This is my third version of the mock draft. Not a whole lot has changed except for a few picks and an update drafted order reflected the losers of Wild Card weekend. This post was written prior to this weekend's games so it may not be up to date. The draft order for the postseason games from 29-32 reflect how I feel the postseason will play out. As always, an * indicates picks that will be determined by a coin flip and the outcome of the postseason games. As a note, I will not include trade scenarios in the mock drafts. I know there certainly could be moves made and I'm sure there will be at least one trade in the NFL Draft in April, but I will not include them here. I am simply giving a mock draft based on the current order.
1) Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB: They finally have their GM and should have a HC signed soon, but they still have no idea what they want to do with Peyton Manning. Owner Jim Irsay has promised Manning will be a Colt if he's healthy, but also admitted the Colts are in a "partial" rebuilding mode. A new HC is going to want stability for the long run. Luck would bring that stability.
2) St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT: Justin Blackmon would make a lot of sense, but the Rams need someone that can help keep Sam Bradford healthy and upright and Kalil could also help the running game for the Rams. Instead, I expect the Rams to look towards free agency at the numerous WRs available. If the Rams could get someone like Vincent Jackson in free agency and then Kalil in the draft, they will have a successful off-season. I do believe though that this is a good position for the Rams to look to trade down and get someone like Jonathan Martin.
3) Minnesota Vikings - Justin Blackmon, WR: Morris Claiborne is also a consideration and Kalil could go here if available. The Vikings may lean more towards Blackmon than Claiborne because they need to help Christian Ponder get weapons. Percy Harvin is not a #1 WR, but a duo of Blackmon and Harvin could help Ponder a lot. The pick could change obviously depending on free agency as well as there are numerous WRs and CBs available. This too is another position both the Dolphins and Redskins may look to trade for to get Robert Griffin III.
4) Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB: Many don't like first round RBs, especially this high. Blackmon would be a great option to give McCoy a legitimate target if available. Richardson has terrific vision, speed, and power. He's worthy of a top 5 pick. Obviously there is a strong chance Robert Griffin III could land here as well. Instead, I project the Browns to give McCoy another shot and may add competition later in the draft.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB: Aqib Talib is facing legal trouble and Ronde Barber is aging and will be a free agent. Claiborne is the perfect fit for the Bucs.
6) Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB: A great QB prospect that many Dolphin fans have been watching. The Redskins may trade up for him, but they'll get a great pick if they can sit at #6 and pick him. Many Miami fans will be pissed off the Dolphins didn't move up if the Redskins get Griffin at this spot.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE: Aaron Kampman is getting up there in age and may not be back. Matt Roth just wasn't the answer for Jacksonville. Coples would do very well to help solidify their defensive line and will give Jacksonville a good pass rushing threat for the next several years in a division that has Matt Schaub, Jake Locker, and probably Andrew Luck.
*8) Miami Dolphins - Riley Reiff, OT: Much to the dismay of many Dolphin fans, Miami may look to the top of the draft on solidifying the RT position. Miami would love to get Griffin here if he's available and maybe even Coples if they convert to a 4-3, but with both gone, they go the best player available that happens to fill a hole. Another option may be for them to try and move down toward the middle of the round and draft Ryan Tannehill. If they don't do that, look for them to use their 2nd round pick to move back in the first for him. Courtney Upshaw is an option here and Mark Barron would be a slight reach here, but could land with Miami. Personally, I would absolutely love to have Blackmon at this spot. Having him and Marshall as a duo would help our starting QB, no matter who that happens to be.
*9) Carolina Panthers - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB: They may go with someone like Jonathan Martin as well, but they need help badly on the defensive side of the ball. Carolina allowed 8.4 YPA against the pass and Kirkpatrick could be a starter from day 1. He'd help fix their defense while their offense grows.
10) Buffalo Bills - Courtney Upshaw, OLB: The Bills drafted Upshaw's teammate, Marcel Dareus, last season and continue to shore up their defense. While Jonathan Martin would fill a huge hole here, the Bills have greater needs on defense and may look to shore up their shaky defense first. Upshaw is good, not elite, at rushing the passer and is considered a solid three-down LB. He doesn't show any glaring weaknesses in his game and will be the OLB the Bills were hoping Shawne Merriman would be.
Previous Pick: Jonathan Martin, OT
*11) Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Kuechly, ILB: Their defense has underperformed and Kuechly will help solidify the LBs. They will look to resign CB Brandon Flowers and hope that he and Brandon Carr will rebound from underwhelming years. Eric Berry returning will also help their secondary.
*12) Seattle Seahawks - Jonathan Martin, OT: For better or worse, Pete Carroll does like Tarvaris Jackson and I don't think Ryan Tannehill is on their radar this high in the draft. Seattle desperately needs help on the DL to help rush the QB and Devon Still could be an option, but they'll be all too happy to shore up their OT position with one of the top three OTs in the draft.
Previous Pick: Devon Still
13) Arizona Cardinals - David DeCastro, OG: He's easily the best guard prospect in this draft and the Cardinals have a lot of holes to fill. They could look Vontaze Burfict or Courtney Upshaw with this pick too if they're available. Like Seattle, they'd also look to snatch one of the top 3 OTs if they fell this far.
14) Dallas Cowboys - Alfonzo Dennard, CB: He was overshadowed by Prince Amukamara, but he is a very talented CB. He is fast and has fluid hips and can stick with fast WRs, but he's also powerful at the line when trying to jam WRs. A terrific prospect that can be a top NFL CB if he improves his footwork. His ability in run support could use improvement too.
