1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford - Scouting Report
Jim Irsay recently stated that the Colts will consider both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but there is no reason to think he won’t settle on Luck in the very near future (if he hasn’t already). Luck has all the tools necessary to ensure a smooth transition out of the Peyton Manning era – something which most franchise struggle with for years after losing a franchise quarterback. Griffin is an elite talent, potentially with even more upside than Luck, but he isn’t even in the same ballpark as Luck in terms of NFL readiness.
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III – QB – Baylor - Scouting Report
[projected trade w/ Redskins] The bidding process for the 2nd pick is already getting out of control, with the Rams reportedly looking for three 1st-round picks in return. That’s quite the king’s ransom to pay for Griffin, and the Redskins may be the only team willing to cave to the Rams demands. Owner Daniel Snyder has never cared much for the draft and the ‘Skins are reportedly very high on Griffin.
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil – OT – USC - Scouting Report
As long as the Rams trade the 2nd pick, the Vikings are sitting pretty at No. 3. Matt Kalil is guaranteed to be on the board and the Vikings should waste no time plugging him in at left tackle and leaving him there for the next decade. He’s a special talent and as close to a sure-thing as you’ll find on draft day.
4. Cleveland Browns - Justin Blackmon – WR – Oklahoma St - Scouting Report
If the Browns lose out on Griffin they’ll be put in a difficult position here. Blackmon, Richardson and Claiborne would all be tempting, but given their struggles on offense it would be hard to justify passing on the draft’s elite receiver. The tandem of Blackmon and Greg Little would give Colt McCoy (or a later QB selection) something to work with in 2012.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU - Scouting Report
Cornerbacks don’t often come off the board in the top five, but players like Morris Claiborne don’t come around often either. And while anyone should consider Claiborne if he were to fall to this point, the Bucs also have a glaring need at cornerback. Ronde Barber is a free agent, and turns 37 in April. Aqib Talib has shown promise, but he can’t stay out of trouble off the field and there’s no guarantee that the new regime will be willing to put up with his antics.
6. St. Louis Rams - Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama - Scouting Report
[projected trade w/ Redskins] If the Rams trade with the Redskins they’ll likely miss out on Blackmon and Claiborne, which means they’ll have to address a position of lesser need. Steven Jackson is only 28, but has a lot of wear and tear on his body and realistically won’t last much more than two more years. Adding Richardson may allow the Rams to extend Jackson’s career, or potentially allow them to cut him loose and spend that money elsewhere.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples – DE – North Carolina - Scouting Report
It’s tough to predict where Coples will land due to the questions about his work ethic and effort on the field. But with Blackmon and Claiborne off the board, the Jaguars don’t have many other options here. Then again, GM Gene Smith is always a wild card in the draft, so they could really throw off the draft if they go off the board here.
8. Miami Dolphins - Michael Brockers – DE/DT – LSU - Scouting Report
The Dolphins haven’t officially disclosed what base defense they will run under new coordinator Kevin Coyle, but are expected to use some form of a hybrid defense, working mostly out of the 4-3. An effective defense featuring multiple fronts requires some versatile players, which can be difficult to find. Michael Brockers, who primarily lined up a defensive end in LSU’s 4-3 defense, has the size and athleticism to be an effective penetrating three-technique tackle in their 4-3 sets, as well as at end in the 3-4.
9. Carolina Panthers – Dontari Poe – DT – Memphis - Scouting Report
This is a reach for Poe, but after his impressive combine I believe some teams are going to have him higher on their draft board than we initially expected. The Panthers drafted Sione Fua in the 3rd round last year to play nose tackle, but the addition of Poe could be good for both players. No 350-pounder can effectively play 60+ snaps per game, and Poe is no exception. A rotation of Poe and Fua could dramatically improve the Panthers interior line.
