1. CAROLINA PANTHERS - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - ESPN Scouts Grade 93 - Newton threw for 2854 yards and 30 touchdowns and ran for 1473 yards and 20 touchdowns on his way to a Heisman Trophy and a National Championship. Newton also caught a pair of passes for 42 yards and a score. Carolina takes a big risk here as Newton has all kinds of upside, but is far from a can't miss prospect. He will likely play early with only Jimmy Claussen, Tony Pike and Matt Moore ahead of him on the depth chart right now.
4. CINCINNATI BENGALS - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - ESPN Scouts Grade 97 - The 6'4" Green caught 57 passes for 848 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Bulldogs last year. Cincinnati continues to add to its next generation of wideouts as Green becomes a nice addition to a group that already has Jordan Shipley (52 receptions, 600 yards as a rookie last yera). It remains to be seen what will happen with Carson Palmer, but the Bengals also drafted Andy Dalton out of TCU as their QB of the future, a pairing which should work out nicely for both youngsters.
5. ARIZONA CARDINALS - Patrick Peterson, DB, LSU - ESPN Scouts Grade 97 - Peterson is FAST. 6 feet fall with a 4.31 40, Peterson can make plays on the defensive side of the ball (4 interceptions) and in the return game (29.1 yards on kickoffs, 16.1 yards on punts). While the Cardinals had other needs here, it's hard to pass up on a player of Peterson's ability.
6. ATLANTA FALCONS - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - ESPN Scouts Grade 95 - Atlanta's offense gets a whole lot better with this pick. Jones has a great opportunity to be the perfect complement to go along with Roddy White, and with Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and Matt Ryan all on the roster, these guys should put up a lot of points. Jones had 78 catches for 1133 yards and 7 touchdowns this past season for Alabama.
8. TENNESSEE TITANS - Jake Locker, QB, Washington - ESPN Scouts Grade 90 - The Titans continue to move into the post Vince Young/Jeff Fisher era drafting what they hope is their franchise quarterback of the future. Locker threw for 2265 yards in his senior year with 17 touchdowns and just 9 interceptions. Over his 4 year career with the Huskies he rushed for 1939 yards and 29 touchdowns. One of the quickest QBs are the combine, Locker posted a 4.5 40. It remains to be seen if the Titans will use him right away or if they'll keep Kerry Collins around for another year, or if they'll go a new direction entirely.
10. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS - Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri - ESPN Scouts Grade 96 - David Garrard is still the starter, but few believed that Trent Edwards was going to be the QB of the future so this is a nice pickup for the Jags. Gabbert will be able to be brought along slowly a la Aaron Rodgers rather than be thrown into the fire right away. Last season with Missouri Gabbert threw for 3186 yards and 16 touchdowns with just 9 interceptions.
12. MINNESOTA VIKINGS - Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State - ESPN Scouts Grade 85 - An interesting pick here for Minnesota, but the fact remains that they needed a quarterback. Ponder threw for 2044 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior for the Seminoles last year.
13. DETROIT LIONS - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn - ESPN Scouts Grade 94 - The Lions defensive line now boasts Ndamakong Suh (10 sacks as a rookie last year) and Fairley as well as veterans Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril. Quarterbacks in the NFC North cannot be excited about this. Fairley had 60 tackles, 11 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles for National Champion Auburn last year.
28. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - ESPN Scouts Grade 92 - The Saints get the former Heisman winner to hopefully add some stability to their backfield. Last year they went to the playoffs with Julius Jones handling the bulk of the rushing load as they had 5 running backs on the injured reserve. Ingram didn't quite match his 2009 results (1658 rush yards 17 touchdowns) in 2010 (903 rush yards 13 touchdowns), but he still managed to average five and a half yards a carry. Ingram is also an accomplished receiver catching 53 passes over the past two seasons.
31. PITTSBURGH STEELERS - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State - ESPN Scouts Grade 88 - Son of former Saints running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, Cameron was a one man wrecking crew in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas this January giving Ryan Mallett fits all night. Heyward adds youth to an aging defensive unit in Pittsburgh as the Steelers get ready to make another run at the AFC Title.
3. CINCINNATI BENGALS - Andy Dalton, QB, TCU - ESPN Scouts Grade 86 - Dalton led TCU to an undefeated season and a Rose Bowl title as a senior. He threw for 2857 yards and 27 touchdowns last year and now has the opportunity to become the franchise quarterback for the Bengals. As mentioned earlier, having a receiver like A.J. Green to help him develop is only going to make his situation better.
