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Mar 25, 2 years ago

2012 NFL Draft: Mock version 2.0

After 2 weeks of one of the most frenzied free agency periods the NFL has ever seen, some teams have addressed many of the needs that head offices around America have identified since the end of last season, and some *cough, sneeze, MIAMI, cough*, have had a far less productive 10 days or so. So what impact has this had on teams’ strategies in Radio City Music Hall on April 26th? Here’s my take on how the first round could be shaping up…

(I won’t mock any unconfirmed trades in this draft, as there could be lots of them due to the new rookie wage scale, which reduces financial risk for teams picking higher.)

Round 1

  1. Indianapolis Colts – ANDREW LUCK – QB

(Previous Pick: No Change)

There has been some buzz about Robert Griffin tempting the Colts into a surprise change of mind, but after Jim Irsay and co. have done their due diligence on both of the prospects, they should settle on the most NFL-ready college QB to come out of the draft in the past 5 years.

  1. St Louis Rams – CONFIRMED TRADE – Washington Redskins – ROBERT GRIFFIN III – QB

(Washington give to St Louis: 2012 1st, 2nd, 2013 1st, 2014 1st)

(Previous Pick: No Change)

I have been saying this trade would happen for weeks, and it works brilliantly for both teams, with Washington putting themselves in a position to draft their franchise QB for the next 10+ years, and it gives the Rams some great picks to rebuild their franchise, while not slipping down too far this year. I don’t think the price was too much, as it’s not very often that a prospect like RG3 comes along.

  1. Minnesota Vikings – MATT KALIL – OT

(Previous Pick: No Change)

Some whispers have surfaced that the Vikes may select CB Morris Claiborne here, but Kalil is by far the best prospect at LT in this draft, and if the Vikings want to make sure that Christian Ponder’s initial promise isn’t wasted, they will have to protect him, and give him weapons. That process starts here by selecting the man from USC to protect Ponder’s blindside.

  1. Cleveland Browns – TRENT RICHARDSON – RB

(Previous Pick: No Change)

The Browns tried and failed to attract a QB to Cleveland, so the next best thing is to totally revamp the stagnant offense, and that starts with one of the best RB prospects in years, which allows Brad Childress to take the pressure off of Colt McCoy a little with the offensive strategy. No doubt the Browns will add to their WR corps later in the draft, where some good value will be found, so they’re giving McCoy the biggest chance they can to succeed.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – MORRIS CLAIBORNE – CB

(Previous Pick: No Change)

The Bucs have a real need at CB, and it just so happens that the best player on the board at this stage is LSU corner Claiborne, with Aquib Talib possibly ending up in jail and Ronde Barber being of an age too large to speak of, even though he has re-signed for another year, Tampa get a corner that can anchor their leaky defense.

  1. Washington Redskins – CONFIRMED TRADE – St Louis Rams – JUSTIN BLACKMON – WR

(Previous Pick: No Change)

It is more than possible that Blackmon will be waiting here for the Rams, and if he is, they will not hesitate at snapping up a legitimate number one target for Sam Bradford, especially after the departure of Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – MICHAEL FLOYD – WR

(Previous Pick: No Change)

If the Jags are going to make Blaine Gabbert successful, they have to give him a big, number one target. Michael Floyd could end up being the best receiver in the 2012 class, and this would make too much sense for the Jaguars to pass up on him. Their defense wasn’t the issue last year, their offense was. The addition of Laurent Robinson in free agency is just as a number two target, but Floyd, Robinson and Mike Thomas is a decent WR corps for Gabbert to try and succeed with, or for Chad Henne to pick up the pieces with.

  1. Miami Dolphins – RYAN TANNEHILL – QB

(Previous Pick: Riley Reiff – OT)

The Dolphins have made a right *insert abusive comment here* of free agency, failing to get the franchise QB that they so desperately wanted/needed, s they simply have to draft Ryan Tannehill. It may even mean trading up to get him, but as of now, I can’t see the Dolphins passing on him.

  1. Carolina Panthers – DONTARI POE – DT

(Previous Pick: No Change)

This huge man was an absolute colossus at the Combine, and this revelation that Poe is a world-class athlete gives him absolutely massive upside that the Panthers are unlikely to pass up on, especially with their biggest need being at DT. Poe will surely be better against the run than 2011 3rd round pick Terrell McClain, simply due to his size and explosiveness, and he could end up being a ‘Vince Wilfork-esque’ beast.

