Selections and player projections are all subject to change. What you will read is updated including recent Senior Bowl evaluations and keep in mind, the following mock is primarily what I believe will happen on draft day. Picks 8-9 & 11-12 will be decided via coin-flip at the NFL combine; I flipped a coin myself for the sake of mock draft (v.1) and I’ve kept the same order with adjustments to 31 and 32. So without further adieu, lets get started:
1. Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
-As the organization continues to turn the page, the future is going to be set entirely around this selection. A no brainer.
*trade* – Redskins move up to 2nd overall.
2. Washington Redskins (f/STL): QB Robert Griffin, Baylor
–Mike Shanahan proved in ’06 that he has no qualms with moving up the board for what he believes is a franchise caliber quarterback. Six years later, I believe he does the same thing.
3. Minnesota Vikings: OT Matt Kalil, USC
–Charlie Johnson is not a cornerstone LT, but Matt Kalil is. The Vikings would like to trade out of this pick, but with RG3 off the board, they opt to solidify Christian Ponder’s blindside.
4. Cleveland Browns: DE Quinton Coples, UNC
–GM Tom Heckert primarily opts for defenders in the 1st round and the Browns ranked 23rd in the NFL in sacks in 2011. Coupling Coples with last year’s 2nd round pick Jabaal Sheard offers a great young tandem.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
-In 2011 the Bucs ranked 30th in rushing. The team needs a talent infusion and quarterback Josh Freeman can only benefit from being surrounded by impact players. Richardson is a workhorse back that can take attention off Freeman as he tries to return to 2010 form.
*trade* – Rams move down to 6th overall.
6. St. Louis Rams (f/WAS): WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
–Trading out of the second pick the Rams still manage to get their guy in Blackmon. The team’s offense is lacking a true play-making wide receiver that quarterback Sam Bradford can rely on. This pick helps remedy the NFL’s 30th ranked passing offense.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
–The Jaguars defense made some strides in 2011, and while Derek Cox is a talented young cornerback, Morris Claiborne still fills a sizable need. Jacksonville gets lucky with this pick as this is supreme value.
8. Miami Dolphins: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
–Miami very desperately needs to improve the right side of its offensive line and plugging in a well coached blocker with strength & athleticism helps immediately. Reiff and Jake Long create a nice pair of bookends for the Phins.
9. Carolina Panthers: DT Michael Brockers, LSU
–At a physically imposing 6’6″ 306 lbs., Brockers is an all-around defender with top-shelf upside and no physical limitations. He just scratched the surface of his potential as a redshirt-Sophomore in 2011 and it just so happens defensive tackle is a very big need for the Panthers.
10. Buffalo Bills: DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
–Although the Bills are moving back to a 4-3 base front, Upshaw offers scheme versatility, and most importantly, he should instantaneously improve a pass rush that was tied for third-worst in the NFL in 2011.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
–Could be a prime spot for the Chiefs to trade down, but if they stand pat Jonathan Martin offers the best value. With the selection, Kansas City holds added flexibility up front and can move around Brandon Albert, who’s currently plugged in at left tackle, if they’d like to.
12. Seattle Seahawks: DT Devon Still, Penn State
–Seattle could benefit from more beef up front and while Devon Still doesn’t have Michael Brockers’ upside, he’s a safer selection. A former defensive end, Still offers a complete game and looks the part of a very solid NFL 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 base front.
13. Arizona Cardinals: ILB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
–Although the bust factor is undeniable, Vontaze Burfict possesses All-Pro potential. His strength and power-blitzing game is a perfect compliment to the speedy and athletic style of Darryl Washington. Burfict adds more toughness and a legitimate presence to Arizona’s defensive front.
14. Dallas Cowboys: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
–Kirkpatrick didn’t help his stock with his recent arrest despite not being charged, but his talent level is undeniable and he has top shelf upside. The Cowboys need to upgrade the secondary and owner/GM Jerry Jones is not known to take players off his board simply due to minor character concerns.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
–Philly’s defense is lacking an impact linebacker. While some question Kuechly’s athletic ability, he’s as productive a defender as college football has seen over the past three seasons and his football IQ is off the charts.
16. New York Jets: S Mark Barron, Alabama
–The Jets have one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL, but the safety position could stand to be upgraded. Eric Smith is a replacement-level player and while Jim Leonhard is a strong player, he tore the patellar tendon in his knee and could perhaps start the 2012 season on the PUP list.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (f/OAK): OG David DeCastro, Stanford
–A plug and play, player. DeCastro is a well-rounded blocker with great size. Has all the makeup of a Pro-Bowl guard and one of the safest players in the entire draft. Cincinnati can certainly stand to upgrade the guard spot(s) and right-guard Bobbie Williams will be 36 at the start of the 2012 season.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
–A disruptive presence off the edge, Ingram has a knack for making plays in the backfield. 25 TFL / 19 sacks in two years. The Gamecocks’ underclassman fills a significant need for San Diego who’s in need of a pass rushing presence opposite Shaun Phillips.
