I’m going to use the consensus expert rankings compiled here by NFL.com to establish a draft order.
I’m not going to predict trades. Though, I’m about 100 percent positive that if the Panthers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars, finish last this year, that some other team will “sell the farm” (probably the Redskins) to move up and grab Andrew Luck, so it’s going to be weird not mocking Luck as the #1 overall pick, but if I’m not predicting trades: the Panthers, and the Titans would not take Andrew Luck next year if he was available to them.
1. Carolina Panthers-Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
In this past draft, the Panthers drafted two defensive tackles with their 2nd and third picks, and while they have some talented young wide receivers they lack an elite play making option at WR, which hinders Cameron Newton’s chances of succeeding. The Panthers just drafted Cameron Newton and I do not believe they would take Luck one year later. That would make no sense. I also don’t believe they will finish last this year, when was the last time a team picked 1st in back to back seasons? That’s probably harder to do than to win the Superbowl consecutively. However, if they did pick first what they would probably do is end up with a ton of draft picks from a player that most people feel is the next Peyton Manning (except a better runner), so maybe more like a John Elway.
2. Tennessee Titans-Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Again it would be very, very hard for a team to justify taking a QB no matter how good a prospect if they had just taken a quarterback a year before in the top 10. Quarterback is not like any other position because all other positions rotate players in and having two premiere players at any other position (Running back even) could be useful, but having two top notch quarterbacks would make no sense.
3. Denver Broncos-Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Blasphemy say the Tebow fans! But if Luck is available for the Broncos because they finished this high that could be a direct knock on Tebow’s season, plus the Broncos showed a ton of interest in other Quarterbacks heading into this draft before finally settling on Orton/Tebow so I believe if they have a chance at Luck they’ll take it. I think Elway doesn’t fully believe in Tebow and he will believe in Luck.
4. Arizona Cardinals-Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
This year the Cardinals are in a win now mode, but if they end up picking fourth again next year they’ll have to take a quarterback because either Ken Wisenhunt will be fired, or the higher-ups will have shown him enough leeway and faith that they can take a QB and just plan on rebuilding with Wisenhunt. Jones is nowhere near the runner that Andrew Luck is, but he’s in the same tier as a passer. Jones is a very talented player, and while he’s not Andrew Luck he’s a very nice consolation prize. This quarterback class, at least early right now is like the 2004 QB class where all the top Quarterbacks are seen as good prospects and it’s more of a who do you prefer as oppose to this past draft class where people expects nearly all of the top QB prospects drafted this year to bust.
5. Buffalo Bills-Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Bills are going the route of the Jets and Ravens to build a winning franchise. The Jets had a decent veteran quarterback and built up all of the surrounding pieces before drafting Mark Sanchez to guide the team to success, which is what the Bills have done. They have spent three of their last four picks on defensive linemen (Dareus, Troupe, and Carrington) in the draft. They two of their first three picks on offensive line before that (Wood and Levitre) and they have put together a bunch of surrounding pieces. They still need a dominant rush linebacker and a LT, but they are getting closer and will be giving a young QB a good chance to succeed at the N.F.L level and maybe next year is the year they decide to take a QB (unless they want to build the Oline and defense on more draft).
6. Washington Redskins-Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
I’m not sure who the Redskins will have quarterbacking this year, but I do find it hard to believe it will be John Beck. Irregardless they don’t have great wide receivers, and the one very good wide receiver they have is a speed receiver who is getting to the twilight of his career. Blackmon is a stat monster and a talented prospect. He abused EVERY ONE last year, his worst game was 8 reception sand a 105 yards, against Nebraska who has top CB prospects, he had 5 catches for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns (though he had an 80 yard catch so he was 4 catches for 77 yards other than that catch).
