Last chance to get my final picks in. Here they are, with some interesting changes.
1. COLTS: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
LAST MOCK: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
This has been a done deal for months, let’s move on.
2. REDSKINS: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
LAST MOCK: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Mike Shanahan said there is a 99.9% that they are taking RG3. That .1% is if Griffin gets arrested, injured, or dies before the Redskins pick. Let’s just assume none of those things are going to happen.
3. VIKINGS: OT Matt Kalil, USC
LAST MOCK: OT Matt Kalil, USC
Like I said last week, the Vikings will try to trade this pick because this team is simply awful. However, no one will trade up this high for anyone left on the board. Say what you want about Kalil, but he is the only surefire left tackle in this draft and is the Vikings only option to lock up that position in 2012.
4. BROWNS: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
LAST MOCK: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
Richardson is the best player available and the Browns have a huge hole to fill with the loss of Peyton Hillis. I would be shocked to see anyone else at this spot unless Richardson goes ahead of this pick.
5. BUCCANEERS: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
LAST MOCK: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
My top five stays intact with the Bucs taking Claiborne. Every team needs three good corners and with rumors of Ronde Barber moving to safety, corner becomes an even bigger need for a team in a division with a ton of offensive talent. The Bucs might move up with the Vikings to grab Richardson, but corners are way harder to find than running backs and they will not have to trade up to get a future Pro Bowler in Claiborne.
6. RAMS: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
LAST MOCK: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
The Rams end up with the player they would have taken anyway with the number two overall pick, an extra second round pick in 2012, and extra first round picks in 2013 and 2014. This might be the greatest draft trade of all time. However, if Sam Bradford does not make huge improvements from last season and Griffin ends up as a top quarterback in the league, it could end up as one of the bigger draft blunders. Either way, the Rams have a ton of picks to make up for passing on Griffin and Blackmon should make an impact immediately.
7. JAGUARS: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
LAST MOCK: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Kuechly is one of the best players in this draft and the Jags have a lot of mediocre linebackers on their roster. Their offense needs a lot of help and middle linebacker is not the most glamorous position, but Kuechly is the only truly elite player left on the board. This is the type of “safe” player the Jags like to take.
8. DOLPHINS: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
LAST MOCK: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
The only reason Tannehill will be a top 10 pick is because the new CBA limits the salaries rookies get paid. That really diminishes the risk that teams take when drafting a quarterback this high and the Dolphins need to make a move like this to get fan base excited again.
9. EAGLES from PANTHERS (Trade): DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
LAST MOCK: DT Michael Brockers, LSU (PANTHERS)
There will be another trade in the top 10 this year and I think the Eagles will be involved. I think they will be looking to draft either Cox or cornerback Stephon Gilmore. However, Andy Reid loves taking lineman in the first round and he is not afraid to trade up for the player he wants (even when the trade seems unnecessary). Cox has the pass rush skills to fit in perfectly with the Eagles’ defense. It also does not hurt that he is probably the best player available at this spot.
10. BILLS: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
LAST MOCK: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
The Bills could get in the sweepstakes for Kalil at the third overall pick, but I do not think they will offer up enough for the Vikings to make the move. That leaves the Bills in a situation in which they will have a hard time deciding on who to take. There are a lot of good pass rushers left on the board, but they seem pretty set on defensive lineman with their free agent acquisitions. They might try to trade down, but there is not really a player that teams will covet enough to move up here to get (maybe Mark Barron). That leaves Reiff as their best option, who should at least be a solid starter and immediately fill a huge need for the Bills.
11. CHIEFS: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
LAST MOCK: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
Nose tackles are one of the more difficult positions to find in the NFL since they have to be massive men who are very agile. Poe is a freak of nature and has good work ethic, so the Chiefs will overlook his lack on production in college and hope that his best football is ahead of him.
12. SEAHAWKS: DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
LAST MOCK: DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
Coples is too talented and fits what Pete Carroll looks for in a defensive end too well for him to fall past the Seahawks. His motor is questionable, but Carroll will get him to play his best football and be as productive as he was in his junior year. This move would also make the Seahawks’ defensive line a strength, which has been an issue for years now.
