Christian Ponder might come out and shock the world this coming season. He might be training his butt off this summer, improving his accuracy and studying the playbook backwards and forwards. Unfortunately, between Adrian Peterson’s iffy status and the team’s notable holes on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to imagine Ponder ending up in a situation that will allow him to shine as a quarterback – even if he does do the necessary prep before the year begins. And if Matt Barkley has the sort of season that many are projecting him to have, the Vikings will be hard-pressed to pass up on him in favor of keeping a good, but not great option like Ponder.
The Oakland Raiders will probably be in the market for a quarterback by the time next season ends, but for now they’d be wise to look into Jarvis Jones. Last year, this kid racked up 13.5 sacks en route to All-American honors and, really, he probably could have been a legit top 10-15 pick in this year’s proceedings even without all the stuff he will undoubtedly learn next season. He already has the size and athleticism necessary for success in the pros; next year will be all about gaining experience and fixing the little things.
With two likely picks at the top of the first round, the Rams figure to use at least one of them on a wide receiver. Missing out on Justin Blackmon this time around -- a guy that St. Louis had its eye on from the very beginning -- really hurt, but getting a Justin Blackmon-esque player who’s actually a little better will probably cure management’s depression. Robert Woods is unquestionably the best WR prospect in this year’s draft, and if Matt Barkley has the sort of year we’re projecting him to have – Woods’ stats should be padded sufficiently enough to justify him being a top-five pick.
The Colts addressed offense in this year’s draft, but their defense will probably be awful next season. Back in the day, Peyton Manning was able to cover up a lot of the holes this squad had on the other side of ball, but it’s unfair to expect a rookie to be able to do the same thing. (Plus, this defense will be even worse than what Manning had to deal with.) Sam Montgomery is an absolute beast; he’s 6-foot-4, has ridiculous speed and racked up nine sacks last year. He’ll instantly upgrade Indy’s defense (or any other).
This is our first mildly iffy pick. The Browns could clearly use another wide receiver, but with Woods off the board by this point, there is really no other guy worth a pick this high. With that in mind, management will likely turn its attention to another area that could use a bit of improvement – pass-rushing. Barkevious Mingo figures to shine on what promises to be another stellar LSU defensive unit this season, and it’s hard to imagine him not upping his 8.5 sacks to something in the near double digits. He’s the third best pass-rusher available on our board at the moment.
Some people have Tyler Wilson as the best quarterback in this draft class, and him one-upping Matt Barkley when it’s all said and done certainly wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world. Either way, Wilson will be one of the top two passers taken in this draft (probably), and he’ll be a perfect fit for a team that should know by the end of next season that the Kevin Kolb experiment was a failure.
CB, North Carolina State
The Rams could go in a number of different directions with their second pick of the top 10 (it’ll be particularly interesting to see how the O-line looks this year), but for now we have them taking the best player available in an area that could use an upgrade. David Amerson had 13 picks last year, has consistently proven to be a great cover threat and has all of the athleticism necessary for success at the next level. Really, he could go much higher than this depending who’s drafting where next season.