Obviously, unless you're sure Clausen or Pike are "franchise" type QBs, that's our most pressing need. I would argue that there is no QB in this draft that will be ready to start this year. Why? Honestly, they're not ready for what NFL defenses will throw at them. Add to that the fact that the entire squad will be adjusting to a new coaching staff and a new system. Then there's the possibility that OTAs and TC could be compromised by the Lockout litigation crap. So I ask you, my friends, do you spend the #1 pick in the draft on a player that likely won't, and really shouldn't, see the field for more than a handful of plays? I might say yes, if there were no other needs to fill, but there are other needs where an impact could be made this year. More on the QB situation later... Now let's take another objective look at what we really need to fix, and the best way to go about it.
Everybody together now, "DEFENSIVE TACKLE!!!!" Yep, it's a need, but is it really as bad as most seem to think? Consider that we had two rookies (Corvey Irving and Andre Neblett) who each got some good experience last year. On Neblett, PFF has this to say (Link to story):
Give This Guy More Snaps: DT Andre Neblett (+3.9 in 152 snaps)
Carolina went into the year with a shortage of defensive tackles and as the year wore on that meant that Neblett got some playing time. The big rookie had some bad moments (giving up an offside penalty in his first snap versus Atlanta in Week 17) but looked like a run stuffer with some sizeable (pun intended) potential. If you don’t believe us, watch him go one-on-one versus Maurkice Pouncey or Todd McClure, and how many times Neblett he was able to collapse a running lane.
Irving, Johnson, and Hayden had good games and bad games, so yes, we need more. So looking at the top DTs in the draft (Fairley and Dareus), are they worth the #1 pick? I don't hear any comparisons to Suh, or even McCoy from last year's draft. This is a need we could fill with one FA (Coefield, Mebane), and a 2nd or 3rd round pick (lot of possibilities in the 2nd, fewer in the third).
Next up: Wide Receiver... If Smitty takes his show on the road, we're going to need a new #1. Rule of thumb: Never draft a WR in the top 10 who isn't named Calvin "Megatron" Johnson. The Bust pool is littered with failed WRs taken too high. Sidney Rice (FA) would be my first choice here, along with a mid-late round "sleeper" pick.
On to Cornerback: Much debate (formal and informal) has passed under the bridge about Patrick Peterson. Most here, and among the experts, agree that he's a Superfreak with great potential and low risk. Marshall is as good as gone (unless nobody wants him), Munnerlyn is undersized and better in the slot, and Gamble is (IMO) over-rated, over-paid, and becoming a head case. We need help here, so I'm all in (as of today at least) on taking PP7 either #1 or hopefully trading back a couple of spots.
Offensive Line - The recent news of shoulder surgery for Otah concerns me greatly. It's hard enough to play a full season on the line without getting hurt, and much more so if you're susceptible to injury. A guy like Marcus Cannon could fall to the mid-rounds and be a stop-gap at either guard or tackle if needed. It wouldn't hurt to pick up maybe an older FA if we can get a good deal.
A couple of more things I want us to consider as fans. How can we get back into the second round? Without player trades, there's only three options: 1) Trade back from #1; 2) Trade up by packaging later picks; or 3) Trade 2012 picks. Of these options, my preference clearly is the first one, I hate the second one, and I'm warming up to the third, and here's why. If we're going to trade Smitty, Connor, Gamble, even Clausen, we can't do it for picks this year. But we could make trades to recoup 2012 picks we might give up to pick up a 2011 2nd rounder. For instance, say we trade our 2nd and 3rd picks from 2012 for someone's 2nd in 2011 (can you spell Patriots). We then have to find trading partner(s) who'll take Smitty, Connor, and/or Gamble for 2012 2nd and 3rd rounders. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this option.
Finally, I said I would get back to QB. In my opinion, Stanzi is by far the best prospect, but he is by no means ready to play yet. I'm not just going off the Fischer formula here. For more, check out this article from the Nat'l Football Post. Here's a couple of intriguing bits:
But perhaps what’s most important to Stanzi’s pro-potential is his inherent work ethic. The ongoing joke amongst his Iowa teammates: Stanzi’s moped was a permanent fixture of the parking lot outside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. As head coach Kirk Ferentz said during the season, "He’s always around. He has got a parking spot out there. I’m joking — that’s an NCAA violation."
And there's this ...
Football will be a full-time job. And that’s a scary thought. Last season, his teammates would say that Stanzi’s knowledge of opposing defenses stretched so far that he would regularly move scout-team defenders into the correct position during practice.
At 6'4, 230 lbs, some think he needs a year in the Training room to add more bulk and arm strength. And while he stunk it up throwing at the combine, he redeemed himself at his pro-day. Charlie Casserly liked what he saw. I don't think he'll go above round 3, and may be available with our comp-3 / top 4th pick.
That's a lot to chew on, I know, but I'm truly interested in everyone's opinions (you know, the kind that are seriously considered and civilly presented). Thank you for your time.