Figured I'd put together a mock draft to keep my mind off of Sunday's game. Since the draft order is going to change significantly before the draft anyway, I only loosely used the official league standings and modified them a bit based on future schedules and how I think teams will finish. I also leaned more toward team needs than value of players since the order doesn't matter as much. I probably won't do another one until after the season is over but here you go.
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck QB, Stanford
Everyone knows Luck will be taken at #1, we just don't know who will take him. The Colts are the front-runners now, and will have no choice but to take him. The question then becomes which QB to trade: Luck or Peyton Manning?
2. Miami Dolphins- Landry Jones QB, Oklahoma
Miami and Washington are tied for the worst QB situations in the league in my opinion, but Miami is the one who will actually get a top prospect at the position. They need to get "Luck"y and have Indianapolis win some games. If that happens, this team will be seriously dangerous for a long long time.
3. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams traded for Brandon Lloyd, who isn't even guaranteed to stay after this season, but are still seriously lacking at WR. They could use pieces on defense and some help on the O-line, so Matt Kalil might make sense. They spent two high draft picks on OT's the past few years in Roger Saffold and Jason Smith, so I went with Blackmon.
4. Seattle Seahawks- Matt Barkley QB, USC
Pete Carroll might prefer to get Luck or Landry, but instead he gets his old recruit Matt Barkley, who is the last top tier QB left. It's no secret the Seahawks are a team with one of the biggest needs at QB. They might even be players to trade up for Luck.
5. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil OT, USC
Much to the dismay of Donovan McNabb, the Christian Ponder era has started in Minnesota. They desperately need to upgrade their O-line after losing long time LT Bryant McKinnie to donuts and lack of exercise. Kalil is probably the best LT prospect since Joe Thomas.
6. Arizona Cardinals- Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford
The Cards are going to be tempted to give up on Kevin Kolb and go for Luck or another top QB, but that would be a huge mistake. Instead, they should recognize that their problems are coming from lack of talent almost everywhere else on the roster, especially the O-line which can't protect anyone.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quinton Coples DE, UNC
It says a lot about where the league is going when the first 6 picks are offensive players. The Jags could easily continue the trend and take Alshon Jeffery, which would solve their biggest need and give Blaine Gabbert a legitimate target, but Coples's talent is too great to ignore here. They've lacked a consistent pass rush for years and Coples is probably going to be better than last year's 14th overall pick Robert Quinn.
8. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson RB, Alabama
Peyton Hillis has sulked his way out of a new contract in Cleveland, as his work ethic, character, and durability have all come into question this year. Reports have already come out that he will not be back with the team next year. Which leaves a huge hole at RB for the Browns. Richardson is by far this year's best runner and is way more explosive than former teammate and Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram.
9. Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III QB, Baylor
The Redskins are going to struggle to win even one more game this year with John Beck or Rex Grossman at QB. Its a shame because there is serious talent on that defense. If last year's draft taught us anything, its that teams will reach significantly for a potential franchise QB. Griffin will draw comparisons to Cam Newton for his athletic ability and the monster numbers he's putting up.
10. Denver Broncos- Morris Claiborne CB, LSU
With no QBs left in the first round, Denver will have to either keep Tim Tebow or turn back to Kyle Orton in 2012. I thought they should have taken Patrick Peterson last year, but getting Claiborne this year could be even better. He is probably a better cover corner than his former teammate, but doesn't have the freakish athleticism or return ability that Peterson has.
11. Carolina Panthers- Brandon Thompson DT, Clemson
The Panthers are by far the worst team in the league against the run, and their lack of talent at DT is a big reason for that. I was advocating for them to take Marcel Dareus last year but they went with Newton, which (as hard as it is for me to admit) looks like it was the right decision. Thompson is the best DT in the 2012 class and gets a little bit of a bump since the DTs this year aren't as talented as in previous years.
12. Tennessee Titans- Vontaze Burflict LB, Arizona State
The Titans are looking like they might cut ties with Chris Johnson, in which case they could be trying to get Richardson. But since he is gone, they need to upgrade their LB core. After losing Stephen Tulloch to free agency last year, they seriously lack talent at the second level. Burflict leads a LB class that is vastly more talented than recent years, he is versatile enough to play any LB position in a 4-3 and has great instincts to call the adjustments for the defense.
13. Dallas Cowboys- Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama
Dallas might look to upgrade their O-line, but would probably be looking for a G or C rather than an OT, and the talent at the interior O-line doesn't fit this high. Instead they take the best player available on defense, which is Kirkpatrick. He's got phenomenal size for a CB and could be the playmaker in the secondary that they currently lack.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Alshon Jeffery WR, South Carolina
Jeffery's production has slipped this year, which is why he slips a bit here after being considered a top 10 pick. Although Mike Williams is very good, Josh Freeman could use another elite target. At 6'4", Jeffery is a physical beast. Tampa might also look to get a CB since Ronde Barber is retiring soon and Aqib Talib can't stay out of trouble.
15. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)- Janoris Jenkins CB, Northern Alabama
Surprise, surprise, Oakland wastes another 1st round pick for an aging player. Cincinnati was happy to ablige, and consequently get a top tier player to add to their already strong defense. Jenkins might be regarded as highly as Claiborne if not for his immense off-field troubles. The Bengals have never been one to judge however, and value talent more than character.
16. Kansas City Chiefs- Ronnell Lewis OLB, Oklahoma
Kansas City's offense seems to be coming together, and will be even more explosive when they get Jamaal Charles back from injury next year. They might consider OT Riley Reiff so they can relieve Branden Albert of the LT position, but their need for a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali is much greater. Lewis looks to be the top 3-4 OLB prospect this year, and could provide a serious boost to their defense.
