1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck – QB (Stanford):
This pick, as suspected from the get go, is already confirmed by the Colts. They are in full on rebuilding mode, and that starts with a franchise quarterback.
2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III – QB (Baylor):
The Skins traded up heavily to get to the two spot, and it’s a consensus that it will be RGIII. Washington already has a decent cast in place in other areas, adding this year’s Cam Newton will go a long way for their future plans.
3. Minnestoa Vikings – Matt Kalil – OT (USC):
We’ve heard speculation of Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon going here recently, but to me it’s not even a question. They took a quarterback last year with Christian Ponder, and the Vikes have a glaring need at left tackle. Kalil is the best lineman in this draft by far, and he will be protecting Ponder for years to come. Corner is deep in this draft, they can fill that void in later rounds.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson – RB (Alabama):
Apparently the Browns are willing to stick it out with Colt McCoy at least for another season. He needs more weapons around him, and the best friend of a young quarterback’s confidence is a strong, consistent running game. Richardson is a solid, every down bruiser who will provide that consistency for a team who has lacked a premier back since the overrated Peyton Hillis fell victim to the “Madden Curse.”
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne – CB (LSU):
Aqib Talib is an off the field hassle who could be serving jail time. Ronde Barber has nothing left, and Eric Wright isn’t exactly good. The Bucs made strides offensively in free agency, and for a defense that struggled against the pass last season adding the best corner in the draft will immediately fill a need for this young team just two years removed from a ten win campaign.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon – WR (Oklahoma State):
Sam Bradford, coming off an injury riddled second season, desperately needs a go to guy, especially after Brandon Lloyd bailed. Blackmon is the top receiver in this draft, and can be the franchise target Bradford needs to get this offense going. He is not huge in stature, but plays far bigger than his size and is the best bet for the Rams in this spot.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Floyd – WR (Notre Dame):
I am going with my gut on this one. Justin Blackmon is the Jags preferred pick, and he is off the board. If they trade out of this spot, there’s no guarantee Floyd or even Kendall Wright will be there at a lower pick. Similar to Sam Bradford, Blaine Gabbert needs to answer his critics this season. He will need a big, physical, reliable receiver like Floyd and he will be a starter from day one judging from the Jags current receiving corps.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill – QB (Texas A&M):
I originally had Tannehill not even going in the first round, but need at the position has catapulted him up draft boards rapidly. Dan Marino has even endorsed the Dolphins selecting Tanny here, and it makes sense because even though Matt Moore played someone adequately Tannehill does have an upside with his athleticism. Selecting him will also bolster fan interest and sell some tickets. It makes sense…I guess.
9. Carolina Panthers – Fletcher Cox – DT (Mississippi State):
I’ve seen Luke Kuechly going to the Panthers if Cox is off the board, but in this instance Cox is still available. He actually fills a glaring need on the defensive line, unlike Kuechly for their defense. The offense is all set with Cam Newton and friends, so drafting a stud anchor for the defense is a no-brainer here.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mark Barron – S (Alabama):
I have seen corner Stephon Gilmore mocked in this spot a couple times, but once again I have to go with my gut. The Bills have some decent young talent at corner in Aaron Williams and Leodis McKelvin, and if Shawne Merriman can stay healthy their need at linebacker is less urgent. Barron is the type of hard-hitting, run stopping enforcer their defense needs, and he also covers well and can switch positions. With the Bills upgrade to the defensive line, they’ll be able to rush the passer and stop the run much better, easing up the responsibility of the secondary. Barron would compliment Jairus Byrd’s ball-hawk skills perfectly, and give the Bills a staple in the secondary for years to come.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – David DeCastro – G (Stanford):
Luke Kuechly is still on the board, but given KC doesn’t really have a need for an inside linebacker, drafting a franchise guard makes a lot of sense here. He’s one of the best players at guard we have seen in awhile, and with Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel coming off injuries, they need a guy of DeCastro’s caliber to open up running lanes and protect their quarterback.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly – ILB (Boston College):
The Seahawks defense, especially in the secondary, is on the rise. Adding the best linebacker in this draft class will only improve this defense upfront. Seattle is on the verge of being a contender adding Matt Flynn at quarterback, so taking Kuechly to shore up the defense will help them take the next step.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Riley Reiff – OT (Iowa):
With Larry Fitgerald’s preferred pick in Michael Floyd off the board, the Cardinals terrible offensive line is the next area of need to fill. It doesn’t matter how good or bad whoever is behind center plays if he doesn’t have time to get the ball to Fitz, so Reiff will immediately upgrade the Cardinals in the trenches.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Stephon Gilmore – CB (South Carolina):
I originally had Dallas taking Dontari Poe, but with Mike Jenkins probably gone after next season, selecting Gilmore here to pair with Brandon Carr will give Dallas’ secondary a pair of stud corners for years to come. Pass defense was a big problem for the Cowboys last season, so with Gilmore still available I think they opt for him over Poe or Dre Kirkpatrick because Kirkpatrick’s stock has fallen due to recent legal issues.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Melvin Ingram – DE (South Carolina):
Andy Reid will not pass up a chance to add an elite pass rusher like Ingram to his defensive line arsenal, especially because he loves depth at the position. With the departure of Asante Samuel, corner is also a need, but they’ll be just fine with Nnamdi Asomugha and Domonique Rodgers-Cromarite. Ingram is a highly touted prospect and he will be the pick here if he falls into their laps.
