2012 NFL Mock Draft (Arun Morace)

4/26/2012

Other Sports-Kings Mocks:

Jim Racalto’s One Round 2012 Mock Draft

Luke Willis’ 2012 Mock Draft

NFL Guy’s Mock Draft Version 2.0

Tad Johnson’s Mock 2012 NFL Draft

 

 

1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, Quarterback (Stanford)
> With Peyton Manning officially out of Indianapolis, the Colts will need to add a franchise quarterback. Luck has been locked in to the Colts ever since Indianapolis secured the first overall pick at the end of the 2011 regular season. Luck is a smart, athletic quarterback who will be able to start right out of the gate for the Colts.

2. Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III, Quarterback (Baylor)
> Washington paid a king’s ransom for this pick (three first round picks and a second round pick), but they’re going to get an elite quarterback prospect to finally give them a legitimate starter at the game’s most important position. Griffin, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner as the best college football player, has a strong arm, good accuracy, and has great speed (4.41 in the 40-yard dash), and will be able to make plays with both his feet and his arm, a la Michael Vick or Cam Newton.

3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle (Southern California)
> Minnesota allowed 49 sacks last year. If they want Christian Ponder to develop into a franchise quarterback, he’ll need to be upright and healthy, not sacked into oblivion. Matt Kalil is the top pass protector in the 2012 draft class, and will give Ponder the protection he needs.

4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson, Running Back (Alabama)
> While Cleveland’s defense is quietly rounding into a quality unit, their offense leaves much to be desired. With Peyton Hillis defecting for Kansas City, there’s room for a new franchise running back in Cleveland. Richardson, a former Heisman Trophy runner-up, has all the tools needed to be a successful NFL running back. He’s got great speed, agility and vision; and he can catch the ball very well and make plays out of the backfield.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne, Cornerback (Louisiana State)
> Ronde Barber can’t play forever, and Aqib Talib might not be coming back, given his troubles with the law. Even though the Buccaneers signed cornerback Eric Wright, Tampa Bay came into the 2012 offseason needing upgrades at every position in their defensive backfield. Morris Claiborne is a great athlete will impressive cover skills, and will be able to shore up one spot in the defensive backfield for the Buccaneers as he develops into one of their starting cornerbacks.

6. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver (Oklahoma State)
>St. Louis needs to get Sam Bradford some better weapons in the passing game. Bradford is going to be a very, very good quarterback, but it doesn’t help when he has guys like Greg Salas, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson dropping passes and failing to get open. Justin Blackmon is the best wide receiver prospect in the 2012 draft class, and has the total package of speed, hands and reliability needed for a #1 wide receiving option, the kind that’s badly needed in St. Louis.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver (Notre Dame)
> Suffice it to say, Blaine Gabbert had a less-than-impressive rookie campaign, seeing as he had the worst completion percentage and passer rating of any starting quarterback in 2011. In his defense, he didn’t have the best pass protection (44 sacks allowed) or the best wide receivers (you know you’re in trouble when 5’7” Mike Thomas is your best receiving option). With all that in mind, Jacksonville needs to at least give Gabbert some help before he becomes a complete bust. Michael Floyd is a big (6’3”), fast (4.4 in the 40-yard dash), playmaking wide receiver who should be the receiver the Jacksonville passing game need to take the load off of Pro-Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and give Gabbert a chance to develop into the player the Jaguars expected him to be when they selected him with the 10th overall pick in 2011.

8. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback (Texas A&M)
> Miami needs a quarterback, and apparently Dan Marino, the greatest signal-caller in Miami Dolphins history, has said that Tannehill would be a good pick for the Fins. Tannehill can sit for a year and learn behind Matt Moore and David Garrard, and he’ll at least end the revolving door of quarterbacks that has plagued the Dolphins for years.
Pick updated. Previously: Reilly Reiff, OT (Iowa)

9. Carolina Panthers- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle (Mississippi State)
> Carolina badly needs an upgrade at defensive tackle, and while Cox, who weighs in at 6’4”, 294 pounds, isn’t the typical massive run-stuffing interior lineman one usually finds at the defensive tackle position, he is a great inside pass rusher, something that will help in today’s pass-first NFL.
Pick updated. Previously: Dontari Poe, DT (Memphis)

10. Buffalo Bills- Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker (Boston College)
>Buffalo addressed a number of needs in free agency, but still need to add another wide receiver, linebacker and offensive tackle in the draft. Given how bad the Bills’ run defense is, a player like Luke Kuechly (who also satisfies the Bills’ best-player-available draft strategy), who racked up an incredible 191 tackles his last year at college, is the best possible choice for them. Added bonus: Kuechly is excellent in coverage, which will help against the plethora of talented receiving tight ends in the AFC East.
Pick updated. Previously: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle (Stanford)

11. Kansas City Chiefs- David DeCastro, Guard (Stanford)
> Tamba Hali is a great pass rusher, but the Chiefs’ defense would be a lot better with a competent complement to him at the other rush linebacker spot. Melvin Ingram is reminiscent of Dwight Freeney; both are undersized, athletic pass rushers who know how to get to the quarterback. The Chiefs will be even better with Ingram and Hali rushing the pass together in 2012 and beyond.
Pick updated. Previously: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB (South Carolina)

