Thursday, April 12, 2012

NFL Draft 2012

1.  Indianapolis Colts - This one is a lock as Andrew Luck.  Next!!

2.  Washington Redskins - Also locked in with Robert Griffin III.  Next!!

3.  Minnesota Vikings - The Vikings have many needs and appear to be zeroing in on USC OT Matt Kalil as the best player available.  Minnesota would love to trade out of this pick, but there seems to be limited interest in teams moving up at this point.

4.  Cleveland Browns - Early mocks had Justin Blackmon in this spot, but Mike Holmgren is not big on drafting wide receivers high and Blackmon's stock seems to be fading a bit.  This could be a spot for Ryan Tannehill if the Browns believe he is a definite upgrade on Colt McCoy.  The best bet is that they get McCoy some help and add Trent Richardson to the offense.  While running backs have seen a decline in stock recently, taking a can't miss prospect like Richardson comes with less risk now that rookie salaries have been tempered.  Plus you get him for the first 4 years of his career before he is beat-up.

Picks 5-8
5.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs would love to have Richardson, but will likely turn to Morris Claiborne if he is gone.  Despite his less than wonderful Wunderlich, Claiborne is a potential lock-down corner who is a consensus top 5 player in this draft.  With the aging Ronde Barber on his farewell tour, Tampa can add a new cornerstone to their defense.

6.  St. Louis Rams - The Rams already are winners in this draft after pilfering the Redskins (in a trade that looks good for both sides) and moving back only 4 slots.  For a long-time there appeared to be a cut-and-dry top 6, but for some reason the stock of one Justin Blackmon has been falling a bit.  This is what happens between January and April.  If you saw Blackmon play the last two years, I don't see what the question is.  There are rumors that the Rams are trying to trade down again or that they will address defensive tackle with this pick.  I am not buying it.  The Rams need a weapon for Sam Bradford and the pick has to be Blackmon.

7.  Jacksonville Jaguars - This is where the fun is supposed to start, unless a trade up for Ryan Tannehill messes with the Top 6.  The Jaguars have had a history of surprise picks, so trying to mock their intentions is an interesting exercise.  The current momentum is that they are high on Melvin Ingram from South Carolina, who does fit a need for a pass-rush deficient defense.  The devil's advocate says despite signing Laurent Robinson, they could really use more weapons to truly give Blaine Gabbert a fair evaluation if he is the future at quarterback.  Michael Floyd has been moving up, almost pulling even with Blackmon on the WR board.  I am sticking with Ingram right now, but Floyd is a possibility.  (This is also a spot for a trade down with the Chiefs if they covet Tannehill enough.)

8.  Miami Dolphins - The assumption is that Miami would love to have Ryan Tannehill here.  There is also some rumblings that if they want him bad enough they should trade up to get him to prevent the #7 slot from being a trade target to steal him away.  Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about Tannehill.  The one person who does know is new Dolphin OC Mike Sherman.  If the Dolphins pass on him, either Sherman didn't sell hard enough or Sherman knows something.  Right now, I think he is the pick here.

Picks 9-12
9.  Carolina Panthers -  This is the first pick where the mock drafts start to show differences of opinion, so I am going totally off the board with this one right now.  Carolina appears to be in position to draft one of the top defensive tackles in this stong DT draft class.  Last year the Panthers used two 3rd round picks on the same position, so I hesitate to say they will definitely go this way.  Cornerback is a distinct possibility and Stephen Gilmore appears to be moving up on some boards.  #9 could be a stretch for Gilmore, but if the Panthers can find a trading partner between 10 and 16, either Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick will still be on the board.  If they want to give Cam Newton more help, Michael Floyd has been rising fast and could land here as well. has linebacker as the 3rd need for Carolina and Luke Kuechly has separated himself as the top prospect here and is well-liked by the Panthers.  Right now I am going Kuechly narrowly over Floyd.

10.  Buffalo Bills - It is rare that a consensus still remains for a 10th pick, but it would appear that Iowa tackle Riley Reiff is headed to Buffalo.  After addressing glaring need #1 (pass rush) via free agency, the Bills can turn to left tackle.  If not Reiff, then who?  Floyd would be in play again or a top corner.  

11.  Kansas City Chiefs -  Kansas City appears to be a team ready to make a leap if they can fill-in some key spots.  David DeCastro is a popular mock pick, but offensive tackle might be more of a need than offensive guard.  It would not be a shock to see DeCastro go here, but with talented defensive tackles also available, I think the Chiefs may wait to address offensive line in the 2nd Round.  Fletcher Cox would provide the Chiefs the interior presence they currently lack.

