I love the NFL College Draft... I fucking LOVE it. It's one of my favourite times during the NFL season. Weeks and weeks in the build-up containing much analysis, changing of minds and endless conflicting reports and rumours. Not to mention the drama on the night itself, players falling, surprise picks and unexpected trades. There are 32 picks in the first round (some teams have more than one because of previous trades) what will follow in how I think the draft will go, but I'm already CERTAIN that this isn't going to be order in which things will occur when we actually get down to it. I saw a great tweet from ESPN "league insider" Adam Schefter a day or two ago, saying that almost every team picking from picks 3 - 16 would consider moving down. There's also an emerging consensus that this draft class isn't a classic which would support his claims.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck - Quarterback - Stanford
No surprise here. The Colts have already confirmed he's going to be their pick. I've only seen about 2 of his college games and he was pretty incredible, even catching passes during a trick play at one stage. Only yesterday I watched his appearance on Jon Gruden's QB Camp, where his knowledge, enthusiasm and body of work at the collegiate level means the Colts shouldn't have any trouble making the pick. For well over a year people have been saying that he's the best to come up from the college ranks since the man he is replacing, (1st overall pick in 1998) Peyton Manning.
2. Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III - Quarterback - Baylor
Again, no surprise. The Redskins traded for this pick with the Saint Louis Rams and paid a kings ransom to move up (6th & 39th picks this year, 1st round pick in 2013 and 2014). They'd better hope this works out because if it doesn't they've set their team back for about 5 years at least. I happen to think it will. He's smart, has a great arm and he's fast as hell. I dread to think what he might be able to do if he successful evades the rush sometime in the future against my New York Giants.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil - Offensive Tackle - USC
This is where the draft really begins in earnest. The Vikes need someone to protect last years no. 1 pick QB Christian Ponder. Kalil comes from good stock; his older brother Ryan is an All-Pro on the O-Line and his father also played in the USFL in the 80s, and his combine workout was stellar. I think they need to make this pick but a lot of reports in the last 24 - 48 hours say they're going to tackle LSU corner Morris Claiborne. If that happens then who knows where Kalil lands. Serviceable corners can be found in lower rounds but it's not everyday that you have the chance to get your hands on an elite left tackle.
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson - Running Back - Alabama
The Browns could go for Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill here, but it's a pick I don't think they can make. When they've got an elite playmaker landing to them in Richardson, it's way too risky to pick a Quarterback who's only started 19 games in college. Richardson looks phenomenal and is talked about with the same reverence as the last truly elite running back to emerge, Adrian Peterson in 2007.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claibourne - Cornerback - LSU
Clairbourne looks like he could be elite, and in a division where they face Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and the electric Cam Newton the Bucs really need it. Their current CB corps isn't great with Rhonde Barber amongst the oldest players in the NFL and Aqib Talib never out of trouble. The Bucs will be delighted he's fallen to them, if not they'd snap up Kalil, but as I said before I don't think this is likely.
6. St. Louis Ram
Justin Blackmon - Wide Receiver - Oklahoma St.
The Rams need weapons for Sam Bradford. Simple as. Opinions on Blackmon have began to falter the longer the draft process has gone on, but the fact is, a slower than expected 40 yard dash and concerns about size don't erase his production at college.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Melvin Ingram - Defensive End - South Carolina
If reports are anything to go by, the Jags want out of here badly, and if last year is anything to go by it's probably for the best. They really over-draft Blaine Gabbert last year. If they do pick here, they've got a lot of needs, but getting pressure on opposing QBs must be top of the list. Picking a corner wouldn't be out of the question either.
8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback - Texas A&M
I'm of the opinion that the Dolphins should look elsewhere with this pick because Matt Moore has proved he's serviceable at QB and they need a lot of help at other positions, to help them steady the ship in a difficult AFC East. Probably too high to take a receiver, but they could get someone here for the secondary or defensive line help.
9. Carolina Panthers
Fletcher Cox - Defensive Tackle - Mississippi St.
The Panthers defensive line was horrible last year. If he can be as disruptive as they hope, he'll be a simple pick.
10. Buffalo Bills.
Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame
The Bills spent big money on D in the offseason. I assume they'll go for offensive help here. I don't know if they'll take a tackle or wide receiver. I'm going to go with Michael Floyd. He will be a great complement for Stevie Johnson and help Ryan Fitzpatrick justify his contract.
11. Kansas City Chiefs.
Luke Kuechly - Linebacker - Boston College
Boston College produce great 'backers and Kuechly looks like he's going to be brilliant. This move would give the Chiefs one of the best linebacking corps in football along with Tamba Hali.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Quintin Coples - Defensive End - North Carolina
Concerns about a poor senior season, but I'm reading that Pete Carroll loves him a lot. Although I'm also reading that he could be a bust.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Riley Rieff - Offensive Tackle - Iowa
They need help at tackle. Levi Brown hasn't been the player they thought he'd be and while Rieff is projected to more than likely to play of the right of the line, he's a definitely upgrade and will be key to keeping Kevin Kolb or John Skelton on their feet.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Marc Barron - Safety - Alabama
The Cowboys seem to have solved their problems at corner with the signing of Brandon Carr and the widely touted Barron would really help improve the secondary as a whole and could be very effective in a run heavy division like the NFC East.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Stephon Gilmore - Corner back - South Carolina
Eagles will probably use this pick on D. They could go with someone on the D-line. But with the trading of Asante Samuel to the Falcons this week, I reckon they should go with Stephon Gilmore here to provide help in Nickle packages, where they struggled last year.
