I’m not a big fan of Mock Drafts because no matter how much “logic” you apply to your picks one real life GM is going to mess up the whole thing. But it’s a fun exercise and teaches you the roster weaknesses of the teams as you go pick-by-pick.
Here are my initial thoughts (version 1.0).
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
I know there has been recent chatter around the web that Robert Griffen III is in the mix for this selection, but I don’t buy it. Luck is the best quarterback prospect to come along in a generation, even if Griffin is unique physically. Don’t let the workout numbers fool you. Luck has had this position locked up since he was a sophomore.
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Washington aggressively trades up and gets their potential franchise signal caller. In no way to I think they “overpaid” for this spot in the draft even if I don’t think Griffin is as elite as some. Washington and the Shanahan era had to make a move this offseason. Now time will tell if Shanahan is a fraud living off Elway’s coattails or can actually build an NFL winner.
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Matt Kalil is one of the safest picks in this draft. Based on his tape, workouts and success of his brother, Ryan, in Carolina, there is almost no bust potential with this pick at all. And the Vikings desperately need help at both tackle positions, making Kalil a likely day-1 starter as well. Kalil reminds me a lot of Jake Long and that type of consistency is what Minnesota will get with this selection.
4. Cleveland Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
Cleveland seems to have punted on a major quarterback change this off-season. While I think they should have outbid Washington for the #2 spot in the draft, Holmgren and Co. disagreed with me and now appears set to move forward another year with Colt McCoy. While I think they could force selecting Ryan Tannehill here, or trade down, the better bet would be to take advice from how Cincinnati played the draft last season. Cincinnati picked A.J. Green at pick #4 and I think Cleveland should get a premier receiver in Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is perfectly suited for the west coast system as well and should help fully evaluate McCoy moving forward.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Many have Tampa going with Morris Claiborn here because of their need at CB (where the likely suspended Talib and 36-year old Ronde Barber reside). But I think new head coach Greg Schiano (Rutgers) and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan (NY Giants) want a blue-collar running game. Richardson might be the best non-QB talent in the draft and should be an immediate impact player on offense mixed with LaGarrette Blount. Tampa Bay should build on its strength: a big offensive line and a great play-action, clutch quarterback.
6. St. Louis Rams - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
My first surprise has St. Louis going off the conventional board and selecting Fletcher Cox. In my opinion Cox will appeal greatly to how Jeff Fisher wants to build his defense. This team greatly needs an impact interior 4-3 lineman to make room for Robert Quinn and Chris Long on the outside. Even after signing Kendall Langford, there is a big hole in the middle of the line. And rotation and fresh legs are tenets of what Fisher likes to do. This may be a bit higher that some think, but I don’t think the Rams force receiver (Floyd, Wright) or offensive line (Reiff) over a potential impact 3-technique player.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
While Fisher is smart enough to stay away from top-10 receiver picks, Jacksonville might be forced not to be. Jacksonville’s receiving core is by far the worst in the league (even after free agency) and trying to make Mike Mularkey and Bob Bratkowski come to a decision on Blaine Gabbert with that group would be foolish. Floyd has some red flags, but also the potential to be the best receiver in this draft. His size, hands and speed are elite and offer a degree of helping Gabbert through some bad throws due to his catch radius and strong hands in traffic.
8. Carolina Panthers - Morris Claiborn, CB, LSU
Carolina becomes the beneficiary of Claiborn falling past two teams based on need/fit. Claiborn is an elite talent but his recently leaked wonderlic score (4) has caused some ruckus. This is a nice landing spot/fit as the Panthers are very thin at defensive back and need a potential #1 cornerback in the long term.
9. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I’ll be honest and tell you I don’t like this selection, but there has been a recent premium put on quarterback prospects even more than usual. Tannehill is a very polarizing prospect. Some love him and think he’s a legit franchise signal caller. Others see a very raw prospect that has a long way to go. My match with Miami is twofold. First, Miami has to make some kind of splash play for a quarterback to save face after their off-season troubles to date. Missing on coaches and players in free agency, trading Brandon Marshall and recent tweets from players undermining Jeff Ireland has left the organization clamoring for respect. Second, Tannehill reminds me of a young Aaron Rogers and will match what new coach Joe Philbin will like in a developmental, franchise project. It’s a risky pick and one that might take years to come to fruition. I’m just not sure the owner or fan base can be patient enough.
10. Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
As a similar prospect to Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff should be an immediate starter for the Bills at one of a number of offensive line spots. As a 1-B prospect this seems a nice match of need vs. talent and allows the Bills some versatility along their front five and assist in protecting and blocking for Fred Jackson.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCosta, OG, Stanford
I consider DeCosta a premie talent and think he’s the best run-blocking guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson. I think Mike Pioli will see the same things on tape and not hesitate to bring DeCosta into the fold at RG next to newly acquired Eric Winston. This should allow the Chiefs running game to again become the focal point of the offense and open things up for quarterback Matt Cassel.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Seattle grabs their pick of pass rushers in the class by selecting Melvin Ingram. While a case could be made for the more versatile Quinton Coples, I think Ingram is better suited as a weak side edge rusher which Seattle desperately needs.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Arizona pulls the trigger a little quick for the naturally big and talented Cordy Glenn. He appears to fit what Whisenhunt and Grimm are looking for as they try to repair a broken offensive line unit from 2011.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Rumors are flying about how much Jerry Jones loves the raw and talented Poe and I can see the appeal. Poe is about as tempting as a prospect can be as not too many 350 lbs. individuals can run under 5.0 seconds in the 40-yard dash, bench 44 reps and have feet like a dancing bear. Poe will go as far as his work ethic and commitment take him and maybe the spotlight in Big D is just what he needs to stay motivated.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina
Andy Reid can’t pass up the highly regarded end/tackle from North Carolina. Despite having Cole and Babin as top-10 sack artists last year, the front line still needs rotational depth. Coples has potential at both end and tackle in pass rush situations and should give Juan Castillo some flexibility in the wide-9 system.
16. New York Jets - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The Jets need to invigorate their pass rush and the violent and tough Upshaw should fit right in as a strong side OLB. Although Upshaw’s weak KEI quotient is raising eyebrows, his tape still shows an excellent, balanced edge rusher that enjoys contact and exception hand/shed abililty. His experience with Nick Saban should greatly help his ability to transition into Rex Ryan’s schemes.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Bengals have two picks in the first 21 and decide on the speedy Baylor receiver as a complementary option opposite A.J. Green. Wright has exception body control and reminds many of a young Santonio Holmes. His special teams and return ability is just a bonus. Now that the Bengals have a franchise quarterback to groom, expect at least one of these two picks to be an offensive skill player.
18. San Diego Chargers - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
San Diego is very pleased to find Kuechly still on the board for them at pick #18. He should fill an immediate need for a team that just signed the aging Takeo Spikes as a stop-gap player inside opposite last year rookie, Donald Butler.
19. Chicago Bears - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Need and best player available come together nicely for Chicago as they select the forth Crimson Tide player in the top-20 picks. Kirkpatrick is taller, physical cornerback that should fit Lovie Smith’s system well and upgrades a pretty slim depth chart area on the Bears roster.
20. Tennessee Titans - Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
New defensive coordinator Jerry Gray’s background is based on secondary play not front-7 and this pick represents his efforts to improve the back end of the defense. Gilmore is a talented, long cornerback similar to Carlos Rogers (who Gray coached a long time in Washington).
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Bengals grab the young and raw Michael Brockers with pick #21, a talent that could go anywhere from top-10 to out of the first round. Brockers might not be an impact player year one, but has unique size, length and talent for the NFL football field. With two picks in the first round, Cincinnati is playing with house money here and this is an appropriate risk/reward selection.
