2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Entire First Round
Now onto the third version of my 2012 NFL Mock Draft. Some things haven't changed over the course of the last couple weeks, while others have.
Certain players that I had going in the first round in the first mock have indicated they are returning to school next season, so they will not be included in this version. Additionally, the bowl season gave us a great idea and understanding as to what players are going to be drafted early.
That said, postseason events such as the Senior Bowl will go a long way in determining the stock of some of the "best" players in the draft. I plan on attending that event, so there will be much more concrete mocks to follow in February.
With that, lets take a look my third version of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
Note: As promised in the previous version, I will include each team's second round pick today.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
It's pretty much a certainty the Colts are going to select Andrew Luck No. 1-overall in April. Various reports around the sports world have indicated this. It has also been indicated that they plan to go to a full-scale youth movement.
The larger issue here is who Andrew Luck will have playing beside him in 2012, but that is an entirely different article for another time.
2. St. Louis Rams
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
There have been a lot of skeptics questioning the idea of the Rams taking a wide receiver with the second-overall pick. While it is out of the ordinary, I just don't see St. Louis going in a different direction here.
There remains a possibility that a team like the Washington Redskins or Miami Dolphins trade up to this spot to grab Robert Griffin III, but I am not prepared to project trades in mock drafts.
The Rams get an unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Justin Blackmon, who will serve as a great go-to guy for Sam Bradford. He does need to work on getting off the line, but has tremendous hands and can stretch the field.
As you can see in video, Blackmon makes plays in coverage and isn't afraid to take on the defender in the middle of the field. Those were two things the Rams were missing on a consistent basis. Considering this team is drafting second overall, they do have a lot of holes. These can be addressed in the second and third rounds where there will be more value.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
Once again I flirted with the idea of going Morris Claiborne here. After all, the Vikings don't have anyone that can completely shut down opposing receivers like the LSU product can.
The reason I went with Kalil here is two-pronged. First, the Vikings need help protecting Christian Ponder's blind side as Charlie Johnson was absolutely horrendous this season. If a team spends a first-round pick on a quarterback, the next logical step is to get him a franchise tackle.
This is exactly what Matt Kalil is. He brings tremendous strength to the outside and has the ability to completely dominate opposing defensive ends: either speed or bull rushers. One issue Kalil will have to work on at the next level is footwork as you will see with this video.
4. Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Cleveland Browns simply cannot pass up on Robert Griffin III here. In my opinion it would be a devastating mistake that would set the franchise back years. Many pundits of this pick will conclude that Trent Richardson should be the obvious pick: I just don't see it that way.
This is an extremely deep running back class, which means the Browns could get someone in the next couple rounds. Players like Doug Martin, LaMichael James and Dan Herron should be available after the second round.
Look for the Browns' brass to look for a franchise-type player with the fourth-overall pick and this is exactly what Griffin III is. He can make every throw on the field, is composed in the pocket and reads defenses extremely well. We all know the talent is there in regards to the Heisman Trophy Award Winner, now it is up to the Browns to put it all together.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I fully understand that the Buccaneers have a bunch of different holes to fill on their roster. After all, you don't lose as many games in a row as they did without being stricken of the necessary talent to win.
While Morris Claiborne popped into my head once again, the Buccaneers could get first-round value at that position in the second round. Trent Richardson is head and shoulder above other running backs in this draft and would give Josh Freeman the running game that is necessary for the underachieving quarterback to succeed.
Richardson is an all-around back. He hits the hole extremely quickly, has tremendous vision and is hard to bring down after initial contact. The Alabama running back also has a surprising burst after hitting the hole.
With Richardson and LeGarrette Blound, the Buccaneers would have a great 1-2 punch in the backfield.
6. Washington Redskins
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Redskins will definitely look to trade up with the Rams to acquire the services of Robert Griffin III, but short of that they are in a sticky spot here. They can't logically justify spending the sixth overall pick on a quarterback like Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill. Additionally, Trent Richardson is off the board.
I also don't see the Redskins going defense with their first-round pick when there are so many holes on the other side of the ball. This leads me to believe they will take the next-best skill position player in Michael Floyd.
The Notre Dame standout makes grown men look like little children on the outside. His physical ability is awe-inspiring and reminds me a great deal of Calvin Johnson. He can climb the ladder and has soft hands. One of the best parts of Floyd's game is that he already runs pro-ready routes, which will limit his transition to the next level.
