1) Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck/QB/Stanford- Easy one here. Luck would have been the first pick of the 2011 draft had he entered the process.
2) Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III/QB/Baylor- The Skins gave up a boatload for the quarterback that should lead them over the next decade.
3) Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil/T/USC- The Vikings will work to move this pick until the clock runs out- and then some based on past history. If they can’t work a deal to trade down Kalil is the best fit considering the need and selection of Ponder in round one last year.
4) Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson/RB/Alabama- Mike Holmgren had great success with another back from Alabama, Shaun Alexander, when he was with the Seahawks. Tom Heckert now taps the Tide for their next great ball carrier.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne/CB/LSU-The Bucs are another top ten team with desires to trade down.
6) St Louis Rams: Fletcher Cox/DL/Mississippi State- We’ve liked this spot for Cox since the start of March as Jeff Fisher is a defensive coach who values his linemen.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon/WR/Oklahoma State- The Jaguars will look to trade down at all costs. If they can’t move the pick, Blackmon is a good fit in a variety of ways.
8) Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill/QB/Texas A&M- I really don’t want to put Tannehill in this spot as he doesn’t deserve to be the eight pick of the draft. The Dolphins front office is under enormous pressure and I’ve heard from sources their hopes are Tannehill is gone before they are on the clock. I don’t envy them. If Tannehill is not drafted in the eight slot he could tumble into the 20’s.
9) Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples/DL/North Carolina- Carolina covets Fletcher Cox and will look to trade down if he’s not available. If the teams gets Coples to hit on all cylinders he’s great value in this slot.
10) Buffalo Bills: Luke Kuechly/LB/Boston College- I’d really like to plug an offensive tackle in this spot but don’t see one worthy at this point. The Bills built their Super Bowl teams with dominant defensive talent and Kuechly’s the most dominant run stuffer in this draft.
11) Kansas City Chiefs: Michael Brockers/DL/LSU-:Surprise, surprise. Most have Dontari Poe at this slot but history dictated this pick. Romeo Crennel has always valued the powerful space eaters and gap occupiers up front going back to his days with the Giants. And Scott Pioli has never been afraid to reach for defensive linemen.
12) Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram/DE/South Carolina- Seattle would like to trade down and grab Dont’a Hightower or another defensive end. Quinton Coples is a definite possibility if he’s still available.
13) Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff/OT/Iowa- Reiff is slightly underrated in our opinion and fits a crying need for the Cardinals.
14) Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron/S/Alabama- Dallas gets their man.
15) Philadelphia Eagles: Stephen Gilmore/CB/South Carolina- Trading away Asante Samuel means the cornerback position is now in play for the Eagles. Gilmore is great value at this spot.
16) New York Jets: Cordy Glenn/OL/Georgia- The Jets desperately want out of the 16th slot. In the end they will try to trade up for Melvin Ingram or move down for Shea McLellin or Amini Silatolu. If they can’t move the pick latest word is they’ve shown interest in a right tackle/offensive guard combo. Glenn fits the bill.
17) Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro/OL/Stanford- Protecting Andy Dalton and improving the run blocking is a must for the Bengals.
18) San Diego Chargers: Dre’ Kirkpatrick/CB/Alabama- Kirkpatrick’s teammate Courtney Upshaw is tempting at this spot, but the defensive back it too good a value to pass up.
19) Chicago Bears: Dontari Poe/DT/Memphis- They want Brockers and would consider Mercilus yet Poe is good value and a solid fit for the Bears.
20) Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus/DE/Illinois- With the cornerbacks off the board the Titans look for a top pass rusher. Mercilus will be a nice addition to go along with Kamerion Wimbley who they signed in free agency and an upgrade over Derrick Morgan.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: Courtney Upshaw/DE/Alabama- Receiver is a big need for the Bengals but this is a draft full of wide outs and the word we continue to hear is Marvin Lewis loves Upshaw.
22) Cleveland Browns: Michael Floyd/WR/Notre Dame- We reported yesterday the Browns are looking Trent Richardson then best available receiver.
23) Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin/T/Stanford- With all the cornerbacks off the board the Lions look for offensive line insurance.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower/LB/Alabama- Pittsburgh could also go offensive guard here and choose Amini Silatolu or Kevin Zeitler.
25) Denver Broncos: Kendall Reyes/DT/UConn- It could also be Jerel Worthy in this slot.
26) Houston Texans: Coby Fleener/TE/Stanford- Receiver is a need but they will be able to get one in the later rounds. Offensive tackle is a possibility.
27) New England Patriots: Shea McLellin/LB/Boise State- Conventional wisdom is the Patriots want a pass rusher but we’ve heard all along they want a more complete 3-4 linebacker with coverage ability.
28) Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry/LB/USC- This is a good fit for team and player. Perry can rush the passer and learn the linebacker position from former Trojan, Clay Matthews.
