The Herald’s NFL mock drafts

The first round of the NFL draft is Thursday.

ESPN will cover the draft, beginning at 5 p.m.

The Herald has prepared two mock drafts — by Herald writer John Boyle and Herald sports copy editor Chad Davis.

Boyle covers the Seahawks for The Herald.

Davis writes for www.draftbreakdown.com. He has also written draft stories for USA Today and the Philadelphia Eagles website.

John Boyle’s mock draft

1. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

No mystery here. The Colts have already announced their intention to make Luck the successor to Peyton Manning.

2. Washington Redskins

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Washington gave up a boatload to move up to this spot in the draft, betting that Griffin can be the star QB this franchise has been searching for.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings would love to move down and load up on picks, but if they can’t work a trade, they’ll pick Kalil to help protect QB Christian Ponder.

4. Cleveland Browns

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

There’s a chance the Browns could reach for a QB here, but the more likely scenario is that they add an offensive weapon to help current QB Colt McCoy.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaners

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Claiborne has the tools to be a shutdown corner, a highly-coveted commodity in the NFL, and he also fits a need for the Bucs.

6. St. Louis Rams

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

After trading down from No. 2, St. Louis is thrilled to still land an elite receiver to help make life easier on QB Sam Bradford.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina

With only 31 sacks last season, the Jags were among the worst teams in the league bringing pressure. They’ll tackle that need by grabbing the versatile Ingram.

8. Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

After striking out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, Miami hopes Tannehill can be its quarterback of the future.

9. Carolina Panthers

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

Carolina found its quarterback last year, but struggled mightily on defense. The Panthers will take a step towards fixing that by adding the draft’s top interior lineman.

10. Buffalo Bills

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

The Bills have plenty of needs to address, but Kuechly is the best available player that fits one of those needs.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Guards don’t normally go this high in the draft, but some are saying the Bellevue High grad is the next Steve Hutchinson.

12. Seattle Seahawks

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Seahawks GM John Schneider would love to trade down and accumulate picks, but if he can’t, Seattle will look to upgrade its pass rush with Coples or perhaps Ingram if he’s available.

13. Arizona Cardinals

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Improving the offensive line should be priority No. 1 for a team that allowed 54 sacks last season, the second most in the NFL.

14. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Barron’s stock keeps rising, and the Cowboys could end up having to trade up a few spots if they want to make sure they get him.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Philadelphia presented a formidable pass rush, but struggled at times against the run. The 322-pound Brockers should help with that.

16. New York Jets

Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama

The Jets have been a very good defensive team under Rex Ryan, but their pass rush was lacking last season.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

The Bengals are still looking for a shut-down corner to replace Jonathan Joseph, who left last year in free agency, and if Gilmore lasts this long, they won’t hesitate to grab him.

18. San Diego Chargers

Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

San Diego made moves in free agency to improve its line, but could still use help, and Glenn’s size and versatility make him an attractive option.

19. Chicago Bears

Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois

The man who led the nation in sacks last year will help take pressure off of DE Julius Peppers and make an already good defense downright scary.

20. Tennessee Titans

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Whoever wins the QB battle between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker will be thrilled if a weapon with Floyd’s combination of size and speed falls to No. 20.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

The speedy Wright will give the Bengals and QB Andy Dalton one heck of a one-two punch when combined with A.J. Green.

22. Cleveland Browns

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

After grabbing Richardson with the No. 4 pick, the Browns make another move to improve an offense that was pretty awful last season.

23. Detroit Lions

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Remember when Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns against Detroit last season? Well so do the Lions.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Some wonder how Poe, who played in Conference USA, will do against NFL talent, but his combination of size and athleticism will be too hard to pass up if he lasts this long.

25. Denver Broncos

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The addition of Peyton Manning won’t mean much if the Broncos don’t improve on Defense, and they could especially use help in the trenches.

