2012 NFL Draft: 1st Round Mock Draft After Major Offseason Moves
Andrew Luck will be the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. We know that for sure. Robert Griffin III will be taken by the Redskins, as well. But after the top two picks, it's anyone's guess how the rest of the draft will play out. One thing is for sure though—there's a ton of talent across the board in this year's draft class.
Trent Richardson is probably the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson, and Matt Kalil is an elite LT prospect as well. Continue reading to find out where I believe those guys and others will land in April.
Pick: Andrew Luck
Measurables: 6' 4", 235 lbs, 4.67 40 time, 36" vertical, 4.28 shuttle
Analysis: It's never good parting with a legend. And it's really bad when that legend is Peyton Manning, the best player in the history of the franchise, who led the Colts to a Super Bowl and gave them elite play for 10+ years.
But when it comes to replacing a legend, who better to do it than the consensus best QB prospect since Manning himself? It's unfair to assume Luck will be a Hall of Famer before he plays a down, but as a prospect on paper and film, it's hard to find anything not to like.
Luck has elite arm strength and has been making NFL-quality throws—both bullets and touch passes—since his sophomore year at Stanford. Everyone talks about the athleticism of RG3 and Cam Newton, but if you look at Luck's combine results they're almost as good. Luck is an elite athlete and an elite thrower.
But his brains are what separate him from other recent talented prospects, and I don't mean Stanford book smarts. Luck is a genius on the football field. He's constantly calling hot routes—usually sending TE's up the seams—that often lead to huge plays.
Most talented rookie QB's struggle with picking up the speed and complexity of NFL defenses. In this case, NFL defenses will have problems picking up the changes and quick reads Luck makes.
Luck may not ever be as good as Peyton Manning, but when it comes to replacing Manning through the draft, the Colts could not have picked a better year to do so.
Other Possibilities: None. This has been the pick since halfway through last season. Manning to Denver just confirmed it.
Pick: Robert Griffin III
Measurables: 6' 2", 220 lbs, 4.41 40 time, 39" vertical
Analysis: This pick is just as much in the bag as Luck to Indy. Daniel Snyder and the Redskins did not give up three first-round picks to move up and select a left tackle or cornerback. The Skins have been looking for a franchise QB for a long time and with the uber-talented Heisman winner out of Baylor, they should find their guy.
RG3 is ALMOST as good of a prospect as Luck, and a better one than Cam Newton. He's just as athletic as Killer Cam, but he's a much more polished passer coming out of college. And looking at the improvements Cam made from his final year at Auburn to his first in the NFL, it's scary to think what RG3 could do.
RG3's play this year has cemented his status as the second-best player in the draft. It will be fun to compare him to Luck throughout their careers.
A lot of teams—most notably the Browns—were rumored to be looking to move up to acquire Griffin, but the Redskins jumped the gun and may have found the face of their franchise for the next 10+ years because of it.
Other Possibilities: None. If the Redskins were interested in improving other positions in the first round, they would have stood pat at No. 6.
Pick: Matt Kalil
Measurables: 6' 7", 295 lbs, 4.99 40 time, 30 bench press reps, 7.33 three-cone
Analysis: This pick might not be a sure thing like the top two, but it's a pretty safe bet.
The Vikings' Charlie Johnson is perhaps the worst starting LT in the NFL and the team will undoubtedly be looking to replace him this offseason. Why not do it with Matt Kalil? He's a Joe Thomas/Jake Long type player, and the best in this class after the two top QBs.
Kalil is an good athlete who moves his feet very well and also uses good technique. The one question is strength, but that's nothing some time in an NFL weight room won't fix. Most elite LT prospects lack NFL strength coming out of college because their coaches want them to keep their weight down—because frankly they don't need to be all that strong to dominate in college.
He's also a very good run blocker already, a skill many top pass protectors even in the NFL don't possess. There's a reason Tyron Smith—the Cowboys first-round pick in 2011—played Right Tackle while at USC. That reason is Matt Kalil.
Christian Ponder had a so-so rookie year, but he should be more comfortable in 2012 knowing he has this guy protecting his blind side.
Other Possibilities: LSU CB Morris Claiborne is an interesting candidate, but his coverage skills wouldn't be maximized in the Vikings' schemes. Justin Blackmon could fill a need at WR, but doesn't project as this high of a pick.
Pick: Morris Claiborne
Measurables: 6' 0", 185 lbs, 4.5 40 time, 34.5" vertical, 7.01 three-cone, 4.12 shuttle
Analysis: The Browns have so many needs that they should just pick the best player available. There isn't a player in this draft outside of Luck or Griffin that would turn this franchise around. With that said, Morris Claiborne is an elite corner prospect and probably the safest pick at this point.
