Published April 28, 2011 - 10:58am
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There are five legitimate SEC players that could go #1 tonight to the Carolina Panthers (or another team trading up). For SEC fans, this is about as exciting as the NFL Draft can get.
While Mel Kiper’s Big Board has been changing over time, he’s had four SEC guys consistently in his top five: Patrick Peterson, AJ Green, Nick Fairley and Marcell Dareus. Moreover, the most likely #1 pick might be none of them, but instead be Auburn’s controversial Heisman winner, Cam Newton.
So, who would you pick? Let’s look at the case for each quickly…
Cam Newton – There is no need to even mention his talent. We’re all aware of it, and nobody can deny the incredible athletic and quarterbacking ability of Cam Newton. The risks are pretty well known as well considering the off-the-field allegations that have been with him now since the middle of the 2010 season. He also didn’t do himself any favors last week when he drew a blank when asked to recite a verbal play call by ESPN’s Jon Gruden. NFL quarterbacking is as much an exercise in intelligence as it is in athleticism, so you can be sure this didn’t win him any points with NFL scouts. The problem here is that with the #1 pick in the draft and with the amount of money at stake, it’s tough to argue to take any sort of risk. If I’m a GM, I go with the sure thing and most quarterbacks unfortunately aren’t sure things going from college to the NFL. With that said, Cam probably has the highest upside potential.
Patrick Peterson – Some say he’s the best athlete in the draft. He out-squatted the offensive line at LSU and runs a 4.3. He can instantly start as a great cornerback and return kicks. He’s probably as close to a sure thing as it gets in the draft, and will undoubtedly have a great career in the NFL. Peterson has been atop the Big Board of Mel Kiper’s at the #1 slot.
AJ Green – AJ Green might be Randy Moss minus the poor attitude and work ethic. In terms of a wide receiver, he’s nothing but money. Despite his suspension in 2010, most scouts don’t really view him as an off-the-field risk considering his suspension was selling a jersey (sort of silly). Green is more of the Randy Moss type where Alabama’s Julio Jones is more the Larry Fitzgerald build. If I’m the Carolina Panthers, I would strongly consider taking AJ Green as Steve Smith is getting older, and Jimmy Clausen (if he plays next year) could use someone else to throw to. Whoever takes AJ Green is getting a killer wide out.
Nick Fairley – If AJ Green is Randy Moss’s talent without the attitude, I think Nick Fairley is Warren Sapp with talent, attitude, and all included. If Cam Newton had the biggest breakout season in 2010, Fairley had the second. His dominant performance all season including the National Championship Game against Oregon made him some serious dollars and catapulted him into the top echelon of NFL prospects. I would make the case that Fairley’s attitude is an asset more than a liability. It’s not like Fairley was screwing around off the field; rather, he got the reputation for some late hits in college. If anything it shows he’s all business on the field. I want this guy on my team, and I sure as heck don’t want him on the team I’m playing. The only risk associated with Fairley is the fact that he’s only performed at this high level for one season which has led some to rank Marcell Dareus ahead of him. Folks, he played a year in the SEC West, played in the SECCG then the BCSCG. He’s battled tested I assure you.
Marcell Dareus – While Fairley only has a small sample size of SEC play, Dareus does not and therefore is possibly a lower risk pick. Know for knocking Colt McCoy out of the BCSCG and for years of consistent play for coach Nick Saban, Dareus is a sure thing in the NFL and ready to contribute immediately. Dareus made noise at the NFL Combine or running a sub-5 second 40 yard dash while weighing in over 300 pounds. He’s like a freaking bear running at you. Scary.
This is pretty interest if you look at this five. The NFL is indeed continuing its transition into a passing-dominated league. Quarterback, receiver, cornerback, defensive line. All impactful positions in the passing game (or stopping it). No running backs in the top picks tonight. Mark Ingram likely to be the only RB taken in the first round.
If I have to pick, I’m going Patrick Peterson. He’s going to have a solid career and can definitely take on #1 receivers immediately. Plus, you can plug him in on the kick return game immediately. Yes, I’ll take PP over the other four.
You’re On The Clock
Talk to me SDS readers… who should go #1 and why? Make your case here.