Any hype of the Colts entertaining the notion of taking Robert Griffin III ahead of Andrew Luck will be squashed in a matter of weeks. The Colts will open up negotiations with Luck very soon and this pick is probably done before the 26th. As much as I love RGIII, Luck has been and will be the draft’s top selection. He’s as pro-ready as any QB in recent memory and I would argue ever.
2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Redskins traded the farm for Griffin and rightfully so. He’s a special talent that is capable of beating teams in an assortment of ways. Griffin’s game transitions to today’s NFL very well and due to that he has people buzzing about higher upside than Luck. It really is splitting hairs…all I know is that both are going to be very good NFL QB’s.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, Minnesota Vikings
I just can’t wrap my head around the Vikings passing on a franchise LT. As good as Morris Claiborne is (and he’s real good) there’s not a chance Rick Spielman doesn’t come out of this draft with Kalil. I say that with 90% confidence.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
My head says Morris Claiborne but my heart says TR. Come on, I’m a Browns fan; you know I’m going with my heart. I really think this organization goes with an offensive playmaker with this pick and he won’t be named Justin Blackmon. The only deal breaker will be if Heckert/Shurmur/Chilly fall in love with Ryan Tannehill. This city doesn’t have the patience to wait on Tannehill’s development and the Heckert/Holmgren tandem know they won’t be around to see him develop. Hence, the Richardson pick.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
This pick gets interesting if Richardson and Claiborne are on the board. With TR going one spot ahead of them the decision becomes very easy. The Bucs signed Eric Wright to a deal but he’s not the answer especially if Aqib Talib is suspended. Ronde Barber is minutes away from retirement and this may be his last rodeo. Claiborne gives the Bucs a legit No. 1 corner to pair with Wright/Talib for the long haul.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
A lot of buzz about the Rams going DT here but I can’t see them passing on a weapon for Bradford. They desperately need to surround Bradford with legit weapons before he is completely ruined. Bradford took major steps backward in 2011, mostly due to the lack of protection and playmakers. Blackmon’s combination of size, strength, and athleticism make him dangerous in the vertical game and with the ball in his hands.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram fills a need area and fits the style of player that Gene Smith covets. Ingram blew up the entire pre-draft process after a monster 2011 season. He’s as versatile as any defender in the draft, being able to play RDE, 3T, and rush linebacker. What Ingram lacks in size/arm length he more than makes up for with a non-stop motor. The Jags need a receiver but I’m not sold on Smith pulling the trigger on Michael Floyd.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins need some positive after a shaky offseason which included trading Brandon Marshall, whiffing on Peyton and Flynn, and Jeff Ireland protests. While I’m not the President of the Ryan Tannehill fan club, I am a member. I’m probably in the minority on this one; but I don’t think he’s as far off from being a starting QB as some believe. Let’s face it the Dolphins are likely cellar dwellers in 2012 and Tannehill could start by the middle of October.
9. Carolina Panthers – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
DT or DE seem to be the modus operandi when it comes to the Panthers. The Panthers welcome back Ron Edwards and spent (two) third-round picks on Sione Fua and Terrell McClain. I see CB as this team’s biggest need. Captain Munnerlyn has the look of a nickel back, leaving them without a running mate for Chris Gamble. Gilmore is gaining traction after displaying elite athleticism at his size. Mike Mayock appears dead set on driving the Gilmore bus into the top ten and I’m on board. In all seriousness, guys with this combination of size/athleticism don’t come around often. The great thing with Gilmore is that he actually has the tape to back it up.
10. Buffalo Bills – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
I had Buffalo pegged for the Gilmore selection but Carolina screwed that up. It’s a win-win for the Bills as they get a highly productive Z receiver to pair with Stevie Johnson. I don’t see a top 10 tackle after Kalil, so I don’t expect the Bills to reach for Reiff, Martin, or Adams. Floyd can take the top off the defense with his ability to demand safety help. Ryan Fitzpatrick should love this selection.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
I’m not sold on Poe’s best position as a “30” front NT. Poe offers the “wow” factor despite limited collegiate production. His blend of size, speed, and overall athleticism is a thing of freakish beauty. The Chiefs have been active in free agency but completely ignored their need at NT. I don’t see the Chiefs passing on Poe unless they absolutely fall in love with David DeCastro.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Big time value pick here for Pete Carroll. Coples’ versatility would be a huge plus for this defense with the flexibility to interchange parts. Gus Bradley’s fast flowing defense needs speed at all positions and Coples would add just that.
13. Arizona Cardinals – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
DeCastro can play multiple spots on the offensive line and the Cardinals need quality up front. I see Reiff, Martin, and/or Adams as a reaches at this point. DeCastro is a top ten talent that fits in any blocking scheme. His time at Stanford will prove valuable as he will step in from day one as a starter on the Cards OL….it could be at RT.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi St.
Dallas did a nice job filling holes in free agency (minus the two guards). Cox gives them a force at the five-technique which they have lacked. He has elite movement skills and Dallas fans will love his motor. His pad level and get off are inconsistent but he makes up for it with the tenacity he plays with.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Asante Samuel may be dealt before the draft and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie underperformed in 2011. Kirkpatrick could be a great complement to Asomugha and DRC. It’s almost sad to think the Eagles would have a first round need at this position after their 2011 free agent haul.
16. New York Jets – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
I don’t have many Jets fans that read my site at this point, so I’m fully comfortable in selecting Stephen Hill at 16. The Jets need an edge rusher but it may be too high for the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Andre Branch, Nick Perry, etc. Whitney Mercilus could be interesting as this appears to be good value but I don’t see him as a good transition to standing up. For that reason, they roll the dice on Hill. Hill’s lack of touches is merely a product of the system and shouldn’t be held against him. Someone is going to fall in love with this guy’s skill set and take him in the top 20…why not the team with Santonio Holmes…and…
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
The Bengals get an absolute steal at this point. ILB may not be the biggest of needs but adding this type of talent to the middle of the defense is never a bad thing. Especially when you steal this pick from the Oakland Raiders.