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Luck was nailed on to be the first player drafted for the whole of the 2011 season and little has changed there. With the departure of Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos, the Colts most urgent need is obviously a franchise quarterback and this year’s draft class offers a very healthy selection indeed. Although Griffin made a case for his selection above Luck with an excellent showing at both the Combine and on his Pro Day, his turning down of the Colts invitation to a private workout will have sealed the deal for Luck.
The Redskins parted with a lot of draft picks to secure the number two pick in this year’s draft, and don’t expect them to use it on anyone other than Griffin. His sensational showings so far this offseason are likely to have Mike Shanahan salivating, with the Redskins hoping that Griffin can emulate Cam Newton’s success in his inaugural season with both players seemingly cut from the same mould.
Now the draft starts to get interesting. The Vikings have stated they would consider trading their pick, thus allowing the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs or Miami Dolphins to take quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but if they don’t then Kalil would eb the obvious choice. Quarterback Christian Ponder needs better protection if he is to live up to his potential in the NFL and Kalil is of the calibre to play the left tackle position immediately and is unlikely to require time at a different position along the offensive line in order to adjust to the NFL.
The Browns have one of the worst groups of running backs, if not the worst, in the entire NFL following the departure of Peyton Hillis. Richardson offers extremely good value for their pick as he not only has the speed to get on the outside of defenders, he also has the power and agility to make himself a threat running between the tackles. Throw into the mix that he is also a decent target for Colt McCoy and there is little chance of a surprise (although you’d be advised to keep your eyes on Tannehill at this point in the draft).
Claiborne is without doubt the premiere cornerback in this year’s draft and would have made a nice tandem with Joe Haden in Cleveland, but their running back needs to outweigh those of the Tampa Bay who may have to put up with the fumble-prone LeGarrette Blount for another season. Claiborne will be able to learn from the vastly experienced Ronde Barber and should compliment current starting cornerback Aqib Talib well.
Having laid their faith in current quarterback Sam Bradford, the Rams will be keen to provide him with some quality receiving options, especially following Brandon Lloyd’s move to the New England Patriots. Blackmon is the best wide receiver in the class, despite Michael Floyd having a very successful run up to the draft, and will be critical to the Rams rebuilding plans. They have the luxury of knowing they have extra first round picks for the next two years and will be comfortable with using this pick on a wide receiver despite players in this position often having difficulty adapting to the NFL.
Many people are suggesting the Jaguars could trade down and give a team the opportunity to beat Miami to Tannehill, and they could well be right. Regardless of whether or not they trade down, I still believe Jacksonville will take Floyd with their pick. He has been highly impressive in the offseason and will help either Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, neither of which have shone in the NFL thus far.
There are many permutations that could occur which would result in Tannehill already being drafted by this point, but providing they don’t occur it would take a mad man to suggest the Dolphins would go anywhere else with their pick. They have lacked a true franchise quarterback since the days of Dan Marino and Tannehill offers them the chance to finally find one. The quarterback out of Texas A&M has been undervalued due to the presence of both Luck and Griffin in this draft class, but he certainly has the skill set to assume the starters job in Miami.
Carolina are one of the favourites to trade back in the upcoming draft, with many teams coveting Melvin Ingram who they believe will still be available when the ninth overall pick comes. Similar to the Jaguars, regardless of whether or not the Panthers trade back, I believe they will take Cox. Combined with a healthy Jon Beason at inside linebacker and you could be looking at one of the better run defenses in the NFL.
The linebacker out of Boston College is undoubtedly the standout inside linebacker of this year’s class and may well fall to the Bills. Having already signed both Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency, Buffalo are making a concerted effort to improve their defense, and the addition of Kuechly to this unit may not be desperately needed, but will be highly desired by the Buffalo top brass.
Image Courtesy of Han Shot First