I recently had the idea to see what the draft would look like if the first-round order was flipped.
In possibly the first ‘mock draft’ without Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III at No. 1, I go from bottom to top in this draft:
Pick 1: New York Giants: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
With two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning at the helm, the Giants have no need for Andrew Luck. Instead, they select Kalil to fill a need.
Pick 2: New England Patriots: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Patriots don’t exactly have to spend a pick on Andrew Luck, so the team selects Richardson and adds another element to their dynamic offense.
Pick 3: San Francisco 49ers: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck finally finds a home here, as former coach Jim Harbaugh would love to select him. Although Alex Smith took the team to the NFC Championship, Luck presents a clear upgrade at the quarterback position for the next decade.
Pick 4: Baltimore Ravens: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
With a dominant defense and an excellent running game, the only thing that the Ravens are in need of is a top-notch passing attack. Entering Blackmon, the Oklahoma St. product, into the Ravens offense would help Joe Flacco and help the Ravens to overcome the Patriots and Steelers in the tough AFC.
Pick 5: Green Bay Packers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Packers had a prolific offense last year, but struggled defensively, eventually leading to their downfall in the playoffs. They would prefer to select a pass rusher across from Clay Matthews, but Claiborne represents excellent value here.
Pick 6: New England Patriots: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Patriots, with their second pick in this backwards mock, would select Ingram, the explosive linebacker from South Carolina, to help their non-existent pass rush.
Pick 7: Houston Texans: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Texans have been looking for a No. 2 wide receiver across from Andre Johnson and Floyd fits the bill. The team would look to have an explosive attack with this pick.
Pick 8: Denver Broncos: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
A value pick, this year’s Heisman trophy winner finds a home in Denver, as the Broncos would pick Griffin to be Peyton Manning’s eventual successor.
Pick 9: Pittsburgh Steelers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I have the Steelers taking Alabama linebacker Don’t’a Hightower in my actual mock draft, so they would be thrilled to get Kuechly, a better prospect at the same position.
Pick 10: Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stephon Gilmore has been flying up boards lately, and this would fill a huge need for the Lions, who struggled last year in pass defense.
Pick 11: Cleveland Browns: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I don’t really love the notion of the Browns taking Tannehill with pick No. 4 in the real draft, but I fully support this pick at number 11, which is more in line with his value. Tannehill becomes the new franchise quarterback in Cleveland.
Pick 12: Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
This is a perfect fit—guard is one of the Bengals’ biggest needs, and DeCastro is the top player on the board, a player that has drawn comparisons to Steve Hutchinson.
Pick 13: Tennessee Titans: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St
While the Titans are looking for a defensive back to replace the departed Cortland Finnegan, it is too early for Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins. Instead, they will settle for Cox, a top defensive lineman who will add needed muscle to the Titans defense.
Pick 14: Chicago Bears: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Bears will select Reiff, the Iowa mauler, to keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright and blast open holes for running back Matt Forte.
Pick 15: San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
This is the same pick as my actual mock, as Mercilus is the top player that fills a huge need for the Chargers.
Pick 16: Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Barron has been shooting up boards and probably will not last to the Bengals in Thursday’s draft, but Cincinnati takes this instinctive, hard-hitting safety in our backwards mock.
Pick 17: New York Jets: Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, UNC
This is a very realistic pick for the Jets in the real draft, as Rex Ryan needs young athletes for his attacking defense and Coples would provide a spark for the declining defensive unit.
Pick 18: Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
While the Eagles were hoping for Barron here but they settle for Poe, a combine warrior who will help to shore up the Eagles’ porous run defense.
Pick 19: Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys are another team that are very interested in Barron, but instead choose Kirkpatrick, who will team up with newly signed Brandon Carr to give Dallas two potential shutdown corners.
Pick 20: Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Martin is a player that Arizona would consider with their original number 13 pick, but he makes much more sense at number 20. He would help to protect Kevin Kolb, giving Kolb a better chance to succeed in his second year with the Cardinals.
Pick 21: Seattle Seahawks: Dont’a Hightower
The Seahawks and Steelers simply switch middle linebackers in this mock draft, selecting Hightower, the physical middle linebacker from national champion Alabama.
Pick 22: Kansas City Chiefs: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
I have the Chiefs picking David DeCastro in my real mock draft, so they go with Glenn instead. The Georgia product is a lesser prospect than DeCastro, but he plays the same position.
Pick 23: Buffalo Bills: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
With $59 million invested in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick but no elite left tackles available, the Bills will select Wright to complement number 1 wideout Stevie Johnson.
Pick 24: Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Panthers are desperate for defensive help, and I expect them to select Brockers in this backwards mock draft, solidifying the middle of their defensive line.
Pick 25: Miami Dolphins: Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
The Dolphins have two huge needs—a franchise quarterback and an edge rusher across from Cameron Wake. With no quarterback on the board right now, Miami will choose Jones, a late riser in this backwards mock.
Pick 26: Jacksonville Jaguars: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
The Jaguars have been very interested in South Carolina product Mark Ingram in the real draft, but in this backwards mock Jacksonville will select Nick Perry, the pass-rushing extraordinaire from USC.
Pick 27: St. Louis Rams: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Rams will select Hill, the dynamic, if inexperienced, wide receiver from Georgia Tech. Hill immediately becomes Sam Bradford’s number one target.
Pick 28: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
With none of the highest rated players fitting the Bucs’ needs, they reach for Miami product Lamar Miller, who will pair with incumbent Lagarette Blount to help fulfill new coach Greg Schiano’s “ground and pound” philosophy.
Pick 29: Cleveland Browns: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Another need-based pick, as Cleveland reaches for Jeffrey to help newly drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Pick 30: Minnesota Vikings: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Vikings are in dire need of a cornerback in able to compete with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and Jay Cutler in the NFC North, and Jenkins will help to do that. This defensive back has the potential to be a shutdown corner.
Pick 31: Washington Redskins: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The next two picks are very difficult to project, as the Redskins are locked into Robert Griffin III and the Colts are locked into selecting Andrew Luck. With both of those players long gone, the Redskins will shore up their offensive line with Konz, as opposed to reaching for a quarterback like Brandon Weeden.
Pick 32: Indianapolis Colts: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The Colts, in this backwards mock, choose Andrew Luck’s favorite target at Stanford, tight end Coby Fleener, to be a top target for whoever would quarterback them in this scenario, most likely a Day 2 prospect.