With the painful images of Monday's BCS Championship game still haunting football fans everywhere, it’s best to quickly move forward towards a far more entertaining event – the 2012 NFL Draft.
In preparation for a night that will undoubtedly produce more scores than LSU versus Alabama did, we at Opposing Views have put together our first official mock draft of the post-college football season.
Now, it’s important to note several things before we jump in with both feet.
First and foremost, the Peyton Manning-Indianapolis Colts-Andrew Luck conundrum is still just as dicey today as it was when “Suck for Luck” was first born. Two, the fact that Matt Barkley and Landry Jones decided to stay in school for another year is actually pretty serious but, for whatever reason, has gotten a limited amount of media attention in recent weeks. Three, coaches are still being hired and fired as we speak. As the postseason progresses and more teams solidify their power structures, a clearer picture of who is looking for what will develop.
And, finally, most importantly – don’t forget that we still haven’t gotten a chance to get our perceptions of players corrupted by fluke showings at the NFL Combine. That’s always a key in pre-draft player evaluation.
So, with all of that in mind, here is how the first five picks look at this point:
- Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. Regardless of what ends up happening with Peyton Manning, there doesn’t seem to be a plausible scenario where Luck isn’t the first pick. Either the Colts will take him and dub him the QB of the near future, or they’ll move him for a substantial amount of goodies. Either way, Luck goes first to the Colts in basically every foreseeable situation.
- St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. After an undeniably disappointing year the Rams will be looking to shore up some needs. Matt Kalil out of USC would be excellent here, but it’s hard to envision the Rams not going with a wide receiver that could provide Sam Bradford with some sort of boost. There are a number of justifiable questions about how Blackmon’s skill set will translate in the NFL, but a sizzling performance at the Fiesta Bowl may be enough to silence the doubters for now.
- Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC. The Vikings will almost certainly watch Kalil fall into their laps this Spring, and they’ll gladly scoop him up with the third overall pick. Minnesota’s line was atrocious last year and, seeing as they appear to be committed to Christian Ponder, protection for their youngster will be priority No. 1. Kalil didn’t give up a single sack last year and should be a perfect fit for this group.
- Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Alabama’s Trent Richardson would be great here, but teams appear to have it in their heads that drafting a running back high is a no-no. It makes sense for them to feel that way, of course, but it’s frustrating sometimes to see studs like Richardson fall lower than they should. The smart money is on the Browns starting anew with Robert Griffin III, and it’s hard to fault them for the pick. The Browns desperately need a new quarterback to build around, and Griffin is the second best one available in the draft.
- Tampa Bay Bucs – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. This probably the purest match you’ll see early in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Bucs clearly need someone in light of Aqib Talib being Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber’s battle with time, and nobody in this draft is better at shutting down his opponents than Claiborne. A perfect match in every sense.