QBs Luck and Griffin at top of draft
How appropriate for a quarterback-driven league that the top two
picks on Thursday night will be passers expected to turn around
Only one other quarterback is likely to go in the first round,
when NFL teams will devour space-eating defensive linemen, pass
rushers and wide receivers.
The league’s offseason Super Bowl runs for three days at Radio
City Music Hall. Here’s how the first round might go.
1. INDIANAPOLIS (2-14)
Such Luck, as in Andrew Luck. After 13 seasons of trying to deal
with Peyton Manning in a Colts uniform, AFC opponents must face the
most NFL-ready quarterback since Manning. Owner Jim Irsay couldn’t
have chosen a better time – once it was clear Manning wasn’t
welcomed back – for rebuilding the franchise from top to bottom. If
he’s fortunate, Irsay won’t have to think about the position for
another dozen or so years.
ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD.
2. WASHINGTON (5-11, from St. Louis)
Mike Shanahan used a whole bunch of picks to get to this spot
for the best QB prospect he has had since John Elway won him two
Super Bowls. Can a Heisman winner bring a Lombardi Trophy to
ROBERT GRIFFIN III, QB, BAYLOR.
3. MINNESOTA (3-13)
After two seasons of free fall, the Vikings can’t afford to miss
on this pick. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices for their
many needs. The most reliable is …
MATT KALIL, OT, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
4. CLEVELAND (4-12)
No shortage of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. After
toying with selecting a quarterback, the Browns do the wise thing
and take someone to help their incumbent QB, Colt McCoy, make
TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA.
5. TAMPA BAY (4-12)
After plummeting from 10 wins to the bottom of their division
and changing coaches, the Buccaneers are torn between a playmaker
on offense and one on defense. Their D was so bad in 2011, so
MORRIS CLAIBORNE, CB, LSU.
6. ST. LOUIS (2-14, from Washington)
The Rams traded down once and thought about doing so again, with
several teams interested in this slot. But when the receiver they
covet remains on the board, they stay put.
JUSTIN BLACKMON, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE.
7. JACKSONVILLE (5-11)
The Jaguars certainly would have liked Blackmon, but didn’t
expect him to last. They need a pass rusher and possibly the best
one in this crop is available.
QUINTON COPLES, DE, NORTH CAROLINA.
8. MIAMI (6-10)
Probably the most debated pick in the first round, because the
Dolphins struck out chasing Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and a high
enough draft spot to take Griffin. Some say they will be reaching
RYAN TANNEHILL, QB, TEXAS A&M.
9. CAROLINA (6-10)
Ron Rivera is a defensive coach and his unit was awful last
year, just as the offense was ascending. Look for the Panthers to
concentrate heavily on their D, beginning with …
MELVIN INGRAM, DE, SOUTH CAROLINA.
10. BUFFALO (6-10)
The Bills have had a strong offseason in free agency and could
look to trade down. They have needs on the offensive line and at
receiver, though, so staying put will give them shots at Michael
Floyd or …
RILEY REIFF, OT, IOWA.
11. KANSAS CITY (7-9)
Kansas City is not that far away from contending if it gets all
the missing, injured parts back. One place the Chiefs surely need
help is inside on defense.
LUKE KUECHLY, ILB, BOSTON COLLEGE.
12. SEATTLE (7-9)
Another team seeking help on defense, although not in a
secondary that could be among the NFL’s best. Seattle also might
look at the offensive line.
FLETCHER COX, DT, MISSISSIPPI STATE.
13. ARIZONA (8-8)
The Cardinals need to supplement their receiving corps and also
could use help on the offensive line. Their defense solidified late
last season and is relatively young. Giving whichever QB emerges as
the starter another weapon to go with Larry Fitzgerald seems the
MICHAEL FLOYD, WR, NOTRE DAME.
14. DALLAS (8-8)
For Rob Ryan’s defense to work, the Cowboys need more support
for LB DeMarcus Ware on the pass rush. But they also must further
shore up the leaky secondary that was boosted by adding CB Brandon
NICK PERRY, DE, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
15. PHILADELPHIA (8-8)
Although there are some questions on offense, the Eagles should
look to upgrade a defense that made few big plays in 2011. Look for
them to go for a linebacker or end with this choice.
COURTNEY UPSHAW, DE, ALABAMA.
