2012 NFL Mock Draft
I’m certainly interested in the NFL draft, especially this year. After putting up with the circus that surrounds my beloved New York Jets, I have adopted a second NFL team to root for this upcoming season, and most likely beyond. I will still root for the Jets, but I will also start to follow a new team just as closely. I chose that particular team after a rigorous elimination process.
1. The team could not be in the AFC (16 eliminated teams)
2. The team could not dominate the mainstream media outlets (New Orleans, Philadelphia)
3. The team could not be considered a Super Bowl contender (Green Bay, New York Giants, San Francisco, Atlanta)
4. The team could not be from a huge market (Washington, Dallas, Chicago)
5. The team could not be a complete train wreck (Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Seattle, St. Louis)
After all these cuts were made I was left with three teams – Arizona, Carolina or Detroit. To make the last two cuts I tried to figure out which of these teams I would enjoy watching the most. I cut Detroit first because I do not like the way that Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh play the game. Too many late and dirty hits for my taste. Finally, I chose Carolina over Arizona simply because the Panthers have the most exciting player between the two teams. I have my Cam Newton jersey all ready to roll and will wear it on draft day.
I now have two teams to look forward to in the upcoming draft, and the upcoming season.
1. Indianapolis Colts — QB Andrew Luck (Stanford)
I think that Jim Irsay has had this pick all figured out since about October of last year. There’s been some smokescreen interest in Robert Griffin III, but Luck’s been the consensus number 1 pick for two years now and I don’t see any way he doesn’t come off the board first.
2. Washington Redskins — QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
I don’t think I’ve ever been as confident in the first two picks of an NFL draft as I am in these two. A team does not trade three first round draft picks to select anything other than a franchise quarterback. If the Colts throw a curveball and take Griffin, then Washington will take Luck. Either way, they will have their quarterback of the future this time next week.
3. Minnesota Vikings – OL Matt Kalil (USC)
The Vikings have a number of positions they could look to improve, but the offensive line is the most glaring. Kalil would allow Minnesota to flush out their line to open more holes for Adrian Peterson as well as improving the protection for young Christian Ponder. Morris Claiborne is a consideration, but ultimately the Vikings should go with the safest, and surest bet.
4. Cleveland Browns — RB Trent Richardson (Alabama)
The Browns need a lot of help on offense, but with Luck and Griffin off the board, the choice comes down to wideout Justin Blackmon or Richardson. With Peyton Hillis departing, I think the Browns will take the guy that won’t need to rely on Colt McCoy’s questionable arm strength and accuracy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Morris Claiborne (LSU)
For a guy tabbed as a defensive genius and for a team that has spent a lot of high draft picks on defensive talent, Raheem Morris and the Bucs have fielded some awful defensive units the past few seasons. With a new coaching staff in place, the Buccaneers could decide to go a different way, but I think Claiborne is the best player left on the board and he fits an area of need.
6. St. Louis Rams — DT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State)
Justin Blackmon is the popular choice to go to the Rams, but have extra picks and this year’s draft is deep at the receiver position. Cox is a much better value pick this early in the draft and will help the defense immediately.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — CB Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina)
Like St. Louis, Jacksonville could use a wide receiver, but I think seventh is still too early for Blackmon, so the Jags will look to shore up their defense as well with Gilmore, who is widely considered the second best corner in the draft behind Claiborne.
8. Miami Dolphins — WR Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State)
I think the Dolphins take Blackmon here to replace the recently traded Brandon Marshall. There’s a lot of speculation that the Fins will take QB Ryan Tannehill, but I think they like Matt Moore more than most people realize and I don’t think Tannehill is that much of an upgrade, if he is one at all. I don’t think they panic about missing out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn and will improve the offense in other ways.
9. Carolina Panthers — DL Quinton Coples (North Carolina)
While the Panthers offense score 21 points or more in 12 of their 16 games in 2011, the Panthers desperately need help on defense and they will address it in the first round. After monster reviews in his junior season, Coples fell off a little in his senior campaign, but the ability is still there and he can play everywhere on the line and everywhere is exactly the place the Panthers D-line needs help.
10. Buffalo Bills — OL Reilly Reiff (Iowa)
Buffalo fixed their defensive line in a big way during free agency, so they’ll use the draft to fix a patchwork offensive line. Reiff is not the biggest, fastest, or strongest prospect of all time or even of this draft, but he’s a solid fit for this Buffalo team.
11. Kansas City Chiefs — QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M)
It’s no secret that Matt Cassell isn’t the long term answer KC thought they were getting when they traded a second round draft pick to New England to acquire him in 2009. He’s been hurt and a game-manager at best, while Tannehill could prove to be a game-changer. With Cassel still on board, Tannehill would not be forced to step in on day one and take charge of the offense.
12. Seattle Seahawks — LB Luke Kuechly (Boston College)
Kuechly does not rush the quarterback well, and that type of linebacker doesn’t typically get drafted this early, but Kuechly does possess very impressive coverage skills for a linebacker. The Seahawks re-signed Skittles-machine Marshawn Lynch and have a healthy QB battle brewing between incumbent Tavaris Jackson and newcomer Matt Flynn, so focusing on defense early in the draft makes sense.
13. Arizona Cardinals — OL David DeCastro (Stanford)
The Cardinals desperately need help on the offensive line and DeCastro’s pure physical tools and hard hitting attitude make him as good as just about any lineman prospect in recent years.
14. Dallas Cowboys — SS Mark Barron (Alabama)
America’s Team needs help at several positions on defense, but none more so than in the secondary. They need a hard-hitting playmaker and Barron was that guy for the national champs and can be that guy at the next level too.