16. New York Jets – Chandler Jones – DE/OLB (Syracuse):
The Jets could opt for Quinton Coples here, but with a dire need at pass rush, a guy like Jones who can get to the quarterback playing two different outside pass rush positions, he makes more sense for the Jets instead of Coples, who plays defensive end and defensive tackle rather than outside rush linebacker.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick – CB (Alabama):
The Bengals could use some help on the defensive line, but need more help at corner with Leon Hall coming off a torn achilles and Nate Clements being severely inconsistent. Kirkpatrick is a big physical corner who will add depth and improve a very talented young defense. Based off need, Kirkpatrick is better pick here than Quinton Coples because their defensive line played pretty well last season.
18. San Diego Chargers – Quinton Coples – DE/DT (North Carolina):
San Diego has failed to address their problems at pass rush the last few years, and even with a few character issues Coples is the best choice for them in this spot. The Chargers have questions all over the place, and can answer one of them here selecting Coples.
19. Chicago Bears – Michael Brockers – DT (LSU):
The Bears are reportedly looking defensive line interior in the first round, and will take the best one available to pair with Julius Peppers. Brockers is exactly that in this scenario.
20. Tennesse Titans – Dontari Poe – DT (Memphis):
The Titans have shored up their secondary, and need help in the front seven outside of Kamerion Wimbley. A good pass rush starts with a space-taking nose tackle, and Poe has outstanding athleticism for a big guy. With Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones off the board, Poe is the choice here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Courtney Upshaw – DE (Alabama):
The Bengals have a slight need on the offensive line to replace Bobbie Williams, but the unit played pretty well overall last season. They already addressed corner at pick 17, so this leaves the only other need area at pass rush. Upshaw is the best player available for that void at this point, so the Bengals finish upgrading their defense with a couple of ‘Bama boys.
22. Cleveland Browns – Kendall Wright – WR (Baylor):
Like I said earlier, Colt McCoy needs weapons around him to succeed. They do need help on the offensive line, but it makes more sense to add a speedster like Wright to pair with emerging, physical specimen Greg Little. Taking Trent Richardson and Kendall Wright in round one will immediately solve problems on offense, and allow them to look offensive line and defense in later rounds.
23. Detroit Lions – Cordy Glenn – G/OT (Georgia):
The Lions need help at corner, but even more urgent is the need to keep Matthew Stafford healthy, because we all saw what he is capable of when he’s not facing injuries. Glenn will be an immediate upgrade at several spots on the offensive line, and I have to think CB Janoris Jenkins’ legal issues will keep Detroit from taking him after their eventful off-season of players getting caught with contraband.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower – ILB (Alabama):
With the release of James Farrior and Larry Foote getting up there in age, the Steelers will continue in their tradition of adding impact players in the draft. Linebackers are the key to their 3-4 defense, so selecting a hard hitting, versatile inside linebacker like Hightower to go with Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley will add youth to an “old” Steelers defense for years to come.
25. Denver Broncos – Stephen Hill – WR (Georgia Tech):
Peyton Manning needs weapons. The 6 foot 4 and speedy Hill will provide Manning with a second big target paired with Demaryius Thomas. Hill is a better value pick than others I have seen mocked here, such as RB Doug Martin, simply because their offense will be far more pass based than recent years. A pass based offense with Peyton Manning under center requires targets.
26. Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus – OLB (Illinois):
We still don’t know if Mercilus’ breakout junior season in which he registered 16 sacks was an anomaly, but the Texans need to replace the void left by Mario Williams. They also need help on the offensive line and help for Andre Johnson at receiver, but I firmly believe you can never have too many pass rushers, just ask the Giants. Houston can address offensive line and receiver in later rounds, as both positions are deep in this draft.
27. New England Patriots – Harrison Smith – SS (Notre Dame):
Although the Patriots are looking to upgrade in the front seven, we all remember their atrocious pass defense last season. Smith is a very mentally sharp prospect and is the second ranked safety in the draft, not to mention DL and OLB are deep in this draft, so it makes more sense to improve a secondary that had practice squad players starting in the playoffs. There is speculation the Pats want to trade their 31st pick, so taking Smith here then addressing the front seven later on is the best option.
28. Green Bay Packers – Shea McClellin – DE/OLB (Boise State):
The Pack are very high on McClellin, but in some mocks he is not available at this pick. If he’s there, he’s the pick for Green Bay. He’s a versatile guy that will upgrade the pass rush. The Packers need secondary help with the release of safety Nick Collins, but with Harrison Smith gone McClellin is a great value selection at 28.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz – C/G (Wisconsin):
Matt Birk won’t be playing center for the Ravens much longer, and after losing stud guard Ben Grubbs, the Ravens can kill two birds with one stone here (no pun intended). He can fill Grubbs’ void and be the subsequent replacement for Birk when he hangs it up.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Amini Silatolu – G (Midwestern State):
With the defense already nearly set and signing receivers in the free agency period, the glaring void for the Niners is the hole at guard left by Adam Snyder’s departure. In steps Silatolu, who is the best value pick that fills an actual need for San Francisco.
31. New England Patriots – Kendall Reyes – DT (Connecticut):
Assuming New England doesn’t trade this pick although it is likely they will, it will be used to upgrade the front seven. Mark Anderson took off to Buffalo, leaving the Pats needing help on the defensive line. Not a bad couple first round picks, being able to upgrade the secondary with Harrison Smith and adding Reyes to the interior defensive line.
32. New York Giants – Jonathan Martin – OT (Stanford):
Kareem McKenzie is gone, and I have never heard of the two current guys slated to start for the Giants at tackle. Protecting Eli Manning is the first priority, and although Martin’s stock has dropped, this is a sensible pick because the Giants aren’t reaching for Martin.
Outside Looking In:
Nick Perry – DE/OLB (USC)
Doug Martin – RB (Boise State)
Bruce Irvin – DE/OLB (West Virginia)
Janoris Jenkins – CB (North Alabama)
Coby Fleener – TE (Stanford)
Devon Still – DT (Penn State)
Jerel Worthy – DT (Michigan State)