Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been very much incognito. Well, not really. For the better part of the last three weeks I’ve been travelling throughout Europe on my spring break. Before I left on my trip, I told myself I was going to disconnect my life from Twitter, Facebook, and even The Phinsider in order for me to enjoy the outskirts of Italy and the French nightlife without any distractions from the real world. Unfortunately, like many of you, I check this site religiously and so I couldn’t get away.
As I scrolled on my iPhone past who the 36th best player in Dolphins history was and what news I may have missed, I stumbled onto one of Matty’s mock drafts. As I nostalgically read his insightful mock, I had a sudden realization that stunned me. During the months before official draft time, I hadn’t made one single mock draft! So, with only one day left until D-Day, I figured I’d squeeze one in just in time. So here’s my first and last mock draft.
1) Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
This one's a given. There is more of a chance of me winning the lottery than there is of the Colts picking anyone other than Andrew Luck. What better way to replace Peyton Manning than with his prototypical son. I find this draft pick to be unfair in the minds of the average Dolphins fan. We've had to wait more than a decade after we lost our superstar Quarterback (still waiting), while they only had to wait 17 weeks.
2) Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
Trading three first round picks and one second round pick, there is no question that the Redskins are drafting RG3 in this year's draft. That's a very steep price to pay for the 2nd pick, however Washington very much knows that you can't win in this league without a franchise QB. It's a shame the Dolphins didn't try to acquire him, but if RG3 doesn't work out then it might cost Washington a couple of years.
3) Minnesota Vikings - Morris Claiborne, CB LSU
The Minnesota Vikings are in need of a number of positions. One of their glaring holes is at Left Tackle. The Vikings allowed 49 sacks last year and without a quality line, they might not know how good Christian Ponder is if he's injured most of the year. However, Minnesota's line is not the only soft spot on the team. Their secondary is one of the worst in the NFL and taking a guy like Morris Claiborne (who is part of the elite class in this year's draft) makes that secondary ten times better. You aren't going to stop Mathew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler twice a year with a Left Tackle.
4) Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
A few mocks have the Browns taking either Justin Blackmon or Ryan Tannehilwith the 4th pick, but most of them predict Trent richardson will be a Brown come April 26th. Although I am usually against taking a running back so early in the draft, Trent Richardson is an exceptional talent that can turn around a team in an instant. I also doubt that Montario Hardesty would be able to carry a seemingly weak team throughout an entire season.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Matt Kalil, LT USC
Unfortunately for the Bucs both Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson came off the board before their pick came up. The third best scenario for them would be drafting Matt Kalil, the most dominant offensive lineman in the draft. The Bucs hosted Kalil at their facility, so they have shown interest in him. Picking up the 6'7" monster from USC would solidify Tampa Bay's line even more after the addition of Carl Nicks in free agency. However, if either Richardson or Claiborne are still available at the time, I see the Buccaneers taking one of them before Kalil.
6) St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State
Many mocks have had the Rams taking DT Fletcher Cox with the 6th overall pick. It makes sense; the Rams have lost two starters (Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan) and they have little to no depth or potential on that defensive line. However, because there is so much depth at the position in this year's draft, you can see St. Louis taking Devon Still with the 33rd pick or Jerel Worthy with the 39th pick. Although there are also many qualified receivers in the draft, the Rams have to take a beast like Justin Blackmon with the 6th pick. He is a talent that can spread out an entire field regardless of his size, and the dual threat of Bradford to Blackmon would be deadly in the NFC West.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars (Trade with New York Jets) - Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina
The Jaguars are desperately trying to to trade out of this pick. Luckily for them the Jets are willing and able to trade their first pick and most likely another spot in the draft to them. New York ends up drafting a guy that has been rumored to be at the top of their man crush list since the end of the season. Melvin is a workhorse and will unfortunately prove to being a force on the Jets defensive line.
8) Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M
Because Ingram has been taken off the table, I don't see the Dolphins taking a DE with their first pick (Quinton Coples). Although Coples has the size and strength to be dominant, he just hasn't shown it in my opinion, and his character issues are concerning as well. Some may be opposed to taking Tannehill because they see him as a reach. I understand this point; Tannehill is a reach and he hasn't proven that he can close out games at the college level, but you have to put yourself in the shoes of Jeff Ireland, Joe Philbin, and Stephen Ross.
Let's face it; the past 12 years of Dolphins history has been nothing but a mediocre turd. We all know the story of not drafting a QB in the first round since Marino blah blah blah, but this year Miami's in the position of drafting a guy that might have the talent and potential of leading this team out of its painful misery. Sure, drafting a guy at 8 that won't play this season sounds stupid, but it's not like this team is just one minor piece away from winning the Super Bowl, let alone a playoff game. WE ARE IN REBUILDING MODE. So, draft Tannehill (who already has experience with Mike Sherman) and add pieces like Chris Givens and Tommy Streeter around him.
9) Carolina Panthers - Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi St.
Fletcher Cox is one of those players that has been flying up the draft boards for the past weeks. The Panthers' offense is good enough to make the playoffs: Solid #1 Receiver, solid Tight End, solid Running back, and tremendous Quarterback. Their defense however is quite suspect. The Panthers have a below average defensive line, but adding Fletcher Cox to the mix allows Carolina to use defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in a more efficient rotation around Cox.
10) Buffalo Bills - Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
This is a tremendous steal for the Bills. Having Floyd line up across Stevie Johnson will make that wide receiver core one of the youngest and most dynamic (Supposing Floyd plays to his expectations) in the league, giving Fitzpatrick the weapons to succeed in the tough AFC East. I've read in other mocks that the Bills will most likely target a guy like Riley Reiff in order to protect their big money quarterback. However, due to his short arms, Reiff cannot anchor at his position, which is something Chan Gailey has said he looks for in a tackle. Expect the Bills to target a tackle in either the 2nd or 3rd round.
11) Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Kuechly, LB Boston College
Last year, the Chiefs were ranked 26th in stopping the run. Drafting a tremendous ILB like Luke Kuechly would improve that area of need right away. Kuechly's exceptional combine put himself into this position, which was eye opening for all NFL scouts.
12) Seattle Seahawks - Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina
One of the major needs of the Seattle Seahawks is at the Defensive End position. The Seattle defense has a unique blend of athletically superior players, and Quinton Coples fits in that blend nicely. The Seahawks desperately need a pass rusher and Coples is the second best pass rusher in the draft. Although he has "motor" issues, Pete Carrol thrives on these kinds of players. Great pick for Seattle.
13) Arizona Cardinals - David Decastro, OG Stanford
One of the main reasons for why Peyton Manning decided not to go to Arizona was due to their awful offensive line. Behind St. Louis, Arizona came in 2nd in the "Most Sacks Allowed" category with 54. This is the reason for which the Cardinals will be drafting an elite Guard like David Decastro with the 13th pick. Although the Cards will like to see Michael Floyd fall to 13th, leaving the first round with a future star at his position might make up for it.
14) Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S Alabama
It seems as if the Cowboys haven't had any depth or strong player at the Safety position for years. The signing of Brodney Pool did not at all fix their Safety issues, and drafting Mark Barron (The best player at his position) will turn that secondary around the moment he steps on the field. Jerry Jones has also openly said that he loves the product that comes out of Alabama.
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT Louisiana State
The two players that Philadelphia will most likely look at for this pick are Michael Brockers and Dontari Poe. Poe had the best overall combine from any other player and would excite the fan base, however there is less risk factor in drafting Brockers. The 6'5", 322-pounder could play a versatile role in Philly's struggling line, and although he is still quite raw, Jim Washburn (Eagles' D-Line coach) could surely coach him up well before the season starts.
