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Kiper examines the possible top 10


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What you see below is what the Top 10 (13, actually, because of tied records) draft order in the NFL draft would look like if we called off the season today. It's also a look at who those teams might pick, based on current evaluations. And really, in some cases, if the rest of the season is merely for evaluating what the top needs are, some coaches might be in favor of simply calling it off today.

Some are just that obvious.

A couple things stick out:

• Of the 13 teams listed here eight, and possibly nine, have unsettled QB situations. That's a good reality for a guy such as Jake Locker, who has dropped on my Board to a possible late-first- or early-second-round value.

• A few teams still have a big need that they probably could have addressed last year (and thus wouldn't be drafting so high). Buffalo and Dallas are obvious, and I'll tell you why.

The draft order below is based on current records. Picks are based on the current Big Board, which as you all know will change a lot as juniors decide on draft entry and the workout process.

1. Carolina Panthers

Top needs: DT, WR, QB

Pick strategy: Carolina is in a really peculiar spot. Right now they really need a dominating interior presence on the D-line, and Auburn's Nick Fairley is an option, but he'd be a bit of a reach. The Panthers also need help at wide receiver, but they're young there with guys like David Gettis and Brandon LaFell (Steve Smith could be elsewhere next year), and they wouldn't likely take A.J. Green at No. 1. Bottom line: It comes down to Andrew Luck. Don't take it as an indictment on Jimmy Clausen, who has struggled as you'd assume a rookie would in this setting, but they could really like their QB and still take Luck. If he's there, he's the guy. If he's not, it's a possible trade down, or perhaps Fairley has worked his way into this range.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Top needs: Pass-rushing DE, RB, QB

Pick strategy: I note QB among needs because Carson Palmer seems as unsettled as he's ever been in Cincy, but the Bengals need a pass-rusher, and Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers is a perfect fit. My current No. 2 player on the Board, the guy projects as an immediate starter at the NFL level and one who will cause negative plays from Week 1.

Tied: Pick Nos. 3-5

Buffalo Bills

Top needs: LT, QB, OLB, WR

Pick strategy: Oh, to have last year's first-round pick back. I like C.J. Spiller and still think he can have a great career, but given where Buffalo was he felt like a luxury pick in the Top 10, and he still does. The Bills needed a left tackle and still do. The problem: There isn't one with a grade worthy of taking here. Nate Solder is my highest-rated O-lineman (currently No. 17), and it's hard to imagine a re-evaluation of the tape and workouts will get one of the current O-lineman into the Top 10. If the Bengals stay here, Green could be a star, and maybe they take a breathtaking talent such as Patrick Peterson. Perhaps they fall in love with a guy such as Ryan Mallett or even Cam Newton, but those guys are not guarantees for a pick this high. The Bills might be best-suited to trade down and get their tackle later. They could go a lot of directions at this spot.

Detroit Lions

Top needs: CB, OL, DE, LB

Pick strategy: I shouldn't even list more than one need, because the way the draft sets up it'd be hard for Detroit to miss if it picks this high. Either Peterson is here or the Lions get the other premier cover corner, Prince Amukamara. Detroit has to address corner, and if it does, this team that's been really close all year (minus its QB) will get better in a hurry.

Denver Broncos

Top needs: 3-4 DE, CB

Pick strategy: Champ Bailey will be a free agent, which could make Denver think, if he's not a guarantee to be back in the fold and Amukamara or Peterson are still around, but the Broncos have simply got to get better up front, and Robert Quinn (he's gifted and will be fresh after sitting out this year) and Marcell Dareus could be solid picks here. Dareus is over 300 pounds but could be a pocket-collapsing DE in the current scheme. People might clamor for a QB, but they have too much invested at that position right now.

Tied: Pick Nos. 6-7

Dallas Cowboys

Top needs: OL, CB, LB

Pick strategy: Like Buffalo, this is a team that could have used more help on the O-line last year. I don't think the Cowboys regret the Dez Bryant pick, but now Dallas is in a peculiar spot, much like Buffalo, in which it may not get the best value with its pick if it goes with a tackle. If one of the CBs isn't here, this is a good place to trade down and address the O-line later in the first round.

