The college season is well in tow, the combine is completed and all of the pro days are done, the draft is beginning to take shape. Even though the very nature of the draft makes you expect the unexpected, here is a mock draft looking forward to the big event in New York in a few weeks.
1. Indianapolis Colts Select Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford.
Luck is the consensus number one pick from mock drafters. He is seen as the cleanest prospect to come out of college in a very long time. As the son of a former professional quarterback, Oliver Luck, Andrew's adjustment to the NFL shouldn't be too taxing. The Colts will build their future around the young signal-caller.
2. Washington Redskins Select Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor.
RGII, as he is known, is a phenomenal talent who would likely be the first overall pick in most NFL drafts. From a sheer physical point of view, there are very few prospects to ever come close to his abilities. However, that is not to say that he isn't an intelligent player. Griffin ran a very high tempo offense at Baylor but he made difficult throws and pushed the ball down the field consistently. The Redskins didn't trade up with the Rams for a running-back so it's fairly safe to say that RGIII will be in DC.
3. Minnesota Vikings Select Matt Kalil, OT, USC.
Kalil would provide the Vikings with a very strong base of young offensive talent to build around. With Christian Ponder at quarterback, Percy Harvin at receiver, Kyle Rudolph at Tight End and possibly a fully healthy Adrian Peterson in the backfield, the Vikings would be able to focus the top of their upcoming drafts on defense with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns Select Moris Claiborne, CB, LSU.
I don't believe in draft running backs in the top five in today's NFL. Even if Trent Richardson is the next Adrian Peterson or Jim Brown, I'd much rather see the Browns invest in a cornerback here to dramatically improve their secondary. With Claiborne and Joe Haden playing together, the Browns pass rush would have a major aid next season.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama.
I've disliked all of the Buccaneers moves so far this off-season so they may as well take Richardson. At least with Richardson their offense would have some form of identity and a back capable of showing off Carl Nicks blocking ahead of him. Richardson is undoubtedly a special talent, but taking a back this high is always going to be a major risk. At the very least, the offense has a clear direction with him.
6. Buffalo Bills Select Justin Blackmon, WR, OSU.
Bills send a first and second round pick to the Rams for this pick.
The Bills brought in Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in the off-season to improve their defense, by trading up for Blackmon, the Bills bring in a receiver who perfectly fits their system and gives Ryan Fitzpatrick a clear number two behind Steve Johnson. They need a tackle, but playing their kind of offense makes receivers very valuable. They trade up to get the receiver ahead of Jacksonville or Miami who are possibilities.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars Select Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina.
The Jaguars have needed a defensive end for a long time. Jeremy Mincey gave them one, now Quinton Coples can be the other. Coples needs time to develop, but has the potential to be a star, this fits the Jaguars spot on the developmental curve. He won't be pressured into carrying a defense or leading the team early.
8. Miami Dolphins Select Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina.
Ryan Tannehill is no sure thing, there's no point in taking a quarterback at this point for the Dolphins. They are not desperate to win instantly with their new young head coach and they need to add to their defense. At worst, they play out a season with David Garrard/Matt Moore before landing a top quarterback next year or they trade up to draft one. By drafting Ingram, they can build a better team to welcome their new franchise quarterback next season. Ingram's versatility will be very valuable to their new hybrid defense.
9. Carolina Panthers Select Michael Brockers, DT, LSU.
The Panthers biggest need is defensive tackle. Adding Brockers to the inside eases the pressure on Jon Beason, Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. With quality play inside, the Panthers' front seven could be set to break out next year.
10. St. Louis Rams Select Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.
Floyd or David DeCastro make sense at this point for the Rams. They may take Blackmon earlier in the draft, but the signings of Steve Smith and the return of Danny Amendola mean the team would be better suited to get a bigger receiver like Floyd. Sam Bradford hasn't had a big receiver to rely on during his NFL career. Danario Alexander isn't reliable.
11. Kansas City Chiefs Select Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis.
Poe isn't as good as David DeCastro right now. However, Poe fills a greater need and Romeo Crennel should be able to coach him up. Developing him as Kelly Gregg's replacement would significantly improve the Chiefs' front seven. DeCastro is a likely move also, but a NT is more valuable to the Chiefs right now and in the future. The Chiefs could be tempted to take Ryan Tannehill here too.
12. Seattle Seahawks Select Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.
The Seahawks desperately need help at linebacker. Kuechly is very highly rated by most NFL scouts and draftniks. His impact could be huge in Seattle from day one as Pete Carroll continues to add to what is quickly becoming a very talented defense.
13. Arizona Cardinals Select Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa.
Levi Brown may be back, but the Cardinals could still use another tackle to protect whoever starts at quarterback next year. David DeCastro and Ryan Tannehill continue to fall.
