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: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. A once-in-a-generation passer replaces another (Peyton Manning).
2. Rams: Matt Kalil, OT, USC. The Rams, who have a few needs, will likely trade this pick to a QB-needy team.
3. Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. The NFC North has gone pass-happy. Their secondary needs help.
4. Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. They have the best package of picks to move up and draft RG3.
5. Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. He has the skills to be one of the top backs in the league.
6. Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Okla. St. They want a QB, but will settle for this playmaking wideout.
7. Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, N. Carolina. It feels like defensive end is a perennial need for the Jaguars.
8. Panthers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, N. Alabama. This former Florida corner comes with character concerns.
9. Dolphins: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. This is under the assumption Miami signs a quarterback in free agency.
10. Bills: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. This is a great value pick for the Bills, who are switching to a 4-3 D.
11. Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. The Chiefs really need that big nose tackle to plug up the middle.
12. Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. The Seahawks need to find a long-term solution at QB.
13. Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama. Arizona could use another dangerous edge rusher.
14. Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Dallas secondary was often their downfall last season.
15. Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. A perfect fit for the Eagles, who need to boost their run D.
16. Jets: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. The Jets could use an upgrade on the right side of their line.
17. Bengals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford. They need another cornerback more, but the value isn't there.