Although the New York Giants have declared supremacy as the XLVI Super Bowl Champions less than a month ago, teams look to get a head start on America's most popular sport. The 2012 NFL Draft is just two months away, so let's take a look.
The draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall from April 26th to April 28 and will include 254 selections in all. This is a venue where a team might be able to find a Tom Brady lurking in the late rounds, undrafted, therefore it's very important that each team be lucky but most importantly have the ability to sniff out talent. Let's see what we're looking at for the early picks.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are on the board, and this is the biggest no brainer in this year's draft as the Indianapolis Colts have already declared that they're going to choose Andrew Luck out of Stanford as the 1st pick. Nothing to think about here, as there's great tension between Peyton Manning and Mr. Irsay. It looks as if the Colts are aware of Peyton Manning's future, and Indy is ready to think about their future as well.
2. Washington Redskins via a trade with St. Louis Rams
Although the St. Louis Rams would gladly welcome a talent like Robert Griffin III into the offense, with his combination of athleticism and intelligence, they have Sam Bradford who has shown some ability while the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins are in desperate need of a QB. I don't see Peyton Manning wanting to go to either the Skins or the Browns and that leaves room for a trade.
This could go either way. Although the Browns have two 1st round draft picks available, owner Daniel Snyder will do anything to get his man after his poor success, and a franchise quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner in RG3 is the solution. The Redskins will have to at least give up this and next year's 1st round picks (and probably more). I'm feeling some Doug Williams in the nations capital in Robert Griffin III.
3. Minnesota Vikings
This is the perfect position for Minnesota, as Christian Ponder has proven that he can lead this team at the QB position. Look for the Vikes to seek protection, and the best player on the board by far is offensive tackle Matt Kalil of USC.
4. Cleveland Browns
If the Browns aren't successful in landing RG3, we must remember that along with Colt McCoy, the Browns have 2- 1st round draft picks, 3 picks in the top 40, and possible free agents such as Matt Flynn that might be available.
The Browns will look towards best possible player, and they'll lean towards Trent Richardson over Justin Blackmon in this spot. Richardson put up huge numbers for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and he'll definitely fill a void on this team.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Most draft "mockers" think that Rondee Barber is going to retire in the offseason. False, and in a recent interview he expressed the exact opposite. He said that he feel's good at his advanced age and has managed to stay free of injury.
However, I do think that Barber could be the perfect mentor to LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne. Patrick Peterson was drafted 5th in last year's draft, Claiborne should get equal if not more respect. Can you say "Claiborne Island?"
6. St. Louis Rams via trade from Washington
If indeed Washington picked in this position, don't rule out the selection of Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Pre-draft foot surgery might force Tannehill to drop farther down the line. Although there's many opportunities to pickup receivers, St. Louis will have the pick of the litter as wide receiver Justin Blackmon should be available in this scenario. Blackmon finished off his junior season with 121 receptions for 1522 yards and 18 TD's. This young player would make a perfect target for Bradford.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Best available player will most likely go to the Jags, as defensive end Quinton Coples out of North Carolina is ranked number 4 according to ESPN. In essence, this is a bargain. Coples is coming off of a great Senior Bowl and 7.5 sacks with 15 tackles. This is a 6 foot 6 massive man with size and athleticism. This guy shows shades of Julius Peppers, who was also a former UNC standout.
8. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins can go to either side of the ball as the Fins are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Kevin Coyle. Miami needs pass protectors also as it's suggested that quarterback Matt Flynn might be on their radar. The Dolphins will definitely seek the best possible avenue to get a standout starting quarterback. I'm not sold on this pick as Miami is unpredictable and might try to move up as much as possible.
For now, I'll keep them with this pick, as they'll seek the best player available. Offensive tackle Riley Rieff can't drop any lower than this. Moves can be made as the draft forms a direction. This University of Iowa player would be a flatout steal at this spot that the Dolphins can't resist.
9. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are in desperate need for a defensive tackle and a raw player with a high upside like Brockers could fit the Panthers' needs. At 6 foot 6, 306 pounds and having good quickness for this size, Brockers had his biggest game of the season last year in the BCS championship loss but as I've stated earlier, he has untapped potential, and that's what make's him such an alluring pick. He could slip further down the line, but I don't expect him to.
10. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo is in desperate need of pass-rushers, ranking 30th in sacks in 2011. The Bills are going with the 4-3, and while I like outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw as a better player, defensive end Melvin Ingram seems like the more practical choice for this scheme. Ingram is an explosive and powerful player that can play mutiple positions. He's a bit short at 6 foot 1, 280 pounds, but he's the perfect choice for what the Buffalo Bills are lacking.
The NFL Draft isn't an exact science. One change of a decision and it can effect all of the other teams down the line. Also expect Courtney Upshaw to not last very long on the draftboard while Ryan Tannehill should take a major drop. Which team will find the Andy Dalton of the draft and which teams will pick up a bust? Stay tuned