Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The son of former NFL quarterback (and current West Virginia athletic director) Oliver Luck was coached by former NFL quarterback (and current 49ers coach) Jim Harbaugh, is the best quarterback to come from The Farm since John Elway and the safest signal-caller prospect since Peyton Manning — who he will succeed in Indianapolis.
2. St. Louis Rams
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Matt Kalil, OT, USC
New coach Jeff Fisher is a USC guy who loves to play ball-control, ground and pound football. The Rams' highest paid player is fragile quarterback Sam Bradford. It all adds up to drafting Matt Kalil — if St. Louis stays at No. 2. The stock of RGIII could pay off in a blockbuster trade with the Browns (Nos. 4 and 22), Redskins (No. 6), Dolphins (No. 8) or Seahawks (No. 12).
3. Minnesota Vikings
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Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Vikings need to upgrade at cornerback in order to compete with the Packers' juggernaut passing attack and Megatron Calvin Johnson. Morris Claiborne is not the "Honey Badger" — but he's a better cornerback and an electric return man.
4. Cleveland Browns
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Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
It may cost Cleveland its No. 22 overall pick — which was acquired in last year's Julio Jones trade with Atlanta — but the Browns should find a way to add the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to their roster.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Bama's bowling ball runner is a better prospect than former teammate Mark Ingram. T-Town's finest is a rare franchise back in the mold of Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice.
6. Washington Redskins
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Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Warren Moon calls him "Dez Bryant with brain cells," and Justin Blackmon might be just that. The Redskins also might be in the market for Blackmon's O-State quarterback Brandon Weeden — the 28-year-old that Mike Shanahan coached in the Senior Bowl.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
A long, lanky cornerback who carries some baggage and may eventually be forced to move to free safety, Dre Kirkpatrick may fall out of the top 10 if he doesn't run fast or interview well at the Combine.
8. Miami Dolphins
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Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
If the Dolphins want to acquire Peyton Manning, they're going to need to protect the 36-year-old coming off of four (or more?) neck surgeries. With Jake Long at left tackle and Riley Reiff on the right side, Miami would have the best bookends in the league.
9. Carolina Panthers
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Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
This Tar Heel edge rusher is not Julius Peppers, but he does possess the rare athleticism and potential that makes scouts drool. He also has the inconsistent motor that causes coaches to lose their hair.
10. Buffalo Bills
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Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Buffalo cashed in by taking Bama's Marcel Dareus with the No. 3 pick in last year's draft. Might as well take another dip in the Crimson Tide with Courtney Upshaw, a hybrid outside backer-end who hits like a sledgehammer.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
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Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The ex-Patriots running the show for the Chiefs — namely Scott Pioli — have to love Luke Kuechly. The BC middle backer is a blue-collar leader with contagious work ethic. And he's a tackling machine from sideline to sideline.
12. Seattle Seahawks
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Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
A draft-eligible sophomore, Brockers' draft stock has as much upside as any player in the draft. The big man in the middle was a terror for the Tigers and could be gone by the time Pete Carroll's club is on the clock in Seattle.
13. Arizona Cardinals
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Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Arizona's offensive line has been a desert mirage in recent years. And whether the Cards start Kevin Kolb, Peyton Manning or even Vince Young, they could use Andrew Luck's blindside bodyguard.
14. Dallas Cowboys
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Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Once thought of as a 'tweener with no defined position, Melvin Ingram is now seen as one of the most scheme versatile pass rushers and defensive playmakers in this year's draft class. If the big man shows off-the-charts quickness and speed at the Combine, he won't make it to Big D.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
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Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The lone bright spot during a disastrous year in Happy Valley, Devon Still could stay in the Keystone State if Andy Reid continues his tradition of collecting defensive linemen on draft day.
16. New York Jets
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Mark Barron, S, Alabama
If Rex Ryan wants to keep up with the Patriots, the J-E-T-S need a safety who can run with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. A four-year starter and two-time national champ under Nick Saban, Mark Barron is an in-the-box safety with the athleticism and technique to improve as a center fielder.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
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Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
With the pick acquired from the Raiders in the Carson Palmer deal, the Bengals might take a classic Al Davis gamble on a troubled athlete with Pro Bowl potential. Janoris Jenkins is a fluid man-to-man corner who was an All-SEC performer under Urban Meyer at Florida before being kicked off the team by Will Muschamp and transferring to North Alabama to play for Terry Bowden.
18. San Diego Chargers
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Nick Perry, DE, USC
A raw pass rusher who probably could have used another year of seasoning at Southern Cal, Nick Perry would potentially provide the Bolts with the pressure that disappointing 2009 first-rounder (No. 16 overall) Larry English has not.
19. Chicago Bears
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Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Minneapolis native is a jump ball machine and red zone terror. However, Michael Floyd has also looked like Tarzan and played like Jane at times — dealing with dropped passes and multiple injury issues during his career in South Bend.
