a number of positions that we've identified as needs. We're trying to get to that point where we can start filling those needs as the time is appropriate,” Rivera said. “If you can fill a need through free agency, we're going to do it. If we have to go through the draft, we'll do it. If we've got to make a trade, we'll do it.”

Should Carolina find a way to add a veteran quarterback, which is, of course, impossible until a new CBA is agreed to, the Panthers have options with the first pick.

If not, they'll be choosing between Newton and Gabbert with their first pick.

Regardless of what Rivera is saying publicly, Mallett is very much fighting just to stay in the first round, according to multiple sources inside the league,  much less contend for No. 1 overall honors.

Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:23 pm
 

Keep an eye on the sidelines at LSU Pro Day

Cornerback Patrick Peterson will be the unquestioned star of LSU's Pro Day Monday, but the bigger story might be which NFL representatives are on hand to watch him.

Peterson isn't expected to do anything more than his positional drills. He doesn't need to. The tape shows that he's the best player in the draft and his stellar Combine performance only provided more evidence of this fact.

It will be interesting, however, to see who shows up for the workout. The Carolina Panthers, holders of the No. 1 overall pick, demonstrated their interest in the Thorpe Award winner already by meeting with him at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Ron Rivera was a prominent spectator at Auburn's Pro Day last week and will presumabely be on hand Thursday for Blaine Gabbert's throwing session at Missouri, as well. General manager Marty Hurney, who has final say on personnel matters, was not at Newton's Pro Day, however. He reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas, instead.

So, if Hurney and Rivera are each at Peterson's (or Gabbert's) Pro Day does that necessarily mean they are higher on him? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

After all, it isn't the Carolina Panthers' fault that Auburn and Arkansas scheduled their Pro Days on the same day. There are several Pro Days at other universities conflicting with LSU's tomorrow, but none that is likely to keep the Carolina decision-makers from Peterson's workout should they feel it necessary to attend.

Moving past Carolina, another interested party that isn't getting a lot of attention could be the Cincinnati Bengals. The owners of the 4th overall pick and with far greater needs than at cornerback, the Bengals raised some eyebrows with the decision to send defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle to Nebraska's workout. NFL.com's Gil Brandt thought that by sending Coyle to the workout , the Bengals might be tipping their hand that they are very interested in Prince Amukamara. While it is important to note that the Bengals could have sent Coyle to Nebraska to see Cornhuskers' safeties Eric Hagg or Dejon Gomes, Brandt's instincts are as good as anyone's in the business -- and his sources are unmatched.

So, are the Bengals are real player in the Patrick Peterson sweepstakes, as well? It will be interesting to see if Coyle is on hand for the workout. 

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