The LSU Tiger has the size, speed, athleticism, and coverage skills to be an elite NFL corner from the get-go. He's a better prospect than former teammate Patrick Peterson, who went No. 5 last year. The Browns already have a star CB in Joe Haden, and drafting Claiborne would give them a realistic shot at having the league's best CB duo a year or two from now.
Cleveland may have more glaring needs than a second CB, but when you're picking in the top five, team needs shouldn't factor in all that much unless it's a left tackle or a QB. The Browns already have Joe Thomas, and while Colt McCoy isn't the long-term answer at QB, it would be a major reach to pick Ryan Tannehill—the next best QB prospect—at this spot.
This isn't a sexy pick, but Cleveland would be selecting the best defensive player in this draft.
Other Possibilities: If the Browns really want a QB Ryan Tannehill is obviously the pick. We've seen teams reach for QB's recently—Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder. RB Trent Richardson is an elite prospect who would fill a need, but I'm not a fan of picking RBs this high with the way the game is played today. They get hurt too much and tend to have short careers, especially bruising ones like Richardson.
Pick: Trent Richardson
Measurables: 5' 11", 224 lbs. Didn't run at combine (minor knee injury).
Analysis: I thought this pick was going to be Justin Blackmon, but then the Bucs went out and signed Vincent Jackson, eliminating that possibility.
LeGarrette Blount is a decent straight-line runner, but he's a one-trick pony. He can't be on the field in passing situations due to his inability to block or catch. RB isn't Tampa's biggest need, but Richardson is the best prospect at RB since Peterson and would add some much needed explosiveness and versatility to this offense.
Richardson is a beast of a back who also has great speed and makes sharp cuts to go along with his ability to plow through defenders. He's a great receiver and blocker, too.
The only thing preventing Richardson from going this high is that RBs don't go in the top five anymore, and a minor injury that caused him to miss the combine might cause some panic in teams looking to invest in him.
I have no doubts that Trent Richardson will dominate no matter where he ends up.
Other Possibilities: Unfortunately, the Bucs needs don't line up with the top prospects. Signing Jackson eliminates Blackmon. The team needs inside and outside LBs, but the top prospects at those positions—Courtney Upshaw at OLB and Luke Kuechly at MLB—would be major reaches.
Pick: Justin Blackmon
College: Oklahoma State
Measurables: 6' 1", 211 lbs, 14 bench press reps, Didn't run
Analysis: Justin Blackmon might not be a physical freak like A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but he is an elite, polished prospect who knows how to get open and catch the football. Isn't that what's most important when picking a WR?
If the Rams could get Blackmon here after trading down, that would be a major win because there is a good chance the Rams were going to pick him if they kept the No. 2 pick. The Rams desperately need to get weapons for Sam Bradford, especially after trading Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots.
Blackmon should be ready to go right away, and if the Rams are truly committed to Bradford as the future of this team they need to show him some love.
If Blackmon can establish himself early he would take a lot of pressure off of RB Steven Jackson, who has been carrying this team since the Greatest Show on Turf ended.
Other Possibilities: If Trent Richardson is on the board he'd be an intriguing option since Steven Jackson probably only has a few more years left. The Rams need O-Line help as well, so Riley Reiff out of Iowa could be an option but he'd be somewhat of a reach.
Pick: Melvin Ingram
College: South Carolina
Measurables: 6' 2", 276 lbs, 4.79 40 time, 28 bench press reps, 34.5" vertical, 6.83 three-cone, 4.18 shuttle time
Analysis: The Jaguars need to develop some sort of a pass rush, and Melvin Ingram has quietly climbed up draft boards since a solid all-around combine. He's probably established himself as the top pass rusher in this class.
Ingram was a top recruit who battled injuries early in his college career, but finally stayed on the field and established himself as one of the premier players in the SEC (the closest you can get to NFL-level competition). He has a great first step and solid rush moves.
The only issue with him is that he could afford to bulk up a bit, but the Jaguars run a 4-3 so being around 275 shouldn't be a problem for a DE.
Other Possibilities: The Jags really need a WR, and are praying that Blackmon falls to them. If he doesn't, Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame is a possibility. And like a lot of teams picking this high, O-Line is an issue, so Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin are names to watch for.
Pick: Ryan Tannehill
College: Texas A&M
Measurables: 6' 4", 222 lbs.
Analysis: I know the Dolphins just signed Garrard, and Matt Moore isn't that bad. But neither of them are the answer at QB for the future and while Tannehill may not be either, he's an intriguing prospect due to his athleticism and won't drop out of the top 10 since so many teams need QBs.
