5 QBs will be picked in R1
Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are givens. I expect that three from Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick, and Andy Dalton go on day one as well.
Mikel Leshoure will be drafted before Mark Ingram
Leshoure has been my #1 rated back since late December, and it appears as if he’s gaining ground on a slipping Ingram. This prediction is far from a long shot.
Corey Liuget will be drafted before Nick Fairley
This prediction rests heavily on Fairley falling due to his reportedly sloppy handling of pre-draft activities and his short resume. As I mentioned in the Bowers/Fairley piece, I don’t believe there are a lot of fits for him early on in this draft, and those teams might shy away from him due to maturity, effort, and focus concerns. The Rams (#14) reportedly love Liuget, and if Fairley happens to fall that far, I’m counting on him falling further and the Rams going with Liuget.
Jake Locker will be drafted before Prince Amukamara
Quarterbacks have the most volatile stock when it comes to the draft, and I’m counting on Washington (#10), Minnesota (#12), or a mystery trade up team taking Locker in the top 15 picks. I believe Amukamara will slide just a little bit due to some concerns about his speed and a focus on passers and pass rushers in the top half of the draft.
Torrey Smith won’t be one of the first four receivers drafted
It’s a given that AJ Green and Julio Jones will hear their names called before Smith, but I think concerns over his receiving ability (body catcher) and route limitation will have him slide out of R1 unless the Packers rescue him. I don’t believe the top half of R2 plays out in his favor, and in the end, I’ve got both Jon Baldwin and Randall Cobb going before he does.
If the Bills don’t take a QB at #3, watch for a team like Oakland, Washington, Tennessee, or Jacksonville to try and trade up to #33 (first pick of R2) ahead of them to for Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick
That’s assuming Dalton and Kaepernick make it to R2.
More offensive lineman will be picked in R1 than receivers, running backs, and cornerbacks combined
Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Mike Pouncey, Derek Sherrod, Nate Solder, and Gabe Carimi are the guys most frequently mentioned as R1 picks, but don’t be surprised if Danny Watkins and/or Benjamin Ijalana hear their names called on day one as well.
Teams most likely to trade down: Dallas (9), Detroit (13), Miami (15), New England (17, 28, 33), and Chicago (29)
Dallas wants Patrick Peterson, and if they’re not as sold on Tyron Smith as everyone’s saying they are, maybe they look to deal down and add picks. Detroit can still move down and get an offensive lineman or corner. Miami has no R2 pick and no urgent needs that look to have great value at #15. New England is always up for acquiring more draft picks, and if Chicago doesn’t see an offensive or defensive lineman that they have to have, maybe they strike a deal with a QB needy team to move down.
Teams most likely to trade up: Jacksonville (16), San Diego (18), Tampa Bay (20), New Orleans (24), and Baltimore (26)
Jacksonville could get itchy for a QB or one of the top pass rushers. San Diego might have their eye on a specific player (JJ Watt?) or two for their front seven and could move up ahead of the Jaguars and Patriots to get him. I have more confidence in predicting that the Bucs move up in the draft for a pass rusher rather than staying in their current spot at #20. Mark Dominik has moved up before to get his guy (Josh Freeman, Arrelious Benn), and with the Bucs having a very urgent pass rushing need, I definitely see him moving up to get a preference rather than “settling” for whoever’s left. Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan are the two players I could most see the Bucs moving up to acquire. New Orleans and Baltimore are both looking to make defensive improvements and could be eyeing the same talent (Muhammad Wilkerson, Adrian Clayborn, Aldon Smith). I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one of them move up for their guy.