Insider: NFL Mock Draft 1.0
The regular season may not be finished, but several teams are already looking ahead to April’s draft. Based on current records and playoff projections we take our first stab at a mock draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck is a no-brainer for any team, and especially the Colts who have a 36-year old quarterback owed a ton of money who’s coming off three neck surgeries.
2. St. Louis Rams- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Rams aren’t quite ready yet to give up on Sam Bradford, at least not for anyone but Andrew Luck. Claiborne is the closest thing to a shutdown cornerback we’ve seen since Darrelle Revis and he makes any team better.
3. Minnesota Vikings- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Without Matt Kalil in this draft Riley Reiff becomes the top rated offensive tackle. Minnesota needs help in a lot of areas and protecting Christian Ponder is of the utmost importance.
4. Carolina Panthers- Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The Panthers run defense is amongst the leakiest in football and the 330 pound tackle from Penn State should pay immediate dividends.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith doesn’t like to admit mistakes so he will stick with Blaine Gabbert for one more year while grabbing him some veteran weapons. With Rashean Mathis’ career in doubt, Dre Kirkpatrick becomes a nice fit alongside Derek Cox in the Jaguars secondary.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
After careful evaluation the Bucs decide to give Josh Freeman one more year to get back the 2010 magic. A backfield of Trent RIchardson and LeGarrette Blount will be among the most feared in football.
7. Cleveland Browns- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Browns czar Mike Holmgren doesn’t like to take quarterbacks in the first round but RG3 is simply too good of a prospect to pass on at pick number seven.
8. Miami Dolphins- Matt Barkley, QB, USC
As happy as the Browns are to get the reigning Heisman Trophy winner without trading up, the Dolphins are to grab Matt Barkley. Barkley can come in and have immediate success.
9. Washington Redskins- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Look for the Redskins to try and trade up to get Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin. If that doesn’t happen the Skins will try and draft a player who can score touchdowns, and that’s Michael Floyd.
10. Kansas City Chiefs- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Branden Albert hasn’t quite been the player that the Chiefs thought he would be and they need better production at the offensive tackle position.
11. Philadelphia Eagles- Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The dream team will be a lot dreamier with some competent linebackers and Dont’a Hightower could be the big play guy that the Eagles are missing.
12. Buffalo Bills- Vontaze Burfict, DE, Arizona State
Shawne Merriman obviously didn’t work out for the Bills and they need someone who can get to opposing quarterbacks. Burfict could be that guy.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon is a solid value for Arizona who is looking for a compliment to Larry Fitzgerald.
14. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A & M
Ryan Tannehill could rise like Jake Locker as the draft gets closer. Seattle can be very competitive in the NFC West with a legitimate signal caller.
15. San Diego Chargers- Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
The Chargers need more talent up front and Upshaw can be very disruptive along side last year’s first-round pick Corey Liuget.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)- Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
The Bengals are sold on quarterback Andy Dalton and they want to provide him every opportunity for success. Glenn is the top rating guard which should help the running game.
17. Cincinnati Bengals- Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
An all-SEC combo of A.J. Green and Alshon Jeffery will make the Bengals offense dynamic enough to compete against defenses like Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
18. Chicago Bears- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Every year Lance Briggs complains about his contract and eventually the Bears will have heard enough. Brown is selected to be Briggs eventual replacement.
19. Dallas Cowboys- Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
The Cowboys secondary is as bad as any in the league, especially considering they’re a legitimate contender. Barron can step in and start immediately.
20. Tennessee Titans- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Titans need better production from the offensive line and DeCastro could help Chris Johnson get back on track in 2012.
21. New York Giants- Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Although New York will have plenty of talent coming back from injury, they’re still too thin at linebacker. Kuechly is a tackling machine who can get 100 stops as a rookie.
22. Detroit Lions- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The former Florida Gators cornerback can be a day-one starter for the Lions and sure up the only real weak part of their defense.
23. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)- Lamar Miller, RB Miami
Grabbing RG3 with their first pick instead of Trent Richardson lets Cleveland address two needs at the skill positions and maximize value.
24. Denver Broncos- Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina
Denver is putting together a Steelers like defense in terms of rushing the passer. Coples is a nice value at pick number 24 and should make life even easier on Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.
25. New York Jets- Melvin Ingram, OLB, Clemson
The Jets defense is missing pass rushers and Ingram is a big, active body who can do just that.
26. New England Patriots- Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
Without a top cornerback on the board the Patriots continue to stockpile talent on the defensive line in hopes to make that side of the ball respectable.
27. San Francisco 49ers- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
The 49ers need more guys who can score touchdowns. Sanu is one of those guys.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
If 2011 taught the Steelers anything they need more depth on the offensive line. Adams will provide that.
29. Houston Texans- Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
The Texans are pretty well loaded on both sides of the ball, but another wideout to help Andre Johnson would be a welcomed sight for Matt Schaub.
30. Green Bay Packers- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
The Packers need to keep stocking talent on the defensive line and Worthy can be a nice 5-technique player next to B.J. Raji.
31. Baltimore Ravens- Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State
The eventual AFC champs aren’t afraid to keep drafting pass rushers as Terrell Suggs just finished his ninth season. The Ravens are hopeful Jenkins stops the string of FSU defensive end busts.
32. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)- Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Pats transformation back to the 4-3 is complete with Whitney Mercilus, who can hold up against the run while playing with his hand on the ground. New England can’t fix all their defensive problems in one draft, but assuming they don’t trade up they can grab two nice pieces.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlieInsider: NFL Mock Draft 1.0 by Sports Talk Florida