1. Indianapolis Colts- (Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford)
The Colts have completely reshaped their front office and coaching staff this off-season with the goal of a fresh start. The last time this happened in Indianapolis Peyton Manning was selected 1st overall. Andrew Luck is every bit the prospect that Manning was leaving Tennessee and makes perfect sense with Manning’s health still in question.
2. St. Louis Rams- (Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California)
New head coach Jeff Fisher emphasized pass protection and a strong running game at his introductory press conference. Matt Kalil would be an immediate upgrade over Rodger Saffold as a pass protector on the left side, allowing Saffold to move to right tackle where he is better suited. Jason Smith has been a huge disappointment and is likely to be released. Wide receiver is also a need but I suspect that will be addressed during free agency with a strong group of available wideouts.
3. Minnesota Vikings- (Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa)
Minnesota’s left side was inconsistent in pass protection with Charlie Johnson last season, hampering the development of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. In my eyes there isn’t much that separates Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff. Both players have the footwork, lateral agility, arm length, and playing strength to be very good starting left tackles in the NFL.
4. Cleveland Browns- (Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor)
Based on comments from the Browns front office, they don’t seem completely sold on Colt McCoy’s long term prospects as the starting quarterback. Robert Griffin III will be in high demand come draft time, and rightfully so, he has all the physical tools and makes good decisions with the football. Griffin did play in a pass friendly system at Baylor that doesn’t feature NFL passing concepts, but the early success of Cam Newton and Andy Dalton last season should help with those concerns.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- (Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State)
At this time the Buccanneers don’t have a head coach so it’s hard to tell what the philosophy will be come draft time. But it looks like both starting cornerbacks, Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber will be gone by the start of next season. With a full off-season of OTA’a and training camp to learn the scheme, Claiborne should have no problem picking up either a man or zone based sytem.
6. Washington Redskins- (Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State)
The Redskins would like Robert Griffin to be here, but that’s not likely to happen. I wouldn’t discount the organization from attempting to trade up. The ‘Skins have a solid receiving core with youth and experience but none offer Blackmon’s game breaking ability. Justin Blackmon would’ve been a top ten pick last year, even with A.J. Green and Julio Jones in the same class.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- (Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina)
General manager Gene Smith has already stated his desire to add a playmaking wide receiver for rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The hope would be for Justin Blackmon to be available or to add a veteran in free agency (Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Marques Colston). With Blackmon gone they opt to select defensive end Quinton Coples. Coples’ size and athleticism allow him to move around from left to right; helping to create a consistent pass rush along with Jeremy Mincey and Tyson Alualu.
8. Carolina Panthers- (Devon Still, DT, Penn State)
Ron Rivera is a defensive coach, so he couldn’t have been happy with his interior run defense last season. Devon Still provides an immediate upgrade in run support and with an inside push for Carolina’s pass rush. The Panthers could also use offensive line help, so Jonathan Martin and David Decastro could be options here as well.
9. Miami Dolphins- (Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford)
The Dolphins were able to get surprisingly solid quarterback play from Matt Moore down the stretch last season. And with Joe Philbin being hired as the next head coach don’t discount a reunion with soon to be free agent Matt Flynn. Marc Colombo was unreliable on the right side of the offensive line last year, and there’s nothing more important to an offense than a good offensive line. Jonathan Martin and Jake Long would be a formidable combination.
10. Buffalo Bills- (Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama)
The Bills haven’t found a consistent base defense to utilize, switching from both a 3-4 to 4-3 alignments periodically. Courtney Upshaw can be effective in either alignment as he lined up at both defensive end and outside linebacker for Alabama. He has the potential to be an All-Pro type player and should immediately improve Buffalo’s pass rush and run defense.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- (Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama)
The selection of Trent Richardson would make a lot of sense for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles will be returning from a torn ACL and is better suited with a limited amount of touches even when healthy. Trent Richardson has big play ability but is also capable of wearing down a defense; a franchise caliber running back.
12. Seattle Seahawks- (Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College)
The Seahawks could use a pass rush from the defensive end position so I wouldn’t rule out a slight reach for one here. Luke Kuechly would be perfect for their 4-3 defense if they fail to re-sign Leroy Hill and/or David Hawthorne. He may be the best option even if they choose to keep both players.
13. Arizona Cardinals- (Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina)
I could see the Cardinals going a number of places with this selection. Wide receiver and offensive line could be addressed with this pick but Melvin Ingram would be a great fit for this defense. He can line up inside and out in the 3-4 and is a reliable, physical presence at linebacker.
14. Dallas Cowboys- (Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama)
The Cowboys likely wouldn’t hesitate to add a player of Kirkpatrick’s caliber at the 14th pick. I believe his recent arrest for marijuana possession will hurt him, but not much. The Cowboys clearly need help on the outside across from Michael Jenkins, and Kirkpatrick projects as an immediate starter for Rob Ryan’s defense.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- (Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama)
Hightower would be a slight reach here, but the Eagles were terrible inside at stopping the run last season. Hightower would be the imposing figure the Eagles have lacked in the middle since Jeremiah Trotter. His style of play fits the versatile scheme the Eagles run.
16. New York Jets- (Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois)
The Jets may be without both their starting wide receivers from last season and could also use help at right tackle. But what hurt the Jets most this past year was a lack of a pass rush. Whitney Mercilus played in an aggressive attack scheme at Illinois and projects well as a rush linebacker.
17. Cincinnati Bengals [from Oakland] – (Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama)
Janoris Jenkins has top-ten pick talent and may’ve been one last year had he not been dismissed from the University of Florida. The Bengals don’t mind taking chances on talented players with character concerns and Janoris Jenkins fits that description. He should be able to fill in nicely for a rehabbing Leon Hall.
18. San Diego Chargers- (David DeCastro, OG, Stanford)
One of the main reasons for the Chargers mid-season losing streak was a lack of protection for quarterback Philip Rivers. Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman both went out early and Kris Dielman is contemplating retirement. David Decastro shores up the left side next to either a healthy Marcus McNeill or Jared Gaither who was impressive as a late waiver wire addition.
19. Chicago Bears- (Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina)
Jay Cutler was most successful when he had a big target on the outside to throw to in Brandon Marshall. Earl Bennett is a solid second option, but Jeffery showed he could dominate man-coverage in the SEC conference with his size, strength and hand-eye coordination. Jeffery’s workout numbers will likely determine how high he’s drafted.
20. Tennessee Titans- (Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia)
It’s never a popular pick to select an interior offensive lineman in the first round, but as a former offensive line coach Mike Munchak knows this is the teams biggest need. Glenn may be the strongest lineman in this draft and he has experience at both guard and tackle. He’s an immediate upgrade over both Leroy Harris and Jake Scott.
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