This is the sixth story in Real Football Services' offseason series, and Real's first mock draft of the predraft buildup. Today: Round 1. Sunday: Round 2.
You draftniks and football fans out there following all the predraft hype already know the deal, right? Andrew Luck going to the Colts at No. 1, RGIII to the 'Skins, and probably OT Matt Kalil to the Vikings at No. 3.
But what if that's not it?
The Colts DID ask Griffin to work out for them. Posturing? Maybe.
But what if it's not?
All it takes is one risk taker, one different point of view, one "off the wall" or "reach" pick by a team, one single smokescreen to completely change the landscape of the draft, particularly in the opening rounds — and that doesn't even include the possibility of a trade, of which there could be several in Round 1 this year. And despite reports from unnamed league and team sources, experts digging for stories, and guys like Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter (who are very, VERY good at their jobs), no one really knows what's going to happen.
We remember during our time with the Jets, 1993 to be exact, when we floated a story to the media and others that we were set to draft RB Garrison Hearst at No. 3. Hearst was a player that the Cardinals, who were sitting at No. 4, were very high on. We kept feeding the rumor mill right up until draft day, and by the time the third pick came around, we had traded for 1,000-yard rusher Johnny Johnson and moved to No. 4 to select Florida State LB Marvin Jones, the player we wanted all along.
Washington might be going QB no matter who falls to them. Minnesota might be set on Kalil. Cleveland might really be committed to Colt McCoy. Sam Bradford may be St. Louis' guy.
But what if they're not?
With several weeks until draft day and another mock to come, we are going to take the road less traveled with this exercise and show you how different things could look with just a few slight changes to the conventional thinking. Let us know if you could see any of these picks happening.
1. Indianapolis — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Peter King calls it crazy talk, but our guess is that many fans, especially here in the Northeast, haven't actually seen much of Griffin in action. He's got more pocket presence than you realize and possesses a very strong arm and good accuracy. Yes, he's got escapability and athleticism, but that's only part of his story.
2. Washington (from STL) — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Think of the QBs that Mike Shanahan has had success with — Elway, Plummer, Cutler. Luck surprised many during the workout season with his athletic ability. He can fit the scheme. But if the Redskins have their heart set on RGIII, they could put this pick up for sale, because their need at RT and LT is just as dire as their need at QB.
3. Minnesota — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Rick Spielman's phone will be ringing off the hook with calls from Cleveland, Miami and maybe even Buffalo for the chance to draft Ryan Tannehill, so they could move down because they need an OT, a WR and a CB in a big way. QB Christian Ponder took 30 sacks in 10 starts, has a history of durability issues and may not beat out Joe Webb in 2012, so Tannehill is not out of the question for the Vikings, either.
4. Cleveland — Matt Kalil, T, Southern Cal
Everyone has the Browns pegged for an offensive skill player here, so it could be Tannehill or Blackmon, or even Michael Floyd, who is moving up boards. Kalil reminds many of Joe Thomas, who has been a great pick for the Browns.
5. Tampa Bay — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Why in the world would the Bucs draft a RB here? The top corner in the draft is a perfect fit for a team that has 36-year-old Ronde Barber on the field and has to always be leery of the off-field activities of Aqib Talib keeping him on the sideline.
6. St. Louis (from WAS) — Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
Roger Saffold suffered through a sophomore slump and Jason Smith has concussion and injury concerns at tackle. Yes, Sam Bradford could use more weapons, but they have to get him off his back first — he was sacked once every nine attempts last year.
7. Jacksonville — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Jags could certainly look at WR Michael Floyd in this spot. It's going to take more than Laurent Robinson to fix that receiving corps. But despite drafting D-linemen pretty regularly in recent years, they still need an impact pass rusher and Coples has shown he can get to the QB from the edge or the interior.
8. Miami — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins lost out on Manning and Flynn, won't get Luck or Griffin, so Tannehill is reportedly the next prize. People are raving about his arm strength and athletic ability, but he's coming off an injury and a few short years ago he was a receiver! They need a QB, but there's a lot of work to be done.
9. Carolina — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Floyd is versatile and talented and would give Cam Newton another weapon opposite Steve Smith. Who do you double now? Some think Floyd could be the first wide receiver taken.
10. Buffalo — Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
One of the most versatile defensive players in the draft, he can play almost anywhere in the front seven as the Bills continue to build that defense. Needs at OT and WR can be addressed with upcoming picks.
11. Kansas City — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Cox is a versatile player with a high motor who can be an effective interior pass rusher. Romeo Crennel has been making stars of these kinds of players for years.
12. Seattle — Luke Keuchly, ILB, Boston College
Keuchly is smart and instinctive, a hard worker on and off the field, and extremely productive with nearly 550 tackles at BC. Jets fans should think Kyle Clifton. He addresses the Seahawks' loss of David Hawthorne.
