08 March 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: 10th Edition

Everybody wants to trade up for Robert Griffin III because so many teams need a franchise QB. I've had one team trading up for Griffin for a while now but now I have somebody different trading up for him. Let's take a look at my tenth mock draft for the 2012 NFL Draft.

For even better mocks, check out the exponentially growing mock draft database at WalterFootball.com. 370 mocks and counting.

Projected Trade
St. Louis trades 2nd overall pick to Washington for the 6th overall pick and other picks.

For the sake of this mock draft, I will project Peyton Manning signing with the Dolphins and Matt Flynn signing in Cleveland. I know I said that I think Manning will sign in Washington but supposedly Manning prefers the AFC. The Dolphins were my second choice so I'm would not be completely wrong (like usual) but mostly wrong.

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This is rather obvious, considering how Peyton Manning is no longer a member of this franchise. 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. Luck is going to go number one, no questions asked. Luck did not throw at the combine but didn't have to, but he did flash his athleticism running pretty much the same 40-yard dash as Cam Newton a year ago.

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) - Robert Griffin, III, QB Baylor
I know I've been saying that it will be the Browns that will be trading up for Griffin but apparently they are not willing to trade the 22nd pick which is idiotic but it is what it is. The Skins have shown willingness to sell the house and farm for Griffin. Griffin has all the tools, quality arm strength, tremendous accuracy, intelligence, leadership, incredible athleticism (which he flashed at the Combine), that will have teams drooling to be able to select him.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Vikings' offensive line was absolutely pitiful last season, most notably with left tackle Charlie Johnson, who sucks. The Vikings need to protect Christian Ponder if they want him to develop and they would be jumping for joy if Kalil is available here. Kalil is an absolute stud, he has all the tools that you want out of your franchise left tackle. There's a reason on why people are saying it is not a stretch that he is the best left tackle prospect since Joe Thomas, like Scott Wright suggested.

4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
With Mike Holmgren apparently, and ridiculously, unwilling to trade the 22nd pick in order to be able to trade up for Griffin, I have the Browns settling for Matt Flynn, who is a good fit for the West Coast Offense of coach Pat Shurmur. They need to find offensive weapons to surround Flynn with and thus as Peyton Hillis is all but gone in Cleveland, taking Richardson makes a ton of sense. Richardson has all the tools you want out of your running back and he is the top running back prospect in years. I'm not a fan of taking backs this high in the draft but Richardson is worth it in my eyes.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
This is the ideal selection for Tampa Bay as it fills their greatest need with the top player on the board. The Buccaneers do have a solid cornerback tandem in Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber. But I would be surprised if Talib was on the team next season considering his numerous character concerns, he almost got cut before this season before Raheem Morris said no. And Barber is 36 and seems very likely to retire. 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. 

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams would be very happy if they were still able to get Blackmon down here at six. Sam Bradford has not really had anyone to throw to before they acquired Brandon Lloyd via trade last season but he is a free agent and he could very well sign with the Patriots to be with his boy Josh McDaniels. Blackmon has good size, tremendous hands and the speed and athlecism to be a dangerous deep threat in the passing game. He was awesome in the Fiesta Bowl despite a leg infection. Blackmon came in shorter than expected at the Combine but he plays bigger than his height indicates.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Blaine Gabbert was an unmitigated disaster in his rookie season in 2011 with Football Outsiders saying he had the fifth worst season by a quarterback ever. But the Jaguars need to give him another chance because quite frankly, who the hell was he throwing to? Jacksonville desperately needs to find him some threats at wideout and thus Floyd makes a ton of sense. Floyd had a strong combine, running faster than expected, and while he has some off the field issues (which GM Gene Smith always takes note of), three alcohol arrests at Notre Dame, but he is an awesome athlete who can catch any pass and is really good in the red zone.

8. Miami Dolphins - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Dolphins are moving to a 4-3 and regardless of what defense they ran, they needed to find another pass rushing threat opposite Cameron Wake. Coples makes sense because he is the ideal 4-3 defensive endthanks 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. He had a very good Combine, looking tremendous in the on-field drills. Coples and Wake will make for a badass pass rush combo, which could make this defense elite.

9. Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
I've had the Panthers taking Devon Still here for a while but I feel that Brockers has passed Still as the best defensive tackle in the draft. Still had an ok combine while Brockers had a solid one, his size was bigger than expected but his long arms are a definite plus. Brockers can play both defensive tackle and defensive end and he has great size, as he showed at the Combine which I already mentioned, and solid mobility along the defensive front.

