2012 NFL Mock Draft | Conference Championship Week Edition
The playoffs are halfway over with, and there are now just four teams left in the fight for the Super Bowl.
New England will face off against Baltimore on Sunday, January 22nd, 2011, as will San Francisco and the New York Giants.
With 28 of the 2012 NFL Draft picks set, we have a pretty clear idea of what the draft is going to look like.
Andrew Luck is the obvious #1 overall pick, and it’s hard to see Robert Griffin not landing at #2 overall.
Here is out Conference Championship Week Edition of our 2012 NFL Mock Draft:
Note – The Cleveland Browns trade picks #4, #37, and #101 to the St. Louis Rams to for #2 and 2012 6th round
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The most obvious pick of the entire 2012 NFL Draft.
The Colts grab their future superstar to replace their former superstar in Peyton Manning.
Whether or not Luck and Manning will co-exist will be to be determined later, but this was a great year for the Colts to be on the losing end of football games.
2. Cleveland Browns (Trade) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The need for a quarterback in Cleveland is dire, and with two first round selections in the 2012 NFL Draft, they can afford to lose that early second round pick.
RGIII is a play maker and he has the ability and intangibles to be an elite quarterback, as well as keep fans in the seats in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
He still needs weapons and protection, but having All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas protecting his blindside is a big plus.
There’s no reason why the Vikings shouldn’t opt to protect their 2011 first round pick in Christian Ponder.
Charlie Johnson isn’t the long term answer, and I’m not convinced that DeMarcus Love can play on the left side in the NFL.
Kalil is just what the Vikings need to keep Ponder on his feet and help his growth.
The Rams are likely to lose Brandon Lloyd, and they get to add a high second round and fourth round selection to get the same guy they’d could have drafted with pick #2.
Blackmon has play making ability that new head coach Jeff Fisher will ask to see for his young franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford.
The Rams may opt not to trade down and grab Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon, but why not add picks when you’re trying to rebuild a team.
No change here from earlier in the month with the Buccaneers needing a true every down running back.
LeGarrette Blount can get into beast mode, but he’s a liability on third downs as he offers no ability in pass protection or catching the ball out of the back field.
Trent Richardson can do all of that and more, and is even stronger and a better north/south runner than Blount.
The hip injury to Jammal Brown doesn’t seem nearly close to 100%, not to mention he will be 31 heading into the 2012 NFL season.
To make matters worse, they suffered without Trent Williams for the end of the season after being banned for using illegal substances.
The Redskins are in need of offensive depth and Martin would be able to subplant Brown early in his career, while also providing insurance to Trent Williams on the left side.
The need for a wide receiver is imminent, but so is the need for a cornerback when you’re in a division guarding against guys like Kenny Britt, Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson.
Claiborne can play in man or zone coverage, and is a ball hawk.
Great size and speed make Claiborne the top option at cornerback in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Panthers need some help in the secondary, and grabbing the tough, physical Dre’ Kirkpatrick is just what the doctor ordered.
Kirkpatrick is excellent in man coverage, having sticky hands, and not being afraid to come in and make a tackle or break up a play.
The right side of the line needs to be addressed big time for Miami, and DeCastro is one of the few rare, can’t miss guards in a draft in a long time.
DeCastro would replace Vernon Carey who is aging, but could also move back out to tackle to replace Marc Colombo who doesn’t deserve to be employed.
The pass rush is just what the Buffalo Bills need to improve if they want to shut down teams like New England.
Mercilus is a very good pass rusher with solid strength to hold the point of attack and does a nice job in contain.
He’ll be a bit of a work in progress transitioning to the 3-4 defense, but he has the athleticism and football IQ to learn.
Pete Carroll needs a quarterback, and while Tannehill seems like a bit of a reach, it’s still only January and we’ve seen much worse.
Tannehill has raw passing ability with exceptional intangibles and athleticism.
He’ll be a work in progress for the ‘Hawks, but they need somebody in there that’s not named Tarvaris Jackson.
Kelley Gregg is no guarantee to return as he could retire, and a void in the middle of that 3-4 defense needs to be filled.
Even if Gregg returns, the Chiefs could still develop Poe who is a bit raw, but offers exceptional size and lateral agility on the defensive line.
Poe is a space eater and hole stuffer that the Chiefs need in the trenches.
Once again no surprise with Reiff again, as the Cardinals do all that they can in order to replace Levi Brown.
Brown’s play has been quite disappointing, and has led to much pressure on Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, as well as the numerous other quarterbacks that seem to start for Arizona.
Reiff is a very solid pass protector who could afford more push in the run game. Either way, he’s an upgrade as he would at least be able to keep Kolb on his feet.
The Cowboys need a pass rush outside of All-Pro DeMarcus Ware, and Upshaw has just the upside to provide that additional spark.
Part of the secondary issues in Dallas are due to the lack of a consistent pass rush.
The combination of Upshaw and Ware could be ugly for Eli Manning, Michael Vick, and whatever third world quarterback the Redskins start.
This is simply a no brainer for the Eagles who’s rushing defense was amongst the worst in the league.
Kuechly is a sideline to sideline tackler who has exceptional instincts and is well rounded.
He’s also versatile and would be able to play different spots in that 4-3 scheme.
It’s hard to imagine Santonio Holmes coming back, but even if he is back in New York in 2012, the Jets still need a legit #2.
The Plaxico Burress game was fun while it lasted, and provided an excellent opportunity for him to revive his career, but it just didn’t happen.
