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