I hope this is how it goes...
2012 NFL Mock Draft: Version 2.0
April 4, 2012
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Previous Mock: Luck
Peyton Manning is a Bronco, clearing the path for Indy’s top pick to start from Day 1. And while there are still pockets of RG3-to-Indy supporters, it would be a major upset if Luck isn’t under center for the Colts in Week 1.
2. Washington Redskins (from Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Previous Mock: Griffin (to Browns)
Mike Shanahan and the Redskins make a big move up the board to acquire their quarterback of the future. Now they have to hope FA adds Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan give Griffin enough to work with, as the draft picks cupboard is bare… again.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Previous Mock: Kalil
The Ryan Tannehill rise is creating a bit of buzz over this pick, and the Vikings have indicated they’d be willing to pass on Kalil if the price is right. Unless they’re only moving down a spot to allow the Browns to fend off Miami, that would be a mistake; a franchise LT is the kind of pick that not only fills a need but also makes multiple existing elements of the Vikings’ offense better.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Previous Mock: Morris Claiborne (to Rams)
The Browns wouldn’t trade up for a franchise quarterback; will they at least add a playmaker to their offense? Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne are also options; you could possibly add Ryan Tannehill to that mix, but if you’re not going to go all in for RG3 why pick a consolation prize just two slots later?
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Previous Mock: Trent Richardson
The Bucs have plenty of needs, and either offensive playmaker (Richardson or Justin Blackmon) would be a boost to Josh Freeman’s offense. But with Ronde Barber’s AARP card in the mail and Aqib Talib ensnared in off-the-field woes, expect Tampa Bay to shore up a secondary that spends almost half its season facing Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Previous Mock: Blackmon (to Redskins)
Unless the Rams deal down again—a move that certainly isn’t out of the question—they’ll have the opportunity to upgrade Sam Bradford’s arsenal. Blackmon tops Michael Floyd on most draft boards; the question is, how do they rank on Fisher’s?
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Previous Mock: Floyd
The Jags could use a pass-rusher, but if they want last year’s first-round pick of Blaine Gabbert they need to give him weapons; Lauren Robinson alone isn’t enough. The alternate plan would be a pass-rusher.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Previous Mock: Tannehill
No Manning, no Griffin, no Flynn… and Matt Moore isn’t scaring anyone, except Dolphin fans who are afraid the front office thinks he’s the answer. Tannehill is this draft’s fast riser, an athletic, moldable quarterback who played for Dolphins OC Mike Sherman at Texas A&M.
9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Previous Mock: Quinton Coples
The guy who’s actually gaining steam for this selection is Baylor WR Kendall Wright, who would be an intriguing complement to/eventual replacement for Steve Smith. A pass rusher is still in the mix as well, but after missing on a pair of early DTs last season the Panthers plug the hole in the middle of their defense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Previous Mock: Martin
Again, Kendall Wright enters the picture as the Bills look to arm Ryan Fitzpatrick with more downfield weapons than just Stevie Johnson. But keeping Fitz upright is also a priority, so unless the Bills feel they can wait on a second-round prospect like Jeff Allen they’ll jump on Martin or Riley Reiff here.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Previous Mock: Poe
After adding Eric Winston via free agency to shore up their offensive line, the Chiefs can debate between the freakish athleticism of Poe or the much-hyped upside of Michael Brockers to plug into the middle of their defensive line.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina
Previous Mock: Courtney Upshaw
The Matt Flynn signing takes Seattle out of the Tannehill discussion, leaving them with o-line and linebacker holes to fill. Riley Reiff or David DeCastro could be options, but more likely is Seattle having their choice of LBs between Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, and Nick Perry.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Previous Mock: Cordy Glenn
The Cardinals desperately need to upgrade their offensive line, and both David DeCastro and Cordy Glenn are tempting options. But with Upshaw still on the board Arizona scratches their itch for a pass rusher and hopes a guy like Jeff Allen is available in Round 2.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Previous Mock: Dre’ Kirkpatrick
The Cowboys could follow last year’s successful upgrading of the offensive line with DeCastro or Glenn, but there are enough holes in the secondary that DBs take priority. Signing Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool helps; so does snagging the best safety in the draft and most of the Cowboys’ pre-draft tea leaves are pointing towards Barron.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Previous Mock: Luke Kuechly
Coples could very well be off the board at this juncture, especially if the Jaguars go for a pass rusher instead of a pass catcher. And with DeMeco Ryans now in Philly, Andy Reid’s track record of ignoring linebackers early in the draft should remain intact. If the Eagles can properly motivate Coples, he’s a huge steal here.
