There are never any certainties heading into the NFL Draft, but with it being less than three weeks away, it is safe to say that the first two picks have all but signed their rookie contracts.
The Vikings become the linchpin as they may shop their No. 3 pick to a team interested in jumping ahead of the Browns to select coveted running back Trent Richardson or potential franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Conversely, they could just as easily keep the pick to select the best offensive tackle in the entire class.
Either way, while the draft will officially kick off with picks from the Colts and Redskins, it won’t truly begin until the Vikings are on the clock.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford While RG3 garners some consideration here, the Colts can’t afford to pass up the surest thing at QB since John Elway.
2. Washington Redskins (from STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Sure, this former sprinter can make plays outside the pocket, but he throws it better than any other “athletic” quarterback to come out in the draft — including Mike Vick and Cam Newton.
Tannehill’s college coach, Mike Sherman, is now the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, but Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram will be awfully attractive to place opposite Cameron Wake. Which new coordinator will pound the table hardest?
The Eagles struggled along all positions of the offensive line last season, and Cordy Glenn is an instant upgrade at both tackle and guard.
16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, LB/DE, South Carolina
The Jets will be salivating to see Ingram drop all the way to 16. Rex Ryan can be very creative with how they use Ingram’s versatility at outside linebacker, defensive end and even defensive tackle in sub packages.
Jared Gaither made an impression in San Diego after a failed trial in Kansas City, but the Chargers could still use an upgrade at offensive tackle. The signing of Jarret Johnson gives them the flexibility to address the offensive line in the first round, but they could just as easily take an outside linebacker or defensive end.
19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
Coples has drawn comparisons to fellow Tar Heel Julius Peppers, and now he will get to line up opposite of him on the Bears’ defensive line.
Marvin Lewis is completing a culture change in Cincinnati and that makes Gilmore more attractive than Janoris Jenkins. Leon Hall suffered a potential season-ending Achilles injury, which makes the cornerback position a priority.
Pittsburgh could address a number of positions here, but Hightower will fill the void left by James Farrior when he released for cap reasons. Other considerations include offensive line, nose tackle and cornerback.
The Broncos' biggest position of need is at defensive tackle and they will be lucky to find Cox slipping to them at 25. He is my highest-rated defensive tackle, even above Brockers, who I have going at No. 9 to Carolina.
The Texans need a dominant defensive tackle to anchor Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense and Poe has the size and strength to be dominant nose tackle. Poe needs to compete on every snap, something that was absent from his college tape.
The Giants signed Martellus Bennett this offseason, but he isn’t the dynamic up-the-seam threat that Fleener will be for Eli Manning. Running back could also be a possibility here, but Ahmad Bradshaw is proof that you can find value much later in the draft.
33. St. Louis Rams: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
34. Indianapolis Colts: Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
35. Minnesota Vikings: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
37. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
39. St. Louis Rams (from WASH): Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
40. Carolina Panthers: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
41. Buffalo Bills: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
42. Miami Dolphins: Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
43. Seattle Seahawks: Kendall Reyes, DT, Michigan State
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
45. Dallas Cowboys: Philip Blake, C, Baylor
46. Philadelphia Eagles: LaVonte David, LB, Nebraska
47. New York Jets: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
48. New England Patriots (from OAK): Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
49. San Diego Chargers: Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State
50. Chicago Bears: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
51. Philadelphia Eagles (from AZ): Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame