Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 10/25/11

Halfway through the season and Stanford QB supreme/BMOC Andrew Luck is seeing his draft stock remain just as high as it was last spring. He’s told the media how dumb he believes the “suck for Luck” campaign is. Are NFL teams are really even intentionally sucking in order to take the most sought after signal caller in college football?.

Maybe. We explored this concept back in the offseason. Here’s our initial study in June. But a lot has changed since then so let’s look at who’s in the race for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft derby.

And then we’ll see where everything else shakes out

Go here for the Suck for Luck Powerless rankings

1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Ind team needs: OT, WR, DB, DT, OLB, and a lot more

The Colts are to being bad at football what white 18-34 year old women are to watching “Grey’s Anatomy.” (See what I did there- a little local pop culture reference).

Yes, Luck was extremely nuts to give up all that money that comes with being the #1 pick. And yes, that’s unprecedented, a #1 overall staying in school. We’ll never know why, we just know he’s going to be the first pick next year. As of now.

Luck as a NFL prospect, possibly the #1 NFL Draft prospect,- his strong arm, excellent read-and-recognitions, quickness and mobility, poise and intelligence on the field or his excellent standing off of it.

In preparation for his match-up with Luck and his Stanford last year, Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly discussed what impresses him most about the redshirt quarterback.

“He was hitting the wide field, go route, intermediate, and the thing that really got my attention is his ability to run. I think he had a 50 something yard run for a touchdown. So his ability, his escapability, I didn’t know what it was. I now know what it is. The guy is extremely athletic, as well, and he can run. So he brings a big dimension to the table and not just throwing the football,” Kelly said.

To learn more about Andrew Luck GO HERE

2. St. Louis Rams, Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Stl. team needs: DT, LB, DB, OL

You can say the Rams have bigger needs at other positions but Kalil is one of those franchise building LTs, as he’s one of the best OL prospects to come along in quite some time. We all know QBs are the highest paid, the men who protect the blind side of those signal callers are the next highest paid.

Kalil is a 6-7, 295 junior tackle from Corona, CA. He may have to add some muscle weight to become a star at the next level, or maybe over to a different position. Kalil blocked a PAT against Notre Dame last season and shows a lot of agility and movement for a big guy.

For more on Kalil go here

For bikini photos of the USC Song Girls (their cheerleaders) swim charity event go here

3. Miami, Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Mia team needs: OLB, DT, SS, OL

Barkley has the ideal arm strength for the NFL game even though he needs to work on his deep ball. Also the absolute prototypical size for a NFL QB (6-2, 220). The junior from Newport, CA will likely depart after this season as he’s looking like the second or third best quarterback prospect in this draft- Andrew Luck is the number one.

Kiffin talked about his relationship with his signal caller, and his performance at Notre Dame Stadium.

“There’s a great trust level.  We put a lot of stuff early on where there were some things, shots that were a little bit further downfield and he did a great job taking care of the ball, of putting away the football.  Those were huge runs he was making when he was scrambling and making those plays.  And even though his numbers are not gigantic, if you don’t get sacked and you don’t turn the ball over with any fumbles or any interceptions as quarterback, and you throw a couple touchdowns, you’re going to give us a good chance to win and he did that,” Kiffin said.

Barkley has put up some video game numbers at midseason, 68% completion, 19 TDs, 4 picks, 2006 yards.

For more on Barkley go here

For bikini photos of the USC Song Girls (their cheerleaders) swim charity event go here

4. Jacksonville, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Jax teams needs: WR, DE, DT, CB, QB, LB

Blackmon is a front-runner for the college football top wide receiver award (the Biletnikoff). The junior playing for the Oklahoma State Cowboys is also the top WR in this NFLDraft class. He’ll definitely come out this year, as he seems to be a top 5 pick this April.

In the scouts’ eyes, Blackmon is rated ahead of South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery currently. Blackmon’s size and agility make him able to stretch out and corral any balls thrown anywhere near his vicinity.

