This is the second year in which the first round and the second round of the draft have been separated by about 24 hours (precisely, 22). Last year, the Rams held onto the first pick in Round 2 despite a slew of reported offers and picked Rodger Saffold to start Friday evening. This year, the Patriots hold that pick, and there’s a very good chance they’ve received more than a few calls from teams that have been sweating their situation all night.
So for now, the Pats are on the clock, but there’s a good chance that’ll change. There are a few players available who many expected to be gone by now. Here’s my obviously subjective list of the top 10 players still on the board:
1. TCU QB Andy Dalton: It’s been hard to get a beat on Dalton, but his ceiling his higher than the rest of the quarterbacks on the board. I’m surprised that Jake Locker went ahead of him, and I doubt he’ll last more than a few picks this evening. My prediction: Dalton goes to Buffalo with the 34th pick.
2. Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers: I realize that there are some serious medical concerns here, but Bowers was too damn productive in college and has too much talent to slide much further. I’m thinking Bowers will go to Cincinnati 35th.
3. North Carolina DT Marvin Austin: He can line up as a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle, which should put him in high demand. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Patriots selected him with the top pick, assuming they hang onto it. (If they trade it, I expect that team to take Dalton or Colin Kaepernick.)
4. Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick: He’s sort of a Bizarro Dalton. Big, strong and extremely athletic. He and Dalton should both be gone by the time Washington picks 41st.
5. UCLA DE/OLB Akeem Ayers: Another player who New England would gladly select if they stay at 33. He suits their needs perfectly.
6. Arizona OLB Brooks Reed: Reed and Ayers are very similar players, but Ayers is slightly better in coverage. In other words, he has an edge in the versatility category. He’d be a nice fit for a team like Arizona (38th) but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him drop into the 50s.
7. Texas CB Aaron Williams: I really thought he’d go to Pittsburgh late in Round 1, but now he’s without a doubt the best defensive back on the board. The presence of Rahim Moore and Brandon Harris could hurt him a bit, but I still don’t see Dallas passing on him with the 40th pick.
8. Oregon State DT Stephen Paea: There’s your nose tackle at pick 36, Denver.
9. Pittsburgh DE Jabaal Sheard: Although I feel as though he and Georgia defensive end Justin Houston are somewhat interchangeable. Picks 35 through 39 — Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, Arizona and Tennessee — are all looking for help in the front seven. I expect Sheard and/or Houston to go in that area.
10. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett: He might be the best natural passer in the draft, but questions about his character and his mobility have hurt his stock. No way he gets past Washington at 49, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he went to San Francisco at 45 or Oakland at 48. (The ‘Skins also pick 41st and QB-needy teams like the Bills, Bengals and Cardinals could pick him instead of Dalton or Kaepernick earlier in Round 2.)