So, for my college "student publication," I wrote up the first round of a mock draft. I was wondering what your guys reaction would be. (Oh, and I wrote this before Cox started climbing up boards like a mad-man)
Pick 1: Indianapolis Colts (1-15)
Team Needs: Offense. Every position.
The Colts come into this draft as one of the worst teams in the history of the NFL. They dumped most of their players on offense, losing their top receiver, their top offensive lineman and, of course, one of the best quarterbacks ever, Peyton Manning. They need to improve on offense with a lot of good-upside players in this draft.
Who the pick is going to be: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
What I like about him at the pro level: Luck is the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning. He has incredible passing talent at the short-to-mid (5-20 yards) range; his accuracy is impeccable. His past two years at Stanford, he had a 71.3% completion rate and a 70.7% respectively with only 22 interceptions through his career at Stanford in a pro-style offense. And unlike his predecessor (Peyton Manning) he has reasonable scrambling ability; his first two seasons he averaged over 7 yards per carry. He played at a consistently high level in college; there’s no reason to think he’ll drop off now.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: Nothing. He doesn’t have JaMarcus Russel arm strength but he can make all the throws. He’s a quarterback taken high, so he’ll be under scrutiny and have a lot of pressure. If he doesn’t perform at a high level immediately, he’ll be called a bust.
Who I think the pick should be: Andrew Luck. No one else is better; Robert Griffin III is an incredible prospect, but Andrew Luck is safer and fits the Colt’s past offense better.
Team Needs: Quarterback, Wide Reciever
Talk about a team that’s one player away from contending. The past several years they’ve had a quality defense despite several big misses (Looking at you, Haynesworth) and have some young talent on offense at offensive line, receiver, tight end, and running back. However, at quarterback they’ve been lacking. They needed a franchise quarterback and gave away most of the next couple years drafts to get him.
Who the pick is: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
What I like about him at the pro level: Dynamic. Game-changer. Talent with legs and arm. These phrases described last year’s number one pick Cam Newton and now this year’s number two pick Robert Griffin III. Griffin has all the physical talents. He had great accuracy; his senior year, he hit 72.4% of his passes, with many deep throws; he averaged 10.7 yards per play. When you deal with a running quarterback, you worry about his passing ability, his turnovers and how many sacks he takes. Griffin had only 6 interceptions his senior year while taking 27 sacks, some of them coming from scrambling attempts and a good-not-great offensive line. He made an awful team a contender in only a couple of seasons.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He didn’t play elite defenses and had 20 or more sacks three of his 4 seasons. Defenses at the professional level are going to be even harder.
Who the pick should be: Robert Griffin III. The Redskins want to get back in the game fast. In the NFC East, with Daniel Snyder as your owner, they need a quarterback who can turn them around fast. RGIII showed that he could do this. He has what you want in an NFL quarterback and the Redskins gave a lot to get him.
Pick 3: Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, Safety
If only Donovan McNabb had never picked up another uniform. The Vikings had no help from him in giving Christian Ponder time to learn the game, as they had to start the rookie early due to how abysmal McNabb was playing. With an excellent, but ageing, Adrian Peterson, a solid defense, and a high pick at quarterback, they need to turn this team around now.
Who the pick is: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
What I like about him at the pro level: Kalil is one of my favorite left tackles to come out in a while. He’s an incredible talent at pass-blocking. He was so good at USC that he forced Tyron Smith to right tackle; Smith was a top-10 pick. He also makes the line as a whole play well. Kalil didn’t allow a single sack last season. Yes, Matt Barkley is an excellent talent at avoiding sacks, but the line as a whole allowed only 8 sacks. Very impressive for a pass happy offense.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He’s not a big run blocker. He wasn’t asked to do it much and he wasn’t exceptional when he did it. He’s not especially heavy but with his athleticism and some good coaching he can easily make it up.
Who the pick should be: Matt Kalil. Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon are the other potential picks at this position. The Vikings play a cover-two defense that doesn’t value corner backs, they have Adrian Peterson, and Blackmon isn’t a top three pick, so Kalil’s the last one left and fills a team need.
Pick 4: Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle, Safety
Intriguing. That’s the word that I feel describes this team; they’ve always been slightly curious to me. They have a mediocre defense, a quarterback who is a game-manager, and little else around him on offensive. While they’re certainly bad, I don’t see them as being this bad next year. They need offensive help for Colt McCoy and that’s where they go this draft.
Who the pick is: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
What I like about him at the pro level: He’s the complete package at running back. His final season he finished with 5.9 yards per carry and caught 29 passes for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. He averaged about 5 yards per carry against LSU in the championship game, against a college defense with plenty of NFL-caliber players. He has all the physical tools to be an excellent next level running back.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He played one full season at Alabama. He had 283 attempts for 1679 yards. Yes, that is impressive against SEC defenses, but they aren’t the incredible stats you expect from a top five pick.
Who the pick should be: They should try to trade out of this pick; preferably to the Dolphins if they feel they can get Tannehill. The Browns are a team with multiple problems; they need a stronger defense and, if they’re going to stick with Colt McCoy, they need to get better talent around him. If they can’t trade out, I would take Justin Blackmon. AJ Green showed last year how much a great wide receiver can do for a quarterback, and I view Colt McCoy as a very similar quarterback to Andy Dalton. The Browns are looking to replace Peyton Hillis…who was a 7th round draft choice. Only 4 of the top 10 rushers last year were first round picks, and none were higher than 12. The last top 10 pick running back was C.J. Spiller, certainly not who the Browns would want with such a high pick. The Browns can get better value at running back later in the draft.
Pick 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Team Needs: Linebacker, Cornerback, Wide Receiver, Quarterback
The Bucs looked so promising just a couple years ago. With Josh Freeman on the rise, a franchise left tackle in Trueblood, and a star defensive player in Barber, they were supposed to compete. They didn’t. However, much of the youth is still there, they still have decent talent and now they have another chance at a star player.
Who the pick is: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
What I like about him at the pro level: Other than his height, he has every attribute that a cornerback needs: fluid hips, excellent motion, and great speed. More important and impressive than his measurables is his showing on the field. He played on an elite defense with great coaching. He had 11 interceptions over the past two seasons and had 51 tackles this past season. Furthermore, he has elite potential as a return man; he averaged 25 yards per return and returned an interception and a kick return for a touchdown last season.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: His Wonderlic (a 4 of 50) score is a bit worrying; however, it also shows that he’s overcome a lot; he has a reading disability and still made it through college. He is a bit short; an elite cornerback has to be able to cover anyone. His 34.5 inch vertical helps cover that up a bit, but he still isn’t the ideal size for a top cornerback
Who the pick should be: Morris Claiborne. Aqib Taylor was a high draft pick who has good talent. Ronde Barber was good, but he’s 37. They need a great quarterback on the outside, and Morris Claiborne is the best opportunity at this position.
Pick 6: St. Louis Rams from the Washington Redskins (5-11)
Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, Defensive Tackle
The Rams were supposed to carry on from their season last year and contend for a division title. It really didn’t work that way. Quarterback Sam Bradford was unable to get anything done, their offense looked mediocre and their defense abysmal. Coach Steve Spagnuolo was brought in to fix the defense and he couldn’t get it done.
Who the pick is: Justin Blackmon, WR, OSU
What I like about him at the pro level: He played two seasons at an exceptionally high level. He averaged 12.6 yards per catch, 16.1 ypc and 13.0 ypc the past three years, with over 1,500 yards the past two years. He clearly has the production to back up such a high pick.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: If we look at the ideal wide receivers, they have the physical talents and the production. Despite showing off his ability to catch well even in traffic, he is only 6’ 1”. While football skills can be taught, height can’t and to be picked this high, he should be an incredible receiver.
Who the pick should be: Justin Blackmon. Is he perfect? No. Is he a great wide receiver? Yes. He’s what Sam Bradford needs right now. The Rams are solid on offense other than wide receiver and have some youth on defense. While they need more talent on defense, the only player they could pick this high is Fletcher Cox or Quentin Coples, neither of whom is worth it.
Pick 7: Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive End, Outside Linebacker, Secondary
No team, to me, is more frustrating than the Jags. A quarterback who has some talent, but never got going. A coaching staff that seems good but never does anything. An owner that doesn’t talk big and doesn’t pay big. A fan base that can’t even sell out the most popular sport in the nation. The Jags have a lot of competition in Florida and they need to start competing (or at least selling tickets) now. They need defensive help and there’s no bigger ticket-seller on defense than someone who can get to the quarterback.
Who the pick is: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
What I like about him at the pro level: Ingram has great size, skill, and strength. He moved inside on the Gamecocks defense and had 9 sacks in a tough SEC. Combined with 11 tackles for a loss, this shows excellent promise and the Jags need talent on defense.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He had great but not jaw-dropping stats. He’s getting drafted this high off great speed and good maneuverability. Without an exceptional talent on the line coming up this year, he’s the best choice.
