By all accounts, that essentially means they're in the mix to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
But if the draft was held today (Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011), would things actually play out that way?
I asked myself that question this morning, and it got me to thinking. I don't think it's 100 percent set in stone that Luck is going to be the No. 1 pick anyway, and I actually don't think he would be if the draft was held today.
To illustrate the point, I went ahead and wrote up a mock of the first 10 picks of the 2012 draft as they might play out if it was held today. I have a feeling these projections won't prove to be very useful a few months from now, but I figure they should lead to some fruitful discussions down in the comments section.
Start the show whenever you're ready.
Note: The order I came up with was determined by several different factors. First and foremost, teams are arranged by their records, and after that it was determined by strength of schedule, point differential and the overall strength of each team's division. Beyond the Top 10, I arranged teams by record and by projected finish.
This is why I don't think Luck would be the No. 1 pick if the draft was held today. Because the Rams are tied for having the worst record in the league at 0-4, their strength of schedule is lacking, and because they play in the worst division in football, they should be considered the favorite for the No. 1 pick.
And as, um, "luck" would have it, the Rams are the one team in the mix for the top pick that really doesn't need Andrew Luck. Sam Bradford is struggling this year, but not enough to make the Rams pull the plug on him just two years after making him the No. 1 overall pick.
Instead, I can see the Rams going for Alshon Jeffery if they end up with the No. 1 pick. It's debatable whether or not he or Justin Blackmon is the best wide receiver in the 2012 draft class, but I have a feeling Jeffery will end up being viewed as the safer pick of the two.
He'll have Calvin Johnson to thank for that. Scouts have been comparing Jeffery to Megatron for a while now, and that's a very good thing for Jeffery given the kind of year Johnson is having.
If Luck doesn't go No. 1, he'll sure as hell go No. 2.
And right now, that means he would likely head to the Colts.
Indy is also 0-4 with a relatively weak strength of schedule, and the AFC South is not quite the strongest division in football.
Despite all the reports (see SI.com) about Colts vice chairman Bill Polian scouting Luck in person early in September, I have to admit that the idea of the Colts drafting him still seems weird.
But make no mistake, the Colts will draft Luck if they get the chance. They can see the writing on the wall that Peyton Manning's career is coming to a swift end, and they need to prepare for the future before it arrives.
To do that, they need Luck.
Before long, the Dolphins are going to need a new head coach, and when April rolls around, they're going to need a new quarterback.
If they get those, they'll be on their way.
If the Dolphins are put in a scenario where they can't get Luck, they'll look to draft the next-best QB.
Until further notice, that's Oklahoma's Landry Jones.
Jones is nowhere near as talented as Luck, but don't take that to mean Jones isn't worthy of a top pick. He has size, he has arm strength and he's been a very productive player at Oklahoma. He's had some issues with his accuracy, but you could say that about pretty much every quarterback prospect who has ever come along.
Well, except Luck.
For many years, Bryant McKinnie was a fixture at left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.
Then he got really, really fat, and the Vikings released him. If they want to protect Christian Ponder's health, which is a big concern given his issues with injuries at Florida State, they need to make sure his blind side is safe.
I think USC's Matt Kalil would be the perfect man for the job. He's a behemoth of a man, and he's shown fantastic athleticism and footwork.
If this is how things actually play out, my guess is you won't hear Ponder complaining.
Before we go any further, I should clarify that I think the Seahawks are still very much in the mix for the No. 1 pick. They haven't looked that bad in the last two weeks, but they're still a bad team.
Either way, the Seahawks would not have the No. 1 pick if the draft was today. Unfortunately for them, that means no Luck.
And if they get the No. 5 pick, that means no Jones either.
If Pete Carroll wants to draft a quarterback, that means he'll have to turn to Matt Barkley.
Yes, the same Matt Barkley that Carroll recruited and nurtured before leaving for the NFL when the going got tough in 2010.
Make no mistake, No. 5 is way too high for Barkley's talents.
But you have to admit, this would be too perfect.
The Cardinals have a number of needs they're going to have to address in the 2012 draft, among them being offensive line help and bodies for their secondary.
They could also use a pass-rusher who could strike fear into the hearts of enemy quarterbacks.
Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict is that and much more.
If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Burfict play, all you really need to know is that he is an absolute menace. Rushing the quarterback is his specialty, but he can also make all the plays between the sidelines. Some think he's the next Patrick Willis, and others think he might even be the next Ray Lewis.
Yeah, he could be that good.
Provided we can all agree that Cam Newton is pretty good, the last thing the Panthers are going to need on draft day is a quarterback.
The only trouble is that they could use one of just about everything else.
