It’s officially draft day.
With my first two mock drafts in the books, it’s time to look at Mock Draft 3.0. With no surprises at No. 1 or 2, I feel like this draft really starts with the third overall pick. Let’s have a look.
Pick 1: Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck , QB, Stanford (Original Pick: Luck)
Yesterday, the Colts announced their intentions of picking Luck first overall. This pick is absolutely set in stone, as it has been throughout the draft process.
Pick 2: Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (Original Pick: Griffin)
Likewise, Washington’s selection of Griffin in tonight’s draft will merely be a formality, as the Redskins have been locked into this selection since their trade with St. Louis last month.
Pick 3: TRADE: St. Louis Rams, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (Original Pick: Matt Kalil)
Here is the first shocker of my third mock draft, as I have the Rams trading up for the right to select Alabama product Trent Richardson and, in the process, moving Steven Jackson for a mid-round pick elsewhere. There are enough receivers on the board for St. Louis to get a guy in Round Two, but no back like Richardson will be in play on the draft’s second day.
Pick 4: Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St. (Original Pick: Richardson)
Contrary to reports, with Richardson off the board, the Browns will select Blackmon. The electric wide receiver from Oklahoma State will be quarterback Colt McCoy’s number one target downfield.
Pick 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU (Original Pick: Claiborne)
This selection boils down to Claiborne and USC tackle Matt Kalil—the Bucs would take Claiborne in this scenario. With the impending retirement of Ronde Barber and the legal drama of Aqib Talib, Tampa needs more good cornerbacks to compete with NFC South QBs Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan.
Pick 6: TRADE: Minnesota Vikings, Matt Kalil, OT, USC (Original Pick: Blackmon)
The Vikings manage to trade down and still pick their preferred prospect, selecting Kalil to be the Minnesota’s left tackle for the next decade or so.
Pick 7: Jacksonville Jaguars, Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina (Original Pick: Ingram)
The Jaguars are desperately trying to trade out of this pick, but with no team willing to move up, Jacksonville settles for Ingram. The explosive defensive end will immediately bolster Jacksonville’s lackluster pass rush.
Pick 8: Miami Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M (Original Pick: Tannehill)
Unable to lure either Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn to South Beach, the Dolphins settle for Tannehill and get a ‘franchise quarterback’. Tannehill has concerns when it comes to experience as a signal caller, but he’ll get his due share in Miami.
Pick 9: Carolina Panthers, Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St. (Original Pick: Cox)
Carolina will look solely for defense on this pick, selecting Cox to bolster their interior defensive line instead of Stephon Gilmore and Luke Kuechly at other positions.
Pick 10: Buffalo Bills, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina (Original Pick: Riley Reiff)
Recent rumors suggest that the Bills have dropped out of the running for Riley Reiff and Michael Floyd. Buffalo will need corners to compete with Tom Brady in the AFC East. Gilmore’s stock has been soaring recently and he looks locked in as a top-14 pick.
Pick 11: Kansas City Chiefs, David DeCastro, G, Stanford (Original Pick: DeCastro)
This is a pick that makes too much sense—the Chiefs are in need of an interior offensive lineman and DeCastro is one of the best guard prospects in the past twenty years.
Pick 12: Seattle Seahawks, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (Original Pick: Kuechly)
The Seahawks have two needs coming into this draft; some sort of edge rusher and someone to man the middle of their 4-3 defense. Kuechly fits the latter need and will likely step in as the Day 1 starter in Seattle.
Pick 13: Arizona Cardinals, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame (Original Pick: Floyd)
Cardinal fans are jumping for joy in this scenario as they are able to select Floyd, the explosive playmaker out of Notre Dame, to play across from All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald. This scenario gives Arizona a scary 1-2 punch on the outside.
Pick 14: Dallas Cowboys, Mark Barron, S, Alabama (Original Pick: Gilmore)
Both Dallas and Philadelphia are smitten with Barron, but the Cowboys are able to snag him because of Philly’s inability to move up in this mock. Barron immediately fortifies a porous Dallas pass defense.
Pick 15: Philadelphia Eagles, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis (Original Pick: Poe)
With Barron off the board, the Eagles turn to solidifying the interior of their line. I have them selecting Poe, the combine warrior, to become an anchor in their 4-3 defense.
Pick 16: New York Jets, Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, UNC (Original Pick: Coples)
Rex Ryan loves athletic, physical players for his defense and Coples is exactly that. THe UNC end is a boom-or-bust pick because of his iffy work ethic in college, but his tremendous talent leads the Jets to select him here.