10. Buffalo Bills - Melvin Ingram – LB – South Carolina - Scouting Report
The Bills have officially announced that they will be transitioning to a 4-3 base defense under new coordinator Dave Wannstedt, which means some personnel changes are coming. There are a few options for them to consider here, and right now it’s tough to know what type of player they’re looking to add. Courtney Upshaw, Nick Perry and Melvin Ingram are all strong possibilities, but don’t rule out them reaching for a guy like Whitney Mercilus.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Riley Reiff – OT – Iowa - Scouting Report
Reiff is being hyped up as a top-10 pick primarily due to team needs, but I suspect he’ll fall a little further than expected (especially if the Vikings can get Kalil at No. 3). The Chiefs, however, have a glaring need at right tackle and could end Reiff’s mini-fall right here. This would also be a perfect fit for Reiff, who is probably better suited to play on the right side at the next level.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Nick Perry – DE – USC - Scouting Report
Until free agency starts, it will be tough to predict which direction the Seahawks may go with this selection. They have four free agent defensive ends, including starter Red Bryant, and five free agent linebackers, including starters David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill. Given the potential need for an end, and the depth in this year’s class, I’ll match them up with Nick Perry for now. He’s the top end on my board, and could team with Chris Clemons to give the Seahawks a dangerous pass-rush duo. Oh, and he played for Peter Carroll at USC.
13. Arizona Cardinals - David DeCastro – OG – Stanford - Scouting Report
For a team that went 8-8, Arizona sure has a lot of holes to fill. The first priority, however, needs to be fixing the offensive line. With Beanie Wells in the backfield, the Cardinals have the potential to feature a dangerous power running game to compliment their down-field passing attack, but have never supported Wells with the physical offensive line he needs to succeed. DeCastro is an old school type of lineman who is as nasty as the come in the running game.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Dre Kirkpatrick – CB – Alabama - Scouting Report
Rob Ryan recently stated that he wants the Cowboys to focus on the secondary this offseason, and I suspect Jerry Jones will listen. Charges were recently dropped against Kirkpatrick in his marijuana arrest, which help alleviate any concerns teams may have about his character. Then again, the Cowboys aren’t the type of franchise that pays much attention to those types of concerns to begin with, and for that reason Janoris Jenkins may be an option here as well.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly – ILB – Boston College - Scouting Report
This is the dream scenario for the Eagles, and they may even trade up to make it happen. The Eagles secondary was a weak link on defense in 2011, with undrafted free agent Brian Rolle stepping up as their most consistent performer. Adding a guy like Kuechly, who already plays like a veteran, could change the entire identity of their defense.
16. New York Jets – Kendall Wright – WR – Baylor - Scouting Report
I can’t think of a better scenario for the Jets. They need to add a playmaker on offense, especially if Burress and Holmes are both playing elsewhere in 2012. Michael Floyd, due to his size, could be tempting also, but I think Wright’s ability to make plays after the catch will make him more valuable to Mark Sanchez.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Doug Martin – RB – Boise State - Scouting Report
from Oakland - Once Trent Richardson is off the board, it’s anyone’s guess who or when the next running back will be selected. But one of the fastest risers right now is Doug Martin, who may have played his way into the late 1st-round consideration at the Senior Bowl. This would definitely be viewed as a slight reach, but if the Bengals identify Martin as their guy – and I think he’d be a perfect replacement for Cedric Benson – there’s no guarantee he’ll still be on the board when they’re up in the 2nd round.
18. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Martin – OT – Stanford - Scouting Report
Some big changes are coming for the Chargers offensive line. Marcus McNeill could be a cap casualty, Kris Dielman may retire and Nick Hardwick and Jared Gaither are unrestricted free agents. Martin’s stock has taken a hit since entering the year as a potential top-10 pick, but he’s still a solid option in the late 1st round as a right tackle or guard and would be a nice fit in San Diego.
19. Chicago Bears - Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame - Scouting Report
This is a situation that could change dramatically once free agency starts. The Bears will likely target all the top free agent receivers, and could fill this need before the draft gets here. But if not, Floyd should be high on their draft board. He has the skills to be an elite possession receiver and has the size the Bears need in their offense.
20. Tennessee Titans - Mark Barron – S – Alabama - Scouting Report
Both of the Titans starting safeties are unrestricted free agents, and Jordan Babineaux probably isn’t worth re-signing if an upgrade can be found. Barron is a prototypical strong safety who can contribute in pass coverage and against the run. His recent sports hernia raises some concern, but probably not enough to knock him too far down any draft boards.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn – OG – Georgia - Scouting Report
The Bengals running game struggled this year, in part due to the ineffectiveness of the interior offensive line. Changes need to be made, and free agents Nate Livings and Bobbie Williams may not be re-signed. Ideally, David DeCastro would fall here, but if he’s off the board the gap behind him and Cordy Glenn is negligible. Glenn, who played left tackle this past year at Georgia, has the skills to be an elite interior lineman at the next level due to his combination of size and athleticism.
