|The Ultimate World Cup of Hockey Preview||LeBron James: A Performance for the Ages||RIP Muhammad Ali: The GOAT||Steph and the Warriors came out to play|
1. Colts: Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford
Stating the obvious, Luck goes no. 1 where he’ll be expected to fill some H.O.F. size shoes in Indy.
2. Redskins: Robert Griffin III – QB, Baylor
Finally, the nation’s capital have themselves a franchise quarterback to build around.
3. Buccaneers*: Trent Richardson – RB, Alabama *(trades up from #5)
Tampa Bay seems pretty eager to move up a few spots to lock-up the best running back the draft has seen since Adrian Peterson.
4. Browns: Justin Blackmon – WR, Oklahoma State
Cleveland needs all the help they can get, especially on offense, so they gladly “settle” on Blackmon after Richardson is off the boards.
5. Vikings*: Morris Claiborne – CB, Louisiana State *(trades down from #3)
Minnesota will be pleased to complete the trade and have the option of Claiborne or Kalil to flip a coin for. Claiborne might just make a little more sense given the elite receiving corps within the NFC North division.
6. Bills*: Matt Kalil – OT, Southern California *(trades up from #10)
Once Kalil becomes available after the first five picks are taken, Buffalo swoops in and trades up a few spots to get the best tackle in the draft.
7. Eagles*: Stephon Gilmore – CB, South Carolina *(trades up from #15)
It’s expected that Jacksonville will try to trade down, and Philly – in need of an elite defensive play-maker, such as Gilmore – is a perfect trade partner. This trade can actually happen after Jacksonville drafts Gilmore themselves.
8. Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill – QB, Texas A & M
One of the draft’s most scrutinized players; a young QB with this kind of upside is too much for Miami to pass on, even if he’ll be holding the clipboard for Matt Moore or David Garrard for all of 2012.
9. Panthers: Luke Keuchly – ILB, Boston College
This pick makes all the sense in the world as Carolina has had all sorts of problems with their linebackers staying healthy (Thomas Davis and Jon Beason) in recent years. Oh, and their defense ranked as one of the worst in 2011.
10. Rams*: Fletcher Cox – DT, Mississippi State *(trades down from #6)
Rams badly need offensive help for Sam Bradford, particularly on the line, but ultimately Jeff Fisher and St. Louis will go with Cox, who rates as the draft’s best run-stuffing D-lineman.
11. Cowboys*: Mark Barron – S, Alabama *(trades up from #14)
Dallas realizes Barron won’t be available to them at 14, but once (or if) they see Barron escape the top-10, look for the ‘Boys to move up to and nab him.
12. Seahawks: Melvin Ingram – OLB, South Carolina
Seattle can really use an elite sack artist, so they’ll go with Ingram, arguably the draft’s best pass-rushing talent.
13. Jets*: Michael Floyd – WR, Notre Dame *(trades up from #16)
Jets probably prefer Ingram to anyone else in the draft projected outside the top-10, but once he’s gone they’ll set their sights on Floyd and will move up a few spots to ensure both their quarterbacks of a physical, big-play making receiver.
14. Chiefs*: David DeCastro – G, Stanford *(trades down from #11)
Probably the best interior O-lineman in the draft, DeCastro makes sense for K.C. at 14 (and is probably who they would draft at 11, if they were to stay there).
15. Jaguars*: Whitney Mercilus – DE/OLB, Illinois *(trades down from #7)
Jacksonville could have selected Mercilus at seven, but instead trade down, knowing they could get him (or another DE/OLB type) at 15, and of course, receive some additional mid-round picks as a bonus.
16. Cardinals*: Riley Rieff – OT, Iowa *(trades down from #13)
Arizona will be extremely happy to see Rieff available to them at 16. Kevin Kolb will be too.
17. Bengals: Michael Brockers – DT, Louisiana State
Cincy has a lot of needs, but ultimately I can see them taking Brockers here in a pleasant surprise that he fell to them.
