For some reason while compiling my annual mock drafts I always imagine all 32 general managers getting together after the draft, sharing a few adult beverages and just laughing at how off us bloggers are when it comes to these picks. I’d laugh too if I weren’t crying inside.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Bill Polian has hinted in recent weeks that the Colts haven’t settled on Luck but there’s very little chance that Indy will take Robert Griffin III. What impresses me most about Luck is his pocket presence. A signal caller that can stand in the pocket and give his receiver time to complete his route is invaluable to a NFL team and Luck has excellent pocket awareness.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Washington media is already discussing whether or not Griffin will start Week 1 for the Redskins. He was a slam-dunk for the No. 2 pick as soon as the Skins gave up 17 first round picks to move up. Griffin is a plus-athlete who can make every throw at the next level, including the deep post, which separates a good quarterback prospect from a great one.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
GM Rick Spielman has tried to drum up interest in cornerback Morris Claiborne because the Vikings seemingly prefer to trade down. But unless some team is in love with Trent Richardson or Ryan Tannehill, the Vikings will likely stay put. They could surprise and take Claiborne but at the end of the day, they need a long-term answer at left tackle and Kalil is the best OT prospect in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
In a perfect world the Browns would trade this pick to Miami, acquire more draft selections and still land Richardson at No. 8. But my gut says the Dolphins won’t trade up and the Browns will be “stuck” at No. 4. Cleveland needs impact players on offense and despite my penchant for drafting running backs in the middle round, Richardson fit’s the mold of an Adrian Peterson-type prospect. The Browns could do much worse than drafting Richardson at No. 4 if they can’t trade down.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Aqib Talib is a jaywalking ticket away from serving a lengthy suspension and Rone Barber is near retirement. While the Bucs did sign Eric Wright in free agency, 26-year-old corner has been inconsistent during his career. I don’t see Claiborne slipping out of the top 5 and thus, if he gets past the Vikings at No. 3 I think the Bucs will scoop him up here.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
There’s no shortage of possibilities for the Rams here, although I don’t believe they’ll move back up after trading down from the No. 2 pick. They could move down, they could take Blackmon, or they could wind up with someone like Trent Richardson or Morris Claiborne depending on what happens three through five. But this is a team in desperate need of an impact player at the receiver position. And while some have suggested that Michael Floyd is a better prospect than Blackmon, I think that’s just pre-draft fodder. Sam Bradford desperately needs a No. 1 and Blackmon fits the bill.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
I’ll be honest, I’m not enamored with this pick but I do think the Jaguars will either choose a defensive end or receiver at this pick. Seven seems too high for Floyd, but after his strong performance at his Pro Day, there’s been speculation that he could be selected in the top 10. That said, Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples are definite possibilities at this pick.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I think the Dolphins will land Tannehill and they won’t have to move up to get him. I firmly believe the Browns won’t select him at No. 4 and teams like the Chiefs won’t want to part with a first round pick in order to move up. Thus, the Dolphins can stay pat and take their franchise signal caller at No. 8. Now, whether Tannehill will pan out is a topic for another time.
9. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Panthers desperately need a defensive tackle but No. 9 is too high for Dontari Poe, who impressed at the scouting combine but who got lost in the mix when you watched Memphis games. If either Coples or Melvin Ingram fall to this slot, and I believe one of them ultimately will, then the Panthers could do worse than to add a pass rusher opposite Charles Johnson.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Tackle was a need for the Bills before Demetress Bell signed with the Eagles. Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Georgia’s Cordy Glenn are also options here but Reiff is rumored to be their top choice.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Inside linebacker and defensive tackle are definite needs for the Chiefs, who may even surprise and trade up for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But if I were a GM, DeCastro is a much better player than Luke Kuechly (the top inside linebacker) and Dontari Poe (who is arguably the best DT, although I think Michael Brockers is a better prospect). DeCastro played in a pro style system at Stanford and could start right away. Guards aren’t typically top 15 picks but DeCastro is a as close to a guarantee as you can get in my eyes.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Ingram may not fall this far but if he does, he would seemingly make a lot of sense for a team that needs help at both pass rusher and linebacker. Quinton Coples is another possibility at this spot if he were to fall and not Ingram.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
I actually had the Cardinals scooping up DeCastro at this spot but then I couldn’t see the Chiefs passing on him at No. 11. Offensive tackle is a huge need for the Cardinals and if Reiff falls, he’d be an option here as well. Defensive tackle, receiver, and linebacker are all possibilities, too.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Many scouts view Poe as nothing more than a workout warrior who will be overdrafted because of his impressive combine performance. But the Cowboys appear to be smitten with him and if he gets past the Panthers at No. 9, Dallas will have an opportunity to see whether or not Poe can really play.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I was a little surprised that the Eagles didn’t pursue middle linebacker Curtis Lofton in free agency, but maybe they figured they could address their need at MLB without having to spend over $6 million a year on a veteran. Kuechly could go earlier than this but I doubt it. Teams just don’t put a premium on inside linebackers anymore, but he’s certainly a great fit for Philadelphia.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
This is the point in the draft where multiple names start to look good slotted next to the team’s name. The Jets need to groom somebody to eventually take over for OLB Bryan Thomas, but Michael Floyd, David DeCastro, Cordy Glenn, Mark Barron and Michael Brockers would all make sense as well.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Leon Hall is coming off an ACL injury and while the team did sign Jason Allen this offseason, the Bengals could still stand to upgrade their secondary. Apparently Kirkpatrick didn’t interview well at the combine but that won’t scare away a team like the Bengals from drafting him.
