Last Minute Pre-Draft Predictions and Musings...

What's up Panther faithful?  Only a few hours until we are underway.  I'm not even in the state of New York, but I can still feel the excitement!  Just wanted to throw out some last minute predictions and thoughts before the draft begins just to see how some of my pre-draft thoughts pan out and measure up to that idiot Mel Kiper, hah!  I hope you give me your draft thoughts and what you think about mine!

  •          Although this year is being labeled the ‘year of the Defensive Lineman,’ I see it more as the ‘year of the quarterback’ because I think there will be a gold rush on QBs like never before seen.  Additionally, I think it’s fitting because I see a lot of teams stacking up on Clay Matthew type guys who can either get after the passer, or guys to protect the passer.
  •          Here are my estimations for where to the QBs go: Cam Newton will be the first QB taken (to Carolina) and Blaine Gabbert will go either to Buffalo, Cincy, or Arizona.  After them, I think Locker is going either to Tennessee or Washington and then I think it’s likely that Minnesota will take a chance on Ryan Mallet at 12.  After those 4, either Ponder or Dalton will go in the first, and then one will slide to the second.  I can emphasize enough that I think there will be a gold rush on QBs this year.  At least 4 in the first round.
  •          My prediction for who the Panthers take number 1 is Cam Newton.  Now that Foxy is gone, I think the organization has definitely revisited their offensive and defensive philosophies.  While this team has gotten by without a star QB, for essentially most of its existence, I think that JR, Hurney, and Rivera recognize that you must have a top caliber passer to compete in the league today.  And I don’t think that anyone is sold on Jimmy Clausen, especially NOT Rivera.  Additionally, I think Hurney has seen how far the ‘safe’ pick gets you, it gets you Jake Long instead of Matt Ryan and essentially floundering in the division.  Why is Cam their choice for a future franchise QB?  Despite his lack of multi-season experience, Cam has all of the traits of a franchise QB, a big frame, cannon for an arm, and quick feet to get out of sticky situations.  The cannon Cam has will be extremely necessary being that Rivera will run an ‘Air Coryell’ offense, attacking deep in the secondary.  Beyond that, he’s just the leader and the magnetic presence that they want in the locker room, a guy the team will gravitate around.  Plain and simple: he’s a winner.  He’s also a tough tough warrior being through the gauntlet of criticism and doubt that he’s endured.  I am especially convinced it will be Cam being that the team has essentially focused much of their draft preparation on scouting Cam, and is just now, in the last few days before the draft, doing due diligence and bringing in alternative prospects such as Gabbert, Green, Dareus, and others.
  •           I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think when we look back at this draft in a few years, I think we'll have made the right decision by taking Cam.  Some say he'll bust, but I'm betting on boom.  I truly think he'll be the next Roethlisberger/Freeman.
  •          If I were to put a number on it, I’m 99% certain that the Panthers pick Cam.  All others assume the 1% left.  Seriously, if Cam isn’t picked by the Panthers, my heart might literally stop I will be in such shock.  Will probably have an AED by my side during the draft just in case…
  •          As always, there are some sliders come draft day, and I think the Panthers will snatch a top player in a freefall this year with the 65th pick.  My guesses on who that might be: Stephen Paea, Marcus Cannon, Muhammad Wilkerson, Ben Ijalana, Jon Baldwin, Leonard Hankerson
  •          Some more prospects I think that we’ve got our eyes on/could draft: Davon House, Justin Rogers, Niles Paul, Vincent Brown, Lance Kendricks, Luke Stocker, Will Rackley, Pierre Allen, Cliff Matthews, Martin Parker, Mark Herzlich, Alex Henery, Kai Forbath, Jon Baldwin, Terrell McClain, Phil Taylor
  •          Like always, I think Hurney will be active come draft day looking for trades.  I don’t think Hurney learned his lesson last year with the AE trade, and I think he’ll try to make a move early.  My guess is that he dangles Steve Smith to someone, perhaps the Patriots, and a 2012 pick for pick 60 or so.  Sorry ya'll, but I think you can kiss Smitty goodbye this weekend, because he's as good as gone.
