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FINAL MOCK DRAFT
Posted Apr 25, 2012 by Luke Easterling
Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 12:28 PM
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Colts GM Nate Grigson confirmed this week what we’ve all known for the entire off-season. Hard to find bigger shoes to fill for a #1 overall pick.
2. Washington Redskins (from STL) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – He’s already met with the ‘Skins offensive staff on multiple occasions to go over the playbook. Washington gets a much-needed change of identity.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC – I just can’t bring myself to jump on the Claiborne bandwagon with this pick. Most of my doubt comes from public comments from members of the Vikings organization devaluing Kalil. Baiting a team to trade up is the only reason for such comments. If Christian Ponder is to develop, they simply must protect him.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – This pick has become a stronger consensus over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Justin Blackmon’s stock dropping. Richardson is a natural fit here, and should make the Dawg Pound very happy for years to come.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – If the Bucs stay put, this is the scenario they’ve got to be hoping for. A bargain move up to #3 is possible, but not likely. They could be in a tough spot, however, if Claiborne does indeed go to Minnesota, and Richardson goes to Cleveland. That would leave them hoping to trade down, but finding a partner might be difficult. If they’re forced to stay put in that scenario, it’s more likely they go defense (Kuechly, Barron), even if it’s a reach, or they could just go pure BPA, regardless of need (Kalil, Cox). Tons of possibilities at this pick.
6. St. Louis Rams – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – Blackmon has been pegged for this pick for a while now, but I’m warming up to the idea that the Rams go with a pass-rushing force in the middle of the defensive line, which is much tougher to come by than a productive receiver.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State – The Jags want to trade down from this pick, but mostly because they aren’t planning on getting a value like Blackmon if they stay put. If he’s still available, they should be plenty happy to stay at #7 and give Blaine Gabbert a dynamic weapon.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – Owner Stephen Ross will be in the war room, and Tannehill is reportedly his man. The Dolphins need to energize an alienated fan base, and trying to find a franchise QB is at least an attempt to move in that direction.
9. Carolina Panthers – Melvin Ingram, DE/DT, South Carolina - Floyd is also a possibility here, but the Panthers need serious help on the defensive front, and Ron Rivera’s defensive mind will likely be more inclined to go with the tenacious and versatile Ingram.
10. Buffalo Bills – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – Cue the somersaults for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Floyd’s size/speed combo and consistency as a red-zone target will open up a promising offense even further.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – Kuechly is a possibility here, but I see him as a better fit as a 4-3 MLB, rather than an ILB in a 3-4. Former Patriots and current Kansas City GM Scott Pioli might see too many visions of the next Vince Wilfork too pass on Poe.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College – Seattle could end up with one of the elite players in this draft, simply because premium picks are rarely spent on middle linebackers anymore. Kuechly is arguable the best defensive player in this draft, and would represent the best value pick so far.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – The Cards brought back LT Levi Brown, which makes this pick a perfect fit, as Reiff is better suited to play right tackle, where they they have a serious need.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron, S, Alabama – There are plenty of rumors swirling about teams looking to move up ahead of Dallas to snag Barron, who is one of the best pure players in the draft. The ‘Boys may have to move up themselves to guarantee a shot at him.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - From a pure talent perspective, this is a steal. But his lack of a consistent motor will make Eagles fans wary that their team just selected one of the most popular bust candidates in this draft.
16. New York Jets – Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia – The Jets have a few different options at this pick. There’s little value at WR at this point, and with Courtney Upshaw’s stock slipping as of late, they will likely steer clear of the edge rusher position, as well. That leaves right tackle, where Glenn could fit nicely after proving during Senior Bowl week that he has the skills to transition from guard.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK) – David DeCastro, G, Stanford – DeCastro could go as high as #13 to Arizona, but if he makes it to Cincy at this pick, he’s a no-brainer. The Bengals also need a corner, but with only one off the board in this scenario, look for them to take DeCastro and simply wait to see who is still there at CB when they pick again at #21.
