2012 NFL Mock Draft: Post Peyton Manning
So Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn have made their decisions, and the draft boards are shaping up. Teams have been addressing needs in free agency, but some have been remaining quiet and waiting for April 26th patiently.
The Dolphins take Ryan Tannehill to be their future franchise QB in this one, and Mike Adams falls out of Round 1. There are some unusual suspects in this one as well, including Lavonte David, who has seen his stock shoot way up in recent weeks.
Click on slideshow to see who your team could be eyeing in this year's NFL draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
The Colts will go into the Andrew Luck era the same way they went into the Peyton Manning era 14 years ago, namely, in rebuilding mode. They've done okay stealing some Ravens for Chuck Pagano's new 3-4 defense, but they still have a very long way to go.
Luck is absolutely the right pick here, but until the Colts can get that defense running efficiently and get some more weapons for their young franchise QB, expect the Colts to struggle.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)
The Redskins didn't sell the farm for nothing. They'll take Robert Griffin III second overall this April.
The question is whether or not they've done a good enough job getting weapons for him to be successful. They still have Fred Davis and Santana Moss, and we'll see what kind of impact the Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan signings will have.
If they can get some offensive line help in Round 3 or 4, they may be looking okay on offense, but still have some defensive holes to fill as well.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
This will be a pivotal year for last year's first-round pick, Christian Ponder. They'll need to get him some better protection and another weapon or two on offense.
Kalil is far and away the best tackle in this class and likely won't get past the Vikings here who happen to need a franchise left tackle. They should continue to add to the line in this draft even after taking Kalil, but they do have some other areas to address like receiver and cornerback.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, HB (Alabama)
Even though Richardson will be the highest rated player on most GM's board here, there may not be too many of them that would take him with the fourth pick. The Browns could easily be one of the teams that wouldn't.
After failing to get Matt Flynn or Robert Griffin, the Browns will likely stick with Colt McCoy. They have to get him some more to work with if they're going to give him another chance to be their franchise QB, so naturally Justin Blackmon would make a lot of sense.
But Trent Richardson could ease some growing pains for McCoy as well. The Browns rush offense ranked 28th last season, and there aren't too many promising back on the roster who were behind Peyton Hillis, who is now in Kansas City.
This one will come down to what the Browns think of guys like Lamar Miller (Miami) and David Wilson (Virginia Tech) and where they think they can get them.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU)
The Bucs have been active in free agency but still have some holes to fill. Even after signing Eric Wright, cornerback should still be an area they cover and Morris Claiborne is the best player available here.
They'll need some insurance with Aqib Talib's off the field issues, and even if he can get things together, a tandem of he and Claiborne with Eric Wright as the third corner would be pretty ideal when facing Roddy White and Julio Jones twice a year.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)
So the Rams bleed the Redskins dry for the No. 2 pick and still get their guy in Justin Blackmon. It seems almost too good to be true, so naturally I have my doubts that Blackmon will be available.
If he does end up in Cleveland instead or someone trades up with the Bucs to nab him before the Rams can, look for St. Louis to even consider Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) here. After losing Brandon Lloyd, they should be desperate to get Sam Bradford the help he needs to finally take a another step forward in his development.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina)
The Jaguars need to add another pass-rusher opposite Jeremy Mincey, making Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) or Quinton Coples (North Carolina) very likely options here.
I wouldn't rule out Michael Floyd, however, who is definitely in the top-10 discussion after silencing critics about his speed at the combine.
Ingram gets the edge here, as it appears the Jags think they can get the receiving core upgraded through free agency.
According to the Florida Times Union via ESPN, the Jags met with Lee Evans on Wednesday, but it doesn't seem likely he and Laurent Robinson will bring this pitiful offense even to mediocrity. I'd think long and hard about Floyd if I'm Jacksonville, but ultimately I think they go Ingram.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M)
After failing to sign Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, the Dolphins signed David Garrard to a one-year deal. Needless to say, he is not the future of the franchise.
Former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is looking to put a similar system in Miami, and he'll need a talented quarterback to do it. The Garrard signing allows them to take Tannehill and develop him for a year or two which he desperately needs.
A former receiver, the Texas A&M product has a lot of talent but is incredibly raw at the position. He probably wouldn't have success early on in any system, nonetheless one that has Davone Bess as their No. 1 receiver.
That being said, the NFL is a "win now" type of league and Joe Philbin probably knows that he doesn't have time to develop a quarterback for a couple of years. If it were completely up to him, he'd probably take Floyd here, but it's not, so he better get Tannehill NFL-ready fast.
9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT (LSU)
There's no question that the Panthers need help stopping the run and they will likely take a defensive tackle early in the draft. Which tackle they will take is the question.
Dontari Poe (Memphis) blew up the combine, but he's still pretty raw, and the production just hasn't been there during his college career. Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) could also easily be the pick here, but ultimately I think the Panthers go Brockers at No. 9.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
After signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, as reported by ESPN, the Bills seem to have a solid pass-rush in place for next season which was probably their biggest issue.