7. Cincinnati Bengals-Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
A prospect everyone, but me believes is a better running back than Mark Ingram would fit in nicely with the Bengals after they drafted Andy Dalton and A.J. Green this year. Drafting Richardson would give them a top WR, QB, and RB prospect (QB is debatable). Anyway, in the A.F.C. North you have to be able to run the ball. If T Andre Smith develops this year the Bengals will have bookend Tackles and move away from that direction. If Smith doesn’t, it’s likely they grab an OL here.
8. Cleveland Browns-Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Browns are just taking the top OT here at this point, but they could go in a number of areas. They have a lot of holes right now in my opinion. The style of Mangini is so different than pretty much everyone else in the league that few of the players will truly fit the new direction of the Browns. As I wrote on draft day, the approach of the Browns is clearly different now, they took a few players that Mangini would have quit if they took.
9. Minnesota Vikings-Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
The Vikings passed on Nick Fairley in order to get their Quarterback of the future, but they need help at defensive tackle. Worthy could be the best player available here at this point next year and the future replacement for Pat Williams.
10. Seattle Seahawks-Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Seahawks could use cornerback help, and there were rumors flying around that the Seahawks were very interested in Jimmy Smith, but ended up taking the better positional value grabbing a tackle they think can be a starter for 10 plus years.
11. 49ers-Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Another team that had a big need at cornerback that they didn’t really address, at least not with their first two picks which is where a majority of the league starters derive from. Gilmore has good size 6’1 189 pounds and fast.
12. Miami Dolphins-Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
I never thought that the Dolphins would use their first round pick on a running back this past draft, but they could use one next year. I know they just drafted Daniel Thomas, but I’m not a huge Daniel Thomas fan and even with Thomas they only have one running back worth anything on their team. OT, DL, Rush linebacker help and safeties are all other possible options.
13. Oakland Raiders-Donte Paige Moss, DE, North Carolina
I’m not really sure where the Raiders will go next year. They drafted some cornerbacks this year and have one good cornerback on their roster and might get back Asmougha. They drafted Wisnewski this year, Bruce Campbell and Jared Veldheer, so they’ve been working on their offensive line. What they could use though is some more talent at defensive end because every team could always use more talent at Defensive End.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars-Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A and M
Now that the Jaguars have their quarterback of the future they should consider adding wide receiver talent, even though that hasn’t worked out great in the past. Fuller is a very talented player who could challenge Blackmon and Jeffrey for the top spot at wide receiver next year. The Jaguars need to find receivers to give Gabbert a better chance of succeeding in the N.F.L.
15. St.Louis Rams-Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
One of the weakest positions on the Rams is linebacker, but it remains to be seen what kind of approach Spags will take in addressing this need, if his influence from the Giants and Eagles runs deep it’s likely the Rams will shy away from linebackers early in the draft for quite some time. The Giants love to add secondary players, and defensive linemen in the early rounds. The Eagles love to add offensive and defensive linemen early in the draft. The Rams haven’t been as strict about positional value yet so they could grab a linebacker early next year.
16. Houston Texans-Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford
The Texans did a lot to address their weak defense in this past off-season. Finding a new defensive coordinator, and drafting three defensive players with their first three picks. Even though they have a potent offense, they don’t have a great offensive line. The Texans should consider adding an offensive linemen early in the draft, if they are drafting this early.
17. Dallas Cowboys-Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
The cowboys by passed cornerbacks in the first and second round for much needed help at offensive tackle, and for a linebacker that may not fit their system well. If the Cowboys cornerbacks, specifically Mike Jenkins don’t play well this year the Cowboys will be very tempted to take a cornerback early next year.
18. Kansas City Chiefs-Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Kuechly is a tackling machine and just seems like he could be a Pioli player. Kuechly has a 142 and a 183 tackles the last two seasons! That’s crazy production that can not be overlooked.
19. Detroit Lions-Riley Riff T, Iowa
The Lions keep playing with fire not getting more talent along the offensive line to protect Matthew Stafford(though I’m not in favor of doing it just to do in the draft, but they could do it other ways-trades/free agency). If, Jason Fox doesn’t show he can be the LT of the future, the Lions could look at Riff here to be that player. Bonus at this point Riff could also make a case as the BPA, which is important to the Lions.
