The NFL draft is coming up this April, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that NFL fans cannot be more excited.
The NFL offseason is extremely long and anything to do with the NFL is overly exciting. Free agency in March, the draft in April, camps in July, training camp and then, finally, the NFL season.
But all of that is stretched out over a lengthy offseason schedule that makes fans cherish everything that comes at them and count down towards the next NFL event. I am a fan that watches the Pro Bowl because it is the last time I'll be able to watch my favorite players for a long time.
But that's why I like the NFL draft.
It is a time when my favorite team (who happens to be the Packers) drafts young talent that could turn into one of my favorite players down the road. It's always exciting and provides great discussion before and after the fact.
Talking about discussion, I am here to provide my predictions on what teams will draft which players in the first round this April. This is the part of the event that creates great discussion before the event, and the next part of the discussion will be live blogs of the draft.
For now, though, here is my first round mock draft.
Andrew Luck to the Colts is a no-brainer. Everything I could say about this selection is stuff that you will all have heard before. The fact is that Luck is being drafted first overall and there is no way the Colts will trade this pick unless the Packers trade Aaron Rodgers and three first round picks for it.
And if that happens, my name is Flimbo Jackson.
The Rams may need help at a lot of positions on the field, and they also are going to want to add plenty of weapons for Sam Bradford in the passing game, so they need offensive line help the most. Weapons for Bradford aren't going to matter if Bradford is on IR.
Bradford is the Rams' future and the Rams need to protect him. Drafting Matt Kalil in the first round this year is the best way they can start doing that, and it would help St. Louis fans sleep at night knowing Bradford has a better chance of not getting hit in the backfield repeatedly every game.
Also, with the surplus of receivers in free agency this year, the Rams should really try to spend money on a couple of them if they want to add weapons for Bradford. With Kalil available in the first round, St. Louis has to take him over any receiver they may want to draft.
This was a hard prediction to make because there are two amazing players available here that could fill two gaping holes on the Vikings' roster.
Morris Claiborne would be a great draft pick by Minnesota because the have a poor pass defense and in a division where Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers are all starting, you need to have a good pass defense.
However, I think drafting a player that will likely become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL is too good to pass up.
The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder in the first round last season in what was a huge investment at 12th overall. They are clearly serious about him, so now it's time they start adding weapons for him to throw to.
Blackmon would easily become Ponder's favorite target and, again, in a division where there are great offenses, the Vikings need to also have a great offense to compete.
If, at this point, Robert Griffin is still available, the Browns would definitely be expected to select him. However, I think they will ultimately pass on Griffin.
Outside of the fact that there's a good chance someone will trade up to get Griffin before the fourth overall selection, I think the Browns should stick with Colt McCoy.
Colt has a lot of potential and the Browns should not just give up on him. If the Browns supplied the proper help around him, he could still be a really good quarterback in the NFL.
Enter Trent Richardson.
Richardson would replace Peyton Hillis, a free agent who had a poor 2011 season. Trent has the potential to be one of the best running backs in the NFL and the Browns would immediately be a greatly improved team.
McCoy would have a great running game to rely on and all Cleveland would need to do after this pick is get some players for McCoy to throw to in the passing game.
The Brown's defense is already good enough—they just need the offense and for McCoy to realize his potential. They may regret not selecting Griffin, but they might not.
It just seems too early to give up on Colt McCoy when he really hasn't even warranted being given up on.
Considering how god-awful the Buccaneers' defense was in 2011, this pick is another no-brainer. If Claiborne is available, the Buccaneers are definitely drafting him fifth overall.
Claiborne would give Tampa Bay a starting cornerback that is an All-Pro talent. Also, Ronde Barber isn't getting any younger (or any better).
I'm not going to assume many free agent signings in this mock draft, but I will assume that Matt Flynn winds up in Miami. With his former offensive coordinator becoming the Dolphins' head coach, they are most likely the favorites to land Flynn in March this year.
That still leaves Washington with a hole at quarterback, then, so look for them to draft Robert Griffin this year. They might actually trade up to get him, but in this mock Griffin falls to the sixth pick—which makes it easy for the Redskins.
Washington needs a quarterback and they will likely draft the second-best quarterback in the draft this offseason.