13. Arizona — Nick Perry, OLB, Southern Cal
The free-agent signings of Adam Snyder and Levi Brown allow the Cardinals to hold off until Round 3 to further address the O-line. Though they could also go with a corner like Dre Kirkpatrick or Stephon Gilmore, they need to continue to build pass rushers into their 3-4 defense.
14. Dallas — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Cowboys paid Brandon Carr starter money, but Terrence Newman is aging and ineffective at times, and Michael Jenkins hasn't stepped into a leading role. Gilmore has size, quickness and excellent ball skills.
15. Philadelphia — Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
The loss of Jason Peters, likely for the season, makes this pick a necessity, especially for a team that needed a tackle before that injury ever happened. Martin can play either side, and the Eagles can look for OLB or safety help in Round 2.
16. JETS — Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Upshaw is versatile and explosive — a natural pass rusher. Rex Ryan would be able to line him up in multiple spots and create pressure and mismatches. This is the guy the Jets have needed on their defense that opposing O-coordinators have to account for.
17. Cincinnati (from OAK) — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bengals did a good job of addressing needs in free agency, but they need another corner. Kirkpatrick is big, strong, physical, and can play in press man or zone coverage.
18. San Diego — David DeCastro, G, Stanford
DeCastro is graded much higher than this on most boards, but a deep draft class at the position will hurt his value. Still with all the work the 'Bolts did in free agency, DeCastro is a plug-in starter who completes the O-line puzzle in San Diego.
19. Chicago — Cordy Glenn, T/G, Georgia
Glenn is 6'5", 345, with 36-inch arms who benched 31 times and ran a 4.9. That's impressive. So can he play either tackle or either guard spot? Yes. He's an upgrade for a unit that needs to play better in 2012.
20. Tennessee — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Titans re-signed Jordan Babineaux and Michael Griffin was franchised, but neither are long-term at this point and Chris Hope is no longer a consistent option. With no corners on the board with a first- round grade, Tennessee goes with Barron, who is maybe the only complete safety in this draft and a great value at this point.
21. Cincinnati — Dont'a Hightower, MLB, Alabama
Rey Maualuga has suffered from poor motivation, injuries and off-field issues. Hightower is extremely productive, a hard worker and a leader who can play any of the LB spots in the Bengals scheme. DC Mike Zimmer will love the "football head" on Hightower.
22. Cleveland (from ATL) — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
This has to be the worst WR corps in the NFL and is in desperate need of a playmaker. Wright proved his speed at his pro day and can be a deep threat, but he is also an exciting run-after-the-catch player who can contribute as a return man.
23. Detroit — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Lions have Jahvid Best (concussions), Mikel Leshoure (Achilles, off-field issues) and Kevin Smith (multiple injuries) on the roster. Not likely Richardson would slide this far, but in this scenario, a strong, well-built, durable back who can run, catch and return may be just what the doctor ordered in Detroit Rock City.
24. Pittsburgh — Michael Brockers, NT, LSU
Brockers is not a pass rusher, which is just fine for the Steelers. He has the ability to take and split double teams inside and is an effective run stuffer with good size.
25. Denver — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Some question Poe's lack of production, but John Fox has said he thinks Poe might be the next Kris Jenkins. Extremely athletic for a man his size and has the quickness to penetrate or take on multiple blockers.
26. Houston — Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Big, physical receiver, which is what the Texans like (there's not one contributor on their roster under 6'2"). He is a polished route runner, has strong hands, will break tackles, and is a willing blocker. He also ran a 4.4 40.
27. New England (from NO) — Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
The Pats need an edge pass rusher and Mercilus is all of that. Quick, fast and aggressive to the QB, he still has a lot of work to do to become a complete player, but Bill Belichick will find ways to use the one-year wonder's speed and athleticism effectively.
28. Green Bay — Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
David had 28 tackles for loss, 11½ sacks, 10 passes defensed and two INTs while averaging 11 tackles per games in 27 games over two years at Nebraska. That kind of production will help him find his way onto the field in several roles, and he could eventually emerge as an effective pass rusher in the Pack's 3-4 scheme. Some will grade him down due to lack of size.
29. Baltimore — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Some teams have taken Jenkins off their boards due to some serious character concerns, but his ability and athleticism are undeniable. Ravens fans should hope John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis can rein him in because he's an upgrade to a weak position group.
30. San Francisco — Jerel Worthy, DE/DT, Michigan State
While not a pass rusher, Worthy is a versatile player who can fill several roles in the 3-4, both as a DE and inside. He's a hard-working, disruptive force on the field.
31. New England — Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
Reyes is another versatile lineman with the frame to carry more bulk and become an effective interior player.
32. New York Giants — Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
Adams is a strong run blocker who can take over Kareem McKenzie's vacant spot on the O-line. He could eventually develop into a left tackle for Big Blue but can contribute right away on the other side.
Sunday — Real's Mock Draft, Round 2