Hoping to get back to our championship form at The Huddle Report, Rob Engle and I put our heads together for our final mock draft of the season. After many, many scenario shifts, we decided on 32 picks that felt right…or at least as close to it as possible.
1. Indianapolis Colts — Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford
Not a lot to say here since everyone knows this is a done deal.
2. Washington Redskins — Robert Griffin III – QB – Baylor
At least we should be getting two right!
3. Minnesota Vikings — Matt Kalil – OT – USC
We don’t buy for a second that the Jets are going to trade up to 3 for Richardson. However, we do think the Vikings are dying to move out of the #3 spot. The best possible suitor would be Tampa Bay in a move for Richardson and Minnesota would probably take just about anything for it. However, when you have to face Julius Peppers and Ryan Matthews twice a year, you better be able to keep your quarterback upright. Even if Minnesota trades with Tampa, we believe Kalil is still their guy at 5.
4. Cleveland Browns — Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama
Sure, the Browns could take Blackmon here but we don’t see it. Richardson is the best running back to come out in several years and no one is saying that about Blackmon. That being said, if the Bucs do jump over Cleveland, Blackmon is probably going to be their pick. But with Richardson available, you can’t pass on instant production at a position of great need.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU
Though they’d love to get Richardson, it just isn’t going to happen in our mock. Claiborne is a more than acceptable pick, especially considering the issues surrounding Aquib Talib.
6. St. Louis Rams — Justin Blackmon – WR – Oklahoma State
This is actually a tougher choice than we originally thought. Jeff Fisher is a defensive minded guy and might like to add some talent to that defense. But we can’t see Fletcher Cox being a realistic pick here but Stephon Gilmore might make some sense. However, the Rams are in dire need of a solid wideout and Bradford won’t be complaining about this pick.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Melvin Ingram – OLB – South Carolina
The Jaguars are another team that we fully expect to trade back since we don’t believe there is any one player they’re in love with at the 7 spot. If Blackmon was available, they’d probably take him here. Otherwise, expect the Jags to be on the phone for the full 15 minutes. At the end of the day, Jax needs pass rush help and while they’ve missed on some defensive ends in the past, Ingram could potentially shift back to LB in their scheme. Ingram has the versatility and consistent production that Gene Smith likes, without the possible character concerns of a guy like Quinton Coples.
8. Miami Dolphins — Ryan Tannehill – QB – Texas A&M
The Dolphins have to come out of this draft with a QB. They may be able to move back a few spots and still get Tannehill but why risk it? We don’t think Tannehill is a top 10 player but the QB position is always over-valued.
9. Carolina Panthers — Fletcher Cox – DT – Mississippi State
The Panthers run defense struggled mightily last year and while much of that was due to the loss of Jon Beason, they still need to get stronger in the middle. The addition of Cox helps out the pass rush and run defense, instantly helping Carolina’s woes.
10. Buffalo Bills — Luke Kuechly – ILB – Boston College
A bit of a surprise pick to some but Buddy Nix values solid football players. This will allow Kelvin Sheppard to move to the outside and Kuechly would be a day one starter. Buffalo won’t take Riley Reiff here, who some scouts believe will have to switch to G eventually. Michael Floyd is another option but top 10 is a bit too high for him, in our opinion. Don’t be surprised to see Buffalo pull the trigger on Mark Barron here, either.
11. Kansas City Chiefs — Mark Barron – SS – Alabama
In and instant, KC has the best safety due on the NFL. Barron is too good of a player to pass up here and while it’s not the biggest need for the Chiefs, it’s still an upgrade for their defense. Barron will help in run support as well as the passing game and with the addition of Peyton Manning to the division, a strong secondary is a must. We wouldn’t be surprised to see KC take David DeCastro here if they’re not feeling good about getting a guard in the 2nd.
12. Seattle Seahawks — Quinton Coples – DE – North Carolina
Seattle is desperate for pass rush help and while they’d really like to see Kuechly still on the board, they’ll still be happy to select Coples. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see Seattle take a pass rusher like Whitney Mercilus here since Pete Carroll isn’t afraid to take a player he likes at any position.
13. Arizona Cardinals — Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame
Sure, the Cardinals could really use some help along the offensive line but Floyd is an addition to their passing game that they just can’t pass up. Being able to play the #2 next to Larry Fitzgerald will make Floyd even better…at least his stats. If this happens and Kevin Kolb stays healthy, Floyd could wind up being an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
14. Dallas Cowboys — Michael Brockers – DT – LSU
Jerry Jones has to be fuming here as Mark Barron is the player he wants the most. More than likely Dallas will at least inquire about trading up for Barron. So in our scenario, the Cowboys are forced to look elsewhere. There’s a strong chance they could take David DeCastro here to help their offensive line, but Brockers is a plug and play defender for their defense. A stronger push in the middle is a must and Brockers can bring that for the Cowboys.
15. Philadelphia Eagles — Stephon Gilmore – CB – South Carolina
The Eagles are possibly our top candidate to trade up in the draft, given the multiple picks they possess. They could potentially make a move to grab Mark Barron (which would really irk Jerry Jones) or potentially Luke Kuechly, who would fit in nicely in the Eagles defense. Many have the Eagles taking a defensive tackle here but Stephon Gilmore playing next to Asomugha would be a terrifying duo. If there’s anything we know about Andy Reid, he’s not afraid to stockpile talent at a position that might already have a marquee player.
16. New York Jets — Whitney Mercilus – DE/OLB – Illinois
We don’t buy the hype about the Jets trying to trade up to #3 for Richardson. However, we do think they’re interested in moving up in the draft for Mark Barron. If they can’t, they’ll look to help their pass rush. Courtney Upshaw is an option here but Mercilus has the motor that Rex Ryan loves. He has the strength to anchor against the run and can get after the quarterback with the best of them. Rex isn’t afraid to take someone he thinks is “his guy” and we can see him falling in love with the potential in Mercilus. While Upshaw might have a lower floor, Mercilus has the higher ceiling. Rex will swing for the fences here.
