2012 NFL Mock Draft: What If Cleveland Goes for Robert Griffin III?
The Washington Redskins seem like the early favorites to strike a deal with St. Louis en route to grabbing the coveted Robert Griffin III. Cleveland, however, still remain a possible landing spot for the most recent Heisman winner.
In fact, the Browns have what can be considered much more valuable ammunition to trade away to the Rams in exchange for the second overall pick.
Washington currently holds the seventh overall pick, but Cleveland posses two first-rounders in 2012. The Browns have the rights to the fourth overall selection (already more valuable than Washington's seventh), as well as the 22nd overall selection.
So, what if Cleveland really does construct a deal with St. Louis? What would happen if the Browns ended up with the No. 2 pick in the draft? And how would this potential deal shake up the rest of the first round?
All of those questions and more, answered in my latest first round mock of the 2012 NFL Draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
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With their Week 17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts officially clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Even though they'll be on the clock for four months, we all know the pick must be Stanford's Andrew Luck.
Luck going No. 1 overall is a clear no-brainer. The ability and intelligence are there, and it looks as if he's the next big thing coming into the NFL.
Indianapolis, however, will be in perhaps the stickiest situation in the game's history. If they take Luck, which they will, what happens to the quarterback they have now?
Maybe you've heard of him—Peyton Manning?
Will the Colts draft Luck and start him immediately?
Will they take Luck only to place him under the wing of Manning for a chunk of the season?
Or will Indy just cut ties with their long-time quarterback to make way for what looks like the second version of Manning?
There are many questions surrounding that potential scenario, but there are none when it comes to drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in 2012.
2. Cleveland Browns (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
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So this is where all the hoopla of the draft lies, with the second overall selection. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Washington coming up with this pick. But for the sake of this mock, let's say Cleveland ends up with a deal.
A potential swap of selections between St. Louis and Cleveland would certainly benefit both teams. We'll start with the Browns for obvious reasons.
The team's current starter, Colt McCoy, has been anything but overwhelming in his short NFL career. McCoy has thrown 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions for 2733 yards in 13 career starts. He hasn't been given an adequate amount of help on offense, but he still doesn't appear to be anything special.
Robert Griffin, on the other hand, looks to be an extremely promising prospect. Last season, Griffin passed for 37 touchdowns, 4293 yards and threw just six picks. He also displayed his explosive run game, rushing for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to picking up his Heisman trophy.
I do not think it's time for the Browns to give up on McCoy, but they do have a great opportunity to snag what appears to be a franchise quarterback.
And for the Rams, a potential trade with Cleveland would bring in quite a haul. Proceed to the No. 4 slide to see how this would help out St. Louis.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
If Cleveland or any other team were to trade up to select Griffin with the second pick, it would leave the Minnesota Vikings with the easiest pick in the entire draft. (Yes, even more so than Indianapolis and Luck.)
The younger brother of Carolina's Ryan Kalil, Matt is another one of those sure-fire offensive lineman prospects. Kalil is 6'7", 275 lbs and is probably the best player in this draft not named Andrew Luck.
Taking Kalil would help protect youngster Christian Ponder and provide some running space for Adrian Peterson. There is no doubt that he can immediately help an offensive line that gave up the fifth-most sacks in 2011.
4. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
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As a product of the potential swap with Cleveland, St. Louis would find themselves selecting from the fourth spot in April. The Rams could go a number of ways with this pick given their need in so many positions.
The favorite at this point, however, should be LSU standout Morris Claiborne.
At 6'0" and 185 lbs, Claiborne has been one of college football's best cornerbacks over the last two seasons. In fact, he may be the best defensive player coming out in 2012. He has good hands, exceptional speed and the ability to be an elite cover corner in the NFL.
Claiborne appears to be a slam dunk pick and has even warranted more praise than his former teammate and the fifth overall selection from last year's draft, Patrick Peterson.
I don't want to go out on any limbs here, but it was rumored that the Rams have placed Claiborne in their "draft deliberations" after watching his Combine performance. Trading with Cleveland would allow the Rams to stay in front of Tampa Bay, another team that is highly interested in selecting Claiborne.
The remaining part of the haul would also have the Rams obtaining the 22nd overall selection and most likely one or two picks for the 2013 draft. Having the 22nd pick will allow the Rams to pick up a playmaking wideout or a capable offensive tackle.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
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The Buccaneers need help in just about every spot besides the quarterback position. Expect Tampa to take the best available player not named Robert Griffin III at the fifth slot in the draft.
