22 April 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: 16th Edition

The teams are getting ready. Commissioner Goodell is getting ready. Folks like me are getting ready. The 2012 NFL Draft is only a few days away. With that in mind, here is my latest mock draft, the sixteen edition of this draft cycle.

For even better mocks, check out the mock draft database at Walter Football with over 400 mocks.

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (confirmed)
The Colts have told Luck that he is their pick to take the reins of the franchise after the departure of Peyton Manning, so there really is nothing to see here so carry on to the next selection. When you have the opportunity to select the quarterback prospect who is said to be the best prospect at his position since John Elway all the way back in 1983 (originally selected by the Baltimore Colts, no less), you can't say no.

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Now that the Colts have finally said the obvious, that Andrew Luck would be their selection, now we have another pick which is already a formality as everybody and their uncle knows that Washington is going to select the Heisman Trophy winner. Only it can't be made official until draft night because only the top overall pick can sign with his team, not the second pick.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
I'm not buying the nonsense that the Vikings are considering Morris Claiborne over Kalil. Not that Claiborne isn't a great prospect, which he is, but when you have a young quarterback that you have invested in to lead your franchise, you need to protect him. And don't listen to Peter King's reasoning. They didn't protect Christian Ponder well at all last season as left tackle Charlie Johnson was a disaster. 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
Cleveland is in a tough position here. They need a franchise quarterback as Colt McCoy is not the answer, quite frankly, but they seem to be moving ahead with him and they are not keen on selecting Ryan Tannehill here, although they may try to trade down a few spots for him. Morris Claiborne is an option as he and Joe Haden would immediately form an elite corner duo but the biggest needs are on offense. Justin Blackmon is also an option and would fill a big need but Mike Holmgren is not a fan of drafting receivers high, plus a good receiver should be available with their second pick. So therefore, I see them taking Richardson, who fills a need at back and is the back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
If Richardson is on the board, then I think Tampa would select him considering they did just way overpay Eric Wright. But with Richardson off the board as well as the fact that Ronde Barber is not getting any younger, even as he is returning to Tampa this year, plus Aqib Talib is skating on thin ice, taking an elite cornerback prospect like Claiborne makes a lot of sense, more so than taking Blackmon, as they also overpaid Vincent Jackson. Claiborne may not be Patrick Peterson, he is very close in my eyes, but he does have all the tools in 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 at all, save for some scrubs and Danny Amendola, who has done a decent job as a poor man's Wes Welker. 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 - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
I have been mocking Michael Floyd to Jacksonville for a while need for the dire need for wideouts for young quarterback Blaine Gabbert but it appears that the Jaguars really likes Ingram and he fills a big need as they still were one of the worst teams at rushing the passer last season, tied for 25th in sacks, even as Jeremy Mincey had a really good season, breaking out midseason for eight sacks. Taking Ingram could make for a very strong pass rushing tandem. 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.

8. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins are desperate now for a quarterback and have been turned down by everyone they tried to woo down to Miami Gardens. Peyton Manning chose DenverMatt Flynn chose Seattle and Alex Smith went back to San Francisco. So the Dolphins' next best option is taking Tannehill, who has a connection to the coaching staff as his collegiate coach was Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Now everybody knows that Tannehill is talented, he has a great arm and athleticism, but he is still raw as a quarterback after coming to A&M as a wideout. He can be a really good QB but needs to be coached well and the familiarity with Sherman's system and style is a major plus. Plus he won't have to play right away since Matt Moore played pretty well down the stretch last season.

9. Carolina Panthers - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I've had the Panthers taking a defensive tackle for a long time now but now I'm starting to ponder they may go somewhere else. Pat Yasinskas does not believe it is a lock that Carolina will go tackle with their first pick and it is not crazy to think why. They did invest two third round picks in the position a year ago and maybe they want both Sione Fua and Terrell McClain to develop more if they are high on both plus this draft is really deep at defensive tackle. The Panthers have always loved having talented linebackers throughout the history of their franchise and Kuechly is about as good as it gets. With Thomas Davis seemingly injured all the time, going linebacker makes sense considering Dan Connor left for Dallas. Kuechly looks like a lock. His instincts for the football are special, he's a great tackler and he shook off fears of his athleticism with a great combine.

10. Buffalo Bills - Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Here me out because I already know some folks are calling me crazy for this one so let me justify this. Riley Reiff makes sense here but his stock is starting to slide as teams are not quite sure if he can be a left tackle, his short arms not helping in that department. Buffalo also has not, not to my knowledge, had Reiff in for a visit before the draft and teams don't often choose not to invite a player they are really considering. This is also a relatively deep tackle class and the team is relatively happy with Chris Hairston. And finally, the Bills, in the Buddy Nix/Chan Gailey regime, have only selected players from the Southeast. Therefore, I think the soaring Gilmore will be selected here. The Bills' cornerbacks were not very good in 2011 and in a division with a game named Brady, a weak secondary will kill you.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Chiefs really need some help on the interior of the offensive line after making a wise signing in Eric Winston to play at right tackle. Chiefs personnel guy Scott Pioli loves to build teams that are strong down in the trenches plus you have to consider the fact that DeCastro is truly a special player at his respective position. He's arguably the best to hit the league out of college since Steve Hutchinson was draft back in 2001, he's that good. He can fit in any blocking scheme, man or zone. His technique is fantastic and he can absolutely maul.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Seahawks have themselves a pretty good defense but they could use some reinforcements in the pass rush. Seattle has nothing opposite Chris Clemons as Raheem Brock provided virtually nothing last season plus Clemons is a free agent in a year. Coples has all the tools to be an awesome end, he has ideal size for a 4-3 end, is very athletic and has solid speed off the edge but there are questions with his effort, which he gave himself a C in that category last year. He did say those comments were taken out of context.

