The NFL Draft is quickly approaching. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
April has been flying by and that is awfully good. I generally consider late March and April to be among the slowest times in the year for the NFL along with May. I'd throw in the short time between February and the start of free agency in March, but the Dolphins generally do a pretty good job of keeping that time intriguing for fans as they look for a new Head Coach. Now to the mock!
1) Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB: The Colts would be crazy if they truly believe they're considered Robert Griffin III at this spot instead of Luck.
2) Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB: The Redskins paid a hefty price for Griffin. Now they better hope he pans out or their franchise will be in a hole.
3) Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT: He is easily the best OT prospect in the draft. The Vikings could use help at WR and it would not be surprising to see them go with Justin Blackmon. There should be a few impact tackles available early in the second, but there should also be a few good WR's available as well.
4) Cleveland Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR: The Browns could go RB or WR here, but I give Blackmon the edge. Colt McCoy lacks talent all around him and the Browns are not blind to the fact. Blackmon may be the first of many prospects to face scrutiny over his value, in part because of the combine performances of other WR prospects, but he is still the top WR prospect in the draft.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trent Richardson, RB: Greg Schiano will be looking to run the ball a lot and Richardson gives him a tremendous RB prospect to do it with. Richardson is a more versatile weapon than LeGarrette Blount and will help form a very good RB duo. It may be surprising to many to see a RB picked in the top 5, but Richardson is the best RB prospect in the NFL Draft since Adrian Peterson.
6) St. Louis Rams - Morris Claiborne, CB: The Rams have many holes to fill and while they lose on two of them with Kalil and Blackmon in this scenario, Claiborne will help fill a major hole in their defense. Getting a boatload of draft picks from the Redskins will help make up for the loss of getting the top WR or OT.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars - Melvin Ingram, DE: Re-signing Jeremy Mincey doesn't mean the Jaguars won't be looking for a DE in the draft. The Jaguars will need to get to the QB in a division that will have Matt Schaub, Jake Locker, and Andrew Luck as rival QB's. I bounce back often with this pick with the high potential of Coples, but it appears that Ingram may be the safer pick.
Previous pick: Quinton Coples, DE
8) Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB: At this point many people would be very surprised if the pick wasn't Ryan Tannehill. Of course, it's a lose-lose situation in the eyes of some that think Miami should've drafted a QB in the first round for the past several years and the year that they do, they hate the pick because of the position in the draft.
9) Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers, DT: The Panthers had to resort to starting Frank Kearse and Jason Shirley at defensive tackle in 2011. While they need help at CB as well, a solid CB won't be able to do much if Carolina can't generate any pressure on the QB. It wouldn't be surprising to see Fletcher Cox go here either as both Cox and Brockers are great prospects. While some may think Dontari Poe would be a possibility because of his athleticism, I don't think the Panthers are willing to take that much of a chance when his production didn't match his workouts. Carolina doesn't need a stud NT that can also be a great 4-3 DT. They just need a stud 4-3 DT and both Brockers and Cox would do just fine for them.
10) Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT: They signed Mario Williams, but they still need someone that can man the RE position. While there are plenty of edge rushers available, the Bills will need to fill the OT position even more since Demetrius Bell signed with the Eagles. This makes Reiff the logical choice in this scenario. Michael Floyd would be a possibility, but he comes with somewhat of a risk thanks to his workouts.
11) Kansas City Chiefs - Dontari Poe, NT: It comes down to a tough decision between Poe and ILB Luke Kuechly. A stud 3-4 NT, which Poe can be, is much harder to find than a 3-4 ILB. Poe gets the nod here even though the Chiefs really couldn't go wrong with either selection.
12) Seattle Seahawks - Quinton Coples, DE: The Seahawks really need to find a way to generate more pressure on opposing QBs. The Seahawks could also choose to go with Luke Kuechly with this pick as well.
13) Arizona Cardinals - Michael Floyd, WR: The Cardinals need help at OT and WR, but Reiff is gone and Jonathan Martin's stock is falling. Floyd would make a good compliment to Larry Fitzgerald and would help Kevin Kolb try and meet his expectations in Arizona.
Previous pick: Jonathan Martin, OT
14) Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S: The Cowboys have the luxury of filling a number of positions after a solid week of free agency when they shored up a number of holes, especially on the defense. While Janoris Jenkins is still a possibility even after signing Brandon Carr, they could go with Upshaw to help with their pass rush or with Barron to solidify their secondary. The Cowboys have quietly had one of the better off-seasons and have put themselves in position to go for the best player available.
Previous pick: Courtney Upshaw, OLB
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Fletcher Cox, DT: The Eagles addressed their biggest need on defense by trading for DeMeco Ryans to be their MLB. Cox would further help the run defense that ranked 16th in the NFL last season.
16) New York Jets - Courtney Upshaw, OLB: They could use both Michael Floyd and Mark Barron, but they are both gone in this scenario. They could also look to Jonathan Martin, but Upshaw is the perfect fit for what New York needs on their defense.
Previous pick: Michael Floyd, WR
17) Cincinnati Bengals - David DeCastro, OG: They could look at a number of CBs, but there are likely a few of them left on the board they really like. There is no guard as good as DeCastro in the draft and while rolling the dice and losing on a CB, DeCastro is about as safe a pick as any in the draft.
