It’s never too early to look towards the NFL Draft. Even though the season hasn’t started, fans of NFL teams are already looking toward potential picks next April.
The draft order is based on the Rant Sports NFL Power Rankings.
1. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
If the Vikings do indeed pick #1 in April, than it probably means that Christian Ponder didn’t take the next step and it’s time to look elsewhere. By the time the draft rolls around there could be several options for the top QB, but for now it’s Matt Barkley.
2. Cleveland Browns: Star Loutlelei, DT, Utah
This pick would come down to Loutlelei or USC’s Robert Woods, Woods would be tempting since the Browns lacks a true #1, but Lotulelei has shown ability similar to Haloti Ngata and Ndamukong Suh. He could be a fixture for the Browns for the next decade.
3. St. Louis Rams: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Rams would jump all over the chance to get Woods. Even after spending a second round pick on Brian Quick last season, Woods gives Sam Bradford a legitimate WR for the first time in his career.
4. Indianapolis Colts: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
With the move to the 3-4, the Colts need more dynamic pass rushers. Even though Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are in the mix, you can never have enough guys getting to the QB. Jones is everything you look for in OLB and has early Pro Bowl potential.
5. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
This pick is form the Robert Griffin III trade last draft. With the recent trade of Jason Smith, it’s even more imperative that the Rams protect Sam Bradford. Lewan is a great OT who plays with a mean streak, something the Rams desperately need.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
The Jaguars have one of the more underrated defenses in football, but they could use a shutdown CB. Rashean Mathis, 32, will be a Free Agent after this season, and Amerson would be an excellent fit at replacing him.
7. Oakland Raiders: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
Raiders need to think long-term. If Oakland is picking this high than Carson Palmer didn’t do much to help them win seeing they have solid pieces around him. Wilson could very well end up going higher, so this has good value for Oakland.
8. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Even before the release of Chad Johnson, the Dolphins had nothing at WR. If they want to give Ryan Tannehill the best chance at succeeding they must give him the weapons. Kennan Allen is just as good as Robert Woods, and would no doubt be the #1 guy in Miami from day 1.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Tampa Bay has put several pick toward the middle of their defensive line, but has yet to find someone who can shutdown running lands and get to the passer. Gerald McCoy can’t stay healthy, and Brian Price was traded to Chicago. Hankins would be a massive improvement for Tampa, and if McCoy could stay injury free, it would be the makings of a great defensive line.
10. Seattle Seahawks: Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama
I think Seattle would like to have a WR here, but passing on Jones would be hard to do. The Seahawks could use more talent along the line especially if Russell Wilson is going to be the long-term answer. Jones could play RT and would be an upgrade over Breno Giacomini, or he could slide inside and force James Carpenter back to OT.
11. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Bills are doing a great job building their defense, and the addition of Te’o would make them even better. Right now Kelvin Sheppard mans the middle, but him or Te’o could slide to the outside and take over for an aging Nick Barnett.
12. Arizona Cardinals: Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
It’s obvious that the Cardinals don’t have their QB of the future on their roster. Logan Thomas, who looks eerily similar to Cam Newton, could finally give Arizona some stability under center. Thomas is big QB, with a big arm, and has good mobility. It’s very possible that he could challenge for the number one overall pick in the draft.
13. New York Jets: Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
The Jets can’t seem to find a RT. They recently acquired Jason Smith from St. Louis, but he’s more of a stop-gap solution and I’m not sure it’s a permanent fix. Wagner, who plays LT for Wisconsin, would be an ideal fit on the right side in the NFL. He’s very strong and excels in pas protection, something that the Jets need.
14. San Diego Chargers: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
It’s on going theme in the NFL; you can never have enough pass rushers. After investing in Melvin Ingram last season, and signing former Baltimore Raven Jarret Johnson, the Chargers could find another dynamic pass rusher. Barkevious Mingo, is excellent value here, and would give the Chargers a scare 1-2 punch for the future.
15. Carolina Panthers: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
RT is arguably the biggest need for the Panthers. There would be several prospects that could fill that void here, but Joeckel has the highest potential of the remaining OT on the board, and after going through the rigorous SEC, could really see his stock skyrocket this year.
16. Tennessee Titans: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU
Leading up to the 2012 Draft several dratniks, including myself, had the Titans selecting a DE in the first round of the draft. Derrick Morgan has been solid, but he’s not a game changer. Tennessee brought in veteran Kamerion Wimbley, but he’s not a long-term solution. Sam Montgomery brings quickness not seen in many pass rushers and would be a great addition for the Titans.
17. Kansas City Chiefs: Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
Matt Cassel has proved to everyone he’s nothing more than an average QB in this league. If Kansas City fails to make a significant leap in 2012, then they could be looking for a new signal caller in 2012. Bray will intrigue teams because of his size and arm, but he must prove that he can mature mentally.