If the first five picks play out like I suspect, there is no reason why the Redskins should pass up on Floyd unless they can find a trade partner lower in the first round or trade up for Griffin III.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Jacksonville Jaguars get tremendous value here at a position of need. Rashean Mathis has been injury-plagued over the last couple seasons and is set to be a free agent. In all likelyhood, he will not be back next season.
This means Jacksonville will need to find a true No. 1 corner. Morris Claiborne has the ability to completely shut down opposing receivers. He is athletic on the outside and has fluid hips. One of the best parts of his game is the fact that he plays well in all defensive schemes: zone, bump and run as well as press.
While Jacksonville could look at Alshon Jeffery here, I fully expect them to go with value and need with the seventh-overall pick, Claiborne gives them that.
Note: The recent hiring of Mike Mularkey may change this pick in the future to offense.
8. Carolina Panthers
Devon Still, DL, Penn State
The Carolina Panthers need all the help the can get along the front seven of their defense. Opposing offenses were running at will against them as the 2011 season unfolded.
This is where Devon Still comes into play. While he might be somewhat of a reach in the top 10, the Penn State standout is extremely strong against the run and gets a great amount of penetration in the offensive backfield. He takes up double teams in order to be neutralized which will help strong Carolina linebackers (if they return healthy) in the run game.
9. Miami Dolphins
Johnathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With all the top-tier skill position players gone here, I fully expect the Miami Dolphins to take a look at one of the two Stanford offensive linemen. Although they do have Jake Long manning one end, Johnathan Martin would give the Dolphins the best pair of bookend tackles in the league.
This will also make their quarterback's job, whoever it might be, much easier as he will have a lot of time to find open receivers.
It isn't like Miami is void of skill on offense. They have a nice 1-2 punch at running back with Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush as well as a premier No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall. While it is imperative that Miami does get a quarterback, none of the second-tier signal callers make sense here. Expect them to go offensive line.
10. Buffalo Bills
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
I can hear the grumblings of Buffalo Bills fans clear across the United States with this pick and I fully understand that. It really isn't a “sexy” selection to say the least.
Why not go defense? Great question. After all, there are some really good front-seven options here. Let me explain for a second. The defensive line and linebacker positions are loaded in this draft, which means Buffalo can get great value in the second and third round. David DeCastro is an absolute beast and probably one of the best interior linemen to enter the NFL over the last two decades.
He is so far above anyone else in terms of value here, that it is impossible for Buffalo to look in another direction. The Stanford star can open up gaping lanes up the middle for Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. He also is one of the best pulling guards that I have seen in a great while, which means he can help Spiller get to the outside.
Yet, what makes DeCastro so good is that he is a multi-faceted guard. This means he is just as good in pass protection as he is in run blocking. While Buffalo gave up the fewest sacks in the league last season, he would just add another punch to the offensive front: making them damn near unstoppable between the tackles.
Defense wins, but the Bills can go that direction later in the 2012 NFL Draft.
11. Seattle Seahawks
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
I was definitely looking for an offensive upgrade here for the Seattle Seahawks, but couldn't find one that would be worth their while. The performance of Doug Baldwin this season really gave them a boost and enables them to avoid the tricky wide receiver position in this draft.
So, I go defense: front seven specifically.
While Dre' Kirkpatrick would seem like a fit, Seattle has talent at the corner position. This means they wouldn't get value or need there.
Quinton Coples would give the 'Hawks a high upside defensive end that can get to the quarterback and has been solid against the run. Talent wise, Coples may have the highest ceiling of any defensive player in the draft, but he also has that “bust” factor. Seattle, with the amount of young talent that they have acquired, can afford to take that high risk/high reward pick here.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
David Purdy/Getty Images
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The trio of Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks faced a tremendous amount of pressure this season. It was so bad they have to gameplan around a weak offensive line. I am pretty sure that this organization is looking for David DeCastro to fall to 12, but I wouldn't be too confident that is going to happen.
Riley Reiff may not have a tremendous ceiling, but he already has a pro-ready game. The Iowa standout continually performed at an exceptionally-high level during his college career and could slide in immediately opposite Brandon Albert at tackle.
