This is my fourth version of the mock draft and there have been a few changes. The draft order for the postseason games from 31 and 32 reflect how I feel the Super Bowl will play out. As always, an * indicates picks that will be determined by a coin flip. 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: It is looking almost certain the Colts will draft Luck, but Manning's future with the club is less certain. Taking Luck is the best thing for the franchise, even if it does mean that it'll cause you to lose arguably the best player in team history and one of the best QBs to ever play in the NFL.
2) St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR: I have been thinking Matt Kalil would be the most likely candidate until recently. I am thinking the Rams just may consider getting a LT with their second round pick. When it comes to taking Blackmon, the top WR, and a good, but not great LT in the second, I think the Rams will find that option preferable. This could go back to Kalil if the Rams address their WR needs in free agency. Another option is the Rams could just trade back if one of the teams interested in Robert Griffin III wishes to trade up.
Previous pick: Matt Kalil, OT
3) Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT: Morris Claiborne is also a consideration and Blackmon would go here if available. The Vikings may lean more towards Kalil than Claiborne because they need to protect Christian Ponder. This too is another position both the Dolphins and Redskins may look to trade for to get Griffin.
Previous pick: Justin Blackmon, WR
4) Cleveland Browns - Robert Griffin III, QB: Trent Richardson and, if available, Blackmon are both options here as well. I think the Browns selecting Griffin are about 50%, but the other half is divided by the other two players. Majority wins in this one. While the Browns likely still have faith in Colt McCoy, Griffin may just be too much to pass up.
Previous pick: Trent Richardson, RB
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trent Richardson, RB: LeGarrette Blount is a quality RB, but he lacks the versatility of Richardson. Richardson may not be at the Adrian Peterson hype level, but he is certainly at the hype level of a player like Darren McFadden.
Previous pick: Morris Claiborne, CB
6) Washington Redskins - Morris Claiborne, CB: Griffin would likely be the preferred choice, but the Redskins have the Browns in front of them and don't have the ammunition like the Browns do if both teams wish to enter a bidding war for the Baylor QB. Claiborne gives the Redskins a nice consolation prize.
Previous pick: Robert Griffin III, QB
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 - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB: The Dolphins would love to get Griffin and with a 4-3 defense, they'd also love to get Coples. Unfortunately, neither are available. Ingram is the next best option at DE to play opposite of Cameron Wake. Another option for Miami may be for them to try and move down toward the middle of the round and draft Ryan Tannehill, but with Griffin in Cleveland, they may be able to land Tannehill in the second, even if they have to trade up a few spots. Mark Barron would be a slight reach here, but could land with Miami to fill their need for a play-making Safety. Personally, I would absolutely love to have Blackmon at this spot as well. Having him and Marshall as a duo would help our starting QB, no matter who that happens to be.
Previous pick: Riley Reiff, OT
*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.
*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 andBrandon Carr will rebound from underwhelming years. Eric Berry returning will also help their secondary.
*12) Seattle Seahawks - Riley Reiff, 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: Jonathan Martin, OT
13) Arizona Cardinals - Jonathan Martin, OT: Martin's slip ends here. Arizona would certainly target David DeCastro here as well, but they instead find a pleasant surprise as a great OT falls in their laps. They could look Vontaze Burfict or Courtney Upshaw with this pick too if they're available.
Previous pick: David DeCastro, OG
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. With Terrence Newman expected be out of Dallas this offseason, they will need all the help Dennard can provide.
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.
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 - David DeCastro, OG: The Chargers need help at a few positions along the offensive line and DeCastro is the best OL prospect left on the board. The Chargers could also look to Andre Branch or another DE/OLB prospect to help improve their pass rush.
Previous pick: Andre Branch, DE/OLB
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 - Andre Branch, 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. Branch has good speed, but he is sometimes slow off the snap. He has good hands and a good upper body. While he has been very good against the run, CB could be a hole if they don't resign Cortland Finnegan, but I already project the top CBs to be gone.
Previous pick: Melvin Ingram
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 and Griffin another weapon here. They could make a run at Ryan Tannehill here if they pass on Griffin. 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.
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. Also, Paul Soliai could be a free agent target to replace Casey Hampton if they overlook Poe.
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.
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) 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.
30) 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.
*31) 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.
*32) 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.