A lot's been made about mock drafts, big boards etc. So I've decided to throw my hat into the ring. I'll add a few obvious caveats:
- The first six picks are pretty concrete across the board, I'm pretty sure Luck, Griffin, Kalil, Richardson, Blackmon, and Claiborne will all be gone by the time the Jags pick. After that a lot's up in the air. After pick 16 or so, everything is up in the air.
- I have some "other picks" for every team after six, because of the previous point. Some of these "other picks" have gone earlier, but the "other picks" are guys that I think have a decent chance of being available at the spot where they're listed.
- At least one team WILL do something unpredicted. I'm not sure who it will be, but every year there's the guy that gets picked out of no where. James Carpenter, Tyson Alualu, Chris Ponder, it happens all the time. So EVERYONE will get some of them wrong
- There's a few bold picks, but I think that these are largely reasonable and justified selections.
With out further ado...the Mock.
1.) Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck QB – Stanford: This one’s pretty obvious, Luck’s the best player to come out in well over a decade. We always say that the Giants are one of the luckiest franchises in the NFL, how about the Colts? Peyton Manning gets hurt right before there’s a 30M bonus due to him and the year before Luck comes out of college and the team finishes with the worst record in the NFL. I’m not going to close with a bad "Luck" pun.
2.) Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III QB – Baylor: Another pretty easy one, RG3 has it all. Stats, arm, athleticism, and the head to play QB in the NFL. He’s easily one of the best QBs to come out in the past ten years or so. The only guys I’d say that were better than him are Luck and perhaps Eli or Rivers, other than that I can’t think many better QB prospects
3.) Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil OT – USC: Think about this, Kalil was so good at USC that he kept Tyron Smith at right tackle. I know Tron was only 20 at USC, but still...being better than Tyron Smith at any age advantage is still a hell of an accomplishment. If the Vikings don’t take him here the Cowboys should absolutely trade up for this beast.
4.) Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson RB - Alabama: This is where the draft gets interesting. Cleveland really can’t go wrong here, well they can, but there’s three great options. The guy that will lead Cleveland to a Super Bowl isn’t on the board, but that’s okay. Not ideal, but there’s other options. If the Browns want to get to the Super Bowl they’ll have to get past Pittsburgh and Baltimore, that’s no easy task, and they’ll need an elite QB to accomplish this. One of those isn’t on the board, and Cleveland would be well advised to just wait. However, there’s still three pretty good prospects available. They could go Claiborne and stack the defense with two corners that would improve any secondary in the NFL, or they could draft Blackmon or Richardson and when they do find that QB that they need they can at least have some good weapons waiting for him. I think they’ll do the later. Not many running backs are worth a top ten pick in the draft, but they do exist. I don’t think any team would hesitate to pass on a running back in the first if they knew he’d be Peterson, Rice, or McCoy. Sure two of those guys were taken later in the draft, but you’d be hard pressed to find many players better than they are in the drafts that they were taken in. Ultimately I think they’ll try to give Colt McCoy one more year and use Richardson to take the pressure off of him.
5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne CB – LSU: The Bucs need a lot of help, and they could trade this pick and if so the Cowboys should also try to get Claiborne if they can’t get Kalil. He’s one of the best cover guys to come out in the past 20 years. He’s easily got the technique to cover any NFL receiver, and while yeah he might get burned by some of the faster receivers he has the skills to play a step or two behind a receiver, jam a guy at the line, and keep up with them while in route. No one runs a 4.3 in route, no one. (Fly route doesn’t count) Him and McCoy could make passing on the Bucs a difficult task. Given that they face Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and now Cam Newton twice a year getting come cover guys wouldn’t be a bad decision.
6.) St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon WR – Oklahoma State: If you doubt how good this guy is watch the game where he abused Prince Amukamara. Truly a blue chip wide receiver, maybe not as good as AJ Green or Megatron, I thought if he came out last year he’d be worth taking over Julio Jones. Sam Bradford had a great rookie campaign, but stumbled in his second year. It certainly didn’t help that there’s not a single legitimate target in the Rams’ receiving corps, getting Justin Blackmon will give him a legit target and help him on his quest to become an elite NFL QB.
