Yeah we know college football season just ended a few weeks ago, and we haven't even been through the senior bowl circuit. In addition, we know the NFL playoffs are in full tilt, and there's two weeks left on the season, but we simply could not help ourselves. It's time to take a look at the players coming out of college this year and put together an early draft board. Of course, this list will change drastically between now and April, but hey, you have to start somewhere.
Carolina Panthers: Da'Quan Bowers DE Clemson: With Andrew luck opting to remain in college, there is no clear cut No.1 QB available. That leaves new Carolina Panthers coach Ron Riveria to return to his roots and rebuild a once great defense. In Bowers, the Panthers get a great defensive end who can play the pass and the rush.
Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson DB LSU: Champ Baily may not return to the Broncos for his 13th NFL season, if that is the case, Peterson is as good a replacement as any available. A big physical defensive back, Peterson has the tools to be an impact player in his rookie season. John Fox built his reputation in Carolina on defense, and now he has the opportunity to get a shut down corner to build around in Denver.
Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus DE Alabma: In the final weeks of the 2010 season, the Bills put together an impressive stretch where they appeared to gel. While plenty of Bills fans would be happy to see a franchise caliber quarterback come in and lead the team into the future, it appears the front office is happy with the progress Ryan Fitzpatrick made. That leaves the Bills to continue rebuilding their defense. Dareus is a big pass rush D-end who can lift the level of play of an undersized line.
Cincinnati Bengals: Nick Fairly DE Auburn: He's big, he's got a bad attitude, and he's damn good at what he does. Nick Fairly brought the mighty Oregon Ducks offense to it's knees with his ability to create interior pressure. It's about time for the Bengals to rebuild their offense, but that can wait another year, a player of Fairly's caliber is too good to pass on.
Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri: I'm not sure about this pick, as the Cards are still my favorite destination for Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. However, till that deal actually goes through, the Arizona Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback. Gabbert's stock has risen greatly in the last few weeks, now the question is can he hold on to be the only quarterback taken in the top 10?
Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green WR Georgia: Colt McCoy proved to be a solid QB when given the opportunity, but he needs some weapons around him if he wants to find success in Cleveland he will need some weapons. A.J. Green is all man on the field. At 6'4 he is the prototype for the new age receiver. He runs great routes and he can go up and get the ball. McCoy and Green will enjoy long partnership.
San Francisco 49'ers: Robert Quinn DE UNC: Who? You may be asking yourself, but do not be fooled Robert Quinn was one of the best and most promising defensive linemen in the country two year's ago. then he was forced to sit out his entire junior season thanks to a few parties with agents down at UNC. Despite all of that Quinn is still a stud he will help to rebuild a shaky 9'ers defense.
Tennessee Titians: Ryan Mallet QB Arkansas: The Vince Young experiment went horribly wrong in Tennessee, and with Jeff Fisher remaining as head coach it's safe to say Young will not be back as the teams starting quarterback. A perfect fit for Fisher and his offense is the 6'7 Ryan Mallet. The Arkansas quarterback may actually be the best overall quarterback available in this year's draft. Mallet is big, he has a great arm, and he can make all the throws. Under the guidance of Jeff Fisher and his staff Ryan Mallet should be able to go far.
Dallas Cowboys: Prince Amukamara DB Nebraska: There was plenty that went wrong with the Cowboys last season, however they have most of the tools already in place to fix those problems. One glaring weakness that was never addressed was a weak secondary. With Rob Ryan coming in as the new defensive coordinator he will look to address this problem immediately and Prince allows him to have at least one reliable corner.
Washington Redskins: Cam Newton QB Auburn: If Newton performs well at the combine there's a good chance he's not around at the tenth pick, but if he is, it will be difficult for the Redskins to pass on this top prospect. Donovan McNabb will not be the starting QB for the Redskins, that much we know. What we also know is Mike Shannahan has let it be known he wants to mold and build a quarterback, it's the one thing missing from his legacy as a offensive genius. Cam Newton is 6'4 240 pounds and he has a cannon for an arm. If he can adapt to the NFL style of play he will be a big time play maker.
