Hopefully everyone here is enjoying week No.2 of the Jeff Fisher "Is this guy coaching us in 2012 or not!?" sweepstakes. Miami: where Magnum P.I.-approved mustaches and helicopters go hand in hand!
In all seriousness, Fisher's potential presence in Miami was taken into consideration while I constructed this mock draft. Alabama's Courtney Upshaw would be a fantastic "get" for the Dolphins at the ninth pick, but it's unlikely Miami will spring for a 3-4 linebacking demigod if Fisher hits town and immediately kicks the scheme back over to the 4-3. Instead, guys like defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker extraordinaire Luke Kuechly suddenly become options for the Dolphins if they choose to draft defense early in 2012. This week, however, it's all about offensive splash players for Miami in this third installment of the kmb8488 mock draft. Enjoy.
It was nice of the Colts last week to announce their intention to draft Andrew Luck with the first overall pick. Huge revelation there. I was beginning to think Luck's draft stock was sliding.
2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT USC
Boy, oh boy do the Rams have holes to deal with on both sides of the ball. They can't protect quarterback Sam Bradford; their backfield is ancient; their receiver corps is nonexistent; and they have two franchise-caliber players (defensive end Chris Long and linebacker James Laurinaitis) on defense. St. Louis should start the long rebuild by adding man-beast left tackle Matt Kalil, whose presence will A) immediately take heat off of Bradford, and B) allow the Rams to move some pieces around on the offensive line. Current left tackle Rodger Saffold projects much better on the right side, and Jason Smith can kick inside to guard (if the Rams even keep him, that is).
3. Minnesota Vikings - Morris Claiborne, CB LSU
With Matt Kalil off the board, Minnesota's starting quarterback in 2012, whether it's Christian Ponder or Joe Webb, can pretty much look forward to more beatings from blindside pass rushers. The good news for the Vikings, however, is they can get a phenomenal corner prospect in LSU's Morris Claiborne and immediately bolster a secondary that is, for lack of a better term, heinously inept.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
Will the Browns blow up their current quarterback situation by drafting Baylor's Robert Griffin III, or will they stick it out with current starter Colt McCoy and give him some actual weapons for next season? Let's assume the latter scenario in this instance and give Cleveland an all-world running back prospect in Alabama's Trent Richardson. Also, the Browns' strong offensive line (on the left side anyway) should help Richardson tear it up right off the bat.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Riley Reiff, OT Iowa
Tampa, much like the Vikings, desperately needs a shutdown-caliber corner. However, Morris Claiborne could be long gone at this point, which would force the Bucs to either roll the dice on Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, reach for a linebacker (another ghastly hole in Tampa) or commit a high pick to the offensive side of the ball (something the Bucs haven't done in three years). A big reason for Tampa's struggles in 2011 was the shoddy play of quarterback Josh Freeman, so perhaps the Buccaneers will do him a favor and reinforce his protection by replacing right tackle Jeremy Trueblood (aka Marc Colombo west) with a stud prospect like Iowa's Riley Reiff. Reiff isn't as big of a name as Matt Kalil right now, but don't be surprised if the Hawkeye product turns out to be the better pro. He's the total package--a quality pass protector with the athleticism and strength to get upfield and open up the run.
6. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
Mike Shanahan supposedly likes his quarterbacks to be mobile. Good thing, because Washington's next signal caller will likely be running for his life while playing behind the Redskins' laughable right side of the offensive line. Nevertheless, Robert Griffin is a special prospect who shouldn't have too much trouble lighting up the scoreboard in the nation's capital.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State
Can Mike Mularkey get Blaine Gabbert to play a little less like Randal from Clerks and a little more like a franchise-caliber quarterback? We'll see. In the meantime, Jacksonville should show some mercy and hook up Gabbert with an actual receiving weapon. Justin Blackmon is a game-changing receiver who should have no problem picking on the many undersized corners in the AFC South.
8. Carolina Panthers - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama
The opinion that Dre Kirkpatrick is a reach in the top 10 promptly died on Monday evening after Kirkpatrick basically smacked LSU's receivers into oblivion. Questions remain about Kirkpatrick's ability to become a premier cover corner, but he's ultra-physical when playing the run and has the speed and length to disrupt in coverage.
