1. Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. The most underrated angle is how Dan Orlovsky does. If Orlovsky ends up playing for the Buccaneers at some point and puts up similar stats to when Orlovsky beat the postseason-bound Texans (23/41, 244 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT)and when he nearly beat the AFC Champion Patriots (30/37, 353 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), some Colts fans will wonder what might have happened if they had done the one thing no one had speculated about and neither kept Manning nor drafted Luck or Griffin III.
2. Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. RGIII will get help from Orakpo, Kerrigan, Helu, Wilson, Moss, Morgan, Davis and Garçon as the Redskins try to return from the depths. I’d be surprised if they aren’t in the playoffs by 2013. In a eleven-season span between 1982 and 1992, the Redskins made the postseason 8 times, the Super Bowl four times. In the 19 seasons since, they’ve made the postseason 3 times and haven’t been back to the Super Bowl.
3. Dolphins (trade with Vikings): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. If they don’t take him – with Sherman on the staff -, it may tell you things about his leadership and/or skills. Matt Moore is only 27, which means he could still be the franchise quarterback.
4. Browns: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. The Browns haven’t had a 1000-yard receiver since Braylon Edwards in 2007.
5. Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. I think this is a dumb pick. LeGarrette Blount’s average yards-per-carry has been 4.6 over the last two seasons and the Buccaneers are 4-0 when he gets at least 21 carries. I would trade down and get MLB Luke Kuechly.
6. Rams: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. This is an easy pick, and it will be interesting to see which promising wide receiver they cut loose to make room. Sam Bradford’s completion percentage dropped from 60% his rookie season to 53.5% this past season. The protection needs to get better (St. Louis QB’s were sacked 55 times in 2011) – and was effected by Roger Saffold getting hurt -, so offensive line is a possibility.
7. Jaguars: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. The Jaguars take the highest player on their board. You can never have too many good corners, but they likely had the best group heading into this draft, so I am wondering if they may trade down or go for a pass-rusher. The Jaguars have been 18th or worse in scoring for each of the last four seasons (24th or worse for three of those).
8. Vikings (trade with the Dolphins): Matt Kalil, LT, USC. The Vikings should stay at #3 and take Blackmon, or at least trade down further and get a wide receiver like Stephen Hill or Alshon Jeffrey. They have no 1000-yard receivers, while the other teams in the division put together have six(including ex-Viking Nate Burleson).
9. Panthers: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama. The Panthers allowed under 20 points five times, including four such games in their last six.
10. Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. Here is where the draft could really change. If the Bills go for Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill, the number of wide receivers taken in the first round increases as teams panic, and we could see multiple teams trading up to get receivers. Adding another member of the 2009 National Champion Crimson Tide would be great (Kirkpatrick only had 11 tackles that season), but I think they’d be better off taking Stephen Hill. Their lack of WR depth was rough, as Donald Jones left with injury and Stevie Johnson played through his (as did quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick). Rules benefit the offenses, and they face both a potent one (Patriots, who dropped 80 on the Bills last season) and an intriguing one (Jets, who will certainly add a weapon or two in the draft) in the division.
11. Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. They are unhappy with Matt Cassel, and they may be in the mix for another WR despite taking Baldwin last year, but Piolo will take BPA. Despite having 12 starts by statues Cassel and Orton, they only allowed 34 sacks.
12. Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. The ‘Hawks were tied for 19th with 33 sacks, and have young phenoms at just about every other position (thought Luke Kuechly and versatile Dontari Poe may be very intriguing to them as well). They are yet another team that will be interested in wide receiver in the first, based on the strength of playmakers available and also because they know that Arizona and St. Louis are looking that way, too.
13. Cardinals: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech. Here’s a brilliant way to find out if Kevin Kolb is your starter for the future. Larry Fitzgerald needs 385 yards to pass the 10,000 mark at age 29.
14. Cowboys: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama. The Cowboys’ offense survived Romo wearing a flak jacket and untimely injuries to Miles Austin and Demarco Murray. America’s Team has some good defensive leaders in Sean Lee, Demarcus Ware, and new CB Brandon Carr but LB Jason Hatcher has wanted more. Barron not only would fit that, but he fills a position of need and can help set the standard for tackling in the secondary, which was really bad last season. The Cowboys have 13 Pro Bowl wide receivers (Antonio Brown, Santana Moss, Devin Hester, Anquan Boldin, Josh Cribbs, Mike Wallace, A.J. Green, Desean Jackson, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Sidney Rice) on their schedule, along with one who has had at least 1143 yards receiving twice (Marques Colston) and two of the best rookies from last season (Julio Jones and Torrey Smith). That also doesn’t include Victor Cruz (third in the NFL in receiving yards) and Hakeem Nicks (2248 receiving yards, 18 TDs the last two seasons). The tight ends they will face are some of the best receiving ones in Brent Celek, Heath Miller, Fred Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, Greg Olsen, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson and Zach Miller.
15. Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. In 13 seasons under Andy Reid, the Eagles have never missed the postseason back-to-back times.
16. Jets: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina. The Jets are 22-13 when they get at least 2 sacks with Rex Ryan as head coach. They’re 6-7 when they don’t.
17. Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. STEAL ALERT! The Bengals need to look past character concerns and take the best player available. I would not be shocked if they took Kendall Wright to pair up with A.J. Green for years to come, but Janoris Jenkins could be even more dynamic than Wright in the return game and Nate Clements is 32. Including postseason, the Bengals defense went without a turnover in four of its last six games.
18. Chargers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. After two straight years of no double-digit sacks, the Chargers have had two different players notch 11 sacks in the last two year (Shaun Phillips in 2010 and Antwan Barnes in 2011).
19. Bears: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. The Bears (Chicago, not Baylor) missed the postseason 4 out of 5 seasons with Dick Jauron, and have missed it 5 out of 8 seasons with Lovie Smith, with one postseason victory (over a 7-9 Seahawks team) in the past five seasons.
20. Titans: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse. After forcing five turnovers week 12 hosting Tampa Bay, Tennessee only forced five more in the final five games.
21. Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State. I think David Wilson is the better running back, but I believe Jay Gruden wants to make a high-powered offense where pass-catching and pass-receiving are huge. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the bell cow, Martin will be the do-everything back who contributes on special teams as well.
22. Browns: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina. Linking Gilmore with Sheldon Brown and Joe Haden makes for a strong defensive backfield. The Browns only allowed 2 100-yard receiving performances in 2011 (110 yards to A.J. Green week 12 @ Bengals; 151 to Antonio Brown, week 14 @ Steelers).
23. Lions: Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame. A very strong prospect with great pursuit and physicality. In the past five years, the Lions have ranked 31st, 27th, 32nd, 13th, and 22nd respectively in allowed passing TDs.
24. Steelers: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. The Steelers will think about Dontari Poe, yet they take a QB they hope can be less game manager, more of a complete quarterback if Roethlisberger gets hurt again.
25. Broncos: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. The Broncos have signed or re-signed 4 TEs and WRs, two of them with former experience with Peyton Manning (WR Brandon Stokley and TE Jacob Tamme).
26. Texans: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford. He’s best player available and fills a major need (WR) and a minor one (TE). 4th in points allowed for the 2011 season, the Texans were never ranked above 15th (2004) in their prior 9 seasons.
27. Patriots: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech. STEAL ALERT! The Ravens want him as well. I could see Alshon Jeffrey or Mohamed Sanu here as well. In 12 Patriot drafts, Bill Belichick has never selected a WR in the first round. Yet, the league is evolving, so don’t be shocked if it happens.
28. Packers: Don’ta Hightower, ILB, Alabama. The Packers had 140 missed tackles in 17 games, or an average of 8.24. In 2010, they missed 133 in 20 games (6.56). Two years ago, the numbers were 107 in 17 games (6.29). Nick Saban will tell you, Hightower is a good tackler.
29. 49ers: Nick Perry, DE, USC. Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh knew a vast amount about the intangibles of these players – irrespective of conference – before doing any work for the draft (they collected it from recruiting them and watching tape of them out of high school). In his first two drafts with the Seahawks, only five of Carroll’s team’s 18 picks have been Pac-12 players. Only 1 of the 49ers’ first 10 first picks in the last draft was a Pac-12 talent (USC WR Ronald Johnson (6th round, 182nd overall).
30. Ravens: Riley Reiff, T, Iowa. STEAL ALERT! Teams are pursuing needs and playmakers, which allows the Ravens to get Reiff. The Ravens could look to move up and get a pass-rusher or wide receiver. Joe Flacco threw for 20 TDs to merely 12 INTs, despite 11 games against 8 of the top 11 defenses in the NFL and no off-season for new starters McKinnie, Pitta and Torrey Smith.
31. Patriots: Devon Still, DT, Penn State. 8 Nittany Lions have been drafted in the 1st round since 2003 and only 2 of them have made the Pro Bowl (Larry Johnson 2X and Tamba Hali).
32. Giants: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson. He’s best player available for a team whose defensive line is suddenly aging, still has a disgruntled Umenyiora, and will give a slight edge to Branch over CB Dennard. They will think about Bruce Irvin, TE’s Orson Charles, Dwayne Allen, and Ladarius Green, but go with Branch.
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