It's April 1. Day of Fools. And on this day, I have the Indianapolis Colts drafting...
Bryan Anger, Punter, California.
...heh. Okay, seriously, here are my rules:
1) It all revolves around what Tampa Bay does. I don't care about the rest of you, your teams can draft Punters in the First for all I care. (hence the mock draft for Indy just now) All that matters is that Tampa Bay drafts the way I SEE IT. bwha.
2) When in doubt, draft Offensive Line
3) When you doubt the need for Offensive Line, draft Defensive Line
So, the mockery begins after the jump:
1. Indianapolis Colts - QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
THANKS, Indy. Thanks a bunch. You just went and made my first mockery a total mockery by cutting Peyton loose instead of keeping him and trading out to Cleveland. Great. You just made this the second-most-boring no-brainer pick in draft history.
2. Washington Redskins (trade with St. Louis) - QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Which made this trade all the more predictable. And I noted that St. Louis was bound to be asking for a lot with this trade, and they did (THREE First Rounds, 'Skins? Seriously? No wonder Snyder is a lousy owner). Griffin better be the Franchise QB that Washington's needed in years, because they've hurt themselves trading away key picks that could be used to build up a core team of players. Trust me, the Bucs traded away two years of First Rounders and they had almost no home-brewed talent anchoring the team for most of Chucky's tenure.
3. Minnesota Vikings - OT Matt Kalil, USC
Anyone still up for a trade? Anyone? Bueller?
While Minnesota could jump several ways - need at CB, for one - my second rule firmly applies. When you have the chance, you draft the best-possible Offensive Tackle in the First Round.
4. Cleveland Browns - WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.
The Browns as always have major gaps in a lot of places, so after Minnesota this is a team that could easily trade down if it meant getting more above-average players drafted across those needs: WR, RB, OLB, Punter (I kid). Browns COULD draft RB Richardson, but they honestly don't have anyone at receiver scaring the hell out of other teams. And they need help with the passing game.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
Let me repeat: For all you haters out there thinking running back is a sore need, I gotta tell ya, OUR SECONDARY SUCKS. Everyone betting on the Bucs taking Richardson at this spot doesn't understand that getting Wright in free agency doesn't fix much, and with Talib's fate still up in the air until well after the draft, AND with Ronde basically playing nickel/dime Safety hybrid at this point, AND with no other CB a clear No. 1 (Wright is best set as the No.2 cover guy), the Bucs have few options here. Other than OLB, and the value in this year's draft doesn't rank this high on the boards.
6. St. Louis Rams (trade with Washington) - CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
If anyone really wants Tampa to draft running back at the Fifth spot, it's the Rams. They had an injury-plagued backfield in 2011 and need to re-stock with talent. Claiborne would have been worth the trade-down, but they'll have to settle for the consensus Number Two guy on the CB boards in Kirkpatrick.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
I don't see much change for Jacksonville: need for WR is there but there's no value at this pick. I'm still not sure how the scouting has shifted the values of Ends on draft boards, so Coples stays put here.
8. Miami Dolphins - QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Current QB Matt Moore may have won 5 games, but he really hasn't shown he can be a full-time starter. Miami tried free agency and failed. Their smartest move would be to trade down and get this guy later in the draft (at least before Seattle gets to draft) and then get a few extra picks to take care of needs at Defensive Line and WR. But there's no one left that other teams would feel an urgent need to trade up FOR, so Miami has to use the pick here and hope Tannehill's scouting days prove he's worth a top pick.
9. Carolina Panthers - OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
I'm still of the opinion that Carolina is getting Upshaw, but instead of putting him at LB they'll most likely switch him to DE. Corner may be a need but after Claiborne and Kirkpatrick there's no one worthy of this high a pick.
10. Buffalo Bills - OLB/DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
From this point on, I'm bound to repeat myself. Buffalo needs help on the defense, and word is they're shifting their scheme to 4-3. Either way, getting a hybrid outside guy like Ingram fits either OLB or DE pretty well.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - OG David DeCastro, Stanford
Chiefs need to beef up their O-line, but in the first mock I had them taking OT. Guard may be a higher need, however, so this time I have them taking DeCastro.
12. Seattle Seahawks - MLB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Seattle may be in play for QB, but once Tannehill gets taken by Miami there's really no one left worthy of a First Round pick, especially one this high. failing to trade up for Luck/Griffin the smart move is to wait here and get defensive help. Especially as the team can lose a player or two from their LB corps. Kuechly would be an upgrade to their LB corps however it plays out.
13. Arizona Cardinals - RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
There, I didn't have him slipping too far down the chart. ARE YOU HAPPY?! You get your running back drafted, there, done, LET'S MOVE ON.
