Hi everyone! I know it's been a while and I hope all is well (or, at least, as well as things can be when your a fan of a team like the).
Many of you probably remember that I love the NFL Draft - and specifically the build-up and analysis that surrounds it. You probably recall that I would post an updated mock draft every two weeks or so (ah, those were the days). While I'll probably not revise this mock draft as often as I used to (or would like), I just can't help but post a mock of my own.
So below is my first crack at a 2012 NFL Mock Draft:
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This one is obvious - and kind of unfair. I mean, Colts suck in 1997, land #1 pick in '98 and draft Peyton Manning. Now they suck in 2011, land the #1 pick in '12 and can get Luck - the best QB prospect since Manning - to replace Manning.
2. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Redskins made the bold move up in the draft to select their franchise QB - kind of like what Dolphins fans were hoping to see their team do. And for what it's worth, I'm a huge believer in RG3. I like Andrew Luck more. But Griffin is going to be a star.
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The only way I see the Vikings not taking Kalil is if they choose to go with Morris Claiborne. Otherwise, these first three picks are locked in already.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns could go in a number of directions here. Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, or Ryan Tannehill are all on the table. They need offensive firepower and all three of these guys would provide that. Right now, I think they take Richardson because he can be a workhorse and take pressure off whoever their QB is going to be.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
In Greg Schiano's first draft, look for Tampa to boost the talent level of their defense. Schiano is a defensive coach at heart and Claiborne is possibly the best defensive player in the draft.
6. St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
In their trade down with Washington, the Rams are still able to land their big-time receiver in addition to the lot of draft picks they acquired. Blackmon is the only receiver worthy of a top 10 pick this year and has flashed all the skills you want in your #1 receiver.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Jags will likely go one of three ways here - DE, OL, or WR. I don't think any WRs outside of Blackmon (already off the board) are worthy of a top 10 pick. Riley Reiff will be considered here - but I'm not too big on him and I think there's value at OT in the middle rounds. That leaves defensive end - where I think the Jaguars go bold and take a player who is high risk but high reward.
8. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I'm not as convinced as others seem to be that if Tannehill is on the board at pick 8, the Dolphins will absolutely pick him. And if the Dolphins don't, that could be an indictment on Tannehill's skills seeing as his college coach, Mike Sherman, is Miami's offensive coordinator. But I do personally like Tannehill a lot. Good arm, great athleticism, tough, and possessing a ton of upside. Is he a top 10 value? Probably not. But when it comes to the QB position, it doesn't matter. If you believe he's going to become "the guy" for your franchise, you take him and don't look back.
9. Carolina Panthers - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
The Panthers have a huge need at defensive tackle. Their defense struggles mightily to stop the run. A big, physical defensive tackle helps solve that problem. Cox is a tremendous athlete who has flown under the radar for much of the draft process. But I like him a bit more than other candidates (Poe, Brockers, etc...) because I think he's the superior inside pass rusher.
10. Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Originally thought Buffalo would go with a pass rusher here. But after signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills have the makings of a really really good defensive line. A wide receiver could be in play here if Buffalo thinks any of the remaining are top 10 worthy (I do not). Otherwise they address their offensive line and take a safe pick like Reiff.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
It's not that KC has a need for an inside linebacker. But I'm very high on Kuechly and this just seems like a Scott Pioli pick. They could opt to go with a nose tackle like Dontari Poe, though, or a linemen like David DeCastro.
12. Seattle Seahawks - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
It's rare that a guard gets taken in the top 12 picks. But DeCastro is that talented. He could very well be a perennial All-Pro.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
I'm a huge fan of Ingram's. I think he's going to make a major impact in the NFL. He's athletic as hell and can get to the QB. But he's not a one trick pony - as he's surprisingly stout against the run for a shorter defensive end. The Cardinals need a pass-rushing force and Ingram fits them like a glove.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys had two obvious needs entering the offseason - offensive line and secondary. If DeCastro is somehow still on the board, the Cowboys won't be able to run their card up to the podium quick enough. But assuming he isn't, the Cowboys get a corner to pair with the newly signed Brandon Carr.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
One of the stars of the Combine, the enormous Poe is as athletic a defensive tackle as we've seen come out of college in a long time. And Andy Reid loves him some defensive linemen. It's a perfect match.
16. New York Jets - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Jets need to improve their pass rush off the edge. Upshaw isn't a dynamic pass-rusher. But he's a very good all-around outside linebacker who has experience playing in a 3-4 defense.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Bengals have never been one to pass up on talent due to character issues. Jenkins is as talented a corner as there is in the draft. But his character concerns cause him to drop to the bottom half of round one.
18. San Diego Chargers - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Chargers need to upgrade their offensive line. And they also need to make up for the loss of Vincent Jackson and give Philip Rivers a true #1 receiver again. In this scenario, I see Floyd's upside too intriguing for San Diego to pass up.
19. Chicago Bears - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
No longer having a pressing need for a WR after acquiring Brandon Marshall, the Bears could look to address their offensive line with this pick. But I think that getting a pass rusher to take some of the pressure off Julius Peppers is also a priority. Mercilus could just be a one year wonder. But many scouts think he's just scratching the surface of his potential.
20. Tennessee Titans - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
This is a great blend of drafting the best player available and addressing a need. Signing Kamerion Wimbley improves their pass rush. Adding Brockers will give the Titans somebody who can apply pressure inside.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
Some people think the Bengals could use this pick to select a running back to replace Cedric Benson and compliment Bernard Scott. But backs are a dime a dozen and I don't see any other 1st round RBs in this class outside of Richardson. Meanwhile, the Bengals have a hole at guard and nothing to plug it with at the moment.
22. Cleveland Browns - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Browns could take Brandon Weeden here and it would make perfect sense. But I think it's more important to bookend Joe Thomas with a guy like Martin - who is a top 15 talent and represents great value with this pick. Weeden could very well still be on the board with their second round pick anyway.
23. Detroit Lions - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Lions have some big problems at cornerback and would love to see Janoris Jenkins fall. He probably won't. So they reach just a tad here, in my opinion, and take the athletic Gilmore.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St.
Many feel that the Steelers will address their inside linebacker position here and take a guy like Dont'a Hightower. But they still have major issues along the offensive line and protecting Ben Roethlisberger should be the franchise's top priority.
25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT, Penn St.
I would imagine that cornerback and wide receiver are both on Denver's radar in this draft. But landing a talent who has slipped like Still to their defensive front presents great value and fills a big need - helping solidify an immensely talented front seven.
26. Houston Texans - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Texans finally get that play-making WR so that all of the secondary's attention will no longer be on Andre Johnson. Wright is a dynamic talent and would flourish in this role.
27. New England Patriots - Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
It's no secret that the Patriots need to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. It's been something they've wanted to improve for a while. Now that they lost Mark Anderson, it's become an even more pressing need. Perry has the size and athleticism you want in a pass-rusher in Bill Belichick's versatile defense.
28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
Until the Packers signed former Colts center Jeff Saturday, I thought it was a lock that GB would go with Peter Konz here. Now, though, they will get that edge pass-rusher to take some of the pressure off of Clay Matthews.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
I think the 49ers will look to improve their vertical passing attack in this draft by adding play-makers on the outside. Hill has seen his stock skyrocket and could be the kind of downfield threat the Niners are looking for.
31. New England Patriots - Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Patriots get a steal as the draft's top safety falls to the bottom of round one.
32. New York Giants - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Giants typically believe in drafting the best player available regardless of position. Hightower is probably very close to the top of the list at this point. And he would be the young run-stuffing ILB that the Giants could use.