The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft passed last weekend, so let’s delve into my first mock draft. For this draft I’m only going with the top ten picks, but look for more in subsequent mocks.
1: Colts – Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford
No real surprise here. Some people might expect Indy to trade this pick, but I doubt it will happen unless someone pays a king’s (or fool’s) ransom to draft Luck.
2: Rams – Justin Blackmon – WR, OK State
The Rams need to get a playmaker, especially if Brandon Lloyd leaves as expected. Their wide-out corps is so depleted, I doubt anyone could name a single receiver on the team except for Lloyd. Blackmon will change that.
3: Vikings – Matt Kalil – OT, USC
Minnesota’s QBs were sacked 49 times this year, the fifth highest total in the league (St. Louis was worst with 55 allowed). Kalil will help fix that.
4: Browns – Trent Richardson – RB, Alabama
Some people see the team going with RGIII here, but I like Colt McCoy. Cleveland average 3.7 yards per attempt on the ground last year, fifth worst in the league. A better running game will take some heat off McCoy.
5: Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne – CB, LSU
The NFC south might be the most pass-happy division in the league; Tampa will face Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton two-times apiece next year. Claiborne should improve Tampa’s pass ‘D’ which had the fourth worst opposing QB rating in the league last year.
6: Redskins – Robert Griffin III – QB, Baylor
No way does he fall past Washington.
7: Jaguars – Alshon Jeffery – WR, South Carolina
Jacksonville is in the process of rebuilding their offense. Jeffery will give freshman head coach Mike Mularky a receiver in the mold of Roddy White, who was Mularkey’s top wide-out in Atlanta.
8: Panthers – Dre Kirkpatrick – CB, Alabama
Basically take what I said about Tampa needing to improve its pass defense and apply it to Carolina. Their numbers against the pass are essentially the same.
9: Dolphins – Jonathan Martin – OT, Stanford
Miami allowed the third most sacks in the league in 2011. Protecting the passer will help them immensely, even if they don’t have a franchise QB.
10: Bills – Quinton Couples – DE, North Carolina
Buffalo needs to do a better job getting to the QB and stopping the run. Marcell Dareus was solid as a rookie, and adding couples will only help the team.