22. Cleveland Browns - Whitney Merciles, DE, Illinois
Another AFC North team with two selections, Cleveland also follows up their receiver pick and selects a defensive lineman; this time it’s DE Whitney Merciles of Illinois. Merciles registered 1.73 tackles per loss per game last season and put himself on the map as a junior. He continues Cleveland’s quest to get more athleticism and pressure along the front of their young 4-3 defense.
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Florida transfer gets picked by the new bad boys of the NFL, the Detroit Lions. I don’t think Jim Schwartz minds the bad guy attitude as much as some believe and Suh and Co. should be able to keep the cocky and arrogant Jenkins in-line. There is little doubt Jenkins has first round talent, it’s just a matter of focusing him in the proper way.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Donta Hightower, LB, Alabama
Donta Hightower offers the Steelers a steady selection at inside linebacke to replace the departed James Farrior. Maybe just as important as his physical skill set (plus size/height/rush ability), is Hightowers smarts and quarterbacking capabilities of Lebeau’s defense long term. Hightower’s ability to rush the passer on film also seems to separate him from other inside linebackers (even those with better workout numbers) and provides more options for Blitzburgh to continue.
25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Having lost the underrated Broderick Bunkley in free agency to New Orleans, the Denver depth chart at defensive tackle is extremely sparse. This is as much a pick of need as talent and seems like the proper range for a player of Still’s quality. Devon Still looks to be able to play multiple position up front with his length and athleticism but will likely need some time to acclimate to NFL quality linemen.
26. Houston Texans - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Another mix of need and talent, this time Houston gets to replace the departed Eric Winston with a similar talent in Jon Martin. Unlike many, I see some concerns in Martin’s tape as a potential franchise left tackle, especially against physical opponents. His better position is actually right tackle in the light, zone blocking scheme system run by Kubiak and the Texans. Martin will excel in Houston blocking for the best running back tandem in the league.
27. New England Patriots - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
This is an ideal selection for Bill Belichick. Mark Barron fills a huge need position on the roster with a smart, athletic and tough player taught by a Belichick protégé (Nick Saban). There is no doubt Belichick will be able to get all the hard-to-find info on Barron (who’s been dinged up this workout season) and a good recommendation should solidify this pick.
28. Green Bay Packers - Nick Perry, OLB, USC
I think Green Bay is hoping one of the highly graded DE/OLB players falls to them at pick #28 and it happens when USC’s Nick Perry is available. Perry is the ideal athletic freak to give Kevin Green and the coaches a chance to mold as a weak side pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Green Bay’s pass rush was a major issue last year and this position in particular was extremely weak.
29. Baltimore Ravens - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Baltimore consistently drafts for value/need and this year is no different. The Ravens were fortunate to get as many snaps as they did from Bryant McKinney but a plan is needed moving forward. Adams provides the talent to be ready when called upon midway through this season and possibly shore up the LT spot opposite Michael Oher for a long time to come.
30. San Francisco 49er - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
This is one of the tougher picks for me to make. No team appears to have fewer holes on their roster than the 49ers. In the end, my uncertainty in Randy Moss to even make their roster leads me to think another talented receiving talent to mix with Crabtree and Manningham might be the best choice.
31. New England Patriots - Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
Bruce Irvin is not a complete football player. But Belichick is the master of using specialized players and Bruce Irvin specializes in one thing: rushing the passer. He has elite burst, 40-time and 3-cone times (better than many receivers) at 6’3” and 245 lbs. For a team that lost both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson to free agency, a specialty pass rusher in the mold of Charles Haley seems ideal for the Patriots roster right now.
32. New York Giants - Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
With David Deihl apparently slated to move to left tackle (and William Beatty possibly being a backup) an opening exists inside at guard. Kevin Zeitler is nice high floor, low ceiling player that will fit the physical NFC East. The Giants are a deep team and this just helps them continue to upgrade an aging line and protect Eli Manning.
