I would expect negotiations to begin any minute between the Colts and Andrew Luck. At some point reality sets in that they aren’t gaming anyone and that Luck has been the pick since the day they secured the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
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 given their need. Sure, Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne are needed but not at the expense of securing a blindside protector for Christian Ponder.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
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 – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
Remembering this is a mock draft which is a projection of what the team will do, not what I would do, I give you Fletcher Cox. I have Cox rated ahead of Blackmon on my big board but I can’t see how the Rams pass on a pass catcher for Sam Bradford. There is a lot of smoke with this fire and it seems Cox is the frontrunner if the Rams stay put at No. 6.
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 – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
The lure of putting Blackmon, Steve Smith, and Brandon LaFell together may be too much to pass on for this organization. Blackmon’s slide stops with the Cam Newton-led Panthers. It seems the closer we get to the draft, the further we get from Blackmon as a top five pick. I have had him in the 7-11 range for most of the grading period, so I feel this is a good landing spot for the OSU receiver.
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 – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
I don’t see how the Chiefs pass on DeCastro if he’s on the board. Many mock drafts have projected him to fall into the late-teens and even early twenties. I can’t see that happening as I would view 11 being his floor in the draft. He’s a better prospect than either Pouncey and much better than Mike Iupati.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Coples is taking a beating which was really hammered home when Mike Mayock called him undraftable but had him as his 50th prospect? In reality this may be a little high for Coples as I think the 17-25 range better suits him. But the Seahawks need some pass rush besides Chris Clemons. Pete Carroll isn’t afraid to take a shot on a guy with upside and Coples is just that.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Cards could reach a little for a tackle with Jon Martin, Mike Adams, 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 – Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Rob Ryan loves big bodies in the middle of his defense. Jay Ratliff is a holdover from the Wade Phillips days and isn’t cutting it in the middle of Ryan’s defense. Poe offers a ton of upside and offers a Vince Wilforkesque versatility which will increase his value.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Michael Brockers makes a ton of sense here and logic would say that’s the pick. Not so fast. 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 – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Mark Barron represents a significant upgrade over Eric Smith in the Jets secondary. Sure they need a pass rusher, right tackle, and/or receiver but Barron offers a ton of value at a position that will be integral to the Jets success in the AFC East, specifically knocking off Tom Brady and the Pats.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
The Bengals reach out to the BC ‘backer with their extra first. Kuechly is one of the safest picks in the draft and adds the versatility to play inside or outside. He’s a stud in pass coverage and can rack up tackles by the boatload in this tough division. Not the biggest need but the value is excellent at 17.