The Jaguars could use help at a lot of positions, like WR, DE and CB, but they could really use an OT. With Riley Reiff falling to seventh overall, the Jaguars should definitely pick him up.
Reiff would protect Blaine Gabbert (or whoever is starting or Jacksonville after they cut Gabbert two days before the season) for the next 10 years and he would do a great job at it.
He is the second-best tackle in the draft this year, and the Jaguars would love to have him.
With Cam Newton becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league last season, the Panthers' offense is set for the next couple of seasons. They could use some offensive linemen and some more receivers besides Steve Smith, but overall they need to draft defensively with their first pick this year.
They had a bad rush defense last year, so getting a defensive lineman is a top priority, but they also could use an edge rusher because going up against Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and even Josh Freeman in the same division will be tough for the next couple of years.
The drafting of Quinton Coples would provide Carolina a good defensive end that can rush the passer, but he also is very good against the run. He obviously can't do both at the same time, but he is the best player available for what the Panthers want to take in this year's draft.
Besides Vontae Davis, the Dolphins could really use a great cornerback in their defensive backfield. If Dre Kirkpatrick is available at ninth overall, the Dolphins would be hard pressed to not select him.
Kirkpatrick has terrific speed and would be a great fit with the Miami Dolphins. Miami ranked 25th in pass defense in 2011 and need to upgrade their cornerback position. Adding Kirkpatrick is one of the best ways to do that.
Outside of his arrest on marijuana charges recently, he's the best option for Miami at ninth overall.
I'm not necessarily saying that Bill should draft Floyd here, but I am predicting it will happen.
The Bills do need a lot of help with their pass rush as it was nowhere to be found last season, but they may fall in love with Floyd this offseason. Floyd has really good hands, wins a lot of jump balls, is really dedicated to the game, and is a big and athletic play maker.
The Bills might love the idea of pairing him with Stevie Johnson (or replacing Johnson if he walks out in free agency). Whether you believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick or not, the Bills organization might believe in him—and providing him with weapons is a great way to try and prove some of the fans wrong.
The Chiefs really need an offensive tackle because Barry Richardson absolutely blew last year at right tackle. At eleventh overall and Martin available, the Chiefs will most likely try to upgrade their tackle position.
Martin is a great run-blocker who would be perfect in Kansas City with Jamaal Charles already there. He would start right away at right tackle for the Chiefs and either be their right or left tackle of the future.
The Seahawks would be very excited if Still fell to them in this year's draft. Still is a little inconsistent, but he has all the tools needed to be a premier defensive lineman in the NFL.
The Seahawks could use Still has a guy to take some pressure off of Brandon Mebane and Chris Clemons, and it would give them a very good defensive line overall.
There are other players available at this pick the Seahawks could look at, but with Devon Still still available, they would likely jump at the opportunity.
The Arizona Cardinals have three major positions of need that they would likely draft in the first round: OT, LB and WR. Since Martin, Reiff,and Kalil are all gone and so are Floyd and Blackmon, the Cardinals would most likely look to take the best linebacker in the draft.
Luke Kuechly is an absolute beast and would be a great fit on the Cardinals as a middle linebacker. He is a sure tackler and has phenomenal instincts as a player. He also can tell where a play is going very soon after the snap of the ball.
If this is the way the draft falls, the Cardinals would still be happy with Luke Kuechly as their first pick.
David DeCastro is the best interior lineman in this year's draft and he will most likely go high. The Dallas Cowboys are a team that is likely to draft DeCastro high because they need a good interior lineman to help protect Tony Romo.
Bill Nagy is one of the Cowboys' current guards and he was only okay before he went on IR last year. The Cowboys could really use a guy that can come in and start immediately at one of their guard spots and solidify that position on their offensive line.
Drafting DeCastro is probably the best way to go about that in this year's draft, for he is a likely player to be available and he is the best at his position in the draft.
The Eagles desperately need help at their linebacker position, and with their first pick in the draft they could be looking to add a linebacker to their defense.
With Luke Kuechly gone, the Eagles will still probably like Vontaze Burfict in the first round to help out their defense.
Burfict is a great fit in a 4-3 defense and would give the Eagles someone who can play in open space and make plays and/or tackles. He's a physical player and would make a lot of big plays in Philadelphia.
