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The NFL: Sam Farmer's mock draft

Times' NFL writer Sam Farmer takes some well-educated guesses at how the first round will unfold. A cluster of quarterbacks at the top looks like a pretty safe bet.

March 31, 2012|By Sam Farmer
  • Clockwise from top left: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil and Ryan Tannehill are projected to go in the top four in April's NFL draft.
Clockwise from top left: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil and… (Tim Casey / ESPN; Tony Gutierrez…)

Three quarterbacks in the first four picks of next month's draft? Four first-round choices from Alabama, and three each from Stanford and Louisiana State? And the rarity of as many first-round guards (two) as tackles?

That's the way Times' NFL writer Sam Farmer sees it. Here's how he thinks the opening round could go:

1. Indianapolis: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford — The Colts have made some noise recently about considering Robert Griffin III, but this pass has been telegraphed for months. It's Luck.

2. Washington: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor — Griffin has it all. He's very bright, freakishly athletic and has pinpoint accuracy on his deep passes. Now, it's on the Redskins to capitalize on that.

3. Minnesota: OT Matt Kalil, USC — The Vikings need a left tackle to hold down the spot that Bryant McKinnie maintained for the last decade. Kalil is a good fit here and will be reliable.

4. Cleveland: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M — Mike Holmgren loves Tannehill, but Browns could go for an RB (Trent Richardson), WR (Justin Blackmon) or CB (Morris Claiborne).

5. Tampa Bay: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama — If Cleveland doesn't take Richardson, the Buccaneers might find him too good to pass up, even though they also have a desperate need at corner.

6. St. Louis: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State — Sam Bradford would love having this target. Blackmon had 121 catches last season. With an aging Steven Jackson, Richardson fits too.

7. Jacksonville: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU — The Jaguars need pass rushers too, but Claiborne is a safer pick than DE Quinton Coples. GM Gene Smith is the type to play this one safe.

8. Miami: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis — If you're going to gamble, gamble on a huge guy who plays hard, and that's Poe. Of course, if Tannehill is on the board, the Dolphins will go quarterback.

9. Carolina: DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina — At his best, Coples can be dominant. The question about him is whether he gives his maximum effort snap after snap.

10. Buffalo: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa — Reiff is smart and technically sound. He's not as athletic as Kalil, but he has what it takes to lock down a starting job for the Bills for many years to come.

11. Kansas City: DT Michael Brockers, LSU — Lots of mock drafts have Poe going to the Chiefs, and that makes sense. Brockers can play inside or outside, and he upgrades the run defense.

12. Seattle: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College — The Seahawks have yet to re-sign middle linebacker David Hawthorne. Kuechly is instinctive and athletic enough to be the Day 1 starter in that spot.

13. Arizona: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina — With Joey Porter done and Clark Haggans near the end of his career, Ingram would be a welcome addition to a team needing pass rushers.

14. Dallas: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama — If all the elite pass rushers are off the board, the Cowboys will look to solidify the back end of their defense. At nearly 6-3, he has very good size for a corner.

15. Philadelphia: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State — If Cox is still around at this point, he will be hard to resist for the Eagles. He's very agile and can put more weight on his 6-foot-4 frame.

16. New York Jets: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame — The Jets need to give Mark Sanchez another receiving weapon. Floyd can stretch defenses and is big enough to go up and get the ball.

17. Cincinnati: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina — Scouts say Gilmore is a little raw and still learning to play with his back to the ball, but he's athletic and has huge potential.

18. San Diego: TE Coby Fleener, Stanford — With Antonio Gates nearing the end of his career, Fleener could take the baton and run with it. He might not last until the second round.

19. Chicago: OG David DeCastro, Stanford — Andrew Luck says DeCastro plays angry, and that's just the kind of player who can help Chicago's line. This also could be a spot for a receiver.

20. Tennessee: DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois — The Titans have only two true defensive ends on the roster, Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan. They also might use their top pick on a corner.

21. Cincinnati: OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia — The Bengals could use a running back and at least one pass rusher, but Glenn could help solidify the offensive line, something Andy Dalton would appreciate.

22. Cleveland: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor — Griffin's top target would upgrade a lackluster Browns receiving corps. The speedy, field-stretching Wright caught 108 passes last season.

23. Detroit: S Mark Barron, Alabama — Think Detroit needs to improve against the pass? Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards on the Lions. Barron has the speed to play either corner or safety.

24. Pittsburgh: OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama — Upshaw is a physical 3-4 outside linebacker who's a good fit for an aging defense. Reminds some of LaMarr Woodley.

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