With the NFL draft set to begin, I thought I’d try my hand at a mock draft. These are generally pointless because trades will be made, but this should give you a general idea of where some of the players should land. At least I know I’ll nail down the first two picks!
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck – This is a no-brainer.
2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin, III – With Luck off the board, the Redskins also make the obvious RGIII selection.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil – The Vikings would like to trade down, but Kalil gives them a guy to protect Christian Ponder (or whoever) for the next decade.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson – Running backs are a dime a dozen these days, but Richardson should help the Browns to pound away at those tough opposing defenses in the AFC North.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne -The Bucs give Ronde Barber some help by drafting Claiborne.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon – The wideout has seen his stock fall a little bit, but the Rams are desperate to get help for Sam Bradford.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Fletcher Cox – The Jaguars add another defensive player to a unit that was surprisingly good last year.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill – The Dolphins need a quarterback after striking out in free agency, and Tannehill has a lot of talent.
9. Carolina Panthers – Melvin Ingram – While Cam Newton did turn the ball over quite a bit last year, offense wasn’t the problem. Ingram gives them a player that can get after the quarterback and force turnovers.
10. Buffalo Bills – Michael Floyd – He has been creeping up draft boards and would give Ryan Fitzpatrick another solid target.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Kuechly – A player some expected to fall down the board heading into the combine, the linebacker tested very well and is one of the safest picks in the draft.
12. Seattle Seahawks – David DeCastro – Guards don’t usually go quite this early, but the Seahawks need to protect new quarterback Matt Flynn.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Riley Reiff – The Cardinals have to keep Kevin Kolb upright, and Reiff is the second best tackle in the draft.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron – The Cowboys need help in the secondary and Barron is easily the top safety on the board.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Dontari Poe – With Kuechly gone, the Eagles get a guy who can clog the middle and stuff the run.
16. New York Jets – Courtney Upshaw – Rex Ryan loves those 3-4 tweeners, and he gets another with Upshaw.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick – The Bengals are suddenly hurting in the secondary, so look for this Alabama corner to start from Day 1.
18. San Diego Chargers – Stephen Gilmore – The Chargers were awful against the pass this year and are dedicated to strengthening their defense.
19. Chicago Bears – Quinton Coples – Chicago loves putting Coples on the side opposite of Julius Peppers and turning them both loose.
20. Tennessee Titans – Janoris Jenkins – A huge risk, but the Titans have to replace Cortland Finnegan.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Kendall Wright – A bit of a reach, but the Bengals need to give Andy Dalton and A.J. Green some help.
22. Clevelands Browns – Jonathan Martin – You can’t go wrong with building along the offensive line. Martin will combine with Joe Thomas to give the Browns two of the top tackles in the league.
23. Detroit Lions – Mike Adams – The book is out on Adams, but the Lions are willing to take a chance to keep Matthew Stafford upright and healthy.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cordy Glenn – Tough pick for the Steelers, who would love Dont’a Hightower and are almost as desperate at linebacker as they are offensive line.
25. Denver Broncos – Michael Brockers – The Broncos had a tough time stopping the run, so Brockers should be able help slow down opposing running backs.
26. Houstons Texans – Stephen Hill – The Texans want to put an explosive wideout next to Andre Johnson, and Hill has all the potential in the world.
27. New Englands Patriots – Chandler Jones – The Patriots hope Jones can help their defense get to the quarterback more often in 2012.
28. Green Bay Packers – Whitney Mercilus – The Packers are always looking to add talent to their defensive unit.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Dont’a Hightower – I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens trade down, but with Hightower on the board, Ozzie Newsome can’t resist an Alabama player AND the heir apparent to Ray Lewis, if he ever decides to retire.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Coby Fleener – Jim Harbaugh can’t pass up the chance to grab a Stanford guy and a player who can help out Alex Smith.
31. New England Patriots – Jerel Worthy – The Patriots could end up trading this pick, but they might opt to keep it given how poorly their drafts have worked out on the defensive side of the ball in recent years.
32. New York Giants – Nick Perry – When have you known the Giants to turn down a pass-rusher?