As the NFL Draft draws near, Katz’s Korner brings you another edition of the NFL Mock Draft. There have been some massive changes to many mock drafts, as well as mine after the combine and pro days.
A few guys to mention beforehand that are flying up NFL team draft boards are Stephen Hill, Kendall Wright, and Dontari Poe.
Stephen Hill had a phenomenal combine and might have moved as high as the back end of the first round. Kendall Wright has been deemed the second best wide receiver in the draft by many NFL teams, and some have him number one on their boards at the wide out position. Lastly, Dontari Poe, who yours truly predicted would fly up boards way back in November, has done just that and became a first-round pick.
So with all this in mind, here we go.
1) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (QB, ILB, OL)- Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
Well this is a no brainer, so let’s move on.
2) WASHINGTON REDSKINS VIA ST. LOUIS RAMS (QB, RB, OL)- Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
The Redskins did their best New Orleans Saints impersonation when the Saints traded the farm for the right to select Ricky Williams fifth overall in 1999 by doing the same thing with the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins sent this year’s first-round pick, a first-round pick for the next two years, and a second-round pick in this year’s draft to move up and draft RG3. Washington, you better be right.
3) MINNESOTA VIKINGS (OL, LB, CB)- Matt Kalil, OT USC
Another no-brainer here. The Vikings need offensive line badly and Kalil is the best tackle to come out since Jake Long, and some argue that Kalil is better than Long. How could you pass up on that?
4) CLEVELAND BROWNS (RB, WR, OL)- Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
This one to me is also a no-brainer. Some have the Browns going with an offensive lineman or WR Justin Blackmon, but the Browns just released Peyton Hillis, and forgive me, but Montario Hardesty isn’t the answer.
Richardson has all the tools and all the skills to be a dominant back. He reminds me of a young Adrian Peterson. No, I’m not kidding.
5) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (ILB, OLB, OT)- Morris Claiborne, CB LSU
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers owned free agency this offseason. Vincent Jackson is a big time wide receiver (when happy), and Carl Nicks is an all-pro guard.
The last need is cornerback. Ronde Barber is about to turn 37-years-old, and Aquib Talib has off-the-field issues similar to Pacman Jones. Claiborne is the best cover-corner in the draft and a good fit for the Bucs at the five, despite his wonderlic score.
6) ST LOUIS RAMS VIA WASHINGTON REDSKINS (WR, OLB, S)- Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma St.
Blackmon, Blackmon, Blackmon. No more discussion. The Rams need a big-play wide-out, and Blackmon is that.
7) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (OL, WR, OLB)- Riley Reiff, OT Iowa
So the Jags whiffed hard in free agency. Big deal. At least they don’t have as many needs as the Colts (oh wait, yes they do).
The Jags had a good defense statistically, but it’s nothing to be proud of. They have no offensive line, no big-time receiver, and call me crazy, but Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer.
Start the rebuilding process right with a dominant offensive tackle. Reiff is big, strong, athletic, and has great footwork. Rebuild with the position that separates the good from the great; Offensive line.
8 MIAMI DOLPHINS (QB, WR, DL)- Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M
The Dolphins will take a long look at Wright, Michael Floyd, and defensive linemen like Poe, Ingram, and Quentin Coples. Ultimately, the Dolphins will have this question to answer; If they don’t take Tannehill, then when do they pick a quarterback? Do they pick a quarterback?
I can’t see the Fins risking not landing one of the top QB’s in the draft. Tannehill is raw at the QB position, but has a lot of potential and a lot of raw ability.
A possible pick here is Melvin Ingram. Ingram is more consistent than Coples, with a strong body and great athleticism for a big man. He is versatile enough to play a 3-4 end or a 4-3 end.
9) CAROLINA PANTHERS (DL, CB, OLB)- Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina
Carolina got a gift here. Ingram is the dominant end that they desperately need and he fell into their lap. Easy pick for the Panthers.
10) BUFFALO BILLS (WR, OLB, CB)- Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
The Bills did address their pass rusher need with Mario Williams, giving them a little luxury here at the ten. They were previously locked into Courtney Upshaw, but now I see them looking for a wide out to compliment Stevie Johnson.
Enter Kendall Wright. Wright has flown up draft boards because of his athleticism and his surprising ability to run routes, which many thought might have been where he wasn’t great. Most deep threats aren’t great route runners, but Wright does both, making him a hot commodity among NFL general managers.
11) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (OL, DT, ILB)- Dontari Poe, DT Memphis
The Chiefs need help in the trenches, and Poe has soared up draft boards after a big combine and a monster season. He’s big, he’s got tremendous physical skill, and he’s versatile to play either a 4-3 or a 3-4.
Poe is a great fit for a team that needs a big presence in the middle of their defensive line.
12) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (DE, ILB, OLB)- Luke Keuchly, ILB Boston College
Keuchly is the best interior linebacker in the draft and the Seahawks desperately need a big-time linebacker, as well as a defensive leader. It’s a win-win situation.
13) ARIZONA CARDINALS (OT, OG, OLB)- David DeCastro, G Stanford
Some may have Jonathan Martin here, but I think that’s too much of a reach. Also, as I have well documented, I’m not as high on Martin as most. I’m not a fan of his footwork, and I feel that he is too inconsistent in the pass-blocking department.
