The more things change……
The top of the draft is clearer now. With bold moves by the Redskins, Bills, and Seahawks, and with Peyton Manning going to Denver, we’re starting to see rosters take shape.
With that in mind, here’s my first crack at a two-round mock draft.
Wait, screw that. Go ahead, be brutal.
Let the debate begin!!!!
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford This is the biggest no-brainer since…..1998? Maybe, but even then there were a lot of GM’s who thought Ryan Leaf had a bigger upside. There is some similar buzz around Robert Griffin III right now but it’s not nearly as loud. Luck is the pick and will start from Day one.
- WASHINGTON REDSKINS –Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor The ‘Skins just lost $36 million in cap room over the next two years because they chose to try and manipulate the uncapped year in 2010. Well, at least they finally got a young franchise QB, so there is that. I still think there is some bust-ability with Griffin. How he develops could well shape Mike Shanahan’s legacy. Adding a couple of big-time receivers would help, I’m just not sure Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan are the right ones.
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS — Matt Kalil, OT, USC This could be a lock. Kalil is the only elite LT prospect in the draft, and he fills the Vikings greatest need.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M Hard to read what the Browns will do, I could easily see Trent Richardson going here, but Tannehill looks as much like a Mike Holmgren QB as any I’ve seen in years. I don’t understand why he has so many detractors, I’ve liked him from the first time I cued up the tape. And now he’s rising…. Gil Brandt, Mike Mayock, and Russ Lande, among other notables, agree he’s a top ten talent. Brandt and Lande have used the word elite in describing him. He has a much higher ceiling than Colt McCoy and would be a great fit for Holmgren’s rebuilding plan.
- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — Morriss Claiborne, CB, LSU It’s a huge need for the Bucs, and Claiborne may be the only true shut-down corner in what is otherwise a solid DB class.
- ST. LOUIS RAMS– Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State The Rams cash in their first chip acquired in the Redskins trade. Finally, Sam Bradford gets his #1 receiver. Blackmon is a hard worker and a game breaker.
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina Questions about the consistency of his motor, but no questioning his upside. Shined at Senior Bowl practices.
- MIAMI DOLPHINS — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama With reports of Alex Smith landing here, and Tannehill gone to Cleveland in this scenario, Richardson gives the Dolphins a big-time back to compliment Reggie Bush and take pressure off Smith, or whoever ends up playing QB in Miami.
- CAROLINA PANTHERS — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame The Panthers must get Cam Newton some more weapons. Floyd has had his off-field issues, but his all-around skills are unquestioned.
- BUFFALO BILLS –Reily Reiff, OT, Iowa After addressing their front seven with Mario Williams, the Bills need to beef up their offensive line. Reiff isn’t elite, but he can help solve the problem for years.
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis Fast riser after dominating the combine, his tape doesn’t always match his raw ability. But Romeo Crennel might just see another Vince Wilfork in Poe.
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama They need linebackers, have spoken openly about improving their pass rush, and love Upshaw. He’s a violent hitter who can get after the QB and also play the run and drop into coverage. Williams’ signing in Buffalo helps push Upshaw right into their laps. If he’s not there when it’s their turn, look for them to trade back for extra picks. They love the DE/OLB depth in the first 3 rounds of this draft.
- ARIZONA CARDINALS — Johnathan Martin, OT, Stanford There are questions about whether Martin can thrive at LT despite 3 years in a pro-style system at Stanford, and the Cards brought back Levi Brown after renegotiating his deal. Martin can fill the void at RT, with a possible move to the left side down the road.
- DALLAS COWBOYS — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor I’m not really sold on Wright as a first-round talent, but some scouts are, and the Cowboys will be on the hunt to get Tony Romo more weapons.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College Best MLB in the draft fills a gaping hole for the Eagles.
- N.Y. JETS — Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina Ingram is short, has short arms, and is a bit of a one-year wonder, but his intangibles are off the charts, he stood out at the Senior Bowl and the combine, and is scheme versatile enough to give Rex Ryan a new toy to play with at a position of need. Some will say he’s a steal at #16.
