This is the eighth story in Real Football Services' offseason series. Today: Real's Final Mock Draft.
A final look at the first round of this week's draft features some potential trades, some shifts in position and opinion on several players, and an explanation of how the Jets can get the pass rusher they want and need.
1. Indianapolis — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No intrigue here. The Colts have already told Luck he's their guy, and truthfully, we don't know that there's been a quarterback who's so much like Peyton Manning since, well, Peyton Manning.
2. Washington (from St. Louis) — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
A great athlete with a stronger arm and better pocket presence than most fans realize, Griffin's got all the tools Mike Shanahan needs to build a successful offense in DC. He'll also have more tools. Don't be surprised to see RGIII have a better rookie campaign than Luck.
3. PROJECTED TRADE: Tampa Bay (from Minnesota) — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
We keep hearing that the Vikings have some questions about Kalil's commitment to the game. Though they'd be passing on a 10-year NFL starter, in our opinion, the Vikes simply cannot afford to miss with this pick and feel they can still get CB Morris Claiborne or Kalil at No. 5. Richardson has been dubbed the next AP and he's the only guy the Bucs want. They will go get him.
4. Cleveland — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Ryan Tannehill rumors were nothing but a smokescreen. Richardson is the player the Browns really wanted, but QB Colt McCoy finally gets some serious help with this pick. Expect the Browns to look for a RT at No. 22 and then possibly look at a player like QB Brandon Weeden in Round 2.
5. PROJECTED TRADE: Minnesota (from Tampa Bay) — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Possessing great size and quickness, Claiborne's got excellent man cover skills, and as a former receiver he may have the best ball skills of any DB in this class. He immediately fills the Vikes' most pressing need on D.
6. St. Louis (from Washington) — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Rams will also think about Kalil long and hard here, but St. Louis signed former Giant Steve Smith, who is suffering through knee problems, and their best receiver, Brandon Lloyd, took off for New England. Rodger Saffold is healthy again at LT, so they go with the playmaker, Floyd.
7. Jacksonville — Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
The Jags could have used a WR in this spot, but value is gone with the pick of Floyd. They need more help with the pass rush and Ingram is considered the top pass rusher in this draft. He can also slide inside to DT on third downs and rush from the interior.
8. Miami — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Everyone from the owner to the water boy is talking about Tannehill coming to Miami, but the truth is while there's plenty of upside and potential, he is raw and probably can't contribute right away. Though popularity and selling seats will probably win out, don't be surprised if GM Jeff Ireland prevails and takes the best available D-lineman like Ingram or Fletcher Cox.
9. Carolina — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Cox is a high-motor guy who is ready to step in and start right now. He's got good feet, can penetrate (33½ plays behind the LOS), and plays big against the run.
10. Buffalo — Matt Kalil, T, USC
The first real steal of the draft, Kalil fills a dire need for the Bills, who haven't had a true LT since Jason Peters left. They will plug him in and leave him there for the next decade.
11. Kansas City — Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
It's been said a hundred times, but GM Scott Pioli LOVES the Iowa kids, particularly the offensive linemen. Hawkeyes head man Kirk Ferentz is a personal friend, with NFL experience, and his linemen are always smart, tough and polished. This pickup allows the Chiefs to move Brandon Albert inside to G and gives them a formidable front for the first time in years.
12. PROJECTED TRADE: JETS (from Seattle) — Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama
Despite our suggestion in last week's piece that the Jets should not trade up in Round 1, we don't think they can resist. They HAVE to come out of this draft with an impact pass rusher, and there just aren't that many productive ones. With 3-4 teams Arizona and Dallas in front of them, they will want to make a move. Upshaw was a productive pass rusher in college (17 sacks, 35 TFLs), has played both DE and OLB in a hybrid system, and has the athleticism to play in coverage. He reminds us of LaMarr Woodley.
The guy they really want, Melvin Ingram, is already gone. But we are hearing a lot of talk about the team's interest. If the Jets really want him, they might have to go as high as No. 7 to get him, because as we mentioned, despite the talk, there's no guarantee that Miami is going with Tannehill and could very well look for a pass rusher with its first pick. To move that high, the Jets would have to give up a package of picks, for example, this year's first (16), second (47), fifth (154) and sixth (187) could get it done. They could also trade next year's first-round pick, or next year's second and third. While Ingram is considered the best pass rusher in this draft, the loss of those picks this year would make it hard to fill their other major needs.
13. Arizona — Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC
Perry actually wants to play DE in the NFL, but he doesn't have ideal size to do that. However, he has shown a natural ability to rush the passer, whether in a two- or three-point stance (21½ sacks, 30 tackles for loss), which is exactly what Arizona needs (in addition to O-linemen). The Cardinals' starting OLBs totaled just 11½ sacks in 2011.
14. Dallas — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Cowboys could go with a pass rusher like Whitney Mercilus, David DeCastro at guard, or Luke Kuechly at ILB. But paired with offseason acquisition Brandon Carr, they would have a pair of shutdown corners who can cover and make plays on the ball.