13. CARDINALS: G David DeCastro, Stanford
LAST MOCK: G David DeCastro, Stanford
DeCastro has fallen in a lot of recent mock drafts, not because of his production, but because of the position he plays. However, I cannot see the Cards passing on him since they have such a glaring need at guard. Michael Floyd will get a lot of consideration here, but DeCastro has a much better chance of helping this offense improve in 2012 than Floyd and does not have the character concerns. Considering head coach Ken Wisenhunt knows he will not be around in 2013 if he has another season like they did in 2011, DeCastro will be his man.
14. COWBOYS: SS Mark Barron, Alabama
LAST MOCK: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
This pick will be a defensive back, I am just not 100% on what player it will be. Barron is by far the best player available, but since he is more of an “in-the-box” safety with only average coverage skills, I am not sure how highly teams will rate him. He should become a Pro Bowl player as long as he can avoid injuries, but I am not sure if he is the type of coverage player that the Cowboys are looking for. Their love of Barron could be a smoke screen, but I think he is too good of a player to pass up at this spot. The cornerback Gilmore will also be heavily considered here.
15. PANTHERS from EAGLES (Trade): WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
LAST MOCK: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (EAGLES)
Steve Smith just got an extension, but he is going to be 33 at the start of the season and the Panthers have no one behind him to help out Cam Newton. Smith has said for years now that he wants the Panthers to get someone to compliment him and Floyd seems like the perfect candidate. Floyd should be the type of big-bodied receiver Carolina thought they were getting when they drafted Dwayne Jarrett back in 2007.
16. JETS: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
LAST MOCK: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
Last week I made a bold choice saying that Ingram would fall this far, and since then I have seen him fall out of the top 10 in almost every mock draft I have read (even falling past the Jets in a few). Ingram is limited in certain areas, but he has been such a productive pass rusher in college that Rex Ryan will find a way to utilize his skills to get production out of him. He is a perfect fit for Ryan’s 3-4 defense, but not a great fit for a lot of other defenses, which is why he is still on the board at 16.
17. BENGALS: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
LAST MOCK: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
I had the Bengals taking Gilmore at 21 in my last mock, but since then he has moved into top 10 consideration by a lot of teams. This might be too high for a guy who is rising mostly because of his 40 times, but the Bengals will still be very happy to see him on the board at 17. They will not think twice about taking him at this spot.
18. CHARGERS: DT Michael Brockers, LSU
LAST MOCK: SS Mark Barron, Alabama
With Barron off the board, the Chargers will have to look elsewhere. The Chargers need help along their defensive line because Luis Castillo is not the player he once was and has been plagued by injuries. He was retained with a one year contract, which gives Brockers time to learn behind Castillo before having to take over full time. Brockers is immensely talented and has the size and speed to be a very productive 3-4 defensive end. Outside linebacker is an issue as well, but they will address that in Round 2 or 3.
19. BEARS: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
LAST MOCK: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
I am not buying the idea of the Bears taking a defensive end here. Wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker, safety, and cornerback are all bigger areas of need than defensive end. With Brandon Marshall likely to be suspended for an unknown amount of time and Johnny Knox looking like he will miss the beginning of the season with an injury, the wide receiver position again looks terribly slim for the Bears. The Bears nation is praying that Floyd will fall to them at 19, but in my mock he is long gone. Wright is a speedy receiver, despite his poor 40 time, and will be a deep threat for Jay Cutler immediately. Let’s just hope the offensive line gives him time to get the ball downfield.
20. TITANS: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
LAST MOCK: DE Nick Perry, USC
Defensive end is a huge need for the Titans, but with the loss of Cortland Finnegan, corner might have become their biggest concern. Top end corners are very hard to find and since this draft has a lot of depth at defensive line, I think Kirkpatrick will be too hard to pass up at this point. He brings a similar physical presence that Finnegan brought to the table, but does have some character concerns. If the Titans can get production out of Albert Haynesworth, they can get production out of any troubled player.
21. BENGALS: DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
LAST MOCK: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
The Bengals have lost a couple of key contributors along their defensive line so they will look to add some talent there early in the draft. Mercilus was unblockable in 2011 at Illinois and the Bengals will bet on him not being a one year wonder. He is still very young and should only get better as a player from here.