10. Buffalo Bills - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
There is no question that the Bills need to upgrade their pass rush. They finished tied for 27th with a very mediocre 29 sacks. I have been mocking Courtney Upshaw here for a while now but with the news that the team is moving to a 4-3 with Dave Wannstedt becoming the new coordinator, he is not a very good fit in that defense. Ingram is a better fit. He has great speed and agility which should allow him to rush the passer off the edge very well. He really took off at the end of the Gamecocks' season with a combined 3.5 sacks against Clemson and in the Capital One Bowl against Nebraska. And he absolutely killed it at the Combine.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - Riley Rieff, OT, Iowa
The Chiefs' offensive line needs some help, particularly at the tackle positions. Brandon Albert is a fine left tackle but really should be back at guard and right tackle Barry Richardson really struggled in 2011. Taking Rieff would allow either Albert to be moved or Richardson to be replaced. 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. There are questions about the length of his arms, however.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Tarvaris Jackson actually had a fine season in 2011, at least for his standards, and was not terrible. But everybody knows he is not a franchise quarterback for any means but for the short-term is not bad, making a Tannehill selection, as he needs some seasoning, sensible. Is Tannehill worth this selection? No but quarterbacks will always get overdrafted, just look at last year. Tannehill has the talent to be a star as he has ideal size, can move and has a strong arm but he is a raw quarterback who has only played the position for one full season at A&M. He was also erratic as well but having him sit behind Jackson makes sense.

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 - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
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. And I think Jenkins has passed Kirkpatrick as the second best cornerback prospect as his coverage skills are better. The questions with Jenkins are his character problems as before he went to UNA, he had multiple arrests when at Florida but it does he appear he got his act together when he went to North Alabama. The Cowboys better hope so.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Andy Reid has not been a fan of drafting linebackers early but it has shown as the linebacking unit has been the sore spot on the Eagles' defense over the last few years, particularly last year. They have holes at all three linebacking spots so they would be crazy not to take Kuechly right here. He is not the greatest athlete in the world, but he is very instinctive and intelligent. He works his ass off on every play and knows how to find the football. He has been the most consistent linebacker in all of college football and would make for a very solid pro. Plus, he had a great combine and he ran much faster than predicted. I'd be surprised if he fell past Philadelphia.

16. New York Jets - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
It's a shame almost that a brilliant defensive mind like Rex Ryan has lacked elite pass rushers that would push his defense over the top. Aaron Maybin had a few good games but did close to nothing the last few weeks but the Jets are high on him and will look to pair another pass rusher with him. Upshaw's stock was hurt by his mediocre Combine as he looked very stiff in the linebacking drills and came in a little big so people may feel he will be better fit in a 4-3. But Upshaw has great tape to fall back on and he really was tremendous at 'Bama, particularly in the BCS Championship Game.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bengals taking a guy with character concerns? Great match, eh? Kirkpatrick was recently arrested for marijuana possession and while the charge got dropped, it still raised eyebrows about the people Kirkpatrick hangs with. But he would fill a need in Cincinnati with Nate Clements, who was mediocre this year, getting older and entering a contract year so it fills a need. Kirkpatrick is a stud in run support and hits really hard. He has the ability to be a solid cover corner as well.

18. San Diego Chargers - Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
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. And yes I have San Diego taking Perry ahead of Courtney Upshaw and that's due to each players' Combine. Upshaw looked really stiff and came in heavier than expected, leading to questions about how he will fit in a 3-4 while Perry looked tremendous at the Combine. Sounds like a fit.

19. Chicago Bears - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Bears would absolutely love if DeCastro was still on the board, he's an absolute stud. The Bears need help throughout their offensive line and a real upgrade could be used in the interior, which got hurt by the decision to part ways with Olin Kreutz. 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?

20. Tennessee Titans - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Titans' defensive line has a bunch of players, particularly at defensive end, and their pass rush really was not that good by any stretch last year and in a division with Matt Schaub and eventually Andrew Luck, their pass rush has to improve. Mercilus was a monster this season for the Fighting Illini, leading the nation in sacks with sixteen and forced fumbles with nine. This is a guy with excellent size, speed and strength with solid technique and some are comparing him to Jason Pierre-Paul.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
The Bengals do have a pretty solid offensive line but they could use some upgrades in the interior and particularly at guard, where left guard Nate Livings is a free agent. Glenn played guard at Georgia then moved to left tackle his senior year. He has the blend of size, strength and athleticism that you want out of your guards if he can play tackle as well, the more the merrier. And Glenn's stock will only rise after a very strong performance in Indy.

22. Cleveland Browns - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Like I mentioned earlier, the Browns really need to add more weapons to their offense and particularly at wideout, where the team has a dearth of down the field threats. A Flynn-Richardson-Wright triumvirate would be a quality one for those continually depressed fans in Cleveland. Now I know folks are really down on Wright because he ran a really poor 4.6 40 and he was thought to be a demon in that. But Joe Haden ran a poor 40 a couple years back and it didn't hurt his stock because teams saw he played fast on tape. When you look at the tape, Wright plays fast and is a stud. This is why folks like myself say the 40 is overrated.

