Right after the season ended, I posted my first mock draft of the season. Mind you, it was before the combine, trades and pro days took place. With the draft two days away, here is my final mock draft of the season.
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck QB Stanford – This goes without saying. Best QB prospect since John Elway.
2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III QB Baylor – RG3 has the speed, intangibles, accuracy and poise that made the Redskins comfortable enough trading up in the draft. Perfect fit for Shanahan’s system.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Morris Claiborne CB LSU – Many experts have Matt Kalil going here and he very well may. I’m in the minority with this selection, but going against Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Greg Jennings each year, the Vikings need a shutdown corner. Claiborne is as good as they come.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson RB Alabama – Cleveland could go quarterback here, but they can get a Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins in the second round. With the departure of Peyton Hillis, the Browns need a running back badly. I’m not a fan of grabbing a back this high in today’s game, but Richardson is the real deal.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina – Tampa was hoping Richardson or Claiborne would be available here, but with both off my board, I have them taking Gilmore, a very underrated corner out of the SEC. Blackmon is tempting, but with Vincent Jackson coming over in free agency, wide receiver isn’t a pressing need.
6. St. Louis Rams – Matt Kalil OT USC- To protect Sam Bradford or get him a weapon. That is the question. It could go either way here, but the key to the Rams righting the ship is keeping their quarterback healthy. Kalil is the way to go.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State- Offensive weapons and fill the stadium. The two needs of the Jaguars. With Blackmon slipping down to them, there is no way they can’t take him and get Blaine Gabbert a weapon for what they hope is years to come.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M – Tannehill has been shooting up draft boards as of late with his undeniable upside. The Dolphins made it known that they like him and want him. Tannehill started just 19 games in college at quarterback after switching from receiver. He also threw 15 interceptions and had a knack to fade late in games. To me, he has bust written all over him.
9. Carolina Panthers – ILB Boston College Luke Kuechly – If there is a sure thing next to Andrew Luck, it’s Kuechly. He is the total package at linebacker and will strengthen a weak unit in Carolina for years to come.
10. Buffalo Bills – Riley Reiff OT Iowa – Reiff is the second-rated tackle next to Kalil in the draft. The Bills gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a surprise extension last year and Reiff will be the perfect protection to their investment.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State – Great quickness off the snap and gets through the line easily. Tremendous quickness for a guy his size. Will help stop the run in Kansas City.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Quinton Coples DE North Carolina – Coples is one of the most underrated players in the draft to me. 17.5 sacks the past two seasons and tremendous speed and wing span.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame – Last year, Larry Fitzgerald asked for Kevin Kolb and he got him. This year, he wants Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald could use a receiver opposite of him to take away the double-teams. Floyd isn’t the speediest guy, but always gets behind the corners.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron S Alabama – It’s either Barron or Michael Brockers here, but Jerry Jones really likes Barron and he will help sure up a questionable secondary that was exposed last year.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Michael Brockers DT LSU – The Eagles need the most help at linebacker, but given Andy Reid’s track record, that won’t happen this year. Brockers is a big body and extremely quick. Won’t get a lot of playing time his first season, but will make an impact years to come. If Dallas takes him, they will go with Barron.
16. New York Jets – Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB Alabama – New York needs an offensive playmaker, but with Floyd off the board, Rex Ryan will go back to his defensive mentality. Upshaw is short for his position, but is quick and relentless. Plays with a chip, perfect for New York.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama – Not really sold on Kirkpatrick, but has good recovery speed and does a good job pressing at the line. Good fit for him in Cincy.
18. San Diego Chargers – David DeCastro OG Stanford – The man credited with helping to protect Andrew Luck in school will now have the same task in San Diego with Phillip Rivers as he will help sure up the line.
19. Chicago Bears – Whitney Mercilus OLB Illinois – Chicago hasn’t had the greatest track record in drafts in the past few years, so they need to get this one right. Their brass is crazy about Mercilus so look for him to get snatched up.
20. Tennessee Titans – Shane McClellin OLB Boise State – Under the radar pick here, but McClellin could help the Titan’s defense. Will look to address wide receivers and cornerbacks later in the draft.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Doug Martin RB Boise State – The Bengals need a back to share carries with newly acquired Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Martin enjoyed a great career at Boise State and has been shooting up the draft boards. Martin, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton will make one of the most exciting offenses in the game.
22. Cleveland Browns – Kendall Wright WR Baylor -Wright has the physical tools, but was he a product of RG3? I’m 50/50, but the Browns believe. If he does pan out, the Browns address two big needs in the first round.
23. Detroit Lions – Jonathan Martin OT Stanford – Matthew Stafford showed what he can do when he is healthy last season. The secret is keeping him up and off the ground. While corner is a big need for the Lions, keeping their franchise quarterback upright is an even bigger need.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Adams OT Ohio State – The Steelers don’t mess up in the first round. Easy as that. Their track record speaks for itself. I try every year and usually end up guessing wrong for them. Dontari Poe and Dont’a Hightower have been thrown around as possible targets, but Poe doesn’t make sense to me. Adams, who has a checkered past, or Hightower are the best bets.
25. Denver Broncos – Dontari Poe DT Memphis – Poe has been rising up the draft boards recently and enjoyed a great career at Memphis. Explosive, big body will help free up the lanes for Von Miller and stop the run game.
26. Houston Texans – Coby Fleener TE Stanford – Playing in the two-tight end formation in Stanford, Fleener was Luck’s favorite target. Add him to an already explosive offense, and it spells trouble for defenses in the AFC.
27. New England Patriots – Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama – The Patriots need help in the secondary, but can’t pass up on a player like Hightower slipping to them. Incredible athleticism and knowledge of his position.
28. Green Bay Packers – Nick Perry DE USC – I’m a big fan of Perry and from what I hear, the Packers are also. They could also use a safety, but defensive end is a more important need.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Andre Branch DE Clemson – Branch has it all and could go earlier in the draft. Ravens live and breathe defense and will rotate Branch in right away.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Kevin Zeitler OG Wisconsin – The 49ers defense is intact and they added Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to help the offense. Time to address the line. Zeitler is the best option.
31. New England Patriots – Brandon Thompson DT Clemson – Thompson will learn from Vince Wilfork and will give the Patriots a viable option for the foreseeable future.
32. New York Giants – Devon Still DT Penn State – Add a defensive lineman to the best unit in football? Absolutely. As talented as the group is, they are lacking a big man in the middle. Still is that guy.
Photo credits: nepatriotsdraft.com