13. Arizona Cardinals - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
It has been a few years since the Cardinals had a strong threat opposite Larry Fitzgerald and while Fitzgerald has put up incredible production because he's freaking ridiculous but a quality threat opposite him would make him even better. Andre Roberts came on at the end of 2011 but if Floyd is available here, Arizona has to take him. Floyd had a strong combine, running faster than expected, and while he has some off the field issues, 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. A Fitzgerald-Floyd combo would make whoever starts at quarterback look really good.

14. Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
It has been a while since the Cowboys had a real playmaker at strong safety, since when Roy Williams was good (even though he did technically play free safety) and then before that the great Darren Woodson. Dallas did sign Brodney Pool but he really struggles to stay healthy and he really is not that good when he is. A lot of teams have been said to be smitten with Barron and Jerry Jones is said to be one of them. Barron has the skills to be a great strong safety who is very instinctive with a great nose for he football and is very physical.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Eagles addressed their biggest needs in free agency as they signed Demetress Bell to play left tackle after Jason Peters' torn Achilles injury and they shrewdly acquired DeMeco Ryans to play inside linebacker. So what do the Eagles do here? Even as defensive tackle is not a huge need, it looks like Andy Reid and co. will take a tackle, as Eagles insider Ray Didinger has suggested for a whole now. Cox is starting to move up draft boards, starting after he had a field day at the Combine, showing plus athleticism and performing well in the on-field drills as well. He also had a strong pro day and his selection would allow the Eagles to have a lot of flexibility along their defensive line.

16. New York Jets - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
I have been mocking a rush linebacker, in particular Courtney Upshaw, to the Jets for a real long time but in this scenario, I think they would pull the trigger on a sliding Reiff. Saying right tackle Wayne Hunter was pathetic last season is like saying the capital if Washington is Olympia, it's stating the obvious. Now a big reason why Reiff is said to be falling is that teams are not sold that he can be a left tackle but  here, the Jets would not need him to be and he could play on the right side. He will have to get a little bigger and improve as a run blocker but it is easier to improve in that regard than in pass blocking, where Reiff is very good at already.

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 - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Chargers really struggled to rush the passer last season, finishing tied for 23rd in sacks despite a breakout season by Antwan Barnes, who had 11 sacks last season but is not an every-down player, as Shaun Phillips didn't do much and Larry English is a disaster. San Diego made a great signing in Jarret Johnson, who is a great all-around linebacker but is not a great pass rusher. And you could never have too many pass rushers so taking Upshaw, who is one of the best player available, makes sense. There are some concerns about Upshaw and his athleticism after a mediocre Combine but there were some questions about Terrell Suggs's athleticism coming out of college and he was awesome in Rex Ryan's system in Baltimore before he took the Jets job. Upshaw was a great pass rusher in college, was tremendous at the Senior Bowl and did have a solid pro day.

19. Chicago Bears - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Even with one of the most dominant defensive ends in the league in Julius Peppers, the Bears finished tied for 19th in sacks league-wide with 33 for the season; Peppers had 11 of those. And while I like Isreal Idonije as a player, he is not a great pass rusher. Opposite a guy like Peppers, a guy like Mercilus can do some real damage off the edge. 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.

20. Tennessee Titans - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Titans have needed some reinforcements along the defensive line for a while at both tackle and end as their pass rush has been absolutely pitiful last year, finishing second to last with a paltry 28. Taking a space-eater like Poe, who is also athletic enough to penetrate the backfield as well. Poe was utterly ridiculous at the combine, dropping jaws with his 40-yard dash and his athleticism in the on-field drills. However, folks like myself reacted too much off that combine performance as his on-field play at Memphis really disappointed. But Tennessee may see some comparisons to Albert Haynesworth.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, G/T, 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
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. Pairing Wright with Tannehill could make for a quality duo in the downfield attack. 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. And he proved that with a very good pro day.

23. Detroit Lions - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Not that Jonathan Martin. Jeff Backus has actually been solid for the last couple of years, protecting the blindside of Matthew Stafford but he is 34 years old. And on the right side, Gosder Cherilus has been decent but not great by any means. So the Lions should look for a tackle and fortunately for them, Martin falls into their lap. 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.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The Steelers are going to have to think long and hard about a potential replacement for James Farrior, who was released in early March, as well as injecting some youth and talent in their linebacking corps. 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, which the folks in Pittsburgh always appreciate. He just seems like a perfect fit for this team.

