2012 NFL Mock Draft
By Neal Driscoll
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck-QB-Stanford
Analysis: The Colts had a miserable 2011 season which made them the winners of the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes. They hired a new head coach and let Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark go to other destinations. There is no other direction the Colts can go which will make sense so the selection of Andrew Luck here is an absolute slam-dunk. This rebuilding franchise is lucky to have another elite quarterback fall into their laps as Peyton Manning did in 1998.
- Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III-QB-Baylor
Analysis: The Redskins made a bold move trading 2012 and 2013 first round draft selections and a 2012 2nd to the Rams for this pick in order to secure Robert Griffin III also known as “RG3”. Dan Snyder loves to sell tickets and drafting the 2011 Heisman trophy winner will do that and not to mention he is an immediate upgrade to the Redskins horrible quarterback situation.
- Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil-OT-University of Southern California
Analysis: Vikings general manager, Rick Spielman, has indicated that this pick is on the market for trade but the Vikings should do the smart thing and draft the best left tackle prospect that has come along since Jake Long in 2008. The Vikings let Bryant McKinnie go prior to the 2011 season and didn’t have a plan in place to replace him and it showed. The Vikings need to protect their franchise quarterback, Christian Ponder, and drafting a guy like Kalil will go a long way in doing so.
- Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson-RB-Alabama
Analysis: Despite the world thinking that the Browns have legit interest in Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill this pick is down to Trent Richardson vs. Justin Blackmon in my opinion. The wide receiver class for the 2012 draft is loaded which makes the positions value fall a bit this high on the draft. Trent Richardson is a rare running back as he can literally do everything needed to be a great player from the position. He runs with an unseen combination of power and speed combined with elite vision which allows him to find holes which most backs wouldn’t. The Browns let Peyton Hillis go via free agency and no one on their roster is capable of being an every down back.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne-CB-Louisiana State University
Analysis: The Buccaneers have a major need at cornerback which was evident when they over-paid dearly for fee-agent Eric Wright who has been nothing more than pedestrian so far in his career, They resigned Ronde Barber who is ancient in NFL years and Aqib Talib faces serious jail time. Morris Claiborne is as close to a shutdown corner as there is the 2012 draft as he covers well and has great ball skills to boot. Claiborne is a player you can start day one and never look back and the Buccaneers need to get their secondary in order if they play on stopping the Saints in 2012.
- St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon-WR-Oklahoma State
Analysis: It’s not easy taking a wide receiver this high when the draft is loaded at the position but the Rams need to find a primary receiver for Sam Bradford. The Rams were unable to keep Brandon Lloyd around and the team lacks a go-to receiver. Sam Bradford struggled in 2011 due to injuries and inadequate weapons and the Rams need to find a play-maker in order to save whatever is left of Sam Bradford’s confidence.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram-DE-South Carolina
Analysis: The Jaguars have tried everything in order to find a legit pass rusher whether it was drafting Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves in 2009 or overpaying for Aaron Kampman in free agency and have consistently struck out. Ingram is one of the best pass rushers in the draft. Ingram offers versatility to a 43 defensive line front and this makes him even more valuable.
- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill-QB-Texas A&M
Analysis: After Peyton Manning told the Dolphins to take a hike Dol-Fans were ready to plan a mass suicide. The Dolphins have not been able to find a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired and the fan base has had enough. Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have the hype that Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin has but he has the tools that could make him an elite quarterback at the next level. There are similarities in Tannehill’s games to that of the great Aaron Rodgers. The Dolphins offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, was Tannehill’s head coach at Texas A&M and knows him better than anyone giving the Dolphins an advantage here.
- Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe-DT-Memphis
Analysis: The Panthers have publicly stated that they don’t view defensive tackle as a need and in my opinion that is either smoke-screen or the coaches didn’t watch the defensive tape. Teams are falling in love with Poe’s ability to move given his size even drawing comparisons to Ravens all-pro Haloti Ngata.
- Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff-OT-Iowa
Analysis: While Bills’ fans would like the team to draft Michael Floyd at this spot the Bills have to address left tackle first and foremost. Reiff is a plug and play player who will be the Bills opening day starter come September.
- Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro-OL-Stanford
Analysis: David DeCastro is one of the best football players in this draft and what makes him a hot commodity is not only his skill-set but his versatility. DeCastro can play four positions along the OLINE (LG, RG, C, RT) and from a technique standpoint he is as good as there has been for over a decade. The Chiefs can plug DeCastro in with Rodney Hudson, Eric Winston, and Branden Albert giving them one of the best OLINE’s in the NFL.
- Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly-ILB-Boston College
Analysis: The Seahawks struck out in a major way when they took Aaron Curry with the 4th pick in the 2009 draft. Their linebacker core needs a new look and drafting the best linebacker in the draft is one way to get it started, Kuechly is a very smart football player who plays with great instincts which allows him to locate the ball effectively. Kuechly is a leader and could give the Seahawks’ defense a major boost.
- Arizona Cardinals: Cordy Glenn-OL-Georgia
Analysis: The Cardinals OLINE is in shambles and the team will not be ready to compete until they address the position. Cordy Glenn is a perfect fit because the Cardinals can start him out at offensive tackle and if he doesn’t pan out there than you have an all-pro offensive guard.
- Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron-S-Alabama
Analysis: The Cowboys have a history of great safety play and right now there roster is full of a bunch of average players. Barron gives them a player who excels in pass coverage and is equally as good against the run.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox-DT-Mississippi State
Analysis: The Eagles defense was a major part of the teams’ failures in 2011 and they need to get better on this side of the ball for them to truly compete with the Giants and Cowboys in the NFC East. Cox can be paired with Cullen Jenkins giving the Eagles a run stopping and pass rushing tandem in the middle of their defense.
- New York Jets: Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame
Analysis: The Jets need to find additional pass rushers but the emergence of Aaron Maybin in 2011 allows them to take the best player on the board which also fills a major need. The Jets need a receiver with size who can pose to be a red-zone threat for whoever their quarterback will be. The plus with Floyd is that he is a willing and able run blocker which is something that will get Rex Ryan excited.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Quinton Coples-DE-North Carolina
Analysis: The inconsistent motor is the reason that Coples drops despite the issue being way overblown. For my money Coples is the best defensive player in the draft and has the talent to be an elite defensive end. The Bengals take a risk but the duo of Coples and Carlos Dunlap is going to be a tough task for opposing offensive lines.
- San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry-OLB-University of Southern California
Analysis: The Chargers landed Jarrett Johnson who can play strong side linebacker and stop the run and now they need an explosive pass rusher opposite of Johnson. The player was supposed to be Larry English but he has been a major bust thus far. Perry is explosive and uses his hands well and should make an immediate impact for the Chargers’ defense.
- Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus-Defensive End-Illinois
Analysis: The Bears really want to upgrade the position opposite of Julius Peppers and Mercilus was very productive in his junior campaign at Illinois. There are some concerns whether Mercilus was a one year wonder but his production should be solid with Julius Peppers drawing most of the attention on the DLINE.
- Tennessee Titans: Stephon Gilmore-CB-South Carolina
Analysis: The Titans lost Courtland Finnegan in free agency and they don’t stand a chance competing with the Texans if they do not have more than solid cornerbacks. Gilmore has saw his stock rise since the draft process started and offers return skills to boot which make him a very good selection for the Titans.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Peter Konz-C/OG-Wisconsin
Analysis: The Bengals need help at the guard position and while Konz played center at Wisconsin he has the ability to be a very good guard at the next level.
- Cleveland Browns: Rueben Randle-WR-LSU
Analysis: The Browns got their running back earlier in the draft and now they find a legitimate receiver for Colt McCoy. Randle has great NFL size and has drawn comparisons to the Giants’ Hakeem Nicks.
- Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick-CB-Alabama
Analysis: The Lions have needed a shut-down corner for quite some time and if they expect to take the NFC North thrown from the Packers they will need one. Kirkpatrick has size that general managers salivate for.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams-OT-Ohio State
Analysis: The Steelers have paid close attention to Adams since the draft process has begun and it’s no surprise as he offers the size and attitude that the Steelers look for. Adams can come and offer an immediate upgrade to the Steelers woeful offensive line.
- Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers-DT-Louisiana State University
Analysis: The Broncos defense is good but ageing and they take the best defensive player on the board. Brockers is a strong player who can be disruptive and finds the football well to boot.
- Houston Texans: Kendall Wright-WR-Baylor
Analysis: if the Texans could create the perfect complement to all-world receiver Andre Johnson it would be Baylor’s Kendall Wright. Wright is an explosive play-maker who is extremely dangerous in the open field. Drafting Wright will open up the Texans’ passing game and this move makes them the favorites in the AFC.
- New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw-OLB-Alabama
Analysis: The Patriots need to bolster their defense especially their pass rush and a great player falls into their laps. Upshaw is a top 20 player in this draft but he isn’t as explosive as some of the pass rushers which causes him to fall into an ideal spot.
- Green Bay Packers: Kendall Reyes-DT/DE-Connecticut
Analysis: The Packers lost Cullen Jenkins prior to the 2011 season and we not able to replace him. Replacing Jenkins is a tall task for Reyes but there is no question in my mind that Reyes can start as a rookie and give the Packers’ DLINE an upgrade.
- Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Martin-OT-Stanford
Analysis: The Ravens have a history of drafting the best player available and keep the trend alive with this pick. Bryant McKinnie is only under contract for one more season so drafting the guy who protected Andrew Luck is not a bad decision.
- San Francisco 49ers: Janoris Jenkins-CB-Northern Alabama
Analysis: It was nice that the 49ers were able to keep Carlos Rogers around but they still could use an upgrade at the position. Jenkins is a top 15 talent that falls due to off-field concerns but sometimes the risk of taking a gamble really pays off.
- New England Patriots: Devon Still-DT-Penn State
Analysis: Another blue-chip defensive player falls into the Patriots’ lap. Still can play anywhere on the line and really improve the Patriots’ run defense. Adding two players like Upshaw and Still will have the Patriots defense much improved in 2012.
- New York Giants: Donta Hightower-LB-Alabama
Analysis: The Giants won the Super Bowl despite having a pedestrian group of linebackers. Hightower is a tremendous fit at this spot as he is a tackling machine with size and can bring even more leadership to a dominant Giants’ defense.