In this version, 2.0, I'm mocking what I think will actually happen. In version 2.5, I will mixing things up a bit more. The key difference between the two versions comes down to one single player: Trent Richardson. Now, as a Bucs fan, I can tell you there is no more contentious issue right now amongst Buc Nation than the issue of Trent Richardson, with the fanbase being divided into "Team Trent" and "Team Mo". It's like Twilight. Except without being an adolescent female masturbatory aid. *cough*
ANYWAY, Trent Richardson missed both the Combine and Alabama's first pro day as a result of some knee scoping; he will be working out at Alabama's second pro day this week. Richardson will probably be a top five pick - unless his work out gives teams a reason to slide him down their board, as Da'Quan Bowers did last year after a bad post-surgery workout. So, in this version, we'll go with what I think will actually happen - that Richardson works out fine, and will go in the top five... but first, the obvious three:
1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Pick in version 1.0: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Did anyone ever expect there to be so little of a gap between Luck and Griffin as there now is? While Luck will still be the pick, I don't think anyone will criticise Jim Irsay and whichever puppet GM replaced the Polians if they decide to take RGIII instead - surprised, maybe, but not critical. Still, it's Luck who gets the horseshoe.
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (From St. Louis Rams)
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
|He may go second over all, but he's|
already number 1 in Shanahan's
And so, Washington gets its first franchise QB in at least 30 years, depending on whether you consider Theismann to have been one. If things in the 2011 season had shaken out differently, and if the Redskins had ended up with the #1 overall pick, I think they would have still picked Griffin - the mixture of ridiculous agility and mobility with very good accuracy and a hell if a lot of upside makes him so potentially potent that you could practically see the hunger in Shanahan's eyes at the Baylor pro day. And I'm not even kidding.
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
1.0: Carolina Panthers - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Ok, here's where I lost people in the last draft. I still maintain my logic was sound - Matt Hurney LOVES trading up, and that love of said up-trading will *spoiler* come into play in my mock 2.5. But as this is a draft where I'm saying what I actually think will happen, I'm going to put the obvious choice here, despite Rick Spielman's very blatant smokescreen about wanting to take Mo Claiborne, in an poor attempt to try and trick a team to trade places with him. Matt Kalil is as much of no-brainer as Luck and Griffin going #1 and #2 in one order or other.
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
1.0: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
I mentioned in my introduction that the Buccaneer fanbase is divided into those who want Trent Richardson and those who want Mo Claiborne. One of the main arguments from the pro-Mo camp (myself included) is the ability to find starting-caliber running backs throughout the draft, or even amongst the undrafted. Someone asked me on Twitter (@FredTheGur) earlier: why, if it is such a "passing" league, and running backs are so little value, why the Browns would take Richardson over Claiborne. It's a very fair question - and one of the main reasons I had Claiborne here in my previous mock. But the more I've thought about it, the more I believe the Browns will be going offence with this pick. The Browns essentially have NO firepower on O, with the possible exception of Greg Little, depending on how he develops - and that's not a tenable situation in a division with three good-to-great-to-elite defences. If Richardson belays any doubts about his knee at the second 'Bama pro day, then he gets the nod over Blackmon. Why? Because Blackmon, as good as he might be, can only be effective with a decent QB. Natch. And I'm afraid Colt McCoy is just not starting-caliber, which is a shame, as he seems like a nice guy, but there you have it.
Now, running backs have become devalued as individual players; that is to say, while the position is important, each individual running back is less so, as the league trends further and further away from every-down running backs and more towards RB-by-committee. However, Trent Richardson, I am told, is certainly the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, and I've seen it suggested that he might even be the best since LaDainian Tomlinson. Even if this is true, I am sceptical as to how much more effective that will be than an RB-by-committee approach; but, again, the Browns have NOTHING going for them on this side of the ball. They need someone who can come in and make an immediate positive impact for the Cleveland offense despite, not because, who they have at signal caller. That can only come from a running back - and so if Richardson proves at his workout that he'll be ready to carry both the rock, and the whole team, from day one, there's no question to my mind that he goes here.
5. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
1.0: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
|A sight Buc fans can finally look|
forward to: a DB with the ball in his
hands who A) isn't Ronde Barber
and B) is not a bad, bad, bad man
Also, EJ Biggers. Buc fans know what I mean.
6. ST. LOUIS RAMS (from Washington Redskins)
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
1.0: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
This is literally the best possible situation for the Rams. They get an absolute shedload of picks thanks to the trade with the Redskins, and still manage to pick up the a #1 receiver for Sam Bradford to grow and develop with - a definite feather in the cap for new GM Les Snead.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
1.0: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Jacksonville needs help in a lot of places, so there's plenty of ways this pick can go. But with Aaron Kampman unable to stay on the field and Andrew Luck in the division, the Jaguars NEED to get someone opposite the recently-resigned Jeremy Mincey. Step forward, Melvin Ingram. But a word of advice for you, young man - don't buy a house in Jacksonville. You'll be in St. Louis before too long. (Yes, this was copied and pasted from the previous version, minus the name change. It still applies, and I just liked the last sentence too much to get rid of it.)
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
1.0: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Oh, Stephen Ross. What are you doing with that franchise of yours? I don't think even you have any idea anymore. Seriously, how many times can you get rejected before you take the hint? NO-ONE wants to play for you, unless they're desperate to remain a starter in the NFL (see: Garrard, David). In fact, the only other way you'll get a QB for your team is drafting one... so you draft one, reaching massively on Ryan Tannehill. And, since Matt Moore was actually a semi-decent starter for you this past season... I have no doubt you'll trade him for a very low pick in this years draft. Because you're just a terrible owner. Seriously, you're straying into Mike Brown territory.
9. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
1.0: Minnesota Vikings - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
As much as I hate to admit it... Cam Newton is a stud. There, I said it. Dude still has work to do without question, but if he keep his head in the game, he should be a pain in the Bucs' ass for years to come. Interestingly enough, I'm not too worried about him this year - all the accolades and early personal success lend themselves well to sophomore slumps, especially when you consider that every DC he will face next season will have put dozens of hours into working out how to neturalise his talents, and my gut tells me they will do so successfully. 2013 onwards, though, I think he will go on to be every bit as good as his rookie season promised.
|Dontari Poe, in full-on "jiggle" mode|
10. BUFFALO BILLS
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
1.0: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
They say the most important position in football is the quarterback. Being a(n ex-)lineman, I consider quarterbacks pretty boys who only get the chance to look good because the real athletes - the offensive line - protect their asses. The Bills have one-less ass protector with left tackle Demetrius Bell as free agent, and reportedly choosing not to resign with Buffalo despite receiving an offer from them. The consensus #2 tackle in the draft is Iowa's Riley Reiff; but Reiff does not project as a blind-side protector in the NFL; so I've gone with the second-rated left tackle this year, in Stanford's Jonathan Martin.
11. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
11. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
1.0: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
I wrote above that Fletcher Cox is higher on my draft board than Dontari Poe as far as defensive tackles are concerned. The Chiefs are desperately hoping that the Panthers' draft board is similarly ordered, as they would absolutely love to take Poe here - they desperately need someone to anchor the middle of their 3-man line, and Poe would have been perfect. Alas, he doesn't fall to the Chiefs, and they won't find help for their other biggest need (quarter back) here. Instead they look to the future: with Casey Wiegmann being 39 and starting guard Ryan Lilja entering the final year of his contract, the Chiefs draft the top interior lineman on the board in David DeCastro, who, together with second-year centre Rodney Hudson, gives them young, long-term pieces for the middle of their line.
12. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
1.0: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
As I wrote in my previous mock, at the start of the 2011 season many people assumed that the Seahawks would be using the #1 pick on Andrew Luck in this year's draft. Instead, they managed to amass seven wins last year, and that is in very large part down to their #9 ranked defense. In contrast, their offence ranked 28th in the league; but between signing Skittle Man to four year deal, and picking up super-back up QB Matt Flynn in the hope that he can be a franchise QB, they will continue to build on their surprisingly effective D. In my previous mock, I had them going with a defensive tackle to beef up the middle of their line, but they've since taken care of that by signing Jason Jones. Instead, they look to replace David Hawthorne with Boston College's Luke Kuechly, hoping that he can become their long-term defensive leader.
13. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
1.0: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Cardinals are stuck with Kevin Kolb for another year, thanks to that 7-million roster bonus, so they may as well try and give Kolb (and/or John Skelton) as much help as they possibly can. In a division with the beastly 49ers defense and the surprisingly good Seahawks D, they needed to make sure their QBs would be adequately protected; Levi Brown, who struggled for much his carrier, appeared to finally get his act together towards the end of last season, and was cut and then resigned to a more wallet-friendly contract, negating any need for an offensive tackle. So, in this draft, the Cards are able to help their QBs in other ways - such as finally getting someone to help draw away coverage from Larry Fitzgerald. Early Doucet has continually failed to step up as enough of a threat to help out Fitz, so Arizona nab this year's #2 wideout, hoping that this addition will do enough for Kolb that they stop looking like utter fools for pulling off last year's stupid trade with the Eagles.
14. DALLAS COWBOYS
Fletcher Cox, DT/DE, Mississippi State
1.0: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
With the Cowboys getting some secondary help in free agency via ex-Chiefs corner Brandon Carr, Jerry Jones was hoping to fix a shoddy interior line, but with the KC taking DeCastro, they'll have to wait until day two of the draft to find help there. If Jerry Jones was a sensible human being, he should leap at the chance to draft Riley Reiff to replace the increasingly ineffective Doug Free... but who are we kidding? It's Jerry Jones. He gave Free a four-year deal last year, and he's never going to swallow his pride and admit it was a mistake by drafting Reiff. So instead, he goes for a value pick in Fletcher Cox, who projects to a DE in Rob Ryan's defense, replacing the 32-year old Kenyon Coleman in the starting lineup.
15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
1.0: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
As I pointed out in my earlier mock, Andy Reid never takes linebackers in the first round. However, with Reid's rather sample seat heating up in dramatic fashion, many assumed this would be the year that would change. Oh, Andy, you sly dog, you! To the bitter end, he refuses to draft a linebacker in the first round, instead (slyly) working out a deal to send their spare 4th round pick (you're welcome, Iggles fans) to the Texans for DeMeco Ryans. So, no linebacker. But you know what position Reid does love drafting early? Defensive line - just shy of half (6 of 13) of Philly drafts since Reid took over as HC has seen them take a defensive lineman with their first pick. Of the four defensive tackles currently on the Eagles roster, one suffered a scary seizure in last years training camp, another missed most of 2011 with torn triceps, and one has never seen a single snap in the NFL. Brockers is the pick.
16. NEW YORK JETS
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
1.0: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
|Riley Reiff: lineman and apparent|
17. CINCINNATI BENGALS (from Oakland Raiders)
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
1.0: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Neither of the one-time best cornerback duo in the league, Jonathan Joseph (now plying his wares in Houston) and Leon Hall (tore his ACL late in 2011), will be seeing the field for the Bengals this year. Newly signed Jason Allen should man one of the corner spots, but Nate Clements is getting on in years, and Pacman Jones is strictly a nickel back these days. Dre Kirkpatrick is the second best corner in this years draft class, and despite being cleared of all charges of possession, the Bengals won't hold his lack of a criminal record against him and drafts him anyway, trusting that, before too long, he'll eventually get a rap sheet worthy enough of the orange stripes.
18. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Quinton Coples, OLB, North Carolina
1.0: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
With Kris Dielman's retirement, the Chargers are likely to take a long, hard look at Gordy Glenn, and there's a very good chance that he will be the pick... but Quinton Coples, arguably a top-10 talent, is still on the board, and the Chargers now have to deal with the prospect of facing Peyton Manning twice a year. With the exception of Antwan Barnes, no other San Diego defender had more than 4 sacks last year, and quite frankly, that no where near good enough when you've got #18 inside the division. The Chargers need pass rush and they need it now, and with Coples still on the board, the Chargers won't be able to resist passing up pass rush.
19. CHICAGO BEARS
19. CHICAGO BEARS
Gordy Glenn, G, Georgia
1.0: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Like the Chargers, Da Bears similarly face an elite quarterback twice a year in Aaron Rodgers, and and a very good one in Matthew Stafford, and there's another highly-rated pass rusher on the board in Courtney Upshaw, who would provide a great foil for Julius Peppers. However, you cannot ignore the fact that the Bears offensive line are a terrible, terrible unit. Gabe Carimi was an immediate impact starter last season at right tackle, before he blew his knee out. The Bears have to get similar instant production from any incoming linemen, and they hope Glenn will be able to have such an effect. As pointed out by fellow TPLer Toby in his mock, Glenn played left tackle in his senior year, so, at a push, can take over for the atrocious J'Marcus Webb in the short term until they find a proper left tackle, at which point Glenn can slide back inside to help try and stop Jay Cutler being killed again.
20. TENNESSEE TITANS
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
1.0: Gordy Glenn, G, Georgia
A straightforward pick; the Titans lost troublesome cornerback Cortland Finnegan in free agency, have yet to replace him, so draft a replacement troublesome cornerback in Janoris Jenkins.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
1.0: Denver Broncos - QB, Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
The Bengals defensive front seven played very well in 2011, but they need some help on the back end. Between Jason Allen and first pick Dre Kirkpatrick, the cornerback position has been amply attended to. After resigning free agent Reggie Nelson, the Bengals will hope that, by grabbing Mark Barron here to provide a much-needed upgrade from Chris Crocker, they have solidified their secondary to the point where they can make a serious run at the AFC North crown.
22. CLEVELAND BROWNS (from Atlanta Falcons)
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
1.0: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
As mentioned above, the Browns needed a player who could make something, anything, happen on offense for them, and they got such a player in Trent Richardson. But a running back without a quarterback will only be able to get their team so far (see: third pick in the draft; seventh pick in the draft). The Browns will be serious contenders for the #1 overall pick next year, which will probably be used on selecting Matt Barkley - but he'll need someone to throw to outside of Greg Little, so Cleveland look to the future by drafting Kendall Wright, in the belief that, between Wright, Little & Richardson, they are only a QB away from something that vaguely resembles a pro-caliber offense.
23. DETROIT LIONS
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
1.0: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
It's funny, when you've got a good quarterback and actually keep him healthy, he plays well. Who knew? Not Martin Mayhew, apparently. But, now that he's worked out the magic formula (Matthew Stafford + injury-free season = playoffs), Mayhew finally recognises that it's actually quite important to keep your QB upright, and finally gets Stafford adequate protection in Ohio State's Mike Adams.
24. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
|Hightower promises to continue|
the Steeler traditions of dominant
linebacker play and lots of
The Steelers are old everywhere except wide receiver. EVERYWHERE. As a result, there's plenty of ways to go with this pick to inject some youth in the team, and with James Farrior being cut, and the age of the Steeler D showing in the playoffs, Hightower will be a key piece for the Pittsburgh defensive future.
25. DENVER BRONCOS
Devon Still, DT, Penn State
1.0: Cincinnati Bengals - Mark Barron, S, Alabama
There was a school of thought that suggested Denver relinquish this selection to the Pittsburgh Steelers and sign Mike Wallace to pair with Peyton Manning, which would have been a scary-good proposition. And then Wallace went insane and demanded a more valuable contract than Larry Fitzgerald's $120 million deal. Yeah, good luck with that. The Broncos could try and use this pick to find a weapon for Manning, but, truth be told, if Manning even 60% of what he was pre-injury, he'll make gems of any receivers John Elway gets for him. Instead, defensive-minded HC John Fox takes Devon Still to help improve the 22nd-ranked run defense.
