NFL First Round Mock Draft

Mock Drafts are a completely inexact science and should always be taken with a grain of salt.  Adam Schefter says that this year will be wildly unpredictable and there will be many teams trying to trade out of their current pick slots.  This years draft has few elite prospects and many good ones, which will result in a lot of draft day trades, with teams trying to move down.  I think teams will end up taking the best player available, and not always addressing their needs, but we’ll have to see on Thursday night.  That being said, I love the NFL Draft and always love taking a crack at seeing how many picks I can get correct.  So without further adieu, here is my mock draft:

1. Indianapolis Colts-Andrew Luck, Stanford, QB

Analysis: DUH

2. Washington Redskins-Robert Griffin III, Baylor QB

Analysis: Also DUH.  Would you want Rex Grossman as the starting QB of your team?  I think not.

3. Minnesota Vikings-Matt Kalil, USC, LT

Analysis:  This is where the draft starts to get interesting, the Vikings are apparently very high on Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne, but they need to get a franchise tackle to protect Christian Ponder.  The Vikings have also discussed trading out of this slot in order to acquire more pieces with such a weak roster.  Ponder needs time to develop and grow as a player, and since the Vikings reached to take him in the first round last year, they might as well get him some protection.

4. Cleveland Browns-Trent Richardson, Alabama, RB

Analysis:  There has been talk of them trading down to draft Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill, but I think that would be a massive mistake.  Tannehill has only 19 starts at QB since switching from WR, and I think they need to get Colt McCoy more weapons before they make an official evaluation.  You can’t declare McCoy a bad QB when he has had Peyton Hills and Montario Hardesty running the ball, and Mohammed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs catching passes.  Draft Richardson and get him a wide receiver with your second first round pick.  This team is so terrible that they will probably have a chance at the number one pick next year, so they might as well wait for Matt Barkley.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB

Analysis:  Made major moves on the offensive line and at wide receiver this offseason and so all that is left is to shore up the defense.  With Aqib Talib on the trade block and Ronde Barber getting very old, it is time to get a fresh playmaker back there.  Claiborne has natural ability (although he is no Patrick Peterson), and will benefit from learning from a veteran like Barber.

6. St. Louis Rams-Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State, CB

Analysis:  Another no brainer.  Sam Bradford doesn’t have a number one receiver to throw to after losing Brandon Lloyd in free agency to the Patriots; it’s time to go out and get one of the biggest playmakers in the draft.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars-Quinton Coples, UNC, DE

Analysis:  They are most likely to trade down here.  Like the Browns, they have major holes everywhere.  They could draft Michael Floyd here to give Gabbert a legitimate number one receiver, and the team is said to be in love with South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore.  I honestly believe that the best move would be to trade down and acquire more picks, but if they can’t do that, you can always use an excellent pass rusher.  The only question mark here is Coples motivation, on tape it can be seen that he takes plays off, but when he plays at 100%, he is an elite player.

8. Miami Dolphins-Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, QB

Analysis:  This is the biggest mistake in the draft, but all signs point to the Dolphins drafting a quarterback.  Honestly, I do not see how they think Tannehill will be better than Chad Henne, but this is their problem.  Drafting a quarterback too early and having him not pan out is a disaster waiting to happen and a move that gets you fired.  If I was the General Manager I would be looking at Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College).  The Bengals proved that you can get a successful rookie quarterback in the second round, and you should never, ever, reach when drafting a quarterback.

9. Carolina Panthers-Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State, DT

Analysis: The Panthers will most likely go defense here, and they can either take Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina) or they can go with a powerful space eater like Cox.  I think they’ll take Cox, because at 6’4″, 298 and 30 reps on the bench, what’s not to like?

10. Buffalo Bills-Reilly Reiff, Iowa, LT

Analysis: Just like the Vikings, the Bills are in need of a tackle to protect their franchise quarterback.  It’s possible that they add a defensive playmaker or Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame), but the bottom line is your quarterback can’t make plays from his back and Fred Jackson needs some holes to run through.

11. Kansas City Chiefs-Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB

Analysis:  The Chiefs need to shore up the defense, and what better way than to add the most productive linebacker in college football last year?  Kuechly isn’t the fastest or the strongest linebacker, but with 183 tackles last year, I’m convinced he’ll be able to make quite the impact.

12. Seattle Seahawks-Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, DE

Analysis: Seattle needs to add another pass rusher to their defense, and with Kuechly gone, they can take the next best available defender.  As a team they only had 33 sacks last year, and Chris Clemons had 11 of them.  If this team wants to get better, Clemons is going to need some help on the defensive line.

13. Arizona Cardinals-Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, WR

Analysis:  The Cardinals are in dire need of a left tackle, but with the best two prospects off the board, they won’t want to reach on one again like they did with Levi Brown in the 2007.  Larry Fitzgerald says he wants the team to take Floyd so he isn’t double covered all the time, and that’s why they will make this pick.  It will give Kevin Kolb another option in the passing game and take pressure off of Fitzgerald.

14. Dallas Cowboys-Mark Barron, Alabama, S

Analysis:  The Cowboys need help in the secondary and Barron is an elite playmaking safety.  They could target a cornerback here like Gilmore, but Barron fills a bigger, more immediate hole.

15. Philadelphia Eagles-Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT

Analysis:  Poe was an absolute workout warrior at the combine, but some of his tape has raised questions.  If the Cowboys pass on Mark Barron the Eagles will take him in a heartbeat, but with Barron gone and a huge need in the middle of their defensive line, Poe will be taken here.

16. New York Jets-Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, DE/OLB

Analysis:  The Jets would most likely want to trade out of this slot, given the fact that Ingram and Poe will be gone, but if they can’t trade down here, they might reach a bit and take Upshaw.  Upshaw is a playmaker that can fit into the outside backer mold in the Jets 3-4 defense.  The ideal situation for them however, would be for Ingram to fall or to trade back and take Upshaw a few picks later.

17. Cincinnati Bengals-Cordy Glenn, Georgia, OT/OG

Analysis:  Glenn’s versatility to play either guard or tackle will result in him being taken ahead of David DeCastro.  The Bengals need to help protect Dalton after his stellar year and Glenn is just the man for the job.

18. San Diego Chargers-David DeCastro, Stanford, OG

Analysis:  In serious need of help at offensive guard and so they will do the reasonable thing and take the best guard on the board in DeCastro.  As all Lions fans know, the most important thing is to keep your quarterback healthy and away from hard hitting defenders.  It also wouldn’t surprise me though, if they gave Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor) a long hard look after losing Vincent Jackson in free agency to Tampa Bay.

19. Chicago Bears-Jonathan Martin, Stanford, OT

Analysis:  They have a franchise QB in Jay Cutler, a franchise RB in Matt Forte and now they have a franchise WR in Brandon Marshall.  If they add Martin and stick him on the line at left tackle, Gabe Carimi and Martin could be their bookend tackles and will be a force on offense this coming season.

20. Tennessee Titans-Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB

Analysis:  After losing Cortland Finnegan in free agency to the Rams, they need a new playmaking cornerback.  I personally like Kirkpatrick more than Gilmore;  Kirkpatrick is 6’2 with a 35 inch vertical and a 4.51 forty.  His measurables are great for his size, and he has shown in big games that he can cover receivers like LSU’s Reuben Randle with ease.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Titans took Gilmore, but a cornerback will definitely be going here.

21. Cincinnati Bengals-Chandler Jones, Syracuse, DE

Analysis:  Jones is an under-the-radar playmaker and could fit in nicely for the Bengals here.  But if they aren’t in love with him, they will trade down, especially since they already shored up their offensive line.

22. Cleveland Browns-Kendall Wright, Baylor, WR

Analysis:  Another playmaker for Colt McCoy.  This pick will finally give the Browns a legitimate number one wide receiver, and they can wait until the second round to take a look at Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State).

