Former Londoner Luck to lead NFL Draft as teams get set to make first picks
09:39 GMT, 26 April 2012
The Indianapolis Colts will make Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck the first pick in the Draft as the 32 National Football League teams begin to gamble with their futures on Thursday night.
The Colts, who marked the end of an era last month when releasing future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, have already stated that they will take Luck as Manning’s replacement.
Pick me: NFL draft prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be up for grabs
SPORTSMAIL'S MOCK DRAFT
There are always plenty of surprises and while we know the first two players in the Draft will be, part of the fun is guessing who your team will choose.
Here's what could happen with the first round…
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck QB
The Colts have already married their future to Andrew Luck, quarterback (Stanford). It is a no-brainer, as far as they are concerned.
2. Washington Redskins (from St Louis)
Robert Griffin III QB
Plenty of needs offensively for a team that won just five of their 16 games last season. They have given up a lot to land Robert Griffin III, quarterback (Baylor).
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil OT
They have made little secret that they would like to trade out of this spot and acquire more picks, but if they don’t find a suitor, offensive tackle Kalil (USC) looks the obvious pick. They also have needs at cornerback, so Morris Claiborne (LSU) may enter calculations.
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson RB
Richardson (Alabama) is a dominant work-horse running back and many consider him as the best at this position to enter the Draft since Adrian Peterson. If they don’t take him, he could be a faller on the boards.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne CB
The Bucs could well trade up to No 3 to take the best cornerback in the Draft. Claiborne (LSU) would be a ready replacement for the aging Ronde Barber.
6. St Louis Rams (from Washington)
Justin Blackmon WR
Rams are in clover with a wealth of picks from the Redskins to drop from the No 2 spot and their future is set. They can afford to take Blackmon (Oklahoma State), who reminds many of Anquan Boldin. While not blessed with fearsome speed, he is not afraid to go across the middle to make difficult catches.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quinton Coples DE
The Jaguars rarely do what many expect them to do and while a bit of a reach, they do have a need for a premier pass-rusher like Coples (North Carolina). He’s very good when he’s in the mood.
8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill QB
Miami have had 13 starting quarterbacks since No 13 Dan Marino retired. He was the last passer taken in round one by the Dolphins. Tannehill (Texas A&M) does not really warrant a top 10 pick, but while he made only 19 starts for the Aggies, he was coached there by new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
9. Carolina Panthers
Fletcher Cox DT
Possible trade here with the Panthers looking to drop down and get back a third-round pick they traded last summer with Chicago for TE Greg Olsen. The New York Jets are rumoured to be interested in trading up – for either Trent Richardson or defensive end Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – but if Coples is still here, the Panthers will either take him or perhaps Cox (Mississippi State), who would provide the interior line push they have lacked.
10. Buffalo Bills
Riley Rieff OT
The Bills have needs at receiver and at tight end, and many pundits have Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) as the pick. They could trade down for Corby Fleener (Stanford), but if Rieff (Iowa) is still on the board (Jacksonville or Miami are also interested), he is athletic and versatile enough to play left tackle, right tackle or guard, and should not fall out of the top 10.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Brockers DT
This is a potential trade spot and Brockers (LSU) could still be the man for the Chiefs even if they trade down. A 6ft 5in behemoth, he is still very raw, but scouts have fallen in love with his athletic ability and he has tremendous upside.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Luke Kuechley MLB
A tackling machine in the mould of Keith Brooking, Keuchley (Boston College) would solidify the position for years to come. A very safe pick and a certain day-one starter.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Courtney Upshaw OLB
The need for a pass-rushing outside linebacker may overcome their desire for an offensive tackle, so Upshaw (Alabama), who has a happy knack for being at the right place at the right time, may get the nod over Cordy Glenn (Georgia), who would seem the obvious choice otherwise.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dontari Poe DT
The NFL Combine saw Poe’s (Memphis) stock rise, but while he is a huge man, with plenty of power and explosion to disrupt opposing attacks, he still looks very raw. A space-eater, he has a tremendous amount of upside and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes gambling on potential.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Mark Barron S
The Eagles have not done well drafting this position with their last two second round picks, so they could try again with the top safety of the board, Barron (Alabama), who has a good blend of speed and size.
