Biggest Needs: #2 CB, #2 WR, DT, OLB, RT
Our corners looked terrible yesterday for the most part, granted, it was Drew Brees and he makes a lot of corners look silly but I still saw way too many wide opened Saints receivers so a strong #2 corner to play beside Gamble is what I think is our biggest need right now. I love Captain, but his 5'8" stature simply isn't enough to be a #2 corner, he is much better fit for the nickel. We also haven't seen Brandon Hogan yet, so if he comes in and makes a big impact this could end up being only our third or even fourth biggest need come draft day. It's obvious that we need help at #2 WR also as Legedu Naane has been absolutely terrible this year as he seems to only make a catch when the ball hits him in the numbers, luckily our two new added tight ends have given Cam three legit guys to throw the ball too or else we really would be in trouble right now. A lot of you may disagree with defensive tackle being number three, and had I made this list last week they probably would be ranked as our biggest need...and I had a hard time deciding to slide them to the third spot, but McClain and Fua are consistently improving and I'm basing this off the hope that they will continue to get better as the year grows on. To both be third round rookies, I'm certainly colored impressed and let's not forget our clogger, Ron Edwards, will hopefully be back in the lineup for next season. Fourth is obviously outside linebacker as I think the Thomas Davis experiment, unfortunately, is over...I hate it, he doesn't deserve it but we can't let him keep hanging around when he will never give us another full season. I still wish we could find someway to move wither Connor or Beason to the outside, both are better in the middle and it's hard to not put Beason where he does the most damage, but it's equally as hard to keep a guy like Connor on the bench. Fifth is right tackle as Jeff Otah also has obvious injury concerns. So, on to the five guys who could benefit out team the most next season. This week's prediction is that we will be picking anywhere from 8-16.
1) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, Junior - 6'1" 215 lbs
2010: 111 catches, 1,782 yards, 16.1 avg, 20 TDs
2011 (thus far): 38 catches, 450 yards, 4 TD
This guy is arguably my favorite WR prospect since "megatron" Calvin Johnson. He doesn't have the 6'4" or 6'5" stature that a lot of top notch receiver prospects have nowadays, but our best receiver over the last decade is only 5'9". Blackmon runs crisp routes and just abuses his defender on a lot of plays. Again, I love this guy...he can run like a running back in open field and really can get off the ground. He has sure hands and dropping balls is a rarity from him. I know I said defensive back is our biggest need, but with Steve Smith being 32 years old now it's time to start looking for his replacement and you couldn't find a better candidate than Justin Blackmon. Unfortunately, I have my doubts he will be available when we're picking as he would have been a top 15 pick in the 2011 draft but elected to stay in school. Watching Cam throw to this guy over the next 15 years really would be something special.
2) Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama, Junior - 6'3" 192 lbs
2010 season: 53 tackles, 1 FF, 3 Interceptions
2011 season (so far): 12 tackles, 2 FF
Although Kirkpatrick has dropped very slightly on some early big boards, I still have him ranked as the best corner in the draft easily. The first thing that jumps off the page at you is his freakish 6'3" size which is a giant for a corner. Most NFL corners are about 5'11" - 6'1" but whenever you see 6'3" for a CB, you know he has mad potential and Kirkpatrick does. He was one of the top players in the country when he was a senior in high school and he showed why last year when he had a stellar campaign for the Crimson Tide recording over 50 stops and making three interceptions. He would fit in absolutely perfectly here at the #2 corner spot as his size makes him a great matchup against guys like Calvin Johnson and Roddy White. Kirkpatrick is a solid tackler for the most part, sometimes gets his ankles broken but some of these issues should be fixable. He doesn't do any one thing great but he also doesn't do any one thing really bad either. Just watch this video and you'll see just lining up it looks like a mismatch for any WR lined up against him. He tends to struggle on slant routes for some reason, though. Kirkpatrick projects to go in the 8-20 range so as of now he would probably be available when the Panthers pick.
3) Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina, Junior - 6'4" 229
2010 season: 88 catches, 1,517 yards, 17.2 average, 9 TD
2011 season (so far): 19 catches, 332 yards, 2 TD
A lot of Panther fans are higher on this guy than Blackmon, I tend to disagree but there's no denying that he is a freakish talent. He fits more into the Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green mold as he has that rare ability to be able to out-jump about any defensive back you pair up against him at the college level. Jeffery's numbers have been a bit down so far this year, but that's simply because of all the quarterback controversies in Columbia and that teams simply are preparing for him better. Jeffery's routes aren't always the crispest but the man simply makes plays, sometimes he tries to show off a bit too much in college. He needs to learn to consistently catch the ball with two hands instead of showing off making spectacular one-handed catches. Although they may work at the college level, I guarantee you they won't in the NFL. Jeffery is also tremendous in open field, he is fast and has a tremendous ability to beat defenders. Jeffery simply makes defenders look sick and he also definitely has the potential to be the #1 here for years to come.
4)Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson, Senior - 6'2" 310 lbs
2010 season: 41 tackles, 1.0 sacks,
2011 season (thus far): 20 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 FF
Again, the Panthers are still weak on the interior defensive line and as of right now, Thompson is the best defensive tackle in the draft. Thompson is great at finding ways to work his way into the back field and blow plays up. He is strong and has good hands, I'm pretty high on this kid. He's no Ndamukung Suh or Haloti Ngata, but I think he will be in the league for years to come. From the highlights I've seen of him so far, he reminds me of a better version of Terrell McClain. Not a tremendous clogger, but he makes plays and could fit in well with what we're trying to do here. If McClain continues to improve, this guy might not even be on our radar come April but for now he certainly is and has established himself as the best defensive tackle in this draft in my eyes. Below is what he did against Virginia Tech just a few days ago, notice how he consistently works his way into the backfield and takes on two and even three blockers at a time sometimes. He projects to go in the 10-25 range.
5)Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU, Junior - 6'1" 185
2010 season: 37 tackles, 5 interceptions
2011 season (thus far): 22 tackles, 2 interceptions
Another defensive back here and Claiborne is really starting to burst on to the scene, after a solid sophomore campaign the Shreveport product has picked up right where he left off helping the Tigers produce one of the best defenders in the country. A lot of draft boards have him ranked as the top corner now, I'm not ready to say that yet because I still think Kirkpatrick is the better overall player but I certainly could settle with Claiborne. He also has nice size and great hands. Claiborne, like many corners tends to go for the interception too often, but that's a problem that's easily fixable with good coaching. He also is a solid tackler, but still could use some work in that area. Claiborne is also projected to be picked in the 10-20 range.
Hope you guys enjoy this, I know it's way too early but I love the draft and these are just my opinions. I know there's an NFL draft section but I wanted to put it here first so more people will read it, I completely understand if Zod wants to move it though.
Edited by CardiacCats, 10 October 2011 - 03:57 PM.