Carolina Panthers - League sources indicate the team has little interest in
trading up for QB Matt Ryan in the first round. Sources believe Carolina will
draft either a offensive linemen or defensive end with their first-round pick.
DEs Derrick Harvey and Phillip Merling and OTs Jeff Otah and are believed to be high on their list.
Chicago Bears - As Scout.com first noted a few months ago, league
sources said the team would look for an offensive lineman or defensive tackle
with their first-round pick.
Since the top defensive tackles (Glenn Dorsey and Sedrick Ellis) are expected to be off the board, it's believed they'll look toward an offensive tackle. Jeff Otah or Chris Williams are possibilities.
Dallas Cowboys - As noted in a previous update, one player that is believed to be high on their list of players to consider in the first two rounds is CB Antoine Cason.
Other players believed to be targeted by Dallas include RBs Felix Jones, Chris Johnson, and possibly Jonathan Stewart.
Dallas is looking for a back who could not only share carries with Marion Barber but they would like a back who has more speed. Jones ran in the mid 4.4's at the NFL combine in February and scouts believe he has much more explosiveness than Barber. The long standing belief by personnel evaluators has been Barber would be best used on a rotational basis rather than as a featured back.
Sources believe the only team that would seriously consider selecting Jones before Dallas' first pick at No. 22 are the Houston Texans at No. 18.
The Tennessee Titans (No. 24) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 25) are said to be looking at a back as well.
Another back to keep an eye on is the speedy Johnson who had a pre-draft visit with Dallas. Scouts believe he'll be an excellent change of pace back in the NFL who could also be an explosive special teams returner. Some personnel evaluators believe Johnson is the closest thing to Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook because of his ability to get out to the edge and run to daylight.
Stewart is the wild card of the three. Offers the most size of them all while possessing better than average speed. Most personnel evaluators see him as a featured back at the next level.
Minnesota Vikings - With their second-round pick which is their first in the draft, keep an eye on WR Andre Caldwell (Florida) who had a pre-draft visit with the team. Caldwell, who has a second-round grade, has good hands and has very good speed. He's coming off of an excellent series of practices during Senior Bowl week and he followed that up with an excellent performance at the NFL combine.
Other players to keep an eye on as the draft progresses are OL John Greco (Toledo) and CB Charles Godfrey (Iowa). Both players are projected to go off the board in rounds 3-4. Minnesota, however, doesn't own a third-round pick.
Greco is projected to play right tackle or guard at the next level.
Minnesota is believed to be looking for a developmental cornerback who could eventually push for a nickel job or better.
Should they not select a receiver early, a receiver to keep an eye on in the middle rounds is Jerome Simpson (Coastal Carolina). He has good size and speed. He played in college with former seventh-round pick from last season QB Tyler Thigpen.
New York Giants - A league source believes should S Kenny Phillips (Miami) make it to No. 31 when the team selects in the first round, he's their guy. It's not a secret New York is in need of an upgrade at the safety position.
Philadelphia Eagles - Should CB Lito Sheppard be traded this weekend, Brandon Flowers could be selected as his replacement. The Virginia Tech University cornerback had a pre-draft visit with the team and is an excellent prospect. He's projected to go off the board in round 2.
Should Philadelphia decide to go with a defensive lineman with their first-round pick, DE Philip Merling (Clemson) could be on their radar. Merling has the ability to play inside in nickel situations--similar to Justin Tuck of the New York Giants. Philadelphia is looking for an inside pass rusher.
San Francisco 49ers - A league source who had contact with offensive coordinator Mike Martz recently notes Martz is pleased with the progress of QB Alex Smith with his knowledge of the complex playbook and scheme that Martz is installing.
Speaking of Martz, another league source notes that one of the reasons why he wound up taking his last offensive coordinator job with the Detroit Lions was because he actually had final say in the offensive personnel that was signed or selected in the draft. In fact, Martz turned down Detroit at least once for the job but later agreed to a deal. It's believed the ability to make personnel decisions on the offensive side of the ball had a lot to do with him agreeing to join Detroit.
St. Louis Rams - As of Friday morning, league sources indicate the team still is leaning toward DT Glenn Dorsey with their first-round selection. However, DE Chris Long is still in their thinking because there are some within the team that want to keep Adam Carriker inside. If Dorsey is selected, Carriker would be expected to play outside opposite Leonard Little.
Don't be surprised if the team selects a developmental quarterback later in the draft. Joe Flacco and Chad Henne had pre-draft visits.