1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck
After watching Peyton Manning take this franchise from obscurity to legitimacy, there is no way the Colts don’t take Luck. Robert Griffin III is a great player, but his rise up the charts, above Luck, happened after the season ended. That’s how you know it’s mostly hype-driven, not merit-based.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III
By trading up to the No. 2 pick, the Redskins made it clear that they’re going to take RGIII. There is very little mystery surrounding this selection. The far more intriguing thing to watch is if, after giving up all they gave up, Washington will be able to surround their new quarterback with enough talent to make him successful. Time will tell.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil
Luck and Griffin are the two best quarterback prospects available in this draft, and that’s why they will be going Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. In that same spirit, Kalil is far and away the best tackle prospect available in this draft. The fact that the Minnesota Vikings desperately need a quality left tackle is just icing on the cake. Christian Ponder may phone this pick in himself.
4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon
WR, Oklahoma St.
The Browns want to spruce up their offense with their first round draft pick, that much we know for certain. If this team wasn’t willing to trade up for RGIII, unquestionably the second best quarterback available, then they definitely won’t make a move for Ryan Tannehill. That means Colt McCoy will either get an upgrade at wide receiver or running back. For whatever reason, running backs have gotten severely devalued over the last few years – which leaves the best wide receiver in this draft, Blackmon, as the logical choice.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne
You could make a strong case for the Bucs selecting either Richardson and Claiborne here. However, given the fact that Tampa Bay is sort of set at running back, it would make sense to address the cornerback position with arguably the best corner available in the draft. Claiborne is perfectly built for the NFL game, and he’ll be the ideal piece to make fans forget about Aqib Talib’s legal woes and Ronde Barber sweating dust.
6. St. Louis Rams: Trent Richardson
Richardson is a ridiculously complete player, and it’s almost criminal that he’s suffering because of the slow and steady devaluation of the running back position over the last few years. The Rams would love to nab Blackmon here and give Sam Bradford a wide receiver to throw to, but being a better receiving option than Steven Jackson is should make Richardson a solid consolation prize.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Riley Reiff
The Jaguars have a number of holes that need patching, but this seems like the most logical move. While getting Blaine Gabbert some skill position help would probably help the young quarterback’s development, it wouldn’t help him more than someone who will keep his backside out of the dirt. This isn’t a flashy pick and won’t sell any tickets, but there aren’t really any players left at this point that would have that sort of impact anyway.