2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the Entire First Round, Post-Scouting Combine

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the Entire First Round, Post-Scouting Combine
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With the NFL Scouting Combine out of the way, we can now get to the serious business of ignoring nearly everything leaked by any team over the weekend. There are tons of rumors out there right now and all I can say is: believe nothing.

Contrary to what Fox Mulder believed, the truth ain't out there. Yes, I just dated myself. Badly.

It's fashionable to bash the combine, but it does serve a purpose. Not only do the interviews and medical exams provide teams a close-up look at the players, but the drills themselves can help scouts decide how closely they need to look at the tape again.

Better- or worse-than-expected results can make you double-check yourself, but the game tape ultimately tells all.

So while there were winners and losers in Indianapolis, and the results do matter, don't expect any insanity in this mock. I didn't suddenly fall in love with a guy I had pegged for a fifth-rounder and make him the No. 5 pick.

On the other hand, I did get to a point where I couldn't ignore the second pick anymore and had to move the Rams out. After Robert Griffin III's performance on the field and at the podium, some team will jump to the second spot for him.

So for the first time this year, I've got a trade in the mock. The Mayans were right—it is the apocalypse.

 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB

No change at all here. Luck is still the top pick in the draft, barring a trade or some other sudden nuttiness. Nothing he did or didn't do at the combine changed anything, even if in someways Griffin's athleticism seems more tempting to fans.

Although, let's be honest, Luck's combine was pretty impressive even in relation to other top quarterbacks.

Luck has the style of quarterbacking the Colts would want and he'll be in Indianapolis once again in late April when he meets the media as their quarterback of the future.

Best Quote: Too bad he isn't athletic.

 

2. Cleveland Browns (from the St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB

I tend to avoid trades in mocks but this one is becoming such a no-brainer that I finally buckled. With Griffin's combine performance (even without throwing), there should be a feeding frenzy for this or the Minnesota pick right after. We know that, according to ESPN, the Rams have already have talks with Miami, Washington and the Browns for the pick. 

The Browns have the best ammunition with their two first-round picks and plenty of picks over the next few years. How sold on Colt McCoy are they? If ESPN is right and they are talking to the Rams, it doesn't look like they have that much confidence in him.

I've not only been impressed with Griffin's combine numbers, but the way he has carried himself in media sessions and in general. He's handled himself well, and I think proven he's no dummy.

It's impossible to know exactly how he did in team interviews but the interest in the pick says he did pretty well.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT

If I didn't have a trade at the previous pick, I'd have had the Rams taking Kalil and the Vikings fixing up their secondary with Morris Claiborne. It could still break that way, of course, but Kalil is too good, that offensive line too bad and the development of Ponder too critical to let a talent like the former USC tackle slide by.

Kalil had a great combine and solidified himself as a top-three pick. The only thing that could knock him out is some more trading or a very odd choice by the Vikings.

 

4. St. Louis Rams (from the Cleveland Browns): Justin Blackmon, WR  

Blackmon not running at the combine got a lot of press, but since he did do some drills, I'm not worried—yet. We'll see how fast he is at his pro day. I will also point out that having a hamstring injury that keeps you out of the 40, but not agility drills, is a bit dicey.

All that is my way of saying that there is a chance that the Rams head a completely different direction here (they have needs almost everywhere) and either finds a way to retain free agent Brandon Lloyd or pulls in another big-time receiver from the free-agent market.

Still, until that happens, they desperately need to upgrade quarterback Sam Bradford's targets. Could Kendall Wright or Malcolm Floyd slip in here instead? Perhaps. But Blackmon plays on film so I'm not ready to bump them past him yet.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB

I almost had Riley Reiff here as (and thanks to Twitter follower Frank Gervasi who reminded me of it)  Reiff would be a big help on this offensive line. That said, once the trade happened at the second spot, the domino tumbled and so did Claiborne from where I had him at No. 3 (Kalil originally going to the Rams at No. 2).

So Claiborne remains Tampa's pick from the last mock. As I said then, the corners need help here with Ronde Barber contemplating retirement in the near future and Aqib Talib a powder keg of poor decisions.

Claiborne would help support an up-and-coming front seven by making it that much more difficult to find an open receiver.

Tannehill is raw, but someone will reach for him.

 

6. Washington Redskins: Ryan Tannehill, QB 

I'm not a huge fan of this pick but if the Redskins fail to trade up, they will likely reach for the next best quarterback and that's Tannehill. He's better placed as a late first-round/second-round pick—top 10 is too high, but that never stops a team in need of a quarterback.