23. Detroit Lions-Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB

Analysis:  Realistically Gilmore will not fall this far to the Lions.  But since this is my mock draft, I’m giving the Lions the player I hope they take.  Gilmore will be inserted as the number one corner, and since the Lions are all about taking the best player available, they will have no problem drafting a top-20 talent at #23.  Gilmore is a playmaker that started 39 games at South Carolina and had eight interceptions.  He also ran a 4.37 forty at the combine.  Cross your fingers and pray he falls this far.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers-Dont’a Hightower, Alabama, MLB

Analysis:  The Steelers cleaned house this offseason and Hightower will fit into the 3-4 defense nicely next to Lawrence Timmons.  The Steelers have a lot of needs at defensive line, linebacker, offensive line, and cornerback, but at this stage in the draft, Hightower is the best player available at a position of need.

25. Denver Broncos-Michael Brockers, LSU, DT

Analysis:  Brian Dawkins recent retirement opens up a hole at safety, but I’m not sure the Broncos want to reach and take Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame), who is the second best safety in the draft.  Brockers meanwhile, is a beast in the middle that will be a very good value pick this late in the draft.

26. Houston Texans-Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech, WR

Analysis:  The Texans have some needs on defense after Mario Williams left in free agency, which means that Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois) and Andre Branch (DE, Clemson) will be options with this pick.  But, the Texans struggled when Andre Johnson was injured and they need to have a reliable option to keep Johnson out of double coverage scenarios.

27. New England Patriots-Andre Branch, Clemson, DE

Analysis:  Honestly this pick will probably be traded.  Trying to come up with who the Patriots will draft is essentially picking a name out of a hat.  The number of picks that Bill Belicheck acquires and then trades away is absurd.  But, Branch is athletic enough to play outside linebacker in the Patriots 3-4 scheme, and since the Patriots had the second worst defense in the league last year, they will be looking for help.

28. Green Bay Packers-LaMichael James, Oregon, RB

Analysis:  All the experts seem to think that James is too small to go in the first round, but I think he fits in great with the Packers.  He is capable with catching out of the backfield and he can return kicks.  Ryan Grant is a free agent and the Packers haven’t made any efforts to resign him as of late.  James would be a great, underrated pick here, and would add more fire power to an already absurd Packers offense.  They could however, target an outside linebacker to help Clay Matthews pass rush, so don’t be surprised if they take a defensive player.

29. Baltimore Ravens-LaVonte David, Nebraska, OLB

Analysis:  David is a very good player and while he is undersized at 6’1, having Ray Lewis in the middle and Terrell Suggs on the opposite side will open up the field for him to make plays.  David is quick and productive (260 tackles in two years at Nebraska), and will fit in well on the outside in the Ravens scheme.

30. San Francisco 49ers-Whitney Mercilus, Illinois, DE

Analysis:  Mercilus is an absolute beast, leading the nation last year with 16 sacks.  He adds another edge pass rusher to Harbaugh’s vaunted defense, and will cause havoc along with Aldon Smith.  The 49ers defense will yet again be among the elite next year.

31. New England Patriots-Janoris Jenkins, Northern Alabama, CB

Analysis:  Again, who knows if the Patriots will even have this pick when the time comes, but they need help on defense.  After addressing the defensive line they will look at the secondary, and Jenkins off the field issues will not be a problem in a Belicheck run locker room.  Jenkins is a playmaker and only falls this far because of his Marijuana smoking issue.

32. New York Giants-Lamar Miller, Miami, RB

Analysis:  The Giants could look at Stanford tight end Coby Fleener here, given the fact that their number one and number two tight ends suffered torn ACL’s in the Super Bowl and will likely miss most of the year.  But the departure of Brandon Jacobs leaves a bit of a hole in their backfield, since Ahmad Bradshaw and Jacobs split carries.  They aired it out more last year and were 5th in passing offense, but only 32nd in rushing offense.  Miller adds an instant spark here and will make the Giants offense even more versatile.  In the second round they can target Orson Charles (TE, Georgia) or Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson), to fill that need.

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