17. Cincinnati Bengals — Dre Kirkpatrick – CB – Alabama
The biggest position of need for the Bengals matches up perfectly with Kirkpatrick falling into their lap. Kirpatrick is excellent in run support, matching up well in the run-first AFC North. Getting to play across from Leon Hall will help his development as well as reduce the pressure on the rookie to carry a secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers — Riley Reiff – OT – Iowa
The Chargers are absolutely shocked to see Reiff fall in their laps. Regardless of whether he will be better suited to play OG or RT, the Chargers need help in several spots along the line. With Jared Gaither being the only “stable” player at the position, they have to address it. San Diego could also look at Cordy Glenn here, who is another versatile lineman. However, it’s hard to beat an Iowa lineman.
19. Chicago Bears — Chandler Jones – DE – Syracuse
Look, we don’t agree with Mike Mayock on Chandler Jones. In fact, I personally wouldn’t spend a first round pick on Jones based on what I’ve seen. However, Chandler Jones is essentially this year’s Jason Pierre-Paul but it’s unclear if he’ll have the impact that JPP did in New York. The Bears are dying to get a pass rusher to play opposite Peppers, which might make it easier to take a “raw” defensive end here. While we think Chicago could use some offensive line help, apparently they don’t….seriously.
20. Tennessee Titans — Nick Perry – DE – USC
This was a fairly tough pick and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Titans trade back if confronted with this scenario. They’d love to grab a cornerback to replace Finnegan but they’ll look to address pass rush instead. Sure, they brought in Kamerion Wimbley in free agency but they need even more help. Perry would be a nice addition to the defensive line, giving them a nice rotation between him, Wimbley and Morgan.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — David DeCastro – OG – Stanford
The Bengals just fell into their best case scenario; getting a top corner and guard in the first round. They’d probably spring to the podium with the card if DeCastro is still available here. Hard to argue they’d take anyone else in this situation.
22. Cleveland Browns — Kendall Wright – WR – Baylor
This is a pick we’re sticking with. Kendall Wright might not be the top ranked wide receiver here, he looks like the best fit in Cleveland. The Browns need an explosive receiver than can work the slot and the middle of the field. Colt McCoy doesn’t have a big arm, so a deep threat/fade route expert doesn’t seem to be the best match.
23. Detroit Lions — Jonathan Martin – OT – Stanford
The Lions would love to be able to grab a guy like Martin here as they could really use some help along the offensive line. They’d also like to find a cornerback and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade back to the top of the 2nd round and take Janoris Jenkins, since the team doesn’t seem to be bothered by “interesting” characters. But in this situation, they’ll happily take Martin and call it a day.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Cordy Glenn – OT – Georgia
A perfect match for the Steelers offensive line needs. Glenn is versatile enough that he could play guard if asked, but could also be a potential long term starter at right tackle. Pittsburgh has to protect Big Ben better than they have over the past two years and Glenn will certainly help. The team will also seriously consider Dontari Poe here to play nose tackle. In fact, we wrestled with which one of the two to give them. In the end, there are enough solid players on the Steelers defense that they can get by without a NT for another year. The same can’t be said about the offensive line. Don’t be shocked to see them take a guy like Kevin Zeitler or Amini Silatolu here, either.
25. Denver Broncos — Dontari Poe – DT – Memphis
The biggest need for the Broncos is almost undoubtedly interior defensive line and they’d be happy to snag Poe here. Big, strong and fast, John Fox will find all sorts of ways to use Poe on the field.
26. Houston Texans — Stephen Hill – WR – Georgia Tech
What a tremendous match for Andre Johnson in Houston. The Texans would now have one of the better receiving duos in the league by adding Hill here.
27. New England Patriots — Courtney Upshaw – OLB – Alabama
Upshaw drops due mainly to his motor issues, but the Patriots would love to see this happen. New England thrives with players that need a little extra “nudge” to get to their potential, making Upshaw an amazing addition to their defense.
28. Green Bay Packers — Shea McClellin – OLB – Boise State
It’s hard to argue that McClellin wouldn’t be a nice fit for the Packers, playing across from someone like Clay Matthews. A blue-collar, lunch pail type player, McClellin fits the mold of the traditional “Packers” player. If they’re lucky enough to still see McClellin at this pick, they’ll turn in the card quickly.
29. Baltimore Ravens — Dont’a Hightower – LB – Alabama
A match made in defensive heaven, Hightower would initially play OLB in the Ravens 3-4 defense, replacing Jarrett Johnson, who left in free agency. Hightower’s pass rush ability and hard nosed demeanor will get him instant playing time and he’ll be able to hone his skills as an inside backer next to arguably the best of all time, Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco 49ers — Amini Silatolu — OG – Midwestern State
The Niners need some help at guard and while Kevin Zeitler is a legitimate option here, Silatolu has been rising on draft boards lately and many have labeled him as a bottom of the first round prospect. San Fran isn’t afraid to go with small school guys and Silatolu seems like maybe the “safest risk” to take.
31. New England Patriots — Kevin Zeitler – OG – Wisconsin
Logan Mankins is coming off a torn ACL surgery and Brian Waters will turn 36 this year. Passing on a solid guard like Zeitler would be a mistake and the Pats tend to not make too many mistakes.
32. New York Giants — Coby Fleener – TE – Stanford
A team with hardly any glaring holes, they can take a bit of a “luxury” pick here. Fleener is almost like a wide receiver with his ability to stretch the field, allowing guys like Victor Cruz a bit more room to maneuver.