Mock 2012 NFL Draft- Tad Johnson
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This one was kind of up in the air in the last few weeks, but with Jim Irsay’s latest tweets it seems like Luck will be the #1 overall pick. Irsay seems like he has already made his decision and is now meeting with Luck on contract terms. For a while, people speculated as to whether Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor) would overthrow Luck as the #1 pick, but after Griffin and his agent declined a private workout with the team the door was basically closed on this decision.
2. Washington Redskins (From Rams)- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
With Luck gone after the first pick, the Redskins get the guy they’ve been gunning for all offseason. They acquired the #2 pick from the St. Louis Rams for three first-round draft picks and a second-round pick. Some people say that the Redskins gave up too much for a chance to draft the Heisman Trophy winner, but it seems more like team owner Dan Snyder is betting the farm on a guy that he can hopefully call a franchise quarterback for years to come.
3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, OT, USC
To me, this pick seems like a no-brainer. Even though Adam Schefter has been saying that he’s not convinced that Kalil is a lock at #3, I think it’s just pre-draft jitters from sports writers. Kalil is exactly what the Vikings need after cutting Bryant Mckinnie last year. The Vikings offensive line gave up 3 sacks a game on average last year and the 6’7″ 306 pound Kalil is exactly what they’re looking for. If they DON’T end up drafting him like Schefter has been predicting, it would be absolutely stupid for them to remain at #3 and draft someone else. Even though I fully expect the Vikings to take Kalil, if they don’t I expect them to trade down.
4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
With the loss of Peyton Hillis this offseason, the Browns need a running back that can help relieve some of the pressure off of still unproven QB Colt McCoy. I think the Browns are sticking with McCoy at quarterback, and instead of replacing him are looking to build around him. He may not be an elite quarterback, but any quarterback can look good with guys like Trent Richardson and possibly a #1 wide receiver in the future. I think Richardson is one piece to the puzzle in Cleveland figuring out how to win. He seems like one of the most “for sure” players in this years draft and I can’t see him as a bust.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Despite poor wonderlic scores, the Buccaneers aren’t going to pass on Morris Claiborne. He’s widely considered the top cornerback in the draft this year. He was originally a wide receiver before shifting to cornerback in college which always leave scouts drooling. He and former teammate Patrick Peterson (oddly enough, the #5 pick in last years draft) were an abs0lutely stellar combination at LSU. He’s a great man-coverage corner with excellent ball skills and good tackling ability. Aqib Talib could be going to jail and Ronde Barber is washed up so the Bucs are in desperate need of a shut down corner. I think Claiborne is their guy.
6. St. Louis Rams (From Redskins)- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma
Blackmon is the tool that the Rams need. Sam Bradford needs a target, plain and simple. Blackmon is the perfect pick for them at 6, and they pulled a great move by trading out of the #2 spot for more picks. They still get the guy that they want without picking too high or too low AND they got a bunch of picks out of the Redskins. If the Rams pick Blackmon here, it’s my opinion that they did everything right regarding their trade with the Redskins.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
General manager Gene Smith wants Blaine Gabbart to succeed. That means he’ll do anything in his power to surround Gabbart with weapons, very similar to the Browns approach with Colt McCoy. Floyd is the second best wide receiver behind Justin Blackmon. He will be a welcome addition to a stale Jaguars offense. He needs to come in and make an impact immediately, and if he doesn’t the Jaguars could be right back in the top 10 picks again next year.
8. Miami Dolphins- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Ingram is probably the smartest pick that the Dolphins could make. There are a lot of people predicting that they could take Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M) at this pick, but that would definitely be a reach at the #8 pick. Ingram is a versatile player who can play either Defensive End or Outside Linebacker. With 21.5 sacks and 109 tackles (30.5 for a loss) in college, Ingram seems like a sure fire hit for the Dolphins. With their new hybrid 3-4 defense, Ingram will line up great with Cameron Wake opposite him.
9. Carolina Panthers- Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Fletcher Cox is a player that’s moving up the boards and fast. The Panthers have a massive need for interior defensive linemen. They spent a pair of third-round picks on defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain last year. Fua was okay, but McClain was downright terrible, causing big issues for the defensive line.
10. Buffalo Bills- Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The bills have made big splashes this offseason, resigning WR Stevie Johnson and signing DE’s Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. The teams first two needs were at wide receiver and defensive line, and both of those needs have been met. The next need that they have is offensive line, and left tackle in particular. With Demetrius Bell signing with the eagles, the Bills need a Left Tackle. Reiff is the best LT on the board, so I think he winds up in Buffalo.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
I think DeCastro goes at 11 simply because he’s the best player available. The Chiefs by picking him up are stabilizing the guard position for the next decade. Seeing a guard go this early can be kind of rare, but I think this is the right pick for Kansas City. DeCastro is an outstanding guard and should be elite for quite some time.