9. Miami Dolphins - Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina
The Dolphins proved to be unconcerned with glamor when they used the No.15 pick on center Mike Pouncey last spring. But while that pick absolutely worked out for Miami, it's time for this franchise to commit to bringing in some big-time splash players at receiver and outside linebacker. Alabama's Courtney Upshaw would certainly fulfill the latter need, but there's still uncertainty about which defensive scheme the Dolphins will employ in 2012. Therefore, a huge, playmaker receiver like South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery could make the most sense for a Dolphins receiver corps that lacks overall explosion. Jeffery isn't necessarily a burner, but he's a big-bodied wideout with adequate speed and near-flawless mitts. Pair this guy with Brandon Marshall and you're talking about a ridiculous receiver tandem
10. Buffalo BIlls - Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina
Credit the Bills for really stacking their defensive tackle position. Unfortunately, the impact of players like Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams this season was nullified at times by the fact that Buffalo couldn't muster an outside pass rush to save its life. North Carolina's Quinton Coples would continue the run-stuffing tradition on the defensive line while providing the ability to saw through the pocket at will.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford
Kansas City obviously needs a huge upgrade at right tackle, but the appeal of a lineman like Stanford's Jonathan Martin is the fact that he could play on either side of the line and likely dominate. He's also the best pure run-blocking tackle in this class, and has really come along as a pass protector during his time with the Cardinal.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Luke Kuechly, ILB Boston College
The Seahawks could sure use a pass rusher to go along with their suddenly opportunistic secondary, but without a true 4-3 defensive end on the board, Seattle would be wise to stack its linebacker position and select Boston College's Luke Kuechly. Kuechly won't wow you with pure measurables, but his intelligence, awareness and technique are all off the dial for a defensive prospect. Again, he reminds me of a taller (6'2") and slightly faster Zach Thomas.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Courtney Upshaw, OLB Alabama
The Cardinals' defense made some good strides on defense this year, but their 3-4 scheme could really use a powerhouse outside linebacker with Courtney Upshaw's skill set. Upshaw has the technique and strength to get into the backfield on a consistent basis, but he's equally impressive as a run defender. Just ask LSU.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Alfonzo Dennard, CB Nebraska
Dallas' secondary was slapped helplessly around by Eli Manning and Co. in Week 17, and it's more than fair to say the Cowboys need a healthy does of athleticism, intelligence and tenacity at the cornerback position. Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard would bring all three of those traits to Dallas.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Vontaze Burflict, ILB Arizona State
Not to harp excessively on the Eagles' defense, but their linebacker corps is borderline unwatchable at this point. A sledgehammer-on-wheels prospect like Arizona State's Vontaze Burflict would be the ideal addition for Philadelphia, and he'd bring an element of fearsomeness back to a defense that had little success outside of its defensive line this season.
16. New York Jets - David DeCastro, G Stanford
Did anyone else notice how much the Jets' run game slid off after the right side of their offensive line fell apart this season? In a ground n' pound offense, an anemic right side of the line is a big no-no. It might be good idea for Gang Green to use a first-round pick on Stanford guard David DeCastro, who is the best college guard I've seen (and yes, that includes Steve Hutchinson).
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB North Alabama
You had to figure the Kelly Jennings/Nate Clements corner tandem was going to cost the Bengals at some point, but in a game against T.J. freaking Yates? Unbelievable. It's time for the Bengals to knuckle up and find a premier cover corner to tighten up things on the back end for Cincinnati. Janoris Jenkins showed poor judgment when he was routinely unable to behave himself while playing for the University of Florida, but if there's any team that can overlook the character concerns, it's the Bengals.
18. San Diego Chargers - Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB Illinois
San Diego just could not get to the quarterback this year, and it cost them in several games down the stretch (they couldn't even sack Jay Cutler, and he's always getting smacked around by opposing defenses). The Chargers should probably consider taking a cue from the 49ers and draft a physical freak who will almost certainly cause problems as an edge rusher. Coincidentally, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus plays very similar to Aldon Smith (San Francisco's first-round pick in 2011), and his selection would mark consecutive years that the Bolts have used their first-round pick on a defender out of the University of Illinois.
19. Chicago Bears - Peter Konz, C Wisconsin
This pick became a no-brainer the moment Peter Konz declared for the 2012 draft. Chicago's protection along the interior is simply horrific, and Konz is a huge (6'5", 310), athletic center who will greatly bolster the middle, open up the run and help keep NFC North defensive tackles from piledriving Jay Cutler several times per game. In this scenario, Konz would be joining fellow Badger (and 2011 first-round pick) Gabe Carimi.
20. Tennessee Titans - Michael Brockers, DT LSU
You pretty much can't go wrong with LSU defensive tackles at this point--they're typically huge, angry and loaded with upside. And since the Titans really need to get back to controlling the trenches on defense, a stud DT prospect like the Tigers' Michael Brockers could very well be in play here. Brockers was one of the lone bright spots for LSU in the BCS Title Game, and he'll become even more devastating once he refines his hand technique at the line of scrimmage.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Lamar Miller, RB Miami
Cedric Benson looks like he might be finally running out of gas, and the Bengals really need a powerful, explosive running back to complement their burgeoning pass attack. Lamar Miller has the game-changing speed and thick build necessary to survive against the brutal run defenses in the AFC North, so he could be an ideal selection for the Bengals at this spot
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) - Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
Now that Cleveland has added a true star rusher to its infirmary-like backfield, it's time to give Colt McCoy a weapon through the air. Notre Dame's Michael Floyd was unbelievable for the Fighting Irish this season, and the kind of big-bodied wideout who could immediately become a match-up problem for any secondary in his way. Floyd doesn't have a ton of speed, but his hands are outstanding and he's a tough tackle in the open field.
