NFL Nation: Draft Watch 42110 NFC

Draft Watch: NFC North

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
1:18
PM ET
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Chicago Bears

Dream scenario: Without a first- or second-round pick, Chicago's dreams are pretty muted this week. They have significant needs at guard and cornerback, but nothing would make them happier than having a starting-caliber safety fall to them at No. 75 overall. The nature of the position, and the depth of this draft, makes it possible. They might not get South Florida's Nate Allen, who is a likely second-round pick, but there should be other options. Finding a starter without having to sacrifice additional picks in a trade-up would be ideal.

Plan B: Guards are not highly coveted from a draft perspective, and if the Bears don't like any of the safeties available to them at No. 75, they should be able to find someone to compete for their wide-open spot at left guard. As of now, the only veteran in the mix for that role is Josh Beekman.

Detroit Lions

Dream scenario: This might be too dreamy to actually happen, but here goes: The Lions acquire Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for a third-round pick. They draft Oklahoma State's Russell Okung at No. 2 overall and grab Cal running back Jahvid Best at No. 34. Although they pass over arguably the two best prospects of the draft -- defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy -- the Lions still get an elite defensive tackle, a fixture at left tackle and a playmaker in the backfield who would be ready to contribute immediately while starter Kevin Smith continues his knee rehabilitation. I've shied away from this scenario, believing the cost for Haynesworth would be too high, but a third-round pick is pretty reasonable here.

Plan B: Frankly, getting a dynamic defensive playmaker at No. 2 -- Suh or McCoy -- is an awfully nice fallback position.

Green Bay Packers

Dream scenario: The Packers need a left tackle of the future. As this year's draft class stacks up, there is a significant dropoff between the top four left tackles and whoever you consider to be No. 5. Currently situated at No. 23, the Packers probably aren't going to get a chance at Okung, Oklahoma's Trent Williams, Rutgers' Anthony Davis or Iowa's Bryan Bulaga. But as long as we're in a dream-like state, we can hope that one of those four -- Davis? -- somehow slips to No. 23 or close enough that the Packers can make a reasonable trade up to get him.

Plan B: In our blog network mock draft, I proposed taking a chance on USC left tackle Charles Brown. He would probably get at least a year to develop, based on current starter Chad Clifton's contract, and would benefit from being in a stable offensive environment.

Minnesota Vikings

Dream scenario: Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said this week that he is confident at least one of his four targeted players will be available with the No. 30 overall pick. I won't hazard a guess at their identities, but ideally one of them would be a quarterback and fall to their spot. More than anything, this franchise needs a young quarterback to build around. More often than not, those quarterbacks are found at the top of the draft and at least in the first round. There are no assurances about waiting for next year. Getting their quarterback of the future is the Vikings' dream scenario.

Plan B: The Vikings have a relatively strong roster otherwise, and therefore can afford to draft for value at every spot if they choose. If their quarterback of the future isn't available at No. 30, or he can be selected lower in the draft, then they'll benefit from additional depth that the best available player will bring.

Draft Watch: NFC West

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
1:16
PM ET
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Dream Scenario/Plan B.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals would love to fortify their defensive front seven in this draft, starting front and center. Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams might fall to them at No. 26 in their dream scenario. And if that dream scenario were too far-fetched, Williams might fall far enough for Arizona to use one of its two third-round choices to move up several spots in the round to take him.

This assumes Williams indeed ranks as the most attractive option at nose tackle in this draft. Conventional wisdom has Williams going to Miami at No. 12, and with so many teams running 3-4 defenses, the Dolphins wouldn't be the only ones seeking help at the position. The 49ers could have interest as well because their nose tackle, Aubrayo Franklin, will probably play under a one-year contract this season.

Plan B could include staying at No. 26 and "settling" for one of the top inside linebackers in the draft. Missouri's Sean Weatherspoon comes to mind. Drafting the top-ranked tight end might even make sense for the Cardinals, depending on which defensive players remained available.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams have more holes than picks to patch them. The pipe-dream scenario for the Rams would include another team offering the world for the top overall choice. That almost certainly isn't going to happen, but a more realistic scenario could involve the Rams trading out of the 33rd overall pick at the top of the second round.

The overnight gap between first and second rounds could help St. Louis arrange a trade.

Their dream scenario might include moving back in the second round, adding one or more choices and still coming away with an impact player on offense, perhaps at wide receiver or tight end or both. The Rams desperately need offensive firepower and that type of move could help them get it.

If the Rams decide against drafting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford first overall, Plan B could include bolstering the defense at No. 1, then trying to find a quarterback either at No. 33 or by trading into the late first round. Trading up wouldn't make much sense for the Rams because they need as many picks as they can get. But if they weren't sold on Bradford, they could always try to get Colt McCoy later.

Seattle Seahawks

One dream scenario for Seattle would be to emerge with one of the two highest-rated offensive tackles in the draft. Most of the teams drafting among the top five would focus on defense under this scenario, leaving Trent Williams, Russell Okung or Bryan Bulaga available at No. 6.

There's still some question as to how much the Seahawks will value a tackle in the draft. It's a legitimate question given line coach Alex Gibbs' philosophy of shaping lower draft choices into productive players for his system. If the Seahawks aren't set on taking a tackle that early, another dream scenario might include defensive tackle Gerald McCoy slipping to them at No. 6. Under this scenario, the Lions would take Ndamukong Suh at No. 2, with the Bucs, Redskins and Chiefs drafting offensive tackles.

