1. Indianapolis Colts, Quarterback, Stanford
The Colts already have a great quarterback on the roster in Peyton Manning, but there’s no firm decision on whether or not he’ll be playing football again. Smart money says he will.
However, Indianapolis cannot keep both Manning and Luck on the same roster, as they both would account for over $50 million against the payroll.
The Colts should look to trade Manning for draft picks and then start Luck, who shouldn’t have any problem grasping their offense.
2. St. Louis Rams- Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
If you watched any of the Rams games, you know three things: One, they have only one receiver who can make plays in Brandon Lloyd. Two, the Rams’ defense is atrocious. Lastly, their offensive line is the worst in the league.
Sam Bradford had the prototypical Sophomore slump last year, and missed numerous games due to injury. The main reason for Bradford’s injuries is because he couldn’t stay protected by the offensive line.
Matt Kalil is easily the best tackle in the draft, and is being touted as the next Joe Thomas. Rams fans should be thrilled to hear about the comparison.
3. Washington Redskins (fr: Minnesota)- Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
- Washington’s 2012 first-round pick (6th overall)
- Washington’s 2012 second-round pick (39th overall)
- Washington’s 2013 second-round pick
- Washington’s 2013 third-round pick
- Minnesota’s 2012 first-round pick (3rd overall)
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Redskins will be acquiring a quarterback, in some form or fashion, this coming offseason. The only thing we don’t know is whether or not that quarterback will be acquired through the draft or free agency (Matt Flynn).
The Redskins are a team that needs to win now, because if they don’t, they could be looking for a new head coach and general manager.
Robert Griffin III may not be on the level of Andrew Luck, but he’s still an incredibly talented prospect with a ton of potential.
4.Cleveland Browns Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
Cleveland is now unable to get their hands on Robert Griffin III, and even though they need a quarterback, the Browns will not reach for Ryan Tannehill.
The Browns were one of the worst teams in the league last year for many reasons. The biggest reason they struggled is because they don’t have a single receiver worthy of No. 1 receiver status.
Greg Little has a ton of promise, while Evan Moore should continue to make plays. Adding Justin Blackmon to the mix should make life much easier for Colt McCoy, if he’s the starting quarterback in September.
Buccaneers Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
Want to hear something embarrassing? I actually had the Buccaneers playing in the NFC Championship game this year, when I made my preseason predictions in August. Boy, was I wrong.
Tampa Bay’s defense was horrid last year, as they allowed opposing running backs to basically run right through them.
With Ronde Barber near retirement and Aqib Talib possibly heading to jail, the Buccaneers’ secondary situation looks scary bad. They need Morris Claiborne more than any other team in the NFL.
6. Minnesota Vikings Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
In 2011, the Vikings were only good at two things: Getting to the quarterback and running the football. Other than that, Minnesota was horrible all season.
Minnesota’s offensive line needs a ton of work, as Steve Hutchinson is close to retiring, Charlie Johnson sucks and Phil Loadholt can’t stop giving up penalties.
Charlie Johnson has no shot of being on the roster next year, so Reiff may wind up starting at left tackle from day one.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
Even though I’m far from a Jaguars fan, I miss the days when they had Marcus Stroud and John Henderson manning the fort at defensive tackle.
Jacksonville hasn’t been able to find a consistent pass-rusher in years. They tried with Derrick Harvey several years ago, but he has been a complete bust and only saw the field five times this year for the Denver Broncos.
The Jaguars need to keep Jeremy Mincey on the roster, get rid of Aaron Kampman and hold on to Matt Roth for one more season. Quinton Coples won’t have any trouble starting in week one.
8. Miami Dolphins- Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
A lot of people feel the Dolphins should look to draft Ryan Tannehill with this pick, but he would be a serious reach at this point.
Miami, instead, should look to improve their pedestrian offensive line. Marc Colombo was one of the worst offensive lineman I’ve ever seen last year, and he’s going to get his pink slip, soon.
Jonathan Martin may be a slight reach here, as his stock has slipped a bit lately, but he’s still incredibly talented and still has the combine and pro days to show what he’s made of.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (fr: Carolina)- Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
- Cincinnati’s 2012 first-round pick from Oakland (17th overall)
- Cincinnati’s 2012 second-round pick (53rd overall)
- Cincinnati’s 2013 second-round pick
- Carolina’s 2012 first-round pick (9th overall)
The main reason I have Carolina trading down here is because there’s nobody available at this point that really fits their needs. The Panthers could use an offensive lineman or two and a cornerback, but the top three O-lineman are off the board, and the next-best cornerback is Dre Kirkpatrick.
As for Cincinnati, I have them taking Trent Richardson because Cedric Benson’s days with the Bengals are very numbered.
While I do believe the Bengals will bring back Benson for a one-year deal, they would still love to have a great one-two punch with Richardson in the mix.
10. Buffalo Bills- Courntey Upshaw, Hybrid Linebacker, Alabama
This is a slight reach, but the Bills need pass-rushing more than anything else, and Upshaw is the best pass-rusher available.
