What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?
Atlanta Falcons: There have been rumblings that the Falcons may try to trade up in the first round and I’m not ruling that out because general manager Thomas Dimitroff has done it before. But let's assume for now that the Falcons stay put at No. 30. The team has a glaring need at cornerback. In a best-case scenario, either Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes or Washington’s Desmond Trufant would be on the board. If not, the Falcons still could get a cornerback. Jamar Taylor and Johnthan Banks are viewed as second-round talents by some, but the law of supply and demand could turn one of them into Atlanta’s first-round pick.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have a big need at defensive tackle and they should be able to land one in the first round. The question is which one they’ll end up with. Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson is the defensive tackle who has been tied to the Panthers in most mock drafts, but North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams also is a decent possibility. But I can see the Panthers passing on both of them if Star Lotulelei slides to No. 14. Lotulelei had been talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick before a medical question popped up. He’s been medically cleared, but a lot of mock drafts have him falling. If the Panthers get a shot at Lotulelei, I think they’ll grab him.
New Orleans Saints: They need to add a strong edge rusher as they switch to the 3-4 defense with new coordinator Rob Ryan. LSU defensive end/linebacker Barkevious Mingo and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones are the two guys who fit that description and could be available when the Saints pick at No. 15. I don’t think the Saints could go wrong either way. Mingo wasn’t all that productive in college, but his measurables were off the charts. Jones didn’t test all that well, but he was a very productive college player.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There is a huge amount of uncertainty here because the Bucs could end up trading away their first-round pick (No. 13 overall) for Darrelle Revis. If that somehow doesn’t happen, the Bucs have a tremendous need at cornerback. If they stay put, Rhodes and Trufant could be possibilities. There are rumblings that the Bucs think more highly of Rhodes than most draft gurus do. But if a Revis deal doesn’t happen, I think Tampa Bay’s best move would be to trade up into the top five and grab Alabama’s Dee Milliner. He’s the one cornerback in this draft who is considered a can’t-miss prospect.