16. New York Jets
Melvin Ingram DE
Versatile Ingram (South Carolina) can play almost any position in any scheme and he’s a natural athlete who will be an immediate starter.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
Michael Floyd WR
There is a lot of value in the middle of the first round and Cincy’s needs are at cornerback, defensive tackle and defensive end, but they also need a receiver, and if Floyd (Notre Dame) is still there – which would be a small surprise – he would be a perfect compliment to A.J. Green. If not, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) would be an obvious candidate.
18. San Diego Chargers
Dave DeCastro OG
The Chargers have a major need at this position after All-Pro Kris Dielman’s retirement and while there is value to be found later on, DeCastro (Stanford) would be a tremendous addition to any offensive line. One of the good things in the Draft.
19. Chicago Bears
Dre Kirkpatrick CB
There’s a chance that Morris Claiborne could be the only cornerback taken by the time the Bears are on the clock, and while offensive tackle could be the route they go, Kirkpatrick (Alabama) could help a good defence become great again.
20. Tennessee Titans
Cordy Glenn OL
The Titans don’t have too many holes to fill and while cornerback and defensive end are possibilities, they could take the best player on their Draft board. Glenn (Georgia) may fall down this far if Arizona, who always seem to have a pressing need at this position, don’t pass on him. Glenn is a big, mauling blocker who has rare strength and size. He can play guard or left tackle.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Janoris Jenkins CB
The need for a receiver and a cornerback could be addressed with their two first round picks and Jenkins (North Alabama) is an elite player who was booted out of Florida for two drug-related arrests in three months. Character concerns have never been an issue for the Bengals, though. Worth the risk.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Kevin Zeitler G
The Browns need a wide receiver and a right guard. While it would be no surprise to see them trade with the Miami Dolphins, who could take QB Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) here, rather than reaching for Tannehill, Cleveland may sit pretty, with Zeitler (Wisconsin) the physical run-blocker they need.
23. Detroit Lions
Stephon Gilmore CB
A ball hawk in the secondary, many have Gilmore (South Carolina) going higher and certainly he is on a par with Jenkins and Kirkpatrick, possessing legitimate speed. Lions also need an offensive tackle.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dont’a Hightower ILB
An obvious fit to replace released veteran James Farrior, Hightower (Alabama) could be among several Crimson Tide players taken in the first round.
25. Denver Broncos
Whitney Mercilus DE
A curve ball from the Broncos, who need a defensive tackle desperately. However, they could plump for a running back or the best player on their board – and that may be Mercilus (Illinois), who is a great edge-rusher.
26. Houston Texans
Nick Perry DE
There are a few holes along the offensive line after releasing Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel, but they need depth at defensive end and Perry (USC) was impressive at the Combine. He is a strong, physical force.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) – Chandler Jones DE
Always hard to know what Bill Belichick will do. There are needs at safety, guard and cornerback, but a pass rush has been missing for a while and Jones (Syracuse) is very hard to block. Marshall’s DE Vinny Curry is also a possibility. Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson could be a sleeper.
28. Green Bay Packers
Harrison Smith S
With Charles Woodson nearing the end of his career and Nick Collins returning after a career-threatening neck injury, some depth at the safety position is needed and Smith (Notre Dame) was a four-year starter in college, who made plenty of plays in blitz packages.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Peter Konz C
Part of a huge line at Wisconsin, Konz didn’t help his stock when failing to impress at the Combine. That won’t worry the Ravens, who see him as the successor to Matt Birk. Inside linebacker is also a need.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Coby Fleener TE
Coached by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Fleener caught 10 touchdowns from Andrew Luck last season and he’s a big target that would pair well with Vernon Davis. But if Kevin Zeitler is still on the board, expect the Niners to nab the 314lb blocker instead.
31. New England Patriots
Kendal Wright WR
While Belichick could trade this pick, Wright deserves a look. A good route runner, he has a lot of yards after the catch and was Robert Griffin’s top target at Baylor. Interesting prospect.