23. Detroit Lions - Alonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
For years the Lions have failed to address their mediocre secondary as they have continuously tried to piece together average cornerbacks but continuously gotten burned. This is when they finally bring in a quality talent at corner via the draft. 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.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Casey Hampton has been great for the Steelers for a decade at the nose but now he is 35 years old and is trying to come back from a torn ACL. Poe is the best guy on the board and would allow the Steelers to keep Hampton fresh and groom his replacement at the all-important nose spot in a 3-4. Poe was the winner of the Combine. A guy who weighs about 350 pounds should not be running around a 4.8 and 4.9 in the 40-yard dash, faster than what Ndamukong Suh ran a couple of years ago. He also was brilliant in the drills and showed great strength. And he is not just a workout warrior because he was strong in Memphis, he was a first round pick (albeit lower first round) before the Combine. There's a reason why folks are comparing him to Haloti Ngata and say he is a freak on the level of Jason Pierre-Paul (obviously different positions). He's only free here because of other developments.

25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DE/DT, Penn State
The Broncos are still looking for more production from their defensive line, even as Brodick Bunkley played very well. The importance of guys who can tie up the offensive line is high because the Broncos get most of their pass rush from defensive end Elvis Dumervil and outside linebacker Von Miller. Still can play both end and tackle and has shown solid pass rush ability from the tackle spot and can take up blockers thanks to his size.

26. Houston Texans - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Texans have a solid offensive line but the interior of that line comes with some questions as both center Chris Myers and right guard Mike Brisiel are both free agents. Therefore is Konz is available here, it really depends on where DeCastro goes, this makes a lot of sense. Konz is the kind of guy every team wants for their line. He's a well-rounded interior lineman who is very physical, can pass and run block very and is athletic.

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Patriots should use one of their first round selections to help fortify their defensive line and bringing in someone who is versatile to be able to play a 3-4 end position as well as defensive tackle in their base 4-3 defense. Cox then makes a lot of sense. He had a field day at the Combine, showing plus athleticism and perfoming well in the on-field drills as well. Cox would be a good value pick here for Bill Belichick and co.

28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Packers have been gashed on the defensive side of the field. Of course one can attest it to consistently playing with a big lead but nevertheless, the defense has not played great as compared to last year's unit. While the Packers have some solid players playing opposite Clay Matthews, they still do not have much of a pass rush threat to move the offense's attention away from Matthews. So they could use a guy like Branch, who was tremendous at the Combine, showing great speed as well as ideal arm length, which plays a key factor for any pass rusher off the edge.

29. Baltimore Ravens - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Ray Lewis may be returning to the Charm City for one more run at another Super Bowl ring but obviously he is not going to be playing for the Ravens much longer and the team is really going to have to start trying to find a potential replacement. Enter Hightower. Hightower was a tackling machine and a key force in the awesome Alabama defense and is a great fit for the Steelers because he plays in a downhill style and always hits hard. Ray Lewis mentoring him would do wonders.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Hill comes from an offense that barely throws at all, the classic triple-option of Paul Johnson, and thus his stock was middling going into the Combine. Hill absolutely tore it up in Indianapolis and is a "workout-warrior" who helped his stock immensely by flashing great speed and athleticism. He also had the catch of the Combine with a fingertip, diving grab, the likes of which I used to be able to do before I took an arrow to the knee. There's a reason he's getting compared to Demaryius Thomas, a fellow Yellow Jacket. For the 49ers to take their offense to the next level, they need a legit deep threat to combine with Michael Crabtree and Hill would then make sense.

31. New England Patriots - Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
The Patriots could really use some reinforcements at wideout as Deion Branch is a free agent as is Chad Ochocinco, who contributed nothing last year, and they really need somebody to complement Wes Welker by providing a threat down the field. Sanu was tremendous this season for the Scarlet Knights and he proved himself to be a talented playmaker who could create space and has good speed.

32. New York Giants - David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
The Giants were at the statistical floor of the league in rushing this season, mostly because Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were rarely healthy at the same time and the team has nothing much more at back. The rushing game picked up in their playoff run but Jacobs is not likely back due to his hefty salary. So the Giants would be wise to bring in a back, one that is talented like Wilson, who passed Lamar Miller as the second best running back in the draft after an excellent Combine where he showed excellent speed and athleticism, good work in the drills and interviewed very well, something very important for Tom Coughlin.

For even better mocks, check out the exponentially growing mock draft database at WalterFootball.com. 370 mocks and counting.

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