1. Colts: Andrew Luck (QB - Stanford)
Well hello there BRB'ers. After watching the Senior Bowl practices last week and the actual game this weekend I have decided to update my personal rankings and post a quick first round mock draft (as well as rounds 2-7 for Houston). These will likely change as more events take place in the coming months, but I thought it would be fun to speculate this far out and see how close I get when draft day comes.
2. Rams: Matt Kalil (OT - USC)
Here is where my mock differs from most. There is only one good free agent tackle this year, and he has major health concerns. Conversely, there are tons of great free agent receivers this year. Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker, Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Marques Colston, Desean Jackson, Mario Manningham, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Laurent Robinson, and Robert Meachem are all available on the open market. I highly doubt St. Louis will pass up the best tackle available this year to get a wide receiver in Blackmon when they can very easily nab a good pass catcher in free agency.
Minnesota has stated that they are open to hearing offers for their pick, which tells me that they are already planning on shafting whoever wants RG3 for their entire draft in order to get the second best QB on the board. The only team desperate enough to take that deal is Washington.
4. Browns: Trent Richardson (RB - Bama)
Peyton Hillis is a disaster both on and off the field, and I'm betting he is gone next year. Richardson is one of the best prospects to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland won't want to pass him up.
5. Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne (CB - LSU)
As unsurprised as I would be to see a trade here with the Bears for them to get Blackmon, I believe this defense is so terrible that they can't afford to pass on Claiborne. Ronde Barber is old and Talib will probably go to prison. They need a CB, and they need one bad.
6. Jaguars (via Vikings): Justin Blackmon (WR - OSU)
What's this? Another Vikings trade? Absolutely. The Jags need Blackmon more than Minnesota, and the Vikes will be more than happy to clean out yet another team of their 2nd and 3rd rounders in exchange for one draft spot. Why would the Jags trade up for just one spot? Because they know as well as everyone else that if the they don't take Blackmon here in a trade, The Vikings would.
7. Vikings: Riley Reiff (OT - Iowa)
The Vikings really, really need a left tackle to protect Christian Ponder. Charlie Johnson tries as hard as he can but he just simply can't get it done against good pass rushers. Reiff has all the physical and mental capabilities to anchor this line for years to come.
8. Panthers: Alameda Ta'amu (DT - Washington)
This guy was an absolute stud in the Senior Bowl. At 350 lbs he was not only unblockable without a double team, but also incredibly hard to run against. Considering the Panthers had a horrific run defense last season and generated almost no interior pressure I believe they will look to upgrade the defensive line with their top pick.
9. Dolphins: Quinton Coples (DE - North Carolina)
The Dolphins are switching to a base 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Kevin Croyle. Croyle's scheme relies on heavy front 4 pressure with linebackers stunting on blitzes or dropping into soft zones. CB's are almost always man to man with safeties floating to brackets while the front 7 do their thing. It's a very similar scheme to the Giants. What does this mean? The dolphins need a D-line difference maker and they need one now. If they want an amazingly talented DE that can get to the quarterback and force bad throws, Coples is their man.
10. Bills: Courtney Upshaw (OLB - Bama)
The Bills pass rush was about as dead as humanly possible last year, ranking 30th in sacks. Upshaw gives them an immediate upgrade both on outside run defense and pass pressure.
11. Chiefs: Devin Still (DT - Penn State)
Kelly Gregg will turn 36 next season. In defensive lineman years that is pushing it to say the least. Still is big, athletic, and can play the run or pass with the best of them. With a new defensive minded HC and a position that clearly needs to be reinforced, I'm pretty comfortable with this pick.
12. Seahawks: Whitney Mercilus (DE - Illinois)
Assuming the Seahawks don't pick up Mario Williams or Cliff Avril in free agency, then they will have to draft a pass rushing DE to upgrade their bookends. Mercilus is an outstanding 4-3 pass rusher that, while still raw in terms of football IQ and instinct, has the physical gifts to set his ceiling very high.