15. Philadelphia Eagles — DE Chandler Jones (Syracuse)
The Eagles look good to go on offense, but the defense still needs some work, beginning with the front four. Jones will bring a big presence and the potential to be a multiple-time Pro Bowler for the City of Brotherly Love.
16. New York Jets — DE Melvin Ingram (South Carolina)
Ingram is just the type of player that Rex Ryan loves. Whether or not he’ll be able to get everything out of Ingram that he wants, Ryan will surely try his best. Ingram can play outside linebacker for the Jets or put his hand down and rush the edge. The Jets struggled to provide consistent pressure last season and Ingram should help. maybe the Jets fan still inside me is a bit optimistic that a talent like Ingram would fall to them at 16, but if not, Ryan may look inside at a DT like Dontari Poe who has all the potential in the world.
17. Cincinnati Bengals — WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame)
Floyd had some off-the-field red flags at Notre Dame, but the Bengals aren’t a team that puts too much stock in those things. It’s the football talent they want and Floyd has tons of it. Lining up across from AJ Green, he will give Andy Dalton two imposing physical threats to work with in a division that figures to throw out some of the league’s toughest defenses.
18. San Diego Chargers — OL Jonathan Martin (Stanford)
With Kris Dielman’s unfortunate retirement, the Chargers need a replacement and Martin is a good one. He’s not the flashiest of picks, but a solid one that should provide good value for quite a few years.
19. Chicago Bears — DE Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)
Da Bears took care of getting Jay Cutler some help by trading for Brandon Marshall. While not the elite Top 5 receiver he could have been, he’s familiar with Cutler and allows the Bears to spend their first round selection on another position of need.
20. Tennessee Titans — DT Michael Brockers (LSU)
Brockers will give Tennessee some much needed size and power on the interior of its line. They struggled to stop the run and also to rush the passer last year, and Brockers will help alleviate both problems.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama)
Janoris Jenkins could jump Kirkpatrick, but I just don’t see teams overlooking Jenkins’ off-the-field misconduct to risk him this high. Kirkpatrick is an NFL-ready corner who won’t wow anyone with flash, but will provide very solid corner play.
22. Cleveland Browns — WR Kendall Wright (Baylor)
It’s always nice to have multiple first round selections, and Cleveland gets its wide receiver here at 22. They could always package this pick to move up and target Blackmon or Floyd, but Wright isn’t as far behind those two as he seems. He played big and fast at Baylor and should be able to do so at the NFL level.
23. Detroit Lions — OG Amini Silatolu (Midwestern State)
Even with the defensive help they very much need, Detroit’s key to success is keeping Matthew Stafford healthy. To do that, they need Silatolu, or someone like him to fortify a shaky offensive line. Although not as household a name as someone like Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams, Silatolu’s hard-nosed style of play should endear itself to Jim Schartz and the Lions.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers — LB Donta Hightower (Alabama)
The Steelers need some youth on their defense with so many key contributors growing older and slower. Hightower can help immediately and the Steelers will look for defensive line reinforcements later in the draft.
25. Denver Broncos — RB Doug Martin (Virginia Tech)
Willis McGahee isn’t getting any younger or faster, and the rest of the RB depth chart isn’t anything to be optimistic about. Martin is a hard runner who won’t be intimidated when asked to help with pass blocking. Which as we all know by now, is something that Peyton Manning desperately desires in a running back.
26. Houston Texans — DE Nick Perry (USC)
With the departure of Mario Williams, the Texans will need someone new to pair with last year’s first round sensation, J.J. Watt. Perry should make a solid pick and will add to Houston’s line of successful first round DE selections (JJ Watt, Mario Williams, Jason Babin)
27. New England Patriots — LB Shea McClellin (Boise State)
If it seemed as if New England was succeeding in spite of their defense in 2011, it’s because they definitely were. Despite their defensive issues, New England found themselves still playing come Super Bowl Sunday. McClellin will add some youth, but more importantly talent and versatility, to New England’s horrid pass defense.
28. Green Bay Packers — DT Jerel Worthy (Michigan State)
The Packers will look to add a running back at some point in the draft, but I think they’ll attend to that later rather than sooner. Here, they’ll look to add a versatile defender to a defense that was rather porous last season despite their ability to force turnovers. Chances are it could be secondary help, but the Packers could use help just about anywhere on that side of the ball.
29. Baltimore Ravens — WR Ruben Randle (LSU)
Here’s where the trades may start to come in bunches. The Ravens are a very solid and complete team as currently constructed and could look to use this pick to get more picks for later. If they do stay put, adding a bigger receiving threat makes sense. Anquan Boldin is no longer a threat week in and week out, and Torrey Smith has only put flashes of potential on display.
30. San Francisco 49ers — WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech)
Hill has the same knock on him that every Tech receiver does — he’s a system guy, and it’s not a passing system. But Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas have certainly made out okay in the NFL. Even with Randy Moss, another receiving threat can’t hurt at all. If they decide they want to try the Patriots 2-TE set, they could go with Stanford’s Cody Fleener, Coach Harbrough’s old pupil.
31. New England Patriots — C Peter Konz (Wisconsin)
The only question here is “who?”, but not as in which player, but which team. If there’s one thing we know about the Pats and Bill Belichick is that he will use one of his first round picks this year and turn it into a better first rounder next year. But with the slight chance they make their own selection here, Konz is a strong fit.
32. New York Giants — SS Harrison Smith (Notre Dame)
They’re pretty set on offense, with some weak spots that should be taken care of later in the draft. The studs on the defensive line cover up a lot of secondary and linebacker deficiencies, and Smith can step in and help right away on defense and on special teams.