22. BROWNS: OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
LAST MOCK: OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Martin was once considered a top ten pick, but most people are starting to see him as a right tackle only. However, the Browns would be ecstatic to have Martin team up with Joe Thomas as their bookend tackles and man the right side of their line, which has been manned by garbage players over the last few years. Colt McCoy will be very happy with the Browns going offense with their first two picks.
23. LIONS: DE Nick Perry, USC
LAST MOCK: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
With Adams’ stock plummeting, there are no offensive tackles left on the board worth taking. Cornerback is another huge need, but this is probably also too high for a guy like Janoris Jenkins. That leaves the defensive end position. Kyle Vanden Bosch is too old to be counted on any longer and Cliff Avril still has not signed a long term deal. Perry might be the best pass rusher in the draft, so the Lions will definitely be happy to welcome onto their team.
24. STEELERS: ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
LAST MOCK: ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
LAST MOCK: ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Cornerback and offensive line are huge needs for the Steelers, but they tend to take the best player available. Hightower is the best player on the board and he also adds some much needed youth to an aging defense. He can play inside and even play some outside linebacker. The Steelers put a lot of value on versatile players, so they will definitely be high on Hightower (no pun intended).
25. BRONCOS: DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
LAST MOCK: DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
I cannot name a single defensive tackle on the Broncos roster now that Brodrick Bunkley departed for the Saints. This was a big need before they lost Bunkley, so it is now imperative that the Broncos find an immediate starter. Worthy seems like a solid prospect, but not a great one. Still he is way better than anyone on the Broncos roster right now. Also do not think that John Elway will be forced into taking an offensive player in order to help Peyton Manning. He recruited Manning in order to help the Broncos offensive players, not the other way around.
26. TEXANS: OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia
LAST MOCK: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The Texans lost both their starting right tackle and right guard in free agency so offensive line is a big need for them. Glenn can play both tackle and guard so he gives them flexibility for the rest of the draft and free agency in order to find one more starter on the right side. Glenn is a huge mauler who fits the Texans’ new run first mentality. Arian Foster will love this pick.
27. PATRIOTS: DE/OLB Chandler Jones, Syracuse
LAST MOCK: DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Expect the Patriots to go defensive end and cornerback with their top two picks (not necessarily in that order). With the top corners off the board, they will turn to Jones who is the fastest rising prospect in this draft. Upshaw will be considered, but I have him out of the first round entirely in this mock.
28. PACKERS: DE/OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State
LAST MOCK: DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
The Packers defense was horrendous last season. They need to find a complimentary outside linebacker for Clay Matthews and McClellin definitely fits the bill. He has the talent to make the switch full time to linebacker and should help this defense get back on track. Safety is also a huge need after cutting Nick Collins, but McClellin is considerably better than any safety left on the board and Charles Woodson might switch to free safety this season to fill Collins’ old spot.
29. RAVENS: C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
LAST MOCK: C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
This is the type of inside mauler that the Ravens love. With Ben Grubbs moving on to the Saints, the Ravens’ interior offensive line could use some work. Konz will be an immediate starter as he is the far and away the best center in this draft.
30. 49ERS: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
LAST MOCK: OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia
Wide receiver might be the biggest need for the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh will be salivating at just the thought of landing Hill. Harbaugh is an incredible offensive mind and he will get as much production out of Hill as humanly possible. Hill might not make much of an impact in 2012, but he could become a very dangerous weapon once he gets up to speed in the NFL. Maybe he can learn a thing or two from Randy Moss.
31. PATRIOTS: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
LAST MOCK: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
The Patriots’ defensive backfield was such a mess last season that they were starting receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman at cornerback. Jenkins has a lot of off the field concerns (he was kicked out of Florida), but Belichick does not mind taking questionable characters from Urban Meyer’s program (i.e. Aaron Hernandez). Jenkins is also probably the best player left on the board.
32. GIANTS: TE Coby Fleener, Stanford
LAST MOCK: TE Coby Fleener, Stanford
During the Super Bowl, the Giants lost two of the three tight ends on their roster (both starter Jake Ballard and third stringer Travis Beckum went down with serious knee injuries). With only Bear Pascoe healthy, tight end is a huge need for the Super Bowl champs and Fleener’s stock has been soaring since he ran his 40 yard dash in the 4.4 range, which would be solid for a receiver let alone a tight end at 6’6 245 pounds. He could be gone by this point, but the Giants will not let him slip through their hands.