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….High motor, high character. 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 – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Carolina’s pick has been all over the board for me. I have stuck primarily with a defensive player over the course of the last two months. Now, I’ve come full circle. I was mocking DeCastro to the Panthers back in October/November because I believe he’s capable of playing at a high level immediately. I don’t see a starting guard on their current roster even with the additions of Mike Pollak and Bruce Campbell this offseason.
10. Buffalo Bills – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Bills aren’t as bad off at tackle as some would have you believe. Chris Hairston and Erik Pears played well last season and Sam Young gives them some depth off the bench. That said, they don’t have much in the way of a bona fide LT. Ideally, Reiff could step in on the left side and Hairston/Pears could battle it out for the RT spot. Many of you are aware of my thoughts on Reiff, so I’m not sold on this proposition but the Bills can afford to take the risk.
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 carrying the stigma of 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. With DeCastro off the board this one probably comes down to Poe or Luke Kuechly.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Seattle could go in a bunch of different directions with this one. Kuechly might be a bit of a stretch here but fills a major need. At this point, the Seahawks have to find a starter in the middle of the defense and Kuechly is close to a sure thing.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Cards could reach a little for a tackle with Jon Martin and Cordy Glenn still available. I think they stay away on that one and instead find a complement to Larry Fitzgerald. Floyd can stretch the defense and is a dangerous red zone threat which should help Kevin Kolb/John Skelton.
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. Mark Barron could get some serious looks at this point as well.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Quinton Coples could be a factor at this point despite DE not being a position of need. For me, this pick comes down to a secondary player. With Mark Barron and Stephon Gilmore on the board they should look to shore up the backend. The Eagles have some young safeties that they should look to develop. I don’t see any possibility that Asante Samuel is on this roster when training camp starts which could influence this pick. Gilmore is a fast rising prospect that fits a multitude of schemes.
16. New York Jets – Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia
Wayne Hunter was abysmal in 2011 and Mark Sanchez felt the brunt of it. With QB drama already ensuing, the Jets have to find a way to protect their signal caller. Glenn impressed during pre-draft workouts with his nimble feet for a massive human being. He has many convinced he can play RT which just happens to be the need in NY.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
The Bengals released Chris Crocker last week opening up a hole at SS unless they decide to fill it with Taylor Mays or Robert Sands. Neither of those physical freaks are anywhere ready to take over as full time starters. Teaming Barron with Reggie Nelson could give the Bengals a very formidable backend of the secondary.