He's got the arm strength and the raw tools to succeed but he is a bit of a project who sometimes is impatient waiting for a play to develop and exposes his receivers to some big hits.

That said, Tannenhill is highly intelligent and a hard worker whose potential has not been reached yet and is familiar with a West Coast offense like the one the Redskins run. He can step in right away.

If you're going to reach a bit, Tannehill is a better guy to reach on than many others we've seen.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE  

I still like Coples here and feel that he did plenty in Indianapolis to justify the high pick. Of course, it's all perspective, but from what I saw, he had a very good combine.

As bad as that wide receiver corps in Jacksonville is, the Jags may not feel able to pass on Malcom Floyd or Kendall Wright so it's a direction I've considered since the first mock. I also see them pursuing several free agents that would free them up to make a pick like this.

 

8.  Miami Dolphins: Riley Reiff, OT

This pick, like so many of the others before it, bounced around a bit before I settled on the trade scenario we have here. Miami's offensive line needs help and at the risk of repeating myself forever, he and Mike Pouncey would form a good foundation for a line to protect the free-agent quarterback they snag.

Brockers' speed and versatility offsets his rawness.

 

9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT

Brockers remains a bit raw but his speed and size make him a very high-upside pick. He'll step into the middle of the line and help plug the run up, as well as get after the quarterback. He can play at several spots on the line and that versatility would help the Panthers out a lot.

The Panthers desperately need help along the defensive line. Brockers is a good start.

 

10.  Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE

Upshaw is another versatile player who would likely play linebacker, but could easily slide to defensive end in a pinch as well. He's got the speed to attack from the edge.

 

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Martin, OT

Kansas City's offensive line isn't as bad as its rep (Pro Football Focus ranked it 10th overall for 2011) but still struggles in pass protection and is weak at the tackles. Barry Richardson isn't good and Brandon Albert still struggles at times.

After protecting Andrew Luck's blind side at Stanford, Martin would be an immediate upgrade over either current tackle. You could slide Albert over to the right side or start Martin there instead—the fact is no matter where you put him, he's better than what they have. He won't falter in pass blocking and is a very good run blocker as well.

 

12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, OLB

Ingram is a versatile linebacker who can not only play immediately at the outside linebacker position, but he could also play any spot along the defensive line. He possess the speed to come off the outside edge and would be a huge help to this defense from the first snap.

In a division which has two teams with real problems keeping their quarterbacks upright (I'm looking at you, Arizona and St. Louis), Ingram could be a real difference-maker in critical divisional games.

Depending on what happens with Marshawn Lynch (and it's looking a little grim right now), it's entirely possible the Seahawks make a play for Trent Richardson if he's on the board, as he is here.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG

The Cardinals would much rather have Martin drop to them like in my last mock, but it was not to be. Still, they need to improve the offensive line and they might be better off with DeCastro. Their guards are average, while DeCastro is an elite talent.

Not only is he outstanding in pass protection but he was whom the Cardinal ran behind nine out of 10 plays. The Cardinals need to improve their run game—DeCastro would be a guy who could step in and do that right away.

A battle between two first round picks: Jenkins vs Jeffery

 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB

Pre-combine, I had Alfonzo Dennard in this spot, but his combine was ordinary and I was hearing even before Indy that makes me think he's slipped quite a bit. The Cowboys do need to improve their secondary and while Jenkins has some character issues, he's the most talented cornerback on the board by far and the Cowboys don't shy away from troubled players.

There has been some noise by Jerry Jones that the team is more interested in a pass-rusher in the draft but I take everything I hear from teams—especially things said publicly and on the record—with a massive block of salt. Not because I'm some genius psychic but because it's "lying season" and you can't believe even 40 percent of what you hear.

Some of the other corners who performed well might sneak up into this area and bounce Jenkins out. It all depends on how he did convincing teams that his bad beats are all in the past.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB

Kuechly is something the Eagles found they sorely needed in 2011—a linebacker who can plug up the middle and stop the run. He's not at all bad at pressuring the quarterback as well, and is pretty good in coverage.

The Eagles played with an undersized linebacker in Casey Matthews last year, but Matthews never showed me enough on tape while Kuechly has.

Kuechly's size might not be prototypical, but he makes plays which cause that to be irrelevant.

