Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass during his game against California in Berkeley, Calif. Luck is a top prospect in the upcoming NFL football draft. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Anyone who puts together a mock draft this spring should start 2-for-2. Indianapolis already has announced it will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. That’s hardly a surprise. It went from probable to definite when the team dumped future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning last month.
Washington traded three prime picks to move up four spots to draft the next quarterback: Heisman Trophy Robert Griffin III of Baylor. After the Redskins, it’s all intrigue.
Minnesota wants to move down from No. 3, but to where? Will Miami try to move forward to take quarterback Ryan Tannehill? Will Cleveland build around quarterback Colt McCoy or try to replace him? Two of the NFL’s all-time worst defenses (Green Bay and New England) had two of the best teams. Which defenders are on their list?
Then you look at the Iowans. Tackle Riley Reiff is getting the media Bryan Bulaga treatment — short arms, maybe not a left tackle, not a Pro Bowler. He started out as NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock’s top-ranked tackle. Now some are speculating that he could fall out of the first round.
Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele started at left tackle for nearly four seasons for Iowa State, but most draftniks have him listed at guard. Osemele has nearly 36-inch arms and bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times. He’ll go somewhere at tackle, then move inside if he can’t cut it.
Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt could go as high as mid-second round or as low as the fourth round. ISU cornerback Leonard Johnson and Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater both have skill sets that suit to specific teams. Iowa guard Adam Gettis flashed with a 4.93 40-yard dash, Iowa tackle Markus Zusevics tore a pectoral muscle at the NFL Scouting Combine and safety Jordan Bernstine didn’t get an invite but toured around the country in the last month. All of those situations add intrigue to the draft.
It’s all unpredictable. Yet we try.
FIRST ROUND (WITH POTENTIAL TRADES)
1. Indianapolis — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
- I have no reason to think Luck will suck. Then again, most experts thought Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch and David Carr were solid picks at or near the top of the draft for San Diego, Cleveland and Houston, respectively.
2. Washington — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
- The Redskins decided to spend like the rest of Washington and mortgage the future on the promise of today. They spent two additional first-round picks and a second this year to St. Louis for Griffin. That’s a steep price for anybody.
3. Minnesota — Matt Kalil, T, USC
- The Vikings will try in vain to trade this pick, but in the end the brain trust will realize Kalil is a potentially great player who fills a need.
4. Cleveland — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
- The last thing the Browns need is a developmental quarterback with a side-throwing motion. And Ryan Tannehill is no Bernie Kosar, either.
5. Tampa Bay — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
- Claiborne is the next “can’t miss” cornerback. Most people didn’t know much about him at LSU because of the “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu lurking opposite him. Now he’s likely the Bucs’ second consecutive first-rounder with that last name pronunciation.
6. St. Louis — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
- It’s an interesting combination, a Sooner (Sam Bradford) throwing to a Cowboy. I think Michael Floyd is a better receiver, but Blackmon is more highly rated.
7. Jacksonville — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
- The Jaguars have flopped at receiver since Jimmy Smith/Keenan McCardell. Plus, Floyd gives the team an honest assessment of second-year QB Blaine Gabbert.
8. Miami — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
- I think Tannehill is a coach-killer. But I think the pressure of missing on several QBs this offseason (like Peyton Manning) will force ownership to make the call. And former Iowa assistant coach and new Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin will probably pay for it in three years.
9. Carolina — Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
- The Panthers have needs on offense but remember their coach is a defensive-first guy. They could use a pass rush from the edge, and Ingram has shown he can provide that.
10. Arizona (trade with Buffalo) — Luke Kuechley, ILB, Boston College
- Kuechley was a tackling machine with B.C., and the Cardinals could use a defensive leader. Arizona has plenty of needs, but Kuechley could elevate the defense more than any other player on the board.
11. Philadelphia (trade with Kansas City) — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
- The Eagles need a third-level defensive playmaker who can hit like the recently retired Brian Dawkins did in Philly for 13 years. Barron is strong, fast and physical.
12. Seattle — Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State
- Cox is a durable, versatile defensive linemen who can play inside or outside. It’s a need in Seattle where the Seahawks are strong in the secondary and suspect at linebacker.
13. Buffalo (trade with Arizona) — Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
- The Bills need an upgrade at offensive line at multiple spots, and Reiff can play multiple positions. Of course he’ll immediately lock in at left tackle, but if that doesn’t work, he’ll find a home somewhere on the offensive line for the next decade.
14. Dallas — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
- Gilmore showed all the intangibles following the NFL Scouting Combine plus none of the baggage as other top corners Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins. Dallas needs a corner, and Gilmore fills a role.
15. Kansas City (trade with Philadelphia) — Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
- No linemen displayed Poe’s impressive statistics at the NFL Scouting Combine — 6-foot-3, 346 pounds, a 4.98 40-yard dash — but his statistics were suspect last season (33 tackles, 1 sack). If he plays in a rotation, he might be successful early for a team that has few gaping holes (if healthy, of course).
16. New York Jets — Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
- The Jets need younger, more athletic outside pass rushers. Upshaw immediately improves the defense and is a winner. He’s a tough, aggressive hitter and will fit in nicely under Rex Ryan.