15. Philadelphia — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
This is a bit of a reach on our board, but Philly has just one starting-caliber safety on the roster. Barron has some injury concerns, but he had 235 tackles, as well as 12 INTs and 34 passes defensed, in 52 games with the Tide.
16. PROJECTED TRADE: Seattle (from JETS) — Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
There was talk that the 'Hawks might want to trade up for Tannehill, but that's not likely. Instead, they trade down and get the guy they wanted all along in Kuechly. Super productive, he had over 500 tackles and 7 INTs in his college career and is a perfect fit in the middle of Pete Carroll's defense.
17. Cincinnati (from Oakland) — David DeCastro, G, Stanford
With both San Diego and Chicago in the market for offensive linemen behind them, the Bengals take the top-rated guard in the draft, add a needed nasty streak up front, and still have pick No. 21 to address their need at corner.
18. San Diego — Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
Here comes the Cardinal Run! Martin can play LT or RT, which is a huge advantage for a team that needs help all over the O-line. He's at his best in pass protection but is still a capable run blocker. There's some talk of the 'Bolts trying to get ahead of the Eagles for a shot at Mark Barron. Dallas or Arizona could be a partner.
19. Chicago — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
At one time compared to Julius Peppers, Coples played RE, LE and DT for the Heels and was extremely productive (22 sacks, 34 TFLs, 22 QB hurries). Some have severely criticized his effort, attitude and consistency, which is what will cause his draft-day slide. But if he can produce at the next level, the Bears' pass rush just exploded.
20. Tennessee — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus is a one-year wonder who recorded 15 of his 18 career sacks in 2011. But his natural pass-rush ability is hard to ignore and he could be a great complement to FA signee Kamerion Wimbley.
21. Cincinnati — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick is aggressive, physical and tenacious as a bump-and-run corner who denies his receiver the ball. Paired with Leon Hall and Jason Allen, the Bengals now have an answer for Roethlisberger, Flacco and McCoy in the AFC North.
22. Cleveland (from Atlanta) — Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia
Glenn is a huge man (6'6", 345) and projects as a guard in the NFL, with experience playing on both sides. But he has also played tackle and is a powerful drive blocker in the run game who could fill a hole on the right side for the Browns, who will look for a QB in Round 2 and a RB later in the draft.
23. Detroit — Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
Adams may not be ready to start on the left side right away, but he CAN play RT and develop into the tackle who will eventually replace Jeff Backus. The OT market drives Adams up this high, despite having a second-round grade on many boards. By the time the Lions go on the clock again, the tackle options will be severely limited.
24. Pittsburgh — Bobby Massie, T, Mississippi
A big, physical player who is very good both as a run blocker and in pass protection, Massie is flying up boards right now, and though most see him going at the top of Round 2, the Steelers' need is dire. Massie can play RT and move to LT in the near future, and there's a pretty steep talent dropoff at tackle after him.
25. Denver — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
John Fox has said Brockers reminds him of Kris Jenkins. He hasn't produced like Jenkins to this point, but he has the size and strength to be the type of run stuffer this defense is dying for up front.
26. Houston — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
RGIII's top target in Waco is the top-rated player left on our board and fills the Texans' top need. They are desperate for a threat opposite Andre Johnson, and Wright's production was off the charts (302 catches, 30 TDs in 50 career games).
27. New England (from New Orleans) — Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Branch is a hybrid-type player who can be moved all around the field. He also has great straight-line speed and the ability to get into the opposing backfield. Bill Belichick will have an easy time finding ways for him to contribute in his multiple defense.
28. Green Bay — Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
The Pack's linebacker corps contributed just 12 sacks in 2011 and McClellin is flat-out productive (20½ sacks, 33 TFLs). He's a high-intensity guy with a relentless motor who plays fast and hard. He's not a particularly fast or explosive guy and doesn't have great measurables, but he plays fast and can line up opposite Clay Matthews.
29. Baltimore — Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Though at the next level Hightower is best suited to playing inside, he is versatile and can line up at OLB and DE and can even play in the nickel. He's a tenacious tackler, a perfect fit for the Ravens' hybrid scheme, and could eventually take over for Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco — Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Poe has gotten a bad rap because of his lack of production in college. But at 6'3" and 346, the 49ers won't care about that, especially in their defense. Current NT Isaac Sopoaga is in his 30s, and Poe has the size and strength to two-gap, hold up blockers, and clear the way for Patrick Willis.
31. New England — Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan State
Worthy is an explosive athlete and a strong player against the run who can anchor and two-gap with the best of them. He's also an effective pass rusher who may not get the sack but creates pressure on the pocket. This is a best-player-on-the-board pick, so it wouldn't surprise us to see the Patriots look to trade down here instead.
32. New York Giants — Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
At 5'9" and 223, Martin's a bowling-ball runner inside, explosive and fast on outside runs, and a capable receiver and return man. He had nearly 5,000 yards of total offense and 48 touchdowns in his college career.