Sure this is a reach, but teams reach for QBs all the time. The Dolphins missed out on Matt Flynn, Alex Smith, and Peyton Manning. They need a new QB to spark energy. I'm not that high on Tannehill, but at least he would get this fan base excited again.
The former WR is still a bit raw as a passer, but he appears to have the arm necessary to make all the NFL throws. He had a good year at A&M and has established himself as the No. 3 QB in this class.
Tannehill actually reminds me of Aaron Rodgers a bit. I'm not saying he will be anything close to the player A-Rodg is, but when you look at them as prospects they are quite similar.
Other Possibilities: DE Quinton Coples out of UNC would provide a pass rush threat opposite Cameron Wake and could be the more logical pick. The two top tackles remaining—Reiff and Martin—would both be safe, solid picks, but there might be too much pressure on this front office for them to pick a lineman.
Pick: Riley Reiff
Measurables: 6' 6", 300 lbs, 5.23 40 time, 23 bench press reps, 26.5" vertical, 7.87 three-cone, 4.75 shuttle time
Analysis: Carolina needs help all over their line. Riley Reiff is a versatile guy who projects as a very good right tackle, but might play guard early in his career depending on where he's drafted.
Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross give the Panthers a solid duo at tackle. But Otah is always getting hurt, and with Travelle Wharton leaving via free agency there is a big need at guard. Reiff isn't an elite athlete, but he's a hard-nosed blocker who is already an elite run blocker.
Iowa always seems to send solid, dependable players into the league, and Reiff should follow suit. Reiff has solid upper body technique, uses his hands well and should be able to develop into any blocking scheme.
Other Possibilities: David DeCastro is the top guard prospect but would be a bit of a reach. The Panthers need a DT, that makes Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox both legitimate options for Carolina.
Pick: Courtney Upshaw
Measurables: 6' 2", 265 lbs, 22 bench press reps
Analysis: It'll be interesting to see what the Bills do with their defense. They run a 3-4, but new signing Mario Williams plays better in a 4-3. Either way, they need another pass rusher, and Courtney Upshaw could come in and provide a spark right away.
If Upshaw adds 10 pounds or so he will be able to play on the line if he needs to. He's a versatile pass rusher. He has a unique combination of size, strength, and speed that you see in young pass rushers today like Von Miller and Aldon Smith.
Upshaw plays big in big games and has had good coaching throughout his career. He's a no-doubt top 20 pick, and his versatility could push him this high.
Other Possibilities: Even with Mario Williams the Bills need another DE so Quinton Coples will be looked at closely here, as will OT Jonathan Martin. Some people are talking about the Bills going WR, but with the huge extension they just gave Stevie Johnson I think they'll wait until the later rounds to address that need.
Pick: David DeCastro
Measurables: 6' 5", 310 lbs, 5.43 40 time, 34 bench press reps, 29.5" vertical, 7.3 three-cone, 4.56 shuttle time
Analysis: The Chiefs are solid at both tackles and could complete their line by drafting a talented, NFL-ready player like DeCastro. He should help open up running lanes for the new Charles/Hillis combo right away.
David DeCastro is a monster. There's really no other way of putting it. He has super-human strength and is constantly throwing defensive lineman to the ground. His has great core strength and footwork, which allow him to hold his ground in pass protection as well. He's nearly impossible to move off his spot.
He also plays with a level of toughness and competitiveness you don't usually see out of college lineman. While not an elite athlete, his quick feet and solid hand technique allow him to get into the second level after taking care of his guy. He almost functions as a fullback on plays because you can run behind him and he'll take down anything in his path.
Pure guards aren't usually drafted this high, so when you're talking about a guy as a potential top 10 pick you know he is special. DeCastro has a chance to be a perennial All-Pro in the NFL.
Other Possibilities: While the Chiefs would love DeCastro, guard isn't their biggest need. For me it was a toss up between DeCastro and Memphis DT Dontari Poe. Poe would immediately start at NT for Kansas City and would fill a bigger need, but I went with DeCastro because he is a proven star whereas Poe is more of a combine warrior at this point.
Pick: Quinton Coples
College: North Carolina
Measurables: 6' 6", 285 lbs, 4.78 40 time, 25 bench press reps, 31.5" vertical, 7.57 three-cone, 4.78 shuttle time
Analysis: After signing Matt Flynn, Seattle's biggest needs shift to DE and CB. Seeing as Quinton Coples is the best player on the board and fits a need, he seems like the logical selection.
Coples didn't have the most consistent senior year, but he has all the talent to succeed in the NFL if he gives it all on every play. Just look at his measurables. They are reminiscent of DE's like Mario Williams and Julius Peppers.