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
This would be a no-brainer pick here. Cincinnati is one of the few teams without a true number one RB in the league. It would make sense to grab the highest ranked RB prospect. Lattimore has all the tools to be a tre bell-cow at the next level providing he’s 100% from his knee injury last season.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Alex Okafor, DE/OLB, Texas
Potentially Anthony Spencer could be in his last season in a Cowboys uniform. Spencer is solid agains the run, but offers nothing as a pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware. Alex Okafor is a tremendous athlete, who has the size and speed to wreak havoc opposite of Ware.
20. Atlanta Falcons: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas
Falcons need an injection of youth opposite of Ray Edwards. John Abraham will be 35 when the draft happens, and he can’t play forever. Jeffcoat gives the Falcons some speed off the edge, and some versatility with his ability to stand up and get to the QB.
21. Denver Broncos: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Even though Champ Bailey is still playing at a high level, he his 35 years old and getting closer and closer to retirement. In May, the Broncos signed Drayton Florence from Buffalo, but he is also getting long in the tooth. Broncos needs to think about the future at the CB spot sooner rather than later. Banks has been very consistent in his time at Mississippi State and has the size, speed and ball skills to develop into a number one CB.
22. New Orleans Saints: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
Will Smith, 31, has two years remaining on his contract, so Buchanan could be brought along slowly and form a solid pair of DEs with Cameron Jordan. Buchanan might not be on many people’s radar, but his first step is deadly, and he knows how to get to the QB.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
I was considering a QB here as Michael Vick is too injury-prone and too inconsistent, but I think Andy Reid would rather have an OT than reach on a guy like Geno Smith. Fluker is massive, athletic OT who has the skillset to be a franchise LT. He would give the Eagles a consistent presence in the trenches.
24. Detroit Lions: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
I think all Lions fans would like to see them update their CB position. They took Dwight Bentley in round 3 last season, but he’s best served in the nickel role and doesn’t look the part of a shutdown CB. Rhodes has great size, and shows the ability to jam at the line and can play with the best WR’s in the game.
25. Chicago Bears: Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M
Porter reminds many of former teammate and current Broncos Von Miller. Porter is an excellent edge rusher and would be a great fit in Chicago’s defensive style. Lance Briggs will be 32 next season and Chicago needs to look towards the future.
26. Baltimore Ravens: TJ McDonald, S, USC
This one is quite simple really. TJ McDonald, who is the highest ranked safety, would be a great replacement for Ed Reed who is 33 and on the verge of retirement.
27. Houston Texans: Johnny Adams, CB, Michigan State
CB Johnathan Joseph looks to be one of the better FA signings this offseason, but opposite of Joseph is Kareem Jackson, who has been constantly picked on by opposing QB’s, and beat by WR’s during his tenure in Houston. Jackson will be on a short leash in Houston, and 2012 could determine if the Texans feel the need to address CB in the draft.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State
With James Harrison in the twilight of his career, the Steelers need to look for his replacement. Jason Worilds can be a solid option, but he’s starting on the PUP list because of a bad wrist. If he can’t come back, or doesn’t develop as an option, than Brandon Jenkins would be an legitimate choice. Jenkins is extremely quick and would be a nice compliment to Lamarr Woodley on the edges.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
With Alex Smith appearing to be the QB for the foreseeable future, the 49ers need to shore up the offensive line. After adding OG Mike Iupati in 2010, they need to find someone to start over Alex Boone at RG. Cooper is a solid 1st round prospect with a great blend of size, speed, and athleticism.
30. New York Giants: Chris Faulk, OT, LSU
Giants need more talented options at OT. Chris Faulk is a better option than Will Beatty, and when it’s all said and done will probably go higher than 30 overall when the draft comes around. Faulk is a great run blocker who does a good job in pass protection. He looks the part of an NFL LT.
31. Green Bay Packers: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Neither James Starks nor Alex Green looks like a long-term fixture at RB for Green Bay. The RBs for the Packers were so bad this preseason, that the Packers signed Cedric Benson for the 2012. Knile Davis would be a great fit in the Packers wide-open offense since he has the ability to be a solid receiver out of the backfield and isn’t too shabby as a RB.
32. New England Patriots: Eric Reid, S, LSU
For as good as the Patriots offense is, the defense is still a work in progress. Last season they took two defenders in round 1, with Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones. Despite those additions the secondary, on paper, is still a tick behind. Reid possesses ideal size and athletic ability to become one of the better DB prospects in the draft. He shows excellent ball skills and isn’t scared to play against the run. Reid would be a huge upgrade over Steve Gregory at FS.
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports
Follow him on Twitter @JeremyCabler.