18. Chargers: Chandler Jones – OLB/DE, Syracuse
San Diego desperately needs to get a pass-rusher, Jones – one of the draft’s rawest talents – would fit in nicely with their 3-4 defense and can become quite a bargain at 18 when all is said and done.
19. Bears: Quinton Coples – DE, North Carolina
Coples is said to have some motor issues, but his talent is too much for Chicago to pass up on. If they can find a way to alleviate his “lazy” tendancies, they’ll get an every-down athletic play-maker on the D-line alongside Julius Peppers for years to come.
20. Titans: Shea McClellin – DE/OLB, Boise State
McClellin has been linked to a lot of teams throughout the mid-to-late-rounds, suggesting why his stock is high. Tennessee figures they can use a defensive player with his instinctual pass-rushing ability.
21. Bengals: Cordy Glenn – OT/G, Georgia
Glenn makes sense for Cincy as a college tackle big enough to successfully transistion to guard, where the need is bigger for the Bengals.
22. Browns: Dre Kirkpatrick – CB, Alabama
To Cleveland’s benefit, Kirkpatrick falls to this point. After opting to select Blackmon ahead of Claiborne with the fourth overall pick, the Browns go with Kirkpatrick here, to improve their pass defense.
23. Lions: Andre Branch – DE, Clemson
Branch joins a elite D-line, that he’ll be a key component for starting in 2013 when he would become a full-time player likely in place of Kyle Vanden Boesch.
24. Steelers: Dont’a Hightower – ILB, Alabama
As an ideal of a fit can get this late into the first-round, Pittsburgh finds a quality replacement for longtime ILB James Farrior.
25. Broncos: Jerel Worthy – DT, Michigan State
Kind of an unknown, Denver has been linked to Worthy for a reason; they can use a guy like him to anchor their defense. They’ll rely on that Manning guy to man the offense.
26. Texans: Stephen Hill – WR, Georgia Tech
With some plus size and speed, Hill can quickly develop into the perfect compliment to Andre Johnson.
27. Patriots: Courtney Upshaw – DE/OLB, Alabama
Upshaw fits better in a 4-3 than a 3-4, and with New England officially converted over to a 4-3, Upshaw can be quite a steal at 27.
28. Packers: Nick Perry – DE/OLB, Southern California
Kind of an unknown, Perry quietly is a safe pick for a team in need of an outside pass-rusher. He could develop into quite the compliment on the other side of the defense to Clay Matthews.
29. Ravens: Rueben Randle – WR, Louisiana State
Randle is an ideal pick for Baltimore, where he’ll be able to contribute immdiately, and eventually replace Anquan Boldin as one of Joe Flacco’s go-to deep threats. They like Peter Konz here as well, as a potential replacement at center for Matt Birk. But ultimately, the Ravens feel Randle could be the difference maker they seek.
30. 49ers: Peter Konz – G/C, Wisconsin
San Fran can go a lot of different ways here. I see them grabbing Konz, who is easily the best available interrior O-lineman to this point. If not Konz, his former college teammate, guard Kevin Zeitler, makes sense too. Although don’t rule out tight end Coby Fleener (Stanford) even if the Niners have Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.
31. Patriots: Dontari Poe – DT, Memphis
After his off-the-charts combine performance, it was once inconceivable to think Poe would slip past the first dozen or so. But he will because his brute strength and agility has yet to fully translate to game-day. New England gets him here, where he can be eased into a role, as an understudy of Vince Wilfork.
32. Giants: Harrison Smith – S, Notre Dame
Another tricky late first-round pick to predict. The fans want tight end Coby Fleener here, but Jerry Reese and the Giants typically don’t go for tight ends early, let alone in round one. I think they’ll go with the best available player, and if it’s not another defensive end (remember, we don’t know yet if Osi Umenyiora is going to be back), I think Smith is that guy.