16. New York Jet
Chandler Jones - Defensive End - Syracuse
The Jets need pass rushers. A Rex Ryan D without pressure doesn't function, as we saw last year. They love Chandler Jones (as do a lot of other teams) and they can't afford to miss like they have with Vernon Gholston in previous drafts.
17. Cinicannti Bengals
David DeCastro - Guard - Stanford
They have 2 picks in the second half of the first and the consensus has been that they need a receiver, a corner and O-Line help. I think they've got enough at receiver that will let them wait until the lower round of the draft. They could go with Dre Kirkpatrick here, but I think that with the Chargers picking at 18, then they'd miss out on Stanford guard David DeCastro at 22.
18. San Diego Chargers
Courtney Upshaw - Outside Linebacker/D. End - Alabama
If the Chargers don't get someone here for the offensive line they're going to go for a pass rusher. Upshaw shone on one of the best Ds in college football, during a stellar career at National Champions Alabama.
19. Chicago Bears
Kendall Wright - Wide Receiver - Baylor
The Bears will be good, but they could go in several directions here: O Line, Pass Rusher or Receiver. If Chandler Jones is here, which is unlikely, they'll pull the trigger on him. But the way my mock is unfolding, they should take Wright, who was lethal in the RGIII run offense at Baylor.
20. Tennessee Titans.
Whitney Mercilus - OLB/DE - Illinois
Seems to be the consensus pick here. Talk about the best name a pass rusher in the NFL could have. They might go Wide Receiver here also, considering how they lost almost all production there last year after Kenny Britt was injured.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Dre Kirkpatrick - Cornerback - Alabama
See pick 17. If Kirkpatrick is gone here they could take Janoris Jenkins who is said to be a top 10 talent if it's weren't for all the character concerns.
22. Cleveland Browns
Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver - Georgia
Really interesting pick here. I think they try to add another weapon for Colt McCoy here with Hill. They all say he's raw but his size and speed makes him a unique prospect. I don't think the Browns take a QB here, but I wouldn't rule out them trading back into the bottom of the 1st round (perhaps with the trade-happy Patriots at 31) to get their hands on Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.
23. Detroit Lions
Jonathan Martin - Offensive Tackle - Stanford
The Lions could use some help at a couple of places on D, but with such a high-scoring offense I think they could get serviceable guys lower in the draft. With this pick they should get someone to keep injury prone QB Matt Stafford on his feet. That's where Martin comes in.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dont'a Hightower - Linebacker - Alabama
How I wish he'd fall to the Giants at 32. He looks brilliant from what I've seen and could have a massive impact in Dick LeBeau's defense, in a division that is now home to 2 elite running backs.
25. Denver Broncos
Dontari Poe - Defensive Tackle - Memphis
The Broncos really need help at defensive tackle. Poe put in a great performance at the scouting combine but he's seen as a boom or bust player. Michael Brockers is also a possibility here, but Poe's athleticism could make him a great fit for a Denver D that was brilliant at times last season before falling apart in the last 6 or so games.
26. Houston Texans
Cordy Glenn - Offensive Tackle - Georgia
Texans could really use O Line help here, especially after letting the right half of their line leave in free agency. There's also been a lot of talk about them taking a wide-receiver here. That's certainly a possibility, but with two of the best running backs in the NFL on their roster they should bolster the line.
27. New England Patriots
Shea McClellin - OLB/DE - Boise St.
The Patriots could do with a Pass Rusher and possibly a corner. But... it's the Pats so it's impossible to try and guess what they'll do. I'm going to go with a pass rusher like Shea McClellin here because I've read a couple of things about them liking him a lot. But is it a smokescreen???
28. Green Bay Packers
Nick Perry - DE - USC
The Packers need pass rushers as well. Maybe he doesn't fit their scheme, and if McClellin is here (which he very well may be) I think they could take him either.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Peter Konz - Centre - Wisconsin
Matt Birk says he'll play another year. There's a pretty good chance they select his heir here... although don't be surprised if they go in several other directions.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Amini Silatolu - Guard / Tackle - Widwestern State
The ran the ball brilliantly last year and I think this pick bolster their line. He looks nasty and aggressive which Jim Harbaugh will love.
31. New England Patriots
Michael Brockers - Defensive Tackle - LSU
No idea what they'll do here. I assume they'll be dying to trade out of this spot by them time 4.30 or 5am come around. I'm giving them Brockers because he's good and I think he'll probably be gone by now.
32. New York Giants
Doug Martin - Running Back - Boise St.
Despite winning the SuperBowl the Giants have some needs, some more important than others. They could use a running back or a tight end because of injury. Or they could use an O-Line guy or a Linebacker where they're vulnerable. A lot of people are mentioning Coby Fleener and he looks a fantastic player, but I think it would be short-sighted, which isn't Jerry Reese's style. Doug Martin played in an electric Boise St. offense and will be a nice addition, especially if Ahmed Bradshaw isn't healthy. The thing about the Giants though is... they'll always take the best athlete on their draft board, so if someone falls like Prince Amukamara did last year, they'll snap him up fairly sharpish.
Fuck that was difficult... Enjoy the draft