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. Carolina Panthers– WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State-
The Panthers could go a few different directions, but one thing that is highly likely here is Carolina grabbing a young receiver for Cam Newton to grow with. The Panthers need another option than Steve Smith, and considering he might not play much longer they have a strong long term need as well. Blackmon is a fantastic receiver and would be a nice complement to what the Panthers already have on offense.
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. Washington Redskins– QB Matt Barkley, USC–
I’m not really high on this pick, but I do believe that this is where the Redskins will go. I know a lot of Skins fans will be happy with this pick, but I’m not sure if either Jones or Barkley are top 5 picks, and I think both would be better served sitting for a year or two to develop. Now maybe the Redskins would do that, but my guess is if they pick a signal caller in the top 5 they will want to start him. While Barkley has grown on me some this year, he’s going to have to throw the ball in much tighter windows in the NFL, and he won’t have the luxury of time like he did at USC. Given their vast number of needs the Redskins should at least entertain (if not outright shop for) trade offers for this pick. The Browns, Seahawks and Broncos could be highly interested, and if they they are willing to overpay, Washington has to listen. If they trade back, offensive line, inside linebacker and cornerback could all be additional options.
5. 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.
6. Miami Dolphins– QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma–
The Dolphins have three wins now which is great, but they are no longer 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).
7. 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. Blackmon will still probably be drafted higher because he’s considered the safer pick, but Jeffery I think has more out right talent. 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.
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. Cleveland Browns– RB Trent Richardson, Alabama-
The Browns desperately need an upgrade at running back, and with a pair of 1st round picks they can select the top guy here and still strengthen one of their many other needs.
10. Seattle Seahawks– QB Robert Griffin, Baylor-
The Seahawks missed out on the big three quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean they are out of the QB market completely. Griffin, if he declares for the draft, has immense upside and has the potential to be even better than Barkley or Jones. He’s got a cannon for an arm, and has crazy athleticism. Seattle needs an upgrade at quarterback and adding a potential dynamic player like Griffin could pay off big time down the road for the Seahawks.
11. Kansas City Chiefs– ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State-
The Chiefs have been a huge disappointment these past two weeks losing at home to the Dolphins and Broncos. While this is somewhat of a lost season given the injuries that they had, they should have won both of those games, and could easily be 6-3 right now and atop the AFC West. While they have a number of needs one that makes sense here is ILB. Derrick Johnson is a stud at one position, but the Chiefs could use an impact guy at the other spot. Burfict would be a huge addition here and really add a lot to that front 7.
12. San Diego Chargers– DE/DT Devon Still, Penn State-
The Chargers could use an upgrade along the D-line, and Still is quickly separating himself from the pack. He now looks to be a 1st round lock and could fit into either a 3-4 or a 4-3.
13. Tennessee Titans–DE Quinton Coples, UNC-
The Titans aren’t getting much pressure from their front four and need to find an upgrade at DE. Coples is the best pass rusher in this class and would be a huge get for them if they can land the North Carolina product. He has some inconsistency problems, but I believe he will develop to be a double-digit sack artist.
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. Philadelphia Eagles- OLB Zach Brown, UNC-
The Eagles are just reeling right now and need to just focus on bringing in the best players they can. Brown has a ton of upside and would be a very nice addition for the Eagles at the SLB spot. Brown is a versatile player who can play the run and go out into coverage. He also has some solid blitz ability and would give the Eagles an instant starter at an area where they are pretty desperate.
16. Denver Broncos- CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
The Broncos could use a shutdown corner opposite of Champ Bailey, and Kirkpatrick is a tremendous value in the middle of the 1st round.