This is my mock draft. You should read it.
1. Indianapolis Colts- QB Andrew Luck (Stanford) Not much to say here, looks like Manning is on his way out and Luck is in. If this pick is anything else everyone reading this can give me 5 slaps.
2. Washington Redskins (trade)- QB Robert Griffin (Baylor) I’ve never mocked a trade in any of my mocks but this is kind of a special instance with Griffin being such a big prospect and so many teams needing a QB. I had this pick mocked to Cleveland but with the recent news that they aren’t willing to spend both of their 1st rounders this year to move up, I think that puts Washington in the best position to trade up for Griffin.
3. Minnesota Vikings- OT Matt Kalil (USC) I know Minnesota would do anything to trade down from this pick but in the instance they can’t, Kalil isn’t a bad consolation prize. He’s been dominant since coming into USC as a 5 star prospect and taking the LT spot from Dallas’s 2011 1st round pick, Tyron Smith. Kalil’s a great fit for Minnesota overall and can bring balance to an aging offensive line and provide some protection for QB Christian Ponder.
4. Cleveland Browns- WR Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) If the Browns don’t trade up for Griffin, they have some options here with Claiborne, Richardson, and Blackmon on the board. The thing is there’s a huge possibility that the Browns take a QB sometime in this draft and if that happens, they need to add a #1 wide out for him. Granted, there are some concerns about his height (6’1) but I doubt the Browns pass on a chance to add some offensive weaponry for a potentially new QB.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- CB Morris Claiborne (LSU) I previously had Trent Richardson mocked here, but with the news about his knee (albeit minor), I don’t think the Bucs take a chance on him with such an early pick. Claiborne is the more solid of the two prospects, and obviously fills a huge need with Ronde Barber close to retirement and Aqib Talib going to jail.
6. St. Louis Rams- OT Riley Reiff (Iowa) Sam Bradford had an off year last year, and part of the reason is that he kept getting hit. St. Louis needs help on that offensive line and if they trade down (they will) expect them to either go after Blackmon if he’s available or an offensive lineman like Reiff who can anchor the LT spot for years to come.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- DE Quinton Coples (North Carolina) I really want to mock an offensive player to help out Blaine Gabbert here, but none is really worth a pick here. Either way, Coples is the best DE in the draft and projects the best as a 4-3 end. The Jags could go for a tackle here or maybe even a wide out, but Coples is the best value here by far.
8. Miami Dolphins- DE Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) New head coach Joe Philbin is switching the Dolphins’ defense to a 4-3 next year and so drafting a DE with their first pick is a likely possibility here, as a rusher opposite of Cameron Wake is a pretty big need. Ingram was one of the stars of the combine, and is stock has risen considerably as a result. I could see the Dolphins taking an OT here, but with Reiff gone at this point I think it’s a long shot with Ingram on the board.
9. Carolina Panthers- DT Dontari Poe (Memphis) I realize this is high for Poe, but he absolutely dominated the combine (4.8-40..seriously?) and at 6-5/350 lbs, Poe has monstrous size to add to his athletic ability. The Panthers drafted two DT’s last draft with a pair of 3rd rounders, but they still struggled throughout the season (an understatement) and would benefit greatly from a talent like Poe.
10. Buffalo Bills- OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) The Bills have needed a pure pass-rusher for..well forever and I really don’t see them passing on a talent like Upshaw to fill that hole. Upshaw didn’t perform fantastically at the combine, but go to the tape and you’ll see why Upshaw’s worth the 10th overall pick.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- RB Trent Richardson (Alabama) Richardson has been deemed the best running back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson and the Chiefs are going to need to take it easy on Jamaal Charles coming back from the ACL tear. These two could develop into a very dangerous backfield in Kansas City, and take a ton of pressure off of Matt Cassel.
12. Seattle Seahawks- QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) I don’t think this is the smartest pick but Pete Carroll needs to start producing results if he wants to keep his job and he won’t get those results with Tarvaris Jackson starting at QB. There are some good 2nd round QB’s available, but with the recent trend of QB’s going earlier and earlier, I think they snatch up their franchise QB with this pick.
13. Arizona Cardinals- OG David DeCastro (Stanford) The Cardinals need help with a number of different positions, but protecting Kevin Kolb has to be priority #1. DeCastro is one of the best guard prospects to come out of the draft in recent years, so this should be a fairly safe pick for Arizona.
14. Dallas Cowboys- CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) The talent Jenkins has is undeniable, the guy can flat out play. And that’s why I think Jerry Jones takes a chance on him despite all of the character issues, his talent is just too big to ignore. The Cowboys secondary has been awful for so long, and this pick really comes down to whether Jones would rather deal with Jenkins or Dre’ Kirkpatrick.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- ILB Luke Kuechly (Boston College) This is another pick that’s an extremely low risk option, and at a need that’s critical for the ‘Dream Team.’ Kuechly proved to be a monster at the combine, and was highly respected as a leader inside the Boston College locker room, qualities that are valued at the Mike linebacker position.
16. New York Jets- WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) Plaxico Burress is gone and Santonio Holmes has been running his mouth a little too much to be considered a long term Jet, so drafting a big possession receiver like Floyd makes sense. Sanchez needs all the help he can get too.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland)- CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) The Bengals should be pretty thankful that Kirkpatrick had the (recently dismissed) drug charges against him, because there’s a high chance now that he may fall to them. With Leon Hall recovering from a torn Achilles, Kirkpatrick can step in and fill that gap instantly. He’s a big corner (6’2, 190 lbs) and plays a very physical and instinctive game, something that’s not easy to find in corners.