  •          In my opinion, I think the front office sees CB as a position of great need, and will draft one early.  Also think that they’ll possibly spend a pick on a RB late, just in case DeAngello is gone.
  •          If I had to pick a diamond in the rough QB that will go mid-late and had best chances of success in the NFL, I’d pick Greg McElroy.  I know he’s had a great surrounding staff, however he’s too smart and makes good decisions.  I know there’s a ton of hype around Pat Devlin being the next Flacco, but I just don’t see it.
  •          As for Tyrod Taylor, I know you want to be a QB in this league, but you better start learning the WR position or another position, cause you’ve got no chance of playing QB in the NFL. Sorry…
  •          Contrary to most, I don’t like Andy Dalton, he looks like J Clausen 2.0 to me.  It’s not his hair color, he just looks way too similar to Clausen for my comfort.  Despite this, he’ll be a 1st/2nd rounder.
  •          Mark Ingram will be the next great back.  Maybe not Emmitt Smith, however he’s going to be pro-bowl caliber.  Like DeAngello, there just aren’t many RBs who are 5-10 and under, weigh 220, and are yet nimble and a tough runner.  He’s been mocked to Miami a number of times, however I think for some reason that they’ll pass on him (perhaps for Ryan Williams) and the NY Giants could shock everyone and take Ingram.
  •          Super Sleeper Prospect: Kris Durham, WR, UGA.  Green has received all of the attention in Athens, however there is another great WR in town also.  Durham doesn’t get much hype because he just came on as a senior.  Despite only having one good year, he is 6-5 and runs a 4.43, not many receivers outside of Baldwin and Green himself have that kind of height and speed.  He’s my pick to be the next Marques Colston/David Gettis late round height/weight speed prospect that surprises.
  •          This year’s OT class is an anomaly to me, I have no clue which OT will go first and then who.
  •          Wouldn’t be surprised to see Da’Quan Bowers take a Carlos Dunlap-esque tumble into the second round.  His knee problems really have crippled his stock.
  •          This year’s Tyson Alualu: Jake Locker.  I say that because I think the Titans or Redskins take him.  Last year, he would’ve been the first QB taken, and although his stock has fallen, it’s not out of the top ten.  Beyond that, Shanahan really liked Locker last year, and he won’t last long enough for the ‘Skins to take him in the second. 
  •          I know most scouts say Bowers or Quinn will be the 1st DE selected, but I think it’s Kerrigan.  Plain and simple: he’s been the most disruptive DE in the nation the past two years.  In his junior and senior years, his stats have been as good as Ndamukong Suh’s.  Personally, I think he’s the next Jared Allen.  If he wasn’t white, maybe his stock would be higher.
  •          With the decreased focus on RBs in today’s offenses, it’ll be interesting to see when RBs start really going.  After a few in rounds 1 & 2, I think they’ll be a gold rush in the 3rd and 4th rounds.
  • Where I think they’ll go (I’d bet on these):

Cam Newton- 1st, to the Panthers.

Blaine Gabbert- Either Buffalo, Cincy, or Arizona.  Won’t make it past there.

Jake Locker- Either Titans or Washington.  I would lean towards Titans, but wouldn’t be surprised if Washington trades up and ahead of Tennessee.

Von Miller- Bills, pick 3.  Gailey and Nix are going to make up for Aaron Maybin bust.

Randall Cobb- Like Pat White, he’s a do it all guy, someone will like him in round 2.

Leonard Hankerson- Round 2.  Underrated WR.

Stephen Paea- Day 2

Jon Baldwin-Day 2

Marvin Austin- Bears.  Just Bears.  They’re in love with him.

Ryan Kerrigan- Jacksonville.  They always pick DE 1st round, ALWAYS.

Nate Solder- Chicago, pick 29

Kyle Rudolph- Round 2.  No way he gets to 3rd.

Da’Quan Bowers- probably falls to round 2

Phil Taylor-  Best NT in class, and short supply of them this year make him 1st round.

Ben Ijalana- Round 3

Christian Ballard- falls to round 3.

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