Coming out of Plainview High School in Ardmore, Oklahoma, he was ranked a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, and the#91 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2008.

For more on Blackmon go here

5. Minnesota Vikings, Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Min team needs: DT, OLB, QB, OT, OG

This year it looks like there’s a big disparity between the Vikes and the rest of their division, meaning it could be a long season. They have plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, but Donovan McNabb is clearly on his last NFL legs. Time to find his replacement. Is it Christian Ponder? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. We’ll have to, as the Vikes ship is taking on a ton of water.

And look at Carolina- they took a signal caller very high in the draft in successive years, and it seems to have worked out pretty well for them so far. Not so much for Jimmy Claussen, but that’s another story.

Jones has put up “video game numbers,” to use a trending term, and he’s going to break most of Sam Bradford’s OU records for passing.

6. Arizona, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Arizona team needs: WR, OL, OLB, S, CB

I think they need to use their first pick on some more help blocking. up front Did you see how the Pittsburgh DL made the Cards’ OL their prison ***** in midseason?

7. Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Cle team needs: OL, RB, LB, DT, SS

The Browns have bigger needs  than tailback, but  Richardson should be a much better pro than his predecessor in Mark Ingram. Richardson can bench press a Buick, power clean a Ford and decline press an Oldsmobile. He’s got DB speed with DL strength.

Richardson also talked about the influence Ingram has had on his career.

“He’ll always have a big role in my life. I try to follow in his footsteps, he’s one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen come through the collegiate level and play the game. He helped me out a lot with my vision, he had great vision. He could stop on a dime and cut real fast, that’s one thing I tried to pick up from him,” Richardson said.

Many runners have influenced Richardson, including Reggie Bush and the Vikings Adrian Peterson.

Richardson is frequently compared to Emmitt Smith, but his physique and running style are more similar to Earl Campbell. He’s also drawn comparisons to Michael Turner the Burner and O.J. Simpson (on the field, not off of it, of course).

To learn more about Richardson go here

 

8. Carolina, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Car team needs: OL, DB, WR, OLB

It’s been fun watching last year’s #1 overall pick Cam Newton throw for a ton of yards, but the Panthers will end up right back here as long as they keep giving up just as many yards as they throw for.

Kirkpatrick is a big, physical defensive back with speed and agility. He won the Bobby Johns Defensive Back Award and captured the Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award in the spring.

Hightower sung his praises:

“He’s one of those guys who stepped up a lot in trying to be one of those vocal leaders on the team, trying to get everyone amped up and ready to go.”

To learn more about Kirkpatrick GO HERE

9. Kansas City, Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State Spartans

KC team needs: QB, ILB, OT, RB, DT,

K.C. looks like a hot mess right now, and likely to be a top 5 team on draft day.

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy’s NFL Draft stock is about as high as anyone on the Spartans, or even anyone in the Big Ten. He also has a tattoo that entails everything that makes college football such an awesome game. Go here to see it. Take a closer look and notice the tattoo’s homage to the rivalry with Michigan. What an affront it is to the Wolverines, love it!

To learn more about Worthy go here

10. Cincinnati Bengals, Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Cin team needs: OLB, CB, WR, RB, OG, OC

Time to finally find Chad Ochocinco’s heir apparent. Although the Bungles have so many needs it’s going to be difficult to predict their draft day. Jeffrey is a tour de force, but imagine what he’d be if he had a real QB throwing to him. Stephen Garcia was a joke- perfect embodiment of a 10 cent head, million dollar arm.

11.  Seattle, Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

Sea team needs: QB, DE, OLB, SS, TE

The Seabags could use some help in the front seven, and Upshaw could have the most “upside” on that Bama defense; which really says something given how many pro prospects are on the team.

12. Denver, Donte Paige-Moss, DE/OLB, North Carolina

Den team needs: DL, S, CB, RB

The Broncos could use a versatile pass-rusher to augment their defensive front. In recent years, it seems that have to keep winning shootouts.

