Interesting info from Kiper. As the Falcon's with Bailey,Watt or Broyles. Adrian Clayborn if he fell to the Falcon's.I;m not in love with any of these picks although Broyles would give more production than Douglas and return punts. If the Falcon's feel confident Douglas can bounce back then no receivere will be selected.Also consider Kerry Meier will be back don't forget. Bailey and Watt I just don't think have the edge type of speed to get to the QB and be an ABE like player. Why draft second type def ends when you already have Biermann? Falcon's need some star players.
Every Friday, Mel takes a look at the NFL through the prism of the draft.
A couple weeks ago I took a look at how the Top 10 could shake out, based on the at-the-time records of those teams. That's a particularly interesting subject right now because of the uncertainty surrounding Andrew Luck. With the teams sitting at the top of the draft, one thing was clear: unsettled quarterback situations dotted the picture. Nine of the worst 13 records in the league, by my count, had a quarterback situation probably best defined by putting a question mark at the top of the depth chart.
Looking at the bottom of the first round, the opposite is true. Quarterback situations in New England, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Baltimore and on down into the middle of the first round are solid in almost every case. But these teams aren't without holes. Even the Patriots have clear needs, and fortunately (and traditionally), a ton of picks. So let's stack the "Bottom 10" in the first round, with a few added because of tied records.
The draft order below is based on current records, with one game left. Pick ideas are based on the current Big Board, which as you all know will change a lot as juniors decide on draft entry and the workout process.
32. (and ?) New England Patriots
Top needs: LT/LG, OLB, RB, WR
Pick strategy: Based on contracts, there's some uncertainty on the New England offensive line moving forward, and even when the line is sound, there's hardly a better guarantee of success in the NFL today than keeping Tom Brady upright. Late in the first round, the Patriots look at versatile interior linemen like Florida's Mike Pouncey or Villanova's Ben Ijalana, or an athletic tackle like Tyron Smith. If a guy like Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi fell here, that would be too good to pass up.
Another area this team needs to address is getting a pass rush from the outside linebacker position. I like Jermaine Cunningham's potential, but between he, Rob Ninkovich and Tully Banta-Cain, the Pats got just nine total sacks. So given that the Patriots have the Oakland pick, a likely mid-teens choice, they can hope a guy like Von Miller falls to them, or "settle" for a great talent like Akeem Ayers. At the end of the first, perhaps that could be a Justin Houston or Jeremy Beal. The wild card? I think the Pats should target a big wideout to re-open the down-the-field threat. Perhaps Julio Jones falls to them in the teens. If so, he'd be an ideal pickup. I also see this team targeting a RB at some point -- no slight to the current cast. I just highly doubt that would be early, unless a guy like Mark Ingram is still sitting there at No. 32.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Top needs: Pass-rushing DE, WR, OLB, TE
Pick strategy: In general I really like the way this team has been put together. They don't have a lot of what most teams would consider clear needs. I'd like to see them target a pass-rusher at the defensive end position, and if a guy like Adrian Clayborn fell this far (doubtful), they should grab him. A player like Allen Bailey of Miami or J.J. Watt of Wisconsin would be more likely, however. I also think the team should target a reliable receiver to put opposite of Roddy White, who draws an extremely high rate of targets for them. This year, he has 171, with the next closest Atlanta wideout at 65. If Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles is around, he might be the ideal complement.
Tied: Pick Nos. 30-27
New Orleans Saints
Top needs: Pass-rushing DE, DT, OLB, RB
Pick strategy: Nobody likes to bring the blitz more than Gregg Williams, but necessity is a bigger reason. I wouldn't call a pickup like Alex Brown a disappointment, but this is a position where the Saints should get younger and better. So go ahead and repeat the possible trio just mentioned for the Falcons. As well, the team could use an OLB, or really active defensive tackle if one is sitting there late. Maybe North Carolina's Marvin Austin can see his stock reach previous levels and land here, or the Saints go with a guy like the rising Corey Liuget of Illinois. One guy I think fits here at OLB, but could be a slight reach (at least with current ratings) is Travis Lewis of Oklahoma.
Top needs: OL, CB, WR
Pick strategy: Pittsburgh is in a good position to get the kind of player they need. You could see Carimi here, Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State, or even Anthony Costanzo of Boston College, a player I thought could be a mid-first round pick before the season. But I really think Pittsburgh should target a cornerback. Janoris Jenkins, if he's around in the late 20's, is a steal in terms of overall skill-set. He's a guy who helps out your defense in some capacity in Week 1. If he's gone, Ras-I Dowling of Virginia could be available. Dowling was a constant on the Big Board for much of the year but fell off because of injury concerns, but nothing that looks like a long-term issue. I also think the Steelers will look at a WR at some point. Hines Ward keeps producing, but bringing along a rookie in the way they did Mike Wallace is a good idea.
