2012 NFL Mock Draft | Post-Free Agency Frenzy
The bulk of the 2012 NFL Free Agency period is over. The big names are off the shelf, and the rest of the teams are either checking to see which scraps are worth bringing into training camp, or they’re already completely focusing on the 2012 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, we turn to our next mock draft with just a little over a month to go until the big event shakes us to our core. Well, sort of. With the first two picks almost certainly locked in and the next 2-3 seemingly as guaranteed, it’ll be the middle and end of the first round that everyone will be talking about.
Things will continue to change over the next month, but for the moment, here’s my take on how the first round of the 2012 draft will go:
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
I don’t necessarily believe Luck is a better talent than Robert Griffin III, but I still think he’s the safer pick of the two. In the end, even if the Colts openly flirt with the idea of going with RG3 instead (which I doubt they will), I think the more conventional Luck will be the guy, as expected all along.
2. Washington Redskins (Trade w/Rams) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
RG3 gives Mike Shanahan and co. the mobile quarterback they crave; not to mention an athletic stud that could eventually be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The only worry in Washington is what they do in the draft beyond this pick. Because as it stands, they’re landing arguably the top overall talent in this year’s draft.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Christian Ponder flashed some nice talent in 2011, so he’ll continue to be the guy. Short of a desperate need for talent at receiver and several holes on defense, making sure the franchise quarterback is well protected should be one of the main focuses. Kalil is without question the top tackle prospect, and the Vikings need to take him.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns let Peyton Hillis walk and failed to land Robert Griffin III or Matt Flynn. If they are in fact rolling with Colt McCoy again in 2012, they need to at least get some more talent around him. Landing the best running back in the draft is a heck of a way to start.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Trent Richardson is off the board and the Buccaneers already added a stud wide receiver in Vincent Jackson via free agency. Next stop: getting a stud corner. Ronde Barber is ancient and Aquib Talib has question marks all over him. Claiborne is an elite corner with loads of potential. He’s the guy at this spot.
6. St. Louis Rams (Trade w/Redskins) – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams did exactly what they wanted to. They traded down for a king’s ransom in draft picks, and still got the opportunity to draft the player they covet the most. Brandon Lloyd is gone and the Rams can’t stand pat with the average receiver talent they have, making the draft’s best receiving prospect the player to go after at the sixth spot.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Jacksonville needs some major help at wide receiver, but I think the signing of big-play man Laurent Robinson helps out enough to let the team go after a constant need: their pass-rush. They’ve tried for years to improve a glaring weakness, and to no avail. Coples is an elite big man who can help end the struggles on the defensive line.
8. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Mike Sherman just got done coaching Tannehill, is now the new Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, and the team failed to land an elite quarterback. Tannehill may not start right away, but it’ll only be a matter of time before he shows the coaching staff he can master a familiar offense better than Matt Moore or David Garrard.
9. Carolina Panthers – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Brockers is a beast to plop inside a terrible Panthers’ run defense. They got pushed around with ease for most of 2011, and their offensive holes can easily be filled in the next few rounds. Brockers is simply a big guy they can’t pass on; especially when his size and versatility could help solve their run defense woes right away.
10. Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Bills showed everyone they’re serious about becoming a contender with the addition of elite pass-rusher Mario Williams and Mark Anderson via free agency. They could just go nuts and add Courtney Upshaw here, but I think protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick makes a lot more sense.
The Chiefs helped themselves a lot by snagging offensive tackle Eric Winston and beefing up their back-field and secondary. With some nice, young talent at receiver and Kevin Boss to push Tony Moeaki at tight end, their only major hole looks to be the middle of their defense. Poe is a massive space-eater that could help make the Chiefs defense more consistent and one truly to be feared. It’ll just be another solid move in a long line of quality decisions by Romeo Crennel and co.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
There’s a chance the Seahawks go after Luke Kuechly, but ultimately I think they just beef up their pass-rush. They have a feisty defense on the rise, so they won’t risk it getting stagnant. Ingram gives them versatility and tenacity on the edge.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Arizona could really use some help on the offensive line, but they also could use an improved pass rush. Upshaw is a big, versatile pass-rushing specialist that could make an impact right away.
14. Dallas Cowboys – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
There’s no doubt DeCastro should be gone before 14, and it’s very possible he is. But if he gets here, the Cowboys need to take him. If they truly want to get more balanced on offense and give DeMarco Murray the best chance at success, beefing up their run-blocking is a necessary move.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I know Philly swung a trade to land Demeco Ryans as their leader in the middle, but they still don’t have a ton of certainty in their line-backing corps. Kuechly has the athleticism and versatility to play inside or out, so if he’s somehow still here, I still see the Eagles grabbing him.