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Vontaze Burfict, ILB: The weak link for the Eagles has been their LBs and FS, but they're not ready to give up on Nate Allen. Burfict would be an outstanding fit to improve their LB corps. Michael Floyd could be an option here if they've grown tired of DeSean Jackson.
16) New York Jets - Mark Barron, FS/SS: Courtney Upshaw could also be an option if available. The Jets have holes at both safety positions and could use a man like Barron to help solidify their weaknesses covering TEs. Barron isn't very good in man coverage and may be a bit stiff in the hips, but he's great in zone coverage with his ability to read the QB. His closing speed will be able to make up for many of his mistakes when he's slow to turn and run with a receiver. He's aggressive in run support, but will overrun on the play at times.
Previous Pick: Courtney Upshaw, OLB
17) Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB: He'd be a top 10 pick if he wasn't in trouble with the Gators. The Bengals have Leon Hall, but Nate Clements is 32 and has been inconsistent. Jenkins and Hall could quickly become one of the better CB duos in the NFL.
18) San Diego Chargers - Andre Branch, DE/OLB: He has good speed, but is sometimes slow off the snap. He has good hands and a good upper body. While he has been very good against the run, the Chargers will look to benefit from his pass rushing as Larry English just hasn't lived up to expectations.
19) Chicago Bears - Michael Floyd, WR: They Bears need help at OL and need to upgrade their WRs. Roy Williams just isn't a dependable WR. As much as they'd to address OL, it's just a bit high for someone like Zebrie Sanders. Floyd though would be a very good pick for them.
20) Tennessee Titans - Melvin Ingram, DE: Karl Klug has been the top pass rusher for the Titans with 7 and they need to get some help to get to the passer. CB could be a hole if they don't resign Cortland Finnegan, but I already project the top CBs to be gone.
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Lamar Miller, RB: Cedric Benson hasn't been very effective despite his rushing yards and he's a free agent. Miller is a home run threat and is quick to hit the holes. Miller is also a tough runner to bring down. It's possible Cincy could go with a Guard or Center like Cordy Glenn or Peter Konz, but there is a thin market for RBs in free agency and the Bengals need an upgrade in the backfield more than they do on the line.
22) Cleveland Browns (via Falcons) - Alshon Jeffery, WR: A tall WR that can get up and get the ball, the Browns opt to give Colt McCoy another weapon here. They could make a run at Ryan Tannehill here, but with the Redskins snatching up RGIII earlier and the prospect that Matt Flynn could be a Dolphin, I think they may be comfortable they can get Tannehill in the early second round. Jeffery is not a burner by any means and his route running needs improvement, but his ball skills in the air and his wide catching radius will leave many teams enticed. He should be a great red zone target. People will think the Browns will have struck gold if they leave the draft with Richardson, Jeffery, and Tannehill in the first two rounds.
23) Detroit Lions - Zebrie Sanders, OT: The Lions, like many teams, need help on their offensive line and could also go with Peter Konz to place Dominic Raiola at center, but I think they'll try to milk another season out of their aging center while they address OT.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, ILB: Dontari Poe could be another option if they look for a future NT, but the Steelers also need to inject some youth at ILB. Hightower has been a great leader on the Alabama defense and is another one of the great Alabama LBs.
25) Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT: Denver already has solid players on the outside for the future with Elvis Dumervil, Robert Ayers, and Von Miller. Still 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. Kendall Wright could be an option, but I think Denver likes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
Previous Pick: Mark Barron, S
26) Houston Texans - Kendall Wright, WR: They could also go for Dontari Poe here, but they should be satisfied with where their defense is at. Wright would finally give Houston a great complimentary WR for Andre Johnson.
27) New England Patriots (via Saints) - Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB: Another versatile front seven player the Patriots could add to their defense. The Patriots could look to use Mercilus as a DE in 4-3 sets and an OLB in the 3-4. Mercilus has a lot of talent and has piled on the sacks, but he has done so at the expense of leaving his assignments and leaving himself vulnerable for offenses to run by him. New England could hope to make him more disciplined in their system while taking advantage of his natural physical talent.
28) Green Bay Packers - Jared Crick, DE: The Packers could use an OLB opposite of Clay Matthews as well, but I think they go with a prospect they may have higher on the board. Crick can play a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE and though he doesn't great burst, he is relentless and has a variety of pass rushing moves at his disposal. He has very good hands and is tough to move off the line.
*29) New York Giants - Cordy Glenn, OG: The Giants offensive line has been going through transition. Look the once dominant offensive line to try and speed up their recovery by drafting Glenn, a mauler of a guard. He's a big man with long arms, but he is quick for his size. He stands up well and can get to the second level quickly. He will help get the Giants running game back on track.
*30) Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C: The Ravens need a center to take over for the aging Matt Birk. Konz, the best center in the class, would give the Ravens one of the best interior lines in the NFL if the Ravens can resign Ben Grubbs.
*31) San Francisco 49ers - Mohamed Sanu, WR: Braylon Edwards didn't performed as good as San Francisco hoped and is now gone. The 49ers could test the free agent market, but if unable to land a WR, Sanu would be a good fit. He doesn't have elite speed, but he's fast enough to be a vertical threat. He has very good hands, runs good routes, and is physical enough to get off the line.
*32) New England Patriots - Fletcher Cox, DE/DT: The second versatile front seven player New England selects, but Cox can thrive as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE, Cox has athleticism and superb strength. He has pass rushing moves, but he mostly depended on his bull rush while at Georgia. He is at a good weight for either position, but he's capable of adding more weight at the pro level. Adding him to play next to Mercilus would be a good way for New England to start patching up a poor defense, especially one that generates little pass rush.