Arizona Cardinals

Top needs: QB, LT, OLB

Pick strategy: This is a spot in which (at this early stage) I could see Newton coming off the board. Here's a franchise that could really use a long-term transformative QB, and Newton or Mallett could get that look. If the Cardinals intend to stick with the current situation, this may be a spot Von Miller or even UCLA's Akeem Ayers comes off the board. Both should be solid OLBs, and Arizona needs one. Both would be a slight reach but fit here.

8. San Francisco 49ers Top needs: QB, DE

Pick strategy: I'll repeat what I said about Arizona: It needs a resolution at QB. If the Cards don't intend to get one in the market, Mallett or Newton could fit in San Francisco, and this is also the outer range of where I could see a team falling in love with Locker's potential -- though San Fran has been dealing with a gifted athlete who can't be accurate for years in Alex Smith, so I think that should scare it off. If the Niners don't go QB, Quinn or even Ryan Kerrigan or Adrian Clayborn could get a look.

Tie: Pick Nos. 9-13

Tennessee Titans

Top needs: QB, DT

Pick strategy: I have to think that if Jeff Fisher is back in Tennessee, Vince Young isn't the likeliest starting QB in 2011. Fair? Given that, would Fisher go down that road again? A physically-gifted QB, noted for his running skills? I'm talking about Newton and Locker. Unless Mallett is here, the Titans may go for a big need at defensive tackle and hope that Fairley falls. If he doesn't, Dareus or LSU's Drake Nevis would fit.

Cleveland Browns

Top needs: WR, 3-4 DE

Pick strategy: If Green is somehow on the board at this stage -- and he could be, if you know drafts and how things can shake out, particularly if his 40 time isn't remarkable -- the Browns should have their pick in before the Commish is done taking photos with the previous pick. If he's not, this is a Bama's Julio Jones or Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon could come into the picture. If they don't like either, they should go D-line.

Washington Redskins

Top needs: WR, OL, QB, RB

Pick strategy: It could be really interesting if one of the top three QBs is still sitting there when the Skins pick, no? I still think they go wide receiver (Blackmon is an option) or trade down, as their needs are many and depth is light, and they aren't picking in the 3rd or 4th rounds. While Newton and Mallett are graded out to go in this area, word had it that Shanahan was enamored with Locker last year (when the Redskins had the 4th pick). This year, if he still likes Locker, they could trade down, add a pick and still get him. He once made a similar move to get Mr. Cutler.

Houston Texans

Top needs: DL, S

Pick strategy: People keep pointing to the secondary; I keep looking at where a good secondary is often made, and that's the pass rush. If you subtract Mario Williams (8 sacks), this is a bad unit that can't breathe on a QB without the help of a blitz. Like the Giants this year, if the Texans get better up front next year, their young secondary (remember, they drafted a CB in Round 1 last year) will improve. Nobody outside Williams has more than three sacks. Kerrigan, Nevis, Clayborn -- they take the best pass-rusher they can find that fits the scheme.

Minnesota Vikings

Top needs: S, QB, DB

Pick strategy: I'm sounding like a broken record at this stage, but like Tennessee, San Fran, Arizona and others, if the Vikings are in love with a QB at this spot, they could make that move. If not, based on current ratings, it's a great place to trade down to later in the first and get a safety. Rahim Moore of UCLA is the top-rated one now. That position has been dreadful for the Vikes, so whoever they pick is a guy they should assume fits their scheme and is ready to start.

The next team in line? Based on current records and via their deal with Oakland, it would be the 11-2 New England Patriots.

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Hahahahahah the Lions aren't going to draft anything besides an OL with thier first rounder. I think they learned that this year with a failure of a pick (In the Lions Case) In Suh. The Lions did need a DT, but Stafford had already had a huge shoulder injury, they skip a good OT, guess what now Stafford re-injured his shoulder. I'd be shocked if the Lions didn't take an OT.