Beyond Newton, Steve Smith and Charles Johnson, the Panthers are a little lacking in talented players. The best idea for them, in my opinion, will be to take the best player available regardless of position.
If they end up with the No. 7 pick, I think that will mean drafting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. He's not the same kind of physical freak Patrick Peterson is, but Claiborne has quickly emerged as probably the best pure cover corner in this year's draft class. He won't need much polishing at the next level.
The Panthers could go any number of directions with their pick, but Claiborne certainly wouldn't be a bad pick.
I'm not sure if you know this, but Justin Blackmon is really good.
Like, really good.
Sure, he doesn't possess the physical gifts of Alshon Jeffery, but Blackmon's production at Oklahoma State is no fluke. He's good for 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown grab in every game, and he gets them by working hard to get separation and aggressively going after the ball.
These are things you want wide receivers to do.
As you may have noticed, wide receiver is an area of weakness for the Jaguars. They can get away with it as long as Maurice Jones-Drew is getting tough yards, but the Jags are going to have to provide Blaine Gabbert with a top-flight receiver if they want to maximize his potential.
The Chiefs are off to a 1-3 start, but I don't think their problem is a general lack of talent. They have plenty of it, but they have been done in by some bad injuries and some questionable decisions among the coaching staff.
If there is one area where the Chiefs could use a little extra talent, though, it's on their offensive line.
If they can get him, I think Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin would be a perfect fit.
We talk a lot about Andrew Luck, but Stanford boasts a pretty good rushing attack as well. Martin has a lot to do with that, as he is dynamite clearing lanes for Stepfan Taylor.
Given the chance, he'll do the same for Jamaal Charles—once Charles is healthy, of course.
Kyle Orton has had to put up with a lot of guff for being a useless hack this season, but we tend to overlook the fact that he has virtually no rushing attack to lean on.
Whether or not Orton will be back in 2012 is another headache for another day, but I think they would do well to address their running back problems in the draft.
If they can get him, Alabama's Trent Richardson would be the perfect man for the job.
Richardson is a beast. He doesn't have elite speed, but he's as strong or stronger than any running back in recent memory. It's pretty much impossible for one man to bring Richardson down, and I don't think I've seen him fall any direction other than forward.
Sounds like the kind of guy the Broncos could use.
|Pick||Team (Record) ||Player|
|1|| St. Louis Rams (0-4) || Alshon Jeffery, WR (South Carolina)
|2|| Indianapolis Colts (0-4) || Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
|3|| Miami Dolphins (0-4) || Landry Jones, QB (Oklahoma)
|4|| Minnesota Vikings (0-4) || Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
|5|| Seattle Seahawks (1-3) || Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
|6|| Arizona Cardinals (1-3) || Vontaze Burfict, LB (Arizona State)
|7|| Carolina Panthers (1-3) || Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU)
|8|| Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) || Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)
|9|| Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) || Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)
|10|| Denver Broncos (1-3) || Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)
|11|| Cleveland Browns (2-2) || Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)
|12|| Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) || Manti Te'o, LB (Notre Dame)
|13|| Dallas Cowboys (2-2) || Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)
|14|| Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) || Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
|15|| New York Jets (2-2) || Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)
|16|| Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) || Andrew Datko, OT (Florida State)
|17|| Oakland Raiders (2-2) || Cliff Harris, CB (Oregon)
|18|| Chicago Bears (2-2) || Jared Crick, DT (Nebraska)
|19|| Cleveland Browns from Atlanta Falcons (2-2) || Donte Paige-Moss, DE (North Carolina)
|20|| New York Giants (3-1) || David DeCastro, OG (Stanford)
|21|| San Francisco 49ers (3-1) || Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Nebraska)
|22|| Tennessee Titans (3-1) || Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama)
|23|| Washington Redskins (3-1) || Zach Brown, LB (North Carolina)
|24|| Buffalo Bills (3-1) || Dwayne Allen, TE (Clemson)
|25|| Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) || Lamar Miller, CB (Miami)
|26|| San Diego Chargers (3-1) || Brandon Jenkins, LB (Florida State)
|27|| Houston Texans (3-1) || Mark Barron, S (Alabama)
|28|| Detroit Lions (4-0) || Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama)
|29|| New England Patriots (3-1) || Brandon Thompson, DT (Clemson)
|30|| New England Patriots from New Orleans Saints (3-1) || Ryan Broyles, WR (Oklahoma)
|31|| Baltimore Ravens (3-1) || Markelle Martin, S (Oklahoma State)
|32|| Green Bay Packers (4-0) || LaMichael James, RB (Oregon)
Indianapolis Colts (0-4)