- CINCINNATI BENGALS — David DeCastro, OG, Stanford One of the highest rated guards since Steve Hutchinson in 2001, DeCastro will open huge holes for whoever is running the ball in Cincinnati, and helps keep Andy Dalton’s backside clean. Not a sexy pick for the Bengals, but a no-brainer here.
- SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois The NCAA leader in sacks last year is an explosive athlete and should immediately help the Chargers pass rush.
- CHICAGO BEARS — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama At upgrade opposite Charles Tillman is needed. Kirkpatrick has some off-field concerns. but is the kind of bigger, physical corner the Bears would love to add.
- TENNESSEE TITANS — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU Young, with tons of upside. Should develop into a disruptive force. Can slide into the void left by the departure of Jason Jones, playing some DT and DE.
- CINCINNATI BENGALS — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama Jenkins is the second best cover corner in the draft after Claiborne, and could lead all rookie corners in INT’s behind the Bengals underrated young front seven.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS — Nick Perry, DE, USC Dick Jauron doesn’t like to blitz a lot, preferring to generate pressure with his front four. 2011 2nd rounder Jabaal Sheard showed promise rushing the passer last year, and Perry could be an able compliment. Hasn’t always showed top-level production on his game tape, but is a freakish athlete with speed to get to the quarterback off the edge.
- DETROIT LIONS — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina Finally, the Lions address their secondary. Gilmore has good length at 6′ 1″ to match up with some of the bigger receivers in the NFC North, and can play press coverage.
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS — Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia Played out of position at LT as a senior, but can be the kind of punishing LG to provide a boost to the Steelers up front.
- DENVER BRONCOS — Reuben Randle, WR, LSU So this Peyton Manning cat needs a few weapons. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas are nice pieces, and Brandon Stokely will probably come back to Denver as well, but Randle could be the most underrated receiver in this year’s class. 6′ 4″ with sub-4.5 times in the 40, Randle is fluid, has outstanding body control, and is more polished coming out of college than Thomas was when he was drafted in the late first round himself. The more weapons they collect, the happier their new QB will be.
- HOUSTON TEXANS — Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State Duane Brown is a solid LT, but the Texans released Eric Winston, who signed with Kansas City. Adams is a physical freak who had to prove himself at the Senior Bowl after sitting out the first 5 games of the year at OSU due to suspension.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State Here we go, Bill Belichick reshapes the defense, and he gets multiple picks to get it done. Cox is scheme versatile, and will likely play more DE in the Pats system.
- GREEN BAY PACKERS — Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin Tough, local, and fills a need after the departure of Scott Wells.
- BALTIMORE RAVENS — Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama Hightower is a beast, playing ILB at 6′ 3″ 265. Two-time team captain for the Crimson Tide can learn from the aging Ray Lewis in the Raven’s 3-4.
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State What?! This might raise some eyebrows, but I’ve been saying for two months that I see Osweiler going in the first round after all is said and done. Once Osweiler has his pro day at the end of the month I believe you’ll hear more first round projections for him. He’s tall (6′ 6″) but was a good enough athlete to earn a basketball schlarship to Gonzaga before choosing to focus on football at ASU. He has the biggest arm in the draft and can fit the ball into tight windows. Most of all, he’s a dynamic personality and a supremely confident leader, exactly the kind of kid that will attract Jim Harbaugh. After missing out on Manning, and possibly losing Alex Smith in free agency as a result, Harbaugh needs to strike it rich on a young QB. I’m not sold on Colin Kaepernick.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- Barron may never be a Pro Bowler, but he’s clearly the best safety in an overall weak class. New England needs someone to play centerfield, and Barron is versatile enough to play FS or SS. And if you’re counting, that makes 5 Alabama players taken in the first round.
- NEW YORK GIANTS — Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech When you’re as deep as the Giants are you can take chances. The 6′ 4″ Hill didn’t see many passes thrown his way playing at Georgia Tech, but blew up the combine with his 4.31 40 yard dash. He looked good in position drills and caught the ball well. With Mario Manningham gone in free agency, I can see the Giants going with the sexy pick here.
The rest is continued on page two