Regardless of your personal opinion of Mel Kiper Jr., no player in the draft game has as big a following as ESPN's resident expert. A three-decade student of the NFL draft, Kiper's mock drafts get noticed, read and dissected more than any other draftnik.
Kiper released his second mock draft of the 2012 draft season last week, so we're doing our due diligence to break down every nook and cranny of Kiper's mock 2.0.
In this installment, we'll take a look at the teams who found the best value in the first round of Kiper's latest mock draft.
Picks: CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama), G David DeCastro (Stanford)
It's hard to envision the draft shaking out any better for the Bengals than what Kiper has in Round 1. Not only does Cincinnati address its need at cornerback with Kirkpatrick at No. 17, it also gets the run-paving guard in DeCastro four picks later. Many consider Kirkpatrick as the second-best corner behind Morris Claiborne, and DeCastro is hands down the top guard.
The Bengals front office would be doing Jerome Simpson front flips in unison if the first round fell this way.
Pick: OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)
The Bills are transitioning back into the 4-3 defense under Dave Wannstedt, which means they need to find a defensive end that can cause havoc off the edge. Insert Upshaw, a player who could get close to replicating what Von Miller brought the Broncos in 2011, and the Bills are one step closer to competing in the AFC East. Finding an impact pass-rusher at the back end of the top 10 would be a great find for the Bills.
Picks: QB Robert Griffin (Baylor), WR Kendall Wright (Baylor)
Getting Griffin at No. 4 is value enough for the entire Browns' draft. But adding Wright, Griffin's teammate at Baylor, at No. 22 would complete an offensive face lift in Cleveland that has been a long time coming.
This is a team that needs playmakers and needs them now to step the next step. Griffin and Wright are two of the draft's most electric players, which makes bringing a taste of Waco, TX to Cleveland a no-brainer draft recipe.
Pick: CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama)
A year ago, the vast majority of draftniks considered Jenkins a top-10 pick. Problems with the law and his subsequent transfer to North Alabama squashed that momentum, but he's back on the upwards climb. At No. 23, Jenkins could be a steal. He's ready to start from day one in an NFL defense, and the Lions need to add a starter to a secondary that collapsed down the stretch.
Pick: DT Devon Still (Penn State)
I really think the Broncos might consider a quarterback in Round 1 even after all the mania surrounding training camp starter Tim Tebow. But if they don't go that route, getting Still late in the first round would be a great value pick. He could be a disruptive force on the interior of a defensive line early in his NFL career, especially with talented pass-rushers in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil flanking him on both sides.
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