16. New York Jets: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Previous Mock: Melvin Ingram
If Rex Ryan sees Nick Perry as an edge rusher he may reach for him here, and Mark Barron would help the Jets match up with Gronk and Hernandez. But with DeCastro still on the board the Jets can’t afford to beef up the part of their offense that makes everything else work regardless of who’s at quarterback.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Raiders): Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Previous Mock: Stephon Gilmore
The signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis gives Cincy even more latitude as to when they need to grab a running back. DeCastro would have been a nice fit, but in today’s NFL corners with size are gold and the Bengals have their pick between Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia
Previous Mock: David DeCastro
The Chargers replaced Vincent Jackson with Robert Meachem via free agency, but their offensive line is down multiple starters with no relief in sight. Glenn has drawn comparisons to Marcus McNeill and offers position flexibility as well as potential long-term backside protection for Philip Rivers.
19. Chicago Bears: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Previous Mock: Reuben Randle
Brandon Marshall addresses the gaping hole at wide receiver, allowing the Bears to direct their attention elsewhere. Offensive line help is always welcome, but Gilmore allows Chicago to address a defensive backfield thinned b. free agency departures l
20. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, OC/OG, Wisconsin
Previous Mock: Whitney Mercilus
Adding Kamerion Wimbley helps the pass rush, freeing up the Titans to bolster the interior of their offensive line. Unless they take Riley Reiff and convert him to guard, Konz is the best option on the board.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Previous Mock: Doug Martin
The Bengals are expected to look for interior o-line upgrades, so in this scenario they’re kicking themselves as Glenn and Konz go off the board between their picks—and they’re set at tackle so Riley Reiff isn’t an option, either. Doug Martin is still in play, but the BJGE signing means Cincy can pair him with a second-round back like Isaiah Pead and upgrade Andy Dalton’s arsenal here.
22. Cleveland Browns: Riley Reiff, OG, Iowa
Previous Mock: Kendall Wright (to Rams)
The Browns are so desperate for playmakers that even reaches for Brandon Weeden, Reuben Randle and Alshon Jeffery make sense. But that’s not the Browns’ MO, and with Reiff still on the board the Browns can slot him at right tackle or guard and upgrade their blocking for Trent Richardson.
23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Previous Mock: Riley Reiff
The Lions’ need for secondary help trumps Jenkins’ off-the-field concerns; if said concerns are behind him, this is a great get for Jim Schwartz’s defense.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Previous Mock: Brockers
Draft analysts will tell you there isn’t much to see in Brockers’ game film. However, he’s a physical specimin who projects to be a dominant stud. Pittsburgh can bring him along slowly, something they’ve done with success with past early defensive selections.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Previous Mock: Fletcher Cox
The Broncos have revamped their offense quite a bit, and if Peyton Manning needs a running back to complement the passing game Denver may look to Doug Martin here. But like last year Denver’s primary need is in the interior of their defensive line. Cox doesn’t fall to them this time, but they still upgrade with Still or perhaps Brandon Thompson.
26. Houston Texans: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Previous Mock: Alshon Jeffery
Yes, the Texans still need help at wide receiver but the board is still very deep at that position. Meanwhile, Kuechly falls past the Eagles and Seahawks and lands right next to Brian Cushing in the middle of what is fast becoming a very, very good defense.
27. New England Patriots (from Saints): Nick Perry, DE, USC
Previous Mock: Stephen Hill
With the wide receiver position addressed via free agency (Brandon Lloyd, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte’ Stallworth), Bill Belichick is freed up to upgrade his defense. Don’t be surprised if after years of trading back the Patriots package picks to move up and get a guy they really want. As it stands, Perry has speed you can’t coach and could be moved around within the New England scheme. Maybe they could even play him at corner.
28. Green Bay Packers: Donte’ Hightower, LB, Alabama
Previous Mock: Peter Konz
Wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Packers deal out of this pick, as there’s no great area of need. Hightower is the best player on the board and could be groomed to play inside while still giving them something as an edge rusher as well.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Previous Mock: Donte’ Hightower
Mercilus is raw, but he has athleticism and effort and knows how to get to the quarterback. With his skill set and moldability he can be groomed a variety of ways for the Ravens.
30. San Francisco *****: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Previous Mock: Devon Still
The Niners have thrown a bunch of early picks at their offensive line, and it’s starting to pay off. Free agency left a hole at guard, and Zeitler is a very capable fill in. He may be a bit of a reach here, but the position will be thinned even further the next time through the draft order.
31. New England Patriots: Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson
Previous Mock: Mark Barron
Feels like the Patriots could reach for a corner or safety here, and they probably have someone on their board who isn’t necessarily that high on other boards; my guess is Montana’s Trumaine Johnson. But it’s futile to try to climb inside Bill Belichick’s brain, so we’ll saddle the Pats with another versatile edge rusher who can get after the passer.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Previous Mock: Dwayne Allen
Fleener’s blocking needs work, and the Giants’ signing of Martellus Bennett makes tight end less of an immediate need. But in the copycat NFL there’s no reason Fleener couldn’t provide matchup problems out of the slot while his blocking improves.