This year’s NFL scouting combine begins Wednesday, unofficially marking the start of draft speculation season. Before the prospects are poked and prodded, though, staff writer Matt Vensel has taken his first crack at predicting the first round of April’s NFL draft. (This mock draft does not account for potential trades.)
And remember, these are called “mock” drafts for a reason. Try not to take them too seriously.
[Blogger's note: Here's the mock draft in photo gallery form if you're a fan of bright, shiny pictures.]
1. Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. A once-in-a-generation passer replaces another (Peyton Manning).
2. Rams: Matt Kalil, OT, USC. The Rams, who have a few needs, will likely trade this pick to a QB-needy team.
3. Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. The NFC North has gone pass-happy. Their secondary needs help.
4. Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. They have the best package of picks to move up and draft RG3.
5. Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. He has the skills to be one of the top backs in the league.
6. Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Okla. St. They want a QB, but will settle for this playmaking wideout.
7. Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, N. Carolina. It feels like defensive end is a perennial need for the Jaguars.
8. Panthers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, N. Alabama. This former Florida corner comes with character concerns.
9. Dolphins: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. This is under the assumption Miami signs a quarterback in free agency.
10. Bills: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. This is a great value pick for the Bills, who are switching to a 4-3 D.
11. Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. The Chiefs really need that big nose tackle to plug up the middle.
12. Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. The Seahawks need to find a long-term solution at QB.
13. Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama. Arizona could use another dangerous edge rusher.
14. Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Dallas secondary was often their downfall last season.
15. Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. A perfect fit for the Eagles, who need to boost their run D.
16. Jets: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. The Jets could use an upgrade on the right side of their line.
17. Bengals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford. They need another cornerback more, but the value isn't there.
18. Chargers: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The Chargers will likely have to replace Vincent Jackson.
19. Bears: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St. He would be an upgrade at either offensive tackle spot.
20. Titans: Melvin Ingram, DE, S. Carolina. Tennessee’s pass rush was inconsistent in the 2011 season.
21. Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami. This offense will be pretty dangerous after adding a speedy back.
22. Browns: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. They keep Griffin and Wright -- college teammates -- together.
23. Lions: Cordy Glenn, OT/G, Georgia. Detroit would be wise to reinforce its offensive line in the draft.
24. Steelers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St. He’s another infusion of youth on an aging defensive line.
25. Broncos: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Barron would be a good, young replacement for Brian Dawkins.
26. Texans: Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma. If they can’t afford to keep Mario Williams, he would be a fit.
27. Patriots: Nick Perry, DE, USC. He’s athletic enough to be an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense, too.
28. Packers: Devon Still, DT, Penn St. He could fill a need for the Packers by playing five-technique end.
29. Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. It’s not the sexiest pick, but beefing up the O-line is a stated goal.
30. 49ers: Alshon Jeffery, WR, S. Carolina. This tall, physical deep receiver would look nice in purple, too.
31. Patriots: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers. The Patriots offense doesn’t scare anyone on the outside.
32. Giants: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida St. The Giants have a bunch of 30-somethings on their O-line.
*** Note that a coin flip will decide whether the Panthers or Dolphins get the 8th overall draft pick and another coin flip will determine whether the Chiefs or Seahawks get the 11th pick.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun