We are getting down to the final weeks of the 2012 NFL draft season. As usual, whatever consensus there was about players in the middle or late part of the first round is dissolving fast. Teams are reconsidering their draft boards as the process gets more intense. The media is more than happy to play the willing accomplice in the obfuscation game. This is why April is such a great time to be a football fan.
Less than three weeks until the draft. Here is the latest look at how things might unfold on April 26.
1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck needs to find a better press agent. One of the more polished quarterbacks to come out in a long time, and you have to wait for Jim Irsay to say something obtuse to put Luck back on the radar.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis), Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
RG3, on the other hand, needs no help finding cameras. The draft is just a formality for these two picks. Mike Shanahan et al are already meeting with Griffin in Texas. How they find time between Griffin's appearances I don't know.
3. Minnesota Vikings, Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Sometimes I wonder if the Vikings will take a different player here. Trading down is a possibility, depending on how badly some team wants Claiborne or Richardson ... or even, you know, the best offensive tackle in years.
4. Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon is the perfect receiver for Pat Shurmur's offense. He can catch most anything, pick up yards after the catch and work the shorter branches of the route tree with aplomb. Draft yakkers cringe at the thought of Blackmon in the top five. It works in this case.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Ronde Barber began his NFL career when Apple was a struggling company. Aqib Talib goes on trial in June for assault with a deadly weapon. They need some help in the secondary, and Claiborne is too good to pass up here. They can easily find a complementary running back to pair with LeGarrette Blount later in the draft.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington), Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Jeff Fisher loves to run the ball. In St. Louis, he needs to run the ball since the Rams have to hit the reset button on Sam Bradford's career. Richardson will pair nicely with Steven Jackson, who turns 29 this summer, and gives this offense a dynamic playmaker.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
For a receiver class that people can't seem to stop bitching about, it seems odd to have two in the top 10. Floyd may not have the ceiling of the top two receivers taken last year, but he is big and catches the ball well. Blaine Gabbert needs a player like this in the offense with him.
8. Miami Dolphins, Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
No Tannehill here? Nope. A bad offseason may have Miami feeling a little risk averse. Drafting a top pass rusher will pay immediate dividends and make them competitive while they reconfigure the offense. Yes, Ingram is the first pass rusher taken in this scenario. There are too many questions about Coples' motivation, and Ingram's speed is appealing.
9. Carolina Panthers, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The LSU product needs time to develop as pass rushing threat from the inside. Carolina can wait. Brockers strengthens a weak middle as soon as he steps on the field.
10. Buffalo Bills, Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Demetress Bell is gone, even changing his first name to get a really fresh start on his career. The Bills already needed depth at the position, and now they need a starter.
11. Kansas City Chiefs, David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Chiefs are probably going to lose Casey Wiegmann, 38, to retirement, leaving a void in the middle of their offensive line. DeCastro flopped in snapping the ball during his pro day trial, so Rodney Hudson may be the one snapping this year. Snap struggles aside, DeCastro has elite level talent. The Chiefs' line may be the envy of the league this year.
12. Seattle Seahawks, Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Seattle's defensive line has already become, quietly, one of the tougher units in the league. Adding an edge rusher like Coples could make it a real problem for opponents. Can Pete Carroll keep the UNC product's fire lit?
13. Arizona Cardinals, Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Nothing against Paris Lenon and Stewart Bradley, but Arizona can do better. Drafting Kuechly gives the defense a center piece, something to tie it all together and prevent a weak middle from undoing what should be a solid secondary and a good front.
14. Dallas Cowboys, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Maybe I'm buying the rumor mill's fodder about the Cowboys liking Poe so much that they do not want to draw attention to him, but the pick does work for them. Dallas also has the flexibility to use Poe in a rotation on their defensive line while he develops.
15. Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Andy Reid and the Eagles have spent plenty of time with Tannehill this spring. They need a quarterback learning the pro game and ready to fill the void as injuries take their toll on Michael Vick, who turns 32 this season.