20. Tennessee Titans
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David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Titans have two Hall of Fame offensive lineman — coach Mike Munchak and O-line coach Bruce Matthews — but struggled with an underachieving front in 2011? That doesn't add up. Expect Chris Johnson to be all smiles when Tennessee brings in another 300-pounder to pave the way for the former 2,000-yard rusher.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
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Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
The big Dawg has been worked out at tackle and may be able to play on the edge at the next level. If not, Cordy Glenn is a massive guard who can hold his own against tough AFC North opponents on the interior of the line.
22. Cleveland Browns
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Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Robert Griffin III's go-to receiver is a first-round wideout in his own right. And, as fate would have it, has a chance to be reunited with his Bears quarterback with the Browns — if Cleveland isn't forced to trade this pick in order to secure RGIII.
23. Detroit Lions
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Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Buckeyes' dancing bear showed more athleticism this season than in years past, looking particularly impressive at this year's Senior Bowl. Detroit would be wise to invest in more protection for oft-injured quarterback Matt Stafford — who led the Lions to the playoffs in his first healthy season in the NFL.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
No 350-plus-pounder this side of Vince Wilfork should be as agile as Dontari Poe appears to be. But weight issues will scare GMs and coaches. Remember, even Wilfork fell to No. 21 overall in the 2004 NFL Draft.
25. Denver Broncos
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Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
John Elway's club is one to keep an eye on. If the Broncos still aren't sold on Tim Tebow as their quarterback of the future, then this is the time to trade him. If it's still Tebow Time in Denver, sit tight and add depth to the D-line.
26. Houston Texans
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Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Coming off the first playoff berth in franchise history, the Texans have big decisions to make this offseason, with pass rusher Mario Williams an unrestricted free agent, running back Arian Foster a restricted free agent and quarterback Matt Schaub entering the final year of his contract.
27. New England Patriots
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Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
After inexplicably failing to draft an impact pass rusher last year, the Patriots would seem to be in position to do so this time around — with pick Nos. 27 and 31 in the first round. Whitney Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles for the Fighting Illini.
28. Green Bay Packers
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Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
The Packers went 15–1 before being shocked in the Divisional Round of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants. Green Bay could reach for a safety (maybe Notre Dame's Harrison Smith) but will most likely take the best defensive lineman available or trade down.
29. Baltimore Ravens
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Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Baltimore must brace itself for Ray Lewis' imminent retirement. Vontaze Burfict is the type of talented head case who could fall into the Ravens' lap, serve as an understudy to Lewis before taking over in the middle next season or the year after. Alabama's Dont'a Hightower is another option, should Ozzie Newsome decide to go with his alma mater's middle linebacker.
30. San Francisco 49ers
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Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Frank Gore can't carry the load forever. And the addition of a fresh pair of legs would keep Gore healthy for the playoffs. Jim Harbaugh's blue-collar philosophy is grounded in a solid run game, ball-control offense and suffocating defense. Adding another cornerback to the mix would also be a good option for the Niners late in the first round.
31. New England Patriots
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Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
There's no way Bill Belichick sits still and uses both of his first round picks (Nos. 27 and 31). New England is always on the move, trading down and adding future picks. Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill appears to be the third-best quarterback in the class and could be long gone by this point. If not, expect the Pats to take advantage of a QB-needy team and parlay this pick into a hand full of selections.
32. New York Giants
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Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Stanford's Coby Fleener and Clemson's Dwayne Allen are viewed as the top tight ends by many. But Orson Charles fits the Giants' model better than either, with his combination of raw athleticism, downfield pass-catching ability and a willingness to block.
Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers headline this season's list of award-worthy players.
‘Tis the season for year-end awards in the NFL. This year, there are more players deserving of recognition than trophies to hand out. These are the select few Athlon Sports believes to be award-worthy:
Carolina's top receiver has a tough match up in Jonathan Joseph
It’s the semifinals of most fantasy football leagues and you have a dynamic receiver in the Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith going against the Houston Texans in Week 15. But he and you could not have drawn a worse matchup.
LaFell could put up more points than expected against the Colts
Brandon LaFell will get the start opposite Steve Smith at receiver for the Carolina Panthers today against the Indianapolis Colts. And he has a strong chance to be a sleeper for your fantasy roster in Week 12.
Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, and Jim Harbaugh are showing off their superhero-like skills
by Josh Kipnis
There is no dispute: The past few years for the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers have been a struggle. But this year, a group of rookies have swept in and rescued these damsels in distress. Here is my list of the “Rookie Superheroes” halfway through the season.
Six-time Pro Bowler claims he will be ready to play in less than a month
Attention NFL teams! Need help at wide receiver? If so, Terrell Owens wants you to know he is available. Owens, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL in April, said in an interview this week that he plans to be ready to play in less than a month.
You knew that Tom Brady and Drew Brees would be leading the NFL in passing yardage, even this early in the season. But come on, who would’ve guessed that Cam Newton would be third? Darren McFadden as the NFL’s rushing leader so far is probably not a stretch, but Ben Tate fifth, less than 100 yards behind and ahead of Adrian Peterson?