 

16. New York Jets: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT

I'm back on the offensive line for this pick, which I know will drive some of the Jets fans here at Bleacher Report bonkers. I did do a little crowd sourcing over at The Jets Blog for this one, only to see if I was completely insane. It turns out I might be, but that has nothing to do with this pick.

The truth is the Jets are a mess on the offensive line. Matt Slausen just had shoulder surgery that was much worse than anyone knew, and Brandon Moore isn't getting any younger. Glenn could also kick over to tackle and replace Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse, both of whom were beyond underwhelming.

Glenn can play tackle or guard, and there is plenty of need for him to do either or both. He can slip into the right tackle spot or take one of the guard spots. Some may feel as though this is not as critical as a pass-rusher like Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry, but I don't feel like either of those two players are home runs while Glenn's versatility could be critical to the offense on day one.

His impressive combine only solidified this pick in my mind.

Some NSFW language on the music, but dang is Richardson amazing.

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Trent Richardson, RB

I can imagine Richardson going in any number of place prior to this, but even a potentially elite player like Richardson can slip if there isn't a huge need for him. If the Browns fail to move up for Griffin, if the Jets get antsy or if the Seahawks continue to be unable to sign Marshawn Lynch, Richardson's landing spot could be different.

If he gets this far, I cannot imagine him slipping further. Even though offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has said he envisions a running back by committee, he has also said he knows that along with a guard and wide receivers, the Bengals need a running back.

If Richardson is here at No. 17, he drops no further. As a side note, don't be shocked if, as he falls, someone trades up for him. He's that good.

 

18. San Diego Chargers: Mike Adams, OT

Adams had a somewhat disappointing combine with a poor showing in the bench press. That said, the Chargers may be in desperate need of help along the offensive line with Jared Gaither possibly leaving in free agency, Marcus McNeill possibly being forced to retire due to a neck injury and Kris Dielman possibly having to do so due to concussions.

Adams is pro-ready and can play left or right tackle if need be. He's a big guy, but he is agile and quick for his size. The biggest question post-combine is whether he is strong enough to move defenders around given his weak bench press numbers. The Chargers will have to look closely at his tape again to be sure.

 

19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR

Personally I like Kendall Wright better and have him rated higher but the Bears may well grab a local boy in Floyd. It's not like they get a bad player, as Floyd is one of the best WRs in the class. He had a tremendous combine, flashing outstanding hands and route-running in drills, and answering questions about his alcohol issues with honesty.

Floyd isn't the vertical threat that Wright is, but his size and "my ball" mentality make him a threat in the red zone. He is capable of breaking a big play—and not adverse to running someone over at the end of it.

 

20. Tennessee Titans: Dontari Poe, DT

The Titans have some issues in the interior of their defensive line, and Poe has the size and strength to clog up the hole. He also showed the ability to move—and move quickly and fluidly at the combine, especially for such a big guy (346 pounds).

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB

If anyone sneaks up and jumps a guy like Jenkins, it's going to be Gilmore. I'm not on board the train yet, but I'm looking hard at departure dates.

He's not as good a cornerback as Jenkins, but he is very good and has none of the character and maturity issues Jenkins has. If things play out this way, the Bengals will get a very good corner who is  a much safer pick.

The Bengals need secondary help with Nate Clements getting older and Pacman Jones a nickel-type guy at best. Gilmore would step in and have an immediate positive impact for this secondary.

This catch is ridiculously lucky. Wright place, Wright time. (PUN)

 

22. Cleveland Browns: Kendall Wright, WR

Well, if you're going to trade up for Griffin, you might as well get him some weapons. If you're going to get him a weapon and his former college wide receiver is available, get him. Wright is a guy who is a vertical threat (who plays faster than his 40 time) and and a dangerous player once he has the ball in his hands.

The Browns have something in Greg Little, and adding Wright would finally give them a wide receiver corps worth throwing to.

**NOTE: It's entirely possible that Cleveland trades this pick to move up. However, I believe that the Browns won't give up both first-rounders, instead giving up multiple later picks as well as some from next year.***


23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB

Kirkpatrick's stock dropped a bit post-Indianapolis when he struggled a bit in drills, but his size and speed will guarantee him a spot in the first round and he has another shot to impress at his pro day at Alabama on March 7th.

The fact is, Kirkpatrick is a playmaker, and with the front seven pressuring the quarterback, he'd have plenty of opportunity to make plays.

The Lions could bolster the offensive line more, add another defensive player if they lose someone in free agency or even grab a running back if Mikel Leshoure or Jahvid Best's rehabs give them pause.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Peter Konz, OL 

While Konz played center the majority of his time at Wisconsin, he's actually capable of playing center or guard, and he could slip in at right tackle in a pinch as well.

The Steelers need to improve their offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey can't do it all by himself at center.

Konz can run block as well as he pass-blocks, and whatever the offense might end up looking like under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, he'll be able to step right in and start.

 

25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT

The Broncos do need some help offensively, but I don't think they'll pull the trigger on wide receiver here if the draft falls like this. More than likely they'll hold off on a running back.

Worthy is a space-eater in the middle of the field and would draw a lot of attention away from Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Worthy can attack the run and pressure the quarterback and while doesn't get many sacks, pulling coverage away from other defenders like Miller and Dumervil is going to have the domino effect of causing them anyway.

 

26. Houston Texans:  Fletcher Cox, DT

Cox is a versatile lineman who is quick off the snap and able to get at the gaps but also possesses the size and power to hold up in run defense. The Texans definitely need some help in the middle of the line and the already-big Cox could add another 10 pounds or so to his frame that will only help him improve in run defense.

He could also slide to defensive end with so many teams running a hybrid defense (combining elements of a 3-4 and 4-3). Having that flexibility would only mean good things for the Texans defense.

 

27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE

There are still some questions around Whitney Mercilus as to whether he can carry over his momentum from a good junior year after a so-so sophomore year.

Mercilus is a guy who always found a way to make a big play last season and while there is the risk he could revert to his more mediocre ways, he looks to have taken a big developmental step forward and I believe it wasn't a fluke.

The Patriots are masters of getting a ton of production from players who are often looked upon as average—in New England, these players often play far beyond what you expect.

Mercilus, who has the talent, should flourish under this coaching staff.

 

28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB

As I have mentioned in prior mocks, Perry could line up as either a defensive end or an outside linebacker, so you could set him up at defensive end, where I would imagine he'd replace Pickett.

If they moved him to linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, they might finally find someone who could take advantage of the pressure Matthews generates.

Either way, he's bring some pressure to the quarterback, something the Packers can never have enough of.

Hightowers upside on full display.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, ILB 

The Ravens would love to grab a talented guard here with the potential departure of Ben Grubbs, but there's nobody left worth this spot. There is a great value in Hightower, who could eventually take over for Ray Lewis when Ray-Ray rides off into the sunset (on the sings of a unicorn in an Old Spice commercial not doubt).

The best-case scenario is to bring in his replacement and try to get Lewis to pass along some wisdom before he leaves the game.

Hightower played inside and outside at Alabama, so he would give the Ravens some flexibility at the linebacker position. He's effective plugging up the middle of the field as well as rushing in from the edge.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Alshon Jeffrey, WR

With Alex Smith playing well, the Niners now have to give him more weapons. Vernon Davis continues to be a tremendous asset but Michael Crabtree has yet to live up to his billing (or if you thought his billing was "diva," then maybe he did). They need some more help.

Jeffery is a physical, versatile wide receiver who isn't afraid to go up and make tough catches, even in traffic. He's got speed even if his 40 time wasn't overwhelming and will be a vertical threat the 49ers are looking for.

 

31. New England: Mark Barron, S

Barron has been slipping in and out of the first round of every mock I do, but this time he stuck. In need of secondary help, the Patriots can take a chance on a guy who just had hernia surgery a short while ago.

Barron is very good at reading where the quarterback will be throwing the ball and breaking on the pass. He's willing to take on running backs and commit to the run defense although he misses too many tackles in the open field.

He's got a lot of potential if he can stay healthy and would be an asset to the Patriots defense.

With two picks in the first, assume that one of these will likely morph into more picks, as is the case virtually every year.

 

32. New York Giants: Andre Branch, DE

It's hard to say which way the Osi Umenyiora saga will go—he says he wants to stay and the Giants are open to it, but honestly nobody seems willing to budge yet.

We should know long before the draft how things sit, but assuming Umenyiora is still not back in the fold by April or is gone completely, I could see Branch in Giants blue. It's a bit of a luxury pick, but that's what happens when you win the Super Bowl.

The concern with Branch is whether he is too one-dimensional to be a top-end pass-rusher, but the Giants have a way of getting the most out of their defense and I am confident Branch would excel in this defensive scheme.

With Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard both coping with serious injuries, tight end could be an option as well, with a guy like Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen or Orson Charles sneaking into this pick.

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