12. Seattle Seahawks- Quinton Coples, Defensive End (North Carolina)
>Seattle has no pass rushing threat across from the 30-year old Chris Clemons; no Seahawk defensive lineman mustered more than three sacks last year (outside of Clemons, who had 11.5). With that in mind, the Seahawks could add Quinton Coples, a productive defensive end who conjures comparisons to big defensive ends like Julius Peppers.
Pick updated. Previously: Luke Kuechly, ILB (Boston College)

13. Arizona Cardinals- Reilly Reiff, Offensive Tackle (Iowa)
> Arizona needs to upgrade their pass rush and their offensive line. With Reilly Reiff still available, the Cardinals would do well to grab him, given how bad their pass protection was last year (54 sacks allowed). Reiff is also a proficient run blocker, and will also help the Cardinals’ 24th-ranked ground game.
Pick updated. Previously: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB

14. Dallas Cowboys- Mark Barron, Safety (Alabama)
> Dallas already addressed their biggest need, cornerback, when they signed Brandon Carr to a five year, $50 million deal this past offseason, but their defensive backfield still needs upgrades. Mark Barron is the top safety in this draft, and will give them the centerfielder they’ve needed for years.
Pick updated. Previously: David DeCastro, G (Stanford)

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback (Alabama)
>The Eagles only have one starting-caliber cornerback who is signed past 2012 (Nnamdi Asomugha). Domonique Rogers-Cromartie will be a free agent in 2012, and Asante Samuel also only has one year left on his deal (not to mention, both he and the Eagles have a mutual interest in a trade that would see Samuel leave Philadelphia). With that in mind, the Eagles would do well to add a cornerback to pair with Asomugha for the foreseeable future. The tall, rangy Dre Kirkpatrick would give Philadelphia a pair of tall cornerbacks to combat the offensive firepower that is rapidly populating the NFC East (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, etc.).

16. New York Jets- Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker (South Carolina)
Two things kept the Jets defense from being its usual stellar self under Rex Ryan in 2011: poor safety play, and even poorer linebacker play. No Jets linebacker registered more than 86 tackles, and no Jets linebacker even came close to notching double digit sacks, and only two, Aaron Maybin (six) and David Harris (five), registered five or more sacks. Of the Jets four starting linebackers, only Harris is under 30 years old. The Jets badly need an infusion of youth and talent at the linebacker position. A player like South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, who is the complete package of size, speed, youth, pass rushing and tackling ability, is exactly what the New York defense needs on the edge of their 3-4 alignment.
Pick updated. Previously: Nick Perry, DE/OLB (USC)

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)- Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback (Northern Alabama)
>Cincinnati is another team with very few needs. However, since they lost Jonathan Joseph in free agency a year ago, they could use a stalwart young defensive back to pair with Leon Hall on the outside. Janoris Jenkins is the best available, and despite the fact that he’s got some off-the-field concerns, everyone knows that won’t dissuade the Cincinnati Bengals from taking him in the first round.

18. San Diego Chargers- Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle (Louisiana State)
> San Diego started to rebuild its defensive line  with young, impact players when they drafted Corey Liuget in the first round last year. They can continue their project by drafting Michael Brockers, a massive player at 6’7”, 322 who can play either nose tackle or defensive end in their 3-4 scheme.

19. Chicago Bears- Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End (Alabama)
> Chicago wanted to sign Mario Williams to pair with Julius Peppers at defensive end, but missed out on him when he signed with Buffalo. Lucky for them, Courtney Upshaw, whom some have compared to Steelers’ standout pass-rusher LaMarr Woodley, is still available, and can step in to pair with Peppers.
Pick updated. Previously: Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)

20. Tennessee Titans- Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle (Memphis)
> Tennessee needs to add talent to its defensive line, especially after losing defensive tackle Jason Jones in free agency to the Seattle Seahawks. Dontari Poe is a massive defensive tackle who showed his athleticism at the Scouting Combine. He’s a bit of a project, but if developed well, he’ll provide a strong interior presence for the Titans in lieu of Jones’ departure.
Pick updated. Previously: Fletcher Cox, DT (Mississippi State)

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver (Baylor)
> With Andre Caldwell leaving in free agency to play with Peyton Manning in Denver, and with Jerome Simpson expected to miss time thanks to a felony drug charge, Cincinnati is looking quite thin at wide receiver. The explosive Kendall Wright has the speed and playmaking ability to complement A.J. Green, and provide quarterback Andy Dalton with another quality receiver.