29 Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz/OL/Wisconsin- The Ravens covet Shea McLellin but would also be happy with Konz.
30) San Francisco 49ers: Amini Silatolu/G/Midwestern State- We reported on Tuesday the 49ers were targeting Silatolu as he is evidently the favorite of general manager Trent Baalke.
31) New England Patriots: Casey Hayward/CB/Vanderbilt: Harrison Smith would be a consideration here as would one of the remaining pass rushing linebackers. Though we grade Hayward as a second round choice we feel he’s incredibly underrated and the off the field issues with many of the second tier corners could push the Vandy product into the first frame.
32) New York Giants: Bobbie Massie/T/Mississippi- They would prefer Fleener. Doug Martin is also a consideration here but the need to protect the franchise (Eli Manning) makes this the smart choice. We’ve heard for two months they’ve had an interest in Massie.
Draft week has finally arrived as the hard work of the past eleven months comes to fruition starting Thursday- on paper anyway. We will update this blog throughout the week with news prevalent to the NFL Draft as it comes in. April 25: Silatolu the fastest riser in round one??
April 25- 1:40
- Word is Matt Broha, defensive end of Louisiana Tech who most project to outside linebacker, will be selected somewhere during the draft’s final day.
- Thought this will not come as a surprise to anyone, universally teams are sour on the talent at tight end and safety. Several teams have given just six players at each position top 150 grades.
April 25 10:50AM
- Earlier this week we alerted readers that the San Francisco 49ers were looking hard at Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu in the first round. We received word from several sources the New York Jets flew out to California yesterday and privately worked out the fast rising offensive lineman then spent significant time with him. Would they take Silatolu at pick number 16? Unlikely but would consider him if they could trade down.
- We continue to hear that teams have safety Mark Barron rated as a top ten player. Several teams around the league have Barron ranked 6th on their draft board.
- I’ve been told by several people the Baltimore Ravens will jump at the chance to draft Shea McLellin if he’s available for them in round one. Otherwise they could draft Peter Konz.
April 24th 4PM
- Heard from a few league insiders who tell me word is the Cleveland Browns will take Trent Richardson/RB/Alabama with their first pick in round one then the best available receiver with their next selection in the frame.
- With so many question marks at the offensive tackle position I am told the big beneficiary will be Mitchell Schwartz of Cal, who could be drafted much higher than most expect. Sources we talk to not only point to the way Schwartz was the only player to shut down Quinton Coples at the Senior Bowl, but go as far back as his redshirt freshman season when he controlled then USC senior Clay Matthews. How early could Schwartz be drafted? The Washington Redskins would love to select him to protect Robert Griffin III with their second selection in the draft, but Schwartz will be long gone. The New York Jets may consider him in the middle of the second frame then again we hear if the Minnesota Vikings trade out of the third slot and pass up on the opportunity to draft Matt Kalil, its entirely possible they take Schwartz at the top of round two. The Cleveland Browns are also looking hard at Schwartz at the top of the second frame.
- Fast rising small school cornerback Jeremy Lane has been getting a lot of attention from the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals.
- Word we heard last night is Marvin Lewis and the Bengals will use one of their two selections in the initial frame to draft Courtney Upshaw.
April 24th 11:30AM
- The consensus is the Minnesota Vikings will do everything they can to move out of the draft’s third slot but in the end may have no takers. Ditto for the Jacksonville Jaguars,who we hear have been shopping the 7th pick, almost in desperation, yet have found no buyers.
- We continue to hear the Detroit Lions will look offensive line in round one if they are locked out of the top cornerbacks. And just as we posted the week of April 2nd, we hear there’s a large faction of decision makers in the organization keen to choose Jonathan Martin of Stanford. We continue to hear the offensive line situation for the Lions is a mess and besides the situations surrounding Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus as previously reported, sources tell us offensive guard Rob Sims showed up woefully out of shape last week.
- Last week we alerted readers the San Francisco 49ers pick in the first round will come down to the highest rated guard or receiver Stephen Hill. Several sources told us last night the guard the team has its sights on is Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State, and the franchise will not hesitate to pull the trigger on the small school prospect in round one.
April 23rd 2:15PM
- Will the New York Jets select a safety early in the draft despite signing LaRon Landry in free agency? Our information is yes, as sources point out Landry was only given a one-year deal. So who is the team targeting?? Sources tell us the Jets safety board is in the following order: Mark Barron/Alabama, Harrison Smith/Notre Dame, Brandon Taylor/LSU, George Iloka/Boise State then Trent Robinson/Michigan State. Taylor is the one to watch, especially if he’s available in round three. Sources tell me competing coaches in the SEC have talked about Taylor in glowing terms and say there’s not as big a drop off between he and Mark Barron as some may think. We’ve been critical of Taylor’s cover skills but it was pointed out that he did see action at cornerback early in his career and may just need to be “coached up” on his ball skills.