  1. Buffalo Bills – RILEY REIFF – OT

(Previous Pick: Quinton Coples – DE)

With the signings of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson as pass rushers, DE takes a back seat on the list of Priorities for the Bills, and solidifying their O-line becomes a lot more important. Reiff is a legitimate top 10 prospect, and worries about his ‘short arms’ probably won’t stop him being picked in the top 10. Demetrius Bell hasn’t re-signed, so this is an instant plug and play replacement.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs – LUKE KUECHLY – ILB

(Previous Pick: Jonathan Martin – OT)

The Chiefs sorted their RT problem with the signing of Eric Winston, and signed Stanford Routt to replace Brandon Carr at CB, so there aren’t really any glaring needs. The three places KC might look at are interior offensive line, defensive tackle and inside linebacker. I’m going with Romeo Crennell’s defensive mindset though, and taking the best player available at those positions. Kuechly answered any athletic questions scouts may have had about him at the Combine, and his great work ethic coupled with fantastic tackling instincts should make him a star at ILB in the NFL.

  1. Seattle Seahawks – QUINTON COPLES – DE

(Previous Pick: Melvin Ingram – DE/OLB)

The Seahawks locked up Red Bryant at DE, but they still have pass rush as their no. 1 priority, and are fortunate to see the highest rated DE fall to them at 12. Coples fits better in the 4-3 that Pete Carroll runs than Melvin Ingram, so you’d assume that the man from North Carolina would be the pick. I’m still not convinced about Coples, but most NFL scouts are, so who am I to argue!

  1. Arizona Cardinals – DAVID DECASTRO – G

(Previous Pick: Luke Kuechly – ILB)

DeCastro is the best guard prospect to come out of the draft since Steve Hutchinson. The Cards have upgrades to make at LT, LG, C, RG, RT… Enough said? This one is an absolute no brainer if DeCastro is available.

  1. Dallas Cowboys – MARK BARRON – S

(Previous Pick: Janoris Jenkins – CB)

With DeCastro off the board, the Cowboys have to look at their secondary. They’ve added Brandon Carr at CB, and Brodney Pool at Safety, but the best talent on the board is an upgrade on anyone else Dallas has at S. When Jerry Jones questions the talent level on defense, you know what the draft strategy is going to be. Barron is the consensus #1 safety in this draft, and will be a great pickup for a defense needing quality and leadership.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – FLETCHER COX – DT

(Previous Pick: Michael Brockers – DT)

Andy Reid loves having talented players on his defensive line, and the best player available at this juncture is Fletcher Cox. He has good versatility, can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4, and would be a great addition for a team looking to challenge this year.

  1. New York Jets – COURTNEY UPSHAW – DE/OLB

(Previous Pick: Mark Barron – S)

Experience in the 3-4, natural pass-rush ability and a graduate of the Alabama defense. Rex Ryan will be happy if Upshaw is available at 16, as Bryan Thomas has torn his Achilles. This represents a big upgrade for the Jets, and will be a good pick.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – DRE KIRKPATRICK – CB

(Previous Pick: No Change)

With the first of the consensus top corners already gone, the Bengals will look to shore up their secondary quickly, and with the best player left on the board. A lot has been made of Kirkpatrick’s arrest for pot possession, but the Bengals probably won’t care enough not to select him.

  1. San Diego Chargers – MELVIN INGRAM – OLB/DE

(Previous Pick: Courtney Upshaw – DE/OLB)

The Chargers’ front office said they’ll go after pass rush, and for once, I believe them. Ingram is the best player available at this spot, and at 18, its great value for San Diego. He’s a massive talent upgrade for the San Diego defense, and possibly fits their 3-4 better than my previous pick, Courtney Upshaw.

  1. Chicago Bears – JONATHAN MARTIN – OT

(Previous Pick: Mike Adams – OT)

The Bears have a lot of options with this pick, but they are definitely going to see the upside in Martin. He’s a potential franchise LT, and is excellent in both run and pass protection. Chicago won’t want another good-looking season to go to waste because of a porous offensive line.

  1. Tennessee Titans – WHITNEY MERCILUS – DE/OLB

(Previous Pick: David DeCastro – G)

Mike Munchak said that he wouldn’t draft an offensive lineman with this pick, and even though Kamerion Wimbley has just signed in Tennessee, Mercilus could be the pick to reignite some kind of pass rush for the Titans. The ‘one year wonder’ tag shouldn’t bother any team, as Mercilus has worked hard to improve his repertoire of pass rush moves, and looks a real deal. The Titans could also change to a 4-3 defense, and push Jason Jones inside, something that would suit Mercilus down to a T.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals – KENDALL WRIGHT – WR

(Previous Pick: No Change)

I hope you’ve all gotten over the somersault by now, because receiver Jerome Simpson’s recent drugs arrest (again) has given the Bengals the perfect excuse to cut him, and get an inconsistent, often troubling player off the roster. In Kendall Wright, they find a potentially more consistent, more explosive option to put on AJ Green’s opposite side. Andy Dalton is smiling.