22. Cleveland Browns- Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle (Stanford)
>Cleveland can continue to upgrade their offense by adding a premier tackle like Jonathan Martin to bookend with perennial Pro-Bowler Joe Thomas. Martin can step right in at right tackle, giving the Browns a great offensive line (they also have Pro Bowl center Alex Mack on the interior).
Pick updated. Previously: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M)

 

23. Detroit Lions- Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback (South Carolina)
> Detroit, in three years under Jim Schwartz, has taken massive steps forward. They made the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. But, they made the playoffs despite an awful pass defense. The Lions’ front seven is quite good, but the defensive backfield leaves much to be desired. Adding a quality cornerback is a must for Detroit, and the best available at this juncture in the draft is former South Carolina Gamecock Stephon Gilmore.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Cordy Glenn, Offensive Tackle/Guard (Georgia)
>Surprise, surprise, Ben Roethlisberger got injured in 2011. And at long last, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin came out and said that they’d be looking for pass protection help this offseason. Most of the top offensive tackles are already off the board, but Pittsburgh can still avail themselves of the services of Cordy Glenn, who can play four spots on the offensive line, and will be an upgrade no matter where the Steelers choose to play him.

25. Denver Broncos- Devon Still, Defensive Tackle (Penn State)
>  The Broncos thought they could get competent defensive tackle play by starting Marcus Thomas and Philadelphia Eagles cast-off Broderick Bunkley on the interior of their defensive line this year. Did it work? Denver’s 22nd ranked run defense says that it didn’t. The Broncos need an elite talent on the inside of their front four to go along with the skill they have along the edge with “Doom and Gloom” (Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller). The massive Devon Still, who checks in at 6’5”, 310 pounds, would be a huge boon to Denver’s failing run defense, while occupying blockers in order to free up Dumervil and Miller’s pass rush.

26. Houston Texans- Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver (Georgia Tech)
>Houston’s playoff loss to the Ravens this past year showed just how bad their passing game is when Andre Johnson is eliminated. The Texans need a fast young wide receiver who can complement Johnson (and eventually take over for the 32-year old). Stephen Hill is the latest in a line of tall, fast receivers from Georgia Tech with loads of potential, and any team that takes him hopes he’ll have the same success as fellow former Yellow Jacket Calvin Johnson (well, that might be a bit much. The same success as Demariyus Thomas without the injuries might be a fairer expectation).

27. Green Bay Packers- Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker (Illinois)
> The Packers badly need to add a complementary pass rusher for Pro Bowler Clay Matthews. Frank Zombo, Erik Walden and Brad Jones clearly can’t get it done consistently. Someone like Whitney Mercilus, who notched 16 sacks last year in college, should be able to provide the edge rush the Packers need across from Matthews at the outside linebacker position in Green Bay’s 3-4 alignment.

28. New England Patriots- Harrison Smith, Safety (Notre Dame)
> The New England Patriot defense, as Bart Scott so aptly put it, “can’t stop a nose bleed”. They allowed a staggering 411 yards per game in 2011. While they were reasonably successful stopping the run, the Patriots defense was absolutely horrendous when it came to stopping the pass, allowing an average of 293 yards through the air, second worst in the league. That’s not what you want from a playoff team, particularly in an era where passing records are falling left and right. New England needs to add talent to its secondary, specifically at safety, where they trotted out unknowns like Sergio Brown, and even had wide receiver Julian Edelman take snaps on defense from the safety spot. A centerfielder like Harrison Smith would be a big help for the struggling Patriots pass defense.
Pick updated. Previously: Mark Barron, S (Alabama)

29. Baltimore Ravens- Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver (South Carolina)
> Baltimore could use a big red-zone threat, possession-type receiver to complement the speedy Torrey Smith. Anquan Boldin is alright, but at this point in his career he’s losing what little speed he had, and is very inconsistent in terms of production. Alshon Jeffrey, once considered a top-ten pick, would be a big addition to a budding Ravens offense.
Pick updated. Previously: Mike Adams, (Ohio State)

30. San Francisco 49ers- Nick Perry, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker
> With the seventh pick in the 2011 draft, the 49ers got a game-changing pass rusher in Aldon Smith, who had a phenomenal rookie year while becoming the edge threat that the 49ers had lacked for so many years. Smith finished with 14.5 sacks and was a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Still, the Niners have no one across from Smith; imagine how dangerous their defense could be with two young pass rushing threats. Grabbing someone like Nick Perry would be a huge boon to an already scary stop unit.
Pick updated. Previously: Peter Konz, C/G (Wisconsin)

31. New England Patriots- Andre Branch, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker (Clemson)
> New England lost Mark Anderson in free agency, and 30+ year old Andre Carter suffered a season ending injury, and there’s no telling how well he’ll  be able to play next year. With all that in mind, the Patriots would do well to grab a pass rusher like Andre Branch to replace Anderson in the lineup.

 

32. New York Giants- Dont’a Hightower, Inside Linebacker
> New York has tried several strategies to fix the middle linebacker position in the years since Antonio Pierce’s departure. They tried giving an old veteran the job (Keith Bulluck), and they’ve tried giving a couple late-round draft picks the job (Greg Jones, Jonathan Goff, Jacquian Williams). Predictably, those strategies fell short of their mark. The Giants need to find a permanent solution at the middle linebacker position. That solution could be the massive Dont’a Hightower, who checks in at 6’5”, 260 pounds, and has been the leader of the great Alabama defense during his time at college.

[All images credited to mapkernow.com]

By lead columnist Arun Morace

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