19. Chicago Bears: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
–Character concerns are arguably the biggest issue with Michael Floyd, as his talent level would dictate that he should go much higher than the late teens. Under a new regime with Jerry Angelo out and Phil Emery in, perhaps now is the time to give Jay Cutler the true No. 1 target the Bears’ offense is missing.
20. Tennessee Titans: DE Nick Perry, USC
–A high motor speed rusher with tremendous quickness. Nick Perry is raw, but possesses loads of upside. The Titans ranked 31st in sacks in 2011 and whether he starts from day one or not, he bolsters Tennessee’s pass rush instantly. Perry’s also an ideal compliment to 2010 1st round pick Derrick Morgan.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Janoris Jenkins, Florida / North Alabama
–Character concerns bumped him out of the top 15, but he’s kept clean and done well this year at North Alabama. A talented play-maker, Jenkins stepped up at the Senior Bowl and established himself as a solid mid-1st round value. After losing Johnathan Joseph to free agency last year, the Bengals find a talented replacement to plug-in opposite of Leon Hall.
22. Cleveland Browns (f/ATL): WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
–The type of all around game and silky-smooth route running ability that Wright possesses would make him a dynamic addition to the stagnant passing offense the Browns fielded in 2011. An ideal compliment to both Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi.
23. Detroit Lions: OLB Zach Brown, UNC
–The Lions may be unable to re-sign Stephen Tulloch to the long-term deal he no doubt would like and Justin Durant missed time due to concussion early in the season. Zach Brown is a picture-perfect fit as an athletic run and cover linebacker in Jim Schwartz’s defense and ideal value at this point. Brown also allows the Lions the flexibility to kick DeAndre Levy back to the middle if need be.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
–The overwhelming consensus regarding the Steelers offense is that the pass blocking along the offensive line must improve. Big Ben needs the security of a big and talented blindside protector; Adams suits the role nicely. He performed well at the Senior Bowl and established himself as a solid value selection in this range.
25. Denver Broncos: DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
–Denver continues adding nice pieces to their base 4-3 front. Jerel Worthy is a disruptive interior presence in both facets of the game and despite a sometimes hot-and-cold motor, can be a force at the next level. An ideal fit for the Broncos.
26. Houston Texans: WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
–The slide ends here as the Texans, looking to add a legitimate No. 2 option, find the value just too great. Speed and weight concerns force the top 10 talent to drop this far, but it’s a necessary risk for a team who’s really not all that far off from being legitimate contenders.
27. New England Patriots (f/NO): DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
–Although the Patriots have found lightning in a bottle with pass rushers like Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, the Illinois defensive end who tallied an NCAA leading 16.0 sacks this past season is just too good to pass up here. Bill Belichick can only see what the value of having a plethora of good pass rushers can do so many times before the need is legitimately addressed.
28. Green Bay Packers: CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
–With no value left in the pass-rusher department, the Packers decide to address their league-worst pass defense by adding a quality cornerback with great upside. Gilmore, like Charles Woodson, is a versatile “move” corner who can be used in a number of ways. Gilmore’s had his struggles, but flashed No. 1 cornerback potential early in his college career.
29. Baltimore Ravens: OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia
-The Ravens may lose left guard Ben Grubbs to free agency and Cordy Glenn has proven to be a valuable tackle/guard hybrid through his Senior Bowl week. The depth would be welcomed, and the size + upside he offers just makes Glenn all the intriguing. Also, in recent years GM Ozzie Newsome has liked to build his offensive line through the draft.
30. San Francisco 49ers: C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
–San Francisco doesn’t have many very glaring holes and despite not being a weak link in 2011, Jonathan Goodwin is not a long-term solution to the center position. Peter Konz is the draft’s top center and may even be able to help at guard as rookie as well. A prototype at his position, Konz joins tackles Joe Staley, Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati as 1st round picks playing on the 9ers offensive line.
31. New England Patriots: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
–A still-developing interior presence with significant upside. Fletcher Cox is an unheralded interior defensive lineman who will add some fire to any team’s pass rush up the middle. The Patriots have little long-term depth at the defensive tackle position and while it doesn’t seem to be the Belichick-style, two defensive lineman with great value at this point are hard to pass up.
32. New York Giants: CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
–Two years in a row a talented Nebraska cornerback falls to the G-Men in round one? Absolutely it’s possible. While Dennard struggled a bit during Senior Bowl week and was unable to play in the game, he’s still a true value selection at this stage of the draft. The Giants could certainly use more help at corner and Fonzie D is a solid & safe pick.
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