17. Chicago Bears- Riley Reiff OT, Iowa
The Bears still need a few pieces on offense for it to be complete, including a legitimate LT and a top WR. They could pull an Atlanta and package a bunch of picks for Blackmon or Jeffery, but Reiff could be an even better upgrade for the offense. He and 2011 pick Gabe Carimi would be great bookend OTs for a long time.
18. Philadelphia Eagles- Manti Te'o LB, Notre Dame
Michael Vick will always take some hits and his O-line will get blamed for it, but they seem to be coming together at midseason. Their defense, however, has serious issues. They have a great secondary and a potentially great D-line, but their LBs lack talent and can't stay healthy. Te'o is in some ways better than Burflict and can be a versatile leader for the Eagles D.
19. Buffalo Bills- Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame
Behind Stevie Johnson, the Bills have almost no depth at WR. Ryan Fitzpatrick will love a receiver with Floyd's size (6'3", 230 lbs) and he should be a good complement to Johnson on the outside. Buffalo could also look to upgrade their defense by taking the best player available in the front 7.
20. Cincinnati Bengals- Luke Kuechly LB, Boston College
After getting Jenkins earlier, the Bengals take Kuechly to fill the LOLB spot in their 4-3. After Rey Maualuga was moved to ILB, Thomas Howard has been struggling to replace him on the outside. Kuechly, Te'o and Burflict are all vying for the top LB honors, and they could easily switch around by the time the draft gets here.
21. San Diego Chargers- Courtney Upshaw OLB, Alabama
The Chargers have lacked a consistent pass rush since Shawne Merriman started to flop. Shaun Phillips is a great OLB but he could use someone on the other side who can take pressure off him. Upshaw is very close behind Lewis as the top 3-4 OLB prospect, and could replace 2009 bust Larry English.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)- Cordy Glenn OT, Georgia
Cleveland might have the best left side of the O-line in the league (when healthy), and might have the worst right side. Glenn could be a very good RT and a potentially dominant RG. Either way, they're upgrading that right side.
23. New England Patriots- Jarvis Jones OLB, Georgia
Bill Belichick tends to trade down in (and usually out of) the first round, but with 2 picks already, I could see them finally trading up to get a top pass rusher. If they stay put, Jones is the best option available. They're currently 25th in the league in sacks and it is seriously hurting their underrated secondary.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Alameda Ta'amu NT, Washington
This is a great situation for Pittsburgh, as their biggest need fits perfectly with the talent available. Ta'amu is the best NT option in this class and is also the best available player. Casey Hampton will be a 35 year old free agent after the 2012 season. Getting his replacement a year early and letting him learn for a year is a typical Kevin Colbert move. The Steelers could also look for an upgrade at G, in which case David DeCastro would also be a great pick. I also like the idea of taking S Mark Barron from Alabama, as his leadership and experience would be welcome additions to the defense as many aging veterans will be leaving soon. If they are not confident in Stevenson Sylvester's ability to replace James Farrior, I could see them trading up for a top LB like Te'o or Kuechly. Or, if they want to save draft picks, they could take Dont'a Hightower, another experienced Alabama player. Lastly, although I've been impressed with the play of Keenan Lewis and the Steelers' rookies, Alfonzo Dennard and Jayron Hosley would be good options at CB.
25. Detroit Lions- Alfonzo Dennard CB, Nebraska
The Lions have an explosive offense and a dominant D-Line, but the rest of their defense has some problems. Dennard is a good cover corner who can help shore up their pretty bad secondary. They might also want to take DeCastro to shore up the interior of their O-line and protect Matt Stafford.
26. New York Jets- Zach Brown LB, UNC
Brown is a somewhat inexperienced pass rusher, which is by far the Jets' biggest need, but he is phenomenal against the run (another surprising weakness of the Jets defense) and has a ton of experience in coverage. This will allow Rex Ryan to disguise what Brown is doing, which is something he loves to do, as he can just as easily drop into coverage as he could come on the blitz.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)- Jeff Fuller WR, Texas A&M
Since they parted ways with Randy Moss, they haven't had a reciever who can stretch a defense. Fuller is a tall receiver who can track the deep ball well. At 6'3", he can out-jump most corners and has the range to beat them over the top.
28. Houston Texans- Jerel Worthy DT, Michigan State
Houston is a team without a lot of holes. Their defense is vastly improved over 2010, but they still lack a good NT in their new 3-4 scheme. At 6'3", 305 lbs Worthy isn't your typical NT, but Wade Phillips had a ton of success with a penetrating NT Jay Ratliff in Dallas.
29. New York Giants- David DeCastro G, Stanford
The Giants believe in building through the trenches and dominating offensive and defensive lines have always been their trademark. Their O-line has struggled some this year, however, so they take the top interior lineman in the class.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Devon Still DE, Penn State
This is mostly best player available, but with Justin Smith getting old and Ray McDonald only adequate the need is also there. Still has the prototypical size for a great 3-4 DE (6'5", 305 lbs) and would make the transition for this D-line very smooth.
31. Baltimore Ravens- Dont'a Hightower LB, Alabama
Everyone knows that the Ravens need to find Ray Lewis's replacement soon. Hightower is a similarly tenacious player with tons of experience leading the Alabama defense. They could also look for a C to replace Matt Birk or an OT to replace Bryant McKinnie.
32. Green Bay Packers- Kendell Reyes DE, Connecticut
Green Bay could be the most dominant team to come along in quite a while with Aaron Rodgers at QB. However, their defense is extremely inconsistent. Usually when I hear "inconsistent" I immediately look at the linemen to find the problem. I think they're missing Cullen Jenkins more than they anticipated, so they take Reyes with the last pick in the first round to bring back some of that consistency.