Friday, April 6, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Post Pro Day

Here is my Post Pro Day 2012 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by updates up until the NFL Draft on April 26th.

My mock draft has been linked by The Football Fan Spot, Sports Jabber, DC Pro Sports ReportWalter Football, FF Toolbox,, The Football Expert, NFLDraftDogFantasy Football Help Desk, The Huddle Report, Niners Nation, EDS Football, NFL Mock Draft Central, NFL Pro Zach and No Limits Sportsline Fantasy Sports in their Mock Draft Databases. If you're a draftnik like me, be sure to click on their hyperlinks and check out all of their extensive NFL Draft related material.

This is not a mock draft where I attempt play general manager and substitute my own judgment for the 32 NFL teams. I do my best to research what particular players or positions each team may be targeting by searching the Internet for tips from reliable beat writers, NFL insiders and scouts in order to provide links and analysis as to why that team may be targeting a particular player.

1st Round

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: With the Colts unwilling to pay a $28 million roster bonus to a quarterback coming off of four neck surgeries, and with Peyton Manning not wanting to take a pay cut to play through a major rebuilding project, this has been one of the better break-ups between a superstar and a franchise/city in recent history. Any talk about Robert Griffin III overtaking Andrew Luck as the first pick was recently discredited when Griffin refused the Colts offer to take a pre-draft visit, presumably because he knew that Luck was already going to be their selection.;;

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Having given up three first round picks and a second, the Redskins will draft Robert Griffin III. While Griffin doesn't have the command of a pro style offense that Andrew Luck has, he has superior arm strength and accuracy, especially on the crucial passes in the NFL like the 20-yard out.

3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC: Rumors are starting to come out that GM Rick Spielman is not necessarily set on drafting USC T Matt Kalil with the third pick. Don’t buy into that smokescreen. Unless Minnesota is offered a party boatload of picks, they’ll be staying put at #3 and selecting Kalil. Kalil projects as a premier left tackle that Minnesota can rebuild their offensive line around. While Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne would also fill needs here for the Vikings, when all else is equal when it comes to talent, left tackle takes precedence over any other position aside from QB and possibly DE.;;;;;

4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Having offered three first round picks and even a second rounder, the Browns still lost out to Washington on Robert Griffin III. However, as a consolation prize the Browns are in the position to stay put and select one of the six impact players in this year’s draft, or they can attempt to trade down. With Miami looking at Ryan Tannehill and the Rams interested in Justin Blackmon, the Browns could feign an interest in either player in attempts to induce one of those teams to trade up. If they don’t get an offer they like, they could improve their running game with a franchise back in Trent Richardson while targeting a wide receiver and a quarterback with their next two picks.;;;;;;

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: It would be hard to argue with Morris Claiborne or Trent Richardson at the #5 spot talent wise, but if Richardson is gone, do the Bucs really need another cornerback after signing Eric Wright to a big contract as a free agent? Depending on what they decide to do with the talented, yet troubled Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay could be in the position to trade down to a team like Detroit seeking a premium cornerback like Claiborne.;;
6. St. Louis Rams - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: With the Rams having traded down from the #2 spot with Washington at #6, they have accumulated a bounty of extra picks and still might have the opportunity to select the elite go to wide receiver they covet for Sam Bradford in Justin Blackmon. Minnesota and Cleveland will put up smokescreens regarding their interest in Blackmon to try and induce St. Louis to trade up, but if they stay put, they could land their go-to receiver and keep their picks.;;

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina: Wide receiver, defensive end and tackle seem to be the Jaguars biggest needs. In the event that Justin Blackmon does not fall to them, they should have their choice of elite pass rushers in this year's draft, with defensive end representing the position of best value for Jacksonville at the #7 spot. They now appear to be targeting Melvin Ingram of South Carolina, the safer pick, over Quinton Coples of North Carolina, who has higher up and downsides.;;;;;

8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A and M: With Miami having missed out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, and any other free agent who’s aware of Jeff Ireland being their GM, Dolphins need to find a quarterback of the future. Ryan Tannehill, who played for Mike Sherman (Miami’s new offensive coordinator) in college, could fit the system. In the event that Tannehill has already been selected, or if they feel he’s not worthy of a top 10 pick, the Dolphins could target an outside 3-4 pass rusher like South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram.;;;;,0,6215762.story

9. Carolina Panthers – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: While the Panthers have a huge need at DT, Marty Hurney takes a best player available philosophy with the draft. While this draft is deep in defensive tackles, any one of them would be a reach at #9. If Quinton Coples were to fall to Carolina he would not only represent the BPA as rush defensive end, but he would also have the skill-set to play inside at times as as he did early in his career at North Carolina in nickle situations for the Panthers.;