DeCastro is a very good all-around guard. He has always been the top guard in the draft, but after dominating the combine, many believe that he is ready to start from day one. For a team that needs offensive line, DeCastro is the pick.
14) DALLAS COWBOYS (CB, S, OT)- Janoris Jenkins, CB Northern Alabama
Jenkins has phenomenal talent. He is a great athlete, a good cover-corner, but more importantly, the man is a ball hawk. He has all the talent to play at the next level.
However, the man has Pacman Jones written all over his character. He got kicked off the Florida Gators squad for constant trouble with the law. Dallas has never shied away from character flaws, so don’t expect them to do so here. For their sake, they better hope he’s more like “Primetime” than Pacman.
15) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (DT, ILB, OT)- Michael Brockers, DT LSU
The Eagles need some presence in the middle, and since the middle-linebacker situation has become Keuchly and nothing else, Brockers seems like the best fit. He’s extremely talented and a big run-stopper.
He can become better as a pass-rusher, but with Cole and Babin on the outside, Brockers can be of immediate help to the Eagles defense as he learns to pass-rush.
16) NEW YORK JETS (S, OLB, WR)- Courtney Upshaw, OLB Alabama
The Jets have two players that they really want to select here. One is Mark Barron, who the Jets have been rumored to selecting from day one of draft talks. The second is Upshaw, who hasn’t been as well documented because many assumed that Upshaw would wind up with the Bills.
With the Bills signing Mario Williams, Upshaw could fall to the Jets. Rex Ryan loves Upshaw’s game and pass-rushing ability. Since the Jets signed Laron Landry and have been rumored to both OJ Atogwe and re-signing Jim Leonhard, I’m betting Upshaw is the pick if he falls.
17) CINCINATTI BENGALS VIA OAKLAND RAIDERS (CB, WR, RB)- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama
The Bengals still need a replacement for Jonathan Joseph at the second corner position, and Kirkpatrick can be that. He doesn’t have great ball skills, but “Captain Kirk” is a physical corner that covers well and can play the run better than most.
18) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (DE, OT, NT)- Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina
The Chargers do have a desperate need for offensive line, but they could also use a dominant pass-rusher. Coples has top-five talent, but due to inconsistent effort, he is falling on draft boards.
Once again, the Chargers don’t shy away from character flaws or inconsistent effort, so Coples’s talent would overwhelm them with this pick.
19) CHICAGO BEARS (WR, DE, OT)- Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford
The Bears did need a wide receiver, until they practically stole the off-season with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. They might still need another, but wide receiver is deep in this draft. Martin is a solid upgrade to their offensive line and he is a good fit for the Bears.
However, let me once again stress my concern in Jonathan Martin. He doesn’t have great footwork and, in my opinion, he’s a little overrated. I don’t see potential for Martin to be an all-pro player consistently because I don’t think he’s consistent from play to play. Martin can be a great player, but I would beware if I was a general manager.
20) TENNESSEE TITANS (OT, CB, OLB)- Cordy Glenn, OT/OG Georgia
Glenn struggled during the 2011 season, but his massive size, strength, and decent quickness for a big man has him moving up draft boards. He’s versatile enough to play either guard or tackle, which makes him a luxury pick wherever he goes.
21) CINCINATTI BENGALS (WR, RB, DE)- Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
The Bengals addressed their needs for a cornerback, so they have some luxury with the 21st pick. And what better way to use that luxury than to give Andy Dalton another premier target?
Floyd ran a decent 40-yard-dash (4.47 seconds), keeping him in the top 25. He’s a phenomenal route-runner and a big target. He’s a big-time playmaker, and would be an excellent compliment to A.J. Green.
22) CLEVELAND BROWNS VIA ATLANTA FLACONS (WR, OL, DE)- Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois
The Browns could use a real pass-rusher, and Mercilus can become that. His size is a question mark (6’3 261 lbs), but he has a good motor and a quick first step. He could be a nice fit for the Browns at the 22, if they keep the pick.
I think the Browns could wind up trading this pick, either to move down and grab more draft picks, or could package this pick and their high second-rounder and move up. The Browns are in a rare position of luxury with two first-round picks, and they do need a fair amount to continue rebuilding. Since wide receiver is deep, this pick could very well wind up traded.
23) DETROIT LIONS (CB, S, OL)- Mark Barron, S Alabama
If Barron is here, this will be the fastest selection other than Andrew Luck and RG3. Barron has tremendous skill and is clearly the best safety in the draft.
If the Jets go Barron, this pick could be Stephon Gilmore, cornerback from South Carolina. Gilmore has been phenomenal in his career at S.C and worked his way into the first round. He’s got great size and has a good nose for the ball. Gilmore also excels in supporting the run and would be a solid selection for the Lions.
24) PITTSBURGH STEELERS (OT, LB, CB)- Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina
Well, for all the reasons I just stated, Gilmore would be a great fit for the Steelers. They could go Dont’a Hightower, but I think the Steelers will go with Gilmore for the immediate impact to the team. The Steelers still have a great linebacking core, despite its collective age.