Top needs: C, RG, DT, CB
Pick strategy: I'm not sold on the idea that it's a foregone conclusion the Bears will go after an offensive lineman in Round 1. That's because where they really need to look -- mainly on the interior given development they've gotten on the edges -- is a place you can find some value at a later point. You just don't see guards and centers drafted in the first round too often, unless you have a guy like Maurkice Pouncey or Mike Iupati last year, where the guy will immediately be starting and an upgrade. Keep an eye on corner, where Jenkins could be a good get. As well, while the Bears have developed a competent core of wideouts seemingly on the cheap, if a big target that can overwhelm smaller DBs is here, such as Jon Baldwin of Pitt, it's something that could help diversify what Chicago can do in that passing game. And while Chicago has gotten the job done up front, if they want continued effectiveness from an aging corp of linebackers, they'll need to invest in a defensive tackle, perhaps right here.
Top needs: WR, OLB, CB
Pick strategy: Derrick Mason is still a big part of the Baltimore offense, but like Pittsburgh with Hines Ward, they can't count on that forever. With Anquan Boldin not much of a deep threat, Baltimore may try to address the void they attempted to fill with Donte' Stallworth and target a real stretch WR. Depending on how he runs, Justin Blackmon could be around into the 20's, and Baldwin is also an option. The circumstances surrounding Sergio Kindle leaves that OLB position as something that could be addressed again, and a guy like Houston could be around here, or Ayers if Baltimore is lucky. But a big thing they could target is corner, a position they didn't draft at all in 2010.
Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Plenty of teams will be eyeing Akeem Ayers.
Tied: Pick Nos. 26-24
Top needs: CB, OLB
Pick strategy: It's good for Philly that they really don't look like a team with what I'd call glaring needs. What they do face is an odd situation where the health of two of their top picks in 2010 is at issue. Both Nate Allen and Brandon Graham face rehab, so both those spots are places where I can see Philly making depth picks, if not early ones. The Eagles should target a corner, and both Dowling and Jenkins could figure in here. I can see them going for an OLB here as well.
Kansas City Chiefs Top needs: C, WR, 3-4 DE, OLB
Pick strategy: The Chiefs got a lot out of their draft in 2010, and they can do so again, as this is a team that's close but still could use talent upgrades at some key spots. The Chiefs could be the team in best position among several here with needs along the interior of the offensive line to get Pouncey out of Florida. But they could also use some fresh legs on the other side of the formation from Dwayne Bowe. As well, a good 3-4 DE opposite Tamba Hali would be ideal. If Nevis is still around into the 20's, the Chiefs could scoop him up.
New York Jets
Top needs: Pass-rushing OLB, DE, S, WR
Pick strategy: Rex Ryan can scheme with the best of them, but his ability to work with what he has might conceal some holes in terms of talent on the defensive side of the ball. I expect the Jets to address the pass rush, and a great 3-4 DE still on the board would be a good get here, or an OLB who can do some damage in the backfield. This is too high to grab a safety, given the current class, but I can see the Jets looking there if a guy like DeAndre McDaniel is still around later. As well, there are no guarantees yet that Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes will be back, and if the team is going to be without one or both, wideout suddenly jumps to the forefront as a need, and several of the receivers mentioned above could come into play.
Top needs: WR, 3-4 DE
Pick strategy: If Green is somehow on the board at this stage -- and he could be, if you know drafts and how things can shake out, particularly if his 40 time isn't remarkable -- the Browns should have their pick in before the Commish is done taking photos with the previous pick. If he's not, Bama's Julio Jones or Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon could come into the picture. If they don't like either, they should go D-line.
Let's quickly run through the four teams tied at 9-6.
Tied: Pick Nos. 23-20
Green Bay Packers
Top needs: OLB, T, RB
Pick strategy: Maybe the first team that could pull the trigger on the top RB on the board, the Packers could also consider a tackle, perhaps moving Bryan Bulaga in the process. They could also use an OLB opposite Clay Matthews, a player who could thrive as a rusher given the blocking attention Matthews will continue to get.
Top needs: DT, OL, WR
Pick strategy: This team really needs a big-time defensive tackle. If Stephen Paea of Oregon State is here, while it could be a slight reach, he could fit there. They could also target offensive line, and while they've been resourceful at WR, Peyton Manning's frustration with that current unit could come into play. With uncertainty surrounding Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne going into a season where he'll turn 33, some long-term answers would help.
New York Giants
Top needs: CB, LB, WR
Pick strategy: I really like the makeup of this offense. The Steve Smith injury might have them looking at WR help, but not this early. I think targeting a LB or CB is a more likely plan, and Jenkins could be a good fit for the latter. If the top LBs are off the board, they may choose to wait so they don't have to reach.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Top needs: DE, CB
Pick strategy: They addressed the defensive interior last year, but defensive end would be a good target in 2011 for a team happy to be so far down the board. I also think a young corner to apprentice under the ageless Ronde Barber is a move they need to make.
The next team in line? Based on current records, would be St. Louis, where a focus on targets for Sam Bradford should be a focus, as will a top DT or OLB.
Sometimes running the Mularkey offense makes me feel like I'm in a prison.