With the college football season now a distant memory, all eyes turn to the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft.
While there is still a little bit of football at the professional ranks left to be played, none of the teams still in the running have any impact on the first five picks. And with a week of heavy contemplation, meditation and a lot of others –ations, here is how the top five looks in the second version of the Opposing Views Mock Draft:
- Carolina Panthers – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. A week ago, this pick seemed to be A.J. Green’s for the taking. After all, with Andrew Luck pulling his name from the race, an athletic and talented weapon for the Panthers lethargic passing game seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. With an absolutely dominant performance in the National Championship game, though, Fairley legitimate made himself a likely No. 1 overall pick. Considering the desperate need Carolina has for an interior powerhouse, Fairley appears to be the smart move all around.
- Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. While their biggest offseason acquisition thus far has been an offensive legend for their front office, this team will clearly be focused on a defensive overhaul in the draft. They need youth on that side of the ball, and they need it quickly. Peterson is arguably the most talented player available in the draft, and you would think a quarterback in John Elway would be able to recognize a talented cornerback when he saw one.
- Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. I know, I know. I seem to be pushing harder for the Bills to take Newton than their own front office, but that’s how desperately it feels like this team needs a franchise quarterback. Sure, championships are won in the trenches. Yes, defense wins rings. But considering the fact that Buffalo doesn’t have any of that, a franchise QB could be a good starting point for this team. Again, Newton is a proven winner in an athletic beast’s body.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Different projections have Bowers going at different points in the draft. If the Bengals could have this guy drop down to the four spot, they would be eternally grateful. A talented pass rusher with excellent size and a Julius Peppers-type flair? This would be the ideal piece for a Bengals defense that needs a skill infusion at the DE position.
- Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Much like the Bills, most drafts have the Cardinals going non-quarterback with this pick. Considering the success that this franchise enjoyed recently by way of having one talented, intelligent and quality passer on this roster – it’s crazy that they wouldn’t seek out another one. Gabbert, like Kurt Warner, is great with the short throws. Yet unlike the retired veteran, he can stretch the field out with his powerful arm. He would be a great new face for an Arizona team in desperate need of a quality QB.