16. New York Jets, Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Lost in Rex Ryan's bluster and all the drama on offense is the fact that the Jets' defense is seriously lacking pass rushers. Upshaw gives them a player who can be moved around the field and has the chops to get to quarterbacks.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland), Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
The Bengals would reportedly love to have DeCastro as a replacement to the inconsistent Nate Livings. They get Cordy Glenn instead, and should be thrilled about it.
18. San Diego Chargers, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Chargers struggled against top receivers last season. They need youth and talent in the secondary, and Gilmore matches that need and this draft spot perfectly.
19. Chicago Bears, Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Amobi Okoye is gone, and Chicago needs someone to take over for the disappointing defensive tackle. Enter Cox who should help give the Bears a more effective pass rush as a player who can work his way through interior linemen.
20. Tennessee Titans, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick may have slid beneath Gilmore in the cornerback rankings, but he is still a very good player. The Titans need someone to replace Cortland Finnegan in the backfield.
21. Cincinnati Bengals, Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins has become an underdog player, in my opinion. Everyone wrings their hands about his off-field distractions and run-ins with the law, but they guy has been pretty forthcoming about it all. Jenkins, in reality, is the second-best corner in this draft. The Bengals will love his man-cover ability.
22. Cleveland Browns, Nick Perry, DE, USC
For all the Browns' faults, and there are many, the defense played well last year. Adding another pass rusher to go with Jabaal Sheard improves the unit. It might even be enough to give the Browns another win or two while they figure out the whole quarterback thing.
23. Detroit Lions, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Lions need youth and depth on the outside. Pundits are divided on Martin, who once was considered the second-best tackle in the draft. In Detroit, he can work behind Jeff Backus for a year or take over when Gosder Cherilus becomes more than they can handle.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers, Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
This pick is becoming a bit like the top two picks in the draft, preordained. Hey, if the shoe fits, right? Hightower may not make it this far. If not, the Steelers may go with an offensive tackle instead.
25. Denver Broncos, Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
It was a mild surprise that Jeff Saturday opted not to reunite with Peyton Manning. The Broncos really need a better center. Manning, and his neck, will appreciate having Konz in front of him.
26. Houston Texans, Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Wright adds another dimension to the Texans' offense, which could be one of the league's best if everyone's health cooperates in 2012. They can work Wright out of the slot or on the other side of Andre Johnson. He looks like another Percy Harvin.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans), Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
New England's defense needs many things, especially a young pass rusher to go with Andre Carter. Mercilus has the dreaded "one-year wonder" label attached to him. Labels aside, the talent is there, and the Pats can use him at a couple different spots.
28. Green Bay Packers, Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Nick Collins may be retiring because of a neck injury, at 28 years old. Mark Barron, if he falls this far in the draft, would be a fine replacement as the only blue chip safety in the draft this year.
29. Baltimore Ravens, Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Joe Flacco's place in the hierarchy of quarterbacks is up for some debate. Wherever he or the experts rank him, he needs another receiver in his offense. Randle needs some polish, and with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith, the LSU product will get some breathing room in his first year.
30. San Francisco 49ers, Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The two tight-end system, the high-end version a la New England, is coming to the West Coast. Really, it makes a ton of sense with Alex Smith at quarterback.
31. New England Patriots, Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan State
If the Patriots continue to use a significant number of four-man fronts, Worthy beefs up the interior and gives them a player capable of getting pressure on a regular basis. He can also move to the outside in the three-man front. Aside from questions about his motor, the former Spartan is more complete prospect than Devon Still, who slips to the second round in this mock.
32. New York Giants, Bobbie Massie, OT, Mississippi
A late entrant to the conversation, Massie is getting plenty of attention as consensus dissolves around Mike Adams and the other tackles in the second-tier of players at the position. Massie has the athletic ability of Adams, without questions about his consistency.