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UPDATED MOCK DRAFT
Posted Apr 10, 2012 by Luke Easterling
Updated Apr 11, 2012 at 12:42 AM
*I never predict trades.
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Nothing changing here. Luck will be the pick, and will have the weight of an entire franchise’s future square on his shoulders
2. Washington Redskins (from STL) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Griffin made it clear that he wants to be in Washington when he declined any private workout invitations (Colts included). Griffin’s career will forever be compared to the man who was picked just ahead of him.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC – The Vikes would really like to move down from this pick, mostly because they know they could still get Kalil if they only move down a couple of spots. If they can’t find a willing partner, however, Kalil will be the pick anyway.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Cleveland has a choice to make between Richardson and Justin Blackmon, but the luxury of having an addition first round pick allows them to take Richardson here, and take a receiver at #22, where there is much more value at WR (Kendall Wright, Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill) than there is at RB.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – This will be a no-brainer if Richardson is off the board and the Bucs stay put at this pick. There have been some rumblings about them possibly being willing to move up to #3 to get Richardson, and if they can do it for a decent price (by leveraging the fact that they know Minnesota will end up with the same player either way), it may make sense. However, if the price isn’t right, the Bucs can’t afford to give up premium picks, especially when there’s a shut-down corner available. The Bucs would be wiser to stay put and take the top corner in the draft, rather than losing precious additional picks to move up and take a running back; even one as special as Richardson.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State – The Rams will definitely be rooting for Cleveland to take Richardson, which will essentially guarantee that Blackmon will fall to them. This is a huge need for the Rams, which in this scenario would be filled by the top available player at the position.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE/DT, South Carolina – I’m sticking with this pick, also. Quinton Coples may be a better pure pass-rusher, but he disappears in certain games I’ve watched on film, and Ingram’s consistency, versatility (can play end, tackle, and even drop into coverage, giving the Jags scheme versatility) and non-stop motor set him apart.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – I still think that this is too high for someone of Tannehill’s skill level, but the premium on quarterbacks continues to grow, and the Dolphins definitely need a long-term solution. Tannehill would at least represent a daring move by a front office that has had nothing to be excited about this off-season.
9. Carolina Panthers – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – The Panthers have plenty of needs, and taking Coples here definitely makes sense, but Floyd’s stock has been steadily climbing over the past two weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Panthers pull the trigger on a top playmaking target for Cam Newton.
10. Buffalo Bills – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – The Bills have their eye on Floyd as well, and would hate to see him go just ahead of them. If that ends up being the case, I see them sticking with a safe pick in Reiff, who will fill the shoes left behind by free agent Demetrius Bell.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – This is another pick that I’m sticking with for now. I still think Poe is more of a workout wonder than an every-down force, but former Patriots and current Kansas City GM Scott Pioli might see too many visions of the next Vince Wilfork and decide that it’s too much to pass up.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College – Seattle will have a hard choice to make here between Kuechly and Coples, and it could easily go either way. The team already has an underrated pass-rusher in Chris Clemons, and while Coples’ consistency is definitely a question mark, the same can’t be said for Kuechly, who is arguably the best pure football player (and safest pick) in this draft.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama – Another pick that I’m staying with. The Cards brought back tackle Levi Jones, making that less of a need area. Upshaw is the top 3-4 edge rusher in this class, and would make an instant impact in the Arizona pass rush.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron, S, Alabama – Dallas is reportedly trying to keep their interest in Poe quiet in hopes that he falls to them, and don’t be shocked if they trade up for him if they are indeed so smitten. In the event that they stay put, Barron would represent the best value at the greatest position of need.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - The Eagles filled the void at MLB by stealing DeMeco Ryans from Houston, which means they won’t mind seeing Kuechly gone by the time they pick. They will, however, be thrilled if Coples is still on the board, who represents a bit of a risk, but has potential that is more than worth taking a chance on at this point in the draft
16. New York Jets – Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia – The Jets are also in the market for a receiver and an edge-rushing linebacker, but with questionable value at both positions here, look for them to look elsewhere. They could use some improvement at right tackle, and Glenn has steadily climbed draft boards as he’s shown the potential to transition smoothly from guard to tackle.
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 – Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – San Diego really doesn’t have many needs on paper, but one thing that stood out last year was the declining play of corners Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer. Kirkpatrick’s tall frame will give NFL receivers trouble, and is reminiscent of former Bolts’ corner Antonio Cromartie.
19. Chicago Bears – Fletcher Cox, DT, South Carolina – The Bears could use a left tackle, but I’m not sure if anyone is willing to reach for the next best one this early. Cox would represent a great value pick, and would be an upgrade over departed free agent Amobi Okoye.
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 – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama – It’s been beaten like a dead horse over the years, but it’s still true that the Bengals tend to look past character issues more than any other team. Combine that with a need at corner, and it could be the recipe for the high-risk/reward Jenkins, who is a top-15 talent with some off-field issues that other teams will shy away from.
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 – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – 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, they luck out by snagging Gilmore, who has seen his stock rise considerably following a strong pro day performance.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State – The Steelers are building a strong, young offensive line with players like Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, and Adams would be a solid addition to that youth movement.
25. Denver Broncos – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State – This is clearly the top need for Denver, and that being the case, I’m sticking with my previous pick here. Worthy is the top DT left on the board at this point, and is head and shoulders above the next tier at the position.
26. Houston Texans – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina – I’m staying put with this one, too. 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 from Georgia Tech is a similar player, so look for him to get consideration here, as well.
27. New England Patriots (from NO) – Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Clemson – 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 – Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson – 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. Branch would move to OLB in the Pack’s 3-4 defense, and provide a much-needed spark.
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 – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin – Zeitler going ahead of Konz, his college teammate, would be a bit of an upset, but team need could definitely make that happen. San Fran’s biggest need is at guard, and Zeitler is far and away the best left at this point.
31. New England Patriots – Ron Brooks, CB, LSU – This is a gut-feeling pick. The Pats are extremely high on this kid, and I expect Bill Belicheck to get his man.
32. New York Giants – Nick Perry, DE, USC – The Giants never seem to have enough pass rushers, and with Osi Umenyiora possibly departing, taking a great value at defensive end makes plenty of sense here. Chandler Jones of Syracuse is also a possibility here.