McCrystal’s Mock Draft

1.
Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck
QB Stanford
The smart move here is to take Luck. He is already viewed as a sure thing, and sitting behind Peyton Manning for two or three years can only help. Ultimately I think they select Luck, but it will be interesting to hear Manning’s take on the situation. They have plenty of other holes to fill and Manning may push for them to address the offensive line in an effort to make one last push for a Super Bowl title before handing the team over to his successor. 
2. St. Louis Rams Matt Kalil OT USC
This will be a tough decision for the Rams. Do they doll the dice on Justin Blackmon or go the safe route with Kalil? There is no question that Sam Bradford needs a receiver like Blackmon, but he comes with some character concerns and top-10 receivers are always risky picks. Kalil, on the other hand, looks like a sure thing and would give the Rams offensive line a much needed upgrade. The addition of Kalil allows them to shift either Rodger Saffold or Jason Smith (both of whom are having disappointing seasons) inside to guard. 
3. Miami Dolphins Matt Barkley QB USC
The Dolphins are taking a quarterback, that much I can guarantee. But who? Barkley,  Jones and Griffin are all possibilities. I’ll give the edge to Barkley for now, because he appears to be the most NFL-ready of the group. The Dolphins should also consider trading up for Luck. Even if the Colts intend on selecting Luck, they could probably be convinced to trade the pick if they felt it significantly improved their chances of winning now.
4. Minnesota Vikings Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
I don’t know what the Vikings thought they were getting in Charlie Johnson, but he is not a starting left tackle. Improving the offensive line in an effort to better protect Christian Ponder needs to be their top priority this offseason. As a result, there is no reason for Matt Kalil and Jonathan Martin to not be one-two on their draft board. If both are off the board by the Vikings pick, their attention should turn to Riley Reiff.
5. Arizona Cardinals Morris Claiborne CB LSU
The Cardinals would probably prefer Kalil or Martin, but I don’t think they’ll reach for Riley Reiff if the top two tackles are off the board. While they did just select Patrick Peterson in 2011, I don’t think that will prevent them from going back to LSU for another cornerback. The Cardinals seconardary is a mess, and Peterson isn’t going to fix it on his own. The combination of Claiborne and Peterson will give them a great young duo to build around.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
This draft has to be all about surrounding Blaine Gabbert with the tools he needs to succeed. That means upgrading the offensive line (probably a 2nd/3rd round priority) and finding him a weapon (in the 1st/2nd round). With Blackmon still on the board, this is a no-brainer. Blackmon has the ability to stretch the field and will make an immediate impact in Jacksonville. If Blackmon is gone, they should consider Alshon Jeffery or Michael Floyd.
7. Carolina Panthers Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina
Blackmon would be a much better fit in Carolina, but they should be content to settle for Jeffery. Cam Newton is having a phenomenal rookie year, but he can only develop if the Panthers surround with with more weapons. Jeffery lacks Blackmon’s speed, but he is an elite possession receiver and has the potential to have a Megatron-like presence in the red zone. He may never put up gaudy yardage numbers, but he’ll be a valuable addition to any NFL offense.
8. Seattle Seahawks Robert Griffin QB Baylor
There is no debating the fact that Landry Jones is more NFL-ready than Griffin. However, Griffin has far greater upside and I believe someone – possibly the Seahawks – will get caught up looking for the next Cam Newton. Griffin’s skills compare more favorably to Michael Vick, but he’s close enough to Newton to draw some comparisons, primarily based of his elite mobility. The Seahawks signing of Tarvaris Jackson this offseason may also give us some insight into the type of quarterback Peter Carroll is looking for in Seattle.
9. Philadelphia Eagles Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
It is painfully obvious that the Eagles must address their interior defensive line this offseason. Fortunately for them, there are a number of defensive tackles worthy of 1st-round picks this year. Jerel Worthy is not Ndamukong Suh, but they play with the same intensity and I suspect the comparison will be made often this offseason. This may be a slight reach to take him in the top 10, but I believe he will be an excellent fit in Philadelphia. He has the ability to start and make an immediate impact, which is what the Eagles will be looking for in this draft.
10. Denver Broncos Landry Jones QB Oklahoma
It’s too early to give up on Tim Tebow, but the current regime in Denver has nothing invested in him. John Elway is going to want to put his mark on this franchise, and I suspect he won’t have the patience to suffer through the two or three more years that it will take Tebow to fully develop. Jones is ready more NFL-ready than Tebow, and will give them a better chance of winning now. Down the road Tebow may be a quality starter, but it probably won’t be in Denver. Most teams just aren’t willing to wait for a quarterback to learn on the job.