13. Washington, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Was team needs: QB, OG, LB, WR

Sexy Rexy might have gotten off to a hot start, but you knew that wasn’t going to last. Grossman’s INTs and losses showed up- that train’s never late! Therefore the next train will be his eventual replacement. And it won’t be John Beck; who was also awful.

14. Tennessee, Cliff Harris, CB/PR, Oregon

Ten team needs: WR, OL, DE, DB

The Titans could use another weapon in the return game and help in the secondary. Harris is fast- both on the field and in his car. As he was pulled over for going 117 m.p.h. recently.

To learn more with/about Harris go here

For the definitive collection of Hot Oregon Cheerleader pictures go here

And more Oregon cheerleaders here.

And the hot Oregon cheerleader who’s brother is now a star receiver at Arizona St. go here

15. Philadelphia  Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

Phi team needs: DE, TE, OG, LB, S

I never thought I’d have the Eagles picking this high, and it could get even worse as Vince Young’s supposed “dream team” is looking like a nightmare right now. Very tough to figure where ILBs will go. They tend to get under-drafted. Kuechly is the real deal though, a very bright spot on a very bad team.

16. Dallas, Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Dal team needs: OL, DB, LB

Alfonzo Dennard is a 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior from Rochelle, Ga who had 4 INTs and 7 PBUs last year. He returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the NU regular-season win at Washington. Dennard was good enough to consider jumping to the NFL last season, but obviously elected to return.

He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season despite being overshadowed by New York Giants first-round draft pick and teammate Prince Amukamara.

To learn more about Dennard go here

17. Oakland, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Oak team needs: OLB, S, CB,

The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency has made the entire Oakland secondary weaker. They can beef up by adding Gilmore who’s coverage and tackling skills will be welcomed in the black hole.

18. Buffalo Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Buf team needs: LB, DB, OT

I never thought I’d have Buffalo picking outside the top 15, and the way they’re going, they could fall down to the 20s. A very welcome development given all the suffering in upstate New York football lately. You can never have enough pass-rushers, especially when you play the Patriots twice a year.

19. Tampa Bay, Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

T.B. team needs: OL, LB, DB

RG3 was thought of to be more of a dual-threat, college star QB who could flourish in a gimmicky offense last season. Now he’s known as a winner, and someone with sterling character who will work as hard as possible to make it on the next level.

20. San Francisco, Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina

S.F. team needs: LB, FS, OL, QB, RB

21. Houston, Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State

Hou team needs: WR, OT, DB

The Texans are shaping up to be the AFC NASCAR division champ.

 

22. Chicago Bears, WR, A.J. Jenkins, Illinois Fighting Illini

Bears GM Jerry Angelo was in attendance when Jenkins set a new school record with 268 yards receiving in the Illini big come-from-behind win over Northwestern. A.J. is now third in the nation in receiving yards, about half-way through the season.

And have you seen the Bears receiving corps?

Jenkins has shown an amazing ability to both complete a route and re-adjust to the ball on Saturday. He has a knack for corralling anything close to his area that will get scouts saying his name a lot.

Confidence is an essential part to Jenkins’ game, especially because his role model is the legendary Michael Irvin.

“His ego, and the way he carried himself, always wanting the ball,” Jenkins responded when I asked about his role model receiver. And Jenkins’ QB, Nathan Scheelhaase, is well aware of Jenkins’ bravado.

“He’s a confident player, he loves the competition and is willing to go up against any DB in the country I promise you that, so that’s we like throwing to him,” Scheelhaase said of Jenkins.

I actually think A.J. should keep up the brash talk and behavior- that’s what separates a lot of great receivers from good ones. It’s the one position in the league where the Keyshawn Johnson “just give me the damn ball mentality” is truly most productive.

For more on A.J. check out this link

23. San Diego, Vontaze Bufict, LB, Arizona State

S.D. team needs: DE, DB, OLB, OT

The Chargers front seven is aging, and I wouldn’t be surprised  if they kept picking at various positions there for the next couple of drafts. Bufict had one major concern heading into this season-character. Many scouts have wondered about his work ethic. However, now that the season has started, there are no questions at all. He’s been dominant and taken the Sun Devils to a level of relevancy they really haven’t seen since the days of Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman.