Look for the Eagles to draft either Kuechly or Burfict with their first pick in the draft.
The Jets would most likely be really excited that Upshaw fell to them at 16. They could use help at wide receiver in the draft, but with the top two receivers already gone, they would try to look elsewhere first. When they see that Upshaw has fallen, they would likely make him their selection.
Upshaw was a 3-4 outside linebacker in college but a lot of people would like him at DE in a 4-3 in the NFL. The Jets run a 3-4 so Upshaw would come in and play outside linebacker. He is a disruptive pass-rusher and would fit right in with New York and what they're trying to do.
The Bengals would love to get a running back in this draft so they could look to draft Lamar Miller. However, they also have the 21st pick in the first round this year, and the three teams picking 18, 19 and 20 are not going to be drafting a running back this early.
So, the Bengals will see Alshon Jeffery available and this’ll be the second year in a row where they draft a wide receiver with their first pick.
If the Bengals are serious about Andy Dalton being their future, then he can never have too many weapons to throw the ball to. Pairing A.J. Green up with Alshon Jeffery would make a sick due at WR and it may be too good of a scenario to pass up.
The Chargers need a linebacker who can rush the passer in this draft. Nick Perry is a really strong option as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and the Chargers are most likely going to take him if he gets to pick 18.
San Diego has missed the playoffs two years in a row now and they need to find a way to get over the hump. They have most of the players needed on offense, while they really want to improve their defense in the first round this year.
If Perry is already taken, the Chargers could look at a different position, but their goal is definitely the pass-rushing linebacker Nick Perry.
The Bears need an offensive tackle, a wide receiver and a cornerback. However, they also need a defensive end to compliment Julius Peppers on their line.
When Phil Emery sees that Melvin Ingram has fallen, I don’t see a way he doesn’t take him unless Michael Floyd is still available.
Ingram would play defensive end opposite Peppers on the Bears’ defensive line. He is a great pass-rusher and he is good against the run, something the Bears pride themselves on.
Ingram would immediately fill their need at DE and there’s not much more you can ask for in a first round pick.
Peter Konz is the best center in this year’s draft. He is a great run and pass-blocker and would probably start at center for any team that drafts him.
The other four starters on the Titans' offensive line besides center are all average or above average. Drafting Konz to become their center would immediately make the Titans have one of the better lines in the NFL—on paper.
If Konz falls to pick No. 20, the Titans will almost have to take him.
Now the Bengals address their need at running back with Lamar Miller. Cedric Benson is not going to get it done in an offense that features Dalton, Green and now Alshon Jeffery.
They are going to want to draft a talented running back high to give Cincinnati one of the most exciting young offenses in the league.
Miller is a powerful back that really explodes through the hole. He would take a lot of pressure off Dalton in the offense and would make the Bengals' offense really tough to game-plan for.
If they are able to get Jeffery and Miller this April, the Bengals’ offense will be young and ridiculous.
The Browns have already drafted Trent Richardson in this mock, so now they should be looking to give Colt McCoy some weapons to throw to in the passing game.
Kendall Wright is a beast and the Browns would love to have him in their passing game.
Wright is a physical player that can develop into a Pro Bowl-type player. With just their first two picks in the draft, Cleveland will give Colt McCoy one of the best young running back talents in the league and a go-to guy from the pocket.
Even if they draft Robert Griffin, they could very well be looking to go receiver at this pick.
The Detroit Lions need to upgrade their offensive line. Matthew Stafford is their franchise quarterback and he just posted a historic season at the age of 23.
The Lions are in luck with their franchise guy because they already have a good amount of weapons around him. They could still use a running back, but they have Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew already on the roster.
Their defense has some holes still, but if Mike Adams is available here they almost have to take him.
Adams is a very good tackle and could become the Lions' future at left tackle. They need to invest in Matt Stafford’s protection because they want to keep him healthy like he was last year.
Adams is a great option and the Lions would love to have him.
The Steelers have seemingly always had a great defense, so drafting a defensive tackle should be no surprise.
After Casey Hampton tore his ACL in the Denver playoff game, the Steelers should really be looking at the defensive line and/or someone to play nose tackle in the draft.
Dontari Poe would be a great option for the Steelers and he could play right away in 2012 on the defensive line.