12. Seattle Seahawks- Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Seahawks team needs include defensive end and linebacker. While they could reach a bit and take Luke Kuechley (ILB) out of Boston College, I think they’ll see a player like Quinton Coples and realize that a player with his potential won’t be there when their next pick comes around. Coples comes with a little bit of baggage, which is why I think he’ll drop to Seattle. There have been questions about his heart, and if he wants to play football because he loves the game or if he just wants the big payday. Questions arose about how hard he played in his senior year, as he admitted to letting up a bit to avoid injury as to not de-rail his pro career. With these questions, though, I can’t see Seattle passing on him.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Johnathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Martin did a great job protecting the blind side of potential #1 overall pick Andrew Luck. If Luck hadn’t had the protection that he did, would he still be the number 1 overall? One of the big issues for the Cards is protecting Kevin Kolb, and Martin will be solid. There are some concerns with his footwork, but that’s an issue that can be worked on during the offseason. A solid left tackle is an important part of any team and if the Cards want to compete in the west they need to solidify that offensive line, starting with Martin.
14. Dallas Cowboys- Dontari Poe, DT/NT, Memphis
Poe had one of the more impressive combines this year, including an incredible showing at the benchpress. He benched 225 lbs an astounding 44 times! If he’s still available at 14, it looks like the cowboys really like his upside. The arrival of Poe would likely push Jay Ratliff over to defensive end. He’s a sturdy NT at 6’5″, and 350 lbs that’ll really help Dallas get after the ball carrier.
Kuechly has been on the Eagles radar for quite some time. Last year, the eagles linebackers were bad. And when I say bad I mean BAD. Casey Matthews was an underachiever and ended up being benched. Jamar Chaney came back down to earth after a great stretch at the end of his rookie season. The combination of Akeem Jordan and Moise Fokou was below average. Basically, the eagles need a leader to step up and be a beast inside and that could change their entire defense. Kuechly was the nation’s top defensive player during his junior season. He won the Lombardi Award, the Butkus Award, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. He’s exactly the spark that a below-average defense could need.
16. New York Jets- Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Safety is a big need for the Jets. Eric Smith has been below average and LaRon Landry has issues with his Achilles. Barron is an iffy pick though. He’s coming off of hernia surgery and he has an arrest record. There’s no way of telling if he’ll be plagued by injuries or bad behavior in his pro career, but one thing is for sure. The Jets can NOT afford to start Eric Smith at safety anymore.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Raiders)- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The crimson tide will continue to represent in a huge way in the 2012 draft. Cornerback is the biggest need for the Bengals at this point. Nate Clements is getting older and Leon Hall is rehabbing an achilles injury and may or may not be ready when the season rolls around. The only issue with Kirkpatrick (just like teammate Mark Barron) lies in his discipline. He was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in January and even though the charges were eventually dropped, it still raises a red flag. I don’t think this will stop Cincy from picking him up.
18. San Diego Chargers- Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
The Chargers had a slow year in the pass rush category with only one player recording over four sacks. There are still good DE’s available, but I think he’ll be the best pick at #18 for the Chargers. Upshaw is an edge rusher, which is something that every team should value. He has excellent upper AND lower body strength.
19. Chicago Bears- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
With Johnny Knox probably missing the 2012 season after back surgery, the bears need a number 2 receiver behind recently signed Brandon Marshall for Jay Cutler to throw to. Wright is solid and will take some of the pressure off of both Cutler and Marshall.
20. Tennessee Titans- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Titans interior offensive line was awful last year. With the recent signing of former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson, the line has improved but could still use a lot of improvement. The Titans offense should rely strongly on the rushing attack of Chris Johnson, so a good offensive line is key. With a good line comes a better rushing game, which will lead to success for the Titans.
21. Cincinatti Bengals- Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
The Bengals had a pretty good offensive line last season protecting Andy Dalton, but during the offseason lost a key piece in Bobbie Williams to free agency they need to fix that hole. Glenn is that piece. He had a good performance at the combine and fits the Bengals scheme.
22. Cleveland Browns (From Falcons)- Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Browns defense is getting better, and this is another piece to Cleveland’s improvement. He is a physical specimen at 300 pounds but with out of this world speed for a guy his size. He can play a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense and coach Les Miles described him as “a bear to contain inside”. I like this guy’s upside. He seems like a good pick for Cleveland.
