Ok, so I am ridiculously excited for tonight. I agree with Adam Schefter, who tweeted this morning that it was like "Christmas Morning." Anyway, the 1st round tonight will be had out amidst a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the league, with regards to free agency, salary cap and...well, everything else really. Will the 1st round prove equally as uncertain? Here are my 10 things I think will happen tonight in New York...
1. Good guy Goodell?
Roger Goodell will be booed when he steps up to the podium by the crowd in Radio City Music Hall. As time goes by, it seems that fans are no longer interested in taking sides in the labour dispute, but simply want a resolution. Goodell is as much to blame is this mess as anyone, and he will hear the frustration of the fans each time he takes the stage.
2. "With the 1st pick in the 2011 NFL Draft..."
The Carolina Panthers WILL pick Cam Newton with the top pick. In eight of the previous ten drafts, a quarterback has been selected with the 1st overall pick. That trend will continue in 2011. The 1st round has been generous to teams investing 1st round picks in quarterbacks recently; Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford have each had early success in the league - three have already gone to the playoffs winning significant games along the way. The Panthers, buoyed by this trend, will select Newton with the hopes of improving their terrible offense.
3. Who is THE most talented player?
As each player is selected, the NFL network crew will comment that Von Miller, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson each are the most talented player in the draft. Come on guys, just make your minds up and agree on this please!?
4. No O-Line for Dallas
Tyron Smith has been locked into Dallas in most if not all mock drafts. Well, it would be a 1st in the Jones era, since Dallas hasn't used a 1st round pick on an offensive lineman in Jerry Jones' 22 year tenure. Jones believes he can acquire those big road graders Dallas likes on their line in later rounds. Look for Dallas to possibly trade down and address either their defensive line or cornerback positions.
5. The 17th is a mystery
The Patriots could do anything they please with the 17th overall pick. Most feel it will be used either on the offensive or defensive lines, but almost any position will be considered as some highly touted prospects are bound to fall. It could be Prince Amukamara as a long term partner to Devin McCourty. Or perhaps Da'Quan Bowers (I don't want it but who the hell knows?). Or even Julio Jones if he makes it past the St Louis Rams. I honestly feel the Patriots will use this pick more than any as a ‘best player available' pick, but they could certainly trade up or down with equal ease.
6. The Colts WILL go O-Line
Even Colt fans are growing tired of Bill Polian constantly failing to address glaring needs in this team. Peyton Manning is chasing Brett Farve's consecutive start streak, but with the current Colt offensive line, he may not even get close. It seems as though every year the Colts are in a huge game, it's 3rd-and-1, and the line cannot get the necessary push to extend a vital drive. The Colts will take a step in the right direction in 2011.
7. An Eagle on the move?
Despite this being only his second year in charge, Eagles GM Howie Roseman is developing quite the reputation as an aggressive executive, willing to deal picks to move up and down the draft as he sees fit. If the Eagles want a player, Roseman will move up to get him. Considering the Eagles offensive line woes and the bevy of teams sitting above the Eagles all with offensive line needs, be prepared for the Eagles to target a trade, perhaps with the Miami Dolphins. I did not mock this in my final mock, but I'm already changing my mind on how things will play out!
The Patriots WILL select a right defensive end in the 1st round. The defensive line is the strength of this draft class, but while deep on the defensive line, there are five blue chip five technique defensive ends in this class (Marcel Dareus, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Cameron Heyward & Muhammad Wilkerson), after which, the drop off is noticeable. The Patriots will not miss the opportunity to acquire such talent, and will take one of these players with one of their 1st round picks.
9. Locker isn't going back to Washington
The Seahawks will not pick Jake Locker, not in the 1st round anyway. Despite making the playoffs, the Seahawks have too many needs to risk a 1st round pick of a project player such as locker. Seattle needs an instant impact player with their 1st round pick, and they also lack picks in some of the middle rounds of the draft, so will be a prime contender to trade down. Either way, Locker isn't going back to where he made himself famous.
10. Rex will be annoyed
The Patriots will draft a player just before the Jets...later in 2011 when that player is playing at a Pro Bowl level, Rex will admit the Patriots picked his pocket as that's the guy the Jets really wanted. Sound familiar? It happened in 2010 where the Patriots picked pro bowler Devin McCourty ahead of the Jets, who settled themselves with Kyle Wilson. It was a closely fought contest but I think the Pats ended up with the better player.