18) San Diego Chargers - Cordy Glenn, OG/OT: The Chargers could use someone like Mark Barron at safety and could use another pass rushing OLB, but they desperately need help on the OL. Glenn would be a great target as he could play OG or OT, both positions of need for San Diego. The Chargers may hope Shaun Phillips will bounce back in 2012 and though newly signed Jarret Johnson isn't a great pass rushing specialist, he is good enough to warrant a starting position opposite of Phillips. The Chargers will address the need for a pass rushing OLB, but it may not be in the first round.
19) Chicago Bears - Jonathan Martin, OT: The Bears no longer need much help at WR since landing Brandon Marshall in a trade with Miami, but they still need help protecting Jay Cutler. The Bears will happily settle for Martin in this spot.
Previous pick: Mike Adams, OT
20) Tennessee Titans - Luke Kuechly, MLB: The Titans signed Kamerion Wimbley to play DE and I don't think they're ready to give up on Derrick Morgan after two seasons. They would love a shot at a CB like Dre Kirkpatrick, but it would be very hard for them to pass up on Kuechly to solidify the middle of their defense for the next several years. It's just too tempting to pass up for Tennessee.
Previous pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB: By passing up on a CB with their 17th pick, the Bengals still get the choice of a top cover corner. Jenkins is a risk by many, but if it weren't for his off-field problems, he'd be pushing Claiborne for the top CB prospect. He's that good and it's worth the gamble for the Bengals. Besides, they're used to having their players get in trouble. The Bengals could choose to trade down with this pick and choose from a a WR, CB, or RB later in the round.
Previous pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
22) Cleveland Browns (via Falcons) - Stephon Gilmore, CB: The Browns may move Sheldon Brown from CB to FS and that will free up a CB position across from Joe Haden. The Browns don't have much depth in the area and Gilmore would be a solid option for them. The offense is more of a concern for Cleveland, but I don't think they will go RB here. They could pull a surprising move and go for Coby Fleener, but I don't think that will happen even though I think it'd be an excellent choice for them.
23) Detroit Lions - Whitney Mercilus, DE: The Lions would love to address CB or OT with this pick, but there is nobody available for them in this scenario. The Lions have Cliff Avril one a franchise tender and Kyle Vanden Bosch will be 34 this season. Mercilus gives them a good option for the future for an edge rusher.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, ILB: The Steelers need to get younger on defense and would love to have Poe available at this position to help replace Casey Hampton. While the Steelers could go with a number of different positions, Hightower is the perfect fit for their defense. Major score for Pittsburgh with this pick.
Previous pick: Luke Kuechly, ILB
25) Denver Broncos - Jerel Worthy, DT: Denver already has solid players on the outside for the future with Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, and Von Miller. Worthy could bring a solid presence in the middle to team with Broderick Bunkley to help solidify the middle of the field and strengthen Denver's run defense. Stephen Hill could be an option, but I think Denver likes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
26) Houston Texans - Stephen Hill, WR: Hill has great size and has put up solid big play numbers, but he lacks the great numbers of some of the other top WR's. That may be due to Georgia Tech's unconventional offensive system. Hill was able to help out his stock by turning in an outstanding combine performance. The Texans will finally find a capable WR to start opposite Andre Johnson with this pick.
27) New England Patriots (via Saints) - Harrison Smith, S: Smith is a smart safety that New England would love to have on their roster. He would help bring stability to the secondary and has a very good chance to thrive in Belichick's defense.
Previous pick: Mark Barron, S
28) Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, DE/OLB: The Packers could use a pass rusher and a safety in case Nick Collins can't return, but New England knows Smith may be grabbed by Green Bay. The Packers are still able to fill a need though as quality pass rushers like Branch and Nick Perry are still on the board and the Packers will still find a way to improve their defense.
29) Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Zeitler, OG: The Ravens need help along the interior offensive line after losing Ben Grubbs. Peter Konz would be a great pick here, but the Ravens just re-signed Matt Birk to a three-year deal despite his age. While they have a temporary fix at center, they can look to replace Grubbs with Zeitler. It may be a bit surprising to some, but their favorite targets are off the board.
Previous pick: Harrison Smith, S
30) San Francisco 49ers - Kendall Wright, WR: The 49ers signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham in free agency, but Moss is only a short term solution. The Niners could have the luxury of using Manningham in the slot while using Wright as the #2 WR to mix in with Moss. They could target someone on defense like Chandler Jones or Kendall Reyes as well, but their defense was strong enough last year. They need the push on offense to get them over the top and Wright offers a long-term plan to match up with Michael Crabtree.
31) New England Patriots - Nick Perry, DE/OLB: Assuming the Patriots stay where they're at in the draft and still get two guys people absolutely love. They address both their needs with the secondary and a pass rusher in this scenario.
32) New York Giants - Mike Adams, OT: The Giants offensive line has been going through transition. Look the once dominant offensive line to try and speed up their recovery by drafting Adams. They'd love to have Glenn available and may look for Dwayne Allen at TE, but they probably feel they have enough weapons.
Previous pick: Zebrie Sanders, OT