Who the pick should be: They’re going to try to trade down for anyone who wants to get past Miami and grab Ryan Tannehill. That’s the best plan; they need some defensive line help, which they can get later. Other than Ingram, they could take Coples, if they feel like he can overcome his past issues with work ethic.
Pick 8: Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Team Needs: Quarterback, Inside Linebacker, Offensive Line
Who the pick is: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
What I like about him at the pro level: He has all the ability and potential to be an NFL quarterback. He has the size and strength. He can make all the throws. He threw for 3744 yards with 29 touchdowns.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He completed 62 percent of his passes and had 15 interceptions. That’s reasonable, but he doesn’t have the elite-level passing ability that is needed in a top 10 pick. He started one season, playing the first two at wide reciever. If we consider Andrew Luck the safest top 10 quarterback pick since Peyton Manning, this is about the most risky. He only switched to quarterback halfway through 2010.
Who the pick should be: Not Tannehill. He’s not worth this high a pick. However, Joe Philbin missed out on all the possible quarterbacks on the market and starting Matt Moore is not a good enough option if Philbin wants to keep his job.
Pick 9: Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Team Needs: Defensive Tackle, Offensive Line, Cornerback, Wide Receiver Depth
Who the pick is: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
What I like about him at the pro level: He’s huge, athletic, and strong. He’s 6’ 3” and 350 lbs. He had the best combine of any player this year and shows the ability to be a truly elite player.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He didn’t show the phenomenal ability during his time on the field at Memphis. While he’ll definitely have better coaches at the pro level, I don’t think he’ll be able to be incredible.
Who the pick should be: Fletcher Cox. He weighed in at only 300lbs at the combine (slightly small for a nose tackle prospect), but still ran a 4.79 second 40 and has great measurables to go with the production on the field.
Pick 10: Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Team Needs: Left Tackle, Corner, Outside Linebacker
Who the pick is: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
What I like about him at the pro level: He was a great player for the Hawkeyes. At 6’ 5” 313 lbs, he has the talent to play both tackle positions and played great against pass rushers from quality defensive lines like Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan.
What I dislike about him at the pro level: He is mediocre value at the 10th pick. He was a great, but not top-tier offensive tackle. The past two left tackles for the Bills were undrafted tackle (Jason Peters, perhaps the best tackle in the NFL) and 7th round pick (Demetress Bell). They’ve done a good job of finding talent late and could do it again.
Who the pick should be: Riley Reiff. After the Bills let Demetrius Bell go due to injury concerns, they need a left tackle. Reiff might not be an immediate all-pro, but he is very, very good and fills a need. He has the potential to be a great left tackle, which is what the Bills need.
My picks to close out the first round:
Pick 11: Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Team Needs: Developmental Quarterback, Offensive Line, Nose tackle, Inside Linebacker
Who the pick is: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Who the pick should be: Brockers. He’s a quality talent on a great LSU defense. Either him or Fletcher Cox would be a great pick here.
Pick 12: Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Team Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker, Running Back
Who the pick is: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Who the pick should be: New uniforms. A color change or something. Seriously though, Quinton Coples is a talent at defensive end though and has the ability to be elite.
Pick 13: Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Team Needs: Offensive line, Defense other than MLB and Defensive Tackle
Who the pick is: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Who the pick should be: DeCastro. The Cardinals put a lot of money into Kolb and need to protect him. DeCastro is one of the best guards to enter the draft. Ever.
Pick 14: Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Team Needs: Secondary, defensive line (especially Defensive End), Offensive Guard
Who the pick is: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Who the pick should be: Kirkpatrick. The Cowboys seriously need help in the secondary. The NFC East might have 4 great quarterbacks and the ‘Boys need to be able to defend against the pass. Kirkpatrick is talented and played in a quality defense.
Pick 15: Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
Team Needs: Strong-side linebacker and Defensive Tackle depth
Who the pick is: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Who the pick should be: Luke Kuechly. Either fills a depth need (at under defensive tackle and MLB), but Kuechly could start immediately at the strong side linebacker position.
Pick 16: New York Jets (8-8)
Team Needs: Running Back, Linebacker, Secondary
Who the pick is: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Who the pick should be: Barron. He begins to be value here around halfway through the first round. He is a great physical safety, though he does have issues with coverage. Playing behind Revis Island should help though.
