TNH selects the top 10 picks
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
I can tell you right now, with very few hints of sarcasm, that this year’s NFL draft is going to be filled with moves and picks you can’t, and won’t, expect.
I’m willing to say that this draft is one of the deepest in terms of both skill position players and quality late-round picks in recent memory, and I think every team has a very good chance at addressing nagging issues through rookies in 2012. But, as is the case every year, there are teams that need a lot more help than any player pickup come Thursday, Friday or Saturday can provide.
On Monday afternoon, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter said via teleconference that this year’s draft will be one of the most unpredictable in terms of movement we’ve seen. So that being said, the purpose of this column is to ATTEMPT to break down Thursday’s top-10 draft choices, and to provide a few educated guesses for the latter portion of the first round.
The reason Schefter seems so sure this will be a wacky Thursday is because, according to his sources, teams that hold picks 3-16 have expressed at least some minor interest in moving down. But for sanity’s sake, I won’t predict trades in this mock. Here’s what I came up with for the 2012 NFL Draft first round:
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck - QB, Stanford
If you can picture it, I’m taking a page out of the E-Trade baby’s book and putting on my shocked face. And to explain, Luck and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III are the two reasons I say “few hints of sarcasm.” Luck is one of the most highly-touted players coming out of college in the last 15 years, and will step into the starting role for Indy with little competition. He’s coming off his senior season, in which he completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,517 yards and 37 touchdowns. He’s an extremely cerebral passer that has it all: great accuracy and field vision, a quick release, and can move and throw well on the run. In fact, the Colts will be getting something from Luck that they haven’t had in decades: a quarterback who can move the ball with his feet. Luck added 230 yards and two touchdowns last season on the ground. Peyton Manning never did that.
2. Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III - QB, Baylor
No one had a better offseason and combine than Baylor’s RGIII. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner one-upped Luck in his senior season, throwing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns, completing 72 percent of his passes. And, to add a huge dimension to his game, Griffin tallied 699 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing in 2011. Griffin’s status rose in the offseason from a possible top-10 draft choice to vying for the right to be the Colts’ next starter. But when the Redskins moved up via trade to the second draft position, RGIII committed to them as well. He’ll work with Mike Shanahan on the playbook, and should figure to be a vast improvement over Rex Grossman and Jon Beck. The addition of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan will help Griffin in the passing game, and the emergence of running back duo Roy Helu and Evan Royster gives the Skins a multi-dimensional offense. So the question will be: how will this defense (and team in general) hold up against the rest of the NFC East?
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil - OT, USC
Kalil has immense talent on the offensive line, and if it weren’t for the fact that skill position players are so valuable in the NFL, I think Kalil would put up a fight for the top draft spot. I’ve heard a few rumors that the Vikings were looking into LSU defensive back Morris Claiborne, but when you think about value by position, the Vikings need Kalil. With Christian Ponder coming off his first season in the league and likely to be Minnesota’s future behind center, the Vikings would be smart to put Kalil in charge of keeping him protected. He was a slightly better pass blocker in college than a run blocker, which will have to change when Adrian Peterson comes back and gets the bulk of the work on offense. But overall, it should be an easy decision for the Vikings to want to keep Ponder as safe and healthy as possible.
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson - RB, Alabama
In my opinion, Cleveland had the worst offseason of any NFL team in 2012 up to this point, which was sealed when the Browns failed to move up to pick No. 2 for RGIII. So, now what? It seems they’re sticking with Colt McCoy – at least for the time being – and should build up the positions around him for now. Losing Peyton Hillis to Kansas City hurt, but Richardson would be a huge upgrade in the backfield. He has the initial burst of speed that Hillis didn’t have, and the bruising body and physicality that he did. Richardson is also great coming out of the backfield as a receiver, and will fit well into the West-Coast offense that Mike Holmgren is known for. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 2011, gaining 1,679 yards to go with 21 touchdowns.