20. Chicago Bears–Michael Floyd, WR, Norte Dame
Could the Bears take a chance on the talented, but potentially troubled Michael Floyd here to give their offense a jolt and infusion of top level talent? They should consider it, if his “character concerns” check out.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
The Buccaneers have spent a lot of time the last two drafts addressing their defensive line and play makers (Wide receivers, specifically), now they need to add talent to the complementary positions. Zach Brown has speed to burn.
22. New York Giants-Vontaze Burflict, LB, Arizona State
Will this happen? No. It won’t. The Giants don’t draft Linebackers and offensive linemen in the first round. They just don’t do it. Every year a linebacker or an OL is mocked to the Giants in the first round, and every year they pass on linebackers for defensive linemen AND cornerbacks (little known facts the Giants have selected More cornerbacks-even before the Amukamara pick, with their first pick in the last decade than they had defensive linemen).
At some point that trend has to end, right? Maybe, and Giants fans will hope so, but I’ll see it when I believe it.
23. San Diego Chargers-Chase Minnifield, CB, West Virgina
Another team that loves to draft cornerbacks early in the draft. They decide to go cornerback early here.
24. Indianapolis Colts-Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
To be honest, I don’t think this will be the pick. I just wasn’t sure to go with the Colts with this pick. They just have a different way of doing things. This year I (as everyone in the world did) pegged them to grab at least one offensive lineman early in the draft, but that was an easy call. Before this year, I’ve had a very difficult time predicting what the Colts will do. I think they could really look at cornerback here, or a wide receiver to complement and eventually replace an aging Reggie Wayne.
25. Philadelphia Eagles-Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Fool me once, shame on me, fool a 1,000 times…well The Eagles are drafting a linemen in the first round next year or trading out of the first round. That’s Just what they do.
26. Baltimore Ravens-Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Terrell Suggs is an excellent player, but he’s no spring chicken and the Ravens haven’t gotten enough across from him to be a truly dominant defense. Sergio Kindle might be that player, but he’s always been “injury prone” and if the Ravens don’t get what they need from him this year, an OLB to brace with Suggs is a very possible direction they could go in the draft next year.
27. Cleveland Browns (Atlanta Falcons)-Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Joe Haden is a very promising young player, but the Browns don’t have a ton of depth and talent at cornerback. The Browns have a lot of holes still to fill, but in this mock they already drafted an Offensive Linemen. They also drafted two defensive linemen early in the 2011 draft so they could look to add talent into the secondary.
28. New England Patriots (via New Orleans Saints)-Kevin Zietler, OL, Wisconsin
I thought the Patriots could take Mike Pouncey this past draft, but the Dolphins might have beaten them to the punch. Instead, they drafted Nate Solder. Still they could use an infusion of more youth at the offensive line position.
29. New York Jets-Brandon Jenkins, OLB Florida State University
Rex Ryan’s defense is reliant on good defensive back play and the Jets need to continue to add talent to their secondary, they especially could use an upgrade at safety, but at this point there is no one worth the pick so they go with the excellent edge rusher Brandon Jenkins out of Florida State University who had 13.5 sacks this past season for Florida State.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers-LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
The Steelers go best player available and James has excellent potential, and if he has another big year this year could find himself a hot commodity come next year’s draft. If the Steelers think he’s the best player available, he’ll be the pick.
31. New England Patriots-Kerry Murphy, NT, Alabama
The Patriots moved Vince Wilfork off of Nose tackle this past season and they could use another nose tackle. Murphy is the best Nose Tackle in this class, and Nose Tackles are hard to find.
32. Green Bay Packers-Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
Donald Driver is getting old, but more importantly Broyles would just be super-dangerous on the Packers with his speed and big play ability.