18. San Diego Chargers: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Barron is the top safety in the draft and I could see him being swiped by Dallas at No. 14. But if falls, he would be a great value pick for a San Diego team that, as usual, doesn’t have a ton of glaring needs heading into the draft.
19. Chicago Bears – Nick Perry, DE, USC
The Bears could use upgrades at linebacker and safety but I ultimately believe they’ll go defensive line with this pick. Some have Perry slated as an outside linebacker but at 6-foot-3 and 271 pounds, he certainly has the size to play with his hand in the dirt. He led the Pac 12 in sacks last year and could be a solid fit in the Bears’ “Tampa 2.”
20. Tennessee Titans – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Titans should have a couple of defensive tackles to choose from, including Jerel Worthy of Michigan State and Michael Brockers of LSU. In fact, Dontari Poe of Memphis may also fall to them if Dallas passes on him at No. 14. Either way, I see the Titans addressing the defensive line with this selection.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
When I looked down and still saw that Glenn was available on my mock board, I was shocked. Glenn may not fall this far but if he does, he would be a great value pick for a Cincinnati team that could take David DeCastro at No. 17 if he were to fall. Glenn is the second best guard in the draft and the Bengals would do very well to address their needs at cornerback and guard in the first round.
22. Cleveland Browns: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Adams has great size and long arms, which is key for offensive tackle prospects. But he doesn’t look like a left tackle to me. That’s fine for Cleveland, which has Joe Thomas already locked in at left tackle. After landing Richardson with the No. 4 pick, the Browns can target a player like Adams to help pave the way for their new back.
23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Janoris Jenkins is arguably a better overall prospect than Gilmore but after the Lions were just burned by Nick Fairely (their first round pick in 2011), they may choose to stay away from a prospect with character concerns. Either way, cornerback is a top need for Detroit and either Jenkins or Gilmore would make sense here.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Steelers could zero in on their offensive line and therefore move up for somebody like Mike Adams, David DeCastro, Cordy Glenn or Jonathan Martin. But with all the top offensive linemen off the board, Hightower would be a nice parting gift. He has experience playing in the 3-4 and could help fill the void left by the release of James Farrior.
25.Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Some believe Devon Still as the better defensive tackle prospect but I really like Brockers’ potential. He hasn’t developed into a pass rusher yet but man can he stuff the run.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Texans could use an upgrade opposite Andre Johnson to take help pressure off AJ in the passing game. Wright isn’t very big but with Johnson on the other side commanding double teams, his size (or lack thereof) wouldn’t matter. Wright is a solid first-round prospect.
27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus only produced one year at Illinois, so the question becomes: Will he turn out to be Jason Pierre-Paul or Jamaal Anderson? I trust Bill Belichick will know what to do with a raw but talented Mercilus.
28. Green Bay Packers: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Lose Scott Wells in free agency? No problem – just replace him with the top center in the draft. Things always seem to work out for the mastermind Ted Thompson.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
With Knoz going one pick before the Ravens at No. 28, I could see Baltimore trading this pick instead of reaching for a safety like Harrison Smith. But they also need help at outside linebacker and/or defensive end, which is why I went with Irvin here. That said, I’m not enamored with the pick and if someone like Courtney Upshaw were to fall this far, I think he would be a solid selection as well.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
This was a tough selection because the only position that the Niners absolutely need to fill is at guard. And with so many solid guards available in the middle rounds, I’m willing to bet San Fran will wait to address that need. Hill is a second round talent in my eyes, but he won’t be there when the Niners pick in Round 2.
31. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins has character concerns that could cause him to fall out of the first round but a player that has some off-field question marks won’t intimate Belichick. Jenkins has loads of talent and as long as he buys into the “Patriots way,” he could be a steal this late in the first round.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Fleener could be long gone by this pick but if he’s still available, what a coup he’d be for a Giants team that needs tight end help. He has to develop into a better blocker but he could essentially be the seam-buster that Mario Manningham has been for the Giants the last two years. Fleener would be an excellent fit in New York.
Tags: 2012 nfl draft, 2012 NFL mock Drafts, Andrew Luck, Cleveland Browns, David DeCastro, Dontari Poe, Indianapolis Colts, Justin Blackmon, michael floyd, Minnesota Vikings, Mock Drafts, mock drafts 2012, Morris Claiborne, Quinton Coples, Riley Reiff, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Kalil, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Trent Richardson, Washington Redskins