Every Scouting Combine, prospects get the opportunity to change their draft stock. Some make great use of the chance given while others send their stock plummeting. This year’s combine played out that same way: some prospects looked better than at first believed while others will need a strong performance at their Pro Day to get their draft stock back to where it should be. As for the top players of the draft, they held out of key drills at the combine and opted to run them at their respected Pro Day instead. In short, the combine did very little to change the complexion of the top five picks with the exception of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck/QB/Stanford – The closer that free agency draws, the more it seems that Peyton Manning’s days as an Indianapolis Colt will come to an end. Indianapolis owes Manning $28 million in exactly a week, a reality that the Colts really do not want to come true. It sure seems like Colts owner Jim Irsay wants to move on from Manning. Andrew Luck would give the Colts a reliable, pro-ready quarterback replacement while also giving the Colts a lot more cap room thanks to the new CBA and the rookie salary cap. This move will allow the Colts to be more active in free agency, a critical factor with a new head coach who wants to scrap the old Cover Two defense and replace it with the 3-4 defense he wants.
2. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon/WR/Oklahoma State – Funny fact: The winner of last year’s draft-day trade between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns might very well be the St. Louis Rams. Cleveland and Washington are both in the market for new quarterbacks. How they address that need remains to be seen, but if neither adds a quarterback through free agency, the Rams’ second-overall pick’s value increases dramatically. If Cleveland then offers St. Louis both of their first-round picks as well as a day three pick, St. Louis simply could not pass on that. Once there, Cleveland could take Griffin. If a trade does not happen, expect new head coach Jeff Fisher to bring in a quality wideout to help out his new, young quarterback. Blackmon could also still be on the board if the Rams ended up picking at four.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil/OT/Southern California – Minnesota gets a lot of value with this pick. Not only do they get the top offensive lineman in the draft, they walk away with someone who could help fill a gap left by Steve Hutchison should the Vikings choose to release him. They help their offensive line get younger, open up running lanes for Adrian Peterson and help protect their second-year quarterback Christian Ponder.
4. Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III/QB/Baylor – Basically what selection #2 says, only this scenario would frustrate the Redskins if Washington wanted to get Griffin. If the Rams somehow did not trade their pick and both Cleveland and Washington both wanted RG3, Minnesota would receive a lot of calls about trading. If Minnesota determined that Kalil’s talent would be simply too good to pass on, Cleveland walks away with RG3 and does not lose any draft picks. This “t00-good-to-be-true” scenario looks like it will be just that. Only free agency will tell the future of this potential trade.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne/CB/LSU – New head coach Greg Schiano might have tipped his hand (or in this case his draft board) when he hired former LSU defensive backs coach Ron Cooper to coach the same position in Tampa. In a division filled with powerful passing offenses, Tampa will look to counterattack that by boosting their secondary. Adding Cooper means easing Claiborne’s transition into the NFL by giving the cornerback a coach he’s familiar with. Claiborne will give the Buccaneers another talented corner opposite of Aqib Talib.