16. New York Jets – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Plaxico Burress is gone and Santonio Holmes can’t do it all by himself, making the addition of a fresh big-play threat all the more crucial. There is a chance Floyd doesn’t get to this point of the draft, but if he does the Jets can’t let him slip through their fingers. Mark Sanchez and/or Tim Tebow need weapons around them to succeed.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Raiders) - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bengals need to add another running back besides BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but they’ll consider that with their second first-rounder. Here, they get a potentially elite corner to toss into their improving secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Chargers could go after a lot of positions for depth, but it’s the offensive line that needs the most attention. I think talent-wise Martin or Mike Adams are the guys to go after, even if the inside of the line is where they’ve been hit the hardest.
19. Chicago Bears – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Getting Brandon Marshall was fantastic, but the Bears can’t stop there. Devin Hester is a fourth receiver at best, while Earl Bennett is a very mediocre talent. If Marshall’s off-field antics get in the way, this team is right back where they started. The name of the game for Chicago is to still go after a big-play receiver, and they should feel fortunate that an elite talent like Wright is still around.
20. Tennessee Titans - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Titans need help on the offensive line, but o-line guru (and head coach) Mike Munchak is probably too stubborn to admit it. They do also need some help against the run, though, so getting a beast like Cox is as good of a move.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, and possibly Brian Leonard. This is the Bengals’ fierce ground attak heading into 2012. In other words, going after a running back with one of their two first-rounders is something Cincy should seriously consider. Wilson has some nice shiftiness and speed and could push Scott and Leonard for playing time right away.
Beyond his clear talent, Hill has been extremely impressive over the past month or so during the combine and his pro day. If the Bears don’t take him, the Browns should be happy to.
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Detroit looks to be fairly set on offense, so the focus for improvement resides on making their defense even more consistent. Adding flat-out talent to a still shaky secondary should be their main goal. Jenkins has the tools to develop into a quality starter, so look for them to pull the trigger and land him if he’s here at 23.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
As usual, the Steelers could probably stand to improve their offensive line. However, they’re getting long in the tooth on defense and their defensive line is taking a specifically painful hit in retirements and overall talent. Ta’amu is a beast with a real shot at making noise in this system from day one.
25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The Broncos could easily go after a young, athletic corner, but if a powerful run-stuffer like Still is hanging around, I don’t see how they can pass him up. Denver’s defense is on the rise with a nice pass-rush and a decent secondary, but they need a demon in the middle of their line if they’re going to take the next step. Still could easily be that guy if he falls to 25.
26. Houston Texans – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Houston had to unload a very talented tackle in Eric Winston because of money, but that doesn’t mean they’re fine on the offensive line. Adams is a potential stud tackle that could be long gone if things go just right, but with things shaking out the way they are, it looks like he’ll fall. In this mock, he goes to a team that could really use him to round-out their offensive line.
27. New England Patriots (From Saints) - Nick Perry, DE, USC
Mark Anderson fled for Buffalo and Andre Carter is still gimpy. It wouldn’t hurt for the Pats to get younger in their pass-rush, anyways, making Perry a logial addition.
28. Green Bay Packers - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Green Bay let Scott Wells walk and brought in 37-year old Jeff Saturday to give snaps to Aaron Rodgers. Needless to say, it will soon be time to start over in the middle of the offensive line. Who better to start with that the elite center from the Packers’ own state? As long as he’s not already gone, Konz just makes too muh sense here.
29. Baltimore Ravens - Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
With Konz gone just a pick earlier, the Ravens will have to “settle” for the very steady and versatile Glenn. The Ravens need to keep their offensive line alive for Ray Rice and Joe Flacco’s sakes, and adding a guy like Glenn who can fill a lot of spots is the right move.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
I know the 49ers have a stud tight end in Vernon Davis, but how can you pass up on having your own Patriots-esque offense with another freak tight end in Fleener? Fleener is a building of a man at 6’6”, and he runs like a wide receiver (4.45 40 time). The only real question is if Alex Smith can get the ball to both of them..as well as Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and Michael Crabtree…
31. New England Patriots – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
The Patriots have major issues in their secondary, and a lot of it has to do with the safety position. I know they’ve addressed that in free agency, but they could still use some fresh legs in case the patch-job doesn’t stick. Barron is a very solid prospect who could end up being a solid starter for them down the road, or even right away.
32. New York Giants – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Mario Manningham is gone and there’s no guarantee that Ramses Barden turns into anything worth mentioning. The Giants play it safe and draft at a position of strength to ensure it stays that way.