While we begin to gear up for NFL Draft season, the NFL Spin Zone staff will be bringing you a flurry of mock drafts. Sit contributor Ben Worthy is the first to tackle the task of predicting April’s outcome and he has some bold picks that may surprise you. What do you think of Ben’s mock? Leave your feedback in the comments section.
1. Indianapolis Colts
. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
. I think Luck could live up to the hype. This kid is the next Peyton Manning.
2. St. Louis Rams
. Matt Kalil, OT, USC
. I can’t think of a reasonable excuse why the Rams didn’t compete in the division against San Fran, other than the lack of a good offensive line. This is a great young team, and everyone needs to be on alert every Sunday when playing this team.
3. Minnesota Vikings
. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
. Claiborne is a good talent, and I think he could be a complete shutdown corner later on.
4. Cleveland Browns
. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
. Many other mock drafts have the Browns taking RG3 or Trent Richardson, but I don’t see it that way. They already have Colt McCoy at QB, and hopefully Hillis will be healthy at running back next year. I think Cleveland needs to build around McCoy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
. What happened with the Bucs this year? I’d say it was the lack of a good running game. Richardson would take a lot of pressure off of Josh Freeman.
6. Washington Redskins
. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
. Washington started off great early on in the season, but had a major collapse. RG3 is the best athlete and most electrifying quarterback in the draft this year. The Redskins definitely need a QB.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
. Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
. Well… If Jacksonville wants to keep Gabbert under center, they need a lot of help up front. Jones-Drew but up more rushing yards this season than anyone else, the Jaguars just need a decent passing game.
8. Carolina Panthers
. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
. If you want to compete in the NFC South, you have to have a good pass defense. Brees, Ryan, and Freeman. Those are the quarterbacks you have to play against six times a year, and if you can’t stop them, Carolina will continue to be at the bottom of their division.
9. Miami Dolphins
. Devon Still, DT, Penn State
. Miami is losing their all time best defensive player, Jason Taylor, due to retirement. Although Taylor was a linebacker, Devon would be a good choice in the rebuilding process.
10. Buffalo Bills
. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
. Ryan Fitzpatrick was given the money he deserved, and then he just couldn’t get anything done. I’m sure a better offensive line would motivate him and give him more confidence.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
. Quinton Coples, DT, North Carolina
. Kansas City was plagued by injuries on both sides of the ball this year. They have a decent pass defense when everyone is healthy, so I would like to see the rush defense step up.
12. Seattle Seahawks
. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
. Tannehill could be pretty good in the NFL, or awful. I don’t see him being in between that or becoming elite. He’s basically hit-or-miss. But he’s the third best quarterback in the draft, and Seattle could want him to compete with Jackson.
13. Arizona Cardinals
. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
. I see Arizona drafting a first round quarterback in 2013 if Kevin Kolb continues to be injured. Wright is a good receiver, and the depth at that position in Arizona would be stacked with Fitzgerald and Breaston.
14. Dallas Cowboys
. Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
. It seems like every year Dallas needs to draft O-Linemen. But this draft is thick with those, so why not improve your defense in the first round with this dominate linebacker?
15. Philadelphia Eagles
. David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
. With the way Michael Vick moves around in the pocket and being injury prawn, I think offensive line is the only way to go.
16. New York Jets
. Melvin Ingram, DE/LB, South Carolina
. Playing in a division with Tom Brady, you need good pass rushers. Ingram is great, and would drastically improve New York’s run defense and blitz pressure.
18. San Diego Chargers
. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
. The Chargers usually have the best defense in the NFL, but for some reason they were nowhere near as good this year. Barron could make an impact and get Rivers back on the field quicker.
19. Chicago Bears
. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
. We all hate to even think about it, but great players must retire sooner or later. Urlacher has a few more years in him, but having Kuechly prepared behind him will be huge. I also think he could have a good bit of playing time this up coming year.
20. Tennessee Titans
. Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
. The Titans could go in several different directions with this pick, but I believe they will select Perry to strengthen their defense to compete in their division.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
. Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
. Cincinnati is a good young team, and drafting Upshaw would do wonders to their defense. If you look at two other teams in their division, the Steelers and Ravens, what do those teams have? Great defenses.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
. Allen is a great tight end. He can catch and block. He could be the difference from going from a losing record to possible going over .500 next season.
23. Detroit Lions
. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
. Jeffery could very well go much earlier in the draft, but based on other team’s needs, I have him here for now. Calvin Johnson is head and shoulders above every other receiver in the NFL, but Jeffery would take the pressure off Johnson, give Stafford another target, and could push this team to the Super Bowl.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
. The Steelers are known for their defense. Jerel is a great D-Lineman, and I think he would fit in perfectly with Pittsburgh’s physical defense.
25. Denver Broncos
. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
. I have James here because of his speed and the Bronco’s need for depth at the running back position. LaMichael would fit in perfectly in Denver with the option styled offense they run.
26. Houston Texans
. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
. This is another one I’m skeptic about. With a great defense, some would ask why I have Houston drafting a defensive player. I just believe they need more players in the middle of the line.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
. The Patriots have one of the NFL’s worst defenses. They need to add young talent to the defensive unit in order to stay at the top.
28. Green Bay Packers
. Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
. Green Bay had some injuries up front later on in the season, so I think adding depth here would be a smart move. I could also see them drafting a running back like LaMichael James or David Wilson if they are available, because you can’t win consistently in the NFC without a running game.
29. New York Giants
. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
. Again, some people might question this pick. With Bradshaw, Jacobs, and Ware, why get another back? New York uses three running backs a game majority of the time. Using that many, one of them is bound to get hurt. With Wilson’s speed, I wouldn’t pass up on him.
30. Baltimore Ravens
. Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
. Baltimore has good receivers, but I think if Charles is still on the board, they should take him. He is a great receiving threat and a good blocker as well.
31. San Francisco 49ers
. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
. Brockers is very good, and could help San Francisco maintain their great defense.
32. New England Patriots
. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
. Ochocinco was a risk that failed in New England. The Pats have one great wide receiver, and two great tight ends. Floyd is very good, and Brady could have even crazier numbers with him to throw to as well.
We all know the Patriots will probably move around a lot. They do every year, so I would be surprised if they don’t this time.
Here’s what I would like to see: Denver building around Tebow. I think Denver should do what the Atlanta Falcons did last year and trade up to get a player they need. Who would that be? Well, I’m in the middle between Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson.
The Broncos would love to have a great receiver in Blackmon. But Richardson could do much more for Denver, giving them the elite running back they need. It’s a coin flip, but I would trade up to get Richardson.