NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: A general view of the Draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
With just two weeks to go before the NFL Draft, I thought I would update my mock draft a little bit. We are smack dab in the middle of the annual "smokescreen" season. It's nearly impossible to discern the total B.S. from what may actually be accurate. But trying to wade through the dung can be fun - even if it's fruitless.
With that said, I give you version two of my mock draft:
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This one is obvious - and kind of unfair - as the Colts once again step in a nice pile of poop at just the right time. Colts suck in 1997, land #1 pick in '98 and draft Peyton Manning. Now they suck in 2011, land the #1 pick in '12 and can get Luck - the best QB prospect since Manning - to replace Manning.
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Redskins made the bold move up in the draft to select their franchise QB - kind of like what Dolphins fans were hoping to see their team do. And for what it's worth, I'm a huge believer in RG3. I like Andrew Luck more. But Griffin is going to be a star.
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
There are only 2 ways I see the Vikings not taking Kalil. One would be if they choose to go with Morris Claiborne. The other would be if a team ponies up a nice package to trade up into the #3 pick. Otherwise, these first three picks are locked in already.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns could go in a number of directions here. Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, or Ryan Tannehill are all on the table. They need offensive firepower and all three of these guys would provide that. Right now, I think they take Richardson because he can be a workhorse and take pressure off whoever their QB is going to be. He makes an immediate impact and gives this Browns offense a legitimate play-maker.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
In Greg Schiano's first draft, look for Tampa to boost the talent level of their defense. Schiano is a defensive coach at heart and Claiborne is possibly the best defensive player in the draft.
6. St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
In their trade down with Washington, the Rams are still able to land their big-time receiver in addition to the lot of draft picks they acquired. Blackmon might not be the only receiver worthy of a top 10 pick this year, as the Michael Floyd bandwagon picks up steam each day. I think both can be #1 receivers. But I trust Blackmon more.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Jags will likely go one of three ways here - DE, OL, or WR. Riley Reiff will be considered here - but I'm not too big on him and I think there's value at OT in the middle rounds. Michael Floyd could be the pick here, too. But the WR class is deep and you can get a starting WR in rounds 2 and 3. That leaves defensive end - where I think the Jaguars take Ingram due to his versatility. They will be able to move him all around their defense - from end to tackle to linebacker - to create confusion and disrupt opposing offenses.
8. Miami Dolphins - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
I know, I know. I'm crazy, right? How can the Dolphins not take Ryan Tannehill if he's still on the board? Let me make this clear - I would take Tannehill. However, for the first time all offseason, I'm beginning to think a first round QB is not Miami's destiny this year (yet again). And among their long list of needs, a pass rusher is towards the top if the list. We all know about the "motor" issues that Coples had. But he is an elite talent and I believe DL coach Kacy Rodgers would be able to get the most out of him and develop him into a Mario Williams type of player. He's that good - when he wants to be. Well with the new CBA, players make their big money on their second contract. So Coples will have millions and millions of reasons to be that good - at least for the first 4 or 5 years.
9. Carolina Panthers - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
The Panthers have a huge need at defensive tackle. Their defense struggles mightily to stop the run. A big, physical defensive tackle helps solve that problem. Cox is a tremendous athlete who has flown under the radar for much of the draft process. But I like him a bit more than other candidates (Poe, Brockers, etc...) because I think he's the superior inside pass rusher.
10. Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Before free agency began, I thought Buffalo would go with a pass rusher here. But after signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills have the makings of a really really good defensive line. A wide receiver could be in play here if Buffalo thinks any of the remaining are too good to pass up. Otherwise they address their offensive line and take a safe pick like Reiff.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
It's probably time to move on from Matt Cassel. With a new regime taking over headed by head coach Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, I expect the Chiefs to take a quarterback somewhere in the draft's first three rounds. At 11, Tannehill is too tempting to pass up.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
With David Hawthorne having left Seattle to sign with New Orleans, the Seahawks need to infuse talent to the linebacker position. Kuechly is one of the safest players in the draft and will likely be a very good linebacker for a long time.
13. Arizona Cardinals - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
It's rare that a guard gets taken in the top 15 picks. But DeCastro is that talented. He could very well be a perennial All-Pro. And Arizona desperately needs help along their offensive line.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Cowboys had two obvious needs entering the offseason - offensive line and secondary. If DeCastro is somehow still on the board, the Cowboys won't be able to run their card up to the podium quick enough. But assuming he isn't, the Cowboys will get the top safety on the board.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Andy Reid loves him some defensive linemen and Brockers is considered by many to be a very "safe" first round selection. Will he be dominant? Probably not. But he's going to be a solid DT for many years.