7.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Brockers DT – LSU: It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time the Jags were a legitimate playoff contender. They had two elite tackles in Henderson and Stroud, they also had a good running game and a half way competent QB. Personally, I’m not high on Brockers. But a lot of people who know a hell of a lot more about football than I do are. Brockers and Alualu could be that Henderson/Stroud tandem. A guy to rush up the middle and a player to dominate the running game wouldn’t be a bad 43 DT tandem. Other picks: Quinton Coples, Riley Reiff, Melvin Ingram
8.) Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill QB – Texas A&M: Miami needs a QB pretty badly, and their offensive coordinator used to coach Tannehill in College Station. While Tannehill isn’t the traditional NFL QB prospect, he is quite a bit better than the previous non-traditional QB prospects to come before him. Both McShay and Bunting have positive things to say about him, and with good reason. He does well under center, and he’s not a shotgun only prospect. He has pocket presence, and he can keep his eyes downfield. He struggles reading the safeties, but that’s a common issue with NFL QB prospects. He’ll need sometime before he’s able to play, but if there’s a situation where he can succeed it’s in South Beach. Not every QB that busts is completely to blame for his failures, sometimes players get dealt a rough hand and they are put into a situation where they cannot succeed. Some QBs also succeed because of the situation they are put into, do you think that Aaron Rodgers would have been Aaron Rodgers if he had to start from day one? I’m not sure. The Dolphins aren’t expected to compete anytime soon, and this is a good situation for both the Dolphins and Tannehill. Other picks: Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, Luke Keuchly, Riley Reiff
9.) Carolina Panthers: Dre Kirkpatrick CB – Alabama: Kirkpatrick has great size, CBs with his size are pretty rare. He’s faced some good talent in his days in the SEC, and while he’s got some questions about what system he can play, but Carolina’s still very much a team in transition. They run a base 43 defense and it’s not like they run an exotic blitz defense like Dallas does, based on what Birddog and other people I’ve read have said it sounds like Dre could succeed in a defense like that. Their secondary is pretty terrible, and they do play in the NFC South and need CBs that can challenge Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Other picks: Courtney Upshaw, Luke Keuchly, Michael Floyd, Quinton Coples
10.) Buffalo Bills: Quinton Coples DE – North Carolina: Buffalo seems to be ready to go to battle with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the current offense they have. Fitzpatrick, Spiller, and Johnson isn’t a bad core to build an offense around. They scored a guy that looks like he can be a more likable Warren Sapp in Marcel Dareus, and I think they’ll look to build a defense around that pass rush. I mentioned their offense and while I feel that they could take Rieff, Martin, or DeCastro I think they’ll add to the defense. Coples is one of the highest rated pass rush prospects to come out in a while. Some people see a bust, but I’m not sure. He’s got great tools, but a questionable motor. Not all guys that have questionable work ethics keep them. Some guys get it fixed when they get to the NFL. Coples may be one of those guys, he has a brand on his arm for his fraternity (Omega Psi Phi) so he’s dedicated enough to a group of people that he’s known no longer than three years to deform his body, I’m sure he’ll be dedicated to a team that decided to give him an NFL career. I’m aware that they also just signed Mario Williams, but with the way that the board’s shaken out so far, this is probably the best player available. Besides, the Giants have demonstrated that you can never have enough pass rushers. There’s plenty who would criticize this pick, let me just say one thing: Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, and Tim Tebow wouldn’t be one of them. I know that in it of itself doesn’t make it a good decision, but it’s definitely something to consider. Other picks: Dre Kirkpatrick, Luke Kuechly, Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, and Michael Floyd
11.) Kansas City Cheifs: Luke Kuechly LB – Boston College: This would be a Pioli pick, and a vintage one. He drafted Jerod Mayo for the Pats, and Mayo’s one of two or three good defensive players left on that team. Kuechly has it all, he’s got the character to be the leader of a defense and the skills to dominate. A true blue chip LB prospect, measurables, college production, and character...there’s nothing that he doesn’t possess. He’d be a good fit anywhere he plays. Other picks: Kirkpatrick, Luechly, Reiff, Ingram
12.) Seattle Seahawks: Nick Perry DE – USC: The second Trojan to come off the board, he was the prospect de jour for a while, but he’s since fallen off. Mistakenly in my opinion, he’s more of a 43 end than a 34 backer so he won’t get much talk around these parts but it’s hard to deny his skill. He was recruited by Pete Carroll at USC, so obviously Carroll respects his skills and wants him on his teams. While Ingram and perhaps Upshaw may be better pass rushing prospects, they’re more 34 backers than 43 ends so they’re not great fits for Seattle, Perry’s a 43 end and a hell of a player. He’s unfairly fallen down boards in media outlets, but I have a feeling that NFL scouting departments still regard him as a top talent. Other picks: Michael Floyd, Courtney Upshaw, David DeCastro, Riley Reiff.
