If I get more than two of these right come the real thing, I'll be calling myself a genius.
1) Washington Redskins = Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
I have the Skins winning the “Suck For Luck” race. Barring an unforeseen calamity, Luck will the the No.1 pick in the 2012 draft and enter as possibly the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning,
2) Miami Dolphins = Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Barkley’s stock could fluctuate depending on how his junior campaign plays out, but in most other years we’d be talking about him for the No.1 pick. He has the physical tools and mindset to be an effective NFL QB, as opposed to another certain USC quarterback with the same first name.
3) Denver Broncos = Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Even though I have the Broncos high, I don’t think they’ll consider a high pick for a QB without giving Jesus H. Tebow a fair go, which he probably won’t get until Kyle Orton leaves next season. So I’ll give them Kirkpatrick given that Champ Bailey is aging and they have a hole opposite him.
4) Seattle Seahawks = Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma)
And the third of the “All Things Being Equal, This Guy Will Be Our Future Franchise Star” quarterbacks goes. Jones, coming from a spread offense at Oklahoma, will take a bit longer to acclimatize to the NFL – hopefully the Seahawks don’t throw him to the wolves too early.
5) San Francisco 49ers = Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Anthony Davis has so far been a massive bust at right tackle. The Niners need to look at replacements, no matter who they have as a quarterback (my guess is that Colin Kaepernick will have made himself the guy in SF by draft day next year, assuming Davis doesn’t get him and Alex Smith murdered). Martin can play both tackle positions and is an excellent pass blocker – his presence allows them to move Joe Staley right.
6) Cincinnati Bengals = Quinton Coples (DE, UNC)
Cincy took Dontay Moch in the third round last year, but he’s a major project. They need to upgrade their pass rush and Coples is the best player available at any position. Mike Brown made some remarkably logical picks last year – hopefully that carries over.
7) Carolina Panthers = Alshon Jeffrey (WR, South Carolina)
However you feel about Cam Newton, he’s not gonna succeed in the NFL without some big improvements at wide receiver, where his main talents are an aging Steve Smith and a converted QB in the slot. Jeffrey is a big, strong WR who gives Newton a safe first down target who can also get deep and go up in the end zone.
8) Kansas City Chiefs = Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
I don’t like making this pick, but nevertheless it’s obvious that Brandan Albert is not a legitimate NFL left tackle, and the Chiefs are in a division with the best pass-rushing 4-3 unit (Oakland) and best pure pass rusher (Dumervil) in the draft. They need an upgrade at the position if they want to keep Matt Cassel upright.
9) Tennessee Titans = Marcus Forston (DT, Miami)
Titans could go a number of ways with this pick – get Jake Locker a WR to play with, improve their offensive line and pass rush – but I’m gonna have them go with Forston, an athletic freak of nature defensive tackle who can both stop the run and rush the passer. The Titans haven’t had a guy like this since Haynesworth bailed.
10) Minnesota Vikings = Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
Pat Williams has said he isn’t going back to Minnesota. They passed up a chance to draft Nick Fairley this year and improve their D-Line, but with Worthy available at 10 and probably the best player available they’re not gonna say no.
11) Jacksonville Jaguars = Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
Same as Cam Newton in Carolina – if the Jags truly see Blaine Gabbert as their franchise QB for the next 10 odd years they’re gonna have to get him a decent receiver. Jacksonville have nothing at wideout. Blackmon isn’t an explosive athlete, but he’s a safe target with No.1 potential.
12) Chicago Bears = Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
I have the Bears picking this high because it’s near-inevitable that Jay Cutler gets injured again by his saloon-door offensive line, this time for the bulk of the season. Long story short, even though they drafted Gabe Carimi this year they need to keep looking at offensive linemen. I don’t trust Iowa linemen (not after my team saw one bust in our faces only to be partially reclaimed, then ditch us as soon as he could) but Reiff is big, athletic and will play left tackle.
I hate making picks that benefit my team’s divisional rivals. That said, the biggest need right now for San Diego (and it’s not close) is improving their wimpy pass rush. If Larry English doesn’t come through this season they’ll be looking for a pass rushing OLB. Paige-Moss is the best available, and the Chargers aren’t afraid of trading up to get their guys. Buffalo trades down to get some more picks for this year.
14) Dallas Cowboys = Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
Dallas passed on upgrading at CB either through the draft or FA this year, probably believing that Terrance Newman can work out for them. If he doesn’t, Jerry will be looking for a replacement. Gilmore is an excellent cover corner with solid ball skills. He could well go in the top 10.
Bucs trade up because, after Barrett Ruud left for Tennessee, they need a middle linebacker for their defense. As much as I like 2011 rookie Mason Foster – I wanted my Raiders to take him – he’s better suited to a Will role in the 4-3. Burfict is the best ILB in this class, and TB can afford to trade up as they don’t have many real needs as a team.
16) New York Giants = Luke Kuechly (ILB, Boston College)
Jerry Reese has been looking to upgrade at middle linebacker for ages, and finally he gets to do so in my mock. Kuechly fits all the boxes the Giants look for – he’s the best player available, he fills a need and Tom Coughlin likes Boston College guys (that’s if Coughlin is still coach after missing the playoffs for a second straight year).