12.  Seattle Seahawks - Kuechly is a popular mock here, but he is gone in mine.  Seattle actually has a greater need on the edge and needs to find guys who can pressure the quarterback.  Despite some potential character/effort issues, North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples has elite talent and would be surefire top 10 pick if not for those issues.  If they scare the Seahawks away, Seattle could also go with DeCastro.

Picks 13-16
 13.  Arizona Cardinals - I believe Arizona will go one of two ways with their first round pick...offensive tackle or wide receiver.  If Riley Reiff does not go to Buffalo at #10, the Cardinals would likely go that direction.  With Reiff off the board, the choice moves to Michael Floyd/Cordy Glenn/Jonathan Martin.  I am not sure Floyd will be available anymore, but in my current mock he is, so he is the pick here.

14.  Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys will look to upgrade the defensive side of the ball and need a guard.  The good news is that there will be a plethora of choices for them.  David DeCastro would fill the guard need if he is still available.  Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick would fit nicely at safety and corner, respectively.  Right now I am going to trust the rumor that Dallas is in love with Dontari Poe.  Jerry falls in love and has to have.  The other three fill more of a need, but sometimes you can't avoid your crush.

15.  Philadelphia Eagles - I find this to be one of the more interesting spots in the draft.  There are a lot of defensive tackles mocked here, but it is not necessarily the area of highest need.  They mave have addressed their offensive tackle situation, but in more of a stop-gap fashion.  There are some rumblings that they might be interested in the Tannehill sweepstakes.  Finally, safety Mark Barron makes a lot of sense here.  I will go with DT Michael Brockers from LSU, but I reserve the right to change this as draft day approaches.

16.  New York Jets - The Jets would seem to be one team that would move up if the player they coveted were available for the right price.  If they stay put, I think they go either Barron or DE Courtney Upshaw.  Rex Ryan needs pressure to build his defense, so Upshaw is the guy.  (If Michael Floyd falls to this spot, the Jets will also consider his services to bolster their mediocre receiving corps.)

Picks 17-20
 17. Cincinnati Bengals - After adding future cornerstones Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in the 2011 draft, the Bengals look to fill more holes with two first round picks in 2012.  Conventional wisdom is that needs exist at cornerback, running back, offensive line and wide receiver.  The 17th pick is too early to consider a running back and will have to be a consideration at 21.  With A.J. Green entrenched as a #1 receiver, the Bengals can wait in this area as well.  So the decision comes down to whether the available offensive lineman and available corners are rated higher on the draft board.  With David DeCastro sliding to this spot, he would likely top the board and be an easy pick.  If DeCastro is gone, which is a distinct possibility, they will either look at one of the top remaining tackles such as Cordy Glenn or Jonathan Martin or get first choice of the cornerbacks between Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephen Gilmore.

18.  San Diego Chargers - The Chargers come into this draft with more needs than they have had in a long time.  They need to bolster their offensive line, find some pass rushers and fortify their secondary.  They will have several different options and sit in a good position to have a player fall in their lap.  They will also consider Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin as well as the top corners.  In the end, San Diego loves them a pass-rusher and Whitney Mercilus from Illinois will be too hard to pass-up in the Chargers war room.

19.  Chicago Bears - The 2011 season for the Bears was derailed by injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, so Chicago has fewer holes than some of those around them.  If Chicago goes offense, they could either add one of the big offensive tackles or go wide receiver and give Cutler another target to go with Brandon Marshall.  If they go defense, one of the cornerbacks comes in to play or another pass rusher.  The Bears are another team that loves guys who bury quarterbacks and USC DE/LB Nick Perry would fit that bill.

20.  Tennessee Titans - The Titans are another team without glaring holes, so there would appear to be different directions they could go with the #20 pick.  Losing Corteland Finnegan in free agency probably makes this pick a no-brainer.  With one or more top cornerbacks likely on the board at this point, Tennessee can choose from Stephen Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins.  Gilmore is the current fast-riser and has the fewest off-field issues, so he is the pick here.

Picks 21-24
21.  Cincinnati Bengals - As discussed with pick 17 above, the Bengals have a number of options to bolster their team.  If they feel the 2nd running back in the draft stands out above all others, this would be the spot to see the 2nd RB taken.  Lamar Miller, Doug Martin and David Wilson would be the likely candidates and all might be gobe before pick 53.  If the Bengals want to roll the dice or they like a guy in the next RB tier, then I think cornerback is the pcik here.  Dre Kirkpatrick would be a nice complement to the current Bengal DB's and has star potential.