17. Detroit (trade with Cincinnati) — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
- The Lions are desperate to upgrade a defense that allowed a combined 90 points in their final two games last year. Kirkpatrick’s off-the-field problems are a concern, but the Lions unfortunately have experience dealing with those.
18. San Diego — David DeCastro, G, Stanford
- Many have compared DeCastro to perennial All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson. The Chargers lost two offensive linemen this offseason in Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill. It’s a win-win.
19. Pittsburgh (trade with Chicago) — Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
- Every year the Steelers somehow patch together their offensive line and make it work. It won’t happen now without help. Adams has experience playing against the Big Ten’s top defensive ends, who now play in the NFL.
20. Tennessee — Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
- Defensive line has become a necessity because of free agency losses (Jason Jones and William Hayes) and Derrick Morgan failing to stay healthy.
21. Cincinnati — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
- The Bengals hit the jackpot last year with A.J. Green, and Wright would give them a complementary piece on the other side.
22. New England (trade with Cleveland) — Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State
- The Patriots have faded recently on defense, and McClellin is an athletic, do-it-all linebacker. He can rush, he can drop into coverage. New England gave up the most yards in the NFL last year, and McClellin could help reshape the defense.
23. Cincinnati (trade with Detroit) — Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
- The Bengals are staring at New England castoff BenJarvus Green-Ellis as their starter for next season. Martin can at least work in combination with Green-Ellis and eventually start.
24. Chicago (trade with Pittsburgh) — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
- The Bears have staggered a bit up front recently, and they need protection for their stars. Coples can play the base defensive end for a few years opposite Julius Peppers and then move into the prime-time role for Chicago.
25. Denver — Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
- Denver could use a few defensive linemen, but the Broncos need to provide new quarterback Peyton Manning with every weapon available on offense. Fleener has comparable skills with former Colts TE Dallas Clark, a key ally for Manning in Indianapolis.
26. Houston — Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
- The Texans traded away key inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans, which hurts but Hightower was the powerful inside force for the Crimson Tide’s national title team. At 265 pounds and a 4.68 40-yard dash, Hightower can play anywhere for Houston.
27. Cleveland (trade with New England) — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
- The Browns will avoid the urge to pick a quarterback and instead fortify a nice front four. Mercilus is an Akron kid and led Division I in sacks last year.
28. Green Bay — Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
- The Packers surrendered more passing yards than any NFL team in history. Curry can rush the quarterback and provide a solid outside tandem with Clay Matthews. Green Bay wouldn’t regret this pick.
29. Baltimore — Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
- The Ravens have a need at center, and Konz is rated as the nation’s best. We’ll see in a few years if Michigan’s David Molk turns out better, like he was in college.
30. San Francisco — Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
- The 49ers picked up Super Bowl star Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, who’s fresh off a one-year sabbatical this offseason. But neither are reliable over a 16-game season. Hill renders the situation moot if he goes here.
31. New England — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
- Every year the Patriots pick a cornerback in the first two rounds and it has yet to pay off for more than one season. Jenkins has major baggage but he can play, and New England has a stable locker room.
32. New York Giants — Cordy Glenn, T, Georgia
- The Giants have three starters over age 30 on the offensive line and must break in a new right tackle. Glenn can play four offensive line positions and is athletic.
SECOND ROUND (NO TRADES)
- 33. St. Louis — Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
- 34. Indianapolis — Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington
- 35. Minnesota — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
- 36. Tampa Bay — Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
- 37. Cleveland — Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
- 38. Jacksonville — Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
- 39. St. Louis — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
- 40. Carolina — Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
- 41. Buffalo — Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
- 42. Miami — Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
- 43. Seattle — Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
- 44. Kansas City — Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
- 45. Dallas — Jeff Allen, OL, Illinois
- 46. Philadelphia — Devon Still, DT, Penn State
- 47. NY Jets — Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC
- 48. New England — Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
- 49. San Diego — Bruce Irvin, OLB/DE, West Virginia
- 50. Chicago — Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
- 51. Philadelphia — Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
- 52. Tennessee — Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
- 53. Cincinnati — Bobby Massie, T, Ole Miss
- 54. Detroit — Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
- 55. Atlanta — Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
- 56. Pittsburgh — David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
- 57. Denver — Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
- 58. Houston — Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
- 59. New Orleans — Forfeited (Bountygate scandal)
- 60. Green Bay — Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
- 61. Baltimore — Billy Winn, DL, Boise State
- 62. San Francisco — Cam Johnson, DL, Virginia
- 63. New England — Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
- 64. NY Giants — Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
IOWA/IOWA STATE MOCK SELECTIONS BY ROUND
- 1. Riley Reiff, T, Iowa (13th, Buffalo)
- 2. Kelechi Osemele, T, Iowa State (58th, Houston)
- 3. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa (66th, Minnesota)
- 3. Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State (82nd, Tennessee)
- 4. Adam Gettis, G, Iowa (102nd, Washington)
- 4. Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa (111th, Chicago)
- 5. Markus Zusevics, T, Iowa (139th, Cleveland)
- 6. Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa (172nd, Philadelphia)
- 7. Tyler Nielsen, LB, Iowa (219th, Detroit)
- 7. Jordan Bernstine, S, Iowa (237th, San Francisco)
- FA — Broderick Binns, DE, Iowa (Kansas City)
- FA — Hayworth Hicks, G, Iowa State (Oakland)
- FA — Stephen Ruempolhamer, DT, Iowa State (Kansas City)