Games in the NFL are won and lost in the trenches, so drafting and securing a strong offensive line is the first thing a team must do to be successful. The italicized teams will be the ones sure to go after a lineman in the first round.
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
With Andrew Luck backing up Peyton Manning, the storylines of Indianapolis would never cease.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Matt Kalil, OT, USC
While the Rams may take an offensive lineman here, they have so many options that it’s not a make-or-break situation to take Matt Kalil at this time.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
While LSU may have lost in the title game, Morris Claiborne proved he would be a good fit for Minnesota at No. 3.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The BCS National Championship only cemented Trent Richardson’s legacy at Alabama and made Cleveland’s decision that much easier.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
See Trent Richardson.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
I see Mike Shanahan in a dark basement somewhere trying to come up with crazy schemes to use for Griffin. Sorry, bud, you don’t stand a chance.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
If Blackmon falls this far, the Jacksonville Jaguars would be fools not to take him.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-10)*: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
It’s just a matter of time before it starts to look like a defensive coordinator is drafting.
9. Miami Dolphins (6-10)*: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
With Matt Barkley staying at USC and Matt Moore possibly out of the future plans, the new coach in Miami might want a project. Tannehill has the talent, but needs work.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
There is no better offensive lineman in the draft than Iowa tackle Riley Reiff. That’s good news for a Buffalo Bills team that needs all the help it can get.
At 6’6” and 300 pounds, Reiff could be the blindside protector that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has lacked for his entire tenure with Buffalo. If the Bills really feel Fitzpatrick is the QB of the future, they need to protect him.
Reiff is a good start, but the Bills have flaws across the board on the line. If they want to contend in the AFC next season, they need to make their offensive line the focal point of the offseason.
11. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)*: Nick Perry, DE, USC
While this is far above where he should be going, Perry fills the need of a pass-rushing defensive end and also strokes Pete Carroll’s massive ego.
12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)*: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With Romeo Crennel taking over the helm for the Kansas City Chiefs, that means the team will be drafting fundemantals. That means no flashy wide receivers.
That also means Matt Cassel may be getting the protection he so desperately needs in the pocket when the Chiefs take Jonathan Martin from Stanford. Martin was a tank protecting Andrew Luck’s blindside and will look to do the same at the NFL level.
Martin is strong enough to play against the pass and the run, and Cassel's lack of mobility will limit the wear on his buddy.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram is the kind of pass-rushing end that Arizona needs desperately.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-7): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Dallas needs serious help at the linebacker position and Kuechly is the best on the board. Perfect fit.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
There is no better guard in the 2012 draft than David DeCastro from Stanford. DeCastro is another part of the vaunted offensive line that protected Andrew Luck throughout his career.
DeCastro has the size, strength and power to be a stellar NFL offensive lineman, but more time with a great offensive line coach will allow him to fix some of his flaws.
While DeCastro can be exposed in pass coverage at times, if he went to a team like Philadelphia in the first round, a legendary line coach like Howard Mudd would have the kid a star in no time.
Philadelphia could slide DeCastro to left guard and move Todd Herremans to the right tackle position that the Eagles have lacked at for too long.
16. New York Jets (8-8): Quinton Coples, DE/DT, UNC
There is no defensive position that Rex Ryan likes to draft more than versatile linemen. Coples is a dream come true.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Another toy for Andy Dalton to play with would make Cincinnati dangerous in the AFC North.
18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
One of the better cornerbacks out of this draft, Dennard is physical off the line but can play tight on fast receivers and doesn’t bite on play fakes very often.
19. Chicago Bears (8-8): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Jay Cutler was destroyed last season by the poor play of the offensive line and the fact that Mike Martz doesn’t care about his well-being.
The Chicago Bears allowed 49 sacks and the quarterback was hit 87 times, making anything that happens in the backfield a hit-or-miss situation.
Chicago needs to fix the interior of its line, and that starts with the drafting of Wisconsin center Peter Konz.
Konz reminds me of a Jeff Saturday-type center that can take control of the offensive line and actually protect Cutler for as long as he is in Chi-town.
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Vontaze Burfict, LB, ASU
Burfict is a wild card with his immaturity, but could be the best linebacker out of this draft.
21. Detroit Lions (10-6): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins will be the steal of this draft, but immaturity issues won’t stop the Lions from taking that risk.
22. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Bengals will be looking defense at this pick and Cox is the best on the board.
23. Denver Broncos (8-8): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
While John Fox has to yearn for a defensive pick, his lack of faith in any of the running backs in his stable will certainly have him falling over himself to grab Miller.
24. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
If the Browns trade for Kevin Kolb, they will need targets that would fit into their West Coast scheme. Jeffery fits perfect.
25. Houston Texans (10-6): Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Mark Barron showed against LSU why teams should be making a big deal over his size and strength. I wouldn’t be surprised if his stock continues to climb.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Do we really need to explain why Pittsburgh needs offensive linemen?
In case we do, the Steelers allowed 42 sacks this season and let their quarterback get hit another 77 times. Even with Ben Roethlisberger being a tank, he was forced to miss time because injuries were piling up.
Glenn was the best offensive lineman in the SEC this season, and that’s saying a lot. If he falls his far, Pittsburgh would be lucky to grab him.
27. New York Giants (9-7): Zach Brown, OLB, UNC
Depending on how the team plays free agency, this could be anything from an offensive lineman to a cornerback.
28. New England Patriots (via NO 13-3): Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
While many draft experts are high on Upshaw, I see an undersized linebacker not fast enough to make up for his deficiencies. Bill Belichick sees a challenge.
29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Another linebacker for Baltimore? Why are we surprised?
30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Another year of Alex Smith and people believing he can change. Like a jaded lover, the 49ers keep going back.
31. New England Patriots (13-3): Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
There is no question the Patriots need to find youth at wide receiver, and the sure hands and size of Sanu will have Belichick salivating.
32. Green Bay Packers (15-1): Chris Polk, RB, Washington
The Packers are hoping Polk could turn into the steal of the draft and they could acquire a running back that can help the offense consistently.
*Order determined by coin flip at NFL Scouting Combine
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