The first effort was wildly optimistic, the second one was after getting a glimpse of the college talent, the third as the NFL season was nearly complete, and the fourth as players began to declare for the draft. In this pre-Combine (Feb. 22) mock draft, we can focus on who needs what. No explanation below means no change from the last mock.
1. Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St. I’m sticking with the WR because A) they need to sell tickets, B) if the losing continues, St. Louis could lose the team in a few years, C) No winning seasons since 2003.
3. Vikings – Matt Kalil, OL, USC. Secondary is a massive need (maybe they’ll pick up Routt?), but there will be 1st round DB talent available early in the 2nd. Kalil is win-win for Ponder and Peterson.
4. Browns – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Still not enamored with Griffin like everyone else, but it makes too much sense with Colt McCoy coming off a terrible year, and the franchise not having a QB to get excited about in over a decade (Couch?).
5. Buccaneers – Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford. Coaching change to a run-happy offense has me thinking OL. Trent Richardson makes sense, but I’m not enamored with grabbing an RB that high.
6. Redskins – Riley Reiff, OL, Iowa. In the mix for Peyton, and even if they don’t get him, there’s no QB worth grabbing here. I’d say the Redskins could be the 49ers next year, but in that division? No way.
7. Jaguars – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. A strong secondary could lose two starters. Claiborne is the best corner in the draft and has excellent value here.
8. Panthers – Quinton Coples, DE, UNC. With Claiborne gone, they grab the best DE in the draft to help Johnson harass Brees & Matty Ice.
9. Dolphins – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. New coach Joe Philbin is an offensive guy and all he’s talking about is offense. The Wright-Marshall tandem will make Henne look decent, especially with the Bush-Thomas backfield.
10. Bills – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama.
11. Chiefs – David DeCastro, OL, Stanford.
12. Seahawks – Ohio State OL Mike Adams – Punchless offense scored 17 or fewer points 7 times, so 21st-ranked running game will be enhanced with offensive line help, plus the return of Sidney Rice. Think Ryan Tannehill in the 2nd round – there’s no value in him here.
13. Cardinals – Devon Still, DT, Penn State.
14. Cowboys – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama.
15. Eagles – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. Solid middle linebacker should shore up a mediocre run defense.
16. Jets – Melvin Ingram, LB/DE, South Carolina. I’ve now gone LB, safety and LB/DE in the last three Jets mocks. I can only hope the 6-foot-1 Ingram is a smaller version of Jason Pierre-Paul (who the Eagles passed on two years ago).
17. Bengals (from Raiders) – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama.
18. Chargers – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. Staying with this pick, but close to wavering and going offensive line, as Rivers could two lose two starters there.
19. Bears – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. With Cutler healthy, the Bears were an NFC contender. Smells like a best-on-board situation. I still think an RB is necessary at some point – Cutler or Forte go down, season over. Window’s closing with an aging defense.
20. Titans – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois. Even if they fill a DE need in free agency, I still think they go with a pass rusher in the draft.
21. Bengals – Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia. Three guards are unrestricted free agents, so they’ll definitely go OL in the first round.
22. Browns (from Atlanta) – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami.
23. Lions – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. If they can’t grab a CB in free agency, then that should be the direction they go in the draft.
24. Steelers – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. Had them going corner the last two mocks, but Big Ben was sacked 10 times in the last three games – including five in the playoff loss to Denver – and thought strongly about OL. But the middle of the defensive line is aging. The No. 1 run D in 2010 slipped to 8th in 2011.
25. Broncos – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.
26. Texans – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. The Texans are desperate to re-sign Chris Myers, but if they can’t, might as well get the best center in the draft. Yes, there’s a big need at WR, but I think the big names fly off the board early and Alshon Jeffery’s weight gain pushes him way down the board.
27. Patriots (from Saints) – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers. Everyone’s saying he’s not quite a 1st round pick now. I think Sanu plays his way into the 1st round at the Combine. Belichick-Schiano connection?
28. Packers – Doug Martin, RB, Boise St. Think he’ll blow up at the Combine and Green Bay will snag a reliable running back in hopes that Rodgers stays in the pocket more. The logical move, of course, is to get some defensive help in the woeful secondary.
29. Ravens – Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St. I’d like to think I was the first one to float this on Dec. 23, but I’m sure you can find someone who made the prediction first.
30. 49ers – Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Will be very interesting to see how far he falls due to the hernia injury. I can see him going in the teens or 20s, but the guess this week is that he drops a bit, and San Fran gets lucky.
31. Patriots – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. I could do 20 mock drafts and guess 20 different guys on this pick and they’d all be wrong. Nobody nails Belichick picks.
32. Giants – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse. With Osi departing, Chandler should bookend nicely with JPP.