Houston Texans: Von Miller DE/OLB Texas A&M: Anyone who saw the the Texans play last season knows they need a ton of help on defense. If they are lucky enough to have Von Miller fall, they would be crazy not to jump all over him. Von Miller was so good at Texas A&M that he had a position created for him known as "the joker." Miller is the embodiment of a hybrid DE/OLB. He has the speed to get up field and put pressure on a quarterback, but he is still strong enough to be effective against the run.
Minnesota Vikings: Muhammad Wilkerson DT Temple: Yeah, you probably have no idea who this guy is, but that's okay he can play. The Vikings have had a strong defensive front over the past few season with the Williams boys, but that will most likely come to an end this off season. If the Vikings want Jared Allen to keep his sack numbers up they will need to find a big ugly to plug the middle and Wilkerson can do that.
Detroit Lions: Brandon Harris DB Miami: The Lions are so close to breaking through it's not even funny. It's too bad they play in the NFC North, and not the NFC West where they could do some serious damage. Continuing on their defensive trend, Brandon Harris provides the Lions with an elite cover corner to slow down some of the budding high power offenses in the NFC North.
St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones WR Alabama: If the Rams can land Jones, Sam Bradford might go to the airport himself and pick up the stud receiver. Jones is a big play receiver who can go across the middle and make the tough catches. Sam Bradford put up amazing numbers last season and he never had a true No.1 option. Julio Jones will jump right to the top of the depth chart in St. Louis.
Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram RB Alabama: Despite getting off to a slow start due to a knee injury, Ingram finished the 2010 season in style. He's a hard nosed runner who many say remind them of Emmitt Smith. The Dolphins have plenty of issues at quarterback but bringing in a solid running back can cover some of the deficiencies in the passing game.
Jackasonville Jaguars: Rahim Morris FS UCLA: Last year was the year of the safety in the NFL Draft with Earl Thomas and Eric Berry both going early and making impacts in their rookie season. There may not be as much depth at the safety position this year, but Rahim Morris can make just as big of an impact.
New England Patriots (from Oakland): Adrian Clayborne DE Iowa: Last year the Patriots rebooted their defense via the draft and the results were seen right away. Thanks to a few pick from the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots will likely do the same thing again this year.
San Diego Chargers: Aldon Smith DE/OLB: The Chargers had a killer defense last season but it wasn't enough as they failed to make the playoffs. Aldon Smith gives them a pass rusher of the caliber the Chargers have not seen since Sean Merrimen was in his prime.
Tampa Bay Bucs: JJ Watt DE Wisconsin: The Tampa Bay Bucs are the youngest team in the league and they are ready to play right now. JJ Watt is a hard worker who transfered into Wisconsin and earned his way to All Big-10 honors. Playing next to last year's first round draft pick Gerold McCoy will help JJ Watt to grow very quickly into a Pro-Bowl caliber player.
Kansas City Chiefs: Justin Houston OLB Georgia: The Chiefs have a ton of young talent on defense, and Houston figures to fit into that mix as the eventual replace for Mike Vrabel.
Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder OT Colorado: The Colts were let down this season due to injuries, so it difficult to say what could have been. However, one thing we do know is the Colts running game is horrible. Solder will give them some stability up front, and he'll also be able to protect future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.
Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Pouncey G/C: His brother is already starting for the Pittsburgh Steerlers, and there's a good chance Mike will be able to follow in his footsteps.
New Orleans Saints: Stephen Paea DT Oregon State: Chances are Paea will not be available this low in the draft after he wows the world at the state combine. Nonetheless the Saints will need to take a defensive player to fix a defensive that fell off last season.
New England Patriots:
Green Bay Packers:
New York Jets:
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