6. ARIZONA CARDINALS - Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech - ESPN Scouts Grade 88 - Williams was slowed by injuries in 2010 but showed what he can do in 2009 when he ran for 1655 yards and 21 touchdowns. With Beanie Wells unable to stay healthy, and Tim Hightower not capable of being an effective feature back, Williams has an opportunity to be the go-to guy in Arizona.
19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson - ESPN Scouts Grade 91 - Bowers made 74 tackles and had 15 1/2 sacks for the Tigers in 2010. The Bucs took another defensive end in the first round (Adrian Clayborn out of Iowa) and a pair of defensive tackles early in last year's draft (Gerald McCoy and Briane Price) so the Bucs have created a nice little group. Bowers is a huge talent, but their are questions surrounding his health as he underwent knee surgery following the 2010 season.
32. GREEN BAY PACKERS - Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky - ESPN Scouts Grade 84 - The versatile Cobb had 84 receptions for 1017 yards for Kentucky last year. Cobb also was effective running the ball (55 carries for 424 yards) and on punt and kickoff returns. Green Bay had a need to fill on special teams and Cobb should fit right into that void.
9. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU - ESPN Scouts Grade 59 - Ridley ran for 1147 yards and scored 15 touchdowns for Les Miles' Tigers last year. Ridley is a strong, durable back who can run between the tackles giving the Patriots something they've been missing.
10. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas - ESPN Scouts Grade 82 - Mallett steps into a great situation in New England where he has an opportunity to learn from Tom Brady and be brought along slowly. Any character concerns should be taken care of in this veteran locker room as the Patriots could afford to gamble with a third round pick on the guy who arguably had the best arm in the draft. Mallett threw for 3869 yards and 32 touchdowns for the Razorbacks last year.
15. WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (FL) - ESPN Scouts Grade 79 - Hankerson caught 72 passes for 1156 yards and 13 touchdowns for the U last year. Hankerson can expect to play immediately for a unit whose only real weapon last year was Santana Moss.
8. WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska - ESPN Scouts Grade 56 - Helu ran for 1245 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Huskers last year. 5'11 1/2" and 219 pounds for a 4.40 40, Helu has a good combination of size and speed. Expectations are that Helu will fit nicely into Mike Shanahan's scheme behind Ryan Torain.
19. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES - Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon - ESPN Scouts Grade 64 - If pedigree counts for anything, then Matthews is golden. Matthews can also get it done on the field though with 79 tackles, 3 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries for the Oregon Ducks. He might not be as good as brother Clay, but he has the same motor and should make an impact this year.
4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa - ESPN Scouts Grade 75 - Stanzi threw for 3004 yards and 25 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions for Iowa last year starting all 13 games for the Hawkeyes. Matt Cassel is the starter, so there's no pressure on Stanzi to start any time soon, but he will be able to compete with Brodie Croyle for the backup spot.
14. ATLANTA FALCONS - Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State - ESPN Scouts Grade 71 - Jacquizz ran for 1184 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Beavers last year and also had 44 receptions out of the backfield. In 2009 he was even better with 1440 yards on the ground, 21 rushing touchdowns and 78 receptions. Only 5'6" he is certainly undersized so he has his work cut out for him.
20. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - Ahmad Black, S, Florida - ESPN Scouts Grade 70 - Black had 108 tackles and 5 interceptions last year for the Gators including a pair in the Outback Bowl against Penn State one of which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown to ice the game.
15. BALTIMORE RAVENS - Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech - ESPN Scouts Grade 60 - An outstanding athlete, Taylor threw for 2743 yards and 24 scores a year ago for the Hokies. In his 4 year career at Tech, he also ran for over 2000 yards and 23 touchdowns. The big question surrounding Taylor is whether or not he can play the position at the next level. With Flacco the starter in Baltimore, we are unlikely to find out anytime soon.
5. NEW YORK JETS - Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama - ESPN Scouts Grade 49 - McElroy threw for 2987 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Tide in 2010 completing over 70% of his passes.
51. HOUSTON TEXANS - Cheta Ozougwu, DE, Rice - ESPN Scouts Grade 34 - Mr. Irrelevant 2011, Ozougwu had 54 tackles and 3 sacks for the Owls in 2010.