22.  Cleveland Browns - Offense, offense, offense.  The Browns need vast improvements on this side of the ball.  With Richardson in toe, Cleveland will look to bolster either their offensive line or add an outside weapon for Colt McCoy.  It seems unfair to McCoy to ignore WR, so Baylor's Kendall Wright would be the selection.  This is also the first potential spot for Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weedon.  I believe Weedon will be a first round pick, but more likely with a team trading up into the last 4-6 picks of the first round.
23.  Detroit Lions - If Stephen Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick slip to this spot, I think that is the direction for the Lions to go.  Janoris Jenkins would be to risky for a team full of risks and this may be too high for UCF corner Josh Robinson.  Georgia OG/OT Cordy Glenn provides a good value pick at 23 and can bolster an average Lion offensive line.  Right now its Glenn, but Robinson may ultimately be the guy.

24.  Pittsburgh Steelers - There is a lot of mock consensus for a team picking so low that it is hard to go against Dont'a Hightower here.  If the Steelers go a different direction it will probably be on one of two lines, with either Jonathan Martin/Mike Adams at OT or Jererl Worthy/Devon Still at DT.

Picks 25-28
25.  Denver Broncos - It has already been a big off-season in Denver trading off Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning.  The acquisition of Manning puts them in a short-term win-now mode.  Losing Broderick Bunkley to free agency has put a whole in the middle of the defensive line.  The other thought is that Manning needs more weapons.  Georgia Tech speedster Stephen Hill could be available or Stanford TE Coby Fleener could provide another TE receiving option for Manning.  Right now, I will follow the trend of the mocks with Jerel Worthy, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Manning might have a say in this.

26.  Houston Texans - It is no secret that the Texans are interested in adding a receiving weapon to their arsenal.  Another thought is that even though Mario Williams was injured last year, adding another pass-rusher to the defense to replace him would not be a bad move.  I am going the receiver direction, but like the slightly rising Reuben Randle from LSU better than Stephen Hill for this spot.

27.  New England Patriots - The first of two picks in this round (assuming no trade down), the Patriots will look to bolster a defense that only perfromed well under the playoff spotlight.  New England can use help all over their defense, so choosing which direction is a crapshoot.  With the first selection, I think the Pats will wait to see if a defensive end falls to them and Syracuse DE Chandler Jones is ascending the draft boards.  Boise State DE/OLB Shea McClellin is also a riser who could go here.  I have New England addressing safety with pick 31, but if Belichek feels that is more pressing, Harrison Smith could be the guy here as well.

28.  Green Bay Packers - In all likelihood, this pick will be about getting an outside rusher to compliment Clay Matthews.  Nick Perry, Shea McClellin and Clemson's Andre Branch are the three main names thrown around, with McClellin being the current name du jour.  The way my mock fell, the Packers brass would be forced to make a tough decision with a need also as strong safety.  If Mark Barron falls this far, the Alabama product should be wearing green and gold next season.  I don't think he will fall here, but after not going 14-16, I found no other logical spot.

Picks 29-32
29.  Baltimore Ravens - Baltimore was on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, but with some age on defense, the window is closing for some veterans.  The mock trend is to go with G/C Peter Konz to fill the need on the interior of the offensive line.  Another direction would be to bring in some youth at linebacker. 

30.  San Francisco 49ers - Another team that was on the cusp, the 49ers need to add parts to prove they have staying power.  The most glaring needs are at guard, receiver and on the defensive line.  Konz or college teammate Kevin Zeitler would make sense in this spot, as would Stephen Hill.  There will also be a selection of defensive lineman available.  It just seems to logical for Jim Harbaugh to reunite with Coby Fleener and give the 49ers a Patriot-like TE tandem.

31.  New England Patriots - Raise your hand if you think the Patriots are actually going to pick in this spot...didn't think so.  Since I am not mocking trades though, I have Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith here.  The Pats can probably move to the upper portion of the 2nd round and grab Smith, but there is a potential drop-off after him at the safety position.  This could also be a spot for Stephen Hill or Janoris Jenkins.

32.  New York Giants - The Giants will try to stay at the top this time and the general direction of this pick appears to be either offensive tackle, tight end or running back.  If Fleener is still on the board, which is becoming less likely, he would be a front-runner.  Dwayne Allen would be a consolation prize.  A top tackle, such as Ohio State's Mike Adams would also fit here.  I think the Giants are in good position to have their selection of the 2nd running backs, so getting Doug Martin from Boise State is the pick.

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