17) New York Jets = Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
First running back taken. If this were ten or even five years ago, Richardson would have been a top-5 or maybe even a top-3 pick (indeed, in one draft of this mock I had him going to San Francisco at 5) but teams just don’t value running backs that highly these days given the short careers at the position, the increase in two-back systems and the NFL becoming more of a passing league. That said, the Jets are still a smash mouth team and I don’t think Shonn Greene will work out as the feature back. They have to be intrigued by Richardson’s combo of power and speed.
18) St. Louis Rams = Eddie Whitley (FS, Virginia Tech)
The Rams are pretty set at most positions, but after releasing O.J. Atogwe this off-season they may be looking at a free safety in the 2012 draft. Whitley is a bit raw, but he’s a ball hawk who could sneak into the first round if he has a good college season.
19) Pittsburgh Steelers = Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Pittsburgh could go offensive line as well here if (like I predict) Roethlisberger gets put on IR by an opposing defensive end. However, I couldn’t find the right guy at this spot and to take a linebacker here seems like a very Steeler thing to do. Jeff Farrior is aging and Te’o is a natural 3-4 ILB replacement.
20) Detroit Lions = Dont’a Hightower (ILB, Alabama)
The Lions take the best player on their board. Even though they upgraded their LB corps through FA this year, Hightower still fills a need as well as being BPA.
21) Buffalo Bills = Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
A bit of a reach for Adams here – I have a 2nd round grade on him – but Buffalo need offensive line help so badly they pretty much have to do it. Adams can man both tackle spots.
22) New England Patriots (via New Orleans) = Devin Taylor (DE/OLB, South Carolina)
Look, I don’t question Bill Belichick on principle (it’s like asking a Mafia hitman if he could shoot a guy in the kneecaps more effectively) but surely he has to get an outside rusher at some point? Taylor is a natural fit for the newly multiple front Pats defense as he can play 7 and 9 technique as a rusher.
23) Indianapolis Colts = Alfonzo Dennard (CB, Nebraska)
This isn’t typical Colts MO – they take offensive players and defensive linemen in the first round – but they need help at cornerback and Dennard is a natural Tampa-2 CB.
24) Cleveland Browns = Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Colt McCoy looked terrific in last week’s pre-season game – if he keeps it up then he’ll become safely ensconced as the Browns’ franchise QB. He’s in a system perfectly suited for his talents, but he needs a No.1 WR and I’m not sure Greg Little is it. Floyd has some character concerns but he’s very talented, and the Browns have shown recently they’re willing to overlook potential issues.
25) Arizona Cardinals = David DeCastro (G, Stanford)
I was totally stunned when the Cardinals didn’t go for any offensive line help in the last draft. Now they have their $63 million QB, they’ve gotta keep him on the field. DeCastro, along with Jonathan Martin, has done a good job protecting Andrew Luck the last couple of seasons and also run blocks very well.
26) Oakland Raiders = Chase Minnifield (CB, Virginia)
Al Davis loves drafting cornerbacks high. Minnifield doesn’t have quite the speed of a stereotypical Raider pick, but neither did Nnamdi Asomugha when we took him. With his departure this off-season the Raiders need a cornerback opposite Stanford Routt who can step in right away and play in Oakland’s man coverage scheme.
27) Houston Texans = T.J. McDonald (S, USC)
The Texans invested heavily in their defense this past draft, but they still need an upgrade at both safety positions. T.J. McDonald had a good season last year – if he keeps it up he’s a first round lock.
28) Green Bay Packers = Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB, Alabama)
The Packers could use a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Upshaw is the best player available and could easily have gone 10 slots earlier. Too easy a pick for Ted Thompson.
29) Baltimore Ravens = Jeff Fuller (WR, Texas A&M)
Lee Evans doesn’t have much left in the tank. The Ravens will improve this season but they won’t be Super Bowl champs until Flacco has a bona fide No.1 receiver. I could even see them doing something similar to Atlanta last year for Alshon Jeffrey or Justin Blackmon – but that’s just too big a gamble to project, so I’ll give them Fuller.
30) Philadelphia Eagles = Jared Crick (DT, Nebraska)
For all the Dream Team talk, the Iggles still aren’t that deep at defensive tackle. Crick is the BPA as well. If DeSean Jackson gets a big offer elsewhere they could also look for his replacement here.
31) Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta) = Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
Cleveland drafted Jabaal Sheard this year, but they’ll need a pass rusher opposite him in the 4-3. If Branch has a big year out of Da’Quan Bowers’ shadow he could go even higher than this.
32) New England Patriots = TRADE (No.32 to Buffalo for 2012 San Diego No.2 and 2013 No.1)
Buffalo Bills = Nick Foles (QB, Arizona)
Don’t the Bills need to eventually groom a QB of the future? Ryan Fitzpatrick is a decent QB but you’re not winning a Super Bowl with him. With an extra second round pick they can afford to make this deal with the hoodied devil.