Seriously, out of all the Alabama players that are going to go in the first round, Dont’a Hightower could legitimately end up having the best and most impactful career out of anyone. It’s not just the fact that he has NFL-talent, a good attitude and the right instincts to succeed at the next level. Equally important to the equation is who he’ll end up with. And if he ends up in Pittsburgh’s defense, a 3-4 that he would perfectly fit into, the combination of being in a good environment and being good for that environment will extend and benefit Hightower’s career like few other things could. Perfect marriage.
DT, Penn State
We previously had Denver taking Wright here, and we said it was a case of the heart wanting an offensive toy for Peyton Manning and the head wanting a defensive upgrade. Well, seeing as Wright will be off the board at this point, John Elway and Co. will need to use their heads. The Broncos have one of the more promising young defenses in the NFL, but they still have some needs – particularly at tackle. Still was arguably the best player at his position last season, but his inconsistency has scared some teams off. Denver won’t be one of those teams.
It’s tough going against the grain, but someone has to do it. Even though it’s becoming a generally accepted fact that Houston goes wide receiver here, we still don’t see the point. Yes, Andre Johnson being hurt did show just how bare the cupboards were in terms of reliable receiving options, but that’s not the team’s most pressing concern. Defense is the team’s most pressing concern. After losing Mario Williams, this team needs to address the other side of the ball before upgrading at the skill positions. While some see Curry as more of a second round talent, we think his 24 sacks in 45 games at Marshall, and his ability to poke the ball away from opposing offenses, will make him a very valuable contributor at the next level.
We previously had the Patriots taking Still here, but seeing as the Broncos went and spoiled that, the Super Bowl runner-ups will just have to settle for the next best defensive tackle available. Brockers has great talent and a lot of potential, but there are some legitimate questions about how consistent he will be able to be at the next level. Still, if anyone can squeeze the best out of a player that could go either way in the pros it’s undoubtedly the Patriots.
DT, Michigan State
More of the domino effect at work with this pick. We previously had the Packers taking Brockers here, but seeing as he’ll be gone, the next best defensive tackle available will get snapped up by 2011’s best regular season team. Last year, a lot of Green Bay’s defensive holes were covered up by the secondary’s ability to pick off opposing passers. Those holes being covered up doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist, though. Worthy would be a good first step to shoring up a defensive unit that’s not as solid as a lot of folks who didn’t watch the Packers play last year seem to think it is.
Like we said last time: The Ravens are in the unique position of having their defensive stalwarts returning for one more year, but knowing that their time in the NFL is limited. That gives Baltimore the freedom to select a versatile, talented ready-to-learn guy like Barron, and then letting Ed Reed tutor him until he’s ready to take over the reins. Perfect situation.
Another pick that remains unchanged. The 49ers’ defense is solid, so at this point it’s all about making Alex Smith feel comfortable and making him forget about the pursuit of Peyton Manning during this past offseason. Even if he reverts back from his surprisingly solid 2011 showing this year, having two massive targets like Fleener and Vernon Davis to throw to will make that step back feel much more miniscule that it would have otherwise.
Having already nabbed their defensive upgrade with Brockers, the Patriots will use this pick to get their center of the future and the best player remaining on the board at this point in time. We had this pick first, but ESPN seems to be jumping on the bandwagon as of late too, so that should goes some ways in proving what a legitimate possibility Konz to New England is. It also wouldn’t be particularly shocking to see this pick traded away.
RB, Virginia Tech
This is all about who you have as the second best running back in the draft. We have Wilson above Doug Martin. Some folks disagree. This guy has impressive speed, put up 1709 yards and nine touchdowns last year, and seems like a better fit for the defending champs than Martin would be. That being said, this one could go either way.