33. St. Louis Rams - Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Sanu reminds me a lot of Kenny Britt, except with better character. The Rams desperately need to get Bradford a legit #1 target on the outside. (Cox, Sanu)
34. Indianapolis Colts - Kendall Reyes, DE/DT, Connecticut
New coach Chuck Pogano needs bodies up front to transition into his 3-4 scheme. Reyes is rising on boards and offers nice strength, athleticism and size for the position. (Luck, Reyes)
35. Minnesota Vikings - Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
A nice rotation 4-3 tackle that will take some much needed pressure off the Williams to carry that defense. (Kalil, Worthy)
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Alfonzo Denard, CB, Nebraska
A big, strong press-bail corner that will fit the defense and provide some insurance at a very uncertain position with Talib and 36-year old Ronde Barber. (Richardson, Denard)
37. Cleveland Browns - Brandon Weedon, QB, Oklahoma State
Cleveland pulls the trigger on the older (age 28) Brandon Weedon. I think Holmgren doesn’t mind older prospects and feels he can make a Matt Hasselbeck out of Weedon’s skill set. (Blackmon, Merciles, Weedon)
38. Jacksonville Jaguars - Peter Konz, C, Wisonsin
I’m not a huge fan of Konz, but this makes a lot of sense considering how week Jacksonville is across the inside of its offensive line. The hopeful replacement of Brad Meester. (Floyd, Konz)
39. St. Louis Rams - David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Unlike other defensive coaches, Fisher isn’t one-sided in his draft selections. He knows the key to the Rams is giving Bradford weapons and fixing his confidence. Wilson provides depth and formation options with Stephen Jackson. (Cox, Sanu, Wilson)
40. Carolina Panthers - Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
Every year it seems one of Carolina’s biggest needs is defensive tackle. They have to start addressing the problem with higher picks. Thompson is a big body capable of playing the nose in 4-3 fronts. (Claiborn, Thompson)
41. Buffalo Bills - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Buffalo gets the first tight end in a week class and fills a huge need. Fleener likely becomes one of Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets. (Reiff, Fleener)
42. Miami Dolphins - Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
Miami gives rookie QB Ryan Tannehill a weapon to grow with in the big bodied, red zone threat Alshon Jeffrey. (Tannehill, Jeffrey)
43. Seattle Seahawks - Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Seattle continues its defensive makeover with the fast and athletic Zach Brown. Brown should be an ideal 3-down partner next to K. J. Wright. (Ingram, Z. Brown)
44. Kansas City Chiefs - Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington
Kansas City finds some beef for its 3-4 defense in the form of 350 lbs. Ta’amu. He’s a hard working kid that will fit what Pioli and Crennell need inside. (DeCosta, Ta’amu)
45. Dallas Cowboys - Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Despite the character flags and DUI arrest, Charles passes Jerry Jones’ “test” and looks like an ideal pick for the team as a replacement to Martellus Bennett. Charles can play a variety of spots and provides some insurance behind the irreplaceable Jason Witten. (Poe, Charles)
46. Philadelphia Eagles - Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
After a terrific pro day, Wagner is rising on draft boards. The Eagles pull the trigger on him as another option in their young linebacking core and one that provides more athleticism than Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle. (Coples, Wagner)
47. New York Jets - Kelechi Osemele, OG/OT, Iowa State
The Jets grab another boom/bust offensive lineman similar to Vladimir Ducasse in ’10. Osemele is as talented, long and strong as they come and might start at RT for the run oriented Jets. I think this is a pick that will appeal to Tony Sporano as a potential all-pro project. (Upshaw, Osemele)
48. New England Patriots - Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Boykin is a tough, smaller cornerback that can contribute in a number of ways (returns, coverage, nickel) and is experienced enough to play a variety of coverages. I think his SEC pedigree and aggressiveness on film will appeal to Belichick (Barron, Irvin, Boykin)
49. San Diego Chargers - Lamichael James, RB, Oregon
San Diego seems dead set on getting faster this offseason, signing both Eddie Royal and Roscoe Parrish to contracts. But James offers too similar a skill set to Darren Sproles to pass up and fills a need in their playbook to go back to what made Rivers a top-5 quarterback. (Kuechly, James)
50. Chicago Bears - Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
A highly productive player, the Bears select Vinny Curry to strengthen their pass rush opposite Julius Peppers. Curry had 1.69 tackles for loss per game as a senior. (Kirkpatrick, Curry)
51. Philadelphia Eagles - Bobbie Massie, OT, Mississippi State
With the injury to Jason Peters, this seems like a smart value/need selection to provide depth as swing tackle on game days. Massie looks capable of being a backup to both tackle spots his rookie season and possibly develop into more after a few seasons with Howard Mudd. (Coples, Wagner, Massie)
52. Tennessee Titans - Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
Chris Givens offers a nice #2 receiver option opposite Kenny Britt and pushes Nate Washington back to his ideal 3rd receiver role. Givens is a highly productive, cocky athlete that should provide some spark on offense for Jake Locker’s maturation. (Gilmore, Givens)