25) DENVER BRONCOS (ILB, CB, OT)- Dont’a Hightower, ILB Alabama
This one may surprise people, because the Broncos do have DJ Williams. However, Williams is most likely facing a drug suspension to start the season, and with another issue off-the-field, he might be on his way out in Denver when his contract ends.
Hightower is a beast and would be a perfect fit for the Broncos. Not to mention, when Williams came back, how would a linebacking core of Von Miller, DJ Williams and Dont’a Hightower sound to Broncos fans?
26) HOUSTON TEXANS (OLB, WR, OL)- Stephen Hill, WR Georgia Tech
Hill is a raw prospect, but at 6’4, Hill could be dominant. He has big-play ability, good hands, and had a combine for the ages. He could become an explosive wide receiver, kind of like another big-time wide receiver from Georgia Tech (Calvin Johnson).
27) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VIA NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (DEFENSE)- Andre Branch, DE Clemson
Branch would be a terrific fit for the Patriots. He can play both a 4-3 and a 3-4, despite the fact he is a little undersized. He’s good against the run and a solid pass-rusher.
The Patriots need all the defense they can get, so Branch fits here.
28) GREEN BAY PACKERS (OT, DT, DE)- Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi St
Cox is a very solid defensive tackle. He’s versatile, quick, and can be a very good defensive tackle with time. Since the Packers have Raji already, Cox can learn the system and eventually become a good defensive tackle.
29) BALTIMORE RAVENS (C, OG, ILB)- Peter Konz, C Wisconsin
The Ravens needs on the offensive line are a product of their free agents. Ben Grubbs, their major offensive lineman, is a free agent, and Matt Birk is aging at the center position. Konz can step in immediately and Birk can play guard. He is very smart, and a solid run-blocker.
I like Konz, and he would be a good fit for the Ravens.
30) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (OG, S, DE)- Harrison Smith, S Notre Dame
The Niners took care of their wide receiver needs with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, and can bolster up their secondary here at the 30. Smith flew up draft boards after a very impressive combine, not to mention that he literally does it all.
Similar to Barron, he is strong in the run game, phenomenal in coverage, and a ball hawk. Smith is a steal for anyone because he has top 20 talent.
31) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (DEFENSE)- Jerel Worthy, DT Michigan St
As the Patriots continue to revamp their defense, they need a strong interior presence to compliment Vince Wilfork if they’re serious to play a 4-3 defense. And while Worthy could be more consistent at times, he has a lot of talent.
Head coach Bill Belichick is a Hall-Of-Famer for a reason, and should easily get Worthy committed to every play.
32) NEW YORK GIANTS (TE, ILB, OT)- Coby Fleener, TE Stanford
Well, this one has been obvious from day one. Despite the signing of Martellus Bennett, I doubt the Giants pass on Fleener or Orson Charles’s talent. Talented tight-end to the defending champs.
33) ST LOUIS RAMS- Michael Adams, OT Ohio ST
34) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS- Chandler Jones, DE Syracuse
35) MINNESOTA VIKINGS- Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina
36) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS- Lavonte David, OLB Nebraska
37) CLEVELAND BROWNS- Brandon Weeden, QB Oklahoma St.
38) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS- Reuben Randle, WR LSU
39) ST LOUIS RAMS via WASHINGTON REDSKINS- Ronnell Lewis, OLB Oklahoma
40) CAROLINA PANTHERS- Zach Brown, OLB North Carolina
41) BUFFALO BILLS- Zebrie Sanders, OT Florida St
42) MIAMI DOLPHINS- Bobby Massie, OT Ole Miss
43) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS- Nick Perry, DE USC
44) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS- Kevin Zietler, OG Wisconsin
45) DALLAS COWBOYS- Kendall Reyes, DT UCONN
46) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES- Mychal Kendicks, ILB California
47) NEW YORK JETS- Brandon Taylor, S LSU
48) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS via OAKLAND RAIDERS- Amini Silatolu, OG Midwestern St
49) SAN DIEGO CHARGERS- Alamenda Ta’amu, NT Washington
50) CHICAGO BEARS- Dwayne Allen, TE Clemson
51) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES via ARIZONA CARDINALS- Orson Charles, TE Georgia
52) TENNESSEE TITANS- Josh Robinson, CB Central Florida
53) CINCINATTI BENGALS- Lamar Miller, RB Miami Florida
54) DETROIT LIONS- Trumaine Johnson, CB Montana
55) ATLANTA FALCONS- Devon Still, DT Penn St
56) PITTSBURGH STEELERS- Mitchell Schwartz, OT California
57) DENVER BRONCOS- David Wilson, RB Boise St
58) HOUSTON TEXANS- Jeff Allen, OG Clemson
59) GREEN BAY PACKERS- Doug Martin, RB Boise St
60) BALTIMORE RAVENS- Kelechi Osemele, OG Iowa St
61) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS- Brandon Brooks, OG Miami OH
62) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS- Isaiah Pead, RB Cincinnati
63) NEW YORK GIANTS- David Wilson, RB Virginia Tech