So, I don’t think my first “attempt” at a mock for this year really counts since it was done before the Superbowl… yeah… my bad. So… if you’ll allow it (and I’m making that assumption because it makes me feel better), we are just going to pretend that one never happened and I can say this is my first look at this year’s draft. Awesome. Also, this is just my opinion, so if you don’t agree with me please don’t threaten to throw me in a giant volcano or anything else that would cause me bodily harm. That would really bum my fiancée out. Now that we’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, here we go…
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Yep. This is gonna be the pick. I keep hearing people say that they’ve heard rumors that it could be Griffin, but that’s just reporters trying to make this seem interesting so that they can sell newspapers. Luck is gonna be the pick. And if he isn’t… well… I can’t think of an appropriate bet right now, but I’ll keep that in mind. And if you want me to do something silly if Luck isn’t the pick, just write it down in a comment on this post.
2. Washington Redskins (f/STL) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
And again… yep. I really don’t have anything funny to add onto this pick. But if you want me to explain it… the Redskins didn’t give away three other picks so that they could move up and take a left tackle. Unless the impossible happens, RG3 is gonna be a Redskin.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal
Finally, a pick that isn’t set in stone. The Vikings could go with Blackmon to give Ponder a clear-cut #1 receiver to throw to, but I think protecting his blind side is going to be the bigger priority. Kalil is a fabulous pass blocker that has the frame to put on more bulk and become an asset in the run game as well. Should be their starting left tackle from the day he walks into camp.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I’ve thought about this one for a few days and I almost put Tannehill in this spot, but just couldn’t do it. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear his named called when the Browns are on the clock in a few weeks. But Richardson is an excellent prospect and for many he is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He has great size and speed and is a phenomenal asset in the passing game. Will make Colt McCoy look good.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Trent Richardson would be a decent selection here as well, but Claiborne is just as good a prospect and fits a far greater need. Eric Wright isn’t a starting caliber corner (although they are paying him like one) and I can’t see Ronde Barber playing more than one more season. Along with Aqib Talib’s possible stay in the Texas State Penitentiary System, cornerback becomes a massive need and Claiborne has all the skills to become a great one.
6. St Louis Rams (f/WAS) – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Well, would you look at that… I thought that Blackmon could have been the Rams’ selection had they stayed in the second spot, but here he is all the way down at 6. He has been outstanding the past two seasons for Oklahoma State, racked up numerous post season honors and had an amazing Pro Day. Seems like a match made in Heaven given the receiving corps that Bradford has to throw to. It should be noted that the offensive line needs quite a bit of work, so a tackle like Riley Reiff wouldn’t be unheard of here.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
I have a serious man crush on Melvin. That dude is just awesome. He may not be the biggest guy on the line, but he’s for sure the most athletic and the most versatile. He can line up at end and use his superior speed to beat o-linemen to the edge. He line up inside and use his devastating spin move to get around guards and centers. He can drop back into coverage and pick off errant passes. He can take a fake punt 68 yards to the house (having juked an All-SEC caliber corner on the way). And most impressive of all, he can thread the needle with a pass from 20 yards away and boom punts if your kicker goes down with an injury.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Let it be known that I’m not a huge fan of Tannehill and that I think it’s a massive risk to take a player who has just one solid year of experience at this position in the top 10. However, he has loads of potential and could turn into a very good NFL quarterback. He’s amazingly athletic and has an absolute cannon for an arm.
9. Carolina Panthers – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
For some reason when I was typing out Poe’s position in the above line, my hand slipped and put a huge “X”, which in retrospect was kinda appropriate. Poe is just huge and amazingly very, very athletic. Watching that big man run at the Combine blew my mind. I would be completely terrified to see someone that big (6’4″, 347 lbs) running that fast (4.9 in the 40) at me. Definite upgrade for the Panthers as he is an obvious run stuffer with the ability to help on pass rushing downs as well.