Pick 17: Cincinnati Bengals, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama (Original Pick: Barron)
With Jonathan Joseph in Houston and Leon Hall recovering from a torn achillles, the up-and-coming Bengals will go with Kirkpatrick. This tall, rangy cornerback won a national champion with Alabama last season and should have success in the NFL.
Pick 18: San Diego Chargers, Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa (Original Pick: Whitney Mercilus)
Reiff is a faller in this mock, but the Chargers are happy to scoop him up. They struggled for much of last year in protecting franchise quarterback Phillip Rivers and Reiff is an upgrade.
Pick 19: Chicago Bears, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU (Original Pick: Cordy Glenn)
Chicago’s vaunted defense has become softer in the last few years because of a lack of toughness up the middle, which Brockers will fix. He’ll occupy blockers in the Bears’ 4-3 alignment, freeing up space for Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher.
Pick 20: Tennessee Titans, Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse (Original Pick: Kirkpatrick)
The Titans had hoped a cornerback would fall to them at this point, but instead settle for Jones, a late-riser in the draft process who will add to a mediocre Tennessee pass rush.
Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals, Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia (Original Pick: Lamar Miller)
Another perfect fit here, as Cincinnati is in need of a guard and Glenn will be able to fill that need perfectly, protecting second year quarterback Andy Dalton.
Pick 22: Cleveland Browns, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford (Original Pick: Martin)
The Browns continue to add to their depleted offense, selecting Martin to step into their starting right tackle position immediately.
Pick 23: Detroit Lions, Don’t’a Hightower, LB, Alabama (Original Pick: Janoris Jenkins)
With no cornerbacks on the board, the Lions stick to their “best player available” strategy, selecting Hightower despite the presence of Stephen Tulloch at middle linebacker.
Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers, Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama (Original Pick: Hightower)
With Hightower in the motor city, the Steelers opt to choose Upshaw, who was once thought of as a top-12 pick. This Bama backer will help to bolster a rapidly aging Steelers defensive unit.
Pick 25: Denver Broncos, Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor (Original Pick: Brockers)
Adding Wright, an absolute burner, to the Bronco offense would create mismatches all over the field. Wright and third year player Demariyus Thomas will combine to give Peyton Manning two good, young wide receivers to throw to.
Pick 26: Houston Texans, Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech (Original Pick: Wright)
Texan fans have been clamoring for someone to draw coverage away from star wide receiver Andre Johnson and Stephen Hill will do just that. The Yellow Jacket is a combine warrior who is 6’4” and ran a 4.3 40 at the Combine—he’ll help make the Texans offense even more explosive.
Pick 27, New England Patriots, Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise St. (Original Pick: Upshaw)
Bill Belichick loves versatility and McClellin, another late riser in the draft, is a versatile defensive player who can line up with his hand on the ground or standing up, helping to improve a non-existent Patriot pass rush.
Pick 28, Green Bay Packers, Nick Perry, OLB, USC (Original Pick: Perry)
The Packers’ greatest need is a pass rusher across from Clay Matthews and there are many edge rushers left on the board. In the end, I believe they choose Perry, the pass-rushing extraordinaire, over Illinois product Whitney Mercilus and Clemson’s Andre Branch.
Pick 29: Baltimore Ravens, Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin (Original Pick: Konz)
Konz will step in and replace departed right guard Ben Grubbs, and eventually shift to center after Matt Birk’s retirement, adding needed toughness to the interior of Baltimore’s offensive line.
Pick 30: San Francisco 49ers, Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford (Original Pick: Hill)
Jim Harbaugh loves using multiple tight end sets, so he will select Fleener, his former player at Stanford, in an attempt to recreate New England’s success in using multiple tight ends, pairing Fleener with incumbent Vernon Davis to create mismatch advantages.
Pick 31: TRADE: Cleveland Browns, Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma St. (Original Pick: Devon Still)
Like I said, Bill Belichick loves versatility, but he also loves trading down. The Browns move back into the first round and select their franchise quarterback, Brandon Weeden, an excellent prospect who is hurt by the fact that he is already 28 years old but is a solid signal caller.
Pick 32: New York Giants, Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State (Original Pick: Fleener)
The Giants shore up their depleted offensive line and choose Adams, a physical, yet inconsistent tackle from Ohio State.