14. Dallas Cowboys - WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
Free agency affected the change from the earlier mock of taking a CB to taking a WR to fill a gap in their receiver corps when Robinson bolted for Jacksonville. Drafting a player from in-state wouldn't hurt, either.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - MLB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
They didn't lose WR Jackson as I thought, so they'll need to focus on other needs. Linebacker was apparently a huge gaping wound for the Eagles last season, but even getting a veteran LB in a trade with Houston isn't going to solve all woes. Also, for some reason it makes sense for a guy named "Hightower" to play in Philly. It's just me...
16. New York Jets - Someone to keep Sanchez on his meds, 'cause he'll be stressing out over having THE TEBOW as his back-up. Seriously, WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
The receiver corps isn't too deep at the moment with Plaxico gone, so getting one of the best available WRs makes some sense here. RB possibly, but Richardson is really the only one worth a First Rounder.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) - DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
The Bengals' moves in free agency were actually pretty good, shoring up minor gaps and even getting more talent at key positions. They DID lose both starting D-Ends, however, and while they signed two as replacements the drop in talent is still there. They have another First Rounder they can indulge in...
18. San Diego Chargers - OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina
San Diego has an aging and questionable linebacker corps at the moment, and getting one of the best available OLB at this point would help.
19. Chicago Bears - CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
Getting three WRs in free agency (two sign-ups and a trade for Brandon Marshall) took care of that. Now they need to fix the gaps they have losing two Corners in FA. Janoris Jenkins may be in the draft, but his off-field woes make him too questionable a First Rounder pick. This may be a reach pick, but Gilmore's the next-best CB available.
20. Tennessee Titans - DE Andre Branch, Clemson
Tennessee had a relatively quiet FA period (other than trying to court Peyton to come back to the state), but they did lose some talent on their defensive line. Branch is coming from a D-line factory college in Clemson.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - RB Lamar Miller, Miami
This is a reach, because IMHO Miller (and the rest of the RB corps on the boards) aren't First Round material. But Cincy can indulge in getting this pick considering they don't have many more needs elsewhere other than Guard, and they can get quality OGs in the Second Round.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) - OG/OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia
At least Cleveland didn't trade away this pick to move up for Griffin, which is smart. Problem is, having used their high pick for WR with Blackmon, they need to fill their need at RB. And they don't have anyone in the RB corps worthy of this high a draft pick (which may be another reason why Cincy takes Miller one spot ahead, heh heh). So it falls back to taking care of offensive line, which DID lose their ROT in free agency and have question marks at Guard. They don't need Left Tackle, so best available switch guy for either Tackle or Guard makes sense.
23. Detroit Lions - OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Is this team ready to draft this late in the First? Just kidding. If you glance back at past year's mocks - outside of the no-brainer pick for Suh - you might see a lot of mockers saying Detroit's gotta draft an OT early (and/or often). Especially because their QB gets abused like a pinata. Martin is one of the best available OT on the boards at this point...
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
Steelers gotta start thinking about their aging defensive line, and couldn't do anything with FA due to cap restrictions. They lost their DT and desperately need to add some young talent to that D-line.
25. Denver Broncos - DT Devon Still, Penn St
While it's possible for the Broncos to go with S, their free agency moves (other than FAREWELL TEBOW and HELLO PEYTON) left DT as their major gap.
26. Houston Texans - OG/OT Zerbie Sanders, Florida St
No major acquisitions in Free Agency but they did lose some talent at their right side of the O-line. Sanders has played Right as well as Left Tackle, and could conceivably shift to the Guard spot for a value pick here.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) - OLB Nick Perry, USC
At this point, the Pats can draft for best available defensive player across the board and not feel bad about it. They could go with CB here but the best available is Janoris Jenkins at this point and unless Belichek is convinced Jenkins won't be a distraction I don't see him going here.
28. Green Bay Packers - DE Vinny Curry, Marshall
The only real need Green Bay has is with their defensive line, getting out of FA relatively intact. Smart move would be to trade down into the early part of the Second Round, grab extra picks, and get better value there as there aren't any DEs worth a First Round at this point. If they can't, they should get Curry here.
29. Baltimore Ravens - OG Brandon Washington, Miami
Baltimore didn't look like a team with too many glaring holes, so it depends on FA (as always) to see where major holes develop. And it looks like Guard. Team could draft any way they feel like, as they can look to long-term needs (like WR or S) and hold off on filling the O-line later in the draft.
30. San Francisco 49ers - DE Jared Crick, Nebraska
Free agency took care of needs at WR (more with Manningham than Moss joining the team, IMHO), so getting another spot fixed, possibly Guard but most likely DE.
31. New England Patriots - CB Janoris Jenkins, Exile
Need at Corner is there, and I still don't think any team should risk a First Rounder on Jenkins. Bellichek might...
32. New York Giants - RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech
For a Super Bowl winner, they have a couple of need spots at the moment, such as WR, OL, maybe LB. But Running Back became a glaring need when Jacobs left. I said earlier that after Richardson there weren't any RBs worth a First Round pick. Well, needs must when the Devil drives...
So what do you think, sirs?