Head coach Chan Gailey has been calling out the defense for their lack of getting to the quarterback, all year, so it’s clear he wants to make some changes.
Courtney Upshaw had a great BCS National Championship game, boosting his stock into the top ten.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
The Chiefs would love to draft Trent Richardson here, as he would be the perfect compliment back to Jamaal Charles, but Richardson is now off the board.
Kansas City shouldn’t have too tough of a time running the ball next year, but their offensive line is average at best and could definitely use some work.
David DeCastro is a slight reach here, but he’s clearly worthy of being a top-15 pick. Expect him to start a handful of games in his rookie year.
12. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
Sure, Tarvaris Jackson had a decent year with the Seahawks, but let’s not treat this guy as though he’s the future of the franchise. He’s simply a transitional quarterback.
The Seahawks are improving on offense all the time, and have several great weapons, but nobody can get them the ball on a consistent basis.
Ryan Tannehill is viewed by some to be only a second round prospect, but we all know how quarterbacks have risen quickly in recent years.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Boston College
The Cardinals were atrocious on defense last year, mainly in the secondary, but their linebackers group could use some serious upgrades.
Arizona signed Stewart Bradley to a five-year, $25 million contract this offseason, but Bradley hardly even played this year, and is likely to get cut within a matter of months.
Luke Kuechly is a phenomenal linebacker with great strength, size and intelligence. He should be the starting linebacker for Arizona in September.
14. Dallas Cowboys- Devon Still, Defensive Lineman, Penn State
Dallas was much better on defense last year than they have been in previous years, but they could still use upgrades in some key areas.
The Cowboys’ 3-4 defensive ends aren’t the worst in the league, but they are definitely far from the best. Sean Lissemore and Jason Hatcher both have potential, but they are both unproven.
Devon Still may not start right away, but he will provide the Cowboys with depth, which is something they could certainly use.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, Baylor
Not many Eagles fans will be too fond of this pick, but I truly believe DeSean Jackson will sign elsewhere this offseason.
If Philadelphia loses Jackson, they will be left with Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant as their top two receivers. Not exactly an ideal situation for a team looking to win a Super Bowl.
Kendall Wright is extremely similar to Jackson, as they are both extremely quick and can return the ball extremely well.
16. New York Jets- Whitney Mercilus, Hybrid Linebacker, Illinois
Despite being known as a defensive-minded team, the Jets’ defense isn’t really all that great. New York still needs to work on their mediocre pass rush.
Bryan Thomas tore his achilles early in the season for the Jets, which put them even further in need of a rush-linebacker.
Whiteney Mercilus is quickly becoming a top-20 pick, and if he performs well at the combine, he may even flirt with top-10 status.
17. Carolina (fr: Cincinnati, thru Oakland)- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
Carolina’s defense was putrid last year, but most of that was due to the fact that they suffered several injuries to their key linebackers.
The Panthers do not need very much help on offense, besides on the offensive line. With Cam Newton under center, he doesn’t need to be surrounded by targets.
If there’s one thing Carolina should upgrade, it’s their defensive line. In 11 starts this year, Sione Fua only recorded nine tackles.
18. San Diego Chargers- Nick Perry, Hybrid Linebacker, USC
San Diego could have been one of the best teams in the league this season, but they failed to generate any pass-rush, whatsoever.
Besides Antwan Barnes, no San Diego Charger generated more than four sacks. It’s clear they need to find an upgrade at outside linebacker.
Nick Perry isn’t an extremely common name, but he has great size and speed, which will make him a top-20 selection.
19. Chicago Bears- Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
Despite Dre Kirkpatrick still being on the board, I don’t see the Bears taking him. They probably aren’t too fond of the fact Kirkpatrick was busted with marijuana.
Tim Jennings is set to be a free agent in March, and if the Bears can’t resign him, they will need depth at cornerback.
Alfonzo Dennard, who played opposite of Prince Amukamara at Nebraska, last season, will see plenty of playing time in his rookie year.
20. Tennessee Titans- Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina
The Titans were one of the more surprising teams in the NFL last season, as they almost made the playoffs, but they could still use some work on both sides of the ball.
Tennessee’s defensive line isn’t as bad as it was in 2010, but not by much. Karl Klug led the team with seven sacks this season.
Melvin Ingram was dominant for the Gamecocks in their final games, boosting him into the first round. He could be the steal of the draft.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
With their second first-round pick, the Bengals need to focus on upgrading their secondary. Nate Clements had a decent year, but he’s 32 and nearing retirement.
Leon Hall, who tore his Achilles this season, will start out next season on the PUP list, which means he won’t be eligible to suit up until week six.
Dre Kirkpatrick now has the proverbial “red flag” label, but it won’t prevent him from being taken in the first round.
