Feeling out the NFL draft

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:50 PM ET

What a team really wants, when it comes to the NFL draft, isn’t necessarily what a team gets.

Sometimes, even having the No. 1 pick doesn’t help.

Just ask Carolina Panthers’ general manager Marty Hurney. The worst kept secret in the NFL, next to Brett Favre’s life as a nature videographer, is that the Panthers need a quarterback.

“That’s our No.1 need,” Hurney said as NFL scouts gathered for the Senior Bowl. “It all starts with solidifying that spot. That’s something that everybody in the league would agree with.”

Hurney’s dilemma is that with Andrew Luck choosing to stay in college for his senior season, there is no quarterback in the draft deemed worthy of being No. 1.

Cam Newton looks like he could develop into pass-and-run juggernaut — or just another Vince Young.

Truth is Carolina could get Young himself if they wanted to go that route.

It might end up being cheaper and they’d get someone who already knows what the NFL is all about. Sure, there are some who look at Young as a headcase, but then Newton comes with similar off-field issues.

Taking Newton also means getting his father, who appears to be football’s equivalent of a Hollywood stage mother. With a father like this, it seems there’s something good to be said for being an orphan.

In any case, the Panthers may have to pass on the quarterback idea and try to fill their secondary need. That likely means Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley becomes the No. 1 pick.

“He’s an impact player inside,” Hurney told reporters. “I think when you’re picking high, it needs to be an impact position and an impact player.”

In Houston, the Texans covet LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson to plug a gaping hole in a pass defence that ranked 32nd. But the Texans pick 11th and don’t see him still being available.

So, hello Von Miller.

Miller earned the Butkus Award as college football’s top linebacker and had 27.5 sacks and 39 tackles for loss in his final two seasons. He returned to Texas A&M instead of turning pro last year and has improved his cover skills and run defence and he has impressed on the practice field in Mobile.

“What we’ve seen here is that he can drop into coverage,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said. “He’s an absolute playmaker on every passing down.”

Good choice, but probably not their first choice. And, that’s assuming Miller is still available. If not, the Texans are looking at Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. Better than what they have now, but not as good as they might have hoped.

Bills general manager Buddy Nix wants a “franchise impact” player with the third overall pick. He also admits the team needs to add a quarterback somewhere in the draft.

Nix has to fix the worst defence against the run in the league and he says the club believes it can win with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.

That said, if instead of returning to Stanford Andrew Luck had confessed an unquenchable, burning desire to beome the next Jim Kelly, they’d have set up the parade route from Stanford to Orchard Park.

Would Plan B include Newton or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert?

“We’ve done some work on (Newton),” Nix said. Insert yawn here. In other words, maybe later in the draft but No. 3? Probably not. So, what then?

Some mock drafts project Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green or Peterson as now headed to Buffalo, but if they can’t get a passer the Bills need a pass rusher and that looks like Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

Good. But no Nadamukong Suh. And no parade required.

This is the first time since 2005 the Bills have had a top-five pick but they are Maple Leafian in their uncanny ability to mess this up. The busts include Erik Flowers, Mike Williams, J.P. Losman and John McCargo. They could’ve had Greg Jennings, Devin Hester and Maurice Jones-Drew or Haloti Ngata.

Seattle was thinking quarterback, but Newton might not be around when they pick 25th.

So, the Seahawks thought they would get an impact player in Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea.

He’s now appeared injured. So, now what? Or who? Maybe cornerback Brandon Harris.

The 49ers had visions of a Jim Harbaugh-Andrew Luck combo pack. Now their best option might not be the draft at all but rather to try and pry Carson Palmer out of Cincinnati. Afterall, if it doesn’t work there’s always a nice consolation prize — like picking Luck next year.

And, don’t think that hasn’t crossed a few minds.


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