10. Buffalo Bills – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Sure, the Bills re-signed Steve Johnson, but they also brought in a pair of defensive ends (Mario Williams and Mark Anderson) so that need has been filled and there isn’t an offensive tackle available that’s really worthy of the top 10. Plus, the Bills don’t really have any weapons after Johnson. Floyd is an outstanding route runner with great size and his speed concerns were answered after he posted a 4.42 40 at the Combine.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – David DeCastro, G, Stanford
I really don’t know what to say about this pick other than it makes sense to me. DeCastro is possibly the best guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson and the Chiefs need some help on the offensive line. Sure, it’s a little high for a guard to be picked, but remember that under the new rookie cap first round salaries aren’t as disparate with those of other rounds as they once were. In other words, with the money not being an issue, it shouldn’t matter.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Kuechly is a hard-working player that is phenomenal both on the field and in the film room. His numbers at the Combine answered any questions about his athletic ability. And the Seahawks need some help at the second level of their defense. Inside linebacker is a position you also don’t usually see this early in the draft, but as stated above… that’s gonna start changing. A defensive lineman would be a decent pick here, so don’t be surprised if you hear Coples’ name when the Seahawks turn in their card.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
This is an absolute steal for the Cardinals. Reiff could end up going as high as 8th to the Dolphins and Arizona desperately needs some help along the offensive line if they want to keep Kevin Kolb healthy throughout an entire season (good luck with that). Reiff has the ability to line up at the left tackle spot even if his talents would be better suited on the right side. He will be an absolute force in the running game.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Coples has the talent to be a top 5 pick, but for some reason he just doesn’t show it all the time and that is why he is going to slide down draft boards a bit. Still, he has the size (6’6″, 285lbs) to play the end in the Cowboys’ scheme and his presence would make both Ware and Spencer even better on passing downs. If for some reason DeCastro happened to be available, I have a feeling his name would be on the card and that it would take about 5 seconds for the Cowboys to turn it in.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
What to say about this pick… why not? There are a bunch of possibilities with this one. Their wide receiver situation is cleared up for this year but not beyond that. So, Kendall Wright could be a possibility. Asante Samuels will likely be gone after this season so a corner like Gilmore or Jenkins could be the call. But I’ve decided that Andy Reid loves to pick defensive linemen early, so why stop now? Cox is an above average interior pass rusher.
16. New York Jets – Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Michael Floyd would be the pick if he were available but he’s long gone in my mock, so I’m going with another need for the Jets. Eric Smith has been a liability in the New York secondary and an upgrade is sorely needed. Sure they signed LaRon Landry, but (and I’m scared to even say this since he looks like the Incredible Hulk these days) his best days are likely behind him as he comes of an Achilles injury.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (f/OAK) – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Leon Hall is going to miss the entire 2012 season because of an Achilles injury and who knows if he’ll be back to his original form after that. Meanwhile, Gilmore is absolutely soaring up the charts after an incredible Combine where he proved that he has the speed and athleticism to pair with his size and strength. May be a bit of a gambler in coverage, but if he can learn to play with more restraint he can be a good one. One of the better tacklers in this year’s corner class as well.
18. San Diego Chargers – Nick Perry, OLB, Southern Cal
The Chargers had massive problems getting to the quarterback last season and they absolutely need to bring in some more talent at the outside rush positions. Whitney Mercilus is probably the safer pick, but I think Perry has rare athleticism and has shown a commitment in the weight room to becoming a better player. He could use some work on dropping into coverage, but let’s be serious, that is not why San Diego would be drafting him.
19. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Bears have to replace J’Marcus Webb. They just have to. In addition to giving up 12 sacks last season, he was also penalized a whopping 15 times. Martin has great run blocking skills and is also an above average pass blocker. He and Gabe Carimi could form one of the better (and youngest) offensive tackle tandems in the NFL. And I feel safe in saying that Jay Cutler would approve of this selection.
20. Tennessee Titans – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The signing of Kamerion Wimbley ruled out Mercilus with this selection, but the interior of their line still needs a little work. Brockers’ stock was on the rise but a poor showing at the Combine slowed that down a bit. Still, he plays much faster and stronger than those numbers would indicate. Peter Konz could be a possible alternative here despite Head Coach Mike Munchak’s declaration that they wouldn’t draft an interior offensive lineman early.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Sure, this isn’t the biggest need for the Bengals, but then again this is essentially a luxury selection. Hill would give the Bengals a pair of tall, young and fast receivers which would be music to Andy Dalton’s ears. Besides, they don’t really have any glaring needs, so this could also fit in the “Best Player Available” category.