April 23rd 11AM
- We have heard from several sources that the Houston Texans are seriously considering using their first round pick, number 26, on tight end Coby Fleener of Stanford. This makes a lot of sense for a number or reasons. It gives the Texans a weapon at tight end, which is not presently on the roster, at least to the extent offered by Fleener. And while most have pegged the team to take a receiver in round one, the franchise can come away with a good wide out later in the draft.
- Surprisingly the other team showing a lot of interest in Fleener are the San Francisco 49ers. We hear its more than just the usual overt interest rather a number of phone calls and close inspection of the Stanford tight end.
- The news is not so good for another tight end. We learned Kevin Koger of Michigan, a sleeper at the position who was a combine snub, had surgery the end of March to repair a torn achilles suffered the prior week in training. The recovery for Koger, who looked terrific during Shrine practices, is expected to be 6-to-8 months.
April 20th, 12:05PM
- We hear Joe Looney/OL/Wake Forest, who tore a ligament in his foot during the Senior Bowl, will be ready to resume full football duties by mid-June.
- The situation may be a lot different for Chase Minnifield. The former Virginia Cavalier cornerback entered the season as a potential top 45 choice but struggled through his senior season with a knee issue. Minnifield had his knee scoped after the season to alleviate the problem. Separate sources have told us that Minnifield has admitted that during the scope a micro-fracture procedure was performed, reportedly on a non-weight bearing bone. How this plays out in his return to the field at 100% remains to be seen.
- In our opinion Danny Coale of Virginia Tech is the hidden gem at the wide out position and one of the most underrated receivers in the draft. Its amazing in conversation how many NFL decision makers talk about Coale in third round terms yet have stamped him with a 5th round grade. I’ve been told the New York Jets and St Louis Rams are very high on Coale, for as much what he brings to the locker room (character, leadership) as his on the field ability.
- Mychal Kendricks/LB/Cal could squeeze into the late part of round two. The Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears all highly rate the explosive defenders abilities.
- Casey Hayward/CB/Vanderbilt will be off the board much earlier in the round. The New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans are all looking hard at the cornerback.
April 19th, 1:30PM
- Hearing the New York Giants had the following players in for a visit on Monday; Cyrus Gray/RB/Texas A&M, Austin Davis/QB/Southern Miss, Michael Smith/RB/Utah State, Adam Nissley/TE/Central Florida, Jake Byrne/TE/Wisconsin, James Carmon/T/Mississippi State, Korey Toomer/OLB/Idaho and Matt Broha/DE-OLB/TE/Louisiana Tech.
- Sources tell me the San Francisco 49ers pick in round one will come down to the highest rated offensive guard or Stephen Hill/WR/Georgia Tech.
April 17th, 12PM
- There’s been a buzz building around the Philadelphia Eagles potentially trading up for Ryan Tannehill. Several sources have told us if the Eagles trade into the top ten it will be for defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, not Tannehill. Cox would be perfect for the Eagles wide nine/nine technique.
- The poor center class this year has forced teams to project college offensive linemen to the pivot more then ever. Lucas Nix of Pittsburgh, who played tackle and guard for the Panthers, is getting long looks at center from the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. Gino Gradkowski, who played guard for West Virginia before transferring to Delaware, is getting consideration at the center position from the Baltimore Ravens. Word is the Ravens are looking at Gradkowski during the first half of the draft’s final day as a future replacement for Matt Birk. Small school sleeper Jason Slowey, who spent his career at left tackle for Western Oregon, is getting looks at the center spot by the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
- Staying on the offensive line, why has Kevin Zeitler moved up boards and why is he getting first round consideration by a number of teams? According to several sources many feel Zeitler is as NFL ready as any guard in the draft and could break into a starting line-up early in his rookie career. He does not possess the upside of the other guards graded immediately above or below him, yet has little in the way of downside.
- Fast rising Shea McClellin of Boise State is getting a lot of consideration at middle/inside linebacker by a number of teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, who we reported last week will explore trading down from the 14th spot. McClellin showed at the Senior Bowl he could quickly adjust to a number of traditional linebacker spots. McLellin continues to move north on draft boards. We were told one franchise tried to squeeze him in for a last minute visit but there was no room on the schedule.
- Word from the Windy City is the Chicago Bears are more likely to take a defensive lineman in round one then look for a slot receiver in the second or third frame based on the strengths of each position in the draft. If Michael Brockers of LSU is there we hear the team will select him. Last week we reported Chicago has an interest in Shea McLellin. We now hear Whitney Mercilus of Illinois has been ranked high on the teams board. Mercilus did visit the Bears and was worked out privately by the team.
- Fighting Illini teammate AJ Jenkins continues to move up boards. Sources tell us the receiver could land in the late second and most feel if available the St Louis Rams will tab Jenkins in round three.