Projecting trades when it comes to building a mock draft can be a daunting task. You can never measure just how desperate or aggressive any number of teams might get come April 26th, but I thought it would be worth taking a look at how it might shake things up a bit to have a couple of deals. There will likely be a LOT more than I’ve predicted here, but I based these moves on a couple of the most rampant rumors and speculation available at the moment.
I also took into account some of the most recent reports of guys who are rising and falling as the draft draws nearer, and then finished it off by inserting a couple of my personal favorites, guys who I love on tape and can see outperforming the draft slots that most mocks have them in now.
So here we go, let me know what you think. There are two reasons I love doing mock drafts:
A) The process of building it; the research… and
B) The debate.
Bring it on! And as always, I invite you to follow me on Twitter at @HawkCoug08.
1. INDIANAPOLIS: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Ignore the RGIII rumors. Luck is the pick and will start from day one.
2. WASHINGTON: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Mike Shanahan’s legacy could well be hinging on how Griffin develops. I still see some bust potential, but his physical gifts are unquestioned.
3. MINNESOTA: Matt Kalil, OT, USC – Lots of possibilities still exist here, including a trade down if someone wants Ryan Tannehill and thinks Cleveland will take him. When all is said and done, however, Kalil is the only clear elite LT prospect on the board, and fills an obvious need for the Vikings.
4. CLEVELAND: Morriss Claiborne, CB, LSU – Forget about the Wonderlic score, the guy can cover. May seem like an odd move just one year after taking Joe Haden with the 7th pick last year, but pairing Haden and Claiborne gives the Browns improving young D two lock-down CB’s. A rare commodity.
5. TAMPA BAY: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – I know, I know, running backs are overvalued in today’s NFL, but Richardson is a rare talent, and new Bucs coach Greg Schiano wants to build around a power running game. With LaGarrette Blount and Richardson , mission accomplished. Should take pressure off QB Josh Freeman, who struggled in his sophomore campaign.
**TRADE: Kansas City Chiefs acquire #6 pick from St. Louis. Rams receive the 11th pick, as well as a 3rd this year (#75) and a 3rd in 2013.**
6. KANSAS CITY: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M — The Rams are rumored to want to move back again, and they find a willing trade partner just 5 spots behind them. The Chiefs have an under-the-radar roster full of young talent, now Tannehill gives them a future franchise signal-caller. He has his detractors, but I’ve liked Tannehill for awhile. He needs time to develop, however, and he’ll get that sitting behind Matt Cassell for at least a year.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State — Surprised that he’s still on the board, the Jags jump all over Blackmon. There are some who don’t see him as a true #1 WR, but he gives Jacksonville a serious upgrade at the position.
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS : Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame– With Tannehill gone, the Dolphins will have to wait to get a young QB to develop. Floyd gives them a potential #1 WR and helps fill the void left by the Brandon Marshall trade.
9. CAROLINA PANTHERS : Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina – As if the Julius Peppers comps weren’t prevalent enough, now Coples goes to his former club. If Ron Rivera feels he can get Coples to consistently play with high effort, he would be a great pick here.
10. BUFFALO BILLS: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina –The Bills are building a dynamic young defense, and the versatile Ingram could be a great weapon for D.C. Dave Wannstedt.
11. ST. LOUIS RAMS : Reily Reiff, OT,– Iowa Fans will be screaming for a receiver here, but the Ram’s biggest priority is to protect Sam Bradford and help establish a run game to support him. WR is one of the deepest positions in this draft, and the Rams have even more extra picks now to address that spot.
**TRADE: NE Patriots acquire #12 pick from Seattle. Seahawks receive #27, a 2nd rounder (#48) and a 4th rounder (#127) This may seem like a big step back for Seattle, but they only have six picks in this draft and want to acquire more, and the depth of the late-first to early third rounds fit their needs. New England has 5 of the first 66 picks and may be looking to deal.
12. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS : Mark Barron, S, Alabama – The Patriots are rumored to want to jump into the top-15 for a defensive player and this could very well be the guy. Barron was undervalued early in the draft process, but in a weak safety class he’s the only big-time talent, and his recent rise up mock draft boards and in the rumor mill reflect that. At 6’ 1”, 213 lbs he’s built like a FS, and can certainly read and cover well enough to play it, but he’s physical enough to play SS. Solidifies a major need for the Pats and gives them a QB on the defense.
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS : Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford — Arizona HAS to improve themselves up front. 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.
14. DALLAS: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama — The Cowboys want to add a force to compliment DeMarcus Ware and Upshaw could be that player. A violent hitter, he’s versatile enough to line up on the edge, or play OLB and drop into coverage. But his forte is blowing up plays and bull-rushing the quarterback. Seems to be dropping in a lot of mocks, but I can see him appealing to Jerry Jones.
15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES : Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi — Luke Keuchly has been the logical fit here for months, but the Eagles filled their void at MLB by trading for the Texan’s DeMeco Ryans. Jason Peters recent injury would amplify the need for an OT, but there’s depth at that spot, and any of the tackles on the board would be a reach at this point. Cox is the best defensive player on the board, and he’s a beast. He can play tackle or DE and is equally adept at playing the run or getting after the QB.
