My first and final 2012 Mock Draft. Mock is a good term for these exercises, considering the low percentage of guesses that turn out to be correct. I’ll keep this one simple, with no trades – which of course makes it unrealistic.
1. Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
This selection was set in stone more than six months ago, before I even had Halloween decorations up.
2. Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Once the Redskins traded up this instantly became another no-drama pick.
3. Minnesota Vikings: OT Matt Kalil, Southern California
I think the Vikings saw how much the Rams received by trading down and thought they’d like action too by talking about an impact player (i.e., Trent Richardson). The Jets have hinted at moving up for Richardson, but I’m sure Minnesota doesn’t want to go all the way down to 16. The only way I see that working out is if a three-way deal with Jacksonville (who would like to move down) can be worked out. Other possibilities would be Morris Claiborne (the Vikes led the NFL in touchdown passes allowed in 2011) or Justin Blackmon, which would give Christian Ponder a sorely needed target to work with.
4. Cleveland Browns: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
The Browns defense is in decent shape but their offense is not. Richardson is by far the best running back in this year’s draft and a better option than adding a wide receiver.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
If Richardson is still available the Bucs will snap him up, and if Kalil is still here then he is that they really should grab. Tampa Bay has been stuck with leftovers more than once in recent drafts (Gerald McCoy rather than Ndamukong Suh in 2010; Gaines Adams rather than Calvin Johnson or Joe Thomas in 2007), and that history may entice them to trade up to grab Richardson, or trade down if the draft unfolds this way.
6. St. Louis Rams: WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
The Rams offense was anemic last year. With all the money they have invested in quarterback Sam Bradford and the departure of Brandon Lloyd, the top receiver in this draft makes the most sense here.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
Some people think that because the Jaguars have recently invested early draft picks on the defensive line that they won’t do so again; I say check out the New York Giants and how that strategy has worked for them. Yes they have had busts on the DL but that’s not a good reason to stop trying to upgrade the position; go back and see where your evaluations went wrong, learn from it and make a better choice next time. Games are still won and lost in the trenches. If they don’t heed that advice CB Stephon Gilmore could go here; DL Quinton Coples and DE Melvin Ingram are possibilities as well.
8. Miami Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
The Dolphins lost out on the Peyton Manning and Jeff Fisher sweepstakes this year, and Jim Harbaugh a year ago. Even though this is much higher than he deserves to go the ownership and front office really wants to make a splash in this draft, and nothing makes a bigger splash in the draft than selecting a quarterback in the first round. Michael Floyd is also a remote possibility to fill in the void from the departure of Brandon Marshall.
9. Carolina Panthers: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
The Carolina offense made huge strides last year but their defense remained weak. In a division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman they look to bolster that with better pass coverage, and the PR from selecting a local favorite doesn’t hurt. There are plenty of other possibilites here as well, such as S Mark Barron, DE Quinton Coples or ILB Luke Kuechly.
10. Buffalo Bills: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
The Bills upgraded their defense in free agency with the addition of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. They have been subpar at tackle for a very long time, and select the second best player in this year’s draft at that position. Other possibilities would be Kuechly, Barron, or Gilmore if the Panthers draft a defensive front seven player.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: G David DeCastro, Stanford
The Chiefs have a weakness in their interior offensive line and DeCastro is said to be the next Steve Hutchinson; his addition would stabilize the entire unit and help out in both their running and passing game. Other possibilities include Dontari Poe, Melvin Ingram and Luke Kuechly
12. Seattle Seahawks: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
After losing David Hawthorne in free agency, Kuechly is a natural fit for the Seahawks if he should last this long. Defensive lineman such as Melvin Ingram, Fletcher Cox, Quinton Coples or Chandler Jones are other possibilities.
13. Arizona Cardinals: T Cordy Glenn, Georgia
Arizona could go with a receiver (Michael Floyd), a front seven player (Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram), but I think they’ll more likely go with an offensive lineman. Their preference would be for Reiff or DeCastro to still be available here, but even with those two gone I’m guessing they’ll still go OL.
14. Dallas Cowboys: S Mark Barron, Alabama
I actually don’t truly envision this scenario playing out only because my guess is that someone will trade up to try and leapfrog the Cowboys to get Barron, but I’m not utilizing trades in this mock draft. If Barron is gone the Cowboys will go with a defensive lineman such as Michael Brockers or another defensive back like Dre Kirkpatrick.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
The Eagles don’t necessarily need a defensive lineman but Coples is the best available player at this point. Andy Reid is someone who is likely to give more weight to long-term solutions and BPA than focusing on the short term and immediate need. If Coples doesn’t last this long the Eagles could still target another defensive lineman such as Michael Brockers or Chandler Jones.
16. New Jersey Jets: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
If the Jets are unable to trade up for Trent Richardson or Mark Barron they will happily accept this consolation prize. If Ingram is gone and Cordy Glenn is still around that is another option.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
I suspect Floyd won’t actually last this long, but that’s just the way this mock worked out. If Stephon Gilmore is still available Cincy could use a corner, or a defensive end such as Courtney Upshaw is another possibility.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
Mercilus fills a position of need for the Chargers and is one of the best players of any position still available at this point. If he’s already gone I would think they’ll target another pass rushing DE/OLB, much to the consternation of Patriots Nation.
19. Chicago Bears: DT Michael Brockers, LSU
The Bears biggest need is on their defensive line, and there’s nobody bigger and better than the 6-6, 322 pound Brockers to fill that void. If Brockers is gone the Bears will go after another defensive lineman.
20. Tennessee Titans: NT Dontari Poe, Memphis
I think the Titans go defense here; Dont’a Hightower is another possibility.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
I think the Bengals will use one of their two first round picks on a corner, although a defensive end like Courtney Upshaw is a possibility too.
22. Cleveland Browns: T Jonathan Martin, Stanford
As mentioned earlier the Browns need help on offense, and tackle is one of those positions they need to upgrade. They could also go with a wide receiver like Kendall Wright here, but I think receivers are easier to find a bit later than good tackles are.
23. Detroit Lions: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
The big question is whether the the news of marijuana use by other Lions players coupled with Jenkins’ usage will cause them to reconsider; I don’t think it will.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Hightower immediately replaces the departed James Farrior in the Steelers’ starting lineup.
25. Denver Broncos: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
Another weapon for Peyton manning to work with.
26. Houston Texans: DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
Texans reload after losing some defensive players to free agency.
27. New England Patriots: OLB Shea McClellin, Boise State
After what has seemed like an eternity the Pats use a first round pick on a pass rusher.
28. Green Bay Packers: S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
The Packers allowed more yards passing than any other team last year, and Nick Collins was released due to a neck injury; Smith seems like a good fit here.
29. Baltimore Ravens: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The Ravens defense is great, Ray Rice is great; their passing game is not; Baltimore needs another receiver opposite Torrey Smith.
30. San Francisco 49ers: G Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State
With Hill and Wright off the board the 49ers go with an offensive lineman to replace Adam Snyder.
31. New England Patriots: DE Nick Perry, Southern California
If Harrison Smith is still available the Pats will likely take him. Kendall Reyes is another distinct possibility, helping Vince Wilfork in the middle of the line. The choice of Perry means the Pats will have added a DE and an OLB on Day One, and probably target a safety in round two.
32. New York Giants: RB Doug Martin, Boise State
The Giants running game was below average in 2011. Brandon Jacobs is gone and Ahmad Bradshaw can’t carry the load himself.
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