By Derek Brody
The NFL draft is never easy to fully predict, but our draft analyst Derek Brody took a stab at it with the first edition of his Mock Draft.
Pick 1: Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck , QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck possesses elite accuracy, intelligence, and mobility inside the pocket, leading many experts to tab him as the best quarterback prospect since John Elway. Although he does not display elite arm strength, he has the ability to make all the throws necessary in the NFL and the Colts will select him to be their franchise quarterback.
Pick 2: Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Heisman winner Robert Griffin III is one of the most electric players in the draft. The Redskins, who traded first round picks in the next three drafts to move up to this pick, will certainly go with the exciting Baylor product.
Pick 3: Minnesota Vikings, Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Minnesota Vikings select Matt Kalil here as their franchise left tackle. The USC lineman will protect the blindside of second year quarterback Christian Ponder and blast open holes for All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.
Pick 4: Cleveland Browns, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
As the first surprise pick of the first round, the Cleveland Browns take wide receiver-turned quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M. In a very difficult AFC North, the Browns realize they need a true franchise signal caller to compete for the playoffs.
Pick 5: Tampa Bay Buccanneers, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Instead of LSU corner Morris Claiborne, the Bucs opt for the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson—Trent Richardson, out of Alabama. Grouped with third year pro Josh Freeman and newly signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay now has the offensive firepower to challenge for a Wild Card spot.
Pick 6: St. Louis Rams, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
Desperate to add weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford, the Rams target the best wide receiver in this years’ class, Justin Blackmon. The Oklahoma State pass catcher will provide Bradford with the No. 1 target that the Ram quarterback has been so sorely lacking.
Pick 7: Jacksonville Jaguars, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Rookie Blaine Gabbert was woefully bad last year, in part due to a horrific supporting cast. In order to improve that supporting cast and give Gabbert a better chance to succeed, the Jaguars will select Floyd, the 6’3” wide receiver from Notre Dame.
Pick 8: Miami Dolphins, Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, North Carolina
With Tannehill off the board, the Dolphins make a no-brainer pick with Quinton Coples, a freak athletically who struggles with motor and durability concerns at times. The Dolphins will take Coples and line him up across from Cameron Wake, creating a potentially devastating combination for the ‘Phins defensively.
Pick 9: Carolina Panthers, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Panthers get a steal with the ninth pick as they grab the top defensive player in the draft here. Claiborne, while not elite athletically, is a true lockdown corner and will help to improve the porous Panthers pass defense.
Pick 10: Buffalo Bills, Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
With the loss of Demetress Bell, the Bills will select mauler Riley Reiff out of Iowa to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick, a quarterback they just invested $59 million in.
Pick 11: Kansas City Chiefs, David DeCastro, G, Stanford
DeCastro is easily the top interior lineman in this class. While it’s unusual for guards to go this high, DeCastro has the ability to be a difference maker for the Chiefs in a weak AFC West division.
Pick 12: Seattle Seahawks, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Kuechly is a very skilled linebacker, showing great instincts and tackling ability at Boston College. He could end the season as a starter in the Seahawks’ 4-3 front.
Pick 13: Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With $63 million invested in quarterback Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals attempt to grab a franchise left tackle with Jonathan Martin. This lineman protected Andrew Luck’s blindside last year and the Cardinals hope his success translates to the NFL.
Pick 14: Dallas Cowboys, Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Cowboys are trying to rebuild their underwhelming defense in what looks to be a strong NFC East. Pairing Ingram, an explosive outside linebacker, with DeMarcus Ware should give the Cowboys a devastating tandem defensively and allow the Cowboys to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Pick 15: Philadelphia Eagles, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Philadelphia Eagles struggled in their run defense for much of last year. Selecting Poe, a physical beast who impressed many at his individual workout, will allow them to fill one of their most pressing needs.
Pick 16: New York Jets, Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Head coach Rex Ryan demands a physical, attacking defense, but many key defensive players are slowing down. The Jets go with the outside linebacker Upshaw, who could rejuvenate the defense and improve the pass rush.