Floyd has the makings to be a legit #1 receiver in the league if he can find a quarterback with actual throwing ability.
Believe it or not, Mark Sanchez would actually be an upgrade to what Floyd saw at Notre Dame.
The same corner that used to hold his ground against receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones is available here and has to be grabbed.
Jenkins offers great zone coverage ability, while being physical enough to play in man, and being a great tackler.
Some off-field issues are of a concern, but they seem to be in the past for Jenkins.
There’s a possibility that Hardwick doesn’t return in San Diego, and he has been arguably their best lineman over the last few seasons.
The offensive line is not good in San Diego and lacks depth, suffering three players put on IR, including Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill.
Of course, if Hardwick is retained, the Chargers could opt for OT Mike Adams from Ohio State, or a pass rusher like Nick Perry from USC.
Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett are slightly above average receivers at the best. Knox has big play ability, but struggles to get open, and Bennett can’t seem to stay healthy.
The Bears can’t go into the off-season without a receiver in the draft, and Jeffery dropping to 19 would be huge for Jay Cutler who could almost just throw the ball up and expect a catch to the huge receiver.
The Titans pass rush needs work on the defensive line and they could use an upgrade at both defensive tackle and defensive end.
Guess what? Coples has experience with both. He’d likely be expected to bulk up just a bit to play UT at the next level, but he’s still a great athlete that has a solid pass rushing ability.
I’m not too sold on Coples being a Top 10 pick, as he’ll slide a bit here.
Cedric Benson clearly isn’t the answer, and it’s apparent that the Bengals don’t want to give Bernard Scott a chance (even though he deserves it).
The next step is drafting Benson’s replacement in Wilson who has a bit of wiggle as a north/south runner and is a solid all around back.
Perhaps this seems a bit unrealistic that the Browns would draft a quarterback/receiver combo.
But it also makes sense. The Browns have Greg Little who is more of a physical, red zone presence, while Wright fits a YAC receiver role with his speed and ability in the open field.
Wright makes a of sense in a WCO, and he and Griffin would already have rapport together.
The Lions linebackers are above average, and could use an upgrade.
Brown would immediately replace WLB DeAndre Levy who is a depth linebacker at the most.
Brown’s ability as an all-around linebacker being able to cover and play sideline to sideline would really compliment the defensive line.
Neither Max Starks nor Jon Scott have been able to block well enough to protect Big Ben in Pittsburgh on the left side.
The Steelers are finally realize the importance of an offensive line with the drafting of Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert in the last two seasons, and they should add a third lineman here.
Mike Adams won’t be a perennial Pro-Bowler, but he fits in well with the Steelers offense in that he shows good power in run blocking, and he has the athleticism to be productive in pass protection.
This team needs to learn how to stop the run, and a good way of providing that would be to grab a big time run stuffer like Devon Still.
Still is a big body, much like Marcell Dareus who they were close to taking in the 2011 NFL Draft, both of which play a similar style of football using strength and lateral movement to win battles.
Shaun Cody has been adequate for the Texans playing nose tackle, but they could use an upgrade to help those excellent tacklers behind the defensive line in Houston.
Ta’amu is a big boy with a lot more strength than the tape displays. He’ll need a bit of coaching, but he has the ability to play the 0 technique and dominate opposing centers while eating plenty of space.
27. New England Patriots (from Saints) – Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
I know that the Patriots defense is hungry for a pass rush, and losing Andre Carter for a portion of the season is part of the reason why they stunk defensively in 2011.
But a youth movement wouldn’t hurt them from a pass rushing stand point, and Perry could play standing up, or with his hand in the dirt.
Finding a utility outside linebacker with pass rushing ability to play opposite Clay Matthews is a must in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Matthews was blocked more effectively in 2011, partially because teams knew that there were no other options for the Packers to blitz.
Lewis already has experience playing standing up, as well as pass rushing with his hand in the dirt, and should make an easy transition.
No brainer here for the Giants who need to find consistency in the middle of the defense.
They were forced to use three linebackers in 2011, including cancer survivor Mark Herzlich.
While none of them were horrible, they could be upgraded. Hightower is most experienced in a 3-4 defense, but he has the intangibles and athletic ability to move to a 4-3.
Ray Lewis isn’t going to play forever, and it’s just about the time to start grooming his replacement.
They need a linebacker who can maintain his level of intensity, and Burfict has that role, as Ray Lewis would be an exceptional mentor.
Burfict’s animosity has led to numerous penalties and have tarnished his name thanks to not being able to take coaching as well.
However, Burfict has all of the physical tools to become an All-Pro. It’s just whether or not he can learn the fundamentals and take in coaching.
#2 cornerback in Tarell Brown has been very good in the playoffs, but cornerback depth after #1 corner Carlos Rogers is disappointing in the Bay area.
Dennard has the physical play that suits the 49ers defensive style, while also being an excellent press coverage corner, fitting right in with San Francisco.
32. New England Patriots – Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU
Brockers will likely be quite the riser going into the 2012 NFL Draft as a high motor defensive tackle that looks the part of a 3-4 defensive end playing a five technique.
New England runs both formations at times, and he could move inside and outside based on the set up.
He has solid strength, and has done an exceptional job of taking up blocks in the middle of that tough LSU defense.
Stay tuned for more NFL Mock Drafts, as we update weekly in preparation for the 2012 NFL Draft!