16) New York Jets (Trade with Jacksonville Jaguars) - Riley Reiff, OL Iowa
If the Jaguars hadn't made the trade with the Jets, then there still would have been a strong possibility of them drafting Riley Reiff. However, by trading back in the draft, this makes Gene Smith's job a lot easier. Protecting Blaine Gabbert and giving him enough time in the pocket is a necessity for a team that is yet to know the capabilities of its sketchy quarterback. Reiff is an athletic tackle that can make an impact on the field.
17) Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Dre Kirkpatrick's draft stock has recently been hit due to drug allegations. Although the charges were dropped, the fact that he still associates himself with people like that must draw the attention of scouts, coaches, and general managers around the league. However, Cincinnati is in need of a solid cornerback, and Dre Kirkpatrick can very well be that guy. He's strong, dynamic, and comes out of one of the best NFL producing colleges in the NCAA.
18) San Diego Chargers - Cordy Glenn, OG Ohio St.
The Chargers took quite a blow once Riley Reiff was taken off the board. The next obvious choice would be Jonathan Martin, however I don't see San Diego choosing to go with Martin with the 18th pick. In this scenario, San Diego takes a versatile player in Cordy Glenn that can play both Guard and Tackle. Phillip Rivers was sacked 30 times last season and lost two of their most important O-Linemen (Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman), so the addition of Glenn is bound to decrease the number of sacks.
19) Chicago Bears - Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford
Ask a Bears fan what's the biggest issue with their team and without hesitating he/she will say "PROTECTING CUTLER!" The Bears won't go anywhere if they can't protect their franchise quarterback, which is why I have them drafting Jonathan Martin, the third best tackle in the draft. Martin has prototypical size to play LT for the Bears, and because he has protected Andrew Luck's blindside for the past few years, he also comes in with the necessary experience to protect a pro style quarterback like Cutler.
20) Tennessee Titans - Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois
The Titans have been known for being spontaneous once draft day comes along; all signs point to Tennessee's targeting a specific position in the draft and they go the exact opposite way. This year though, the Titans are in desperate need of a pass rusher in order to take some of the pressure off a tired secondary, which was ranked 14th in defending the pass last year. Another player that has been mocked to Tennessee is Nick Perry. Perry is still a solid choice, however Mercilus recorded more sacks than Perry in 2011 (6.5 more) and Mercilus is bigger and stronger than Perry (6'4" 265 lbs. compared to 6'3" 250 lbs.) Mercilus should be a perfect fit with the Titans.
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama
So far, things are going quite perfectly for the Cincinnati Bengals in this draft. They drafted an extremely talented and well coached cornerback in Dre Kirkpatrick, and now have the opportunity to draft another ‘bama player that fills a position of need. Marvin Lewis has openly expressed his interest in Courtney Upshaw saying he "hopes Upshaw is there at 21."
22) Cleveland Browns - Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
The Browns started off the draft with a head of steam by picking up a sure-thing running back with Trent Richardson. Their next position to address from the long list of needs was at right tackle. Sadly for them the top 3 Tackles have already been taken and the top 2 guards have been drafted as well. Cleveland will now address the next position of need: Wide Receiver. Taking a guy like Kendall Wright will now give their unproven quarterback, Colt McCoy, an extra weapon to throw to. With this selection the Browns come out of this first round with two offensive playmakers, something Dolphins fans have insisted their team in doing for the past few years.
23) Detroit Lions -Janoris Jenkins, CB Northern Alabama
With the No. 22 ranking against the pass in 2011 and the No. 23 ranking against the run, there is no question that the Lions are in need of some defensive help. More specifically, secondary help, now that Eric Wright signed elsewhere this off-season. Detroit is able to steal away a top-10 talent player if they draft Janoris Jenkins. Of course, this comes with a TON of risk value added. Jenkins has been sent to jail twice, has been caught with marijuana multiple times, and was even kicked out of the University of Florida. Due to these character flaws, many writers have had Detroit drafting South Carolina's Stephen Gilmore; who is not as good as Jenkins, but comes with less baggage. However, if Detroit does decide to employ the "best player available" strategy, then they should go ahead and draft Jenkins.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, ILD Alabama
When it comes to draft time, the Steelers don't usually mess around in analyzing the specific position of need (they probably do, but just go with it). What I mean by that is that the Steelers have a tendency of picking the best player available, in this case it's Don't'a Hightower. The Steelers have just cut James Farrior so they are in need of an ILB with the abilities of Hightower. In truth, Hightower would actually be a PERFECT fit for the Steelers.