32. New York Giants
Lavonte David OLB
Posted 133 tackles last season at Nebraska and led the Cornhuskers in nearly every defensive category. Giants also need premium blockers and Jonathan Martin (Stanford) or Mike Adams (Ohio State) could also be interesting with the final pick of round one.
Luck – who spent part of his early life
growing up in London – is considered by many to be the next great
passer, possessing not only rare athletic ability, a strong arm and
accuracy, plus excellent leadership qualities and a strong work ethic.
The son of former Houston quarterback
Oliver Luck, the Colts hope he will be the cornerstone of the team for
the next decade at least.
team will attempt to lay the foundations for future success over the
next three days when they select the elite college players over seven
rounds at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
In theory, what drives the NFL is good old-fashioned socialism. Unlike British soccer, where the economic model is every man for himself – with mismanagement causing some teams to frequently teeter on the verge of bankruptcy – the 32 NFL teams take from the rich to feed the poor, literally sharing their vast wealth equally among each other and capping expenditure.
Built on an economic model of fairness, with TV their biggest source of revenue, the income is split equally 32 ways, ensuring that no team will fall too far behind another.
It could not be further away from the capitalist Premier League model, where only four clubs can effectively win the title and those teams without billionaire owners may as well not bother lacing their boots.
Unlike the Premier League, which has to compete with the Italian Serie A (where 41 out of 64 championships have been won by only three teams) and Spain’s La Liga (where 69 of 80 titles have been won by four clubs), the NFL has no direct competition. It is a monopoly.
And it can be argued that this form of NFL ‘socialism’ simply allows owners of the 32 franchises to keep more of the money that just happens to be shared. The monopoly and salary cap ensures that the players’ salaries are kept artificially low.
What cannot be denied is the NFL is a behemoth of a business, and their product is the entertainment value of their games. Competitiveness is a key factor in that entertainment value.
And for NFL fans, the unique selection process of its players is pure entertainment. The Draft is like Christmas, with bright, shiny new toys being unveiled at 10-minute intervals.
In the spirit of fairness – or, as some would say, punishing success – the worst team from last season (in this case Indianapolis) get to pick first, and subsequently the 31 other teams pick a player in reverse order relative their record in the previous year, with the first round completed when the Super Bowl winners (New York Giants) make their selection.
With each allocated position in the Draft order, the team can either select a player or trade their position to another team for other positions, a player, or players, or any combination thereof.
If Luck is the ultimate prize, then Robert Griffin III is not a bad consolation.
Washington Redskins gave up their first and second round picks this year, as well their first round pick in both the 2013 and 2014 Drafts to swap with St Louis to move up to the No 2 spot in order to take Baylor’s Heisman Trophy-winning passer (who is known simply as ‘RG3’).
He is not a prototypical pocket passer like Luck. Like last year’s top pick, Cameron Newton, he is far more agile with his legs – a quarterback/running back hybrid and, as such, questions about his durability will be raised. Some would argue that the Redskins have paid a very high price to get Griffin up the altar.
There could be as many as four quarterbacks taken in the first round, with Ryan Tannehill a possible top-10 pick and Brandon Weeden a late first-round or early second-round selection.
In the last eight years, 65 per cent (15 of 23) of quarterbacks drafted in the first round have become starters. During the same time, only 8.5 per cent (seven of 82) of quarterbacks drafted outside the first round have become starters.
In the past decade, 102 quarterbacks have been drafted in rounds two through seven. Just two (David Garrard in Jacksonville and T. J. Yates in Houston) have won a single playoff game.
Meanwhile, 10 of 29 quarterbacks drafted in the first round in the last decade have won at least one playoff game. Selecting a quarterback in the first round equates to a 34 per cent chance of making the playoffs at some point in the future, but as a premium position, it also requires a large financial outlay.
Such is the popularity of the NFL, the Draft is shown live on prime-time TV in the States. Bookmakers price up markets such as the number of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and offensive and defensive players who will be taken in the first round.
They also offer odds on where individual players will end up.
One to watch: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should join the Colts