04 January 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: 2nd Edition

Andrew Luck looks a little dejected here after losing an instant classic in the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State but he can hold his head high now that he knows that will be headed to the Circle City come draft time. The Indianapolis Colts will hold the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and barring something unforseen, Andrew Luck will be taking pictures with Roger Goodell on the stage at Radio City Music Hall with a Colts hat and jersey. But how do I foresee the rest of the draft shaping out? Here's my second look at a mock draft but with only the clubs that did not make the playoffs for now.
Draft Order

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This is rather obvious. Colts owner Jim Irsay has indicated that if the Colts were in position to draft Luck that they would not hesitate to select him and it's extremely difficult to pass up someone quite like Luck. Even though the decision of Matt Barkley to return to USC makes it a little easier to trade out of the pick with the QB crop a little leaner, don't bet on it, Luck will go number one. Now the question will be what happens with the team and Peyton Manning.

2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Another pretty easy pick. You could make a case for Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne with this pick but Kalil is the superior prospect plus fills a more important need. There is nothing more important than to keep a young quarterback healthy and the Rams' offensive line has been letting Sam Bradford down, leading to some injury woes and inconsistency. Rodger Safford has taken a step back on the left side and Jason Smith on the right side blows. Kalil has all the tools to be a stud left tackle for years.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Vikings have gotten scorched all season throughout the air and something clearly has to change with Minnesota facing quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler six times a season. They need an upgrade at the cornerback position and thus Claiborne makes a lot of sense. Claiborne may not be Patrick Peterson but he does have all the tools, size, ball skills, speed, athleticism, playmaking ability as well as tremendous return ability. 

4. Cleveland Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
I know that I'm in the majority that sees the Browns passing on Robert Griffin III but here is my reasoning on to why I foresee for now Mike Holmgren and co. taking Blackmon instead. I think that they will end up signing Matt Flynn, hold onto Colt McCoy for now since I'm not total sure if they don't foresee a future for him in Cleveland and also draft a QB in the middle rounds to be developed as well. If the signs point to Holmgren and coach Pat Shurmur looking to move in a different direction and draft a quarterback high, then I'll make a change, it is still early after all. But for now I see them taking the playmaker their receiving corps so sorely lacks.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
In this scenario with Claiborne off the board, the Buccaneers will be in prime position to trade down and get some more picks from teams that want Griffin and don't want to see him going in the next selection. But I don't predict trades so in the meantime I see Tampa taking yet another defensive end. They've spent their top two picks of each of the last two drafts taking defensive lineman but still had the lowest amount of sacks in the NFL last season. Coples is your prototypical 4-3 end thanks to his size and athleticism and can also rush the passer very well from the tackle spot and he's been excellent in Chapel Hill over the past two seasons.

6. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
If the Redskins had an opportunity to take Griffin, they will pounce faster than Keith Olbermann getting into problems with management. Without question will Daniel Snyder fall in love with the Heisman Trophy recipient and they still need a franchise quarterback, unless they really believe in Rex Grossman, a thought so laughable that it has to be considered somewhat but not really. Griffin has all the tools, quality arm strength, tremendous accuracy, intelligence, leadership, incredible athleticism, that will have teams drooling to be able to select him.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
A tough spot for Jacksonville with many of their top targets off the board. But Gene Smith has got to get some targets for Blaine Gabbert who has had nobody to throw to. I don't think they are going to give up on Gabbert just yet so they might as well try to build with him. I think they would reach slightly here for Jeffrey, who has not had a great season but has had some quarterback troubles to deal with. Jeffrey is no speed demon but he is a big and physical wideout who has the athleticism to go up and get it, if he shows plus speed in the workouts, his stock would warrant this selection.

8. Carolina Panthers - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, South Carolina
The Panthers have been gashed through the air and on the ground so they should aim to take the top defender on the board, which in this case would be Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick would provide an immediate upgrade for what has been exposed as a leaky secondary. He has tremendous size for a corner and stands at 6'2'' and he's also shown good ball skills and solid athleticism, even without great top-end speed. Would be a good fit on Ron Rivera's defense.

9. Miami Dolphins - Riley Rieff, OT, Iowa
Matt Moore played pretty well down the stretch and helped take the Dolphins out of the mix to take one of the elite quarterbacks in the draft and any other quarterback here would be a reach right now. So they need to address their porous offensive line now and can do so by drafting Rieff. Rieff is a very good pass blocker who has the frame to add more weight and strength to his body. It is easier to improve as a run blocker than as a pass blocker and he already is a solid enough run blocker. His versatility is also a plus.