10. Buffalo Bills – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: Buffalo has addressed the deficiency they’ve had at defensive end over the past several seasons by signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson in free agency. That will allow them to address the glaring need they’ve had at tackle over that same period of time. Either Riley Reiff of Iowa or Jonathan Martin of Stanford would fill the gaping need at left tackle, especially since Demetrius Bell departed for Philadelphia in free agency.;

11. Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: With the Chiefs having upgraded their offensive line by signing T Eric Winston, they can turn their attention to other areas. A true nose tackle like Dontari Poe of Memphis would be an ideal component for their 3-4 defense. Luke Kuechly of Boston College could be a consideration at linebacker, although I’m hearing he’s not an ideal fit for them at #11.;;

12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: Seattle has a need at linebacker and defensive end now that David Hawthorne has left in free agency. The Seahawks are said to have exhibited an interest in DE’s Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples and Nick Perry. While Perry could be reunited with former college coach Pete Carroll, #12 seems too early to take him, and there is no guarantee that Ingram or Coples will still be on the board when the Seahawks pick. While it looks as if Seattle has an interest in Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower if they can trade down, Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly represents the best overall value at a position of need should they stay where they are, which fits the best graded player within their system philosophy employed by GM John Schneider.;;

13. Arizona Cardinals – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: The Cardinals need to improve their offensive line, either at tackle or guard. If the Cardinals go with an elite guard like David DeCastro over a developmental tackle like Jonathan Martin, Adam Snyder could move over and man the right tackle position, representing an upgrade at both positions.;;

14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron, S, Alabama: The Cowboys have improved their secondary with the signing of CB Brandon Carr and Brodney Poole, but they still have holes to fill at corner and safety. Additionally, they could use either a defensive end or a nose tackle, thereby allowing Jay Ratliff to move to the five-technique. While recent reports have the Cowboys eyeing Memphis NT Dontari Poe, he may not make it to the 14th pick. In that case, look for Dallas to target someone like Alabama safety Mark Barron who can come in and make an immediate impact in their secondary.;;

15. Philadelphia Eagles – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: With the Eagles addressing their glaring hole at linebacker in trading for Demeco Ryans, they can turn their attention to other positions. While the Ryans acquisition doesn’t necessarily rule out drafting Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, he may not be available when Philadelphia picks at #15, and the Eagles traditionally have invested their first round picks in offensive and defensive linemen. With a need for an impact player at defensive tackle, Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox proved to be nearly as athletic as Dontari Poe of Memphis at the Combine, plus he has better game tape to back his results in Indianapolis up.;

16. New York Jets – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: The Jets entire defense struggled last season due to a lack of pass rush from the edge and speed at safety. Melvin Ingram of South Carolina would be an ideal 3-4 OLB in the Jet’s defensive scheme, but he no longer projects to last to the middle of the first round. Mark Barron of Alabama could also be a consideration for some much needed speed and skill at safety, but he’s also rising up draft boards after proving that he’s healthy at his Pro Day following double hernia surgery. With mixed reports coming out of New York as to whether the Jets have an interest in Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame would be a value pick at #16 and give the Jets another big target at WR with the impending departure of Plaxico Burress.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: The Bengals should look to upgrade their secondary at either corner or safety with at least one of their two first round picks. If Dre Kirkpatrick falls, he could join Leon Hall as a starter in what would become an extremely deep Bengals secondary. If Kirkpatrick doesn’t fall, Marvin Lewis is said to have his eye on Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower, or they could look to solidify their offensive line.;;;;;;;

18. San Diego Chargers – Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC: The Chargers could have plenty of needs after heavy losses to retirement and free agency. Offensive line is a concern with the retirement of Kris Dielman, while adding a play maker to rush the passer at linebacker is also a major need. Courtney Upshaw of Alabama or Nick Perry of USC would be ideal fits. Keep an eye on Mark Barron of Alabama at safety as well.;;;

19. Chicago Bears – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois: Improving an aging offensive line has to be a priority for the Bears. With Mike Martz having been forced into retirement, new offensive coordinator and offensive line guru Mike Tice might be able to make do with the pieces that he currently has. In that case, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame would give Jay Cutler a natural go-to receiver to work with opposite newly acquired Brandon Marshall. However, as much as the Bears might covet him, it looks as if they would have to trade up with a team like Seattle to have a shot at getting him. With bigger needs to consider than trading up for Floyd, the Bears can address their outside pass rush with Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, who lead the nation in sacks last year.,0,713730.story;,0,6854975.story

20. Tennessee Titans – Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: Even after signing Kamerion Wimbley, the Titans appear to be looking for help at defensive end. In the mid to later part of the first round they could find value in edge rushers like Courtney Upshaw of Alabama, Nick Perry of USC or Andre Branch of Clemson. A cornerback like Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina could also be a consideration with Courtland Finnegan having signed with the Rams in free agency.;;;!/caplannfl/status/181949353164939264;

