The most exciting draft in living memory is upon us as the questions over who will be the #1 pick look set to continue right up until Roger Goodell steps up to the podium this evening. Al Dannity breaks down the big issues in this year’s draft.
Who’s #1? The Carolina Panthers have the first pick in this year’s draft and, for the first time in quite some time, no-one is sure who they will pick. Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are the favorites, with Newton the choice of Mel Kiper, Don Banks and Mike Mayock. While Newton has the unanimous backing of the top draftniks, he’s far less of a lock than say Sam Bradford was to the Rams last year or even JaMarcus Russell’s selection by the Raiders.
Newton, who won both the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship in his lone season with Auburn, is undoubtedly the most gifted athlete entering the NFL in 2011. NFL betting fans know that the question Carolina have sought to answer in the months since the 2010 season is simple: Can these talents translate to the pro-style game? If the answer is yes then there really should be no contest. If the Panthers are wary of Newton then Gabbert will be favorite but not a certainty to be picked instead. Carolina needs a lot of help on defense so don’t rule out a move for Von Miller or Marcell Dareus.
Dominant defense Expect several NFL teams to look to strengthen their front sevens in the first round tonight. On top of Miller and Dareus, Nick Fairley and Robert Quinn should both be off the board before pick #11. Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan, Da’Quan Bowers, and J.J. Watt will all battle it out for position as teams make a run on defensive ends in the middle of the first round. Dropping one position can make a big difference to these players’ paychecks so expect some tension in the draft room.
Changing times Mark Ingram is the only running back with potential to go in the first round, a staggering change from drafts of old. The former Heisman winner carries injury worries into the draft but could go to the Miami Dolphins at #15 or New England may risk their second pick of the round on the Alabama prospect. If the Dolphins and Patriots pass, then we likely won’t see any running backs drafted tonight. In a sign of the increased importance of the passing game, teams are expected to draft wide receivers and cornerbacks much earlier than usual. A.J. Green and Julio Jones could both potentially go in the first five picks. Corners Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, and Jimmy Smith should also hear their names read out tonight.
We won’t know the impact tonight’s choices have until the fall but when the season gets under way check out Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook for the best in NFL betting.