10. Buffalo Bills - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Bills seriously need to improve their pass rush. They right now are last in the NFL with 19 sacks on the year, that's pretty pitiful. Upshaw is an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker having played that position in coach under Nick Saban. He may not have tremendous speed but he is athletic enough to chase the quarterback and has proven to make big plays in big games. At 'Bama, Upshaw defended the run and the pass equally well.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Jamaal Charles is one of the most explosive backs in the NFL but he has never shown that he can handle a full load given his slight frame and will next season be coming off an ACL tear. The Chiefs could use a talented back to share the load with Charles and would make for a very strong pair at running back. Richardson is the clear top player on the board and has all the tools you want out of your running back.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Jones really should go back to school in my opinion, he struggled down the stretch and his stock took a nice hit. But if he does come out for the draft he will be a first rounder and when teams need quarterbacks, their values will inflate. The Seahawks were solid down the stretch and had an outside playoff chance going into the final weeks of the season but Tarvaris Jackson is not fooling anybody that he's a franchise quarterback. If Pete Carroll has the opportunity to select Jones I think he will but he may also be a player for Matt Flynn as well in free agency.

13. Arizona Cardinals - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Cardinals offensive line has been just pitiful yet again and it's not helping whoever is their quarterback, whether it be Kevin Kolb, who's getting the big bucks, and John Skelton. Levi Brown just does not cut it. Martin needs to work on his pass protection which makes him an iffy left tackle right now but his tremendous run blocking skills make him an ideal tackle on the right side initially. If he works on his pass blocking he can be a stud on the left side but the right side may be a better fit, at least initially.

14. Dallas Cowboys - Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Once again, cornerback is a major need for the Cowboys. Their secondary has been shredded multiple times of late after starting the season well. Terrence Newman has taken a couple of steps backward and Orlando Scandrick should be a nickelback. Dennard has shut down one part of the field for the Huskers this season and has displayed really good cover skills, especially after playing opposite Prince Amukamara last season.

15. Philadelphia Eagles -  Micheal Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
I'm just gonna say that I'm pretty certain that DeSean Jackson will not be an Eagle next season. Andy Reid does not like players calling him out and the organization must be tired of his childish antics and his severe lack of maturity. Besides Jeremy Maclin is better than him anyways. But they will need a replacement at wideout with Jackson all but gone. Floyd has some off the field issues and does not have Jackson's top level speed (who does) but he is an awesome athlete who can catch any pass and is a boss in the red zone.

16. New York Jets - Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
The Jets have still struggled to develop a consistent pass rush threat. Aaron Maybin has shown some flashes but they don't have that consistent sack threat that would make their defense badass. And if Maybin could be made into a decent pass rusher, the Jets should have no problems with the talented Perry. He's a very explosive athlete with some surprising power in his skill-set.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
A talent bereft with character concerns? Sounds like a Cincinnati Bengal much? Mike Brown has always loved to select troubled talents and Jenkins would fit the mold. Cincinnati also has a need at cornerback with Nate Clements, who's been mediocre this year, getting older and entering a contract year so it fills a need. Jenkins has some major character concerns and is not the biggest guy in the world but has tremendous cover skills thanks to his excellent speed and athleticism. If Marvin Lewis keeps him off the police blotter, a big if, he can be an elite corner.

18. San Diego Chargers - Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
After the failure of Larry English, who has still failed to make much of an impact, the Chargers need to find another pass rushing threat to take some pressure off of Shaun Phillips, who struggled in 2011, and the surprising Antwan Barnes. Lewis played mostly defensive end for the Sooners and very well in fact but has also played a little at outside linebacker and has the size to be able to play the 3-4 outside linebacker spot.

19. Chicago Bears - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
It's been several years since the Bears had a legitimate thumper at one of the safety positions (anybody remember Mike Brown?). They did manage to find a quality free safety in rookie Chris (Don't call me Victor) Conte but need a hard-hitter to complement him. And Barron can be that guy. He also is a solid cover guy but his best attribute is his instincts which allow him to find the ballcarrier and leave a mark.

20. Tennessee Titans - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Chris Johnson really struggled to find his groove this season (and still ran for 1,000 yards) and it's his offensive line that could use an upgrade. DeCastro is a guy that can develop into one of the elite guards in football. He's got great size, can move very well, he's tough and physical and loves to pancake defenders. In fact, don't we all? And Titans coach Mike Munchak is one of the top guards of all time and would love to add a potential elite talent at the position.

I will continually update this mock when further teams are eliminated from the playoffs.

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