25) Denver Broncos - Dontari Poe, DT Memphis
It will be to Denver's surprise if Dontari Poe is able to drop this far down in the draft. The Broncos have absolutely no depth at the Defensive tackle position due to their loss of Brodrick Bunkley in the off-season and other key players as well. Poe has been compared to some of the best tackles in the game including Haloti Ngata. This would be a fantastic pick for the Broncos, supposing Poe can live up to the hype and not perform as he does on tape.
26) Houston Texans - Stephen Hill, WR Georgia Tech
After the Bills drafted Michael Floyd, I mentioned how good a tandem Stevie Johnson, Michael Floyd, and Ryan Fitzpatrick would be. Consider that the little brother of the tandem that would result if the Texans drafted Stephen Hill. I know Hill played in the triple option for all of his collegiate career, however that doesn't mean he can't transition to a more pro-style offense, especially after seeing how well he performed at the Combine. An offense with Matt Schaub, Arian foster, Andre Johnson, Stephen Hill, and Ben Tate will scare the living crap out of defensive coordinators. But hey, at least the Dolphins don't play them first...oh wait...
27) New England Patriots - Harrison Smith, SS Notre Dame
Because there is not much Safety depth in the draft, the Patriots will likely target this position of need with their first pick by drafting Harrison Smith. Smith has ideal NFL size, his football IQ is off the charts, and he can play a number of positions, which sits well with a team as versatile as the Patriots.
28) Green Bay Packers - Shea McClellin, DE/OLB Boise State
The packers have a few positions of need on the defensive side of the ball. One of them is safety. Unfortunately the Patriots beat them to the punch on that one. The next is pass rusher and linebacker. Shea McClellin can play both. He has a lot of scheme flexibility, which is something the Packer organization has learned to value. The dual threat of Mathews and McClellin would be a great sight for Packers fans. Green Bay might also look at Nick Perry or Peter Konz with this draft pick.
29) Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C Wisconsin
Although the Ravens have just signed veteran Center Matt Birk (35 years old) to a three-year deal, it would be wise for them to address their long-term need at Center with the 29th pick. Peter Konz, a 6-foot-5 314-pound center out of the University of Wisconsin, is the best player available still left on the board and an ideal John Harbaugh type player.
30) San Francisco 49ers - Coby Fleener, TE Stanford
The 49ers already have one of the top 3 Tight Ends in the entire league, so why would they draft Fleener in the first round. Well, the first round candidates at wide receiver have already been taken (Blackmon, Floyd, Wright, and Hill) and there is no point in reaching for one so early since the draft is filled with quality talent at the position. Also, Alex Smith needs some more weapons. Expect San Fran' to utilize their play-making Tight Ends similar to the way the Patriots use Hernandez and Gronkowski.
31) New England Patriots - Nick Perry, DE USC
The Patriots are very lucky to have Perry drop to them at 31. Perry is an excellent player who pushed himself into the first round with his remarkable day at the combine. New England needs a pass rusher to stop the run and Nick Perry can be that guy. Isn't it incredible that the two principal needs of the Patriots can both be solved in a matter of maybe 30 minutes?
32) New York Giants - Mike Adams, OT Ohio State
The New York Football Giants have lost a couple of solid players in the off-season, including: Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross, Brandon Jacobs, and Dave Tollefson. Giants' general manager Jerry Reese has said multiple times that he wants to bolster up the pass rush and get the best skill position players in the passing game. However, I see a different future for the Giants in the first round. It will suit them best if they draft OT Mike Adams. It seems as if there is no chance that Kareem McKenzie will be returning to the G-Men, so Mike Adams will be able to nicely fill up the vacancy at right tackle.