23. Detroit Lions- Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stephon Gilmore is the top cornerback on the board after Morris Claiborne, so I think the Lions pick him up here. The second best cornerback skills wise is up in the air between Gilmore and Janoris Jenkins, but the Lions would be dumb to draft Jenkins here with his legal troubles involving marijuana. After Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure were arrested for similar issues this offseason, they will probably shy away from a player with that stigma.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The Steelers cut James Farrior this offseason, seemingly to make cap space for Mike Wallace (who STILL hasn’t signed, by the way) so inside linebacker is a need for the team this year. I see Hightower as a leader for the Steelers defense heading into the future and I see him as a guy that will contribute for years to come. Teammate Rolondo Mclain called him “A freak who can play any position”. The only concern is his left knee, which he blew out in 2009. His instincts are top notch and he’s a film nut. For me, he’s a “can’t miss” prospect for steeler nation.
25. Denver Broncos- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Denver is in need of an upgrade at Defensive Tackle. Linebacker Von Miller was a stud last year so they’re solid in that department. A good DT could be the last piece that Denver needs to have an elite defense instead of just a very good one. Denver could be a great team next year if their defense upgrades to a level that Worthy could bring them to. John Fox is a defensive coach, so he knows what he’s doing. The only other big need that needs to be addressed is at Wide Receiver. Peyton Manning needs a target, but at the same time he can make a mediocre wideout look like a stud so DT comes first.
26. Houston Texans- Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Texans could use a second wide receiver to help out Andre Johnson and relieve some pressure off of him. A #2 wideout is important in this offense because Andre Johnson is sure to be double covered so another option is neccesary. Also, Johnson has injury problems and if he goes down there needs to still be a viable option in the passing attack. Georgia Tech has been spot-on with the wide receivers they’ve sent to the pro’s in the last few years. Prospects have included Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas.
27. New England Patriots (from Saints)- Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Show me an NFL fan that thought that the Patriots defense wasn’t bad, and I’ll show you a liar. As long as Tom Brady is leading the offense, that side of the ball will be fine. The defense on the other hand was terrible, one of the worst in the league. They need to spend this draft fixing that. They have two picks pretty close to one another and they should both be used on fixing their obvious defensive issues. Nick Perry is the best available DE on the board, so this will be their pick unless there is someone better on defense available.
28. Green Bay Packers- Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
Shea McClellin has been quickly moving up draft boards, and is projected as a late first/early second round pick. I think Green Bay will fix up their defense because just like New England they had a stellar offense and a poor defense this year. McClellin, if drafted here, will probably play across from Clay Matthews. He had 46 tackles with six sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and a blocked kick in 2011. He’s quick and intense, which will help Green Bay out immensly.
29. Baltimore Ravens- Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
The Ravens have a few needs on defense and one of them is having a Safety to replace the aging Ed Reed over time. Reed is still a very good safety, but age catches up to everyone. Reed will more than likely still start this year, but depth will be important in the next few years.
30. San Fransisco 49ers- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
An interesting pick for sure, adding Fleener to the offense could bring a whole new level of depth to the niners offense. Vernon Davis is already their star TE, but a two TE system is something that Jim Harbaugh could utilize this season. I see a lot of upside in this guy similar to Rob Gronkowski in New England. Another comparison to New England is the two TE system (Gronk and Hernandez) and how successful that was last season.
31. New England Patriots- Jayron Hosely, CB, Virginia Tech
After spending their first pick on a defensive end, I predict the Pats will use the #31 pick to help out their secondary. In Hosley’s sophomore season, he led the country in interceptions (10) but was plagued by injuries during his junior season. He is a very physical DB and can also return kicks. A player with multiple uses is something that is always appreciated. Hosley is one of my dark horse picks for one of the biggest steals of the draft and I see a lot of star power in this kid.
32. New York Giants- Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
After Brandon Jacobs left town, the only option the Giants had at running back were Ahmad Bradshaw and DJ Ware. With Bradshaw injured seemingly every week, depth at running back is the best option for the defending super bowl champs. He has excellent lateral agility and burst and could be a good compliment to Bradshaw when he actually does play. He has been called a thick back that runs low to the ground. He has the ability to pick up extra yards even after contact because he always keeps his legs churning. Depth at running back is important for the Giants to continue being succesful, and he’s the guy I can see doing that.
Well folks, there’s the first round.
When the draft comes around, check back and see how many I got right!
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