Pick 17: Cincinnati Bengals, Mark Barron, S, Alabama
I had the Bengals selecting Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick until the recent signing of Terrence Newman, so the Bengals will opt to choose Kirkpatrick’s secondary mate at Alabama in Barron, a hard-hitting and instinctive safety who will step in and possibly unseat starter Chris Crocker.
Pick 18: San Diego Chargers, Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
San Diego GM A.J. Smith has been very vocal this offseason about acquiring players to rush the passer. The Chargers use this pick on the player who had the most sacks in college football last season, Whitney Mercilus.
Pick 19: Chicago Bears, Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
The Bears are a very solid team with few holes after the acquisition of No. 1 target Brandon Marshall. With the release of defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, however, the Bears are in need of depth in the trenches—they select the versatile Fletcher Cox.
Pick 20: Tennessee Titans, Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
Chris Johnson struggled through a subpar 2011, in part due to his offensive line’s inability to open holes. Head coach Mike Munchak, a former offensive lineman himself, will be drawn to Glenn’s tenacity and toughness. I project Glenn stepping into a starting role at some point in 2012.
Pick 21: Cincinatti Bengals, Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
The Bengals will spend their second first-rounder on the second best running back in this class. Miller has drawn comparisons to Lesean McCoy because of his burst and ability to pick up big chunks of yardage. He’ll split time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Pick 22: Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
After selecting their franchise quarterback earlier, the Browns attempt to surround him with weapons as they choose the speedy Wright. The fast wideout is a burner who paired with Robert Griffin III at Baylor to combine for 108 receptions and over 1,600 yards.
Pick 23: Detroit Lions, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions allowed Matt Flynn to throw for 480 yards in the final game of the regular season, exposing their below-average secondary. The team has also shown a tendency to pick the best player available and Kirkpatrick certainly fits the bill. Kirkpatrcik is a tall, physical corner who will be able to match up with many of the dominant, tall wide receivers in the NFL.
Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers, Don’t’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
With the release of James Farrior, the Steelers have a need for a linebacker—Hightower would fill that need. The linebacker would also inject fresh blood into an aging Steelers defensive unit.
Pick 25: Denver Broncos, Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
After the signing of Peyton Manning, the Broncos now have to surround their new All-Pro passer with weapons. I have them choosing Stephen Hill, the burner from Georgia Tech. Hill will pair with former teammate and third-year pro Demaryius Thomas to give Manning two young targets for this season.
Pick 26: Houston Texans, Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Texans might have hoped that either Wright or Hill had fallen to them at this point, but they’ll settle for Adams, a big lineman who will replace departed right tackle Eric Winston.
Pick 27: New England Patriots, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
New England certainly had hoped Barron would fall to them at this spot, but they will settle for Brockers, a 6’6” beast who will fill a role similar to that of former Patriot Richard Seymour.
Pick 28: Green Bay Packers, Nick Perry, OLB, USC
The Packers, who struggled defensively all last year, select Perry to line up across from All-Pro Clay Matthews, giving the Packers an accomplished pass rushing duo. Perry, a USC product, fills one of the few needs that the Packers have.
Pick 29: Baltimore Ravens, Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Ravens will select Peter Konz, a very skilled interior lineman, to replace new Saints guard Ben Grubbs. Presumably, Konz will replace center Matt Birk down the road, but he is a Day One starter at guard for this Ravens squad.
Pick 30: San Francisco 49ers, Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The 49ers will follow the “best player available” strategy in selecting Jenkins, an the extremely talented cornerback who fell because of character concerns.
Pick 31: New England Patriots, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Patriots will continue to improve their defense by selecting Gilmore, a technically sound cornerback who is a steal this late in the first round.
Pick 32: New York Giants, Devon Still, DT, Penn St.
The Giants will follow their “best player available” philosophy by selecting Still, a consistent player who could’ve been picked much higher. Still will add much needed depth to the defensive line of the World Champions.