25. Denver Broncos - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Broncos are still looking for more production from their defensive line, even as Brodick Bunkley played very well but he left as a free agent. 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. Brockers can play both defensive tackle and defensive end and he has great size and solid mobility along the defensive front. Brockers could absolutely go much earlier but he slips because of circumstance.

26. Houston Texans - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
For years, the Texans have struggled to develop a target opposite Andre Johnson and while the offense did not totally stagnate when Johnson was out for several weeks this season, the passing game really struggled to move the ball down the field (although you could attribute this to T.J. Yates's incompetence). But the team really needs a second weapon at wideout and thus selecting Hill makes plenty of sense. 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. But he absolutely tore it up at the combine, flashing incredible speed and making highlight-worthy catches.

27. New England Patriots - Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
The Patriots need to get some help for their pass rush because after both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson had really good years last season, Carter is still recovering from a torn quad and has yet to be re-signed by the club and Anderson signed with Buffalo. Jones has seen his stock rise of late to where he could go even higher in the first round. He has the ideal build for a pass rusher, he is tall and has long arms and he is also explosive off the edge. He does have a little bit of experience dropping into coverage as well.

28. Green Bay Packers - Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
The Packers have an elite pass rusher in Clay Matthews but they have struggled to find a consistent pass rusher off the opposite edge, allowing protection schemes to focus on Matthews and really hurting Green Bay's pass rush. So they should try to find a pass rusher with this pick to take some pressure off of Matthews. It has been said that the Packers love McClellin and his stock is on the rise. He had a great senior season with 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Matt Birk has had a great career and has been one of the top centers in the league for a long time. He was a free agent in the offseason but they did bring him back, however the Ravens should really think about finding a potential replacement down the road as Birk is 35. 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.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Cody Fleener, TE, Stanford
Utilizing multiple tight ends in an offense is now becoming a new trend (see: New England) and one I'm a big fan of. Adding a guy like Fleener to team up with a stud like Vernon Davis would add yet another wrinkle to this 49ers offense and give Alex Smith another weapon to work with and coach Jim Harbaugh loves using multiple tight ends. Fleener is the clear top tight end on the board and he projects to be a complete tight end, one with the athleticism and the hands to be a force in the passing game, while the blocking technique to be vital in the running game.

31. New England Patriots - Devin Still, DT/DE, Penn 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. Still is a versatile d-lineman that Bill Belichick would love to have because he can seamlessly play the 3-4 end and the 4-3 tackle spot. Still is an active pass rusher, who would help upgrade the Patriots' pass rush, and he reminds me of Shaun Ellis.

32. New York Giants - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Giants are in a pretty good spot with this club, considering the fact they just won the Super Bowl but also for the fact that they do not have many needs and thus can freely take the top player on the board, which they often do. Adams could very well be the best guy on New York's board and with the team having some questions at right tackle considering Kareem McKenzie is a free agent and is 33. Adams has the ideal frame you want for a left tackle but he is raw. He already is a strong run blocker but he needs to work on his pass blocking, particularly against speed rushers.

7 comments:

  1. I would like to comment on a statement you made regarding the Giants. You quoted "The Giants are in a pretty good spot with this club, considering the fact they just won the Super Bowl but also for the fact that they do not have many needs and thus can freely take the top player on the board, which they often do."

    The Giants do not have many needs?????how about RB, OT, TE, OL,WR

    Don't be fooled cause the Giants won the SB, this team needs to reload in many areas. GM Reese has never drafted an OL, RB, TE, LB in the 1st round during his tenure, but will change in this draft as I believe one of those positions will be a 1st round selection. My gut tells me that Reese will draft for the 1st time as GM of the Giants a RB in the 1st round and that it will be Doug Martin.

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    1. What I probably should have said is that they don't have many major needs. They are in a pretty good overall spot thanks to solid drafting over the years. I wouldn't consider those positions, which are needs, to be really huge needs which, like I said, will probably lead to them taking the top player on the board.

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  2. Texans won't be taking Stephen Hill at #26. Looks like they're going with O-Line. Makes sense after the losses they sustained during free agency. Personally, I wish they would take Coby Fleener. I don't see why virtually every mock I see has him going to the Niners. I think the media is playing up the "Harbaugh is his old coach" angle way too much.

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    1. Harbaugh being Fleener's former coach is not why I think he will go to San Francisco. Harbaugh likes using multiple tight ends and Delanie Walker is not that good. Fleener is one of the top players on the board at 30 and teams have seen what having multiple talented tight ends has done for New England.

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    2. Exactly. I'm hopeful that Gary Kubiak has seen that as well and sees the potential of having two TEs like Coby Fleener and Owen Daniels and what they can do to bolster the Texans passing attack. Alas, Kubiak is very conservative when it comes to the draft and thus, will probably pick an O-Lineman.(sigh)

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  3. It does seem that many draftniks are now moving towards the Texans taking line but I do think finding a speedster to line up opposite Andre Johnson. Fleener would make a lot of sense for what you just said, plus it also protect the team if Daniels has injury troubles.

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  4. Texans will take fleener in 1st,olb in 2nd ages or Bruce Irvin,wr in third randle or broyle

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