26. HOUSTON TEXANS
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
1.0: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Texans finally made the playoffs, and they have every intention of getting back there every year from now on. With their defense now seemingly fixed, and Arian Foster locked up for the next few years, the Texans can finally address the missing piece of their offense - someone to draw coverage AWAY from Andre Johnson. Stephen Hill is that someone. The dude has explosive speed and ridiculous size, and though he does have a mild case of the dropsies, he has flashed to potential to punish any and every opponent who doesn't respect him enough to make sure he's adequately covered. Between AJ & Hill commanding double coverage, and Arian Foster equally threatening teams not to load up the box against him, facing the Texans will truly become a case of picking your poison.
27. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (from New Orleans Saints)
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
1.0: Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU
The Belichick way is "best player available". Always. It's a draft strategy that has seen countless brain aneurysms amongst Pats fans as, year after year, New England fail to address their lack of pass rush. Well, Mr. (or Mrs.) Patriot Fan, today is your lucky day*. For once, there is no question the best player available is a pass rusher. Courtney Upshaw, like Quinton Coples, is probably too good to have fallen this far - but that's the way the draft falls sometimes. So, by drafting the best player available, Belichick actually address the dire need for pass rush.
28. GREEN BAY PACKERS
*Yeah, it's not actually your lucky day. This is Bill Belichick we're talking about. If this scenario plays out, you can be assured that Belichick will trade this pick to someone who wants to move up and draft Upshaw. Why get pass rush this year when you can get more picks next year?
28. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Nick Perry, OLB, USC
1.0: Nick Perry, OLB, USC
It was clear last season that Clay Matthews needs someone across who can demand attention from opponents' blocking schemes. The Packers could look to Stephon Gilmore here - who knows how much gas Woodson has left in the tank? - but consistent, effective pass rush can make a secondary look better than it actually is. By adding Nick Perry, the Pack should get enough pressure on opposing QBs to result in a few turnovers each game, and with the Aaron Rodgers Scoring Machine on the other side of the ball, Green Bay should be in position to make another run for the Lombardi.
29. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
1.0: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Same pick as my previous mock, same logic: Matt Birk might be back in the fold, but he's over the hill and only has so much left. In the short term, Peter Konz can fill in for the recently-departed Ben Grubbs; once Birk does hang up his cleats, Konz can slide over to center, where he'll anchor that line for the next decade.
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
30. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
1.0: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
|Pictured: the Kevin Zeitler|
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
1.0: Pittsburgh Steelers - Bobbie Massie, OT, Ole Miss
Belichick has gone for a corner in this range the past two drafts, so why change the trend? Stephon Gilmore helps a pretty shoddy secondary, and will allow Belichick to make the Devin McCourty's late-season move to safety permanent, should he wish to.
32. NEW YORK GIANTS
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
1.0: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Giants could stand to upgrade a lot of areas across their roster. TE Coby Fleener could go here, with both of the team's tight ends tearing their ACLs in the Super Bowl, but Kevin Gilbride has never really used the position much in his offense. Left guard is in definite need of an upgrade, but there's no-one left on the board who wouldn't be a huge reach here. Instead, Big Blue looks at replacing a recent departure at their skill positions. They'll consider Mohammad Sanu to replace Mario Manningham, but ultimately, with Brandon Jacobs going and Ahmad Bradshaw needing a complement back, Miller gets the call.
There ya go. Mock draft, 2.0. 2.5 coming soon.
There ya go. Mock draft, 2.0. 2.5 coming soon.
- Gur Samuel (@FredTheGur)
- The Pulling Linemen