It is just a solid pick to enhance the talent of a weak unit, nothing more.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina
Like Kansas City, Arizona would have loved to see DeCastro fall here. Instead, they will look at the pass rush shortfall we saw this season. The Cardinals defense maintained an extremely solid level of play throughout the last half of the season and boasts a myriad of different up-and-coming stars, such as Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson.
Adding Melvin Ingram to the mix would be great. He is what some would call a tweener. Too short to play defensive and, but not bulky enough to play defensive tackle. This means that outside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme fits him the best.
A solid pick at a need position here.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dre' Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
My last mock had the Cowboys selecting Janoris Jenkins here, but that was before I projected Dre' Kirkpatrick to fall to 14. While the dropoff between Morris Claiborne and Kirkpatrick may be steep, the Alabama corner does boast a great amount of talent.
What I like most about Kirkpatrick is how he plays bump and run coverage. He is continually throwing receivers off their routes early and isn't afraid to stick his nose in there. These are two things the Cowboys' secondary has missed over the last few seasons.
Kirkpatrick isn't nearly as strong in man coverage, which could be an issue moving forward. His hips are stiff and he gets turned around far too often. That said, playing in the SEC will help his transition to the pros, which should enable the Cowboys to utilize him immediately.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The Philadelphia Eagles are in desperate need of someone that can tackle on a consistent basis. This was one of their major downfalls on defense this season.
Luke Kuechly is the surest tackler in the 2012 NFL Draft and is by far the best inside linebacker prospect. While I am not ready to give up on Casey Matthews, the Eagles 4-3 defense forces them to find two solid inside linebackers.
Here they get a player that will step in immediately and roam the middle. He has great field awareness and sheds blocks extremely well. The one issue that you will see in regard to Kuechly's game is the fact that he doesn't penetrate the offensive backfield too much, but that isn't what the Eagles are looking for with this selection.
16. New York Jets
Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
The New York Jets need some youthful exuberance on the defensive side of the ball, it really is that simple as they looked old multiple times this season. This is a defense that has also gotten away with having limited pressure put on the quarterback.
Courtney Upshaw is the best 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft and translates well to what the Jets like to do on defense. He is extremely fast on the outside, sheds blocks well and gets to the quarterback. What makes Upshaw such a great prospect is his multi-dimensional game. He is good running down backs out of the backfield and above average in coverage.
A really good value pick at a need position here.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (F)
Lamar Miller's draft stock is quickly rising in my book and before you know it this wont seem like much of a reach. He is extremely good between the hashes and has that added burst that is looked for at this next level.
The Bengals have a major need for a young running back. They have four key components on offense at quarterback, wide receiver and along the offensive line. This is the only area on offense that needs addressing at this point.
In Lamar Miller they get a running back that projects to be a bell-cow at the next level. He will complement their passing game extremely well and have immediate impact behind their solid offensive line.
18. San Diego Chargers
Jeff Golden/Getty Images
Nick Perry, LB, Southern California
I thought about going wide receiver here, but the Chargers get much better value here at outside linebacker. Shaun Phillips isn't getting any younger and San Diego had some issues getting to the quarterback.
With the return of Norv Turner, expect the Chargers to make a pick that will help them contend in 2012. They get that in Nick Perry, who is already a pro-ready rush backer.
19. Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Simply put, the Chicago Bears desperately need some help on the outside. No one on their receiving corps is prepared to take over as the No. 1 receiver that Jay Cutler needs moving forward.
While Alshon Jeffery might be a little bit raw and could take a while to get acclimated to the NFL, he is as talented as they come. Extremely good off the snap, doesn't get stuck in bump/run coverage and has soft hands.
This is exactly the type of receiver the Chicago Bears need.
20. Tennessee Titans
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Alfonzo Dennard struggled in his last game against Alshon Jeffery. This may drop his draft stock a bit, but it doesn't mean he doesn't have the necessary talent to be a top-tier corner at the next level.
I love the way he plays the ball in the air and how he is able to stunt receivers routes in mid-stream. His coverage skills are second-best in this draft behind Morris Claiborne.
With the impending free agent loss of Cortland Finnegan and no solid replacements on the roster, Tennessee needs to get a young corner in there to go up against the likes of Andre Johnson in the AFC.
Dennard may be a need pick, but he also gives the Titans value at 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Cincinnati is in an intriguing position here. They have filled all the key offensive skill position holes after acquiring Lamar Miller earlier in the first round.
So, do they go best player available or for need?
One thing is for sure, it will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Mark Barron might not give them the greatest value, but he fills a tremendous need in the defensive secondary. He is an extremely hard hitter, who has surprising coverage skills. In this, the Bengals will get someone with the ability to go over the top in coverage or hit the box to stuff the run.
22. Cleveland Browns
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Many people have concluded that Zach Brown fits best as a 4-3 inside linebacker, but I personally believe his speed and athleticism translates best to the outside in a 3-4 scheme. With Jabaal Sheard and other youngsters on defense, Brown will help give this team a nice nucleus on the defensive side of the ball.
In previous mocks I went with Ryan Tannehill and Dwayne Allen with the Browns second first-round pick, but have since changed my stance.
While the Browns still need a lot of help on the offensive side of the ball, they fill a need here and get extremely good value in the 20s.
23. Detroit Lions
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Peter Konz is head and shoulder better than every other center in a strong draft class and he fits an important need for the Detroit Lions. While they could go cornerback here, I just don't see much value in that.
Detroit needs to get more talent on the offensive side of the ball, Konz brings that. He is one of the better pulling centers that I have seen enter the draft in a while: right up there with Maurkice Pouncey. This will help the Lions open up some good holes in their running game.
They can go corner in the second round and get value there.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Ben Roethlisberger being injured during the second half of the season did hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we must face reality: their offensive line, outside of Maurkice Pouncey, just doesn't have a lot of talent.
Mike Adams can step in immediately and give them that “elite” status offensive tackle on the outside. He is extremely strong at the point of contact, throwing opposing pass rushers off their move early. While Adams might struggle against speed rushers early in his career, his technique will enable that to be fixed.
Look for this to be a really solid addition to a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line that needs some new blood.
25. Denver Broncos
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Despite playing really well this season as a unit, the Denver Broncos need to get that young play maker in their defensive secondary.
Champ Bailey isn't going to be around forever and they really have no one to fill his shoes at corner. Stephon Gilmore has ideal size and ability to be a true No. 1 corner in the NFL. At 6'1" he has the size to cover larger receivers.
Not only that, the South Carolina prospect has the ability to jam receivers at the line, throwing them off their routes. With the Broncos pass rushing ability, this will magnify the struggles of opposing offenses against this unit.
Great value at a need position.
26. New York Giants
Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
Whether the Iowa State monster translates better inside or outside is a little bit off point right now. The New York Giants need youngsters along the offensive line to rebuild the unit moving forward.
While I do like Osemele better on the outside, New York could easily move him inside if need be. This could be somewhat of a project pick. However, I think they will go with a high ceiling over the possibility of grabbing a player that will be good, not great.
27. Houston Texans
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Kendall Wright was an option here, but I think the Texans are going to attempt to get that next tackle for their newly-installed 3-4 defense.
As you will see with this video, Poe is a physical specimen unlike what we have seen come down the pike in an incredibly long time. He has the ability to not only take on double teams, but beat them to the point of contact and throw them in the offensive backfield.
Don't be too worried about him playing in a small conference, this Memphis player is a true tiger. He will undoubtedly help the Texans young pass rushers acquire even more pressure on the quarterback.
28. New England Patriots
Whitney Mercilus, DE/LB, Illinois
This is the type of player that the New England Patriots desperately need on the defensive side of the ball. Mercilus can play with his hands down on certain passing 4-3 situations and move to the outside when the Patriots go to their 3-4 base.
He reminds me a great deal of Aldon Smith, who starred for the 49ers in his rookie season. Whitney Mercilus will be an absolute stud in the NFL.
Great value at a need position in the late 20s.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
Ray Lewis has lost a step and is probably a year or two away from retirement. Bringing a player like Vontaze Burfict in right now makes perfect sense. He can learn the nuances of the NFL behind Lewis for a year or two and then take over shortly thereafter.
With all the shortcomings I see in his game, Burfict couldn't have a better teacher than a future Hall of Fame linebacker. Lewis will be able to teach him to read schemes better and drop back into coverage: two things Burfict is currently lacking.
He is a high-ceiling player that could turn out to be a real steal moving forward. The "bust" factor that I had indicated was possible in regard to Burfict may go away if he is selected by Baltimore.
30. Green Bay Packers
Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska
Why not add more beef to a really strong front seven? This is what the Packers are going to be telling themselves come draft time. While they could look at corner or linebacker here, I see Green Bay going with the best player available. I currently have Crick on my big board in the 20s.
He can play both inside and outside depending on the particular defensive scheme. This Nebraska standout reminds me a great deal of Justin Smith, which is a type of player I know the defending Super Bowl Champions covet.
31. New England Patriots
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
With all the talk about the Patriots needing help on defense, which is true, they also need a receiver that can stretch the field.
Kendall Wright gives this offense another weapon on the outside. He runs damn good routes, has soft hands and can stretch the field.
Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco aren't getting younger. Wes Welker has outperformed all previously set expectations as well. However, it is hard to imagine the Patriots passing up a talent like Wright should he be here.
They can continue the defensive trend with their two second-round picks.
32. San Francisco 49ers
Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama
There is no doubt in my mind Janoris Jenkins would have been a top-10 pick if it weren't for his off-field issues and subsequent dismissal from the University of Florida.
This dude has all the necessary skills to be a dominating corner at the next level. He maintains balance on the outside, can bump at the line, has great instincts and has that swagger you look for in a corner.
While San Francisco did get a coup with the likes of Chris Culliver in the third round last season, making corner not a necessary need, they have the ability to go best-player-available with this pick. Jenkins is by far the best player on their board at 30.
Not only that, he gives them a young return man. If character is a concern, it shouldn't be. San Francisco has an extremely strong foundation led by Jim Harbaugh and veterans on defense; Jenkins will be in good hands.
Full Second Round
33. Indianapolis Colts, DL Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
Jerel Worthy slips in my recent mock, but the Indianapolis Colts could use his bulk up the middle in an attempt to rebuild a weak defense.
34. St. Louis Rams, RB Chris Polk, Washington
Stephen Jackson is still running hard, but there is no telling when he is going to hit that wall that all running backs hit in their late 20s. Polk can be a a featured back in the NFL, expect the Rams to go here.
35. Minnesota Vikings, CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
Antoine Winfield saw his game drop off a great deal in 2011, the Vikings needs to address this position with a youngster. Jayron Hosley gives them value at a need position.
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
Aqib Talib's run-in with the law may prevent him from playing in 2012. Even if the Buccaneers No. 1 corner is able to get on the field, they need an upgrade at the No. 2 corner position. Fleming brings them experience and ability in the second round here.
37. Cleveland Browns, TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson
Robert Griffin III gets an all-around receiving threat here in Dwayne Allen. The former Clemson tight end will come in and immediately become a solid safety valve between the hashes.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars, G Cordy Glenn, Georgia
Jacksonville has some nice, young offensive linemen led by Euguene Monroe. However, it is going o be hard to pass up on the value they get here in Glenn. He will only help open up larger holes for Maurice Jones-Drew.
39. Washington Redskins, QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Missing the Senior Bowl due to injury is really going to hurt Tannehill's draft stock, especially with the Skin's coaches leading the North. Nonetheless, he does have ample time to prove he is the third-best quarterback in the draft. Washington goes with enormous upside here.
40. Miami Dolphins, QB Nick Foles, Arizona
Ryan Tannehill and Nick Foles are 3A and 3B in my book. Miami gets their man in the Arizona signal caller. His ceiling is incredibly high and he could actually come in and start sooner rather than later.
41. Buffalo Bills, LB LaVonte David, Nebraska
I didn't address the Bills defense in the first round, so I go with the best available player at a need position. David possesses all the athletic ability that is needed to be a standout inside linebacker in their 4-3 scheme. It helps solidify their front seven.
42. Carolina Panthers, LB Donta' Hightower, Alabama
They address the defense again in the second round with a perfect fit for their 3-4 defense. Hightower will add a nice amount of athleticism to the front seven.
43.Seattle Seahawks, RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech
Marshawn Lynch might be going beast mode on us, but he isn't a spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination. They get extremely good value with a possible featured back in the second round.
44. Kansas City Chiefs, WR Mohamed Sano, Rutgers
Dwayne Bowe might be leaving via free agency. Even if he returns, they are going to need to get more weapons on the outside. Sano is a big target with soft hands.
45. Dallas Cowboys, S Markelle Martin, Oklahoma
The Boys' address their secondary with their first two picks after going corner in the first round. Martin was somewhat of a late bloomer, but he came on strong in 2011.
46. Philadelphia Eagles, WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina
We have absolutely no idea if DeSean Jackson is going to return to Philadelphia next season. They get a contingency plan here in Dwight Jones who will give Michael Vick a big target on the outside.
47. New York Jets, RB Doug Martin, Boise State
If Nick Foles was here, I could easily see the Jets going in that direction. Instead, I see them reaching for a running back that does have what it takes to make a consistent impact. Need, but not much value here.
48. New England Patriots, LB Vinny Curry, Marshall
Your secondary is only as good as your pass rush. Outside of Andre Carter the Patriots really don't have one. Get an elite pass rusher and it makes your secondary better, just ask the 49ers.
49. San Diego Chargers, WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin
I don't think we can be sold on the idea that Vincent Jackson will be in San Diego next season. If that is the case, they will need to get another wide receiver. Toon gives them that big-bodied target on the outside.
50. Chicago Bears, G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
Gabe Carimi missing the majority of his rookie season hurt this unit. Even with him onboard, it is nothing to write home about. All Zeitler did was open up holes for Montee Ball and protect Russell Wilson at Wisconsin. Great value pick at a need position. Also reunites him with his former Badger teammate.
51. Philadelphia Eagles, OT Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
A lot of the focus on Philadelphia's lackluster season was on their defense, but this unit continued to struggle. Adcock would give them a nice young tackle for the future.
52. Tennessee Titans, DL Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
It is important the Titans build a front seven that will be capable of stopping the two-headed monster in Houston. Fletcher Cox gives them a defensive lineman that can transition inside and outside. He will make an immediate impact. Somewhat of a steal considering he is 38 on my big board.
53. Cincinnati Bengals, DE/LB Andre Branch, Clemson
Now that the Bengals appear set on offense, they need to address the future of this front seven. Andre Branch is your prototypical 4-3 defensive end, giving them depth and talent moving forward.
54. Detroit Lions, CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia
The Virginia corner was slated as a first-round pick when the earliest mocks came out prior to the 2011 regular season, he slipped a bit over the course of this season. Still, the Lions need to address their secondary and he gives them some value at a need position.
55. Atlanta Falcons, OT Zebrie Sanders, Florida State
Sanders is an extremely-high-ceiling player that needs some seasoning. Sam Baker is just not getting it done at tackle. This is a win-win for the Falcons who gave up their first-round pick in the Julio Jones trade last season.
56. Pittsburgh Steelers, S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are not getting any younger. At some point the Steelers will have to address both safety positions. Here I have them going with a raw, but talented player. They will be able to ease him into the starting lineup, giving the Georgia star time at adapt to the next level.
57. Denver Broncos, WR Rueben Randle, Louisiana State
While Damaryius Thomas has come up big this postseason, Denver still needs to address their wide receiver position. In Randle, they get a player that can stretch the field and contribute immediately.
58. New York Giants, LB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
I am in the minority opinion that Lewis translates well as a 4-3 inside linebacker, which is exactly what the Giants need right now. Mark Herzlich may have a solid career ahead of him, but is a project right now.
59. Houston Texans, WR Jarius Wright, Arkansas
Wright would give the Texans a solid No. 2 receiver opposite Andre Johnson. I went with need and value here, which indicates Houston is pretty much set on defense at this point.
60. New Orleans Saints, DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
The Saints gave up five yards per rush this season and Aubrayo Franklin is set to become a free agent. They get a really nice interior lineman who I have rated No. 31 on my big board.
61. Baltimore Ravens, S Robert Lester, Alabama
Much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, this team is in need of a young safety. While it isn't assured Robert Lester will be coming out, I think it's going to happen.
62. San Francisco 49ers, LB Brandon Jenkins, Florida State
Despite the emergence of Aldon Smith as one of the best, young pass rushers in the league, San Francisco could use someone opposite him in their 3-4 scheme. Really good value pick here.
63. New England Patriots, S Antonio Allen, South Carolina
Defense, defense and more defense: this will be the name of the game for New England in April. Antonio Allen may see his stock rise during the Senior Bowl, which means he could be off the board. If not, the Patriots grab him quickly.
64. Green Bay Packers, CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia
I came close to going with LaMichael James here, who would give Green Bay just another added dimension on offense. Instead, they go with need in a player that continually surprises scouts with his exceptional coverage ability