22. Cleveland Browns - Andre Branch – DE – Clemson - Scouting Report
From Atlanta - The Browns could potentially reach for a quarterback here (Tannehill or Weeden) but their next best alternative would be to add to their rapidly improving defense, potentially by finding a defensive end to plug in opposite Jabaal Sheard. While Sheard had a strong rookie year, he’s a bit of a one-dimensional pass rusher. For that reason, the Browns would be wise to target a guy like Branch who, while his upside may not be as high as Sheard’s, is a more well-rounded prospect.
23. Detroit Lions – Mike Adams – OT – Ohio State - Scouting Report
The Jeff Backus era may finally be ending in Detroit. Backus has started all 176 games of his career in Detroit, which has made him valuable for his durability, if nothing else. But the 34-year-old is a free agent, and may not have a future with the Lions. Mike Adam has been one of the fastest risers early in the draft process, and established himself as a potential mid-to-late 1st-round pick. He’s somewhat soft and inconsistent, which will cause some teams to drop him on their draft board, but it’s impossible to deny his upside based on his elite athleticism for his size.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Courtney Upshaw – LB – Alabama - Scouting Report
There will definitely be a push from Steelers fans to target a cornerback, such as Alfonzo Dennard, with this pick. But they’ve needed to upgrade the secondary for two or three years, and GM Kevin Colbert refuses to spend high picks or big money on the position. However, Colbert does have a history of filling holes just before they open up. Upshaw could be James Harrison’s eventual replacement.
25. Denver Broncos - Fletcher Cox – DT – Mississippi State - Scouting Report
Cox’s stock is soaring after a strong workout at the combine but there just aren’t enough teams in the top 20 with a need for his skill set, which makes him a prime candidate for a draft-day fall. If he gets to No. 25, the Broncos would gladly end his slide and plug him into a starting role from day one. Cox has the potential to be an elite penetrating three-technique (think poor-man’s Ndamukong Suh) and should excel in John Fox’s defensive system.
26. Houston Texans - Chandler Jones – LB – Syracuse - Scouting Report
If Mario Williams returns there’s no need for a pass rusher in Houston, but his return sounds iffy at best right now. Chandler Jones is extremely raw, but has the size and athleticism to excel as a pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Wade Phillips has a history of developing pass rushers in his system and could turn Jones into a dangerous threat off the edge.
27. New England Patriots - Janoris Jenkins – CB – N.Alabama - Scouting Report
From New Orleans - The Patriots have been known to take risks on guys with character concerns, especially when it can immediately help an area of concern. Jenkins definitely fits that mold and would quickly upgrade a struggling Patriots secondary. The combination of Jenkins and Devin McCourty would give the Pats a formidable duo at cornerback.
28. Green Bay Packers – Stephon Gilmore – CB – S.Carolina - Scouting Report
The Packers have stated that Charles Woodson will remain at cornerback, but there are still concerns at the position. Gilmore should be of particular interest because his skill set close resembles Woodson and he could learn a lot from the future Hall of Famer.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz – C – Wisconsin - Scouting Report
35-year-old Matt Birk is considering retirement and even if he doesn’t call it quits this year, there will be a gaping hole in the center of their line in the coming years. Konz is clearly the cream of the crop at his position in this year’s class, and possibly the only one ready to step into a starting role from day one.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Stephen Hill – WR – Georgia Tech - Scouting Report
The 49ers offense was better than expected, but far too many drives ended in field goals. They need to do something to jump start the offense, and adding a playmaker like hill could be exactly what they need. Hill is raw and will take time to develop, but he has the speed to stretch the field and the size and leaping ability to immediately contribute in the red zone.
31. New England Patriots – Brandon Thompson – DT -Clemson - Scouting Report
Thompson has flown under the radar because he lacks the flashy upside of some other prospects, but he’s arguably the most NFL-ready defensive lineman in this year’s class. The Patriots hybrid defense requires a deep rotation of defensive linemen and Thompson would be a nice compliment to Vince Wilfork. He also possesses the size and strength to potentially take over for the 30-year-old Wilfork sometime down the road.
32. New York Giants – Dwayne Allen – TE – Clemson - Scouting Report
There are definitely more flashy tight ends in this year’s class, but it’s Allen’s blocking ability which should catch the Giants attention. The Giants used their tight ends to block on 24% of their pass plays last season, the 6th-highest total in the league. That fact should all but eliminate Coby Fleener and Orson Charles from the conversation.