13.) Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff OT – Iowa: Kirk Ferentz is one of the best offensive line coaches on the planet, unfortunately for the NFL he has a pretty awesome gig at Iowa where he gets paid well and he’s the king of the state. Bulaga is already proving to be the best tackle of his class, and Reiff is pretty much the same guy, but maybe even better. Bulaga was regarded as "only" a RT, and easily bucked that label, but Reiff is already seen as a LT type. Great feet, great athleticism, high character player, there’s not much to dislike here. He needs to get a bit stronger, but there’s no reason why he can’t be a great NFL tackle. Arizona needs one too, Levi Brown’s quickly approaching Marc Colombo territory, and if they want to give Kolb an honest chance they need to keep him upright. Reiff would be a step in that direction. Other picks: David DeCastro, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, Dontari Poe, Michael Brockers.
14.) Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro OG – Stanford: This pick doesn’t need to be explained. Everyone here knows that DeCastro is the man, and the Cowboys offensive line still needs work.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Adams OT – Ohio State: With the news that Jason Peters just got hurt, and given Todd Herremans age the idea of taking a tackle seems very enticing. Philly’s loved big athletic players in the draft in the past. He has a few character concerns, but he fits a big need and he’s got plenty of skills. Taking Desean Jackson, Shawn Andrews, and other players like him in the past he seems to fit Philly’s pick profile. To our delight, Vick’s taken some big hits in the past, and Philly has 100 million reasons to want to prevent that from happening. The way the board’s shaking out, Philly’s at the point where there’s several players that are all graded around the same. Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Martin, Cordy Glenn, Janoris Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Donatri Poe, and Mark Barron. Protecting Vick’s probably their biggest priority and Martin tends to fit their preferences the best. Other picks: Dont’a Hightower, Zach Brown, Fletcher Cox, Coby Fleener
16.) New York Jets: Melvin Ingram OLB – South Carolina: Dream scenario for the Jets. One of the best pass rushers in the draft falls to them, and they get a chance at the 34 rush backer that they’ve been missing. He’s got some concerns, but at this point anything will be an upgrade at that position for the Jets. Other picks: Courtney Upshaw, Jon Martin, Fletcher Cox
17.) Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins CB – Nortern Alabama: Well Cinci’s no stranger to character concerns, and he’ll give Cicni a hell of a CB tandem with him and Leon Hall. They’re probably wanting to help out Dalton and build up the offense, but there’s just no value there. Coby Fleener would be the pick if they go that direction, perhaps Floyd. There’s value in Jenkins, and it’s probably too early for them to take Hightower. After all, they have another first round pick to address other needs. Other picks: Cordy Glenn, Jon Martin, Michael Floyd, Coby Fleener.