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Cordy Glenn, T/G, Georgia: From the interior of their offensive line to an explosive back, the Bengals could stand to improve their running game. If the Bengals can obtain a top corner like Dre Kirkpatrick with their first pick in the 1st round, someone like Cordy Glenn of Georgia who projects as either a right tackle or guard in the NFL would be a nice fit.;;;

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: While the Browns are definitely kicking the tires on QB Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State, it does not appear that the Browns are seriously considering replacing Colt McCoy at quarterback, as they expressed very little interest in system fit free agent Matt Flynn, and they made a half-assed after the fact effort to match Washington's offer of three first round picks to trade up for Robert Griffin III. If Cleveland lands RB Trent Richardson with their first pick, a receiver like Kendall Wright of Baylor would give McCoy two explosive playmakers on offense to show whether or not he’s capable of being their man going forward.;;

23. Detroit Lions – Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford: Offensive line and the secondary are Detroit's biggest areas of need. However, William Clay Ford, Jr., Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand have changed the culture in Detroit by taking a best player available instead of reaching for players, and with the draft back heavy on the defensive line, the Lions have to be hoping that a left tackle or top cornerback falls to them. If the Lions were to draft a tackle, they’d ultimately be looking for someone to replace Jeff Backus on the left side. Jonathan Martin of Stanford would definitely fit that bill, and until then, he could potentially replace Gosder Cherilus on the right side until Backus plays out his final two years of his contract.;;;

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: With the Steelers having released James Farrior, don’t expect Larry Foote to be able to handle the starting duties at the inside linebacker spot opposite Lawrence Timmons. While Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower may not be explosive, he’s a solid tackler who just makes plays. In other words, he fits the Steelers system perfectly.

25. Denver Broncos – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State: The Broncos have more needs than there is value to them at the #25 pick. Ideally, they'd probably like to trade out of the first round and accumulate more players at positions of need like running back, center, defensive tackle and the secondary. Defensive tackle should be a particularly deep position in the late first or early second round, and Jerel Worthy, Devon Still, Fletcher Cox or Brandon Thompson could all fill a need for the Broncos at that position if they stay put.;;;;

26. Houston Texans – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: The Texans need a compliment to Andre Johnson at wide receiver, who's injury last season magnified their lack of depth at that position. Stephen Hill is a physical specimen at wide receiver who's numbers at Georgia Tech were hindered by their lack of a vertical passing game. After his performance at the Scouting Combine, teams have to be wondering how good Hill can become in an offense that utilizes its receivers. He just might be the best receiver in this year’s draft, which would represent a steal at #26, even if Kendall Wright was still available.;;;;;;;;

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) – Andre Branch, OLB/DE, Clemson: The Patriots are always in need of hybrid pass rushers in their 3-4 system. That need is even bigger this offseason with Kevin Carter coming off of an injury and Mark Anderson having left via free agency. Andre Branch of Clemson or Vinny Curry of Marshall are both talented pass rushers who have skill-sets that will translate well to standing up in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.;;

28. Green Bay Packers – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: Look for Green Bay to take the best defensive player available. Michael Brockers is an interesting player in this year’s draft, in that in the event that he makes it past Carolina and Dallas at #9 and #14, he could plummet all the way to New England at #27 or Green Bay at #28. A 3-4 defensive end like Brockers could free Clay Mathews, Jr. up, as would a pass rushing OLB to play opposite him like Shea McCellin of Boise State, Chandler Jones of Syracuse or Vinny Curry of Marshall. Stephon Gilmore of South Carlina could also be a consideration.;

29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Baltimore takes a best player available approach when it comes to the draft. Fortunately for them, interior offensive linemen may represent the best value on the board when they select after losing G Ben Grubbs to free agency. Peter Konz could ultimately replace Matt Birk once he retires, but in the meantime he can play alongside of him for a year at guard in order to learn the calls a center needs to make in the NFL.,0,217052.story;;,0,3150806.photogallery;,0,5894851.story;,0,7607604.story

30. San Francisco 49ers – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: The 49ers philosophy is to take the best player available on their draft board. If Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina were to fall to them at #30, that would be a serious consideration given that cornerback is also an area of need.;

31. New England Patriots – New England Patriots – Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn: The Patriots need to bolster the front of their 3-4 defense at end. While that position is particularly deep in this year’s draft, the Patriots are said to have their eyes on Kendall Reyes of UConn to play the five-technique.;;

32. New York Giants – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: The Giants were able to mask holes on their offensive line, linebacker corps and in their secondary all season. With their secondary returning some of the depth and talent that was lost due to injury, the Giants can focus on their line and linebackers. Cordy Glenn of Georgia has the versatility to play either right tackle or right guard, both of which are positions that the Giants could stand to improve. If Glenn is not available, and given that the Giants take a best player available philosophy under Floyd Reese, a linebacker with a solid first round grade like Dont’a Hightower of Alabama would help solidify their front seven, or a tackle like Mike Adams of Ohio State would stabilize their offensive line.;

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