Regardless of who is playing quarterback for Arizona next season, they need to give him better protection. Adams is a stud tackle that should be able to alleviate the pain taken from Justin and Aldon Smith twice a year.
14. Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB - Bama)
He has off the field issues, but the Dallas secondary is so pitiful that almost anything would be an upgrade. Terrance Newman is horrible, and Jerruh taking a defensive back in the first round is all but assured.
15. Eagles: Luke Kuechly (ILB - BC)
Depending on if Desean Jackson returns this year the Eagles will most certainly be looking up upgrade their middle linebacker. Their "Wide nine" 4-3 works great against the pass, but their interior run defense suffered as a result. Kuechly is one of the best run stuffing prospects to ever come out of college ball, notching a staggering 191 tackles in just 12 games this season, so I would be shocked if Philly didn't take him.
16. Jets: Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB - South Carolina)
The Jets have the best secondary in the league but lack the pass rush to compliment it. Ingram brings an instant upgrade to the OLB position. With the lights out play of Revis and Cromartie backing him up, he should be set up to have have unbelievable production.
This is one of the hardest picks to mock this round. The Bengals could use upgrades at a lot of different places, but none are so dire that they really jump out as "more pressing" than everything else. Because of the recent Jerome Simpson arrest (again) and likely jail time, I put in a wide out to replace him. Jeffrey is arguably the second most explosive receiver in this class, and would not only fill a void left by Simpson but also upgrade it. This would give Dalton two legitimate WR1's to develop with for many years to come, and in all likeliness transform Cincy into one of the more fearsome offenses in the entire league. I know I wouldn't want to face it.
18. Chargers: Mark Barron (SS - Bama)
The Chargers secondary was underwhelming to say the least this season, and the one thousandth injury to Bob Sanders didn't help. Barron is easily the best safety prospect in this draft and would provide a great boost to a defense still trying to find an identity.
19. Bears: Michael Floyd (WR - Notre Dame)
Chicago is in desperate need of an aerial play maker. Roy Williams was a failed experiment and Johny Knox is not WR1 material. If they don't get something to relieve box pressure on Forte, their stud running back won't survive the next season.
20. Titans: Nick Perry (DE/OLB - USC)
As much as Tennessee really wants DeCastro here, they have bigger issues to deal with. Their pass rush was virtually non existent last year, ranking 31st in sacks. They have two great young LB prospects from last year's class in Klug and McCarthy, and they will probably evolve into pro-bowlers at some point. If they can compliment those run stuffers with a solid pass rusher in Perry, the Titans defense could return to prominence in 2012. Than again...they do employ Frank Bush.
21. Bengals: David Wilson (RB - Virginia Tech)
Another pick that could go to DeCastro, but if the Bengals don't get someone to groom to take over for Benson here, they might as well not draft a running back at all because there is basically no rushing talent in this draft beyond the first round. I suspect Cincy will want to add yet another young cornerstone to build around Dalton and take this offense to unbelievable heights.
22. Browns (via Falcons): Mohamed Sanu (WR - Rutgers)
As great as it would be for Sanu to fall to Houston, the Browns will most likely grab him to upgrade an abysmal receiving corps. They also could take a pass rusher here, but I'd bet actually scoring a couple touchdowns is way higher on the priority list for next year.
23. Lions: Jonathan Martin (OT - Stanford)
Matt Stafford is too important to let him keep getting rocked by Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, and Clay Matthews. If Detroit doesn't upgrade their protection now, then Stafford will have to endure yet another season of brutality.
24. Steelers: David DeCastro (G - Stanford)
Ooooooh so close. I know you guys were hoping he would somehow slip to us, but alas, Pittsburg has ruined our dreams. They need a guard to help Pouncey up front, and their owner seems to want to shift back to a traditional Steeler power game plan rather than the aerial circus that the Steel city has become in recent years. Not only does DeCastro have elite run blocking skills, but he is fantastic in pass protection as well. Big Ben finally won't have to worry about Ngata rushing through the middle of his line anymore.