23. Detroit Lions - Zach Brown, OLB North Carolina
Detroit would be insane to not use this pick on their secondary or linebacker corps, as evidenced by how easily Drew Brees ripped apart the Lions' defense last Saturday night. I am not ready to sign off on Zach Brown as being the best outside linebacker in this draft, but I know he's arguably the fastest linebacker in this class and has boatloads of upside. A prototypical 4-3 outside linebacker of Brown's caliber would be a shot in the arm for a Lions team that, like the Eagles, struggles to make plays outside of the defensive line.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, ILB Alabama
Lost in the wake of Tebowmania last Sunday was the fact that Pittsburgh's interior linebackers were pretty much victimized whenever they moved up in the box. Lawrence Timmons is a keeper for the Steelers, but they need a serious upgrade at the other interior linebacker spot. Dont'a Hightower was a playmaking machine against LSU last Monday evening, and he has the athleticism, size and instincts to be a very effective 3-4 inside linebacker at the next level.
25. Denver Broncos - Jerel Worthy, DT Michigan State
Broderick Bunkley has been pretty good for the Broncos and their suddenly ridiculous defense, but Denver still needs a classic defensive tackle to eat the run and push the pocket. Michigan State's Jerel Worthy would be an ideal fit in the Broncos' stifling 4-3 scheme, and though he's athletic enough to get into the backfield and do damage, where Worthy truly shines is his ability to dominate the point of attack.
26. New York Giants - Dwayne Allen, TE Clemson
Giants receivers basically tore up the Falcons last Sunday, but the tight end situation in New York still needs to be addressed. Dwayne Allen has become a do-everything tight end during his time at Clemson, and he'll wow you with his speed, ball skills and willingness to block. Allen is like a Swiss Army Knife at the tight end position.
27. Houston Texans - Mark Barron, S Alabama
It's frightening to consider that Houston's defense could actually get better next season, which is what would likely happen if the Texans added a playmaker safety like Alabama's Mark Barron. Barron is athletic enough to play centerfield in passing downs and physical enough to come up and smack the run. And though he lacks elite speed for the position, he's as complete a safety prospect as you'll find this spring.
28. San Francisco - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB South Carolina
Yeesh. As if the 49ers needed another outside linebacker who can tear his way to the quarterback. Nevertheless, San Francisco could be on the lookout for premier pass-rushing talent this spring, and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram certainly fits that bill. Ingram is a fast, ruthless defender who will likely jump into the outside linebacker position without missing a beat. Ingram lacks polish and overall technique, but his freakish strength will help him dominate at the point of attack, and he's already demonstrated an ability to effectively eat the run.
29. Baltimore Ravens - Cordy Glenn, OT/G Georgia
In the event that Baltimore loses some of its interior line in free agency, the Ravens might be tempted to use this pick on mammoth Georgia lineman Cordy Glenn. Glenn can play tackle or guard, and he moves absurdly well for a linemen measuring in at 6'5", 350. He's also a devastating run blocker who would almost certainly make life easier for Ravens running back Ray Rice.
30. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) - Devon Still, DT Penn State
One could make the case that the Patriots really have no choice but to use one of their two first-round picks on a stud interior defensive lineman. And regardless of which defensive scheme New England employs, the Pats could really use a player like Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still--a powerful, mega-stout defender who could come in and immediately reinforce the defensive line. Still can get to the quarterback, but he's an absolute killer against the run.
31. New England Patriots - Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
The defensive trenches aren't New England's only concern on that side of the ball. The Patriots are missing a big-time pass rusher, and lack of pressure on the quarterback has absolutely exposed New England's ridiculously bad secondary this season. The fix? Georgia's Jarvis Jones--a powerhouse outside linebacker who did some serious damage to opposing backfields (13.5 sacks) in 2011. However, he's far from a one-trick, pass-rushing pony. Jones is strong enough to hold up against the run, and has the instincts and athleticism to do work in coverage. Just a redshirt sophomore, Jones looks like an explosive defensive talent at this point.
32. Green Bay Packers - Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State
Green Bay's run defense has been miserable as of late, thanks to a lack of youth and athleticism at both 5-technique spots on the defensive line. Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox could possibly be in play at this spot, as he's a first-class run stuffer with great strength and active hands at the line of scrimmage. Cox has also developed into a big of a pass rusher this season, with five of his eight career sacks coming in 2011.