16. New York Jets - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Jets need to improve their pass rush off the edge. But they also need to add play-makers on offense. I think that Floyd's talent level here trumps anything remaining on the board in terms of pass rushers. Floyd will be a perfect compliment to Santonio Holmes.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Some believe Kirkpatrick's stock may be slipping. But he possesses outstanding size and athleticism and was coached by one of the best college coaches around and will come to the NFL well prepared. There's a risk factor here - but it is limited because he could always slide inside to FS if he struggles at CB at the next level.
18. San Diego Chargers - Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
At some point, I expect SD to address the WR position to try to make up for the talent lost by Vincent Jackson's departure. In this scenario, though,m Michael Floyd is gone. So rather than reach for WR, they take the versatile offensive lineman out of Georgia to help patch one of the holes along their front five.
19. Chicago Bears - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
No longer having a pressing need for a WR after acquiring Brandon Marshall, the Bears could look to address their offensive line with this pick or could add a pass rusher. I like Martin a lot here - mostly because I think he's a top 15 pick who has slid a little bit. When you watch Andrew Luck tape, you notice how he hardly ever seems to be under pressure. DeCastro and Martin are big reasons for that.
20. Tennessee Titans - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
This is a great blend of drafting the best player available and addressing a need. Signing Kamerion Wimbley improved their pass rush. But adding a talent like Mercilus will make Tennessee's pass rush a serious headache for opponents.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
A first round receiver for the second year in a row? Yes - and here's why. They invested in Andy Dalton, who looks like he'll be a very good QB. A.J. Green is going to be a top WR for years to come. Why not add another guy - one who has elite speed and great size - to help Dalton grow and take pressure off of Green? Hill is raw but has a tremendous amount of upside.
22. Cleveland Browns - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Browns could take Brandon Weeden here and it would make perfect sense. But I think Cleveland will wait and see if Weeden is around with their second round pick. Instead they will take a guy who doesn't have elite measurables but consistently flashes on tape.
23. Detroit Lions - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Lions have some big problems at cornerback. The decision here comes down to Janoris Jenkins and Stephon Gilmore. But after seeing the issues that have arisen from recent draft picks who had "character concerns" - Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure - the Lions will likely shy away from Jenkins and go with the fast-rising Gilmore.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Steelers could address their offensive line with this pick. They could add a defensive lineman, too. Both are big needs. But Hightower is just a classic Steelers type of linebacker - a two down run-stopper who is intelligent and will thrive in Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme.
25. Denver Broncos - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
I would imagine that cornerback and wide receiver are both on Denver's radar in this draft. But landing a talent who has slipped like Poe to their defensive front presents great value and fills a big need - helping solidify an immensely talented front seven.
26. Houston Texans - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Texans finally get that play-making WR so that all of the secondary's attention will no longer be on Andre Johnson. Wright is a dynamic talent and would flourish in this role.
27. New England Patriots - Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
It's no secret that the Patriots need to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. It's been something they've wanted to improve for a while. Now that they lost Mark Anderson, it's become an even more pressing need. Perry has the size and athleticism you want in a pass-rusher in Bill Belichick's versatile defense.
28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
Until the Packers signed former Colts center Jeff Saturday, I thought it was a lock that GB would go with Peter Konz here. Now, though, they will get that edge pass-rusher to take some of the pressure off of Clay Matthews.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
I think the 49ers will look to improve their vertical passing attack in this draft by adding play-makers on the outside. For some reason, Randle doesn't get the attention he deserves from the media. But he's an impressive kid whose toughness will impress Jim Harbaugh. He's not afraid to go over the middle and catch the football knowing he's going to get hit - something we can't say about their other WRs.
31. New England Patriots - Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
The Patriots can never turn down a guy who could develop into a perfect 5 technique defensive end. At 6'2, 308, Worthy fits the bill. Penn State's Devon Still will also receive consideration. Still has 2 inches on Worthy. But Worthy's arms are just as long and his film is said to be more impressive than Still's.
32. New York Giants - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St.
The Giants typically believe in drafting the best player available regardless of position. But with Kareem McKenzie gone, the Giants have a hole at tackle. Since protecting Eli Manning should be the franchise's top priority as Eli starts to age (can you believe he's 31 years old?).