24. Cleveland (from Atlanta), Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

The Browns could use some help in the pass rush, and Coples is just the guy to provide it.

25. NY Jets, Brandon Jenkins, OLB/DE, Florida State

NYJ team needs: DE, OLB, DB, OL, WR

A natural pass rusher who continues to grow into his frame and who excels with his speed rush. Probably his best trait is his quickness off the ball. Has good instincts, knows how to play the game and react to the ball.

26. NY Giants, Marcus Forston, DT, Miami

NYG team needs: LB, TE, WR, DT, DE

A good value pick for the Giants, as GM Jerry Reese is as much a value GM as it comes.

27. Pittsburgh  Devin Taylor, DE/OLB, South Carolina

Pitt team needs: WR, OG, TE, OLB, DB

Taylor gives the Steelers some good versatility that could use up front.

28. Detroit Lions, Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes really know how to produce O Linemen. The big cornfed boys of the Upper Midwest, moving on to another team in the same region. Lions could use more help protecting Stafford. Still WEIRD to see the Lions picking this low!

Det team needs: OL, DB, LB

29. New England Patriots (from New Orleans), Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

NE team needs: S, DL, OLB, OL, WR

Hayward (5-11, 188) should enter the draft with a well-earned reputation as a ballhawk. He seems like a second-round draft pick, but defenders who find the ball and seize often shoot up the charts. Playing in the SEC, and looking good against some of the best receivers will land Hayward in the first round.

30. Baltimore, Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin Badgers

Bal team needs: OLB, DB, C, OT

This isn’t the Ravens most pressing need, but imagine what Flacco could do pairing this rookie wideout with Anquan Boldin? There’d be a lot less Ray Rice screen patterns that’s for sure!

Over the past decade, the Wisconsin Badgers have emerged as an underrated hot-bed for NFL talent in the Midwest. The Badgers ability to develop professional talent peaked in 2011 when two of their alumni were drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, the Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt (11th overall) and the Chicago Bears OL Gabe Carimi (29th overall). Next in line for the Badgers in the NFL is senior wide-out Nick Toon. Just three games into the 2011 season, it appears imminent that Toon has the skills and big-play ability to become a main-stay on whatever NFL team calls his name in April of 2012.

For more on Nick Toon go here

31. New England Patriots, Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame

NE team needs: S, DL, OLB, OL, WR

When he was a freshman, the 6-2, 245 LB posted the third-most tackles ever by an Irish rookie; and ranked fourth on ND with 63 stops in 2009. His 2010 season was even better as he had 133 total tackles (most for an Irish defender since 1983), 9.5 for a loss, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups.

His defensive coordinator Bob Diaco described him thusly:

“He’s definitely in the top cut of maturity. He’s just a mature person with a big heart. Always in service, in service to the student body, his teammates, his coaches, helping out his buddies. So when you factor that with his tangible skill set on the field, that’s really a special blend.”

Go here and HERE for more about Teo

32. Green Bay Packers, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

GB team needs: C, DB, LB,

Going with a value pick here, After all it is a Ted Thompson pick.

With three alcohol related legal offenses during his time in South Bend, you know character concerns will be front and center. Of course, no story about Michael Floyd is complete without mentioning that the true key to his realization of that enormous potential is staying healthy. Floyd led all FBS wideouts in the nation with a 29.09 yards per catch average and he was tied for the national lead in receiving TDs when he suffered a broken collarbone against Michigan State in ’09.

But last year he only missed one game, and had his true breakout year. When you look at his stats and size, you see what makes him a blue-chip prospect. He’s passed up Golden Tate, Jeff Samardzjia and Tim Brown to claim all the major receiving records in ND history.

For more on Michael Floyd, search the TSB archives. I’ve written about a dozen stories on him.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio shows all across the world. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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