18.) San Diego Chargers: Dontari Poe NT – Memphis: Needless to say the AFC West just got a hell of a lot tougher. Poe, really won’t put the Chargers on the same level as Denver, but the Chargers ranked 12th in pass defense and 20th in rush defense. He’ll definitely help on that front. He represents good value at 18, has worlds of upside, plugs a need for the Chargers. Good pick here. Other picks: Courtney Upshaw, Jon Martin, Mike Adams,
19.) Chicago Bears: Jonathan Martin OT – Stanford: The Bears are lucky to have Martin fall to them. They need to protect Jay Cutler, now that they’ve found him a big name target unless Knox is still hurt. Forte would benefit from a better offensive line, as would Cutler. At this point, I think Martin’s the best player on the board and he fits a need for the bears to boot. Other picks: Michael Floyd, Peter Konz, Dont’a Hightower.
20.) Tennessee Titans: Coby Fleener TE – Stanford: Hey back to back Stanford Cardinals, whaddya know...odd coincidence. At any rate, Tennessee invested quite a bit in Jake Locker and has quite a bit of interest in giving him a fighting chance. Coby Fleener, has all the skills a tight end needs. Size, athleticism, speed, instincts, big soft hands, strength, and great blocking ability. Really I’m surprised no one’s talking about this guy as much. As much as we love Witten and as much ass that we saw Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez kick this year a great big strong and athletic tight end like Fleener should be getting more talk. Other picks: Whitney Mercilius, Peter Konz, Zach Brown, Devon Still
21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn OG – Georgia: Everyone’s talking about the DeCastro, and saying that there’s no way that he falls past Cinci. There’s no real other big offensive lineman left, Glenn may not be the elite prospect that DeCastro is but he still is a guy that’s going to start on day one and have a good career at guard. Protecting Dalton is a priority, and it looks like he can have a good career if the Bengals give him a chance. So if they can’t get the real DeCastro it looks like they can get the next best thing. Other picks: Devon Still, Zach Brown, Dont’a Hightower
22.) Cleveland Browns: Courtney Upshaw OLB - Alabama: The Browns need help just about everywhere. You don’t lose 12 games without being godawful everywhere. Upshaw is stout against the run and a capable pass rusher, big strong guy to play the 43 end position. This is pretty far for him to fall, but while I think he’ll be a disappointing player (for those who think he’s a top ten talent) I still think he’ll be a good one. Him and Phil Taylor could make the Brows DL quite the force. Other picks: Dont’a Hightower, Zach Brown, Whitney Mercilius
23.) Detroit Lions: Peter Konz Center – Wisconsin: The Lions are back after a long period of irrelevance, and it’s due in large part to Stafford being healthy. They’ll keep up the trend and pick Konz. Other picks: Whitney Mercilius, Stephon Gilmore, Alshon Jeffery.
24.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower LB - Alabama: They just cut James Farrior, a long time leader of the defense and now their ILB corps is pretty think. They’re also facing the prospect of losing Mike Wallace, one of the best wide outs in the game, and a key cog of the offense. Overall, Wallace has been the far better player than Farrior over the past couple of years. Losing Wallace hurts more than Farrior, however, losing Wallace requires a team to surrender a first round pick and their current ILB situation is pretty bad. There’s a few wide receivers that they can look at, Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd, but I’m unsure either is as good as Hightower, nor do I think either would have the impact on the Steelers that Hightower will. He has plenty of skills, power on the bulrush, great at collapsing the run...however he has motor concerns. So while Pittsburgh does need an inside linebacker, and Hightower’s a very highly thought of, but Pittsburgh isn’t really a fan of the guys with a motor concern. Kendall Wright tends to fit their mold of a WR to a tee, but they just fired their offensive coordinator because he passed too much, so...it doesn’t really make sense that they’d burn a first on a WR, but it could happen. Other picks: Kendall Wright, Zach Brown, and Mark Barron, Cordy Glenn
25.) Denver Broncos: Michael Floyd WR - Notre Dame: Denver’s defense experienced a revelation last year due in large part to Von Miller, ESPN’s community mock said that defensive line is their biggest need. Perhaps, but Brodrick Bunkley cannot be ran on and neither can Marcus Thomas. However, neither player can really generate any pass rush. Generating interior pass rush is a need, they’ve got the edges Dumervil and Von Miller. They also just spent 100M on Peyton Manning, and need a wide receiver, Peyton Manning is easily a top five QB of all time but even he still needs weapons to be worth the price of admission. Demaryius Thomas, isn’t really a number one receiver, and they’ll need more. To be honest, I wouldn’t look down on them if they signed Mike Wallace with this pick. Still’s available and he’s got some legit interior pass rush, but so are Floyd and Walker, two legit first round receivers. So do you generate some much needed interior pass rush or do you give the 100M man some much needed help? I get that they sorely need an interior pass rush, but you don’t just spend 100M on Peytom Manning and have him throw to guys that couldn’t start for the Redskins. Michael Floyd is a big powerful receiver who ran a 4.47, so I think he’s the guy. His biggest drawback is his character, I think playing with Peyton Manning would be motivation enough. Other picks: Kendall Wright, Devon Still, Mark Barron.
