1) Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford
Things are tense in Indy with the team’s franchise quarterback and owner at odds over comments Manning made about the mood in the Colts’ facilities. Unless another team jumps in and offers the Colts something extraordinary for the pick, expect the Colts to take Luck, the player who is the consensus #1 on everyone’s board.
2) St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State
The Rams aren’t going to give up on Sam Bradford after a mediocre sophomore season. Instead, they’ll choose to surround the former #1 overall pick with more weapons. Enter Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is a big, physical receiver that can change a game instantly (check out the highlights from this year’s Fiesta Bowl if you don’t believe us).
3) Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil - OT - USC
The Vikings recently drafted Christian Ponder, who had shining moments this season, but they really need someone to protect him and open up holes for the running game. Matt Kalil is considered the top offensive linemen in this year’s draft and would definitely help protect the young QB’s blind side for years to come.
4) Cleveland Browns - Robert Griffin III - QB - Baylor
With St. Louis and Minnesota already set at QB, Cleveland happily scoops up “RG3” with the fourth pick. This year’s Heisman Trophy winner is an exceptional athlete who can run and throw, putting an immense amount of pressure on opposing defenses. We expect Colt McCoy to come out of camp as the starter and Griffin to take over for him a few games in.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU
Claiborne proved he is the top secondary man in this year’s draft after a stellar season with the LSU Tigers. While Claiborne’s teammate Tyrann “The Honey Badger” Mathieu received most of the national attention, it was Claiborne that made one of the best defenses in the NCAA tick.
6) Washington Redskins - Riley Reiff - OT - Iowa
Yes, the Redskins have many needs, but most of those needs start with protecting the QB and getting holes open for the run game. If RG3 somehow falls to them, they’ll take him in a heartbeat. If not, expect Daniel Snyder to spend big money on a free agent QB like Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning (should he become available).
7) Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples - DE - North Carolina
Jacksonville was in the bottom of the league in sacks, and is surely looking to fix that by adding someone who can attack the QB. Coples fits the bill and can take some time learning from former Packer Aaron Kampman.
8) Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers - DT - LSU
Also a key element of the LSU defense, Brockers will cause trouble for many offensive lineman in the NFL. Brockers would be a welcome addition to the extremely weak defensive line of the Panthers that gave up the 25th most rushing yards in the league last year.
9) Miami Dolphins - Jonathan Martin - OT - Stanford
With Luck and Griffin off the board, the Dolphins will have to make their splash at the QB position in free agency. Expect them to grab Jonathan Martin, a solid offensive lineman to protect whoever they bring in opposite Jake Long.
10) Buffalo Bills - Courtney Upshaw - OLB - Alabama
There are strong signals coming out of Buffalo which point to the Bills wanting Upshaw. The front office is dead-set on improving a pass rush that ranked 27th in the league in sacks last year. Upshaw is the best linebacker in the draft and due to his spectacular National Title Game, he has shot up draft boards and into the top 10.
11) Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro - G - Stanford
The Chiefs are content letting Cassel and Orton battle it out for the starting job at QB, but are determined to improve their blocking. DeCastro is the best guard in this year’s draft and has a real mean streak that should make him a perfect fit in head coach Romeo Crennel’s offense.
12) Seattle Seahawks - Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M
The Seahawks have Tavaris Jackson as their starting QB; unfortunately that is not a good thing. It is clear that the Seahawks will need to upgrade that position in order to compete in the NFC. While some call this a risky pick, Tannehill could blossom under the leadership of Pete Carrol.
13) Arizona Cardinals - Luke Kuechly - ILB - Boston College
Arizona has many needs in this draft, and an upgrade to the linebacking corps could do wonders to this defense. With the failure of Stewart Bradley, the addition of Kuechly could stabilize this unit for years to come.
14) Dallas Cowboys - Dre Kirkpatrick - CB - Alabama
Kirkpatrick is an extremely gifted CB, but his off the field issues have raised red flags. Dallas has never been afraid to take chances on guys like Kirkpatrick and we don’t expect them to change now. Kirkpatrick could step in immediately and shore up a pass defense which gave up over 21 points through the air per game last season.
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Devon Still - DT - Penn State
Amidst all of the Penn State drama going on, Still was a force to deal with in 2011. The Eagles would love to add his presence to their already-formidable defensive front.
16) New York Jets - Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama
Just how high Richardson is drafted will hinge on how he clocks in the 40. A punishing runner who relishes contact, a 40 time in the high 4.3’s could easily catapult him into the top 10. We’re guessing he’ll clock in the mid 4.4’s, causing him to fall slightly into the mid-teens. The Jets continually boast about their commitment to the run, and it’s becoming more and more apparent Shonn Greene is not the franchise back they hoped he’d be.
17) Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Adams - OT - Ohio State
With Richardson off the board, the Bengals will decide to wait on a running back and take the fourth tackle in this first round. Giving Andy Dalton more time to hit the extremely talented A.J. Green is a scary proposition for the rest of the AFC North.
18) San Diego Chargers - Kendall Wright - WR - Baylor
There is a good chance that Vincent Jackson will be gone next season, so the Chargers will look to reload with the explosive Kendall Wright. Wright was the go to guy for RG3 and has all the talent to one day be that guy for QB Phillip Rivers.
19) Chicago Bears - Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame
The new GM, Phil Emery, has pointed out that upgrading the WR position is priority number one. It’s time for the Bears to get a real receiver. Many have pointed out the needs on the offensive line, but the Bears will improve there simply by returning a few key guys from injury.
20) Tennessee Titans - Cordy Glenn - G - Georgia
The Titans have many offensive weapons, now they have to make sure they can protect QB Jake Locker. Glenn is slowly gaining momentum, and has the potential to be a key piece on the offensive line for years to come.
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Lamar Miller - RB - Miami (FL)
As noted earlier, the Bengals need a RB, and the speedy Miller would fill that void perfectly. With the career of Cedric Benson winding down, Miller could immediately provide a change of pace to a developing Bengals offense.
22) Cleveland Browns - Alshon Jeffery - WR - South Carolina
The Browns keep their focus on the offensive side of the ball with Alshon Jeffery, one of the elite receivers in this class. Jeffery has immense talent, but questions surrounding his character and top-end speed could be enough to drop him down into the late first round.
23) Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins - CB - N. Alabama
The Lions’ pass defense was every bit as bad as their passing offense was good. Jenkins, a Florida transfer, could greatly improve the Lions, and maybe create some stability at the position. Whoever selects Jenkins will have to monitor him closely; he has been arrested on multiple occasions for possession of marijuana.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Mark Barron - S - Alabama
As good as the Steelers’ safeties were this season, management knows Troy Polamalu’s punishing style could cut his career short and Ryan Clark’s 33rd birthday is right around the corner. By picking Barron, Pittsburg makes an investment in their future while also giving them a more than capable backup for the 2012-2013 season.
25) Denver Broncos - Peter Konz - C - Wisconsin
As much as Tim Tebow develops as a pocket passer, the Broncos will always be a team that looks to establish the run. Konz opened up huge holes for Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and projects to be an elite blocker in the NFL from day 1.
26) Houston Texans - Chase Minnifield - CB - Virginia
Last offseason the talk around the Texans was all about their secondary, and even with the major improvements made this past season they still have work to do. Minnifield is a physical corner who excels in run support. His father is former Pro Bowl cornerback Frank Minnifield.
27) New England Patriots (From New Orleans)- Whitney Mercilus - DE/OLB - Illinois
The Patriots need help in their defensive front seven, and Mercilus is versatile enough to play DE in the Patriots 4-3 defense or rushing linebacker when they switch to a 3-4 scheme. Mercilus’ talent, size and versatility make him a perfect fit for Bill Belichick.
28) Green Bay Packers - Alfonzo Dennard - CB - Nebraska
The Packers need help at nearly every position on defense. There aren’t any elite pass rushers left on the board so Thompson will look to bolster the secondary with Dennard. His physical style fits in with the Packers’ defensive philosophy, and a year or two spent learning the tricks of the trade from Charles Woodson could make Dennard one of the best corners in this draft class.
29) Baltimore Ravens - Vontaze Burfict - ILB - ASU
Ray Lewis is aging and the Ravens need to start preparing for a new era. Burfict is an extremely talented linebacker, but has some conduct issues that may cause a few teams to stay away completely. Baltimore’s veteran locker room will keep Burfict in line and Ray Lewis can teach him all the tricks that made Lewis a great linebacker for so many years.
30) San Francisco 49ers - Mohamed Sanu - WR - Rutgers
One reception, three yards. Those are the combined statistics of the 49ers receiving corps in the NFC Championship Game. By adding Sanu, the 49ers would get a guy that can run every route and catches everything within sight. After posting 115 receptions last year, many believe Sanu will shoot up draft boards once scouts get the chance to dissect his record breaking season.
31) New York Giants - Dont’a Hightower - ILB - Alabama
Some feel Hightower will go much higher, but questions remain about his ability to rush the passer after he posted a measly four sacks in 13 regular season game.
32) New England Patriots - Zach Brown - OLB - North Carolina
The Pats continue to add pieces to their defense, and Zach Brown is a developing player that could be as special as any defender in this draft.