1. Indianapolis Colts– QB Andrew Luck, Stanford-
The Colts are now the ‘last man standing’ when it comes to win-less teams, which should make their decision relatively easy next April. While having Andrew Luck next year will be redundant if Peyton comes back, I don’t see how you can pass on him. Yes a trade back is possible, but Luck should be the pick here, as the Colts go from one Franchise QB to another.
2. Miami Dolphins– QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma–
The Dolphins have their first win which is great, but it lessens their chances in the ‘suck for Luck’ sweepstakes. Miami will look to grab their quarterback of the future here, and while Matt Barkley is making some waves I think Landry Jones is the better fit for Miami (though it truly won’t be known until we see what coach is at the helm).
3. St. Louis Rams– OT Matt Kalil, USC-
Sam Bradford and the Rams are struggling this season, but it has little to do with Sam Bradford. The Rams receivers are dropping balls left and right, while the offensive line has allowed Bradford to be the most pressured quarterback in the league. He’s taking far too many hits this year, which is just not acceptable if the Rams are ever to become a serious contender. Kalil could lineup from day one at LT shifting Roger Saffold over to the right side and Jason Smith to the interior.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars– WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina-
Lost in the quarterback debate in the draft is who is the number 1 wide receiver. While most will point to Justin Blackmon, I think Jeffery wins by the slimmest of margins. Jeffery I think will separate himself during the combine and workouts, but you could make this call either way. Regardless the Jaguars are desperate for WR help for Blaine Gabbert and should be taking one here if they don’t move the pick. With so much hype on the QB class, if the Jags want they can auction this pick to the highest bidder.
5. Seattle Seahawks- QB Matt Barkley, USC–
Pete Carroll wasn’t able to trade for his first QB at USC, Carson Palmer, this offseason, but that should allow him to draft his last, Matt Barkley. Carroll only had one year with Barkley, but he did recruit him so he knows his strengths and weaknesses. Barkley gives Seattle their QB of the future and if he develops a very bright future. I think he is more of a risk than some, but if anyone can get him to succeed it should be Carroll.
6. Arizona Cardinals– OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford–
The Cardinals have a number of issues, but they need to make fixing their offensive line a priority, or Kevin Kolb will be doomed to fail. Kolb is among the most pressured and sacked quarterbacks in this league, and it gives their offense zero chance to succeed. Martin would be an instant upgrade for the Cards offensive line and a day one starter for them. He’s strong in both the run and passing games and gives them the first piece in rebuilding that line.
7. Washington Redskins– WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.-
This honestly would be a horrible pick for the Redskins. Now it isn’t because Blackmon isn’t exceptionally talented, but rather no receiver can succeed if he doesn’t have a quarterback to throw him the ball, or an offensive line to give him time to run his route. At this point though he is the top player on the board, and does fill a need. Now I have been mocking Robert Griffin to the Redskins of late, but while I actually prefer Griffin to Jones or Barkley, I don’t think the industry follows that assessment. Most teams will probably view this as too high for Griffin, who probably needs to sit a year. I think if the draft board looks like this than trading back is the most viable option. The Redskins could then stock pile picks and put themselves in a position to draft Griffin or Tannehill later in the round. Some will advocate moving up, but even to move up 3 or 4 spots would cost the Skins their 2nd and 3rd rounder at least, which really puts a damper on their ‘rebuilding’ efforts.
8. Minnesota Vikings- OT Reilly Reiff, Iowa –
Now that the Vikings have gone to Christian Ponder they need to prioritize getting a new left tackle to protect him. While Minnesota is solid to good at 3/5 of their line spots they are down right bad at LT and RG. Finding a guy who can fix either one of those needs helps Ponder and Adrian Peterson be that much more effective going forward. Reiff isn’t as good as Kalil or Martin, but he’s worth this selection (they could also look to trade down), based on need. He might not be perfect as a rookie, but he has a good upside and will be a nice upgrade regardless.
9. Carolina Panthers– DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
The Panthers are a team on the rise, but they still have some major needs going forward. One of their biggest needs is getting more talent in the middle of that defensive line. Thompson is quickly separating himself among defensive tackles, and has shown the talent that makes him a potential top 10 pick. He would be a huge upgrade in the middle of the Panthers defense and make their pass rush that much more effective.
10. Denver Broncos– QB Robert Griffin, Baylor-
This could be a bit of a reach pick, but I think it is a move Denver needs to make. While there is a lot to like about Tim Tebow it is important to remember that he isn’t a John Elway or John Fox guy. He’s shown a lot of limitations in the offense so far, and right now isn’t more than a gimmick quarterback. I don’t know if they can compete with him long term, meaning they got to look to find their next QB. I really like Griffin’s future, and could see him as the answer in Denver.
11. Cleveland Browns– RB Trent Richardson, Alabama-
I think it is pretty clear that the Peyton Hillis era is over in Cleveland, meaning the Browns desperately need to find a running back. Richardson has elite back potential and while drafting a running back too high can be a risk, there are exceptions to every rule. Richardson could give the Browns the jolt on offense that they need to stay competitive, while McCoy becomes more of a ‘game managing QB’.
12. Kansas City Chiefs– DE Quinton Coples, UNC-
The Chiefs could use a pass rusher, and Coples is an absolute steal at this spot. He is probably a top 5 player in this class, but given team’s needs or their preference for QB’s and WR’s he could fall. He’d be a huge addition for the Chiefs and could team up with Hali to give them a great pass rush. Coples gets a knock in the consistency department, but overall I think it is overblown.
13. Tennessee Titans-ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State-
The Titans need to find a new middle linebacker. Barrett Rudd was signed this offseason and has been just a disaster for Tennessee. Burfict would be a huge upgrade and help improve a solid defense. Burfict has elite upside and could be the next Ray Lewis is he stays focused. He should be a tackling machine in this defense and give them that star to really bring them all together.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– CB Morris Claiborne, LSU-
The Bucs have a variety of needs, but adding a big play corner is near the top of the list. Claiborne is also a steal here in the draft as he has top 5-10 talent. He could be a day one starter for the Buccaneers, and would be a huge addition to their pass coverage.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland)– OLB Zach Brown, UNC-
The Bengals defense doesn’t have many needs, but one that is evident is an Outside linebacker to replace Manny Lawson. Brown could fill that role and should be an upgrade as well. Brown is underrated because he’s not a pass rusher, but he’s very talented. He could be the final piece of that defensive puzzle, that turns that Bengals defense into an elite unit.
16. Dallas Cowboys- CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
The Cowboys could use an upgrade and corner and get excellent value here with Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is a big time player, and has the potential to be a shutdown corner. He should instantly upgrade the Cowboys secondary, and could be the best playmaker they have had since Deion Sanders.