|Robert Griffin III (10) could be the answer to Washington's quarterback problem. (US Presswire)|
There are so many variables that go into the draft process that a mock draft before the combine and the start of free agency can be a stretch.
Putting together a first round is a good exercise in identifying the early talent and the needs of the teams.
Here are three factors going in:
Quarterbacks always drive a draft. After looking at the top three quarterbacks in this draft and knowing only one team can acquire Packers free agent Matt Flynn there should be a decent amount of action at the top of this year's draft.
It may feel like this is an AFC North draft because those teams have six picks in the first round.
There's lots of talk of a guard (Stanford's David DeCastro) and a center (Wisconsin's Peter Konz) going high in the first round. There have been six centers taken in the first round since 2000 and they average going at No. 24. Since 2000 there have been two true guards taken in the first round and you have to go all the way back to 1997 to find a top 10 guard.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB Stanford -- This is a no brainer as the Colts transition from the Manning era to the Luck era without missing a beat. The Dolphins are still looking for the replacement for Dan Marino. Maybe it's Peyton Manning if he is healthy.
2. Washington Redskins (trade with St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor -- The Redskins are in a division with Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo, and unless they close the gap at quarterback they will never lead the division. Griffin is a dynamic player. He is not Cam Newton, because of his size, but he is a playmaker. Redskin GM Bruce Allen is a deal-maker and can get this move done.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC -- Matt is a very athletic left tackle with a gigantic upside. He plugs in at left tackle and you forget about the position for ten years. He may struggle early with power rushers but you can always help him with a chip block or tight end.
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4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State -- The Browns don't have playmakers on offense, making it is difficult to truly evaluate Colt McCoy. From top to bottom the people in Cleveland are pure west coast offense guys. So they may not be able to convince themselves Griffin fits what they want or shell out the compensation to move up and get him.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama -- Trent is the best running back in the draft and a very popular figure in the South. Bucs fans will love this selection and the club can part ways with LeGarrette Blount, who had some previous issues off the field.
6. St. Louis Rams (trade with Washington Redskins): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU -- New coach Jeff Fisher is defensive minded and the Rams secondary was bad last year -- in addition to being all beat up. Claiborne is the best corner in the country. The Rams can find receivers with the extra picks they'll get in the Washington deal.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina -- There were times at Senior Bowl practices that Coples looked like Julius Peppers. When he wants to he can dominate an opponent. There really aren't many players -- if any -- in this draft who have his size and versatility.
8. Carolina Panthers: Devon Still, DT, Penn State -- The Panthers could easily move down or look at DT Michael Brockers or a wide receiver. Still is a solid player who would fit right into the defensive tackle rotation.
9. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M -- New Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman coached him in college and knows him well. I just watched two of his game tapes and it is amazing how poised and lively his arm is for a guy who was a college wide receiver until halfway through 2010. There's still a chance the Dolphins could go after Peyton Manning if he is deemed healthy, and Tannehill could learn from the bench for a few years. It didn't hurt Aaron Rodgers to develop that way. Of course if the Dolphins get Matt Flynn in free agency this whole scenario goes away.
10. Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama -- Upshaw is a very versatile player who can play the run as well as rush the passer.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Reilly Reiff, OT, Iowa -- Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has great respect for players from Iowa, especially offensive linemen, because of coach Kirk Ferentz. He can line up on either side for the Chiefs.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC -- The Seahawks may be moving around in the first round if quarterback is still an issue. If they settle it in free agency with the likes of Matt Flynn they can stay put and take a versatile pass rusher like Perry. Pete Carroll knows him well and his measurable at the combine will shoot him up draft boards,
13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford -- Martin is a plug in left tackle for the Cardinal offense. They need help on the offensive line and Martin may be graded higher than Reiff on some draft boards.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina -- The Cowboys need secondary help and may consider Mark Barron or Dre Kirkpatrick. But it all starts up front, and Ingram opposite DeMarcus Ware would give the Cowboys the same one-two punch the Steelers have with Harrison and Woodley.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College -- It's a little high in the draft for a middle linebacker, but unless the Eagles secure a player like Stephen Tulloch in free agency, this kid is too good to pass up.
16. New York Jets: Mark Barron, S, Alabama -- Barron is recovering from an injury right now but he is the best safety in the country. After watching his game tapes against LSU he is just what Rex Ryan is looking for in a safety. He can blitz, play in the box and cover a half-field or deep middle.
|Dre Kirkpatrick could fill the gap Jonathan Joseph left behind. (US Presswire)|
18. San Diego Chargers: Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU -- The talented redshirt sophomore and it may all still be ahead of him. In a few games I watched he was subbed out more than I would like to see but when he turned it on he was a major force.
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame -- The Bears need receiver help and Floyd is a Day 1 starter for this team. I would look long and hard at Baylor's Kendall Wright in this spot but Floyd's size is the tiebreaker.
20. Tennessee Titans: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina -- Zach is a run-and-hit Will linebacker who can go sideline to sideline. He has blitz skills and can cover a back out of the backfield. He had an impressive Senior Bowl week.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford -- It is early to take a guard but if the Bengals want to protect Andy Dalton and run the ball better this is a wise choice.
22. Cleveland Browns: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State -- I thought Adams struggled on the left side in pass-rush situations at the Senior Bowl. Put him on the right side and watch him road grade the run game.
23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn, G/OT, Georgia -- He could play tackle or guard. I like him better at guard, much like Carl Nicks of the Saints. He is perfect for the Lions, who have a few offensive line issues and some age. Everyone is thinking back seven on defense for Detroit, but this is too good to pass up.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis -- The Steelers would love to keep Ziggy Hood at the DE spot. With an aging Casey Hampton (plus a big contract) and the retirement of backup NT Chris Hoke, it is time they get the NT of the future. Poe is athletic and massive.
25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State -- Cox can play in any scheme and has the size and athletic ability to be a force. The Broncos need help inside and Cox can be disruptive against the pass as well as plug the run game.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor -- I will be shocked if Wright actually lasts this long. I have watched six games from this past season and he has everything DeSean Jackson has and maybe more. Opposite a guy like Andre Johnson, Wright could be big trouble for opposing teams.
27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois -- The Patriots need pass rush help and this youngster had 16 sacks last year. Mark Anderson and Andre Carter are both unsigned and Mercilus would provide pressure on opposing passers.
28. Green Bay Packers: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State -- The Packers weren't the same after they lost Cullen Jenkins in free agency last year. Ryan Pickett is past his prime and a guy like Worthy has the agility and quickness to be featured in the Dom Capers defense.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin -- Konz is the best center in the draft and it is late enough in the first round to consider the replacement for Matt Birk.
30: San Francisco 49ers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama -- Jenkins went to North Alabama after off-field issues at Florida. He will fall a bit in the first round and would be a value pick here. He had a solid week at the Senior Bowl but got caught on a double move in the game. At 5-foot-9 he may wind up being a slot corner. If he doesn't run well at the combine and convince GMs that his off the field issues are behind him he could slip out of the first round.
31. New England Patriots: Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers -- The Patriots have tapped into the Rutgers program before and may do it again. Sanu is a big outside receiver who would complement big inside passing game that features two tight ends and Wes Welker. Sanu had 115 receptions last year.
32. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson -- The Giants' passing attack is tough to stop but could really use a big tight end splitting the safeties. Allen (6-4, 255) had 142 receptions and 20 touchdowns in his college career.