1st- Carolina Panthers- Marcell Dareus DT Alabama: Cam Newton this, Cam Newton that. If I had the next decade of a franchise at stake with a #1 overall pick I would go with the most pro-ready prospect in the draft. That is not Cam Newton, or even Blaine Gabbert for that matter. Neither QB could step in like Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford in my opinion, so Carolina must go with Dareus should they hang-tough in the #1 slot. Dareus is a monster with freakish speed for a D-lineman. He has all the checkmarks for an All-Pro DL with his athleticism, great hands, quick feet, explosiveness, versatility, and perhaps the most important intangible; the fact that he was the anchor of Alabama’s pro-style defense. NFL scouts equate him to a Warren Sapp like player. There is virtually no risk with Dareus, while a QB at number 1 is just too risky, and a miss sets a team back years.
2nd-Denver Broncos- Patrick Peterson DB/KR LSU: Now this is where the draft is fun. If Newton goes #1, or Gabbert does, Dareus won’t get past Denver. That’s why they draft the players, much like that’s why they play the games. Wrenches in the draft happen, and Denver will get a chance to net arguably the most talented player on the board in LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson. The versatile defensive back can play all over the field, and can neutralize top-end talent, like Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson four times a season in the AFC West. Denver already has Champ Bailey as a mentor for Peterson, so he can fine-tune his near flawless game. Denver had just 10 INTs last season, and was ranked 25th overall in defense against the pass. Peterson can change that from the jump.