2012 NFL Mock Draft: How Far Will Your Favorites Slide?
There are a million mock drafts out already, and the postseason isn't even over. Some of them are predictable, where every pick is obvious, and others are wild and crazy, predicting trade scenarios between three or more teams and the emergence of sleepers.
My mock draft has a little bit of both, and hopefully that will make it slightly more interesting than the millions you may have already read. I'll make a lot of assumptions, but hey, isn't that what a mock draft is all about?
The Indianapolis Colts Select... Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No brainer. Even if the Colts wanted to trade out of their pick to grab more picks to draft someone who, I don't know, plays defense, they couldn't.
If they didn't draft Luck and he became successful elsewhere, they would be in a lot of trouble for a long time after Peyton retires.
The St. Louis Rams Select... Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon is great. After watching him for a couple years, I can safely say that he is an amazing WR prospect. He's got strong hands, is as tough as they come and has good size for an NFL wide receiver.
His build-and-play style reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin, especially as they are both strong receivers with speed being their biggest drawback. He will do wonders for Sam Bradford's confidence/numbers.
The Minnesota Vikings Select... Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Loved at USC, it's going to be tough to see Matt Kalil leave and turn pro. But he's easily suited for the job of an NFL offensive lineman, with great size (6'7") and footwork for someone of his stature.
He always finishes his blocking assignments and is a great fit for a rebuilding Vikings franchise.
The Cleveland Browns Select... Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select... Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina
Alshon Jeffrey is a big guy who can make tacklers pay. At 6'4", 229 lbs, he isn't the fastest wide receiver, but he does have deceptively long strides. He doesn't break out of his routes that well, but that can be taught at the next level.
What he does have is incredible hands, and that will come in handy on 3rd-and-long, when Josh Freeman is facing a blitz.
The Washington Redskins Select... Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
RG3 falls right into the Redskins' lap. They need a quarterback, and Griffin is the best place to start.
Undoubtedly talented, the Heisman winning QB will rejuvenate the horrendous 'Skins offense and make Chris Cooley and Santana Moss relevant again. Count on it.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Select... Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Andrew Luck didn't throw for all those touchdowns behind a garbage offensive line. He had arguably two of college football's best blocking for him, and Martin is one of them.
A 6'6" tackle, Martin will come in and improve the Jaguars offense right away. The Jags would've liked Alshon to slip to them, but they'll have to go with the next best thing on offense, and that is Martin.
The Carolina Panthers Select... Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
A stretch here, in my opinion, obviously because Jacksonville could have taken him a pick earlier. But the Panthers will reach and select Michael Floyd, a great WR prospect, but someone that they probably could've gotten later.
Floyd has excellent strength at 6'3" and will be Steve Smith's Robin. Cam Newton will appreciate the addition of another deadly receiver to the Panthers corps.
The Miami Dolphins Select... Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Claiborne is hands-down the best corner in the draft. He played opposite LSU-stud Patrick Peterson last year, and opposite fan-favorite Tyrann Matheiu this year; through everything, he continued to impress.
He is a good tackler and excellent in different types of coverage. The Dolphins would love to add him to their roster to bolster the league's 25th-ranked pass defense. A steal at the ninth pick.
The Buffalo Bills Select... Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The Bills' years of futile drafts seemed to end a couple of years ago with CJ Spiller. Then they took Torell Troup.
With this pick of Courtney Upshaw, who has worlds of potential, the Bills will reunite him with Marcell Dareus, who also played with Upshaw at Alabama, and hopefully force their way into the ranks as one of the NFL's elite defenses. Hopefully.
The Kansas City Chiefs Select... Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Iowa tackle Riley Reiff found himself shooting up draft boards midseason, due to his gritty, hard play. He has above-average footwork and the wingspan needed to be successful in the NFL.
The Chiefs would love to add Reiff to their talented, yet injury-prone roster. Hopefully he can provide some stability to the franchise that seemed to be headed upwards before this year.
The Seattle Seahawks Select... Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
If you've heard of Luke Kuechly (which most people have), you know that he is a tackling machine, and a force to be reckoned with. He will definitely bring stability and consistency to the Seahawks at linebacker, something they haven't had since Lofa Tatupu was in his prime.
Kuechly is a smart player who makes good reads prior to making a decision.
