I've waited a good long time to come out with a real mock draft this year while waiting to see how the combine, pro days and interviews lined up. For the sake of keeping everything organized I'm not putting any trades into the mock, though I believe we'll see at least a couple in the first round.
1.1- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB- Stanford
Despite all the alleged hemming and hawing, ultimately the Colts will take take Luck and hope the comparisons to Peyton Manning hold up.
1.2- Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB- Baylor
The trade Washington made was polarizing. Some think they gave up far too much, others believe they'll have one of the league's best QBs in 2-3 years. I think Griffin will be great, but it will take a long time to surround him with talent due to this trade.
1.3- Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT- USC
My mind can't comprehend a team needing as much OL help as the Vikings passing on Kalil, especially with a young QB in Christian Ponder to protect. This is the smart move.
1.4- Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne, CB- LSU
There are scores of ways this pick could go, but in the end I look at Holmgren's drafting history. He's not the kind of guy to take a WR or RB extremely early, instead electing to go with players who fall. Claiborne is the BPA, much to the chagrin of the teams hoping to pick him in the top 10.
1.5- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB- Alabama
LeGarrette Blount can get as upset as he wants over this pick, Richardson is a far better RB. If new head coach Greg Sciano can keep the egos in check the Bucs could have one of the deadliest running games in the NFL in a few years, but that's a big ask.
More after the jump
1.6- St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR- Oklahoma State
It isn't in Jeff Fisher's DNA to take any offensive player this early, but he's never has this little talent on the offensive side of the ball. As it stands the Rams would be entering the 2012 season with Danny Amendola and Steve Smith as their starting WRs... yeah, it's that bad. They need help on the OL, but the players available are too big a risk.
1.7- Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR- Notre Dame
It would make sense to see some more help on the offensive line, but oftentimes the way the Jags draft doesn't make sense. New HC Mike Mularkey understands the need for WRs as he was part of the Atlanta staff who took Roddy White early, and traded for Julio Jones. Couple this with Floyd having ties to the Chicago area, which apparently plays a part in how much new ownership likes you and this pick happens. He'll be the deep target to stretch the field they were missing in 2011.
1.8- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB- Texas A&M
The 'Phins became the butt of many jokes as they struck out time and time again at the QB position. There is absolutely no way they enter 2012 with Matt Moore as their starter, unless the draft is patently unkind to them. New offensive coordinator Mike Sherman scouted, recruited and developed Tannehill at A&M, the fit is natural. He may not make as big an impact year one as Luck and RGIII, but I believe in 2-3 years he could be just as good, if not better. There are myriad examples that Tannehill has the best pocket presence in the draft, so early the pressure wont flutter him.
1.9- Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE- North Carolina
Upgrading the pass rush is the Panthers paramount concern, and they have spent a lot of time scouting the position. Coples is a gamble, but a calculated one- just like Cam Newton was last year. They'll bring him in, hope he buys into the system and hone his skills. If it pays off the Panthers wind up with the most talented defensive player in the draft, if not he'll be the next in the long time of DEs who fail due to lack of drive.
1.10- Buffalo Bills: Luke Kuechly, LB- Boston College
With the Bills pass rushing already solidified they'll look to add the QB for their defense in Luke Kuechly. He will immediately start at MLB and help finalize the Bills development into one of the premier defenses in the NFL.
1.11- Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG- Stanford
Adding to the offensive line is of the greatest importance, and DeCastro is the player the Chiefs need. Blocking for Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will give KC one of the deadliest run games in the NFL, and take a lot of pressure off the QB position while they search for a long term answer there.
1.12- Seattle Seahawks: Riley Reiff, OT- Iowa
Someone will take Reiff too early, and I have the Seahawks as that team. Pete Carroll likes guys with upside, and Reiff fits that bill. He is to the OL what Coples is to the DL, but his ceiling isn't as high. They'll try him at RT, and I predict he'll struggle there for 1-2 years before moving to RG, and ultimately being one of the better guards in the league.
1.13- Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT- Stanford
Reiff starts a small run on OL players getting taken too high, and Martin continues the trend. Whether it's Kolb or Skelton he'll be protecting Martin fills a definite need on the OL. They'll hope he can develop into a future LT, though I think his forte will be at RT.
1.14- Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Ingram, OLB- South Carolina
They're selling the world on the fact either Poe or Barron will be the pick, and I think that is smokescreen to prompt one of them getting taken too early, and Ingram falling. They'll bank on him being the next Demarcus Ware... and he could be.
1.15- Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT- Mississippi State
The 'Iggles wind up with the best DT in the draft purely due to other teams having larger needs. He will immediately add to their 4-3 and offer schematic flexibility.
1.16- New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB- Alabama
A collective 'damn it' is uttered in the war room as the Cowboys take Ingram, so they get the second best rush linebacker in the draft.
1.17- Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Barron, SS- Alabama
The Bengals have a glaring need at safety now they have cut their 2011 started Chris Crocker, who botched the playoffs of them. Barron is close to the BPA here, and immediately upgrades their secondary. With another 1st rounder around the corner they're happy with the value here.
1.18- San Diego Chargers: Dontari Poe, DT- Memphis
The Chargers will take a flier on Poe here to be their future nose tackle. They have many needs on the defensive line, but with Antonio Garay not getting any younger I think we could see Poe start on the bench, but he eased into the starting lineup. SD will pray they're getting Ngata, and not a lump of coal.
1.19- Chicago Bears: Kendall Wright, WR- Baylor
Some believe Wright is the best WR in the draft, and while I'm not of that opinion I think he will be extremely good. I'm tired of hearing about how he's the next Steve Smith, but he will be a good target for Cutler and stretch the field for Chicago.
1.20- Tennessee Titans: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB- Alabama
After losing Cortland Finnegan to FA the Titans will need to find another starter at the position, and here Dre K falls into their laps. He's a large, powerful corner who will bump receivers off their routes. He's a good choice for them here.
1.21- Cincinnati Bengals: Stephen Hill, WR- Georgia Tech
Yes, they just took A.J. Green last year, but look how good it made Andy Dalton look. The Bengals will take Hill to be their speed receiver across from Green and hope they will pair to make the most dominant WR tandem in the league. If Hill can become more reliable they could be.
1.22- Cleveland Browns: Whitney Mercilus, OLB- Illinois
The Browns are screaming of offensive help, but the value just isn't there. The Browns take the best pass rusher on the board in Mercilus, and hope he can upgrade a unit that only managed 32 sacks in 2011.
1.23- Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB- North Alabama
The Lions just lost Eric Wright via free agency, and have no problems taking slightly risky character prospects. Jenkins is far, far more talented than the #23 pick warrants, but many teams will be scared off. The Lions wont, and ultimately I think they get a great player for it.
1.24- Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OG- Georgia
The Steelers always seem to wind up with an insanely good player in the mid-twenties just by sticking to BPA. Guard isn't a huge need, but the Steelers don't have any huge needs. This is a solid pick for them.
1.25- Denver Broncos: Peter Konz, C- Wisconsin
The Broncos' #1 concern needs to be protecting Peyton Manning. They were rebuffed by Jeff Saturday, so they take Konz who is the best OL prospect available.
1.26- Houston Texans: Nick Perry, OLB- USC
Still reeling from the loss of Mario Williams the Texans need another pass rusher. They go with Perry, and hope he can be a big time player for them.
1.27- New England Patriots: Michael Brockers, DT- LSU
Waiting to pounce on a player with upside fits the NE mold, and this pick would be no different. It's a smart selection and Brockers can play both DE in a 3-4 set, or DT in a 4-3. The Pats use varied fronts, this pick fits.
1.28- Green Bay Packers: Devon Still, DT- Penn State
At 32 years old DE Ryan Pickett isn't getting younger, so the Packers decide to go with Still in the hopes he'll become a 3-4 DE. This represents the BPA at this stage, and like the Patriots before them they get a solid player.
1.29- Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, LB- Alabama
The inevitability of Ray Lewis' age plays a factor here as the Ravens prep for the future. Lewis is still playing at the high level at 36, but the writing is definitely on the wall here.
1.30- San Francisco 49ers: Alshon Jeffrey, WR- South Carolina
It was a matter of time before a team got a steal in Jeffrey, and it winds up being Harbaugh and the 49ers. Pairing him with Michael Crabtree will immediately upgrade their passing attack, and give them varied options.
1.31- New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, CB- South Carolina
The third Gamecock in the 1st round is Gilmore, who will hope to upgrade the woeful pass defense of New England.
1.32- New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE- Stanford
Stanford are well represented in the 1st round with four players selected from their offense, and that shows how much talent was around Andrew Luck. Fleener makes all the sense in the world here, and makes the Giants offense that much nastier.