53. Cincinnati Bengals - Doug Martin, RB, Boise St.
Doug Martin could be a potential 3-down workhorse for the Bengals and give Benjarvis Green-Ellis some competition for reps. Another step in giving Dalton the weapons he needs to get better. (Wright, Brockers, D. Martin)
54. Detroit Lions - Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Detroit continues to try and find pieces to improve its pass defense with the tall and quick Harrison Smith. He seems like an ideal fit with Schwartz and could eventually replace the disappointing Amari Speivey. (Jenkins, H. Smith)
55. Atlanta Falcons - Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Branch falls too much for Atlanta to pass up the ACC one-year standout. Branch could be the ideal fit on a fast track dome surface and will be nice depth behind the older and injury prone Abraham and Edwards (no first round pick).
56. Pittsburgh Steelers - Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern St.
Silatolu is really rising on boards and is an exceptional athlete with quick feet. A small school, undersized left tackle in college, Silatolu is an ideal left guard for the pro game. (Hightower, Silatolu)
57. Denver Broncos - Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
Denver chooses the raw and fast Josh Robinson to learn for a year or two next to Champ Bailey, who was a similar style young prospect from the Southeast. (Still, Robinson)
58. Houston Texans - Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Houston finds an upgrade to their #2 receiver position with the 6’-3” Rueben Randle. While there are some concerns with his ability to avoid press man, having Andre Johnson on the opposite side should help roll coverages to the left and give Randle room underneath. (J. Martin, Randle)
59. Green Bay Packers - Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska
The poor play and suspension to Mike Neal leaves a gaping hole in Green Bay’s roster. Dom Capers defense was never the same after the loss of Cullen Jenkins. Crick attempts to correct that problem. (Perry, Crick)
60. Baltimore Ravens - Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St.
No player has fallen more this post season than Vontaze Burfict. But Baltimore remains the ideal spot for the aggressive and violent Burfict to land. When you watch tape of Burfict, he is as good in the box as anyone, but his workout numbers stink which tells me he hasn’t worked this off-season (similar to Akeem Ayers last year). This will be a controversial pick, but I think Burfict ends up a player in this league. (Adams, Burfict)
61. San Francisco 49ers - Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
The 49ers select best player available again in grabbing the 6’-1” talent from Division I-AA Montana. There’s a lot to like with Johnson and his plus size and length (33” arms). While he doesn’t have the turn-and-run speed of some, he is a perfect match for the 49er physical defense. (Hill, T. Johnson)
62. New England Patriots - Shea McClellin, OLB/DE, Boise St.
A lot of people see the similarities in McClellin to former Patriot great Mike Vrabel and have McClellin being selected by New England with one of their four picks in the first two rounds. I’m not as high on him as some but do see the fit. I have the Patriots selecting four defensive players (Barron, Irvin, Boykin, McClellin)
63. New York Giants - Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
The Giants finally select a run-and-hit weak side ‘backer in Lavonte David. It’s too much a position of need to pass up the talented, playmaking player from Nebraska. The Giants pair up David with last year’s cornhusker Prince Amukamara. (Zeitler, David)