After watching the combine, I feel about how I did beforehand, except that I am less excited about Robert Quinn than I had been - if nothing else b/c he looked rusty and that might be an indicator of work ethic. In my mind there are between 5 and 7 players we could take at #2, depending on what the Panthers do. I am 100% fine with 4 of them.
Potential picks ant #2:
Da'Quan Bowers DE
Marcel Dareus DT
Nick Fairlay DT
Robert Quinn DE
Patrick Peterson CB
Blaine Gabbert QB
Potentials GJ likes:
Now, I will give my proposed strategy and explain my list and why I don't necessarily like some of the players on it.
1. Strategy: Take Peterson, use second round picks for front 7 and maybe tight end if Kyle Rudolph is available
The deepest position in this year's draft, by far, is the D-line. The thinnest areas are TE, and DB (especially safety). Keep in mind that we have two second round picks. That said, at number two I think we have to draft Patrick Peterson. First, he is the best corner prospect I've seen in the 5 years I've been mocking. I think this kid has all-pro written all over him. He carries himself well, no red-flags. He's smart, lightening fast and physical. Beyond the fact that he could probably make the pro bowl next year at any position in the secondary, you can't ignore the impact he could have on special teams. I just don't think he's the kind of talent you can afford to let get by you. The only problem is - I think Ron Rivera and the Panthers will agree with me and take him at #1. I really do. I honestly believe he's the best player in this draft.
Beyond Peterson's talent, the fact of the matter is that we will probably be able to get at least one quality D-lineman in the second round. Will that player be as good as Fairlay or Dareus, maybe / maybe not, but if you take a DT at #2, you will DEFINITELY not get a shot at a top-flight secondary player in this draft. Whereas, if you take Peterson, you can still probably get guy(s) like Marvin Austin or Stephen Paea or Ryan Kerrigan in the second round.
Truthfully, I wouldn't be surprised if all three of our first picks were front seven guys. BUT, then what do we do at corner? We will be thin (at best) in the secondary next year with Goody, Hill, Dawkins and Champ aging. Who knows what will happen with Parish Cox? Sidquan can play a little, but is he ready for a full-time job at Nickel? Maybe? McBath has looked solid, but can't stay healthy. As badly as we need front-seven help, our secondary is even more depleted and needs an infusion of talent we can't get in the late rounds of this draft.
2. Explaining other players I like
The big theme here is risk/reward. I feel that these are the least risky players on the board who I feel can yield big rewards - i.e. these are the guys I am most confident will be worth the #2 overall pick and the money that comes along with it (for now). As sure as I am that Peterson is the best overall talent, Von Miller might be the best player - especially given his versatility, instincts and speed. He absolutely jumps off the screen when you watch him play. I think Dareus and Fairlay are two flavors of the same dish. Love Fairlay's frame and arms. Still, there are some red flags there and he's built a bit thinly through the trunk. Lower back issues later on? Dareus, to me, is the second safest pick (behind Peterson). He is big, stout, relentless and ran a 4.8 forty at 319 lbs. He could end up being the best player in the draft.
3. Other possibilities I don't necessarily like
Gabbert - I put him on the list of potential draft picks b/c of comments Elway has made about the QB position / the fact that I don't think Fox or Elway particularly care for Tebow (I could be wrong - that's just what I believe they think). I would not like this pick - but, if you don't believe in Tebow I would understand it.
Bowers - There are lots of people a lot smarter than I am who think this kid is the second coming of Julius Peppers. I just don't get the same feel when I watch him play football. He looks impressive physically, there is no doubt. But, when you actually watch him between the lines, he doesn't jump off the screen like Patrick Peterson, Von Miller or even Robert Quinn. He's big, but he plays tall and I don't think that's going to work in the NFL (a loooong way from the ACC). I think he'll be solid and could be a stud. I could be 100% wrong. I just don't think he's worth the #2 overall pick. To be perfectly honest, he reminds me A LOT of Jarvis Moss - except Moss looked more impressive to me and played with better leverage.
Robert Quinn - This guy is the real wildcard and I put him here only b/c I just think there are less risky picks that have a high / very comparable upside. Number one, the kid had brain cancer - which can recur, maybe it won't, who knows. I don't think his suspension is a big red flag character-wise, BUT he looked rusty at the combine - indicating that he didn't work as hard? Look at how his buddy Marvin Austin did - since the first day of the Shrine game, that dude has been dominant and - to be perfectly honest - could be as good as Dareus or Fairlay. I think Quinn could be an all-pro. He could also be a total bust. I just don't think you can take this kind of risk when there are so many other great alternatives.
GJ's Top 10 Big Board
1. Patrick Peterson
2. Von Miller
3. Julio Jones
4. Marcell Dareus
5. Nick Fairlay
6. Robert Quinn
7. Da'Quan Bowers
8. Blaine Gabbert
9. Cory Liuget
10. Nate Solder / Prince Amukamara
Top 3 picks mock: Ideal
#2 - Patrick Peterson CB
#36 - Stephen Paea DT
#46 - Daniel Thomas RB
Top 3 picks mock: if Peterson is gone
#2 - Marcell Dareus DT
#36 - Kyle Rudolph TE
#46 - Marvin Austin DT
- GJ out