  1. Cleveland Browns – MIKE ADAMS – OT

(Previous Pick: Ryan Tannehill – QB)

The Browns desperately need to get some weapons for Colt McCoy, and with Kendall Wright getting snapped up by their divisional rivals, it could force Cleveland to reach for a player to fulfil this need. However, they will feel that there will still be talent left where they pick in round 2, so why not solidify the offensive line that their new franchise RB will play behind, Mike Adams is the best tackle available at this point.

  1. Detroit Lions – JANORIS JENKINS – CB

(Previous Pick: Cordy Glenn – G)

The Lions have gone to a lot of trouble to research whether Jenkins is worthy of this pick, and the more they look, the more talent they will see. As the 3rd CB off the board at 23, he could turn out to be ridiculous value, I think he’s almost as good as Claiborne, who gets picked in the top 9 in every imaginable scenario. This is a gamble that could pay off big time in Detroit.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers – DONT’A HIGHTOWER – ILB

(Previous Pick: No Change)

The Steelers need to get younger on defense, and quick. James Farrior has gone and Larry Foote may not be back with the cap problems in Pittsburgh, so they will need to add depth at least. Hightower was impressive in Alabama, and is a nightmare to run against, a pre-requisite of a Steeler defender, and has shown ability to play in coverage. This could be a great pick for a franchise that needs a few of them.

  1. Denver Broncos – MICHAEL BROCKERS – DT

(Previous Pick: Fletcher Cox – DT)

The Broncos really needed an interior presence on their defense, and it showed in the playoffs where the Patriots neutralised their edge rush, and steamrolled Tebow’s troops. Brockers is the best player on the board at this position, and would be a great fit in Denver.

  1. Houston Texans – REUBEN RANDLE – WR

(Previous Pick: No Change)

Houston has said that they will take the best receiver available at this point, but Stephen Hill is not a compliment to Andre Johnson, he is very similar, so the Texans could reach here to find the best compliment to their number one. Randle didn’t have the greatest combine, but the LSU man will provide Matt Schaub someone to throw to underneath Andre Johnson, giving the Texans a chance to be dominant in the AFC West.

  1. New England Patriots – DEVON STILL – DT

(Previous Pick: No Change)

The Pats need to make some front seven upgrades, and the best player at this point left on the board is Devon Still from Penn State. He’s a versatile, reliable leader, which Bill Belichick will love, and new head coach at Penn State is Bill O’Brien, who I’m sure will have lots of information for his old employers on Still.

  1. Green Bay Packers – ANDRE BRANCH – OLB/DE

(Previous Pick: Whitney Mercilus – DE/OLB)

The Packers really need someone to help out Clay Matthews on the other side, and taking the freakishly athletic Andre Branch here seems like a perfect fit. Branch also has flexibility to play either DE or OLB, and can play well in coverage on top of that.

  1. Baltimore Ravens – CORDY GLENN – G/T

(Previous Pick: Peter Konz – C)

With the departure of Ben Grubbs and with Bryant McKinnie being 33, the Ravens need to bolster their offensive line to make sure that Ray Rice keeps running over teams, and that Joe Flacco gets time to throw. Glenn is a really versatile talent and is a good fit for Baltimore.

  1. San Francisco 49’ers – STEPHEN HILL – WR

(Previous Pick: No Change)

The Niners have done extremely well in free agency, with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham sorting their WR needs for the near future, and managing to sign on all eleven defensive starters from last year. However, Randy Moss is not certain to produce, and signing Stephen Hill is a great way to insure a deep threat for Alex Smith to throw to.

  1. New England Patriots – NICK PERRY – DE/OLB

(Previous Pick: Andre Branch – OLB/DE)

New England need a pass rush from somewhere. They’ve signed Trevor Scott and are expected to sign on Andre Carter for another year, but for their 3-4 formation, they could do with an outside linebacker with pass rush ability. Nick Perry is the best player left on the board at this point and makes a lot of sense for the Pats.

  1. New York Giants – COBY FLEENER – TE

(Previous Pick: Lamar Miller – RB)

The Giants’ draft philosophy will probably be to simply pick the best player left on the board. After his pro day, Coby Fleener looks the choice. The G-Men need a tight end, and if they can get one who runs mid 4.4 40 yard dashes, I’m sure they’d like that a lot.

Mike White

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