25. Broncos: Janoris Jenkins (CB - North Alabama)
A week ago I would have put Dennard here, but he didn't look very good before getting hurt in practice last week. Jenkins is a solid CB prospect and should help inject some explosion into a very, very, very old secondary.
26. Texans: Dontari Poe (DT - Memphis)
#NTLUST. Well, we finally get ourselves a stud interior defensive lineman in the form of Dontari Poe. A physical freak, Poe will be able to stop the run and rush the passer on every single down. Between Poe, Watt, and Smith backed up by a linebacking corps of Williams, Barwin, Cushing, Ryans, and Reed, I feel very comfortable in saying that Houston's front seven will be far and away the best in the NFL. Drool...
Despite a poor showing in practice last week before getting hurt, Dennard is still the best corner left in the draft. To be honest though, anything would be better than what New England has now.
28. Packers: Vinny Curry (DE/OLB - Marshall)
The Packers need more edge pressure opposite of Matthews, and Curry is one hell of a pass rusher. I could also see them taking a defensive tackle here, but something tells me their high octane offense will cause them focus more on stopping opposing quarterbacks as they try to catch up.
29. Ravens: Dont'a Hightower (ILB - Bama)
As well as Ray Lewis was playing in his 16th season, Baltimore seriously needs to start looking for a successor. Hightower fits the mold of Lewis perfectly. Strong, well spoken, and talented as hell. Getting him here is an absolute steal.
30. 49'ers: Coby Fleener (TE - Stanford)
New England showed everyone what a good TE duo can do for an offense in the red zone, and with the limitations in arm strength that Alex Smith has, I believe San Fran will adapt their offense in a similar manner. San Fran had a terrible, and I mean terrible, red zone offense this season. Adding Fleener to the line up to get those jump balls will add a whole new dimension to an already deadly team.
31. Patriots: Michael Brockers (DT/DE - LSU)
The Pats need someone on the defensive front to get to the quarterback besides Vince Wilfork. Haynesworth was a failed experiment, so they will go with the best defensive lineman available and take Brockers. May God have mercy on Mark Sanchez's pretty little face.
32. Giants: Peter Konz (C - Wisconsin)
Much to the delight of New York, Konz will still be available by the end of the round. Eli had to move around way too much to avoid pressure this season. This year will mark the beginning of building a younger, more talented offensive line to protect their elite (Yes I said it, ELITE) quarterback.
Texans round 2: Dwight Jones (WR - North Carolina)
A fan favorite, Jones has great size, hands, and blocking ability. While not the fastest guy in the world, he fits this system perfectly and should be groomed to replace Dre' down the road.
Texans round 3: David Molk (C - Michigan)
Despite what rankings say, Molk is probably the best center in this draft behind Konz. He fits the zone blocking system very well, and is athletic enough to get upfield quickly and throw down vicious second level blocks. He will immediately upgrade our o-line depth and not have us worrying about what would happen if Myers went down. I want him. I want him real bad.
Texans round 4: Nick Toon (WR - Wisconsin)
Recent injury concerns have caused Toon's stock to plummet down to almost irreversible depths. He already was fighting an uphill battle due to lack of elite speed, and now he will likely be out of the pro days and the combine with yet another foot injury (an aggravation of a fracture sustained last year). Most teams probably won't touch him until the later rounds. Lucky for us, he will be waiting for us in round 4.
Texans round 5: James Michael-Johnson (ILB - Nevada)
The Texans could use a little bit of depth at ILB, and JMJ is a promising late round selection. He isn't the biggest, strongest, or fastest guy on the field but he shows good football IQ and could develop into something behind studs like Cushing and Meco.
Texans round 6: Case Keenum (QB - Houston)
Awwwwwwww yeaaaah. I went there. Leinart will probably be let go to find a place on a new team (and save cap space), and we will need a 3rd QB just in case (we learned our lesson). Keenum has a good, accurate arm and plenty of room to grow.
Texans round 7: Jacquies Smith (DE - Missouri)
You can never have enough depth in the trenches.