The Lions pick was a real close race between defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, cornerback Jimmy Smith and OT Anthony Castonzo, but Bowers was the pick in the end. The Lions would have a terrifying defensive line if this were to happen, but they would also have to make do with a barely serviceable offensive line for another year. They do need to start replacing those offensive linemen now. Matt Stafford doesn't take very well to getting hit several times a game, although I'm afraid even a few times per year would be too much for Stafford's shoulders.
Today the St. Louis Rams are on the clock. With Sam Bradford at quarterback they have a bright future, but they need to provide him with more weapons. The Rams don't have a lot on offense. Steven Jackson has probably started declining and they may need to find a future replacement for him, too. At wide receiver and tight end the Rams have basically nothing, so those needs are very high on the list. Unfortunately for them, there's no one worthy of the 14th overall selection available. They could look to defense instead, where they have plenty of needs as well. The entire defensive line could be upgraded, with the exception of Chris Long at left end. They need new cornerbacks and new safeties, as well as better linebackers. They could basically do with an entirely new defense. So who do you think they pick?
The draft so far:
1. Carolina Panthers - QB Cam Newton
2. Denver Broncos - DT Marcell Dareus
3. Buffalo Bills - DE Von Miller
4. Cincinnati Bengals - WR A.J. Green
5. Arizona Cardinals - QB Blaine Gabbert
6. Cleveland Browns - CB Patrick Peterson
7. San Francisco 49ers - CB Prince Amukamara
8. Tennessee Titans - DT Nick Fairley
9. Dallas Cowboys - OT Tyron Smith
10. Washington Redskins - WR Julio Jones
11. Houston Texans - DE Robert Quinn
12. Minnesota Vikings - QB Ryan Mallett
13. Detroit Lions - DE Da'Quan Bowers
QB Jake Locker, Washington: A supremely talented quarterback with some really bad accuracy issues. Jake Locker was hyped badly coming into this year with the expectation that he'd get much better, but that improvement never occurred. Instead, he remained inaccurate and inconsistent. But Locker really reminds me of Josh Freeman - both were inaccurate coming out of college, they weren't big winners, they had trouble reading defenses, but they also had supreme talent at the quarterback position, a great work ethic and good leadership skills.
QB Christian Ponder, Florida State: Christian Ponder is an interesting prospect. He's had a decent career at Florida State, but his senior season was marred by injury leading to some concerns about his arm strengths that are, in my view, unjustified. Ponder is an accurate, smart quarterback who has a lot of attributes of an NFL passer. Honestly, I think this is the most consistent quarterback in the draft whose biggest question mark is whether his injuries have sapped some physical skills.
DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: Ryan Kerrigan is probably the defensive end with the highest floor in this draft, but he also has a fairly low ceiling. He's always hustling, always playing hard, he was a team captain in college and he's a student of the game. He was also amazingly productive in college. Unfortunately he's not the greatest athlete at the position and he lacks some strength, but he's able to do all things at a high level. Kerrigan is the defensive end you pick when you value production over potential.
DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: A defensive end with tons of potential. Smith has a lanky frame and huge arms, and looks like the kind of pass rusher the New York Giants love to hoard. He can bend around the edge, but looks best when making inside moves. He can control linemen and shed to make plays with his long arms, although he isn't the strongest lineman. He has plenty of room in his frame to grow and add weight, and should be even more impressive in a couple of years. Unfortunately he's also very raw and will likely take a while to get used to the NFL. Great potential, but don't expect early returns.
CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado: Jimmy Smith could actually challenge Patrick Peterson as the most talented cornerback in the draft. He's a terrific player who would excel in press-man coverage, and isn't all that different from Darrelle Revis. There are very few negatives about Jimmy Smith on the field. The only problem is that he has some significant questions about his off-field behavior and will drop in the draft because of that. Whoever takes a risk on him will end up with a great cornerback, but will have to worry about keeping him on the field. The Rams need cornerbacks, and Smith is the best cornerback on the board.
DT Corey Liuget, Illinois: Liuget is a polished and versatile defensive tackle who can do it all. Not an elite talent but a good player who could plug a hole on defense. He could function as anything from a 3-4 nose tackle to a 4-3 3-technique or even a 3-4 5-technique. He would certainly fit the Rams needs, who can use all the talent they can get at the defensive tackle position.
DE Cameron Jordan, California: A powerful, polished and very versatile defensive end. He has experience playing in a 3-4 defense and could be a great pawn for the Rams defense, who could use more defensive ends. On the other hand, the Rams already have Chris Long to dominate at left end and Cameron Jordan may not be able to function as a right end. He's strong against the run and an effective pass rusher as a 5-technique, though he isn't the most explosive pass rusher in the draft. But he dominated the Senior Bowl, had a very productive college career, always hustles and is a high-character kid.
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: Another good, polished lineman from Boston College. Castonzo is a very solid offensive tackle whose physical upside maybe isn't that great, but who can be a very good tackle for years on end. He does need to add some strength physically, but he has the ability to be a good left tackle for years to come. Doesn't have the upside of Tyron Smith, but could still anchor an offensive line. The Rams don't really need an offensive tackle, as last year's second-round pick Roger Saffold has performed admirably.
C/OG Mike Pouncey, Florida: The top interior lineman in the draft, very similar to his brother except he's not that good at snapping the ball. He will likely be a premium lineman for years to come and should provide immediate returns for the team that drafts him. The Rams could stand to shore up their offensive line, and Pouncey would be a good additoin.
WR Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh: Jonathan Baldwin is huge. At 6'5" 230lbs he could be the new Mike Williams (USC/Lions/Seahawks version), except hopefully without all the problems. He isn't real explosive and doesn't seem to generate a lot of separation from defensive backs, but because of his size he doesn't really need to do that to catch passes. His wide catching radius would really help out a young quarterback like Sam Bradford too, but he may not be able to be a real number one receiver at the next level. He might be best inside running seam routes and acting like, basically, a tight end who doesn't block.