One of the best events of the year starts tonight, the NFL Draft. After months of speculation, we will finally have the 1st round revealed to us tonight. The Panthers hold the top pick, and after much deliberation, it appears they have settled on Auburn QB Cameron Newton as the top choice. There will be a lot of jockeying for position tonight, as many top prospects at DE and QB will determine trades and picks. Here is the best bet for the draft tonight according to RSM, let's see how many we get right...
1) Carolina - QB Cameron Newton, Auburn - The Panthers think Cam is the franchise QB they need and will take the risk and pick the AU QB.
2) Denver - LB Von Miller, Texas A&M - John Elway seems sold on Miller as his pick at #2. Von should be an elite player and has shot up draft boards the past few months.
3) Buffalo - DE Marcel Dareus, Alabama - Dareus is an absolute monster and played in a 3-4 in college, which should make him an instant starter for the Bills.
4) Cincinnati - WR AJ Green, Georgia - With WR being such a glaring need for the Bengals, their QB situation is put aside and the top WR in the draft becomes an easy pick.
5) Arizona - CB Patrick Peterson, LSU - Peterson is at the top of a lot of team's draft boards, so a trade here may occur. Teams like Houston that need lots of help at corner may give up a bunch of picks in 2011/2012 to grab a cover corner and return man as good as Peterson.
6) Cleveland - DE Robert Quinn, UNC - Although the brain tumor and lack of playing time are concerns, the Browns won't pass on an elite pass rusher like Quinn. There is a chance Julio Jones goes here, as Cleveland needs big-time help at WR, but I think they end up going with RQ.
7) San Francisco - CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska - It appears the 49ers want to go defense with this pick, and they are in desperate need of a corner with Nate Clements getting older and having a large contract. Another spot, like #3, where Blaine Gabbert could go.
8) Tennessee - DT Nick Fairley, Auburn - Fairley has top 3 talent, and some teams question his work ethic and the fact that he played just one year in big time college football. But the upside, talent, and strength of Fairley coupled with the ability to reunite with his position coach from AU, Tracy Rocker (hired by Tennessee earlier this year) will be enough to allow another team in need of a QB to pass on Gabbert.
9) Dallas - OT Tyron Smith, USC - The Cowboys decide that shoring up their OL with the top OT prospect is more important than addressing their need at DE. They could certainly go Quinn here if he drops, and JJ Watt is another guy that would fit well in Big D.
10) Washington - WR Julio Jones, Alabama - The Skins need a big-time WR threat, and Jones showed at the combine that he is a rare combination of size, speed, and strength.
11) Houston - DE/OLB Aldon Smith, Missouri - The Titans hope Prince Amukamara falls to them, and may trade up for him or Peterson if they feel they must address their need at corner in the draft. But, if the price is too high (which it usually is) Smith is the likely selection.
12) Minnesota - QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri - If Gabbert goes to Buffalo/SF/Tennessee and is off the board, I don't think the Vikes take Locker. After giving away their 3rd round pick in the Randy Moss trade, look for Minnesota to trade down for a QB and try to get that 3rd rounder back. Gabbert falling in their lap is definitely best case scenario.
13) Detroit - OT Anthony Costanzo, BC - Detroit is in desperate need of a corner, but the top 2 will certainly be gone by 13. The Lions could look to move up, or reach and take Brandon Harris out of Miami. The RSM pick here is Costanzo as the front office has stated that protecting Matt Stafford is one of their off-season priorities.
14) St Louis - DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue - With Julio Jones off the board, Steve Spagnuolo does what he likes to do, load up on pass rushers. JJ Watt is also a possibility here as well as DT Corey Liegut from Illinois.
15) Miami - RB Mark Ingram, Alabama - The Dolphins really need to make their offense more exciting, and the best RB on the board Ingram is the pick here. Several mocks have Mike Pouncey here, but I think if Miami ends up with him, they trade down.
16) Jacksonville - DE JJ Watt, Wisconsin - Another team with a QB need that will not reach for any of the 2nd tier of QB's. Watt is a great value here and will ease the blow of wanted man Ryan Kerrigan not beaning available.
17) New England - DE/DT Cameron Jordan, Cal - This could be a spot for a team that is in need of a QB to trade up for one of the 2nd tier of QB's (Dalton, Mallett, Locker, Ponder). New England has a history of trading down, but if they stay at 17, Jordan offers the pass rushing and versatility that the Patriots covet.
18) San Diego - DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple - There's a chance that AJ Smith addresses the Chargers need at OT and takes Gabe Carimi, but Wilkerson is the best pass rusher on the board and fills another glaring need.
19) NY Giants - G Mike Pouncey, Florida - The G-Men go with Pouncey to fill a need on their offensive line. They could also go Carimi, but Pouncey is the best lineman available at this point.
20) Tampa Bay - DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa - The Bucs have made no secret that they want a DE with this pick. If they can't trade up, look for one of the top tier guys, look for Clayborn to be the pick.
21) Kansas City - OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin - Easy pick for KC as they really need at OT. Nate Solder from Colorado could also be the pick, but shoring up the OL is a prime off-season priority.
22) Indianapolis - OT Nate Solder, Colorado - Another team in need of an OT, the Colts and Chiefs hope these 2 OT's are available at 21/22.
23) Philadelphia - CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado - Another prime spot for a trade-up for a QB, as Philly would like to move down out of #23. The Eagles do need a CB and will not likely pass on Smith if he is available at 23 and they can't move down.
24) New Orleans - DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State - Heyward gives the Saints more depth on their DL and should make an immediate impact.
25) Seattle - QB Jake Locker, Washington - The Seahawks don't pass on the talented local star and get their QB of the future.
26) Buffalo - QB Christian Ponder, Florida St - The Ravens trade out of #26 as teams now want to trade up for their QB's now that Locker is off the board.
27) Atlanta - DE Brooks Reed, Arizona - The Falcons take the explosive pass rushing DE in hopes he develops into a sack machine in Atlanta.
28) New England - LB/DE Akeem Ayers, UCLA - The hybrid DE/LB from UCLA is a perfect fit for the Pats.
29) Cincinnati - QB Andy Dalton, TCU - The Bengals have to get a QB with the Carson Palmer debacle going on, and Dalton is their man as the Bears trade down and pick up multiple picks.
30) NY Jets - DT Corey Liuget, Illinois - The Jets take the best player available with Liuget and get another big body to throw into their DL rotation.
31) Pittsburgh - CB Brandon Harris, Miami - The Steelers address their need at CB by taking the 3rd best CB available in Harris.
32) Detroit - CB Ras-I Dowling, Virginia - Detroit takes the leap and addresses their CB problem after GB looks to trade down when all their DE targets are off the board.