16. N.Y. JETS (8-8)
Like twin brother Rob’s unit in Dallas, Rex Ryan’s defense in
New Jersey was a disappointment last year. Overlooking some serious
needs on an offensive line that underachieved, the Jets go for
MARK BARRON, S, ALABAMA.
17. CINCINNATI (9-7, from Oakland)
The Bengals come off a playoff season, have a nice position in
this draft and can fill several holes. First off, they hit on a
third straight player from the national champions.
DRE KIRKPATRICK, CB, ALABAMA.
18. SAN DIEGO (8-8)
The concentration on defense might have continued here if the
Chargers weren’t so eager to bolster a mediocre offensive line that
saw Kris Dielman retire.
DAVID DECASTRO, G, STANFORD.
19. CHICAGO (8-8)
DeCastro would have fit nicely here, but the Bears have another
option to improve protection for Jay Cutler and open lanes for RBs
Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
CORDY GLENN, OT, Georgia.
20. TENNESSEE (9-7)
Although another receiver would look good here and there are a
bunch available, the Titans can get one in next round. Instead,
they fill a need in the secondary with …
STEPHON GILMORE, CB, SOUTH CAROLINA.
21. CINCINNATI (9-7)
Already having addressed the defense with the 17th pick,
Cincinnati might like to bolster the secondary here. But that could
be a reach, and better value comes from …
KENDALL WRIGHT, WR, BAYLOR.
22. CLEVELAND (4-12, from Atlanta)
The Browns got their RB, now they get their receiver to further
boost an offense in serious need of a tuneup.
RUEBEN RANDLE, WR, LSU.
23. DETROIT (10-6)
Detroit’s defense flopped toward the end of the season and in
the playoffs, and it needs to be addressed immediately because the
offense can be spectacular. Yes, the Lions need to look at their
running backs with injuries sidelining the top two last year.
First, though …
WHITNEY MERCILUS, LB, ILLINOIS.
24. PITTSBURGH (12-4)
The Steelers always can use some help on the offensive line, and
their defense needs some revamping as players have gotten older and
some were released. But they might have the right parts in place to
help Dick LeBeau’s D without using a first-rounder on it.
JONATHAN MARTIN, OT, STANFORD.
25. DENVER (8-8)
Are the Broncos building to win now with Peyton Manning as their
QB, or looking to the future on this pick? Having No. 18 behind
center is very persuasive for the front office in addressing
Denver’s needs. So another target for Manning is chosen.
MOHAMED SANU, WR, RUTGERS.
26. HOUSTON (10-6)
Time to solve the problem of not having a dangerous receiver
opposite Andre Johnson. It might take some time for him to develop,
but Houston goes for another potential game-breaker.
STEPHEN HILL, WR, GEORGIA TECH.
27. NEW ENGLAND (13-3, from New Orleans)
Sure, the Patriots nearly won the Super Bowl. But Bill Belichick
can’t be happy with how his defense performed for much of the
season, nor with how he has had to plug in temporary solutions. A
longer-term solution comes here.
KENDALL REYES, DT, CONNECTICUT.
28. GREEN BAY (15-1)
If the Packers could have played only offense, they never would
have lost. Their defense was shoddy too often, with the line not
allowing the playmakers in the back seven to make enough plays.
JEREL WORTHY, DT, MICHIGAN STATE.
29. BALTIMORE (12-4)
The Ravens need to address the offensive line and are torn
between one blocker pretty much ready to go now, and one with
plenty of upside. They are too close to a championship to take the
longer view, so …
MIKE ADAMS, OT, OHIO STATE.
30. SAN FRANCISCO (13-3)
Even though the defense is the strength of this team, the 49ers
can’t pass on a space-eater in the middle of the line who can free
their linebackers to make even more plays. There are several
available at this point, too.
MICHAEL BROCKERS, DT, LSU.
31. NEW ENGLAND (13-3)
More help for the defense.
DONT’A HIGHTOWER, LB, ALABAMA.
32. N.Y. GIANTS (9-7)
They need a tight end after their top two tore up knee ligaments
in the Super Bowl. Another running back and receiver would help.
The offensive line isn’t dominant. So, of course, they take a
defensive lineman, going for quality over need.
DEVON STILL, DT, PENN STATE.