2012 NFL Mock Draft
Free Agency did not disappoint this offseason with big moves being made all over the NFL. Most notably, these moves have impacted what teams will
do in the 2012 NFL draft, which is less than a month away. Draft stock risers and fallers have already been established and not much can be done
on that front from here on out, but all it takes is one team to believe in a player to make him a reach or a steal. This is who I think will
shine and fade away come draft day. Enjoy.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (QB) Stanford: There are always a few surprises in the NFL draft, but this will not
be one of them. Expect Luck to be signed, sealed, and delivered before the draft officially begins.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III (QB) Baylor: This pick will come as no surprise, either. The Redskins
paid dearly for this pick, but ask the New York Giants if they are happy with the price they paid for Eli Manning in 2004. Yes, the expectations
for RG3 will be that high. Get used to it.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil (OT) Southern Cal.: The Vikings will strongly debate between Kalil and LSU cornerback
Morris Claiborne, but will ultimately decide that getting the best tackle prospect since Jake Long in the 2008 draft. Minnesota will have
determined that keeping 2011 first round pick Christian Ponder upright is their first priority. The USC tackle will also help Toby Gerhardt and
Adrian Peterson (when he comes back from knee surgery) in the run game. Kalil could turn out to be the player with the longest career in this
draft. He's that good.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson (RB) Alabama: This is where the draft could start to go haywire. It would
not be surprising if the Browns, who lost out in the RG3 sweepstakes (no surprise there since they haven't won anything since the 1950s), to trade down
to acquire more picks for they need a little bit of everything to compete in the AFC North. If they stay at this pick, however, Richardson has
Adrian Peterson-like talents with his size-speed combination. Justin Blackmon is a strong contender here, too, but this is a deep WR class and
the NFL has become a league where a team does not have to spend big money on a WR early in the draft when guys like Marques Colston (7th
round pick from Hofstra) and Victor Cruz (Undrafted) are just as successful.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne (CB) LSU: Tampa Bay has made some huge moves already this offseason by
acquiring OG Carl Nicks, WR Vincent Jackson, and CB Eric Wright. With uncertainty regarding CB Aqib Talib's future and Rhonde Barber's imminent
retirement, it would behoove the Bucs to firmly establish their back seven before they are left with none. Wright was a great start to that, but
Claiborne is the most complete defensive back in the draft by a wide margin and could already be better than Wright. Plus, he would get the
opportunity to be mentored by one of the most successful DB's to play in the new pass-happy NFL in Rhonde Barber.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon (WR) Oklahoma St.: After trading out of the #2 pick in the draft, the Rams may not be
done trading. Expect them to trade further back in the first round and stockpile more picks for new head coach Jeff Fisher to utilize on building
his team. If they are forced to stay at the sixth pick, they will take the best player available on their board, which would most likely be
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples (DE) North Carolina: Coples is, by far, the best 4-3 defensive end in this
year's draft despite a lackluster 2011 season at North Carolina. At 6'6, he is built to compete in the opponent's backfield, whether they are
passing or running. The Jags will not focus on positional needs given their need to bolster talent at every position. If Blackmon was still
on the board, he would not fall farther than this pick.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill (QB) Texas A&M: Miami cannot seem to find a quarterback that wants to play in
Miami. They lost out in the RG3 sweepstakes, Peyton Manning passed, and Matt Flynn jetted to Seattle despite having strong ties with Dolphins
head coach Joe Philbin. Tannehill has a slightly lower ceiling than Luck and RG3 given his strong arm and athletic abilities (used to play
WR). Miami desperately needs to get a quarterback and will not let Tannehill slip past them.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe (DT) Memphis: Perhaps the most meteoric rise in draft stock belongs to Poe. Once
considered a mid-to-late second-round pick, the massive DT has launched himself into the early first-round due to his Haloti Ngata-like numbers at the
combine. It is very rare to see a 340+ pounder run a sub-5 forty-yard dash and Poe did just that. Has the size and speed to eat up blockers
in the middle of any O-line, freeing up space for guys like Jon Beason to run wild and make plays.
10. Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram (DE) South Carolina: Ingram is another player seeing his draft stock rise recently given his
athleticism. Buffalo needs more playmakers on defense and Ingram is someone who can make plays both against the pass and against the run in
either a 3-4 or a 4-3, which are both used in the Bills' defense.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff (OT) Iowa: The Chiefs were decimated by injuries last season (Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki, and Jamaal
Charles all on IR by week 2) and are expecting to bounce back nicely in 2012. The Chiefs haven't had a dominant O-line since the days of Willie
Roaf and Reiff is capable of starting in week 1 of the 2012 season. Adding stability to what was an anemic offense last season will only help the
young and talented Chiefs rebound in 2012.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuelchy (ILB) Boston College: No one has ever questioned Kuelchy's ability to make plays, for he made many of
them at Boston College, but people did question his athleticism. To put all the doubters to rest, Kuelchy impressed everyone during the combine
to clearly establish himself as the best ILB prospect by a wide margin. Seattle has acquired its offensive Quarterback of the future in Matt
Flynn and will acquire its defensive Quarterback in Kuelchy here. A great pick.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro (OG) Stanford: DeCastro is a no-nonsense player who will rarely show up on the highlight reels, but
he is a solid player who can contribute week 1 and the Cardinals need to keep Kevin Kolb upright next season to give him a chance to be successful as a
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB) Alabama: All he did at Alabama was make plays. At nearly 6-foot-3, he is bigger than most
of his opposition and displayed the necessary ball skills to be a starter week 1. The cowboys were dreadful against the pass and Kirkpatrick has
the ability to take away half the field. Also, he can contribute against the run better than most cornerbacks.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers (DT) LSU: The Eagles tried to build a defense from the outside last season and it did not click
until very late in the year. Brockers gives the Eagles a much-needed presence inside that doesn't just say "run the ball this way."
16. New York Jets: Michael Floyd (WR) Notre Dame: The Jets seem to be an unstable franchise given the turmoil they've created at the
quarterback position bringing Tim Tebow into the fold. Regardless of whether it's Sanchez or Tebow throwing the ball, Floyd is a good candidate
to catch the ball. Has ideal speed and size to separate from opposing defensive backs and has played in a pro-style offense at Notre Dame.
17. Cincinnati Bengals:Janoris Jenkins (CB) Northern Alabama: Stop me when you've heard this before, "The Bengals have some
character issues in the locker room." Well, Jenkins' talent has never been questioned, but he was thrown off of a Florida team that had seen over
30 arrests during Urban Meyer's tenure. If that doesn't raise a red flag, I don't know what does. However, the Bengals have a solid locker
room now with Andy Dalton leading the way, and can afford to take a risk on a guy like Jenkins. The Bengals desperately need to fill the void
left by Jonathan Joseph last season.
18. San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn (OG) Georgia: The Chargers need to win this year in order to save head coach Norv Turner and GM A.J.
Smith, and the only way they will do that is to have a more balanced offense that does not need Philip Rivers throwing the ball 40+ times per
game. Glenn is one of the fiercest run blockers in the draft, and with the sudden retirement of Kris Dielman, the Chargers must fill that void to
give Ryan Matthews any chance to run for 1,000+ yards and provide that balance.
19. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Martin (OT) Stanford: Jay Cutler cannot keep taking the beating he has taken the past two years in
Chicago. Mike Tice's blocking scheme would fit Martin's skill set very nicely and Martin has experience blocking the blind side of a high profile
20. Tennessee Titans:Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB) Alabama: Upshaw is one of the few players in this draft that can sack the
quarterback without having the help of a blitz package behind him. The Titans pass rush was lacking after losing Jason Babin to Philadelphia in
free agency prior to the 2011 season.
21. Cincinnati Bengals:Kendall Wright (WR) Baylor: What's better than having AJ Green on the outside stretching the field?
Having another player just like him on the other side doing the same thing. Dalton, Green, and Wright would be one of the best (if not the best)
young nucleuses of an offense in the entire NFL.
22. Cleveland Browns:Stephen Hill (WR) Georgia Tech: One of the stars of the combine, Hill wowed everyone in attendance with his
4.36 forty-yard dash to go along with his nearly six-foot-four stature. Why is he going this late in the draft? Because, simply put, he did
not run enough routes at the triple-option based Georgia Tech. That does mean, however, that he can block. Picking Hill here justifies the
pick of Richardson over Blackmon earlier in the first round.
23. Detroit Lions:Stephon Gilmore (CB) South Carolina: The Lions need to improve its pass defense if they want to give their
impressive front-four the time it takes to consistently sack the quarterback. The transformation of the Lions under coach Jim Schwartz has been
extraordinary, but now Detroit has to maintain its high expectations and make the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The best way to do that would
be to shore up its pass defense so that the offense does not have to score 40 points per game.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower (ILB) Alabama: Pittsburgh had to cut ties with incumbent James Farrior in a salary cap move to
retain wide receiver Mike Wallace and his franchise tag. Hightower's experience in Nick Saban's 3-4 at Alabama will serve him nicely running this
pressure-based Pittsburgh defense under Dick Lebeau.
25. Denver Broncos:Fletcher Cox (DT) Mississippi State: Now as the odds-on favorite to win the AFC West after the acquisition of
Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos need to shore up the few holes that it has, one of them being in the interior of its defensive line. Cox was
playing in the opposition's backfield last season for Mississippi State and fits nicely into John Fox's scheme.
26. Houston Texans:Reuben Randle (WR) LSU: The Texans need some insurance for Andre Johnson and his ability to stretch the
field. Randle can do that with his speed, and can also help in special teams returning kicks, which is another area Houston needs help in.
27. New England Patriots:Lavonte David (OLB) Nebraska: Name an elite pass-rusher on the Patriots? That crickets sound your
hearing is about as ferocious as the New England pass rush last season. David can fly across the field and made plays going sideline to sideline
consistently for Nebraska and his skills should translate nicely to Bill Belichek's defense.
28. Green Bay Packers:Mark Barron (S) Alabama: Barron is the best safety on the board talent wise, but he is coming off of double
hernia surgery that prevented him from working out at the combine. The Packers need help defending the pass and generating a pass rush from
someone not named Clay Matthews, and Barron can help on both counts. He is also the best player still on the board, albeit an injury risk.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Nick Perry (OLB/DE) Southern Cal.: The Ravens need to improve the interior of its O-line but there is no one
of true value here and could be candidates to trade out of the first round into the early second round to secure someone like Peter Konz, but Perry's
pass rushing abilities opposite Terrell Suggs is almost too good to be true. Throw in the fact that the Ravens lost free agent Jarrett Johnson in free
agency to San Diego and Perry fits right in.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener (TE) Stanford: Fleener ran very well at the Stanford pro day (4.45 forty-yard dash) and is
very familiar with Jim Harbaugh's system. Consider Fleener and Vernon Davis the west coast equivalent of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in
New England. Throw in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on the outside and Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter out of the backfield and you have a scary
set of weapons for Alex Smith to work with (no more excuses).
31. New England Patriots: Devon Still (DT) Penn State: Lost in all of the turmoil surrounding Penn State last year was the
brilliant senior year of Devon Still. By far the team's MVP, Still dominated the trenches and showed constant ability to play in the opposition's
backfield. Can give the Patriots a much-needed boost to its run defense alongside Vince Wilfork in four-man fronts.
32. New York Giants: David Wilson (RB) Virginia Tech: This pick depends solely on what happens with Brandon Jacobs in free agency.
As it stands now, Jacobs is not a member of the super bowl champion Giants, but could return. If he does return, look for the Giants to go with
TE Dwayne Allen from Clemson, but if he does not return, Wilson is the pick as the best RB available.