Hampton could return next year but he probably won’t be one hundred percent until the end of 2012 or the start of 2013, so this makes the drafting of Poe almost necessary for Pittsburgh.
The Broncos played good defense for a lot of 2011 and really helped Tim Tebow win a lot of games for the Broncos. However, their pass defense didn’t play very well against the Patriots both times they played them.
Obviously, Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but those games show that the Broncos could use help in the defensive backfield.
Also, Champ Bailey is not getting any younger and the Broncos could really use a young cornerback that is starting caliber.
Drafting Janoris Jenkins in the first round would fulfill their need at corner, and Jenkins could really develop into a great player.
The Texans would have challenged for a Super Bowl title last season if it hadn’t been for a massive amount of injuries. They will be healthy next year, so hopefully they can remain that way and make a run in 2012.
The Texans have Andre Johnson as their star wide receiver, but it really showed when he went down that they could use maybe one more option in the passing game.
Super Bowl winners recently have had multiple options in the passing game, so the Texans should be looking to add another threat for Matt Schaub.
Mohamed Sanu is a great talent and he could be a great compliment to Andre Johnson for the Texans in 2012 and beyond.
The Patriots' defense last season was not very good, yet they still were able to reach the Super Bowl. If they can fix their holes on defense, they will be the favorites to win it all in 2012.
New England could really use a pass-rusher in the draft, but they could also use a first round talent at safety. The Patriots also pick at No. 31 in this year's draft and there are a few first round talents at pass-rusher still available right now (in this mock).
However, Mark Barron is really the only true first round talent at safety this year. The Patriots might want to play it safe and draft Mark Barron now instead of waiting until pick No. 31. Then, they can draft the best pass-rusher available in their next pick.
Barron would really help out their pass defense, and with some other moves this offseason, the Patriots could be right back in the Super Bowl next year.
The Packers are the other team with the great offense but bad defense. They really could use a CB, 3-4 DE and OLB opposite Clay Matthews. If they are sitting at pick 28 with Whitney Mercilus available to them, they would most likely pick him up without hesitation.
Mercilus would come to Green Bay and be their OLB to compliment Clay Matthews. He is a dominant pass-rusher and has all the talent needed to be a force in Dom Capers’ defense.
He would immediately improve the Packers’ defense, and after their collapse in 2011, that’s exactly what they need.
The Ravens would draft Glenn to start at either guard position for them in 2012.
Glenn is a great talent on the offensive line and when your offense is built around running the football (Ray Rice), you can never get enough run-blocking linemen.
Glenn could also start at right tackle for the Ravens if they are in need of switching things up on the line in the upcoming years. They may not need to, but it is a good option to have and is just another reason the Ravens go with Glenn with their first pick.
The 49ers’ defense last year was outstanding and was a big reason why they made it to the NFC Championship game. They were a historic run stopping team and their offense did just enough to get by. However, they only ranked 15th in pass defense in 2011.
If they can upgrade their pass defense and make it as good as their run defense, the 49ers will be a perennial playoff team.
Also, Carlos Rogers is a free agent and may leave this offseason. If that happens, the 49ers are basically going to have to draft a CB with their first pick.
Dennard is a good corner who is good in coverage and a pretty physical defender. He’d be a great fit in the 49ers' defense next season if this is the route they decide to go in the first round.
This is where the Patriots draft an elite pass-rusher. Jared Crick is great at getting to the quarterback and would immediately improve the Patriots’ defense and make them one of the best contenders for next year’s Super Bowl.
Crick can play defensive end in a 4-3 and OLB in a 3-4, so the Patriots aren’t going to have to worry about only playing him in one scheme. He also is more of a pass-rushing specialist right now, but that’s really all the Patriots want out of this pick.
They would be very happy with Crick, and Crick would most likely be ecstatic about going to New England.
After Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum both tore their ACL’s in the Super Bowl this year, the Giants now face a need at tight end. The good news for them is the fact that the best tight end in the draft will most likely be available when they pick at 32.
There is a growing number of elite tight ends emerging in the NFL right now, so the Giants would be smart to draft Allen. Injuries have almost forced them into finding a good tight end this offseason, but in this mock they will not have to look to hard to find one.
Allen would work great in New York as long as Eli Manning is throwing him the ball, and you will definitely not hear any complaints from Eli with this selection.