Under Plan B, the Seahawks might not feel great about the tackles available to them, and McCoy would be long gone. Seattle would then take a hard look at highest-ranked player at another position. Safety Eric Berry, defensive end Derrick Morgan or running back C.J. Spiller could fit the profile.

San Francisco 49ers

A potential dream scenario for San Francisco would see them sitting at No. 13 with legitimate options at tackle and quarterback.

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen would be available after slipping out of the top 10. Even if the 49ers' rumored interest in Clausen weren't true, Clausen's availability in that spot might enhance the value of the 13th overall choice. Perhaps another team would value a shot at Clausen enough to trade up. The 49ers could then either draft Clausen and declare him their future starter or trade out of the spot, giving them a later first-round choice, plus a new second-rounder. The team would still have a shot at an offensive tackle at No. 17.

Plan B doesn't look bad, either. The 49ers would stay at No. 13 and see which player falls to them. They could consider an offensive tackle or a highly rated cornerback or even Spiller if he were to fall their way. With another choice at No. 17, the 49ers should not feel as much pressure to address a primary need with both choices.

Draft Watch: NFC South

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
1:05
PM ET
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Atlanta Falcons

Dream scenario: They get Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham with the first-round pick and come back with an outside linebacker and a center in the middle rounds. Graham’s been a very productive college player and the risk of him being a bust is low. He can fit a need immediately. Plan B: If Graham is somehow gone, that could change things dramatically. Jason Pierre-Paul has raw athleticism, but comes with questions. The Falcons may instead look toward linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, defensive tackle Jared Odrick or even an offensive lineman.

Carolina Panthers

Dream scenario: A big defensive tackle, like Terrence Cody, falls until they have their first pick in the second round. Cody would fill a huge void and make the run defense much better. They could follow him up with a wide receiver and a quarterback who can begin his career behind Matt Moore. Plan B: If Cody’s not there, a true run stuffer might not be available. The Panthers may have to go with a receiver first and that’s a dangerous proposition because their draft history with receivers has been terrible.

New Orleans Saints

Dream scenario: They done such a good job filling in depth at defensive end that it’s no longer a huge need. That leaves outside linebacker as the only really big need. The Saints likely would be very happy to land a linebacker like Weatherspoon or Jerry Hughes and get some depth at defensive tackle and tight end over the next few rounds. Plan B: The Saints aren’t desperate in any area. If a linebacker isn’t there with value in the first round, they can save that for a bit later and perhaps draft a defensive tackle or tight end first. The Saints are capable of surprises and a running back in the first few rounds isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dream scenario: There doesn’t seem to be a big preference between defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. The Bucs gladly would take either one and follow up with a receiver like Golden Tate and a cornerback with their two second-round picks. Plan B: If the Bucs don’t get a defensive tackle first, it’s almost a disaster because the need is so great. If Suh and McCoy are somehow gone, they’d have to consider taking offensive tackle Russell Okung, safety Eric Berry or a defensive end and they’d still have a glaring hole in the middle of their defensive line.

Draft Watch: NFC East

April, 21, 2010
4/21/10
1:03
PM ET
NFC dream/Plan B: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Dream scenario/Plan B.

Dallas Cowboys

I guess a dream scenario would be someone like Texas safety Earl Thomas slipping all the way to No. 27, but we know that will never happen. So a more realistic "dream" might be a team behind the Cowboys desperately wanting safety Taylor Mays. I don't believe the Cowboys want Mays, but he would be tempting if he's still there at No. 27. If the Cowboys can bail out on that pick and land an extra one, that would be a positive scenario. If none of that works, the Cowboys will stay at home and take someone such as USC left tackle Charles Brown or Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty. We know they love safety Nate Allen, but No. 27 is too high for him.

New York Giants

The dream scenario is Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain slipping to No. 15. But that seems like a stretch at this point. If McClain's not there, the Giants will be looking at defensive tackle Dan Williams. They need another defensive tackle who can hold at the point of attack. Williams would be that player. He'd be an immediate upgrade to Rocky Bernard and he would likely push Chris Canty. General manager Jerry Reese loves creating competition in training camp. I think Idaho guard Mike Iupati could also be an option in a Plan B scenario.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles would be thrilled with Texas safety Earl Thomas, but he'll never slide to No. 24. And that's why I'm sticking with Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson as the Plan B. He has the tools to be a starter in the league for several years. Another strong Plan B would be Florida center/guard Maurkice Pouncey. Andy Reid would be thrilled to land Pouncey. Especially with Jamaal Jackson recovering from the knee surgery.

Washington Redskins

I guess the dream scenario would be thwarting Andy Reid's evil plan and landing Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. It wouldn't thrill Donovan McNabb, but it would give the Redskins more of a long-term answer than McNabb. But I don't see that scenario happening, so let's go with a left tackle at Plan B in Oklahoma State's Russell Okung or perhaps Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams. Is it just me or is the Big 12 going to dominate the top of the draft board?

The Skins need more draft picks. That's why they should pull the trigger on an Albert Haynesworth. It's clear that Shanahan doesn't want to move forward with the talented defensive tackle. See what a team's willing to give up for him. I think you'd at least get a second-round pick.

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