The Arizona Cardinals Select... Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Melvin Ingram will be in the nightmares of NFL quarterbacks for years to come. One of my favorite players in the draft, Ingram possesses a rare blend of size and speed at the position. He is fast enough to come off the edge and get to the quarterback, and he is strong enough to shed double-teams and wreak havoc during run plays.
The Cardinals will be fortunate to draft him, as they attempt to fix their 21st-ranked run defense.
The Dallas Cowboys Select... Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The second Alabama defender to be taken so far, Kirkpatrick is a blessing for the Cowboys. Their defense ranked 23rd in the league against the pass, and it's obvious that Terrence Newman is not what he once was.
They are extremely thin at cornerback, and Kirkpatrick is an enormous upgrade. He provides size and playmaking skills at the position, as well as being an above-average tackler.
The Philadelphia Eagles Select... Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Things just keep getting better for these NFC East teams! The Eagles land a stud at a position they need to shore up. If you've heard of Burfict, you'll know that he's a loose cannon, but a damn good football player.
His talent at the linebacker position is unquestioned, but can he channel all that anger into becoming the next Ray Lewis? Or better? The Eagles are counting on it.
The New York Jets Select... David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Usually, we tend to expect big things from the Jets offensive line, considering they have perennial Pro Bowlers in Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They were'nt that great this year though, and that will lead to their drafting of DeCastro.
An excellent run-blocker, DeCastro can step in right away and contribute. He will help to improve the league's 22nd-ranked rushing attack.
The Cincinnati Bengals Select... Nick Perry, DE, USC
Nick Perry is another player that started shooting up draft boards late in the season. The Pac-12's leader in sacks, Perry was frequently found in the opposing team's backfield and has the tools to continue to do so in the NFL.
The league's surprise team of 2011, the Bengals, would love to add another end to their established D-Line, and hopefully Perry can open up some holes for his former teammate at USC, Rey Maualuga.
The San Diego Chargers Select... Devon Still, DT, Penn State
At 6'4", 310 lbs, Devon Still is an ideal player at the point of attack. He is extremely strong and athletic, and his length and frame allow him to shed blocks easily.
His presence on the Chargers will usher in a new era dominance at DT, something that the Chargers haven't seen since Jamal Williams centered their defensive line.
The Chicago Bears Select... Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The third Alabama defender to go off the board, Mark Barron is head and shoulders above the other safeties in this draft class. His athleticism and size are what take him over the top, as well as his above-average instincts and ability in zone coverage.
The Bears would be absolutely blessed to have him, as he can start right away and work on fixing the NFL's 28th-ranked pass defense.
The Tennessee Titans Select... Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Dennard and current Giants CB Prince Amukamara made life extremely difficult for quarterbacks in 2010. In 2011, Dennard lost Amukamara, but continued to play at a high level. Although he is slightly undersized at 5'10", he plays very physical football, making sure to bump receivers at the line, and is a consistent tackler.
The Titans will draft him with the hopes of having a solid cornerback rotation of Dennard, Cortland Finnegan and Jason McCourty.
The Cincinnati Bengals Select... Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Recently, North Carolina has been churning out studs in their front seven, and Zach Brown is no exception. His speed and athleticism are the main reason why he is so dangerous, and why he tallied 91 tackles this year, including 11.5 tackles for a loss.
The Bengals use their second pick to continue to bolster their defense, and Brown is a good way to go.
TRADE ALERT: Browns Trade the 22nd Overall Pick to the Rams
The first trade of the draft. Cleveland will trade this pick for Brandon Lloyd, the Rams' first-round pick next year and their fifth-round pick this year. This way, Cleveland gets a target for Colt McCoy and a few picks, and the Rams move up to select Quinton Coples, DE from North Carolina.
Coples was much higher on everyone's draft board at the beginning of the year, but slipped a little bit due to questions about his positioning. He can play both end and tackle, and has the strength and size to bully offensive linemen. The Rams will look to team him up with emerging DE Chris Long.
The Detroit Lions Select... Donta Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The FOURTH Alabama defender to go in the first round, and the fifth Crimson Tide player overall, Donta Hightower wowed in the BCS National Championship Game, captaining the Crimson Tide defense to a shutout win over LSU.