16. N.Y. JETS : Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – There are a bunch of enticing defensive players on the board here and I’m sure they’ll be discussed in the Jets war room, but they’ve painted themselves into a corner with their WR corps, and simply have to rebuild that group. Wright isn’t the big target they’d like, but those are available later. Wright is a playmaker, the best one left on the board.
17. CINCINNATI BENGALS : Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – A consistent riser since January, Gilmore has firmly established himself as the second best CB in this class. At 6’ 1” he has ideal length for the position, and his 4.4 40 yard dash at the Combine erased any doubts about his speed.
18. SAN DIEGO: Nick Perry, DE, USC – The Chargers sorely need to re-establish their ability to rush the passer, and Perry’s natural gifts are too much to pass on here. Knocked for not always producing at the level expected of him since being a 5-star recruit, Perry has an explosive first step and has added 10 lbs of muscle to his 6’ 3” frame to prove to teams he can play DE full time. Potentially the best pass-rusher in this class.
19. CHICAGO: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford – Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Cornerback… these are the Bears greatest needs, right? Indeed, but when an elite talent like DeCastro falls unexpectedly to you, you take him. And it’s not like the offensive line isn’t a need in Chicago. DeCastro will help protect Jay Cutler’s blind side and blow open some huge holes for Matt Forte and Michael Bush. (Should Forte report, of course.)
20. TENNESSEE: Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU – The Titans lost Jason Jones via free agency, and Brockers, while young and raw, has upside as a guy who can play inside or out.
21. CINCINNATI: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina – Perhaps no player has had such a roller-coaster ride as a draft prospect. Pegged as a Top-10 talent going into last season, questions about his quickness and production dropped him into the 2nd round in most mocks this winter. But he ran a sub 4.5 40 at his recent pro day and now some teams are once again eyeing him in the first round. The Bengals already have A.J. Green as a true #1 and deep threat, the 6’ 4” Jeffery would give QB Andy Dalton another weapon to work with. Marques Colston type upside.
22. CLEVELAND: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford – They could go DE here (Mercilus?) but the Browns need to continue adding weapons on offense and Fleener provides a big-time target to whoever is playing QB (translation: whoever they take in the first round in 2013).
23. DETROIT: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia – There are other needs, but the Lions cannot ignore their offensive line if they want to protect Matt Stafford and support his continued growth. Some teams think Glenn is good enough to play left tackle while others see him more as a guard. Wherever he plays, he’ll make the Lions better.
24. PITTSBURGH: Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State – I know, you’ve never heard of him, but he’s quietly worked his way into the first round mix. Couldn’t qualify in his attempts to get into Boise State and then Nevada, Silatolu was first a JC All-American and then a consensus All-American at Midwestern State in Texas. Was a dominant left tackle in college but projects as a guard, where the Steelers need a major upgrade. Silatolu is exactly the kind of no-name mauler they’ve built their foundation on.
25. DENVER: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State – A lot of mocks have the Broncos taking Devon Still to fill the void left by the departure of Brodrick Bunkley, but Worthy is sturdier, has a more consistent motor, and can provide interior pass rush.
26. HOUSTON: Luke Keuchly, MLB, Boston College – Prior to March 20th, EVERY mock draft had the Eagles taking Keuchly at #15, but then they traded for DeMeco Ryans to fill their vast void at MLB. Ironic then that Keuchly would fall to the Texans here. Clearly the best inside linebacker in the draft, he’s a tackling machine. The fact he fell this far isn’t a knock on his ability, but rather a combination of need by the teams in the middle of the round and a deep MLB class.
27. SEATTLE: Don’t’a Hightower, MLB, Alabama – The Seahawks need linebackers. K.J. Wright is the only starter currently under contract and David Hawthorne signed with the Saints as a free agent. Barrett Rudd was signed to a one year deal and is a capable MLB, but Hightower is an unusual talent, capable of stuffing the run but able to cover better than his frame would suggest (6-2, 265). He can also get to the quarterback, a talent the Seahawks are targeting.
28. GREEN BAY: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois – The Packers don’t have to look far to find help for their pass-rush. Mercilus led Division 1 in sacks last year. He’s raw, but the tools are there.
29. BALTIMORE: Peter Knoz, C, Wisconsin – Need meets value with this pick. Konz is the best center in the draft and the Ravens need to get younger, and better, inside. Done.
30. SAN FRANCISCO: Mohammad Sanu, WR, Rutgers – Stephen Hill is the trendy 1st round WR sleeper right now (“played in wishbone offense in college but he’s REALLY fast!”) But Sanu is the complete package. Good route runner, decent size (6-2) and can get separation. The 49ers are starting to assemble a scary offense, now about that quarterback position…..
31. NEW ENGLAND: Shea McClellin, OLB/DE, Boise State – Rising fast right now, has been one of my favorite players in this draft for months. Reminds me of Clay Matthews. He can play OLB (as he did, well, at the Senior Bowl) or DE, where the Broncos moved him all up and down the line to wreak havoc on opposing QB’s. Watch his tape, not his highlights but his tape, and you see him making plays all over the field. Mike Mayock compared him to Mike Vrabel in that regard. Perfect fit for Belichick and what the Pats need.
32. NEW YORK GIANTS: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State — Kareem McKenzie wasn’t re-signed, and there are questions about Will Beatty’s health. Adams could provide the versatility to play either side, and be a long-term starter wherever he settles in.
ROUND 2 ON NEXT PAGE