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Hahahahahah the Lions aren't going to draft anything besides an OL with thier first rounder. I think they learned that this year with a failure of a pick (In the Lions Case) In Suh. The Lions did need a DT, but Stafford had already had a huge shoulder injury, they skip a good OT, guess what now Stafford re-injured his shoulder. I'd be shocked if the Lions didn't take an OT.

do you realize Suh has made their D significantly better? He will likely win ROY. Far from a failure.

Yes they need an OT but they got Jason Fox last year who is a great developmental pick.

I think they go CB and OT in the 2nd.

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Hahahahahah the Lions aren't going to draft anything besides an OL with thier first rounder. I think they learned that this year with a failure of a pick (In the Lions Case) In Suh. The Lions did need a DT, but Stafford had already had a huge shoulder injury, they skip a good OT, guess what now Stafford re-injured his shoulder. I'd be shocked if the Lions didn't take an OT.

Their secondary is horrible, and there is no Tackle worth taking where they'll be picking, so I think they go CB.

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do you realize Suh has made their D significantly better? He will likely win ROY. Far from a failure.

Yes they need an OT but they got Jason Fox last year who is a great developmental pick.

I think they go CB and OT in the 2nd.

I'd call it a failure if Stafford who they payed 78 Million for has his career significantly effected by the injury.

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who said it was significantly effected?

He'll be fine.

Really, they put him on IR and it's the 2nd time he injured that shoulder, at this point your being ignorant. Suh was a bad pick for the LIONS. he would've been a great pick for any other team, however the lions blatanly ignored a huge need at OT, and guess what happens Stafford injures his shoulder again and gets put on IR.

Read into context instead of skimming, I said it was a bad pick for the lions, I wasn't saying Suh is a bad player.

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Really, they put him on IR and it's the 2nd time he injured that shoulder, at this point your being ignorant. Suh was a bad pick for the LIONS. he would've been a great pick for any other team, however the lions blatanly ignored a huge need at OT, and guess what happens Stafford injures his shoulder again and gets put on IR.

Read into context instead of skimming, I said it was a bad pick for the lions, I wasn't saying Suh is a bad player.

no you're making a bigger issue out of it than it really is. Yeah it's a concern if it happens again but right now it's fine. "Dr. James Andrews has reportedly determined that Matthew Stafford's right shoulder separation is not as severe as the injury suffered by Sam Bradford during the 2009 college season." http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5805405

I realize that and I'm disagreeing. I understood your point perfectly. I think the Lions made a great pick. However, I do think they neglected the OT spot like you said. But there is more than just one round. They could have picked one up in the draft. They did pick up a great developmental prospect in Jason Fox.

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no you're making a bigger issue out of it than it really is. Yeah it's a concern if it happens again but right now it's fine. "Dr. James Andrews has reportedly determined that Matthew Stafford's right shoulder separation is not as severe as the injury suffered by Sam Bradford during the 2009 college season." http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5805405

I realize that and I'm disagreeing. I understood your point perfectly. I think the Lions made a great pick. However, I do think they neglected the OT spot like you said. But there is more than just one round. They could have picked one up in the draft. They did pick up a great developmental prospect in Jason Fox.

Yes, but will Jason Fox develop before Matt Stafford takes anymore damage, the Lions didn't need a developmental OT, they needed someone who could come in and protect Stafford,Jason Fox was not that guy. How long untill the Lions stop ignoring thier Offensive Line and acctually Start accquiring the players to protect Stafford?

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Yes, but will Jason Fox develop before Matt Stafford takes anymore damage, the Lions didn't need a developmental OT, they needed someone who could come in and protect Stafford,Jason Fox was not that guy. How long untill the Lions stop ignoring thier Offensive Line and acctually Start accquiring the players to protect Stafford?

Agreed. I agree with you they should have done more to fix the problem.

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This draft isn't as deep as the last. But TE and DE is really strong and those are our needs.

I actually think this is the worst TE class in recent memory.

This class is very good for WR's, CB's, DE's (1st and 2nd round) and LB's. It also has a good crop of 1st round QB's.

It's very weak at TE and OT

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