25 April 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Final Edition

Tomorrow means that the 2012 NFL Draft has finally cometh. Since the days are now turning into hours until the commissioner walks to the microphone at Radio City Music Hall in New York to announce that the Indianapolis Colts are on the clock. The action starts tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern. So here is my final mock draft for 2012. Enjoy folks.

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 discussed this pick on Tuesday with all the rumors that the Vikings may take Morris Claiborne over Matt Kalil. I still think that all that talk is a smokescreen because it really does not make any sense to take Claiborne over Kalil. Kalil is the better prospect, plays a more important position, and fills a slightly bigger need. The Vikings look at Christian Ponder as their potential franchise quarterback and for him to reach his full potential, he needs much, much better pass protection. There is a real chance the Vikes trade out if they can find a partner but I do think ultimately they will pick Kalil.

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 - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The thing is with the Jaguars and Gene Smith, we never really quite know what they plan to do at the top of the draft. I really think they are strongly looking at trading down and pick up some more picks because at this juncture, many of those prospects they would really seem to want are not available. Going into this mock I really did not know what to do with this pick, even after mocking Melvin Ingram here for a while. I'm changing directions here and going with his teammate in Gilmore, who fills a big need for the Jags at corner with Rashean Mathis coming off of injury and who Smith is said to be very high on.

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 - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
I really think that if Gilmore is off the board in this scenario that the Bills will select Barron here instead of Rieff, even as Reiff fills a bigger need. I really think Reiff will fall because there are teams that do not think that Reiff can be a left tackle, as his short arms are a concern. Plus there should be some good tackles available in round two and they do like Chris Hairston. I'm buying the reports that Buffalo is high on Barron as many teams are because they think he is a unique playmaker at safety and if the Bills feel that he can match up in coverage with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, then they'll pull the trigger.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Chiefs need to get more production out of their defensive line. Very high first round selections were used on Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson and while neither has been terrible, neither has been worth those high selections either. A lot of teams are really high on Cox understandably and they love the way that he plays, including Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who is a defensive line guy. Cox is athletic and fast for a tackle and he is a tremendous pass rusher inside.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram, DE, South 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. Ingram is similar to Clemons in that they are almost 4-3/3-4 tweeners. 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 in Indianapolis.

13. Arizona Cardinals - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
I did have the Cardinals passing on Reiff in favor of Michael Floyd in my last mock but now I am seeing the Cardinals take Reiff, who I do see falling a little bit. The Cardinals' offensive line was really awful last season and was a big reason why Kevin Kolb had some injury troubles. Their tackles in particular sucked and Levi Brown needs to step up his game. While I do think Reiff will slide, the Cardinals desperately need line help so I don't think they can pass him up here.

14. Dallas Cowboys - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Jerry Jones in this scenario does not get the guy he really wants in Barron but I think he will absolutely be satisfied with a stud guard in DeCastro. Yes Jones has never been a guy that you would think that would spend back to back first round picks on lineman but DeCastro is just too good to pass up, considering Dallas's guards are not really that good. DeCastro'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.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
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. A guy like Brockers has the potential to make Philly's linebacking unit better, particularly Ryans. He can play both defensive tackle and defensive end and he has great size and solid mobility along the defensive front.

16. New York Jets - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Jets would love it if Floyd fell into their arms at sixteen, or would they? Floyd does come to town with some character questions and the last thing the Jets need in their locker room is another potential locker room problem, considering all the damage that Santonio Holmes has caused. But with the fact that Holmes may not be a huge part of the offense next year, they really need a playmaking threat at receiver and Floyd in that case would be too tempting for them to pass up.

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 - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Bears are making it sound like they won't go offensive line early. Lovie Smith says he is comfortable with J'Marcus Webb at left tackle, which is great if you want Jay Cutler to get injured again since Webb gave up 12 sacks a year ago. But anyway, in this scenario they could take the best player on the board in Coples and work on building a nasty pass rush. Coples has all the tools to be an awesome end but there are questions with his effort, which he gave himself a C in that category last year, although to his defense, he did say the words were taken out of context. But who was another defensive end from UNC with some effort questions coming out of college? Julius Peppers, who would be Coples' teammate. I don't see how the Bears can miss out on having an elite defensive end corps with Peppers, Coples and Israel Idonije.

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 - Devon Still, DT/DE, Penn State
I'd be pretty surprised if the Broncos did not select a defensive tackle with this selection because they are looking pretty bare, especially so after Brodrick Bunkley, who had a very good 2011 campaign in stuffing the run, signed with the New Orleans Saints. Still is an active pass rusher, which helps the Broncos as they got no pass rush from their tackles last season plus he also shows strength at the point of attack, which should help him become a good run stuffer and help replace Bunkley.

26. Houston Texans - Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
I have been mocking the Texans a receiver for almost every mock draft but I think they will actually go elsewhere with their first round selection. Even after the loss of a star like Mario Williams, the Texans have a good pass rush as both Connor Barwin and rookie Brooks Reed rushed the passer very well last season. But adding a guy like Mercilus could make for a really good pass rusher rotation and give defensive coordinator Wade Phillips the opportunity to get really creative. Plus Mercilus is a really good value at this juncture. And he is an athletic freak coming off a monstrous season in Champaign.

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 - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The 49ers' receiving corps was pretty nonexistent last season save for Michael Crabtree, although Kyle Williams is a nice player, so they took a risk on Randy Moss and made a smart signing in Mario Manningham. But they could still use a true burner like Hill to really stretch the defense to open more running room for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter and more room underneath for tight end Vernon Davis. 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 in Indy, flashing incredible speed and making highlight-worthy catches.

31. New England Patriots - Kendall Reyes, DT/DE, Connecticut
I think the Patriots are going to be trading this pick to someone looking to move up to take Brandon Weeden or potentially Brock Osweiler and do what teams always do with the Pats, trade them their first rounder the following year, which New England would then trade again and so on. But if they do keep both, they 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. Thus, Reyes makes sense as he is a stout run stuffer with a good motor and leadership qualities.

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.

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