22. Cleveland Browns (f/ATL) – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
I’m a little iffy on Adams due in large part to his awful performance in the bench press at the Combine. However, he performed well in drills and had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. And then again, he was also one of the players suspended in the Great Columbus Tattoo Scandal. But when he was on the field, he was a solid contributor. So… he’s here in this pick because that’s how bad I think the Browns o-line is and also because there isn’t a QB available worthy of this pick.
23. Detroit Lions – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins was a standout corner in the SEC, shutting down receivers like AJ Green, Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffery… before he decided to throw it all away by committing a series of stupid decisions. One year at North Alabama and seemingly Jenkins has put his past behind him. He has bona fide top 10 talent. Had Eric Wright stayed in Detroit… I still would have thought this pick necessary.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Donta’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
It seems like this is another lock in this year’s NFL Draft along with Luck at #1 and RG3 at #2. If he’s available when the Steelers go on the clock, I expect Hightower’s name to be called immediately. With James Farrior no longer in town, Pittsburgh has a gaping hole at the inside linebacker position. Hightower just so happens to be the exact size of that gaping hole. He’s absolutely huge and can move. And to top it all off, he’s a leader on the field.
25. Denver Broncos – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
I wanted to put a defensive tackle in this spot, but with Brockers gone I don’t feel there’s another one worthy of this selection. At the same time, Konz fits a definite need for the Broncos, who unsuccessfully tried to bring in Jeff Saturday a couple weeks ago. Keeping Peyton Manning healthy and upright is going to be priority #1 for John Fox and the rest of the Broncos front office staff.
26. Houston Texans – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
As most fantasy football owners know, when Andre Johnson goes down with an injury there is absolutely no one in a Texans jersey capable of stepping up and taking over. That just has to change. Furthermore, Wright’s presence across the field could ease up on the pressure and attention given to Johnson. Wright had a solid Pro Day and answered any speed questions that arose following his less than stellar Combine performance.
27. New England Patriots (f/NO) – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
With Mark Anderson’s departure to division rival Buffalo, finding an edge rusher is imperative for Bill Belichick. Mercilus has the ability to go much higher in the draft, but I have him slipping a bit just because there wasn’t a solid fit in my opinion after San Diego was on the clock. However, he would be a great selection for the Patriots.
28. Green Bay Packers – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Outside of Clay Matthews, the Packers are severely short on pass rushing talent and Upshaw definitely has that. Upshaw’s drop down the draft boards has less to do with anything that he did wrong and more to do with things that other guys did really right. However, after saying that, he is very scheme limited due to his size and he had a less than stellar Combine performance. Still, he has a proven record of harassing quarterbacks and he could thrive opposite a star like Matthews.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
While I personally believe that the Ravens front office is among the best at unearthing talent on Draft Day, sometimes you just get lucky. Glenn would fit a huge need for the Ravens with the recent departure of Ben Grubbs. The safety and left tackle positions also need to be addressed, since both starters at those positions are in the twilight of their stellar careers, but that can be addressed in the middle rounds.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Reuben Randle, WR, LSU
This pick came down to a toss up between Randle and fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery for me. In the end, I’m thinking that Jeffery’s decision to not participate at the Combine when he was perfectly healthy is going to hurt him even though he had a solid Pro Day performance. The 49ers brought in Randy Moss, but that’s just a one year stop-gap. They need to find a future #1 receiver for Alex Smith and Randle has that ability.
31. New England Patriots – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick has had an offseason to forget with an arrest that was dropped and a poor Combine performance. I once thought that he could have contended for the top corner spot. Still, like fellow Alabama star Upshaw, his fall has more to do with Gilmore and Jenkins’ stellar workouts than anything else. Make no mistake, he could be a starter for the Patriots from the first day he steps into camp.
32. New York Giants – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
With Brandon “The Mouth” Jacobs no longer available, the Giants will be looking for a backup running back that can handle the full load should Ahmad Bradshaw go down with an injury… again. (Special note: yes, I’m still hurting from his absence on my fantasy team last year… sue me.) Miller has a good blend of size and speed. And since he’s a very young player, he hasn’t had a massive amount of carries in his career (thus fewer hits on his body). Probably not the biggest need, but he’s the best player available in my opinion.