There is no question that NFL general managers and head coaches have a healthy respect for players coming from the University of Alabama under Nick Saban’s tutelage, and on draft night tomorrow, they’ll prove it.
The latest rumor has safety Mark Barron creeping up the draft board, and he may even be the favorite to be picked by the Buffalo Bills at 10th overall. This screams trade bait, a ploy by the Bills to entice teams interested in Barron to offer a nice trade package to move up the board to select the All-American. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons made a jaw-dropping, draft-day trade with the Cleveland Browns to move up in the first round from the 27th pick to the 6th pick, allowing them to grab former Alabama receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons gave up a whopping five draft picks to draft Jones that included their 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks in 2011 along with their 1st and 4th round picks this year.
While it is unlikely that a team will be willing to sacrifice as much as the Falcons did last year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a team like the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles or New York Jets attempt to move up to take one of Nick Saban’s former players. Other teams that could potentially move up to draft an Alabama prospect are the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is in search for an heir-apparent to his future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, who turns 37 in May, and will likely have to move up at least six spots from 29th overall in order to select Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower. The Pittsburgh Steelers are rumored to land the physical linebacker with the 24th pick. Newsome will have a tough time making this happen, as the Ravens have only one pick in each of the seven rounds, with the exception of the 4th round, in which they have two.
The Patriots are in dire need of help on defense, specifically in the secondary, and Bill Bellichick, armed with two first round picks to attract a trade partner, could possibly make a dash up the board to draft Barron or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. In recent years, the Patriots have had a tendency to trade back in the draft while stockpiling draft picks and finding value in the later rounds. This could be the year they buck that trend and take an aggressive approach in filling needs on defense.
Here is our best guess as to how things will shake out in the first round of tomorrow night’s NFL Draft in New York City. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck QB Stanford
- Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III Baylor
- Miami via trade with Minnesota: Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
- Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson RB Alabama
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne CB LSU
- St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil OT USC
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
- Minnesota Vikings via trade with Miami: Riley Reiff OT Iowa
- Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State
- Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
- Kansas City Chiefs: Michael Brockers DT LSU
- New England Patriots via trade with Seattle: Mark Barron S Alabama
- Cleveland Browns via trade with Arizona: Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M
- Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
- Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe DT Memphis
- New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama
- Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina
- San Diego Chargers: David DeCastro G Stanford
- Chicago Bears Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
- Tennessee Titans: Nick Perry DE USC
- Minnesota Vikings via trade with Cincinnati: Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
- Arizona Cardinals via trade with Cleveland: Cordy Glenn OT Georgia
- Detroit Lions: Mike Adams OT Ohio State
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower LB Alabama
- Denver Broncos: Harrison Smith S Notre Dame
- Houston Texans: Kendall Wright WR Baylor
- Seattle Seahawks via trade with New England: Chandler Jones DE Syracuse
- Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin OLB Boise State
- Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Zeitler G Wisconsin
- San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech
- Arizona Cardinals via trade with Seattle: Andre Branch DE Clemson
- New York Giants: Coby Fleener TE Stanford