Today is the NFL Draft! Here Are Mel Kiper’s Predictions for the Top 5 Picks

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Sports
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Carolina Panthers

Record: 2-14

* Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

Is he the top player on my Big Board? No. But it’s hard to blame a franchise in Carolina’s position for falling in love with the extremely high ceiling of Newton. As I said when I projected him here before, there are immediate needs, and there is a decision that you believe will change the direction of your franchise for years to come. While I’m not certain Carolina isn’t still listening for the right offer for this pick — if you’ve heard me at all lately, you’ll know I see this is one of the more unpredictable top 10’s I can ever remember — if the Panthers really see Newton as a transformative player who can be both a Pro Bowl quarterback and face of the franchise who draws a lot of buzz, they make this pick. If talent alone was all they were concerned with, Newton would be an easy choice. But this pick also requires a belief in his development and maturity. Will the Panthers have the patience to let him develop on the bench?


Denver Broncos

Record: 4-12

Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

Based on what I know, there are several guys that have been and will be in play here on the defensive side of the ball. But if you want dynamic upside, it’s hard to go wrong with Miller. In Denver, he can be the SAM linebacker, a devastating option when the Broncos want to get after opposing QBs. Miller is a smart, explosive, natural pass-rusher with the speed to track down QBs and also drop into coverage, then play the run down the line. Miller is a special talent and is a common pick as the rookie who can provide the most immediate impact.


Buffalo Bills

Record: 4-12

* Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

There are several guys Buffalo could take here to bolster its defense, but Dareus makes a lot of sense. A scheme-versatile player who can be a disruptive, penetrating force as an interior lineman, or a fantastic pass-rusher as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, he’s a safe pick. He doesn’t have remarkable quickness, but his agility and versatility at a full 319 pounds is the stuff of an elite lineman. Saying that a guy is the top defensive lineman drafted in this class is to say a lot.


Cincinnati Bengals

Record: 4-12

* A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

 We know that Cincinnati is still dealing with questions at quarterback, but whether the Bengals’ answer is to trade Carson Palmer, somehow keep him or perhaps try to import the likes of Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb or someone else, they’ll need to help whoever will be throwing the ball in 2011 and beyond. This is one I’m sticking with — by drafting the best pure pass-catching talent in the draft, they help the QB, and also fill holes from obvious departures. Green is an immediate starter and a rare big-time, physical, fast receiver who has the route-running skills and understanding to help right away.


Arizona Cardinals

Record: 5-11

* Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

 This is a spot where I’ll stamp a big “TRADE POSSIBILITY” tag on my notes as the picks start to come off the board. But if the Cardinals don’t make a move for a pick that could turn into Kolb or some other veteran quarterback, Peterson is the guy they should take. He’s the best overall talent in the draft, the No. 1 player on my Big Board and, even if he’s not dealt, well, is it so bad to have the best player in the draft all the way down at No. 5?


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