That man would obviously be Alabama's Trent Richardson. Richardson is the undisputed champion when it comes to this year's crop of running backs and would most definitely give the offense some help. LeGarrette Blount isn't the best or brightest bulb in the bunch, so replacing him wouldn't be a problem.
If anything, Blount can assume the No. 2 RB role.
Richardson has nice vision, great speed and the hands to take some passes out of the backfield. Quite frankly, the guy is probably the most complete back coming into the NFL since Adrian Peterson.
6. Washington Redskins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
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Allow me to start off by stating that you're currently reading a mock draft. This is not what I think should be done—it is what I think will be done. With that being said, I do not believe Ryan Tannehill should be taken with the sixth overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Washington's seemingly undying search for a franchise quarterback, however, may disagree with that. We all know everyone associated with the Redskins franchise is tired of the Rex Grossmans and the John Becks. The time may be now for the front office to take a leap of faith with someone, before their fans start running off a cliff like a wild bunch of lemmings.
The Texas A&M product looks to be a pretty decent prospect as of now. He threw for 3,744 yards along with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2011. Tannehill has a quick release, exhibits solid accuracy and is a very good athlete. Mike Shanahan loves to build his offenses around athletic quarterbacks.
Some of the concerns lie in his ability to throw the deep ball as well as his inexperience at the quarterback position. I believe his rawness and foot injury should keep him out of this round. But given the desperation for a starting quarterback in this league, I would not be surprised to see his name called in the first round.
NFL Draft experts Mike Mayock and Todd McShay have also stated that they would not be surprised if Tannehill is taken within the first ten selections.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
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This could be a stretch, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Justin Blackmon land to Jacksonville at No. 7.
The two-time Biletnikoff winner would fall to the Jags as a result of the first six teams going for bigger needs and better talents.
Blackmon is the top wide receiving prospect in the draft. He has the size, footwork and hands to become an elite receiver in the NFL. Many compare Blackmon's skill set to that of Terrell Owens', minus the off-field baggage.
The now former Oklahoma State Cowboy has racked up at least 111 catches, 1,522 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. If Blackmon is indeed available for Gene Smith and company to select, we can expect Roger Goodell to step up to the podium in under 10 seconds.
Blackmon is the perfect fix for Jacksonville and will finally give Gabbert a No. 1 guy to hit.
8. Miami Dolphins: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
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Newly hired head coach Joe Philbin has announced his defense will work under a 4-3 scheme.
This means the Dolphins need a talented pass-rusher to add to a pretty thin defensive line.
So, Quinton Coples of North Carolina would be an incredible value pick for Miami here. The 6'6", 275 lbs defensive lineman racked up 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss in his 2011 campaign. He certainly looks to be the very best pass-rusher this draft has to offer.
Philbin can slot Coples on the opposite side of the team's current top pass-rusher, Cameron Wake, to create one of the league's most dangerous defensive end duos.
9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
With the ninth overall selection in the draft, the Panthers will have quite a few options. Marty Hurney and the rest of the Panthers brass could opt for an offensive tackle to bolster the line, a wideout for Cam Newton or a corner to help their struggling secondary.
But given their obvious need for a run-stuffer, Michael Brockers is likely to emerge as the favorite for this pick.
Over the past three seasons, Carolina's run defense has ranked amongst the very worst in the NFL. They finished 22nd in 2009, 23rd in 2010 and 25th in 2011. Their pass defense hasn't been exactly great either, allowing a league-high 8.4 yards per completion. These are the type of numbers that indicate a team's lack of an efficient playmaker on the defensive line.
Although Brockers is still quite raw at the position, many draft experts regard him as the draft's best defensive tackle. He displays great quickness, has very powerful legs and is an overall freakish athlete. All you'll hear about Brockers going into the draft is his tremendous upside, as he stands at a ridiculous 6'6", 306 lbs.
The former LSU Tiger may fill the team's biggest need and has scheduled a visit with Carolina on March 8th.
10. Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
In last year's draft, Buffalo took defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to improve their struggling line.
Dareus, however, needs some better talent next to him in order to make a greater impact. The Bills ranked 27th in sacks and were the fifth-worst rush defense in the league.
The pick could come down to Alabama's Courtney Upshaw and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram. But since Ingram is more fit to play the line, he would be the likelier option.
Ingram is incredibly athletic, has a good first step and is one of the draft's best pass-rushers. He chalked up 8.5 sacks in 2011 and could help the Bills increase their chances of getting to opposing quarterbacks.