26. Houston Texans

Nick Perry, DE, USC

The Texans made a huge leap on defense last year, and by adding an athletic pass rusher, they’ll be even better in 2012.

27. New England Patriots

Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

This athletic pass rusher’s stock is on the rise, and if he’s not gone earlier, the Pats would love to add him to a defense that allowed a staggering 411.1 yards per game in 2011.

28. Green Bay Packers

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

He wasn’t able to produce consistently last season, but Still has incredible athleticism for an interior lineman and could help upgrade the Packers pass rush.

29. Baltimore Ravens

Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Hightower is versatile enough to play numerous roles, and he could eventually be the replacement for Ray Lewis if he ever decides to retire.

30. San Francisco 49ers

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Hill is a mystery having played for in an option offense, but his size and athleticism will make him tempting for a team with need at WR.

31. New England Patriots

Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut

Yes that’s two defensive linemen in the first round for the Pats. Did we mention they gave up 411.1 yards per game last year?

32. New York Giants

Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The Super Bowl champs need to upgrade an aging line, and Adams could provide immediate help on the right side and eventually develop into a left tackle.

Chad Davis’ mock draft

1. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Probably the easiest pick to make in mock draft history. The Colts cut franchise QB Peyton Manning and replace him with the best prospect at that position since…Peyton Manning. Lucky fortunes for a franchise which was once spurned by Manning’s new boss, Broncos president John Elway.

2. Washington Redskins (via STL)

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

The Redskins made a huge pre-draft trade, acquiring the No. 2 pick from St. Louis in exchange for the No. 6 pick this year, two future first-round picks, and a future second-round pick. All for the luxury of taking Griffin, who Huskies fans last remember for costing defensive coordinator Nick Holt his job after his performance in the Alamo Bowl.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Vikings are desperate for an offensive playmaker outside of RB Adrian Peterson. While the more sensible pick may be offensive tackle Matt Kalil to protect young QB Christian Ponder, Blackmon would provide Minnesota with exactly what they are looking for. This is an ideal spot for a trade back as well.

4. Cleveland Browns

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Cleveland is the biggest loser in the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, failing to trade up to No. 2 to take the potential star QB. Having to suffer through another season of Colt McCoy at QB only becomes bearable by drafting a superstar like Richardson. I’m not an advocate of RBs this high, but Richardson is an elite prospect.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

With Ronde Barber’s age and Aqib Talib’s inability to stay out of trouble off the field, the Bucs are looking at potential holes at both starting CB positions come training camp. Fortunately for them, the board falls perfectly their way and they not only select the best CB in the draft, but the best player available as well.

6. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Rams allowed a league-worst 55 sacks a season ago, and QB Sam Bradford has taken a beating in his young career. St. Louis jumps at the opportunity to take the best left tackle prospect in the draft and someone who can protect the blindside for years to come.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

I have a feeling new Jaguars owner Shad Khan will want to make a splash to invigorate a dying fan base. Whether it’s a trade up or a trade back for a WR to take some pressure of QB Blaine Gabbert, I’m not sure. If they stay at seven, Ingram makes sense as a dynamic player capable of playing multiple positions and making plays all over the field.

8. Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Peyton Manning (Denver). Matt Flynn (Seattle). Chad Henne (Jacksonville). Alex Smith (San Francisco). All are QBs who Miami courted but decided to sign elsewhere. At this point the starting QB battle is between David Garrard, who didn’t play last year, and Matt Moore. Something has to give, and although he’s a project, Tannehill is as athletically talented as Jake Locker.

9. Carolina Panthers

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.

Adding pass rush along the defensive line should be the top priority for a Panthers team that managed only 31 sacks a year ago, fewer than the Seahawks. Cox is a late riser up draft boards but is becoming the consensus top DT it this class due to his ability to be a disruptive force in the opposing team’s backfield.