14. Detroit Lions Select David DeCastro, G, Stanford.
Lions give up their first and third this year, as well as a second next year to move up nine places.
The Lions are desperate to improve the interior of their offensive line. DeCastro would be a major addition to their offense.
15. Philadelphia Eagles Select Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M.
Andy Reid values the quarterback position. He will understand the value of a quality backup and stop Tannehill's slide before any quarterback needy teams can trade back into the round for him. With Michael Vick's age and injury proneness, the team always needs quality second on the depth chart.
16. New York Jets Select Nick Perry, OLB, USC.
Perry will move from defensive end to outside linebacker for the Jets. The Jets need a pass rush still despite adding Muhammed Wilkerson last year. Perry should provide that.
17. Cincinnati Bengals Select Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor.
RGIII's favorite target, Kendall Wright has a bright future at the next level. Playing with AJ Green and Andy Dalton, that future should start straight away.
18. San Diego Chargers Select Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.
Dre Kirkpatrick may be the bigger name, but Gilmore is the better prospect. With Antoine Cason having an inconsistent campaign in 2011 and Quintin Jammer closer to 40 than 20, the Chargers need to add to their secondary. A pass rusher is possible, but Jarrett Johnson signing on makes for a crowded front seven.
19. Chicago Bears Select Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.
Bears fans will need to be reminded that tight ends do still exist after years with Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator. Fleener's speed and size will be a welcome addition for Jay Cutler. With a pair of backs now on the roster to carry the ball and question marks over the team's other receivers behind Brandon Marshall, Fleener fits a few needs in Chicago.
20. Tennessee Titans Select Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State.
The Titans brought in Kamerion Wimbley, but need to add a second starter next to Jurrell Casey instead of Senderrick Marks. Cox fits the need.
21. Cincinnati Bengals Select Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama.
The Bengals were never afraid of adding a character or two. Kirkpatrick is a character, but he's also a fine corner. Nate Clements remains, but Kirkpatrick could challenge him for his place from day one.
22. Cleveland Browns Select Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina.
Jeffrey gives the team a rangy receiver who can stretch the field. After passing on Richardson earlier, at least Shurmur gives McCoy a capable second starting receiver alongside Greg Little.
23. Dallas Cowboys Select Mark Barron, SS, Alabama.
The Cowboys shouldn't be deterred from taking Barron despite re-signing Sensabaugh and adding Brodney Pool. They need secondary help and could move Barron around the field.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers Select Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin.
Currently, the Steelers have Maurkice Pouncey as their starting center. Pouncey's injury struggles have been evident so far while his backup, Doug Legursky, is slated to be a starting guard next year. With Konz, the team could either play him guard from day one and drop Legursky back to being solely a backup center (or backup guard depending on who they prefer at center, he or Konz).
25. Denver Broncos Select Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia.
Peyton Manning needs protection. Simple as.
26. Houston Texans Select Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech.
Hill may not be a proven route runner, but his physical talents could see him dominate second cornerbacks playing across from Andre Johnson and with a strong running game. His ability to block will be invaluable to the Texans also.
27. New England Patriots Select Donta Hightower, LB, Alabama.
His versatility will have Bill Belichick salivating. Hightower, Spikes and Mayo? Yes, please!
28. Green Bay Packers Select Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Ilinois.
A pass rushing talent to replace Erik Walden who could only beat his girlfriend last year.
29. Baltimore Ravens Select Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State.
The Ravens have recently expressed concerns over Bryant McKinney's conditioning. They should bring in another tackle either way to groom as his eventual replacement. Adams needs to be coached, but should provide quality depth at both positions while Jah Reid moves to guard.
30. San Francisco 49ers Select Lamar Miller, RB, Miami.
Jim Harbaugh didn't get the quarterback he wanted, but by surrounding Alex Smith with speed and talent, he should create one of the better offenses in the league next year. Adding Brandon Jacobs shouldn't put them off taking Miller who could electrify the offense along with the additions of Moss and Manningham.
31. New England Patriots Select Andrew Branch, OLB, Clemson.
Going back to a 3-4 defense, the Patriots could have a linebacking group of Donta Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Branch. Branch is a very fast pass rushing specialist who would help a secondary returning Ras-I Dowling, a rookie from last year.
32. New York Giants Select Chris Polk, RB, Washington.
The Giants hope to draft the bruising down hill runner that Brandon Jacobs sporadically was during his time in New York.
Cian Fahey, as well as being a blogger for Irishcentral, is an NFL writer for the Guardian, a featured columnist and part time TNT writer for Bleacherreport as well as lead fantasy writer at FFBLife.
You can find his tweets @Cianaf