18. San Diego Chargers – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama – Again, Upshaw has reportedly begun to slide down a lot of draft boards, but the Bolts may not be able to pass on him. They have a clear need for a young pass-rusher on the edge, and they may overlook Upshaw’s lack of pure athleticism in favor of his non-stop motor and knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
19. Chicago Bears – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – Jones has been a fast riser over the past few weeks, and with little value at the Bears’ biggest need (offensive line), don’t be surprised if they take Jones, who could enjoy early success as teams focus on stopping Julius Peppers.
20. Tennessee Titans – Michael Brockers, DE/DT, LSU – Defensive end was already a need, but with the departure of free agent DT Jason Jones, that becomes an equally important hole to fill. To that end, Brockers would be the perfect solution, as he has the skillset and build to play both spots.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina –Cincy will be all smiles if they come away with DeCastro at #17, then turn around and grab Gilmore to fill the other glaring need on the roster. Gilmore is reportedly graded as a top-10 player in some camps, so getting him here would represent great value.
22. Cleveland Browns (from ATL) – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – If the Browns truly are committed to Colt McCoy at quarterback, taking Richardson and then Wright would go a long way toward making life easier for their signal-caller. With a young, big target already on the roster in Greg Little, the undersized but field-stretching Wright would be a good fit.
23. Detroit Lions – Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – This is a huge need area for Detroit, and they might be candidates to move up if they’re afraid the last of the top-tier corners will be off the board before this pick. In this scenario, I have them taking Kirkpatrick over Janoris Jenkins, though both have their own off-field concerns.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin – The Steelers are building a strong, young offensive line with players like Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert. Though some might call this a reach, Zeitler is the type of player that Pittsburgh will be able to plug in and not worry about the position for the next 10 years.
25. Denver Broncos – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State – This pick has stuck through every mock I’ve done this year. Perfect match of need and value for a team who needs to continue to build a young foundation on defense.
26. Houston Texans – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina – Why not another pick that’s remained the same since my first mock? Andre Johnson turns 31 before next season, and his body is starting to show signs of wear. Jeffery is a risk, but the possible payoff might be too much for the Texans to pass up with a late-first round pick. Stephen Hill and Rueben Randle are similar players, so look for them to get consideration here, as well.
27. New England Patriots (from NO) – Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois – The Pats are superb at making great value picks, and this would definitely qualify. With New England blending more 4-man fronts into their traditional 3-4 scheme, a hybrid player like Merclius would give them plenty of versatility.
28. Green Bay Packers – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State – Even with the addition of Jeff Saturday, Wisconsin center Peter Konz is still a strong possibility. However, the Packers disappointing end to last season was a direct result of an inept defense, and it starts with a lack of pressure on the passer. McClellin would provide a much-needed spark opposite Clay Matthews.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama – If Konz is still on the board here, as in this scenario, he’ll get a long, hard look. But I stand by what I said before on this pick: It’s time to start grooming the heir apparent to Ray Lewis, and the Ravens could end up hitting the jackpot with Hightower, who is a perfect fit and could develop into the leader of the next generation of great Ravens’ defense.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State – Our only small-school player to break into the first round, Silatolu has been shooting up draft boards lately, and would fill the biggest need on the ‘Niners’ roster. Would team up with fellow guard Mike Iupati to give San Fran the best-named tandem of guards in the NFL.
31. New England Patriots – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama – New England’s affinity for former Gators is well-known, and Bill Belichick has a knack for getting the most out of players with character concerns. If he can keep Jenkins on the straight-and-narrow, this could be the steal of the draft.
32. New York Giants – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford – I still like the chances that the Giants take a pass rusher here, considering the talent available at the position in this scenario (Andre Branch, Nick Perry, Vinny Curry), and the Giants have a track record of taking the best overall player, regardless of need. With this pick, however, need and value might match up nicely, as the Giants need more consistency on the offensive line. Martin would be a wise selection.
*My mock drafts never predict trades.