Bucs Nation has spoken, and it has given the Cleveland Browns cornerback Patrick Peterson. Paired with last year's first-round pick, Peterson and Joe Haden could turn into one of the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL. It would certainly give the Browns an immediate defensive boost, but they would still miss a good receiver and a pass rusher.
Today the 49ers are on the clock, and they have plenty of needs to fill. They need a quarterback, as Troy and Alex Smith aren't starter material. New coach Jim Harbaugh is also a quarterback specialist, and he would love to coach a good prospect. Of course, they also have plenty of other holes to fix. They took two linemen in the first round last year, but their offensive line was still really shaky last year so they could do with more help there. Their receiving corps is mediocre, but they recently spent a high pick on Michael Crabtree. They're set at tight end and running back, though. On defense they need pass rushers and a lot of secondary help, both at safety and at cornerback. So which need do you think they'll fill, Bucs Nation?
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
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 Ryan Mallett, Arkansas: A monster of an arm, but a lot of questions. Mallett can make every single throw an NFL coach would want, but his biggest problem is dealing with pressure. When pressured he starts to make questionable decisions, and when he can't set his feet he gets a lot less accurate. Still, he could do wonders behind a good offensive line in a system where he won't be asked to be very mobile. The bigger questions may revolve around his personality, though. There are a lot of rumors about his leadership skills and off-field behavior, but everyone at Arkansas says any concerns are unwarranted. He has the raw talent to go very high, but the team interviews will decide where he will really land.
CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska: A good corner who is the clear #2 behind Patrick Peterson. His biggest weakness is a lack of great speed. Despite running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine, he does not play at that speed. Has experience playing press coverage, and looks good doing that. Has a great skillset but is just a notch below Patrick Peterson in most aspects. He would certainly fit the 49ers' needs, who really need some secondary help.
DT Nick Fairley, Auburn: Fairley was briefly in consideration for the 1st overall pick after his destructive NCAA National Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks. He's big, quick, strong and explosive, and could be a dominant defensive tackle at the next level. Unfortunately he's also really really raw, which is why he dropped out of the conversation for the first overall pick. He just doesn't use his hands, which means a big learning curve at the NFL level. He doesn't really fit the 49ers' needs who have a pretty good defensive line, but need pass rushers.
DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson: Bowers is perhaps the best talent at defensive end in this draft. He had a ridiculous junior year with 15.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss. He's a strong run defender and a potent pass-rusher. But there are two concerns about Da'Quan Bowers: his junior year was his first strong year, and he could be a one-year wonder. Second, a knee injury has prevented him from working out and he still wasn't fully healthy at his pro day. if his knee doesn't check out at the Combine Re-check, he could fall a long way on draft day. But if he does check out, he would certainly fit the 49ers' needs who need some edge rushers.
DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina: Robert Quinn was one of several North Carolina players who were suspended for the 2010 season for receiving improper benefits from agents. Then add to that some minor medical concerns over a benign brain tumor, and it would be easy to understand if Quinn dropped a long way on draft day. But Quinn is a unique defensive end talent, with great speed off the edge and good strength. He kept in shape during his time away from the game and performed well at the scouting combine and his pro day. Overall there are no questions about his commitment to football, and he may be even better than Bowers.
WR Julio Jones, Alabama: Julio Jones is a lot like A.J. Green, perhaps a bit more physical and intimidating but a little less reliable, as he'll drop some easy catches at times. But he's a terrific route runner and should make an immediate impact for whoever drafts him. There are no character concerns with Julio Jones and he's certainly in the running for a top pick. Unfortunately for him, the 49ers already spent a top draft pick on a receiver two years ago in Michael Crabtree, who has been up-and-down but has shown big-time ability.
OT Tyron Smith, USC: An incredibly talented offensive tackle who could step in immediately at right tackle but would need time to become a starter at left tackle. He's only played right tackle at USC, but he is the perfect athlete for the left tackle position. At age 20 he's only going to get better from here on out, and if he was more skilled he could've been in play for the 1st overall pick this draft. He doesn't really fit the 49ers needs, though, as they already picked a tackle high in the 1st round last year.