Every year numerous fans and “experts” make a mock draft on how they think the draft will unfold. Here’s my take on it, to be updated after the combine, then free agency, and one final time right before the draft.
1. Indianopolis: QB, Andrew Luck, Stanford. There’ll be a lot of talk right up until the draft about them taking RG3, and about whether they’ll take Luck if Peyton’s healthy, and whether they keep Peyton. Hogwash. Luck could start now. If Peyton does return, Luck gets to learn under the master. Win-win all the way around.
2. St. Louis: WR, Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State University. There will be talk about his speed and that he’s not an elite receiver. What he is is a guy who finds a way to get open. His speed is decent, he can jump and muscle the ball away from defenders, and he wants the ball and is willing to take a hit to get it. There’ll also be talk of the Rams trading this pick. Nonsense. Bradford doesn’t have a legit no. 2 receiver to throw to, let alone a no. 1. Blackmon fixes that.
3. Minnesota. T, Matt Kalil, Southern California. Another team that will talk about trading down. If they stay, this should be easy. Remember the days when everyone in the room knew the Vikings were running left? So does Leslie Frazier. He sets his LT for the next decade with this pick.
4. Cleveland: RB, Trent Richardson, Alabama. There’ll be talk they take Robert Griffith 3, but that’s all thiat is. When Hillis allowed his frustration about not getting a new contract after one good year affect his play, the Browns offense was forced to rely on the passing attack. Problem? McCoy has even less weapons than Bradford. Richardson can run and catch the ball, and has shown the ability to be used all over the field.
5. Tampa Bay, CB, Morris Claiborne, LSU. This team imploded but has talent everywhere. But with Barber getting older and Talib showing serious maturity issues, corner is a big problem. He solves it.
6. Washington, DT, Michael Brockers, LSU. Again, there is another RG3 destination. Except Shannahan wants to win now and won’t wait for a raw QB to develop. Brockers adds size and power to the defensive line.
7. Jacksonville. T, Riley Reiff, Iowa. Gabbert needs weapons, but he needs blockers too. Reiff immediately upgrades the line.
8. Carolina: DE, Quinton Coples, North Carolina. The defense needs help everywhere. But the pass rush seriously needs an upgrade
9. Miami: QB, Robert Griffith III, Baylor. Think on this combo. RG3, Bush, and Brandon Marshall together on an offense designed to fully utilize their talents. Scary…
10. Buffalo: CB, Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama. Forget the drug issues. If he’s clean at the combine, he’ll not fall. Teams recall watching Sapp tumble and then had to watch him demolish their offenses for years. Buffalo won’t make that mistake.
11. Kansas City: G, David DeCastro, Stanford. KC has a history of having dominant guards and needs a mauler who can protect whomever plays QB. DeCastro fits the bill.
12. Seattle, G, Cordy Glenn, Georgia. Seattle never has replaced Hutchinson. Carroll will try.
13. Arizona: ILB, Donta Hightower, Alabama. Cards finally replace the nastiness the defense has been missing since they let Dansby go to Miami.
14. Dallas: T, Mike Adams, Ohio State University. They need to protect Romo and they haven’t been set here since Adams’ injury history caught up with him. They are now.
15. Philadelphia: SS, Mark Barron, Alabama. Eagles defense hasn’t been the same since they let Dawkins go. Barron fixes that.
16. NY Jets: OLB, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama. Apparently they are still people convinced the Tide’s defense was overrated. After seeing the 4th Tide defender off the board in the 1st round, maybe they’ll change their mind. Upshaw gives the Jets something they’ve lacked under Ryan: a pass rush.
17. Cincinnati (from Oakland): RB, David Wilson, Virginia Tech. Benson’s not very fast and Dalton needs some weapons. Wilson solves both problems.
18. San Diego: WR, Malcolm Flyod, Notre Dame. A big-bodied WR capable of dominating. Rivers finally gets a go to WR.
19. Chicago: C, Peter Konz, Wisconsin. Bears line stuggled all year without Kreutz. Problem solved.
20. Tennessee: DT, Devon Still, Penn State. Tennessee’s defense has lost its luster without a run-clogging DT who can rush the passer. Still can do both.
21. Cincinnati: DT, Jerel Worthy, Michigan State. My surprise pick. Worthy has shown the ability to completely take over games and there a few Bulldog linemen he dominated in the Outback Bowl going in the 1st round. His stock will skyrocket after the Combine and Pro Days.
22. Cleveland (from Atlanta), WR, Alshon Jeffries, South Carolina. Did I mention I think McCoy needs weapons? Jeffries has size and speed. Problem solved.
23. Detroit, CB, Stephen Gilmore, South Carolina. A big, physical corner who is solid in press coverage. He struggles in offcoverage. The Lions won’t use him there much anyway.
24. Pittsburgh: DE, Brandon Thompson, Clemson. Steelers need a big body who can stuff the run from the DE position in their 3-4. He fits the bill.
25. Denver: WR, Kendall Wright, Baylor. This could create a chicken or the egg argument. Who made who, RG3 or wright. In any case, this guy can run and the Broncos get a deep threat not afraid to cross the middle of the field. Tebow gets a lead WR.
26. Houston: TE, Orson Charles, Georgia. What they really need is a miracle doctor. Who knows how far this team would’ve gone had they been fully healthy. With that said, TEs are becoming all the rage and the Texans add another talented receiving TE.
27. New England (from New Orleans): CB, Alfonso Dennard, Nebraska. Size won’t be an issue. Belichick will use him everywhere. Secondary was burnt toast all year
28. Green Bay: CB, Janoris Jenkins, South Alabama. Aggressive zone corner goes to an aggressive zone scheme in need of both
31. Baltimore: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina. They might line him up at LB, though at 276 he’s a bit big, or at DE in nickel situations. Either way, just what they need. Another defender. But adds youth to a D in need of it.
30. San Fransico: QB, Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M. Harbaugh will likely want to develop a QB and his team lacks major holes. Don’t let A & M’s record fool you. His defense was dreadful.
31. NY Giants: RB, Lamar Miller, Miami (Fla.). They ranked last in the NFL in rushing. Some new blood may be the answer.
32. New England: DE, Jared Crick, Nebraska. Not sure where this 285 lber will line up but knowing the Pats, likely everywhere. He can stuff the run and rush the passer. NE struggled with the latter this past season.