New Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera will have a tough decision to make with the No. 1 overall pick. Had Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck entered the draft, he would have been the easy selection. But his return to college has led to uncertainty at the top of the draft. It appears certain that the Panthers will take a defensive player, most likely a defensive end. But what if that isn't so, and how would that affect the Denver Broncos?
Over at CBSSports.com, Rob Rang's latest mock draft has the Panthers selecting LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, the top-rated defensive back. Rang believes the Panthers will seek a more mature player who is motivated to play. Plus, with a rookie pay scale in the new collective bargaining likely, the money will play a part in this pick.
So, play this out. The Panthers select Peterson, a player the Broncos could use even if Champ Bailey somehow stays in Denver. The Broncos still have plenty of options. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley may have played his way into the top spot following his performance in the BCS Championship game. The Broncos could use a bit of "nasty" on the defensive line, something, for better or worse, Fairley is known for. That's who Rang has the Broncos selecting, based on the return of Elvis Dumervil and, hopefully, an emerging Robert Ayers.
Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, both possibilities for the Broncos, go third and sixth to the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns. Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, the second-best defensive back in the draft, goes 12th to the Minnesota Vikings, but he is a legitimate top-10 pick.
One of the emerging picks in mock drafts appears to be Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to the Tennessee Titans. With head coach Jeff Fisher winning the battle against quarterback Vince Young, the Titans could find a new, but different Vince Young-type quarterback.