Our final NFL mock draft of the season
There’s only one thing keeping Trent Richardson from becoming a Cleveland Brown Thursday night.
That would be a trade that would move the Tampa Bay Bucs from the fifth to third spot, where they would take Richardson, a Florida guy they’d like to keep in Florida.
Minnesota’s trade down would net them an extra draft pick or two and would still allow them to take offensive tackle Matt Kalil.
Because if Richardson goes to Tampa Bay, the Browns will draft cornerback Morris Claiborne of LSU.
But that is all supposition.
And anything can happen. But at this point all tea leaves and palms and smoke signals point to the Browns taking Richardson.
Much as Minnesota would like to make a trade, a deal for the third pick is unlikely, which means that in this mock draft the Browns will take Richardson.
Later in the first round, the Browns will take a tackle, and in the second round their choice will surprise many. Hint: It won’t be a quarterback.
1 — Indianapolis — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No-brainer, and the closest thing to a sure thing this side of Peyton Manning. How is it that Cleveland struggles with all the guys they’ve used the past 13 years and the Colts go right from Manning to Luck.
2 — Washington — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Everyone — including Browns GM Tom Heckert — says that Griffin is a future multi-time Pro Bowler. It will be interesting to see if he truly is.
3 — Minnesota — Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The easy thing here would be to put Morris Claiborne on the Vikings to try to stop Matt Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. And it would make sense. But it’s not logical to take a quarterback in the first round one year and then pass on a left tackle to protect him the next. Claiborne is tempting, but Kalil will be the pick.
4 — Cleveland — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
It’s simply too logical. The Browns have had him on the radar since December, and they’ll have him where they want him after this pick — on the team. If somehow the Browns go Claiborne, fans should shrug — because Claiborne is a very good choice. But if by some wilder chance, they go Ryan Tannehill, it might be time to find volunteer work every Sunday from September to January.
5 — Tampa Bay — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
He’s too logical to pass up. He might be a better pro than Richardson, and play longer given his position. If the Browns were in a “normal” situation, I think they’d take Claiborne. But the Browns aren’t in a normal situation. They need offense so badly they have to have Richardson, which leaves the Bucs happy to take Claiborne.
6 — St. Louis — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Simple logic again. The Rams have a young quarterback in Sam Bradford, and he needs a receiver. Blackmon is the best of the lot — though the Rams did bring Blackmon and Michael Floyd in on the same day for a workout.
7 — Jacksonville — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The fastest rising player in the draft goes a lot higher than most thought he would. Jacksonville needs a pass rusher and a corner. The Jaguars take the corner.
8 — Miami — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
With quarterbacks running from Miami in the offseason, the Dolphins need to find one. Tannehill played for offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in college, and Tannehill would step right back into the same offensive system he ran with the Aggies.
9 — Carolina — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississipp State
Another late riser in the draft. The Panthers could use a pass rusher, so Melvin Ingram fits. But they love the notion that Cox is disruptive in the middle. Carolina chooses Cox over Dontari Poe.
10 — Buffalo — Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Another of those tough, nasty Iowa linemen would fit well with the Bills persona.
11 — Kansas City — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Chiefs disappoint the Cowboys here and bring in Barron to team with Eric Berry for as stout a safety tandem as there is in the league. Romeo Crennel likes big safeties because he likes to play sides as opposed to “free” and “strong.” Barron gives him a chance to do that.
12 — Seattle — Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
The tackling machine fits well in the Seahawks four-three.
13 — Arizona — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Larry Fitzgerald has his threat opposite him. Strong pickup for the Cardinals offense.
14 — Dallas — David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The top players left at this point are defensive linemen, but Dallas’ need on offense trumps the board. The Cowboys take the best offensive lineman available.
15 — Philadelphia — Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Andy Reid is more than pleasantly surprised that Ingram is still available.
16 — New York Jets — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Rex Ryan had Haloti Ngata in Baltimore, he chooses Brockers over Poe for the Jets.
17 — Cincinnati — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bengals prefer Gilmore, but they take Kirkpatrick because they have a need at corner.
18 — San Diego — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Another guy who dropped, and the Chargers are happy to select his pass rush ability.
19 — Chicago — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Bears need to help Jay Cutler, and they need someone who can chase down his deep throws. Wright does both.
20 — Tennessee — Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Jones is the most solid pass rusher available.
21 — Cincinnati — Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
He’s a steal at this spot, a guy Mike Zimmer will find many ways to utilize.
22 — Cleveland — Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
The best players on the board here are on defense, but Glenn is too good a tackle to let slip by. He becomes the Browns right tackle.
23 — Detroit — Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Never go wrong with a Stanford guy.
24 — Pittsburgh — Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Tough to choose here between Poe and Hightower, but the Steelers go with a guy who can take over for James Farrior.
25 — Denver — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Denver takes a chance it can motivate an unproductive guy who tests well but didn’t produce a lot in college.
26 — Houston — Stephen Hill, WR, Houston
The Texans beef up the offense and give Matt Schaub a target opposite Andre Johnson. The Texans will have quite an offense with Schaub, Johnson, Hill, Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
27 — New England — Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
There are a lot of rumors that the Browns will try to trade up to this spot to take Brandon Weeden. Assuming the trade is not completed, Bill Belichick drafts a very talented and underrated back.
28 — Green Bay — Shea Mcclellin, OLB, Boise State
The Packers want someone opposite Clay Matthews Jr. This marks the first time in draft history that consecutive picks are from Boise (I think).
29 — Baltimore — Whitney Mercillus, DE, Illiniois
The Ravens have one disruptive guy in Terrell Suggs. Mercilus becomes the second.
30 — San Francisco — Nick Perry, DE, USC
Best defensive player left.
31 — New England — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Belichick helped the offense with his first pick. He helps the defense with his second.
32 — New York Giants — Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The Giants lost two tight ends to knee injuries in the Super Bowl.
33 — St. Louis — Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
34 — Indianapolis — Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
35 — Minnesota — Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
36 — Tampa Bay — Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
37 — Cleveland — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Yes, it will be a surprise, and it will generate controversy given Jenkins’ troubled past (he was dismissed from Florida, and he has tested positive for marijuana). But Tom Heckert has shown in Philadelphia and Cleveland that he is not afraid of players with attitude. Jenkins has definite attitude. The overriding factor is Jenkins is the best pure corner in the draft. He shut down A.J. Green in the SEC and he is probably a better pure cornerback than Morris Claiborne. Personal issues dropped him, but at this point the Browns look past those issues to take a guy who can team with Joe Haden for years — provided he keeps his head on straight.