He is a great sideline-to-sideline tackler and a well-rounded linebacker who can also get to the quarterback. He should help improve the Lions porous run defense, which ranked 23rd in the league.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Select... Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Jerel Worthy has worlds of potential. He is an anchor in the defensive line and uses his strength effectively to shed blocks and be a factor in both run-stopping and the pass rush. He still hasn't reached his ceiling, which is good news for the Steelers.
Injuries to their defensive line hampered them all season (including the playoffs), and Worthy will bring some young talent to the position.
The Denver Broncos Select... Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
If Tebow is the long-term answer in Denver (which some people believe he is), they are going to need to surround him with some more weapons offensively. Demaryius Thomas showed flashes of brilliance late this season, but Kendall Wright would be an excellent choice for the Broncos here.
Gifted with speed and good hands, Wright will give the Broncos another threat in the vertical passing game. Wright can also go over the middle and get those tough balls, something that was missing in the Denver passing game this year.
The Houston Texans Select... Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
It was an absolute travesty that no one on the Texans O-line made the Pro Bowl after such a great year. Their defense is astounding though, so no changes there. What they're going to do is to add depth to their O-line by drafting Glenn, the senior from Georgia.
He can play both left guard and left tackle, which is an added bonus. His 6'5" frame allows him to bully defenders in the downhill run game, and his feet are quick enough to allow him to pull for screens and slants. The Texans grab a late gem here.
TRADE ALERT: Patriots Trade the 27th Overall Pick to the Eagles
Surprise, surprise. It's no secret that Billy B likes to trade out of the first round. In this scenario, the Patriots trade their first-round pick for Eagles WR DeSean Jackson and a conditional 2013 pick. The Eagles use their second first-round selection to choose Fletcher Cox, DT from Mississippi State.
Cox will help to anchor the Eagles D-line and create more room for Vontaze Burfict to roam around. Cox will also help to take some pressure off of DE Jason Babin, who had a great year for the Eagles and is constantly double-teamed.
TRADE ALERT: Packers Trade the 28th Overall Pick to the Bears
Back-to-back trades late in the first round! The Packers trade this pick to their division rival Chicago Bears for the Bears' first-rounder next year, as well as the Bears' fourth-rounder this year.
The Bears then use this pick to select Peter Konz, C from Wisconsin. Konz is a huge reason why Montee Ball and Russell Wilson had the seasons that they did. Konz will help improve a Chicago O-line that got better as the year progressed, but is still pedestrian.
The San Francisco 49ers Select... Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
One might ask, "With Joe Staley, why would the Niners take another tackle?" Well, Sanders can play both right tackle and left tackle equally well. If anything were to happen to Joe Staley, they know Sanders can step in a play immediately and be effective.
Also, it never hurts to add a lineman who is adept at throwing blocks on the move. Good choice by San Fran.
The New England Patriots Select... Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Devin McCourty didn't have the kind of season we expected after his rookie season brilliance. Word around town is, the Patriots don't have a good pass defense (who knew?), so they'll try to shore it up by drafting Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore, who is excellent in zone coverage, will fit right into the Patriots "bend-but-don't-break" defensive system, especially as an above-average tackler. He is a very tenacious and versatile player, so he'll fit right in with the rest of the team.
The Baltimore Ravens Select... Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
I'm sorry, Ravens fans, if you wanted to snag Vontaze Burfict. But if you want future talent and speed on your D-line, Branch is your man. His explosiveness is incredible, and he could be in the backfield as soon as the ball is snapped.
If he can get a little bit stronger, the Ravens can possibly use him as the OLB opposite Terrell Suggs, and cause matchup nightmares for offensive coordinators.
The New York Giants Select... Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
If you've heard of Janoris Jenkins, you know the story. Drug-related incidents got him kicked off the team at Florida, and now he's at North Alabama. What you might have forgotten, is that he is still talented as hell. His ball-hawking skills are amazing, and coupled with his smooth hip turns and excellent acceleration, Jenkins is an extremely talented player.
If he can get his character issues in check, he will be a great player. The Giants would love to add him to their secondary, so they can get rid of Aaron Ross and form a devastating CB rotation with Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara.
Questions, Comments, Concerns, Complaints?
So how did your team fare in the draft? Anything you would change? Did your favorite college ball players slip too far? Let me know in the comments!