26.) Houston Texans: Mark Barron Safety - Alabama: Wade Phillips reclaimed his reputation as a top defensive coordinator last year, firmly entrenching his reputation as the Norv Turner of defense. Houston’s offense was pretty good up until Carr got hurt, and they were good enough to make the playoffs and compete with a back up. They could use another wide receiver, and a guard or two, but this team has very few holes. Three very good 34 defensive ends, two solid corners, a good line backer corps, a great QB, two good tackles, a great center, and Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. Their safety situation isn’t the best, so I think the pick’s either Barron or Wright. I’ll go Barron since the value here is too good to pass up. Other picks: Kendall Wright, Alameda Ta’amu, Cordy Glenn.
27.) New England Patriots: Kendall Wright WR – Baylor: Last year’s runner up, gets another pick from the Saints. As to that trade, well is there anyone here that would be better than Mark Ingram? I’d lean towards no. Anyways, on to the Pats. They basically seem to be so confident in Brady that they’re willing to basically assemble a team that’s "Brady and garbage" they have other good players: Welker, Mayo, and Wilfork, but that’s about it. They need to give him another target other than Welker to stretch the field. Wright’s the guy. Other picks: Mark Barron, Devon Still, Fletcher Cox.
28.) Green Bay Packers: Jerel Worthy DT – Michigan State: Wow, losing Cullen Jenkins hurt a lot more than I thought it would. Absolutely terrible defense, but an elite offense. Jerel Worthy fits the wide bodied five tech end that Green Bay likes, I think they’ll look at him. They might look to help Clay Matthews on the weak side or add something to Hawk in the middle, but they’ll go defense, especially where the value is here in the way my mock broke down. Other picks: Whitney Mercilius, Zach Brown, Shea Mcclellin
29.) Baltimore Ravens: Zach Brown ILB – North Carolina: Talk about tough breaks for Baltimore: Hightower, Konz, Wright, Walker, Barron, Glenn, and Upshaw are all gone here. Rough. I think they’ll look for Ray Lewis’ replacement when he retires. At the very least they beef up the ILB corps. Other picks: Mercilius, Cox, Hightower.
30.) San Francisco 49ers: Alameda Ta’amu DT – Clemson: We all know the 49ers biggest need is QB, they just added some of the least likable players in football over the offseason, but they didn’t fix the biggest need of the franchise. They don’t have many needs, so I think they’ll look for an anchor NT type here. Other picks: Fletcher Cox, Coby Fleener,
31.) New England Patriots: Fletcher Cox DE – Mississippi State: Again the Pats need help on defense, Cox is the best available defender left. They’ll go with him. Other picks: Stephon Gilmore, Kendall Reyes, Lovante David
32.) New York Giants: Lamar Miller RB – Miami: They just lost Jacobs, and Miller’s a pretty good back. Great fit for both parties. Other picks: Coby Fleener, Zach Brown, Cordy Glenn.