11. Washington Redskins Trent Richardson RB Alabama
I know Mike Shanahan is famous for plucking running backs off the scrap heap and turning them into stars, but Richardson may be too good to pass up. Shanahan has had far more misses than hits with his running backs lately, and I can’t see him choosing to go through another season with Tim Hightower and Ryan Torain if Richardson is an option. Running backs have been devalued in recent years, but Richardson is special. He’s the best running back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson.
12. Cleveland Browns Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
This is probably too early for most teams to consider Floyd, but the Browns are desperate for help at receiver and he’s a decent fit for their offense. The biggest knock on Floyd is his inability to create separation down the field, but he’s a solid possession receiver and the Browns really aren’t interested in stretching the field. This may be a situation where reaching to fill a need is necessary.
13. Tennessee Titans Devin Taylor  DE South Carolina
Derrick Morgan has been a disappointment and the Titans pass rush has suffered as a result. Through Week 7 they don’t have a single player with more than two sacks. Devin Taylor isn’t having a great season (just two sacks) but if he turns pro early I believe he will establish himself as the top defensive end at the combine. He has the athleticism and the size to be a true three-down lineman.
14. Dallas Cowboys David DeCastro OG Stanford
Tyron Smith has done a nice job in his rookie year, but the Cowboys aren’t done rebuilding the offensive line. They now need to improve the interior line and DeCastro would be a significant upgrade at either left or right guard. If DeCastro is off the board, you can probably plug in the next-best offensive linemen. This is priority No. 1 for the offseason.
15. Kansas City Chiefs Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington
Kelly Gregg has done a nice job at nose tackle, but he’s 35 and will be a free agent after the season. The nose tackle is the anchor of the 3-4 defense and if Gregg isn’t brought back it becomes their No. 1 need this offseason. Ta’amu and Dontari Poe could both be options. The mid-1st round is probably a slight reach for either, but it is an important position with relatively few top prospects entering the draft each year.
16. Cleveland Browns Riley Reiff OT Iowa
[from Falcons] The Browns offensive line has improved since Tony Pashos returned from injury, but the right side of the line still a mess. Upgrading the interior line with David DeCastro would be preferable, but with him off the board their attention could turn to Reiff who would replace Pashos at right tackle.
17. New York Jets Vinny Curry LB Marshall
As good as the Jets defense is, their pass rush is all smoke and mirrors. They don’t have a single player who can pin their ears back and just get after the quarterback. Curry, one of the most underrated prospect in this draft class, could be that guy. He’s an end/linebacker ‘tweener who would fit perfectly in Rex Ryan’s hybrid 4-3/3-4 defense, allowing Ryan to be flexible with where Curry lines up on the field.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
Rhode Barber is about five years past his prime, and it may finally be time to hang up the cleats. There is no depth behind Barber and Aqib Talib, who’s future in Tampa is also far from a sure thing, making the secondary an area of concern for the offseason. I’m not as high on Kirkpatrick as most, but he is a legitimate 1st-round prospect and would be an excellent fit in Tampa.
19. Chicago Bears Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
The Bears top priority is to upgrade the offensive line, but there is no guarantee that one of the top lineman will be available at this point in the draft. It isn’t a great class of offensive linemen, which may force the Bears to address the defense instead. Coples is one of the most overhyped prospects in the draft, but he does have some value in the late 1st. He isn’t an elite pass rusher, which will cause him to fall, but he does have the ability to be a solid three-down lineman.
20. Cincinnati Bengals Alfonzo Dennard CB Nebraska
[from Raiders] Nate Clements has done an adequate job replacing Jonathan Joseph, but he’ll turn 32 in December and is only under contract for one more year after 2011. This is a fairly deep class of cornerbacks and the Bengals would be wise to look towards the future and select someone such as Dennard or Kirkpatrick here.
21. Houston Texans Mark Barron S Alabama
The Texans defense is improving, but they still have a long way to go before they can be considered Super Bowl contenders. They’ve made a few nice additions to the defensive front seven in recent years, but the secondary has largely been ignored. Mark Barron is the early favorite to be the first safety of the board and would be an immediate upgrade over Gloven Quin at strong safety.
22. Cincinnati Bengals Lamar Miller RB Miami FL
Cedric Benson is in the midst of another mediocre year and is a free agent after the season. He’ll turn 29 in December and I would be surprised if the Bengals brought him back on a multi-year contract. There is a significant drop-off in this year’s running back class after Trent Richardson is off the board, but Miller is among a few in the next tier. He compares favorably to LeSean McCoy and would be a nice fit in Cincinnati.
