With the NFL draft quickly approaching, we want to get to know as much about the expected first rounders as we can. I've been doing a bit of studying on them, and who might go when and where in next weeks draft. So, for the first time here at the Bay Area Sports Journal, we're going to do a mock-draft. We've broken it up into 3-parts with picks 1-10 going first, then 11-20, then 21-32. We aren't taking into account any potential trades, we're just going as the teams are currently scheduled to pick, though we will change things up if there is a deal before the draft.
Pick 1: Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford: Luck has been penciled into this spot for over a year, and it looks like it will finally come to fruition Thursday, as Colts owner Jim Irsay has made it quite clear he's enamored with the Stanford slinger. There was some chatter as to whether or not RG3 could sneak ahead of Luck, but Luck reassured with a strong combine performance. I think this is as safe a pick as there is outside of this next one.
Pick 2: Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor: The Redskins moved up to ensure they land the explosive QB, who has similar skill-sets to that of Cam Newton, who dominated in every sense his rookie season. Griffin is a little bit smaller than Cam though, but he's just as mobile, and has a rocket of a right-arm. He's got so much talent that even the Colts had to take a look at him just to see what they'd be missing, knowing all along they were going to go with Luck. I don't think Griffin will have an immediate impact like Newton did, but I do like him, and I think he's going to develop into a fine QB. He'll probably be thrown right into the fire and start for Washington, a franchise in complete rebuild mode.
Pick 3: Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Now this is where it gets a little uncertain, as there's no question as to who will be chosen 1 and 2. The Vikes could also roll with talented corner Morris Claiborne or USC tackle, Matt Kalil. However, I think they need that big, strong receiver opposite the smaller, deep threat in Harvin, they have their star running back and they just drafted a nice QB in last years first round, so a big target at wideout could really help turn this offense around and help make it no so one-dimensional.
Pick 4: Cleveland Browns: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama: The Browns need help not only at running back after losing Peyton Hillis, but they don't seem to thrilled with the future prospects of QB Colt McCoy either. That got me thinking they may take a run at Ryan Tannehill, but I think they're more enamored with the Alabama back, especially after witnessing what a tough runner he is in this years bowl game. Also, the Browns aren't expected to compete any time soon, so they could be back in the top-5 next year as well, when there are expected to be a plethora of QB's hitting the draft, lead by Matt Barkley, Ty Bray and Landry Jones.
Pick 5: Tampa Bay Bucs: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU: According to many football publications, including NFP, Claiborne is the drafts 2nd top prospect outside of Luck, but he had a weird combine outing highlighted with a ridiculously low score on his wonderlick test, which is basically a basic IQ test that is timed. Some players fold for some reason and some do well, but I don't think Claiborne's bad score will hold him back too much at all. He's by far and away the best DB in this class and could really help make that Bucs joke of a defense start their road to credibility again.
Pick 6: St. Louis Rams: LT Matt Kalil, USC: The USC tackle is the drafts best and could go as high as pick three. If he falls to the Rams though, one would think they'd be all over him. They've had a nightmarish O-line the last few years, causing QB Sam Bradford to constantly get knocked out of games, and rarely creating holes for Stephen Jackson. They need a big anchor like Kalil and would be quite thankful if he fell to them. They could also go Claiborne if Tampa decides on Kalil, or a receiver like Floyd, but Kalil is the best value here.
Pick 7: Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame: Now this one may come as a surprise to many, as Floyd is thought to be more of a mid-round guy. However, the Jags have absolutely no threat at the wideout position, and they desperately need help there. Their defense is stingy, and they seem to have found their QB of the future, plus they have a sturdy running situation. They just need to get a passing game, and Jenkins gives them a huge threat on the outside.
Pick 8: Miami Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: The Dolphins have their eye on one guy and one guy only at pick eight, and that is Ryan Tannehill. The big-armed QB should be the next in line of QB's in south beach to hopefully get and take the starting job for years to come. Something this team hasn't had the luxury of having since drafting Dan Marino in the 80's. I like Tannehill, he's got a big arm and reminds me a bit of Ben Roethlisberger, but he's far less polished than the expected 1-2 picks, Luck and Griffin.
Pick 9: Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Fletcher Cox, LSU: This could be a few slots high for him, but Cox has big time ability on the end and could really help turn Jacksonville's defense around. They were rough against the run and pass last season, so Cox's 20 sacks/tackles for loss in 2011 would like mighty fine on that front line in Carolina.
Pick 10: Buffalo Bills: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa: The Bills made proactive moves early in the offseason to secure much needed help on the defensive end of the ball, especially their front-7, so they will likely be looking to a young offensive lineman to help anchor them and protect Ryan Fitzgerald. They have bright young wideouts, good strong backs and as I said, are working on the defense, so O-line makes a lot of sense for them at this spot, especially with the value they'd get in Iowa's Reiff, the 2nd best tackle in the draft outside of Kalil.