National Football League
Elite defenders could slip in Round 1
National Football League

Elite defenders could slip in Round 1

Published Apr. 10, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

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.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

With Trent Richardson’s appeal and the rising stock of Ryan Tannehill, the Vikings are in a prime position to trade back and stockpile picks. If they stay put, Kalil's the choice.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Justin Blackmon is a consideration here, but the Browns can get a Day 1 starter at wide receiver in the second round. Richardson is just that much better than any other running back in this draft.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Ronde Barber isn’t getting any younger and Aqib Talib can’t stay out of trouble so Claiborne is an easy pick.

6. St. Louis Rams (from Wash): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Blackmon will give Sam Bradford the elite receiving target he has yet to have in the NFL.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Jacksonville will be tempted to take a pass-rushing threat, but the NFL is an offensive league and the Jaguars need to provide Blaine Gabbert with an elite wide receiver.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

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?

9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Brockers isn’t the most polished defensive tackle available, but he arguably has the most potential when he matures into his 6-foot-6 frame.

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

The Bills lost Demetress Bell in free agency so they will need to address that void in the draft, and I give the edge to Reiff over Jonathan Martin.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

With the addition of Peyton Hillis and the return of Jamaal Charles, this team will be committed to the running game and DeCastro is the best run blocker in the entire draft.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

With the free agency loss of David Hawthorne, the Seahawks will sprint to the podium to turn this card in.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Levi Brown improved towards the end of the season, but keeping whoever plays quarterback upright must be a priority.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Cowboys will also take a hard look at safety Mark Barron here, but Kirkpatrick gives Dallas the versatility to play both cornerback and safety.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

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.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Bengals re-signed Reggie Nelson, but Barron provides an upgrade over Chris Crocker. With another pick four spots later, the Bengals can then address the need at cornerback.

18. San Diego Chargers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

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.

20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

The Titans lost Jason Babin and Jason Jones in back-to-back offseasons and that makes room for Mercilus to be a longterm fixture at defensive end in Tennessee.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

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.

22. Cleveland Browns (from ATL): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Wright ran a disappointing 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his on-field speed is undeniable. He will keep defenses honest as they creep up to stack the box against Trent Richardson.

23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins is a risk for character concerns, but his man-to-man coverage skills may counter balance that.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

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.

25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

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.

26. Houston Texans: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

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.

27. New England Patriots (from NO): Nick Perry, DE, USC

Perry will give Bill Belichick the presence he thought he was getting in Adalius Thomas in 2007. Belichick uses both the 4-3 and the 3-4, and Perry has the versatility to play in either scheme.

28. Green Bay Packers: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

Green Bay could address the offensive line here, but the signing of veteran Jeff Saturday buys them time and Upshaw will pair with Clay Matthews to be a dominating pass-rushing duo.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Upshaw was so close they could taste it, but they will be happy with Konz, who can play center when Matt Birk retires and fill in at guard in the meantime.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

With the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers really don’t have a ton of holes to fill in the draft, but they could upgrade the offensive line with a Big Ten mauler like Zeitler.

31. New England Patriots: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida

The Patriots could still add another defensive lineman with this pick, but the cornerback market isn’t very deep and they will need to scoop up Robinson while they can.

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

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

52. Tennessee Titans: Brandon Washington, G, Miami

53. Cincinnati Bengals: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

54. Detroit Lions: Mychal Kendricks, LB, California

55. Atlanta Falcons: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (OH)

57. Denver Broncos: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

58. Houston Texans: Reuben Randle, WR, LSU

59. Green Bay Packers: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

60. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

61. San Francisco 49ers: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

62. New England Patriots: Ben Jones, OC/OG, Georgia

63. New York Giants: Chris Polk, RB, Washington


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