The 2011-2012 season is in the books and now we move ahead to the 2012-2013 campaign. It’s the first week in February so now is not the right time to forecast trades or any other assorted craziness. What we know is that the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams might not be thinking what you think that they are.
We will be back in March to update this forecast based on current events, arrests (sarcasm off), retirements etc. Until then, this is the top 32 picks and how we think they would shake out today if the doors were opening at Radio City Music Hall.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck (Stanford) will be here this month, next month and so and so forth. I don’t care if a satellite falls from the sky and hits him square in the head, Andrew Luck will go here.
2. St. Louis Rams:
Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) should not end up in St. Louis but he will. The Rams need to build a new offensive line in the worst way. That being said, they are so desperate for a wideout that they will risk Sam Bradford’s life for one. Blackmon will be that guy.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) is not being touted as the best cornerback in the draft but I am predicting that the stretch of the combine/pro days etc he will change that. This places this big physical corner in Minnesota to complement a defense that needs help in that area in the worst way.
4. Cleveland Browns
There is little doubt that the legend of Colt McCoy is seriously in doubt right now. However, look for the Browns to snap up RB Trent Richardson (Alabama) here. With Peyton Hillis either being gone or flat out undependable, the Browns will look to establish the run before they completely throw Colt out the door.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s hard to predict what the Bucs will do here under their new coach, but with so many secondary issues hanging in the air and the core of the offense somewhat in place, Morris Claiborne (LSU) will get the go in this slot. He has Ronde Barber like field smarts and will help this young team get better instantly.
6. Washington Redskins
There is no doubt the Redskins will take a Quarterback here but it won’t be the RG3. Coach Shanahan will pull the trigger on the closest thing to his prototypical QB and that guy is Nick Foles (Arizona). Foles is a big gutsy guy with rocket for an arm.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Blaine Gabbert is not going anywhere. HC Mike Mularkey loves to take credit for molding young QBS so look for him to pair him with Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) at WR. Jeffery will give Gabbert another big target to complement TE Mercedes Lewis and power RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
8. Carolina Panthers
In one of the first round shocks of the day, the Panthers will solve their safety issues and go with the ball hawk from Alabama Mark Barron. He is a defensive playmaker in the vein of Ed Reid that will give ROY Cam Newton plenty of short field situations to play with.
9. Miami Dolphins
There is no way that Robert “RG3” Griffin (Baylor) falls out of the top 10 and the Dolphins will be the club that makes sure of it. He will become the latest star to take his talents to South Beach and will form a deadly trio with RB Reggie Bush and WR Brandon Marshall.
10. Buffalo Bills
The Bills most likely will go defense this year after last year’s rash of injuries on that side of the ball killed them. DE Quinton Coples (North Carolina) will become FS Jairus Byrd’s best friend as he is a pass rushing monster that will send plenty of rushed passes into the secondary.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Players View is probably the only mock draft in town that has OT Matt Kalil (USC) leaving the top 10. But needs are what needs are and the Chiefs need his big body to keep their QBs (pick a name any name) upright and their running backs moving up field.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks leader Pete Carroll is a student of the game that keeps up with its evolution. He’s not afraid to take smart risks. With that in mind, I think he will bring in a TE that can block well for RB Marshawn Lynch and move up field in the vein of the Saints’ Jimmy Graham. That person will be Dwayne Allen (Clemson) who can fill the gaping void that currently rests at that position.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Unless a free agent dream falls into their lap, it’s hard to see the Cardinals parting ways with Kevin Kolb just yet. I would but anyway that is not the point of this exercise. Last year they added a beast in CB Patrick Peterson and this year they will go defense again and import DT Michael Brockers (LSU). Brockers is a big man that moves like a smaller man. Think Vince Wilfork meets Warren Sapp.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones likes to make big name splashes and I think that this one will see Chase Minnifield (Virginia) becoming the new Cowboy’s CB. Minnifield is aggressive, flashy and has that shutdown reputation that Jones covets.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
As much as the Eagles should continue to upgrade their offensive line, the odds are that they will complete their defense transformation with a standout OLB. Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) is an incredible pass rusher that will fit in well with the Eagles’ blitzing schemes. He also has great coverage ability that will make him a solid match-up against most TEs and defending the screen pass.