He may seem like a reach as of now, but I expect Ingram to increase his stock after his upcoming combine performance.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
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Don't listen to the guys that say Robert Griffin came out of the combine as the biggest winner. Unless he really tanked it, Griffin was still going to be taken with the second overall pick regardless.
The real winner of the combine was Memphis' Dontari Poe. Poe completely ripped up the combine, proving that's he's quite the physical freak.
The defensive tackle put up 44 reps, the most of the event, and ran the 40 in a ridiculous 4.98 seconds. The 6'4", 346 pounder catapulted up everyone's—and I mean everyone's—board after that display.
Given Kansas City's need for a nose tackle, Poe should be a very tempting option for them with the 11th overall pick. The Chiefs also have a need for an offensive tackle, so Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin could be in play.
But Poe and his upside may be too much to pass up for the defensive wiz Romeo Crennel.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
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I did have Ryan Tannehill going to Seattle prior to a potential Cleveland-St. Louis trade. But without a logical choice at quarterback at this point, the Seahawks should be looking at the best available talent.
So if the Redskins do nab Tannehill at No. 6, this pick makes too much sense not to happen. For one, Seattle's most glaring weakness on defense is the lack of a consistent pass rush. In addition, the team has quite a number of defensive lineman and linebackers hitting the free agent market.
That's why the front office should be taking a look at USC's Nick Perry.
Perry exhibits elite speed, great athleticism, good handwork and is extremely versatile. His talent can add to the team's pass rush and his versatility can allow the coaching staff to slot him either on the line or in the linebacking corps.
We can also take into account that Seattle's head coach, Pete Carroll, recruited Perry to USC back in 2008. Although Carroll has shown no favoritism in the draft by evidence of the Taylor Mays incident, Perry could be too perfect to pass up.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
If the Arizona Cardinals believe Kevin Kolb is their guy, they need to give him some help. Whether it be another target to sit opposite Larry Fitzgerald or a big lineman, the Cards have to build around Kolb.
Since the top wide receiver is already off the board, the next logical choice would be Iowa's Riley Reiff.
Reiff has certainly emerged as one of college football's best players as a result of his impressive 2011 season. He's 6'6"and 300 pounds. He has been praised for his great fundamentals. Reiff has great footwork, bends very well and has already played in a pro-style offense.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Cowboys sit in a great spot at No. 14. With their three major needs being their secondary, their pass-rush and their offensive line, they'll have a handful of legitimate talent to pick from.
They may have prospects such as David DeCastro, Courtney Upshaw, Devon Still and Dre Kirkpatrick still available to them when their turn comes around.
But if they want to prevent another upending from the New York Giants, the secondary should be addressed with their first rounder. They can't have Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham (if he stays) running the field, as their corners constantly get left behind in the dust.
As of now, Janoris Jenkins looks to be the front runner for Dallas' pick here.
Jenkins has incredible quickness, great body control and aggression on coverage. He is a very gifted athlete and has the potential to be an elite corner in the NFL.
There is also no doubt the North Alabama transfer is a typical Jerry Jones draft pick. He has tremendous ability but a handful of off-field questions. Jones has consistently shown that his appetite for talent vastly overshadows his concern for attitude.
The Cowboys brass will have to believe that Jenkins' dismissal from Florida last season was just a wake-up call for a very promising prospect.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Philly's linebacking corps have been nothing short of terrible. This problem has been plaguing their defense and needs to be addressed. So, if Luke Kuechly of Boston College is still there for the Eagles, expect them to jump on him.
He is a sound tackler, displays good mobility and is a very intelligent player. Kuechly also has good size and always seems to be in the middle of every play.
Some may argue that the Eagles should go with the best remaining wideout in order to fill a potential hole left by DeSean Jackson. But with or without Jackson, scoring is not a problem for this team. When you have Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin headlining your offense, you're going to score.
The Eagles should look to patch up a problem that's been pestering them for a number of years now by taking Kuechly.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
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The Jets must upgrade their pass-rush as well as their run defense in order to regain their spot amongst the league's best defenses.
Rex Ryan's crew ranked 13th against the run and 17th in sacks, lower than their top 10 positioning from the previous two seasons. They need a legitimate threat to rush the quarterback so that Ryan doesn't have to use the blitz so much.
Courtney Upshaw, the linebacker from Alabama, would give them an immediate boost. Upshaw has tremendous versatility in terms of positioning on defense. He has good speed and strength and is very quick off the ball.
Upshaw is also acquainted with 3-4 defense, something Rex Ryan will definitely like.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Cincinnati O-line proved to be very effective this season, allowing the seventh-fewest sacks in the entire NFL. But with Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings entering the free-agent pool this offseason, the Bengals may look to reinforce their line with their first pick.
I do believe the team will come to terms with the 36-year-old Williams. Livings, however, may not be so fortunate. Allowing Livings to walk would leave a hole at left guard in Cincinnati.
If so, selecting Stanford's David DeCastro would be one of the easiest picks in the draft. Not only is he the best guard in the draft, but he's by far the best remaining talent available.
DeCastro plays with a consistent mean streak and never takes a play off. He is also very athletic, exhibits nice footwork and is quite intelligent at his position. DeCastro would be a great addition to the Cincinnati O-line.
18. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With the recent concerns surrounding the state of their offensive line, the San Diego Chargers should be ecstatic if Jonathan Martin drops to them.
Jared Gaither is a free agent, Marcus McNeill has constantly missed time and Jeromey Clary isn't all that reliable. In addition, the team just lost a great player and a great guy in guard Kris Dielman to retirement. So their line is very questionable, to say the least.
Luckily, Stanford's Martin could be available come April. Martin is flat-out huge, standing at 6'6", 305 lbs. He has good footwork and great mobility and is a very smart player.
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
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Jay Cutler has yet to work with a legitimate No. 1 wideout during his time in Chicago. Devin Hester and Johnny Knox are very lethal weapons. Neither, however, cut it as a top target in the NFL.
So if Michael Floyd is available, expect the Bears to take a very long look at the Notre Dame product.
The 6'3" receiver has done nothing but dazzle during his collegiate years. In his four seasons at South Bend, Floyd never failed to put up less than 700 yards receiving and catch at least seven touchdowns. He raked in a bulky 95 passes this season, eight of them in the end zone.
And although Floyd does carry some off-field baggage, that could be overlooked given his immense talent.
20. Tennessee Titans: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
The Tennessee Titans were on the cusp of a playoff berth this past season. If the Titans can fill out a few needs, they'll once again be a solid contender for a postseason spot.
One of the needs they have to address is their offensive line. They didn't exactly help the struggles of star running back Chris Johnson last season.
Cordy Glenn, a 6'5", 348 lbs monster, would be a great match if Tennessee wants to emphasize its run game. He's relatively nimble for a man his size and is very good at opening up holes for the run game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
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Dre Kirkpatrick drops to Cincinnati by virtue of Janoris Jenkins' Senior Bowl performance rather than his recent drug incident.
I don't believe Kirkpatrick's marijuana situation will have teams throwing him off their draft board. It was just the fact that he was in a car with an illegal drug just a month before the combine. He did, however, have the charge dropped early this week.
Either way, he seems to be slipping behind Jenkins en route to becoming the third-best corner in the draft. This will give the Bengals a crack at the Alabama corner with the 21st overall selection.
At 6'3", Kirkpatrick is a considerably tall cornerback. He has great speed, elite size and a knack for making big plays. He is also extremely effective against the run thanks to his anticipation and that speed.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
With an obvious need for a wide receiver, there's no doubt the Rams will be looking to stock up on the position this offseason. Brandon Lloyd will most likely not be pursued, leaving St. Louis for the obvious path to New England to join Josh McDaniels.
But if the Rams do strike a deal with Cleveland, this pick should be devoted to picking up a legitimate target for Sam Bradford.
Kendall Wright of Baylor could be an option here for the Rams. He has great hands, killer speed and the ability to break off big plays.
Although I have him as the fourth-best receiver in this draft, many others think of him as perhaps the third or even second alternative to Justin Blackmon.
23. Detroit Lions: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
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After watching the Saints and Packers completely dismantle the Lions' secondary in their last two games, the Lions definitely need to upgrade their secondary in the draft.
If the Lions want to surpass Green Bay in the NFC North, they must stop their aerial assault. That is perhaps where Alabama's Mark Barron could come in.
Due to his recent hernia surgery, Barron may find himself slipping down some team's boards. The surgery rendered him absent at the combine, which could force some general managers to stay away.
But regardless of his injury history, Barron is easily one of the draft's best players. A member of the great 2011-12 Alabama defense, Barron brings a number of tools to the table. He's solid against the pass, very good at stopping the run and is a sure tackler. Barron also has some nice size at 6'2", 218 lbs.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
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Team President Art Rooney II has stated he wants the "old" Steelers offense. By "old," Rooney means a run-heavy, grind-it-out type of offense. Nothing says grind it out more than a 6'7", 323 lb monster.