10. Buffalo Bills

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Having secured big-ticket free agent Mario Williams to significantly improve their pass rush, the Bills now turn to the offensive side of the ball and try to replace departed left tackle Demetress Bell who signed with the Eagles. Reiff is another in a long line of Iowa offensive linemen who enter the NFL ready to start and contribute immediately.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Linebacker may not be the most dire team need on the Chiefs, but grabbing Kuechly at this point could be a steal, and with Romeo Crennel as head coach, defense will most likely be the focus of the draft for the Chiefs. Kuechly was a tackling machine at B.C., compiling 532 stops in his three seasons.

12. Seattle Seahawks

Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Rumors are the Seahawks will take Tannehill if he falls here, or maybe even Alabama safety Mark Barron. With Pete Carroll and John Schneider you can expect the unexpected, so anything goes. If I had to bet, a pass rusher is the logical choice for a team that struggled to get to the QB a year ago. Coples can be special if he wants to be.

13. Arizona Cardinals

David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

The Cardinals have made a significant investment into QB Kevin Kolb, and must be able to protect him better. You can bet that offensive line coach Russ Grimm will be beating the drum for DeCastro, a Bellevue High School product and favorite of anyone who likes tough, physical football players.

14. Dallas Cowboys

Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Veteran free agent safety Brodney Poole was added in the offseason, but it’s no secret how badly the Cowboys’ defensive backs have struggled in recent years.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Brockers possesses prototypical size and length for a defensive tackle and shouldn’t fall past Philadelphia based on enormous potential.

16. New York Jets

Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama

Another member of Alabama’s vaunted defense last season, Upshaw has the type of versatility Rex Ryan craves in a defensive player.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK)

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins, who may be the most talented corner in the draft, has serious off-field issues, as if that’s ever stopped the Bengals before.

18. San Diego Chargers

Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

Only one Charger registered more than four sacks this past season, and Mercilus led the FBS in that category with 16.

19. Chicago Bears

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Having already added WR Brandon Marshall in the offseason, the Bears grab the perfect compliment in the dynamic playmaker Wright.

20. Tennessee Titans

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Losing starting corner Cortland Finnegan in free agency to the Rams hurts, so the Titans take Kirkpatrick to ease the pain.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Pairing the ultra-talented Floyd with potential superstar A.J. Green will give QB Andy Dalton the type of weapons QBs drool over.

22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL)

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma St.

After missing out on Griffin and passing on Tannehill, the Browns select the 28-year-old Weeden to push Colt McCoy for the starting QB job.

23. Detroit Lions

Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Detroit’s secondary was a train wreck last year and with no corners under contract beyond next season the Lions must look to upgrade.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

Hightower will be a great value at this point in the draft, with his ability to play linebacker as well as get after the QB from a defensive end spot.

25. Denver Broncos

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Poe delivered a spectacular combine performance to help vault his stock into the first round, and should give the Broncos immediate help at a very thin position.

26. Houston Texans

Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia

The Texans could look to add a WR to help take some pressure away from Andre Johnson, but instead select Glenn to aid in keeping QB Matt Schaub healthy.

27. New England Patriots (via N.O.)

Doug Martin, RB, Boise St.

New England has needed a running back since the Corey Dillon days and, after losing Benjarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, are in a perfect spot to grab Martin.

28. Green Bay Packers

Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise St.

Providing pass rush opposite of Clay Matthews should be top priority for Green Bay, who fielded one of the worst defenses in the league statistically last season.

29. Baltimore Ravens

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Konz was a standout on a Badger offensive line that was one of the best in college football last season.

30. San Francisco 49ers

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Randy Moss was added to a receiving group that was terrible at times last year, but he’s just a stop-gap measure and Hill could be the star of the future.

31. New England Patriots

Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Another chance for New England to take the best player available while also upgrading a defense that was near the bottom of the NFL last season.

32. New York Giants

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

The rich get richer as the Superbowl champion Giants add Fleener to give Eli Manning another dynamic option to throw to.

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