With the NFL Draft in less than 2 weeks, the coverage and projections for the NFL draft is gaining momentum. The end of the 2011’s season seemed to be a race for last, where the worst team was rewarded with Andrew Luck. The Indianapolis Colts, without Peyton Manning, consistently were terrible, and deservingly “won” the rights to draft their new franchise quarterback.
The Redskins completed a blockbuster trade last month to get the rights for Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins gave up their 2012 6th and 39th picks, along with their 2013 and 2014 first-round picks all for the 2nd overall pick. Personally, I think the Rams won with this trade. They didn’t need a quarterback and will be able to draft a high-quality player this year, plus adding a high 2nd round pick and 2 future first round picks. The Redskins are putting all their eggs in RGIII’s basket. He appears to be a NFL ready quarterback, but I don’t know if he is worth so many picks. I hope RGIII can flourish under Mike Shanahan’s scheme, but if the prospect flops, this trade may set the Redskins back for several years.
The Vikings own the 3rd pick. Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle from USC, seems to be a no-brainer here. The team drafted QB Christian Ponder last year and have the best running back, Adrian Petersen, in the league. Having a young, NFL ready offensive lineman would be perfect for the team. However, I think the Vikings should consider trading this pick. I think they could trade back a few picks and possibly still draft Kaili and accumulate a more picks this year. Any team wanting to draft Trent Richardson or Morris Claiborne may consider talking with the Vikings.
I don’t know where to start with the Browns. They were ranked 30th in offense in 2011, do not have a franchise quarterback with Colt McCoy, have 3 injury-prone running backs on their roster (Montario Hardesty, Brandon Jackson, and Chris Ogbonnaya) and no receivers worth noting. If Trent Richardson is available, I think the Browns should take him. Having a good running back will help McCoy and should keep the defenses focusing on the back field and free up the receivers. However, if a team trades up with the Vikings and Richardson is not available, the Browns should either draft Justin Blackmon, WR from Oklahoma State, or trade down to acquire more picks. This team does have the 22nd and 37th picks, but the Brows could use all the help they could get.
The Bucs have resolved several of their team’s need with free agency by signing WR Vincent Jackson, OG Carl Nicks and CB Eric Wright. Greg Schiano’s rookie coaching season has created a buzz in Tampa, so I think the team should draft Morris Claiborne. The Bucs gave up 494 points last year, and CB Ronde Barber may be in his final season. The Bucs have drafted 4 defensive linemen with in the first and second rounds in 2010 or 2011, so adding an SEC cornerback would be a major upgrade to the defense.
The Rams should draft WR Justin Blackmon with the 6th pick. Third year quarterback Sam Bradford is the franchise player, which was proven when the team traded the 2nd overall pick to the Redskins. A receiver with Blackmon’s talent could take Bradford to the next level and may help propel the team to the playoffs contending team for years to come.
The Jaguars should draft Melvin Ingram, DE from South Carolina with the 7th pick. The Jags didn’t have a great pass rush in 2011 and having the best defensive lineman available here would be a steal for this team. Ingram played in the SEC and could have an immediate impact on the team, especially in the AFC Central. Ingram’s presence could put pressure on Andrew Luck and the Colts and help contain RB Chris Johnson of the Titans for years to come. Another option for the Jaguars would be to trade this pick if they wish to acquire more picks to rebuild their franchise.
The Dolphins have had an interesting offseason. The team was in the conversation for about every available quarterback this offseason, including Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, Alex Smith. The Dolphins were also rumored to be one of the teams trading for the second pick to draft RGIII. The team’s attempts all failed and they gained nothing but crushing the fans hopes for a turnaround season. The team still has Matt Moore, and traded away star receiver Brandon Marshall and chose not to resign Chad Henne. They did sign QB David Garrard, who missed all of the 2011 season due to back surgery. Neither Moore nor Garrard are the franchise quarterbacks the Dolphins were hoping to sign this year, so drafting Ryan Tannehill, QB from Texas A&M makes sense. Tannehill played for Mike Sherman (Miami’s offensive coordinator) in college, however only started a year and a half for the Aggies as quarterback. I believe Tannehill is over-rated as a top 10 pick, but if the Dolphins see Tannehill as the franchise quarterback, this may be the only way for the team to not let another quarterback slip through their fingers, again.
With the 9th pick, the Panthers need to use this pick to help the defense. Cam Newton was superb last year and exceeded all expectations last year with being the first overall pick. The team did not have problems scoring points last year, but was not able to get many stops on defense. The Panthers would love to have a pass rusher like what they had with Julius Peppers, so drafting a pass rushing defensive lineman should be a necessity. If Melvin Ingram is gone, Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State will be a big upgrade for the Panthers in 2012.
The Bills hold the rights to the 10th pick. I think the team needs to draft Riley Rieff, OT from Iowa. The Bills signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick last year to a 7-year contract and have playmakers in RB’s Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller and WR Stevie Johnson. Rieff is the best offensive lineman in the draft and would provide protection for Fitzpatrick and more holes for Jackson and Spiller. Rieff would also be a smart decision, because he would help the offense for many years.
1. Colts – Andrew Luck, QB USC
2. Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
3. Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT USC
4. Browns – Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
5. Bucs – Morris Claiborne, CB LSU
6. Rams– Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma St.
7. Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina
8. Dolphins –Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M
9. Panthers – Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State
10. Bills – Riley Reiff, OT Iowa