18. San Diego Chargers-OT Jonathan Martin (Stanford) Martin slips a bit just in how this draft has played out, but the Chargers would sure love to have him. They have huge needs on their line (Jared Gaither a UFA, Kris Dielman retiring) and drafting Martin would be a nice step in recovering from some of these offseason blows.
19. Chicago Bears- WR Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) A lot of Jeffrey’s stock is tied up in his Pro Day (he didn’t run at the combine) but the guy is a solid 6’4 216 lbs and has arguably the greatest amount of potential out of any of the wide receivers in this draft. He had a less-than stellar season, but he also had a nightmare of a QB situation in South Carolina. Chicago would be a perfect fit for him and would finally give Jay Cutler the #1 guy he needs.
20. Tennessee Titans- DE/OLB Nick Perry (USC) The Titans would absolutely love for Perry to fall this far to them. He’s proven through the combine that he projects more as a DE in a 4-3 than a SAM linebacker (the guy measured up to 270 lbs at the combine and still ran a 4.50 40), and the Titans desperately need his pass-rushing abilities.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- OG Cordy Glenn (Georgia) I firmly believe the Bengals are the front-runners to sign Raiders UFA Michael Bush after parting ways with Cedric Benson so drafting a RB may not make the most sense here. However adding extra protection for Andy Dalton and (possibly) Bush does, and Glenn has the potential to be an elite guard at the pro level. He measures in at 6’5 345 lbs and played 3 different offensive line spots during his time at Georgia, adding to his draft stock and reasons why the Bengals should snatch him up if he falls here.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)- DT Michael Brockers (LSU) I think the Browns take a BPA approach here and that (arguably) would be Brockers. He didn’t perform as well as other DT’s at the combine, but his play is unmistakable. He and last year’s 1st rounder Phil Taylor would wreak havoc lining up next to each other.
23. Detroit Lions- ILB Donta Hightower (Alabama) So many great choices for the Lions here, but we always have to resort to Mayhew’s BPA strategy and in this case, it fills a huge need. With Stephen Tulloch likely gone, Hightower can fill his place at the Mike and at a much reduced price. I like Hightower’s instinctive play and although corner or offensive line is a possibility here (I also really like SCAR’s Stephon Gilmore here), Hightower is still the BPA.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- NT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) I liked typing Mississippi so much I had to do it again. Anyways, the Steelers need to start looking for a replacement for aging NT Casey Hampton, and Cox could be a great fit. He was widely believed to be a 2nd-3rd round player before the combine but his performance there surged his stock. Now he should be one of the first DT’s picked, and a great value here at #24.
25. Denver Broncos- CB Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina) Gilmore is one of the most underrated corners if not overall players in this draft (in my opinion), and could really develop nicely in the Broncos system. With Champ Bailey nearing retirement, Gilmore can learn from him and eventually take over the #1 corner spot.
26. Houston Texans- WR Kendall Wright (Baylor) This would be a great scenario for Houston, as they need a #2 wide out badly to take some of the double teaming off of Andre Johnson. Wright’s a shifty receiver who, unlike Johnson, is small and has excellent speed. This offense could be taken to the next level if they can get a guy like Wright to fill that #2 slot, and forget about his 40 time, he’s lightning on the field and that’s all that counts.
27. New England (from New Orleans)- SS Mark Barron (Alabama) Not a very strong class for safeties, so when a 1st round talent in this draft falls, you should take him. The Pats need to fill the hole next to Patrick Chung at safety after releasing Brandon Mariweather, and Barron is the best candidate by far.
28. Green Bay Packers- DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) Mercilus is a raw talent, with really only one good (to be fair it was dominant) season under his belt. Either way, he’s one of the highest regarded OLB’s in this year’s draft, and fills a huge pass-rushing need for the Pack across from Clay Matthews.
29. Baltimore Ravens- C Peter Konz (Wisconsin) The Ravens may lose Ben Grubbs to free agency and Matt Birk soon to retirement, so the Ravens need to fill holes on their interior line. Konz can fill in next season at guard and eventually take over for Birk at center (the guy’s very versatile).
30. San Francisco 49ers- TE Coby Fleener (Stanford) The 9ers need to help out Alex Smith as much as possible and with no wide outs (Sanu or Randle possibly?) worthy of this pick, I think Harbaugh takes the New England route and adds another TE for opposing defenses need to worry about.
31. New England Patriots- DE/OLB Andre Branch (Clemson) The Patriots are more than likely going to trade one of these picks but in the rare case that they decide to keep it, I really see them using them both to shore up that defense. Branch was considered mostly a 2nd round prospect until the combine, where he really lit it up. He would be perfect in New England’s 3-4 as a rush linebacker.
32. New York Giants- TE Orson Charles (Georgia) With two ACL tears at the TE spot, the Giants are going to need to look for other options, and some would argue there’s no better TE in this draft than Charles. Like Fleener, he’s more of a hybrid WR/TE but that seems to be the trend going around the league now and with a 4.5 40 who really cares if he can’t block?