The top of the draft is clearing up, although who exactly makes the biggest move of the draft remains to be seen. The drama headed into draft day will center around pick #2. The Rams seem intent on dealing the rights to draft Heisman-winner Rober Griffin III. Even with his Colts future settled (or non-Colts future actually), Peyton Manning’s decision will still have a huge impact as all the teams that don’t land the biggest-name free agent ever could then join the RG3 bidding.
Depending on their opportunities and potential, rookies can have a huge impact both on their NFL teams and on fantasy leagues. It used to be smart to avoid rookie starters but Cam Newton, AJ Green, Julio Jones, and Andy Dalton have gone a long way to changing that perception. Consider your fantasy football team as well as your real team as you watch the prospects and mock drafts leading up to draft day.
Each FantasyCPR mock draft is featured in the mock draft databases at WalterFootball.com, DC Pro Sports Report, Sports Jabber, hailredskins.com and fftoolbox.com. Each site keeps track of a huge number mock drafts all over the web, so if you’re a draft junkie they’re great places to get your fix of info… Clicking the link for the team will take you to the site on the Fansided network dedicated to that particular team and to get daily draft-dedicated coverage visit Fansided brethren nflmocks.com and withthefirstpick.com
1. Indianapolis Colts
Fantasy Impact: Peyton Manning is officially out in Indy opening Andrew Luck looks to start from day 1 in the NFL. I won’t end up with him in many drafts since it only takes one crazy owner to take him too early following Cam Newton’s big year for him to go off the board too early. I’ll wait until QB2 range not because I doubt his talent, but his team won’t be great and the risk is high. In keeper leagues, obviously his value is higher. He could be a top 10 QB next year, but I won’t be the guy to take him in that range this year.
2. Cleveland Browns (via trade with St. Louis Rams)
Robert Griffin III-QB-Baylor
Fantasy Impact: This pick will be traded and it will be Griffin. If he starts right away he could be almost as dynamic as Cam Newton was this year, but don’t expect to steal him in the draft since everyone will be drooling to get the next Cam. Still, the most obvious and likely trade partner for the Rams is the Browns who own the #4 pick and 2 picks in the first round (only Cleveland, Cincinnati, and New England are in that position). The Rams would be fine with either Blackmon or Kalil and it’s guaranteed they’d get one of the two at 4.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Kalil shapes up to be an anchor for the Vikings line for years to come. Although it’s not a flashy skill-position pick, it’s the ideal scenario for Minnesota to pick up a piece they need to protect Christian Ponder going forward.
4. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland Browns)
Justin Blackmon WR-Oklahoma State
Fantasy Impact: Blackmon will fit wherever he lands, but the Rams will get the dynamic wide-out to take the #1 WR place from Brandon Lloyd who will most likely depart with Josh McDaniels. There’s commentary out there that at 6-1 he would be the shortest receiver chosen in the top 10 since Ted Ginn in 2007. However, dynamic wide-outs with speed and ability to make people miss and pick up big YAC are hard to come by so I think he’ll be just fine. If they drop further they’ll probably still try to get Blackmon but could go a different direction since they have so many team needs. The Rams could be the big winners of the draft if they get the bevy of picks people are projecting.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: Trent Richardson makes a ton of sense here, but the needs at CB for Tampa are too great to pass on one of the top talents in the draft. Ronde Barber is turning 37 and Aqib Talib has off-field issues. Taking RB’s early has fallen out of favor due to the high risk and short shelf-life. Richardson’s knee injury isn’t helping his stock.
6. Washington Redskins
Ryan Tannehill-QB-Texas A&M
Analysis: Short-term, I think the ‘Skins will either stick with Rexy or bring in a veteran via free-agency. If they can, they’ll definitely try to land Peyton, but either way they’ll get a “bridge” set up so that Tannehill can be coached up by Mike Shanahan for a year before being thrown into the fire. Tannehill could be a franchise QB, and his tools and potential have him rising up draft boards in a hurry. He now looks to be a guaranteed top 10 pick even with his undeveloped talent.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quinton Coples-DE-North Carolina
Analysis: The Jags need a pass rush. Coples and Melvin Ingram are the 2 choices here, but Coples athleticism and size gets him the nod
8. Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Protecting either Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn has to be a priority and Reiff is a great OT for both pass protection and run blocking for Reggie Bush who has proven he can be the feature-back. Trent Richardson or trading up are also possibilities.
9. Carolina Panthers
Analysis: With Michael Brockers weak combine and Poe’s monster performance, the pick is still the same position but a different player. Poe is an immediate fix for the middle of the Panthers D line that was ravaged last year. This would set up a nice rotation with Sione Fua and Terrell McClain who were the Cats DT picks last year.
