To the extent that anything is certain a month before the NFL draft, it’s a certainty that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be the first two players off the board. And although the Vikings are trying to put up smokescreens about their plans, everyone expects USC left tackle Matt Kalil to go to Minnesota at No. 3.
That’s where it gets interesting.
The big questions in all of the NFL draft projections are about what the Browns will do at No. 4, the Buccaneers will do at No. 5 and the Rams will do at No. 6. And the vast majority of draft projections have Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, in some order, as the next three players off the board.
The local papers in Cleveland, Tampa Bay and St. Louis all have stories today exploring those three teams’ draft prospects.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer pegs Blackmon as the Browns’ most likely pick, noting that the Browns want to upgrade their passing game and probably won’t do it by drafting a quarterback like Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, at least not as high as No. 4 overall.
The Tampa Bay Times notes that the Buccaneers want to add a running back and don’t want to spend much in free agency to do it, which means Richardson is a strong possibility at No. 5 overall.
And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that essentially every mock draft has the Rams taking either Blackmon or Claiborne, which ever one of them is available.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell won’t stroll to the podium to begin the first round until April 26, and the NFL draft never plays out exactly as we expect it to a month in advance. But for the moment, all the focus is on picks 4-6, and on Blackmon, Richardson and Claiborne.