Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson had already admitted that the Panthers are unlikely to trade their first overall pick for a chance to draft a player a quarterback like Stanford's Andrew Luck. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Luck decided to remain in school, saying:
“I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012,” Luck said in a statement.
How this shakes out the 2011 NFL draft is anyone's guess. Scout Inc's top-five with Luck off the board goes:
|Da'Quan Bowers||Defensive End||Clemson|
|Nick Fairley||Defensive Tackle||Auburn|
|A.J. Green||Wide Receiver||Georgia|
|Robert Quinn||Defensive End||North Carolina|
The Bengals realistically could draft any one of those players. Peterson is one of the best defensive backs in the country and could replace a departing Johnathan Joseph if he leaves for free agency. If Joseph does return to Cincinnati, then there's a chance Leon Hall wouldn't stay anyway, thus needing a cornerback eventually. Put Peterson at nickel, who replaces Hall in 2012.
Cincinnati could also use Bowers or Quinn at defensive end, especially if the Bengals finally decide to move on from the Geathers/Odom era into the Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson era -- where Johnson could also work as an outside linebacker. The Bengals could pick up Fairley and let Tank Johnson go, giving the Bengals a good core of young defensive tackles in rotation with a possible eye looking beyond the Domata Peko era.
No matter how you look at it, the Bengals have a great opportunity to pick up a big contributor on defense.