With the combine finished, it’s time to draw up the mock drafts and project the first round of the draft.
This of course will be subject to change over the next two months, but here’s my first version with a projected trade between Cleveland and St. Louis.
I have the Patriots taking Alabama safety Mark Barron at 27 and Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes at 31.
Feel free to provide feedback/criticism and check out my Twitter @SSheehan925 for NFL Draft thoughts and football commentary.
Now, with the first pick in the 2012 draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
New regime, new quarterback. While I tend to think Luck is a little overrated, he’s a can’t-miss prospect with no discernable weaknesses.
2. Cleveland Browns (trade with St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Browns have the ammo to move up and must do so to get their franchise savior. RG III is incredibly talented and is an incredibly intelligent, mature leader.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Vikings took Christian Ponder, an injury-prone quarterback, in round one last year. Kalil can step in from day one and keep him upright and will be a future All-Pro.
4. St. Louis Rams (via Cleveland): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams still get their man and get valuable draft picks. Blackmon doesn’t have the measurable of Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but has the production and work ethic to become a top receiver.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
While he isn’t the athlete that Patrick Peterson was, Claiborne is a better all-around cover man. The Bucs have invested heavily in their front-seven, but need guys in the secondary to provide coverage.
6. Washington Redskins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Redskins settle for another athletic quarterback with major upside after striking out on RG III. Tannehill seems tailor-made for Shanahan’s offense.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Blaine Gabbert isn’t very good, but then again did you see who he was throwing to? Floyd ran better than expected, had a productive career and has the size necessary to be a No. 1 receiver at the next level.
8. Miami Dolphins: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
I don’t get why Miami is shifting to a 4-3 when the defense was the team’s strength. But adding a big, athletic defensive end like Coples to play opposite Cameron Wake would be a huge get. He’s a top-five talent with a questionable motor.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Maybe we’ve all fallen victim of the moment, but there just aren’t many 350-pound human beings who can move like Poe. The Panthers have the league’s worst set of defensive tackles, so Poe would be a major upgrade and would free up the Panthers strong set of linebackers.
10. Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
With a dominant combine performance, Ingram moves ahead of Courtney Upshaw as the first hybrid player off the board. Buffalo has a great set of defensive tackles, but needs someone to threaten the corner.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Scott Pioli is a New England guy and perhaps no team other than the Eagles likes drafting linemen early. Reiff comes from an established program and can play either tackle position.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Nick Perry, DE, USC
Perry blew up the combine and moves into the top half of the first round. Pete Carroll is obviously familiar with USC and Seattle could use more pass rushers.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Cardinals offensive is abysmal. DeCastro is one of the best guard prospects of the past decade and would be an immediate starter and future Pro Bowler.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Dallas desperately needs to improve its secondary and Kirkpatrick is clearly the second-best corner behind Claiborne. His size and aggression will give Rob Ryan a versatile chess piece.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
The Eagles almost never draft linebackers early, but now is the time. Kuechly proved he has the athleticism to be successful at the next level and his production and character is unquestionable.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Due to a lackluster postseason, Upshaw slides a bit to Gang Green. He’s not a speed rusher, but he is powerful and would benefit from playing for a defensive-minded coach like Rex Ryan.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
With NY passing up the best running back in the draft, the Bengals will be running to the podium to turn their pick in. Richardson is a fantastic prospect, but the value of running backs has continued to fall every year. He’ll be a stud.
18. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
San Diego’s offensive line is a mess right now with the retirement of Kris Dielman and the possible departure of Marcus McNeill. Martin is more of a finesse tackle, but is first-round worthy.
19. Chicago Bears: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Forget about his 4.61 forty. Wright’s game film speaks for itself. The Bears need an explosive playmaker to take advantage of Jay Cutler’s arm strength.
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus is a bit of an enigma. He’s got a good frame, tested well and had a great 2011 season. However, he’s a one-year wonder who is a bit of tweener at this point. Tennessee needs to upgrade its pass rush.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Bengals never care about character issues and boy does Janoris Jenkins have some. He was a star at Florida before he was dismissed for multiple marijuana-related arrests. However, his talent is undeniable and he’d be an immediate starter.
22. St. Louis Rams: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
I have a hard time thinking Cox will fall this far after a stellar combine, but I couldn’t find a great fit for him earlier than 22. He could be an excellent three-technique, and the Rams need to build the middle of their defensive line with Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the edges.
23. Detroit Lions: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
With Stephen Tulloch probably departing through free agency, Detroit needs a leader in the middle. Hightower has questionable instincts, but Jim Schwartz should get the most out of the physically-gifted former Crimson Tide stud.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia
It seems like we talk about the Steelers and their offensive line every year. Despite adding Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert in the past two drafts, Pittsburgh still needs more reinforcements if they plan on keeping Roethlisberger healthy. Glenn is incredibly athletic for his size and has positional versatility.
25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
I tend to think Brockers is overrated, and after an underwhelming combine performance, he falls out of the top half of the draft. Denver has great edge rushers but needs to beef up the middle of its run defense.
26. Houston Texans: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
The Texans don’t have any glaring needs, but they do need to bolster the wide receiver corps. Randle has good size and speed and should be a better pro than college player.
27. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
If Barron is on the board, I have no doubt the Pats will take him. He’s instinctive, hard-hitting and comes from the Nick Saban school of defense. Pairing him with Pat Chung would give the Patriots two intimidators in the secondary.
28. Green Bay Packers: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The Packers have the luxury of taking the best player on the board. Still was once pegged as a possible top-10 pick, but he didn’t have a great combine and isn’t a premier interior rusher. He could play five-technique for Green Bay.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
With Matt Birk contemplating retirement and Ben Grubbs possibly departing as a free agent, Baltimore needs to improve the interior of its offensive line. Konz is a no-nonsense type of player who fits the Ravens profile.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Alex Smith has a noodle for an arm, but he could really use some viable targets beyond Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Hill wowed the nation with a 4.36 forty at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. He doesn’t have great production but the success of Demaryius Thomas and Calvin Johnson should sway scouts that Hill can be the next great Georgia Tech receiver.
31. New England Patriots: Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
I have a feeling the Pats will trade this pick considering the players remaining are fringe first-rounders. However, if they keep it, they will look to bolster their defensive front with Reyes, a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder who has great strength. He best projects as a defensive end in a 3-4.
32. New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
The Giants subscribe to taking the best player available and Wilson is clearly it. He also fills a need as a young running back who can contribute on all three downs.
Just missed the cut: Mike Adams, Stephon Gilmore, Zach Brown, Brandon Thompson, Andre Branch, Coby Fleener, Lamar Miller