They've committed a good amount of money to Ryan Fitzpatrick, so they'll need to get him some better pass protection and some more weapons. That's why I think this pick comes down to Riley Reiff or Michael Floyd.
Since they probably won't be able to get a starting-caliber tackle in Round 2 and can probably get a guy like Alshon Jeffrey or Mohamed Sanu there, I'd assume they go Reiff here.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, NT (Memphis)
The Chiefs seem to always be drafting defensive linemen early and never really seem to hit on them. That being said, they still need a nose tackle, and Dontari Poe certainly has the size and speed to be more than that along the defensive line in both a 3-4 or a 4-3.
He doesn't play very aggressive, however, which is what you want to see in a nose tackle, but maybe some solid coaching can get all the potential out of this workout warrior.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)
The Seahawks could go in a few directions here. They could add Michael Floyd to pair up with Sidney Rice, giving Matt Flynn a more talented receiving core as he is accustomed to. They could take Luke Kuechly, who would be a major upgrade at linebacker, or they could take the highest-ranked player on the board in Coples.
Ultimately, I think defensive end is the way to go, as the Seahawks can get a good value and fill a need at the same time.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG (Stanford)
If ever there were a guard that warranted the 13th pick in the draft, it'd be David DeCastro.
The Cardinals signed Levi Brown for five more years at left tackle despite his struggles last season, so Jonathan Martin probably isn't an option here. By sticking DeCastro next to Brown, they instantly upgrade the offensive line and might be able to spark some better play out of Levi Brown on the left side.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S (Alabama)
The Cowboys have already addressed some major needs in free agency but still have a ways to go in the draft. Even after adding Brandon Carr, the secondary could use some more work.
Mark Barron is far and away the best safety in this class and could see his stock rise as a result of the tier difference this year.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, SLB (Boston College)
The Eagles linebackers were not getting it done last year, which is why they signed DeMeco Ryans in free agency, as reported by ESPN.
From what I gather, they'll have Ryans playing in the middle, which is where Luke Kuechly is probably best off. But scouts claim that Kuechly can also play strong-side linebacker which happens to be a position of need as well.
The Eagles may also consider Michael Floyd here or a defensive tackle like Fletcher Cox.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB (Alabama)
Upshaw is probably best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker, although he isn't very scheme specific and could end up as a 4-3 defensive end or possibly even an inside linebacker in a 3-4 if necessary.
The Jets could use a pass-rusher in Rex Ryan's 3-4 scheme, and Upshaw fits the bill. He played in Alabama's 3-4 defense for the past few years and is a solid value at No. 16.
Michael Floyd is still an option here, as is Jonathan Martin. But after the Tebow trade, reported by the New York Post, it's apparent that the Jets want to run the ball. Martin is a much stronger pass-blocker than run-blocker, which means he may not be very attractive as a right tackle option for the Jets.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)
The Bengals have addressed a few key needs in free agency, most recently with the Ben Jarvus-Green Ellis signing, which was reported by CBS Sports on Wednesday. They could still easily go running back at one point, but it probably won't be in Round 1.
Instead, with picks No. 17 and No. 21 they'll look to address wide receiver, cornerback or safety.
Michael Floyd is probably the best player available here and definitely fills a need with Jerome Simpson likely to miss next season on marijuana charges.
Floyd and AJ Green could be a dangerous receiver tandem for years to come if the draft goes down like this. That being said, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see them pass on Floyd here for Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins or Stephon Gilmore.
18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB (USC)
Jarret Johnson was a great signing for the Chargers, but he's more of a first-and second-down run-stuffer than a pass-rusher.
The Chargers could easily take a pass-rusher like Nick Perry (USC) or Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) here to pair up with Johnson opposite Shaun Phillips. But they could also take a guy like Cordy Glenn to replace Chris Dielman as well.
19. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)
The Bears reportedly believe in J'Marcus Webb at left tackle, but if Jonathan Martin is available, I have a feeling they may change their story.
Drafting Martin would allow him to start at left tackle along with Gabe Carimi at right tackle, who was plagued with injury in his rookie season. Webb could then be a swing tackle, offering them some much-needed depth and flexibility along the line.
Not to mention, they need to buy Jay Cutler some time to get the ball to newly acquired Brandon Marshall, although when healthy, Cutler did a pretty good job with less time to lesser receivers. He may be unstoppable with some offensive-line help and Brandon Marshall.
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois)
Losing Jason Jones to the Seahawks in free agency (as reported by CBS Sports) leaves a pretty sizable hole at right defensive end, literally.
Mercilus is not the same type of defensive end that Jones was. In fact, he's a better pass-rusher. He'd be a very nice complement to Derrick Morgan and could end up starting day one.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)
There's a lot of questions about Dre Kirkpatrick. Is he fluid enough to play corner at an NFL level? Would he be better off as a safety? What about his character concerns?