22. New England Patriots (fr: Cleveland)- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
- New England’s 2012 first-round pick (fr: New Orleans, 27th overall)
- New England’s 2012 second-round pick (fr: Oakland, 48th overall)
- Shane Vereen, Running Back
New England receives:
- Cleveland’s 2012 first-round pick (fr: Atlanta, 22nd overall)
- Cleveland’s 2013 fourth-round pick
The Patriots are a great offensive team right now, but Deion Branch is getting older and Wes Welker, although a great receiver, is over 30 years old.
I don’t see New England resigning Branch this offseason, which will leave a spot for a new receiver to step in for him.
Michael Floyd could easily go in the top 15, but this is a very deep draft class for receivers. The Patriots offense just got even better.
23. Detroit Lions- Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
If the Lions plan on running the ball much next year, they need to improve their offensive line. They did a much better job at keeping Stafford on his feet, but they are old at left tackle and center.
Dominic Raiola will be nearly 34 years old when the 2012 season rolls around, so he has about one or two good years left in the tank.
Peter Konz is the best center in the draft in a fairly weak class. He may not start in his rookie season, but should see plenty of time once Raiola retires or is let go.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Cordy Glenn, Guard, Georgia
Steelers offensive lineman always seem to be hurt, so they need to find depth at, literally, each position on the offensive line.
Rashard Mendenhall had a very tough time running the ball this season because Pittsburgh’s offensive lineman failed to generate any open lanes.
Pittsburgh rarely takes offensive lineman early in the draft, but they almost need to this year.
25. Denver Broncos- Jerel Worthy, Defensive Tackle, Michigan State
The Broncos defensive line wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be this season, mainly due to the stellar run defense from Brodrick Bunkley.
However, Ryan McBean and Marcus Thomas will both be free agents this offseason, and it’s unlikely that the Broncos will bring both of them back.
With Fletcher Cox off the board to the Panthers, Denver will go with the second-best defensive tackle prospect in Jerel Worthy.
26. Houston Texans- Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
The Texans are finally starting to prove why they are one of the best teams in the AFC, but they are still one player short on both sides of the ball.
Houston has one great receiver in Andre Johnson, while Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones are No. 3 receivers that are considered No. 2, because there are no better options.
A month ago, Jeffery was considered a top-10 pick, but his stock has since slipped after his disappointing season with the Gamecocks. Nonetheless, he will at least be the third receiver for Houston in 2012.
27. Cleveland Browns (fr: New England, thru New Orleans)- Andre Branch, Defensive End, Clemson
The Browns improved their pass rush through last year’s draft by selecting Jabaal Sheard, but he can’t do it all on his own.
If Cleveland wants to come anywhere near sniffing the playoffs, they must improve their dreadful front-seven.
Andre Branch can play in either the 3-4 or the 4-3, so he’ll have no trouble adjusting to the NFL level.
28. Green Bay Packers- Mark Barron, Strong Safety, Alabama
The Green Bay Packers are arguably the best team in football, but they have one of the worst secondaries there is.
Green Bay has two solid cornerbacks in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, but their safeties leave plenty to be desired.
Mark Barron is without a doubt the best safety in this draft, which is a weak class for safeties as it is.
29. New York Giants- Dont’a Hightower, Inside Linebacker, Alabama
The Giants are very solid on defense in all categories, but they basically have no middle linebacker at this point.
Jonathan Goff tore his ACL last year, and Mark Herzlich, despite being a great story, isn’t capable of starting right now.
Dont’a Hightower could be a steal at this point, and may even start at middle linebacker for the Giants in his rookie year.
30. Baltimore Ravens- Zach Brown, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
While it’s not the ideal pick for the Ravens, they could use depth at linebacker. Zach Brown, a month ago, was considered a top-15 pick, but obviously his stock has dropped slightly.
Sergio Kindle still has plenty of potential, but if he can’t stay healthy, the Ravens will need to have an insurance policy behind him.
Zach Brown will likely be eased in by the Ravens, so don’t anticipate too much from Brown right away.
31. Kansas City Chiefs (fr: San Francisco)- Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
San Francisco receives:
- Kansas City’s 2013 first-round pick
Kansas City receives:
- San Francisco’s 2012 first-round pick (31st overall)
- San Francisco’s 2013 fourth-round pick
The Chiefs are going to be a playoff contender next year. I guarantee it. However, they need to address a few needs if they wanted to be taken seriously.
Jamaal Charles is a great running back, but it’s unclear whether or not he can take a full workload. Coming off a torn ACL, he may not ever be the same running back he was.
Lamar Miller is a very underrated prospect, who has first round potential. He will be a solid change-of-pace back for Charles.
32. New England Patriots- Chase Minnifield, Cornerback/Kick Returner, Virginia
New England was horrible against the pass this year, which nearly cost them a couple games. Thankfully, the Patriots have a quarterback named Tom Brady who can do pretty much anything.
Devin McCourty hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations for the Patriots, and he may even wind up cut if he doesn’t perform well next year.