The logical choice is Mike Adams of Ohio State. He has a great frame and often exhibits very nice footwork. Many believe Adams could be the third-best offensive tackle, ahead of Stanford's Jonathan Martin.
The Ohio State product would be a much-needed addition to an under-performing offensive line.
25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Broncos could look to upgrade a bit on their line. Marcus Thomas isn't really great, making Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State an appealing option for Denver in this spot. He is very athletic and uses his great upper body strength to get by offensive linemen.
Cox was also named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week four times in 2011, an honor that shouldn't be taken lightly.
26. Houston Texans: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
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The Houston Texans were a very good football team in 2011. In fact, they may have competed for the Lombardi Trophy had Matt Schaub stayed healthy. But the team can't look back on a season that could have been and instead must look forward to improving in 2012.
One position where the team needs some more depth is wide receiver. After Andre Johnson, the Houston wideouts get a little foggy. The Texans need a real No. 2 to detract some attention from Johnson.
Despite his shaky draft stock, Alshon Jeffery will be a candidate for this pick.
Jeffery, 6'4" and 229 lbs, has an incredibly promising skill set, making him a very desirable player in the upcoming draft. In three seasons at South Carolina, Jeffery has hauled in 22 touchdowns and eclipsed the 600-yard receiving mark each year.
Just as B/R's Matt Miller does, I believe Jeffery could very well be the draft's top wide receiver. The size and skill set are all there. But with his lack of participation as well as his not-so-successful interviews at the combine, I wouldn't be surprised to see him fall.
Add that to the negative reputation he has gained through his questionable work ethic, and he may drop right into the second round.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Devon Still, DT, Penn State
With the first of their two picks in the round, the Patriots should be looking for some type of pass rush. Luckily, Penn State's Devon Still could slip to them here.
The big defensive tackle fills a need and would easily be one of the best players remaining. At 6'5", 307 lbs, Still is a very physical player. He has a strong upper body and uses his bull-rush well enough to get to opposing backfields.
28. Green Bay Packers: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
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The Packers' defense was extremely unstable this season. They relinquished the most yards per game and only got to the quarterback 29 times, the fifth-lowest total in the NFL. They must add a pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews to solidify that shaky defense.
If so, Whitney Mercilus is the clear-cut choice here. Mercilus would be the best available player at this point and could help increase the team's sack total.
No defensive end in college football was better in 2011 than Mercilus. He racked up a gaudy 14.5 sacks in 2011, slating his name right into the thick of the first round.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
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Although Ray Lewis is one of the greatest players ever to step on the gridiron, he's not going to last forever.
With that in mind, Baltimore should look for his successor this offseason. It'll give Lewis time to mentor whomever that may be and ease him into the defense once he's gone.
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower could very well be that guy for the Ravens. Hightower has great size and speed and is very effective against the run.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
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Another big winner from the combine was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. The 6'5" Hill ran a speedy 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, sparking the attention for all teams in need for a wideout.
The San Francisco should be one of those teams.
After his surprising yet pleasant 2011 campaign, Alex Smith finally seems to be the player that San Francisco drafted first overall back in 2005. He threw for over 3000 yards, gave up only five interceptions and led the Niners to a 13-3 regular season.
If they want to keep Smith going, the front office must provide him with more weapons. Besides Vernon Davis and perhaps Michael Crabtree, the team's targets are just not solid enough. So the Niners front office could think about pulling the trigger on Hill.
Although Hill only caught 28 passes during his 2011 campaign, everything about this kid screams upside. He's got the size, the speed and the big play ability. He does, however, need to improve his route running order to bring his game to the next level.
31. New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
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There's no question that New England's secondary needs some help. They gave up 293.9 passing yards per game and eight yards per attempt during the 2011 campaign.
With the pass defense as their major problem going into the 2012 offseason, New England should look to improve that with South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore has nice size and good ball skills and is an intelligent player. He's just another one of those very good corner prospects this deep draft has to offer.
32. New York Giants: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
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If you've been following most or all of my drafts, then you know I've had the Giants buying into North Carolina's Zach Brown in every single mock. So for the sake of shaking things up, here's a new option for the Super Bowl Champions.
Orson Charles of Georgia is the top tight end in the 2012 draft class. The 6'3" Bulldog caught 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. Those numbers weren't exactly sparkling, but Charles certainly has the talent to play at the pro level. He has nice size and soft hands and is a great red-zone target.
With the team's current tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, recovering from devastating ACL injuries, the Giants should be looking to invest at the position. Tom Coughlin has already confirmed this possibility at the combine (via ESPN).