10. Buffalo Bills
Melvin Ingram-DE/OLB-South Carolina
Analysis: Buffalo has no pass-rush and needs to adress that in this draft. Ingram showed his athleticism at the combine and will be able to pressure the QB early and often in his Bills career.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Luke Kuechly-LB-Boston College
Analysis: Kuechly was another huge winner at the combine. Coach Romeo Crennel builds his defenses around his LBs (see Bruschi, Teddy) and may not be able to pass up an elite defensive piece like this as he begins his tenure in KC. They need help on the O-line as well, but Kuechly is too good to pass up here.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: Seattle needs an interior pass-rush and Brockers is a raw, but high-upside talent.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: Protecting Manning or Kevin Kolb (shudder) will be a high priority and OT is an absolute mess in Arizona.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: Kirkpatrick or possibly Janoris Jenkins will be the pick here as Dallas addresses their secondary issues. They may look to upgrade through free agency and go O-line here, but Kirkpatrick is the 2nd rated CB on most draft boards and all you have to do is watch his performance in the Championship game to see his huge up-side.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Fletcher Cox-DT-Mississippi State
Analysis: As adverse to taking LB’s as he is, Coach Andy Reid loves stockpiling D-line talent and Cox had a nice combine to move up draft boards. Devon Still’s a possibility, but Cox fills the middle more consistently and the Eagles D needs a dominant force in the middle.
16. New York Jets
Fantasy Impact: The Jets need a feature back that can carry the load in “ground and pound.” Whether Sanchez returns or the Jets upgrade, Rex Ryan loves a good running game and Richardson should provide it. If Richardson goes here, he could be a very nice RB2 with RB1 upside in most leagues if he can take the feature-back role from Shonn Greene.
18. San Diego Chargers
Analysis: Mercilus has a small sample size, but could provide the pass-rush the Chargers D has been without since the Shawn Merriman era.
19. Chicago Bears
Mike Adams-OT/OG-Ohio State
Analysis: The Bears look to be agressive ont he free agent market for WR and would rather land an established receiver than take a WR in round one (they haven’t in the last 10 years). It won’t matter who Cutler has to throw to if he doesn’t get the time and protection he needs. Enter Mike Adams whose solid footwork and ability to pass-protect will overcome his struggles at the Combine.
20. Tennessee Titans
Analysis: The Titans were 31st in sacks and have 3 DE free agents. Perry had a solid combine and could go much higher than this. If he’s still on the board, he makes a lot of sense for Tennessee
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Fantasy Impact: If the Bengals go RB in the first 2 rounds, whoever they chose will get a shot at entering the Green-Dalton-rookie RB big 3 for the coming year. If it is Miller, he could win the job coming out of camp and be a high RB2, or he could be stuck in a time-share. I think it’s worth a late-round flier to find out. His blazing speed at the combine sold me that he’ll be going in the first round.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland in the #2-#4 swap)
Analysis: For the Rams to get Blackmon and an offensive line upgrade like this would be a coup for new Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
23. Detroit Lions
Analysis: A very nice value at this point in the draft that would further upgrade the D in Detroit and help bring some leadership to the group.
25. Denver Broncos
Devon Still-DT-Penn State
Analysis: Still would be a huge addition (in more ways than one) to the inside of the Broncos line. If they can develop him to press the pocket from the indside, the outside rush becomes that much more potent.
26. Houston Texans
Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame
Fantasy Impact: If the draft falls out this way, it would be a no-brainer pick for the Texans to get Floyd at this point. He’s got the tools to be a WR1 and will be able to develop across from Andre Johnson. He adds to a Texans team that looks primed to make a big run if Matt Schaub can be ready for the start of the season.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Stephen Hill-WR-Georgia Tech
Fantasy Impact: Hill’s college numbers are skewed due to the rush-based Yellow Jackets offense. He looked awesome at the combine, and many have him going to the Niners at 30. The Pats need to add a WR to complement their 2 elite TE’s. Brady would make Hill a star and quite possibly a WR2 option right away with the upside of being a WR1 as early as next year.
28. Green Bay Packers
29. Baltimore Ravens
30. San Francisco 49ers
Alshon Jeffery-WR-South Carolina
Fantasy Impact: Jeffery is a steal this late. He was expected to be the best receiver in the class before a tough 2012 where he was limited/derailed by QB issues. He and Crabtree could make the San Fran passing game way more dangerous as they complement Vernon Davis. Jeffery (or another young WR) could help Alex Smith be a solid QB2 again this coming year.
31. New England Patriots
32. New York Giants
Fantasy Impact: The Giants would be thrilled to get a TE to add to Eli’s weapons. They could go lots of different ways here and they have a history of making surprising picks so you never know…