The Bengals could use some help at both corner and safety, however, and could opt to play him at either position similar to what the Saints did with first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins a couple of years ago. Not to mention the Bengals don't seem to have issues with players with "character concerns."
22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill, WR (Georgia Tech)
Along with Dontari Poe, Stephen Hill did the most for his draft stock at the combine. The very definition of a workout warrior, Hill was under-utilized in Georgia Tech's run-first option offense.
After passing on Blackmon at pick No. 4, the Browns lack a potential No. 1 receiver for their West Coast offense. Hill is raw, but he still should be a first-round pick based solely off his incredible upside and potential. Kendall Wright (Baylor) could also be an option here.
23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)
After not re-signing Eric Wright due to the Bucs overpaying him, the Lions are looking thin at cornerback. That probably isn't a good thing when you face Aaron Rodgers twice a year.
Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) is probably the more talented corner here, but his off the field issues may make him less attractive to some teams. Gilmore also fits what the Lions like to do on defense a bit better.
The Lions could also opt for some offensive line help here like Mike Adams or Cordy Glenn.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OL (Georgia)
Steelers fans will be screaming for Dont'a Hightower here, but Pittsburgh has some major issues to address before they can start drafting future successors. That is what they usually do, even in Round 1, but this year it seems like they have more holes than usual.
Offensive line has been a weakness for years and somehow Big Ben has managed to win and stay healthy anyway.
If they do opt for a lineman, Cordy Glenn may be a perfect fit. He can play guard or right tackle, which are both going to be needs for the Steelers. Playing alongside former first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey, they could be a strong point on the offensive line for years to come.
25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox ,DT (Mississippi State)
After the Peyton Manning signing, I wouldn't be at all shocked to see a wide receiver like Kendall Wright here. But Manning has done more with less and has the ability to bring along a young receiver, especially talented receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
It'd be hard to pass on a talent like Fletcher Cox here, as he also fills a considerable need, but again I wouldn't be shocked to see them do it.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)
Jerel Worthy, the nose tackle from Michigan State, is a very strong option here as well. So is a linebacker since DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams will be with the Eagles and Bills next year, respectively.
But the Texans need another receiver to complement Andre Johnson, and Kendall Wright is a very solid value here.
27. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama)
The Patriots had Julian Edelman, a former quarterback that they turned into a receiver, again transformed into a starting NFL cornerback last year. So naturally, they may look past some "concerns" to take a very talented cornerback here.
Not to mention, they'll need some secondary help if they ever want to beat the Giants in the Super Bowl or get there again for that matter.
28. Green Bay Packers: Peter Konz, C (Wisconsin)
Much to the Ravens' dismay, the Packers will have a hard time passing up a future franchise center from Wisconsin to replace Scott Wells.
The Packers could also look at a pass-rusher to play opposite Clay Matthews like Andre Branch (Clemson) here, and don't rule out a 3-4 defensive end like Devon Still (Penn State) or Fletcher Cox (should he be available).
29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, ILB (Alabama)
The Ravens need a left guard badly after losing Ben Grubbs to the Saints and failing to sign Evan Mathis. But after missing out on Cordy Glenn and Peter Konz, there isn't an interior lineman worth the 29th pick left on the board, and the Ravens aren't known to reach for players.
They could easily trade back here as they don't have a fourth-round pick, or they could look to take Ray Lewis' future "replacement" and a possible starter in Dont'a Hightower depending on what happens with Jameel McClain.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Andre Branch, DE/OLB (Clemson)
The 49ers have a couple issues that need to be addressed early, but unfortunately for them, if the draft falls this way, they won't be able to. There isn't a safety or a guard that would warrant this pick left on the board.
Instead, they may look to find a complement to last year's Round 1 pick in Aldon Smith. Andre Branch is a serious pass-rusher and could make that 49ers defense even scarier.
Trading back and taking a guy like Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) or Harrison Smith (Notre Dame) could be options for them as well.
31. New England Patriots: Vinny Curry, DE/OLB (Marshall)
Defensive end was a position of need for the Patriots even before Mark Anderson signed with Buffalo. Now it's all the more urgent for them.
Vinny Curry is a talented pass-rusher that would fit in well with the Patriots half 3-4, half 4-3 defensive scheme, as he could double as an outside linebacker.
Bruce Irvin (West Virginia) could also be an option at that position, and a running back wouldn't be shocking here either.
32. New York Giants: Lavonte David, LB (Nebraska)
Lavonte David is shooting up draft boards right now and may not even be available for the Giants here. They desperately need help at linebacker and could look at him or Zach Brown (North Carolina).
David is a bit undersized but he certainly doesn't play like it and could be one of the best "pure football players" in this draft class.
Coby Fleener was an option here at tight end, but the Martellus Bennett signing probably negates that. Lamar Miller and David Wilson could also be options at running back.