Updated: January 19
1. Indianapolis Colts:
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Easy selection here for the Colts at the top of the first round. Andrew Luck is not only clear and away the best prospect in this draft class, but he might be the best prospect the NFL has seen in the past decade. Drafting Luck while the team has Peyton Manning might not make sense to most, as Luck is an NFL ready quarterback, but both Luck and Manning would demand a ton of attention in the trade market should the Colts want to deal one.
2. St. Louis Rams:
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
The Rams once again find themselves with a top ten pick. Key needs for St. Louis are wide receiver cornerback and offensive tackle. Brandon Lloyd has been solid but Sam Bradford could really use an explosive playmaker like Blackmon going forward. Blackmon has dominated Big 12 defenses notching over 100 receptions the past two seasons (111 in 2010 and 113 and counting in 2011) and is the clear best wide out prospect this year. Morris Claiborne could be an option but corners are never taken in the top 3. With a now formidable supporting cast on offense, the pressure will be on Bradford to step it up in his third season.
3. Minnesota Vikings:
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Vikings have pretty much been in free fall mode since reaching the NFC Championship game just a couple seasons ago. Christian Ponder is shaping up to be the quarterback of the future in Minnesota. In order to protect their asset in Ponder, the Vikings will look to add the draft’s best offensive tackle here in the top three. Kalil headlined a stout USC Trojan offensive line that only allowed eight sacks as a unit in all of 2011. As an individual, Kalil did not allow a sack throughout the entire 2011 season. Impressive stuff.
4. Cleveland Browns:
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Colt McCoy was given a chance to be the franchise quarterback but the Browns offense is still as feeble as ever. RG3 tore up the Big 12 this year and became a household name winning the Heisman trophy. Really the Browns need more playmakers all over the offense, but that won’t matter until they find one at QB. Griffin put up crazy stats against admittedly not the best defensive conference but 37 tds to only 6 interceptions with a 72.4 completion percentage is impressive (higher completion percentage and less interceptions than Andrew Luck for those of you that like comparisons). Recent rumors suggest Cleveland could be looking to trade up with the Rams to grab Griffin which would be a good idea, because even though the Rams and Vikings are unlikely to draft a qb, plenty of other teams would be willing to part with multiple draft picks to secure RG3.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Something’s not right in Tampa Bay. I’m not exactly sure how the youngest squad in 2010 could regress in 2011 with the same players and coaching staff. Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber are both solid corners at their position. However, character concerns are always a concern for Talib, and Barber isn’t getting any younger. In today’s NFL, three above average corners are becoming more of a priority than a luxury. Claiborne was part of a stout defensive unit at LSU and figures to be one of the first (if not the first) defensive player off the board.