16. New York Jets
Nick Perry (USC) is a natural DE/OLB hybrid that can give the Jets what they thought they had in Vernon Ghoulston.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals offense is completely set-up now…well almost. They need to bring in a RB that can complete their youth revolution that can truly be an every down back. Lamar Miller (Miami) has the power and the quickness to immediately jump into a feature back role. If they keep Cedric Benson, he should simply become the best-change-of-pace back in the business.
18. San Diego Chargers
If Phillip Rivers has his way WR Vincent Jackson is not going anywhere. With that said, the Chargers need to make a first round investment in another guard to keep Rivers on his feet. That man should be David DeCastro (Stanford). He’s this year’s best pass blocker and his ability to get up field in run support makes him an asset for Ryan Matthews as well.
19. Chicago Bears
Chicago has two issues that they have to deal with. There will be talented offensive linemen in later rounds so they have to move on a guy that can catch for Jay Cutler here. Rueben Randle (LSU) has to be the guy they select here. They need a big shifty target that will fight for the ball. This has to be their guy.
20. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have not been the same since Haynesworth left town. To replace them look for Dontari Poe (Memphis) to become their new gap stuffer. At a pro level he will overcome his consistency issues.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Cordy Glenn (Georgia) is the type of guard that can do it all. His selection in this round with or without a running back such as Miller, instantly takes the Bengals over the hump offensively.
22. Cleveland Browns
I honestly believe that the Browns will upgrade other positions this year to either cast their lot with the Matt Barkley sweepstakes in 2013 or give Colt McCoy another shot. If I am wrong about anything, this is what I feel the shakiest about but if I am correct Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) will join Greg Little to suddenly give the Browns a legit pair of targets.
23. Detroit Lions
There seems to be a curse that attacks all Lions RBs but they still need an injury free long term solution. Washington’s Chris Polk has all of the ability to take the number one spot in the Detroit.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers need to get young defensively. They start with their d-line and add the very skilled DE Whitney Mercilus
25. Denver Broncos
As much as this is going to sadden people, the Broncos will take a QB in this draft. Look for Ryan Tannehill (Texas AM) to be
the apple of John Elway’s eye.
26. Houston Texans
In the shock of the draft, the Texans will finally say ‘ no mas’ and give in to the fact that Matt Schuab will never make it through an entire year upright. Brock Osweiler (Arizona State) might sit for a year but he has the goods to become the new face of the franchise.
27. New England Patriots
There are a lot of ‘what ifs’ that exist for the Patriots in free agency. Unless something dramatic happens look for a cornerback such as Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska) to give the game-changing safety Patrick Chung some help.
28. Green Bay Packers
The Packers could also use some fresh legs at CB. Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) probably won’t get much return love on the same roster with Randall Cobb, but he can help solidify the Packers secondary.
29. Baltimore Ravens
If the playoffs taught us one thing about the Ravens, it was that Joe Flacco needs another second or so to find his big play receivers down field. Riley Reiff (Iowa) is versatile, powerful and mean. In other words, he’s the perfect Raven.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Ok, so the 49ers are sold on Alex Smith at QB. Now they have to get him somebody to play with that is a true number one receiver. Dwight Jones (North Carolina) gives the 49ers that big guy they need that will muscle somebody out of the ball. He is under rated thanks to no fault of his own. The 49ers have another talented smaller guy that can sit in the slot.
31. New England Patriots
If you ask me just about the entire Patriots defense could use an overhaul but they must address the real reason why they cannot run out the clock in a tight game. With their being no first round value at this point for running backs, they solve this problem by anchoring their line with the beast Jonathan Martin (Stanford)
32. New York Giants
The plan is simple for the Giants. They need a linebacker. Zach Brown (North Carolina) has the swagger and play making skills to fit right in with the Giants and shore up their one glaring area of weakness.