23. Baltimore Ravens Vontaze Burfict LB Arizona State
The Ravens defense remains among the league’s elite but the leader of the unit, Ray Lewis, is 36 and realistically doesn’t have more than a year or two of good football left in the tank. Burfict is headcase, and I suspect some teams will remove him from their draft board. However, if Lewis sticks around for another year I suspect the Ravens would trust Lewis and their other veterans to mentor Burfict, just as they did with Jimmy Smith this past year.
24. New York Giants Brandon Thompson DT Clemson
The Giants have tried to build a dominant run-stuffing interior line in recent years, but free-agent signings Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard have failed to fully live up to expectations. Brandon Thompson isn’t a flashy defensive tackle like Ndamukong Suh, but he has the potential to be a quality starter for the next decade. He excels against the run, and is one of the safer prospects in this draft class.
25. Buffalo Bills Brandon Jenkins DE Florida State
The Bills run a base 3-4 defense, but have been working in a decent number of 4-3 sets. This makes it somewhat difficult to project what type of lineman/linebacker they’ll be looking for, but it’s safe to assume they’ll be searching for an upgrade. Jenkins may be the perfect fit because he can play with his hand on or off the ground. Shawne Merriman has been a disappointment, and Jenkins could be his replacement.
26. San Diego Chargers Dontari Poe DT Memphis
Antonio Garay had a surprisingly strong 2010 season, and the Chargers elected to stick with him at nose tackle this year. Unfortunately he has failed to repeat his performance and their run defense has suffered as a result. The Chargers simply need someone to eat up space and anchor their defense in the middle. Dontari Poe
27. New England Patriots Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
[from Saints] The Patriots needed to upgrade their secondary even before cutting ties with Leigh Boddon. I’m not sure I would be brave enough to risk a 1st-round pick on Janoris Jenkins, but the Patriots are definitely among the teams confident enough to bring in prospects with character concerns. Jenkins is clearly an elite talent and, if he stays out of trouble, could be an immediate difference maker in New England.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers Manti Te’o LB Notre Dame
James Farrior is 36-years-old and his play has noticeably regressed this season. Te’o could be a steal this late in the 1st-round and would be a perfect fit for the Steelers defense. He has the potential to play inside or outside linebacker at the next level and could potentially replace 33-year-old James Harrison in a few years. The Steelers have maintained their success by filling holes before they open up, and this is a golden opportunity to do just that.
29. Detroit Lions Zach Brown LB North Carolina
The Lions front seven has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there are still holes to fill at linebacker. They are probably set for the short-term at the Mike and Sam positions, but DeAndre Levy isn’t getting the job done on the weak side. I’m not as high on Zach Brown as most and I believe his stock will fall over the course of the next few months. However, he is a 1st-round candidate and would be an excellent fit in Jim Schwartz’s defense.
30. San Francisco 49ers Dwight Jones WR North Carolina
I struggled to decide what direction the 49ers would go with this pick. They clearly need to add more weapons on offense, but there isn’t an obvious 1st-round pick on the board here. Dwight Jones is a slight reach, but I believe he fits their system well. He’s a big, physical receiver with great hands – sort of a less-explosive version of Hakeem Nicks. He may not be an elite receiver in this league, but he’ll be a quality No. 2 option as a possession receiver which the 49ers are lacking.
31. New England Patriots Whitney Mercilus LB Illinois
The Patriots need to address their secondary and their pass rush in this draft. Fortunately there is a wealth of talent at both positions. Mercilius has shot up draft boards with a stellar junior campaign and is now considered a fringe 1st-round prospect. He’s more physical than some of the other end/linebacker ‘tweeners on the board, making a good fit for the Patriots scheme.
32. Green Bay Packers Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
I like Kuechly a lot, but I don’t see many teams with an obvious need for his skill set. He’s better suited to play in a 4-3 scheme, but I do think he fits what the Packers are looking for in the outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews. And even if they don’t view him as an outside linebacker, they would have the option of shifting him inside and moving A.J. Hawk back outside. That type of flexibiliy should be intriguing to Ted Thompson.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Mock Draft Comments Off

About the author

Ryan McCrystal

Ryan launched DraftAce in 2004. His Top 100 board is currently ranked 1st out of 20 publications in The Huddle Report's five-year averages. His mock draft is ranked 10th out of 32 competitors.You can also find Ryan's weekly Heisman Predictor series on ESPN Insider every fall.