It’s my favourite day of the NFL calendar – Draft day. I get tired of reading Mock Drafts that are simply predictions of what teams WILL do. Not only is it impossible to know what every GM is thinking, but who cares if you got it right? The real way to mock is to play GM for each of the 32 teams. Once you make a pick, transition to the next team and analyze who is on the board. Here is my 2nd annual GM MOCK DRAFT illustrating what I would do as the GM for each pick in the 1st round.
#1 Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck (Stanford)
The worst kept secret in history will officially be made public on Thursday night. The Colts did not get rid of Peyton Manning to draft anyone else. You’ve heard it a million times – Luck is the best QB prospect to come along in decades. Barring some outlier event, he will give Indianapolis fans the best 20 years of quarterback play in the history of the NFL. A first overall pick with the last name Luck playing with a horseshoe on his helmet – how does the NFL come up with this stuff?
#2 Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
Bottom line: no one was going to unseat Luck as the #1 pick in the draft. That being said, RGIII gave a valiant effort. Through five games last season Griffin had more Touchdowns than incompletions. Unlike Luck whose passing overshadows his athleticism, it’s Griffin’s athleticism that overshadows his abilities in the pocket. RGIII ran a sub 4.4 forty and is taller than many expected (6’2). He is accurate and poised in the pocket which makes him a dual-threat QB that is likely to have success. The Redskins mortgaged their future to move up from #6 to #2 to grab Griffin, he will be the pick.
#3 Minnesota Vikings – OT Matt Kalil (USC)
The consensus choice seems to be Kalil and for good reason. He is the premier LT in the 2012 draft class and could wind up as a perennial Pro Bowler. Something that factors into the decision is his NFL bloodlines (older brother Ryan plays for Carolina and has been to the Pro Bowl the last 3 years). Protecting Christian Ponder is important, but helping AP out is of equal importance.
#4 Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson (Alabama)
This pick fits very well. The Browns have a solid offensive line (albeit a few holes), but absolutely zero playmakers. Last year’s second round pick WR Greg Little is a good player and will be a nice #2 receiver in due time. The Browns lost Peyton Hillis to Kansas City in free agency and they do not have anyone on their current roster that deserves more than 5 carries a game. Adding Richardson would take an enormous amount of pressure off Colt McCoy and would allow the Browns to play a more ball control style offense – something that would benefit their defense which is emerging as a very good unit. Richardson can do it all, and his receiving skills are perfect for the West Coast offense.
#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Morris Claiborne (LSU)
Tampa Bay has done a fantastic job retooling their team via the draft and free agency. The receiver position is set with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. They improved their offensive line tremendously by adding All World guard Carl Nicks in free agency. The biggest area of need is the secondary and it just so happens that the best player available is the top corner in the draft. Ronde Barber might not last the season and Aqib Talib’s legal issues cloud his situation. Considering how much the Bucs improved, they should expect to be playing with a lead more this year. That means they better be able to cover.
The Rams have set themselves up for success by trading down and adding a king’s ransom of draft picks from the Redskins. It’s time to give Sam Bradford some weapons and Blackmon is just that. Blackmon doesn’t have the ceiling of a Calvin Johnson or AJ Green, but he has the work ethic and talent to be a legitimate #1 receiver in the NFL. The Rams have a number of guys who can be effective in the slot and TE positions, and adding Blackmon should generate more favourable matchups for guys like Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks.
#7 Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame)
The Jags should trade down here as there is no value for them. Their pick should be coveted by someone looking to move ahead of Miami at #8 to draft QB Ryan Tannehill. The Jags have traditionally focused on linemen in the first round. How’s that worked out for them so far? The Jags offense has one skill player in RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Blaine Gabbert struggled as a rookie, but the front office gave him a ringing endorsement by not trading for Tim Tebow. The only way he is going to succeed is if he gets an influx of talent. Floyd is a big play receiver who can stretch the field (similar to Vincent Jackson). I understand the importance of linemen in the NFL, but the Jags need to start drafting some skilled guys – they have neglected that area for far too long.
#8 Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M)
Is Tannehill a franchise QB? If he is, he will require a full year to develop. If it was any other team, I wouldn’t pick Tannehill, but the Dolphins are in a unique position as they just signed Mike Sherman to be their offensive coordinator. Sherman was Tannehill’s head coach at Texas A&M. If Tannehill is going to have success, it will be in Miami as he will be with a coach that he is familiar with and who has gotten top level production from him in college. If I’m the GM in Miami, I ask Sherman if we should take him. It’s that easy.