The NFL draft coming up this Thursday night, and this is how I believe the first round will play out:
This is a no brainer lock. Luck is the best prospect since Peyton Manning to come out of college and the quarterback selfish Colts are once again set for 15 years with a franchise QB.
The Redskins traded up for Griffin and they will take Griffin, not much analysis to give here.
They got their QB last year and Ponder definitely showed signs. Now they need someone to protect him. They’ve got a good nucleus of young offensive players with Ponder, Peterson, Harvin and now Kalil.
With the loss of Hillis the Browns need a franchise Running Back. I think they will give Colt McCoy one more year before they bail and try for another QB.
Aquib Talib can’t stay out of jail and Ronde Barber isn’t getting any younger. The Bucs biggest need is CB and conveniently Claiborne is the best available player.
The Rams lost Lloyd to the Patriots and now they need someone for Bradford to throw to. Blackmon is that guy.
I can’t believe Jacksonville blew it on getting Tebow. They will give Gabbert another shot even though he looked incompetent last year. DE is their biggest need so Melvin Ingram will be the pick for their underrated defense. He will get to play next to two of the best 4-3 DT’s in the game in Knighton and Alualu.
The Dolphins didn’t get any of the QB’s available this offseason. Tannehill is getting a ton of hype and I can’t imagine they stay with Matt Moore.
Poe had an incredible combine but an awful season with Memphis. He didn’t even make first team Conference USA. However, the Panthers need an NT and based on potential alone he will be a top 10 pick.
The Bills decided Ryan Fitzpatrick was their guy last year. Right or wrong they need someone to protect him. Reiff is a great talent and deserves to be a top 10 pick.
This pick comes down to 2 players for the Chiefs: DeCastro (OG) and Kuechly (LB). Some scouts say that at the worst DeCastro will make a couple pro bowls, that is extremely high praise. Taking a guard this early is not conventional but Pioli showed for the right player he is willing to step outside of conventional drafting (he took safety Eric Berry at 5 overall 2 years ago).
Also, I’m not willing to give up on Belcher yet; he was nearly elite at run stopping last year and I want to give him one more year to improve in pass coverage. Lilja on the other hand needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. His best days are behind him and last year he was a slightly below average gaurd in the league. I would imagine he would be even worse this year if he played a significant amount of snaps.
With this pick the Chief’s offensive line would be, from left to right: Albert, DeCastro, Hudson, Asamoah, Winston. That has the potential to be a top 3 line in the league and Matt Cassel definitely needs it.
Kuechly was one of the best Middle Linebackers in college football history. He is someone that can make an impact from a tackles standpoint right away. He might not have that much athletic upside but the Seahawks need someone to play Inside Linebacker and Kuechly is the best available player.
The Cardinals need a franchise left tackle but this could be somewhat of a reach. Still, they’ve got a good defense and they are stuck with Kolb so they might as well protect him.
The Cowboys need a cornerback to compliment their big free agent signing, Brandon Carr. I really like Dre Kirkpatrick, he can cover and tackle.
Mark Barron has top 10 talent but in this draft, like most others, safety is not a priority for teams drafting high up. The Eagles have a need at safety because no matter how good your corners are, we saw with them last year that if you don’t have talented safeties you are still vulnerable in the secondary. The Eagles will draft Barron with great value and we will have to see how the Dream Team round 2 goes.
The Jets are a team with hardly any needs. The defense is great and for better of for worse they’ve already paid everyone on offense. Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress are not going to be passable wide receivers for much longer and Floyd could join the younger nucleus the Jets have begun to start on offense.
The Bengals never really replaced Jonathan Joseph last year and with Gillmore and Hall they could once again have a great Cornerback duo.
Since they lost Merriman, the Chargers have been in dire need of a pass rusher. Upshaw would fit perfect in their 3-4 scheme and I think he could make an impact right away, like Aldon Smith last year.
I think Couples might be the most overrated player in the draft but I must concede that the Bears would have to take him if he fell to 19. He would compliment Peppers perfectly and they would the potential for the most feared pair of 4-3 DE’s since Jared Allen and Ray Edwards for the Vikings a couple of years ago.
The Titans could also use a DE. Crick didn’t live up to the hype as the next Suh out of Nebraska but he will still be a first rounder.
For the Bengal’s second pick in Round 1 they will take a speed receiver to compliment AJ Green. Also, Adams can be electric in the return game, something the Bengals could really use.
The Browns have one of the best Left Tackles in the game and they just got an elite Running Back prospect at pick 4. They will take a Right Tackle with this pick and along with Center Alex Mack, they will have one of the best young offensive lines in the league to block for Richardson.
I really love Hightower and I can’t let him fall any further. The Lions are definitely set at MLB (Tulloch) but lucky for them Hightower is versatile enough to play OLB in their 4-3 scheme. This pick could arguably give the Lions the best front 7 in the NFL.
Casey Hampton definitely isn’t getting any younger and the Steelers really don’t have a capable backup. The must address Nose Tackle early on in the draft and Cox is too good to pass up at pick 24.
The Broncos, just like the Steelers, have a great exterior to their D-Line but need to bolster up in the middle. Brandon Thompson will do that for them.
The Texans have been looking for a capable WR next to Andre Johnson for years. They will take Wright with this pick and help themselves not only on offense, but also on special teams.
The Patriots have no one on their D-Line except Wilfork. That was evident throughout the season. They will take Mercilus who fits perfectly in their 3-4 defense.
You might think the Packers would need to go RB with this pick but I believe it’s hard to argue with the production the offense put up last year without a good RB. Their offense does not need an RB to move the chains and put points on the board. They need to sure up the defense and get someone from across Clay Mathews to get to the Quarterback.
McClellin is one of the most versatile players in this year’s draft. He could really fit anywhere on this Ravens defensive front 7 for years to come. They are going to need him to play across from Suggs and I believe he will be able to get sacks for Baltimore right away.
Jeffery didn’t help his draft stock in his last year at South Carolina. Most thought before the year he would be a top 10 pick, now many don’t even have him as a first round talent. I think he barely squeaks into the first round to the 49ers because they really need help in the receiving game. Vernon Davis can’t do it all.
Once again the Patriots will go with someone to play next to Wilfork with this pick. I like the idea of the Patriots drafting to rookie 3-4 DE’s in the first round. It is clearly the biggest hole on their team.
The Giants have hardly any needs so they will go with Adams who can play 4 of the 5 offensive line positions. They can slot him anywhere they need him and I think this would be a good value pick getting Adams at the very bottom of the first round.
Mock draft stats:
15 Offensive players, 17 defensive players.
12 players from the SEC.
13 defensive front 7 players.
3 Big 12 players (two from Baylor).
5 players from Alabama.