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Running Back, Linebacker
Who the pick is: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College
Who the pick should be: Luke Kuechly. At the middle of the first, he’s the value pick. He also fills a need for the Bengals who just traded away Keith Rivers.
Pick 18: San Diego Chargers (8-8)
Team Needs: Secondary, Linebacker, Defensive End.
Who the pick is: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Who the pick should be: Whitney Mercilus. He had a strong combine performance and led the nation with sacks. He can be a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker and fits a need and value.
Pick 19: Chicago Bears (8-8)
Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, Cornerback, Linebacker
Who the pick is: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Who the pick should be: Courtney Upshaw. He as well can fit in either the 4-3 or 3-4 and had 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss last season. He played on an excellent Alabama defense with great coaching.
Pick 20: Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Team Needs: Defensive End, Center, Secondary
Who the pick is: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Who the pick should be: Janoris Jenkins. He has the skill set of an elite corner and played like it on the field. While he is a risk, he shows the work ethic and talked well at the combine. At the middle of the first, I’d take the chance for an elite cornerback.
Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Running Back, Linebacker
Who the pick is: Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
Who the pick should be: Jonathan Martin. He was an incredible tackle for Stanford and now goes to a Bengals team that could use a constant, solid starter on the line.
Pick 22: Cleveland Browns from the Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Team Needs: Skill players, and depth on defense.
Who the pick is: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Who the pick should be: Floyd. He should never have gotten this low. He was ranked around here before the combine and then blew it up. He gives the young Colt McCoy an excellent target.
Pick 23: Detroit Lions (10-6)
Team Needs: Secondary
Who the pick is: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Who the pick should be: Janoris Jenkins. Yes, the Lions don’t want the issues Jenkins bring, but he’s shown great work ethic. With an excellent coach in Schwartz, he both fills a huge need and gives the Lions a chance to compete in the playoffs.
Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Team Needs: Youth on defense, Offensive Line, and Wide Receiver
Who the pick is: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Who the pick should be: Dont’a Hightower. He’s a great inside linebacker who can be solid. With continued great coaching on the Steelers defense, he can help replace the ageing linebacker spot.
Pick 25: Denver Broncos (8-8)
Team Needs: Defensive Tackle, Cornerback, Offensive Line depth
Who the pick is: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Who the pick should be: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin. While defensive tackle fills a bigger need, Manning has never had a mediocre center. In fact, he’s never played with a center other than Jeff Saturday. Konz is the best center in this draft and could learn the line incredibly fast with Manning at QB.
Pick 26: Houston Texans (10-6)
Team Needs: Offensive Line (especially tackle), Wide Receiver, and a Defensive End/Linebacker
Who the pick is: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Who the pick should be: Kendall Wright. A few seasons ago we saw a very similar talent fall to the mid second round due to character issues. That player was DeSean Jackson. Wright can be better than Jackson without any character concerns.
Team Needs: Defense. Pretty much everywhere except Linebacker.
Who the pick is: Nick Perry, DE, USC
Who the pick should be: Nick Perry. He can be a great defensive end in the 4-3 or a good linebacker in the 3-4. He has great speed, good size, and good strength.
Pick 28: Green Bay Packers (15-1)
Team Needs: Defensive Line, Secondary, Running Back
Who the pick is: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Who the pick should be: Jerel Worthy. He’s a tad of a reach here, but could bring a huge presence to the middle of this Packers defense. With talent at the linebacker position and the secondary, Worthy provides a great replacement for Cullen Jenkins.
Pick 29: Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Wide Receiver
Who the pick is: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Who the pick should be: Peter Konz. They need some help on the offensive line and Konz is the best one available.
Pick 30: San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
Team Needs: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Who the pick is: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Who the pick should be: Stephen Hill. Smith is coming back another year since they couldn’t get anyone else, but they get a solid wide receiver here. The only competition here is the more talented Alshon Jeffery who did not play at a high level last year without good quarterback play.
Pick 31: New England Patriots (13-3)
Team Needs: Defense. Pretty much everywhere except Linebacker.
Who the pick is: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
Who the pick should be: Shea McClellin. He’s a talent on a quality defense. He has great size and four years of college experience. The Patriots need pretty much everything on defense, so this is the best pick at this position.
Pick 32: New York Giants (9-7)
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Linebacker, Secondary
Who the pick is: Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
Who the pick should be: Mike Adams. The Giants need people on the offensive line. They’re getting older and worse. The one young player is LT William Beatty who hasn’t been as good as he was supposed to be. They need someone across from him and Adams can play inside and out on both sides.