He's an incredible athlete and very strong, but he needs to develop some moves because he won't be able to make it in the NFL based on sheer athleticism. Coples will take some work and he may not be ready to start right away, but he has the potential to emerge as one of the five best players in this draft class.
That upside will be too much for Pete Carroll to pass on at No. 12.
Other Possibilities: As I stated, CB is a need and players like Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins would be solid picks. After trading Lofa Tatupu, MLB has become a need and Luke Kuechly would be a good pick here. If Coples is on the board though, his upside is too much to pass up.
Pick: Jonathan Martin
Measurables: 6' 6", 304 lbs
Analysis: The Cardinals have holes all over their O-Line, and with Kalil, Reiff and DeCastro off the board Jonathan Martin steps into the role of best offensive lineman available.
Martin is a good, quick athlete who gets to the second level with ease and is already a very polished and dominant run blocker. He's very sloppy as a pass protector, though. He gets away with it in the Pac-12 because he is quicker, bigger, stronger and more athletic than all the guys he faces. That won't always be the case on Sundays.
Martin projects as a starting RT immediately with the physical tools to develop into a franchise LT if he puts in the work and has the right coaching. Either way, Martin will instantly make Arizona a better blocking team, and could turn out to be a steal this late.
Other Possibilities: The Cardinals need someone to keep pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald, and Michael Floyd would form a dangerous combination with Fitz. If DeCastro or Reiff fall to No. 13, they will be the pick.
Pick: Dontari Poe
Measurables: 6' 5", 350 lbs, 4.98 40 time, 44 bench press reps, 29.5" vertical, 7.9 three-cone, 4.56 shuttle time
Analysis: With Jay Ratliff in the middle of their 3-4 defense, the Cowboys don't need another Nose Tackle. But depth at an injury-prone position never hurts, and Dontari Poe's combine dominance might make him too intriguing for Jerry Jones to pass up. Besides, he could relieve Ratliff, seeing as it's important for a 3-4 defense to keep the guy in the middle fresh.
It's not fair for a man this big and strong to have Poe's speed and burst off the line. He needs to learn some moves and learn to cover his gaps in order to meet his full potential, but Poe's physical ability cannot be denied.
He needs to work on his stamina though, as it appears he can't be on the field for more than two or three plays in a row. Still, he could form a dangerous NT rotation with Ratliff right away and possibly develop into a dominant force down the road.
Other Possibilities: The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool to address their issues in the defensive backfield, but they could still go that route here. SS Mark Barron comes to mind. If they want to help their defensive front but don't want a pure NT, then DE/DT Fletcher Cox is an option. OG Cory Glenn is a sleeper, as Dallas could look to continue to build an improving line.
Pick: Whitney Mercilus
Measurables: 6' 4", 265 lbs, 4.68 40 time, 27 bench press reps, 32" vertical, 7.17 three-cone, 4.53 shuttle time
Analysis: I first had Philly taking Michael Floyd, but then they re-signed DeSean Jackson. Then I had them taking Luke Kuechly, but they traded for DeMeco Ryans. Well, the Eagles should be able to find a solid pass rusher here in Whitney Mercilus.
He's a diverse player who can both rush the passer and hold his gaps against the run. When he rushes, he uses relentless effort, and a combination of bull and outside moves to make up for his average athletic ability.
Mercilus will have to work on his lateral movement and coverage skills if he wants to play LB in the NFL, but we've seen plenty of guys come into the league with very raw coverage skills develop into solid coverage linebackers.
This may be a slight reach, but the Eagles have a good roster and filled some holes already this offseason, so they can afford to reach a little and draft for need with this pick.
Other Possibilities: Luke Kuechly could still be the pick considering he may be the best player on the board. If Courtney Upshaw falls here, he will be taken for sure.
Pick: Nick Perry
Measurables: 6' 3", 250 lbs, 4.64 40 time, 35 bench press reps, 38.5" vertical, 7.25 three-cone, 4.66 shuttle time
Analysis: In order for the Jets defense to reach its full potential, they need to rush the passer more. With Upshaw off the board, Perry becomes the best fit to get to the QB in this defense.
He's got great moves and quickness and while he may have underperformed a bit in college, it's mostly due to the fact that he doesn't really know how to use his hands. I expect the solid Jets staff to teach him well. Perry has the talent to be a very good edge rusher.
Other Possibilities: Kuechly is an option because Bart Scott is aging, but the Jets are trying to win now and drafting an edge rusher gives them a better chance to do that. With Burress likely signing with another team, they need a WR across from Santonio Holmes—Michael Floyd once again will be looked at closely here.
Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick
Measurables: 6' 2", 192 lbs, 4.51 40 time, 35" vertical
Analysis: This pick makes a lot of sense. The Bengals signed Jason Allen, but there is still a need at CB. Pacman Jones might sign elsewhere and even if he doesn't, he's not the long term starter. Nate Clements only has a couple of years left, and star corner Leon Hall is coming off season-ending Achilles surgery.
Kirkpatrick is great in coverage and run support. His height makes it even tougher to throw to his man. He doesn't have elite speed, but he makes up for it with great lateral quickness, good balance and incredible leaping ability.
He'll need to bulk up in order to jam some of the more physical receivers in the NFL but Kirkpatrick has all the makings of a great NFL corner. Character is an issue, but no one knows the real story of what happened with him, so I can't really hold that against him.
Other Possibilities: Cory Glenn is a very viable option at guard. Janoris Jenkins also may rank as the highest CB on Cincy's board, in which case he'll be the pick.
Pick: Michael Floyd
College: Notre Dame
Measurables: 6' 3", 224 lbs. 4.47 forty time, 16 bench press reps, 36.5" vertical
Analysis: The Chargers lost Vincent Jackson and signed Robert Meachem. Meachem is a decent player, but is an underachiever and by no means the physically dominant target that Jackson gave Phillip Rivers. Michael Floyd might be that guy.
Floyd had character concerns throughout his college career, but he finally appears to have his head on straight. His size and physicality allow him to beat the press coverage he faces and shield the ball, blocking out defenders. He projects as a very good possession receiver.
And despite not having elite speed, Floyd is a dangerous deep threat. He can jump, and has basketball arms and strong hands. This makes him a major jump ball threat, which means he'll be open deep—even if there's a guy right on him.
His lack of quickness and explosiveness may prevent him from becoming a truly elite WR, but he projects as a solid, 1,000 yard guy down the road.
Other Possibilities: Mark Barron or Janoris Jenkins would help the secondary, and may be safer picks. If they're really set on drafting a pass rusher they could reach for Vinny Curry out of Marshall. Stephen Hill is another option at WR.
Pick: Cordy Glenn
Measurables: 6' 5", 348 lbs, 5.15 40 time, 31 bench press reps, 23.5" vertical, 8.13 three-cone, 5.0 shuttle time
Analysis: The Bears are in a good spot here. They don't have any major needs, and there are some talented players available at the positions they could afford to improve. It would be foolish to draft a high-maintenence receiver like Michael Floyd here with Brandon Marshall in town, and there aren't any defensive backs or pass rushers worthy of this pick left, so Cordy Glenn becomes the pick by default.
That's not a bad thing though. The Bears need to upgrade the interior of their line, and while Glenn isn't as good as DeCastro, he is a surefire first-round talent in his own right.
He projects as a high-level starting guard for 10 years—that's worth the No. 19 pick to me.
Glenn isn't athletic enough to be a left tackle, but he's quick on his feet, gets to the second level and has been a dominant run blocker since his freshman year at Georgia. He played all over the line in college, and that versatility should allow him to start on whatever team drafts him.
Other Possibilities: They could still grab another WR, such as Floyd or Stephen Hill. Don't sleep on Kuechly as a potential future replacement for Brian Urlacher.
Pick: Luke Kuechly
College: Boston College
Measurables: 6' 3", 237 lbs, 4.58 40 time, 27 bench press reps, 38" vertical, 11.43 three-cone, 4.12 shuttle time
Analysis: Kuechly is a top 15 talent and the Titans would be thrilled if he fell into their laps. MLB isn't the team's biggest need, but Kuechly could play outside and eventually move to the middle if that's what they want.
Kuechly is simply the best tackler in college football. He uses his great speed, killer instincts and fundamentally sound form to wrap up the ball-carrier on what seems like every play. He also understands where he needs to be in coverage, and that makes up for his lack of off-the-charts athleticism.
Kuechly is probably a top 10 player in this class, and the only reason he won't go that high is because you generally don't draft LBs who can't rush the passer in the top 10. The Eagles trading for DeMeco Ryans could prove to be a blessing for the Titans.
Other Possibilities: Michael Brockers, a DT out of LSU, could just as easily be the pick. The Titans need DT help and after Kuechly, Brockers might be the best player available.
Pick: Stephen Hill
College: Georgia Tech
Measurables: 6' 5", 206 lbs, 4.36 40 time, 14 bench press reps, 39.5" vertical, 6.88 three-cone, 4.48 shuttle time
Analysis: This pick may come as a surprise to some. Most have the Bengals picking an OG and a CB with their two first round picks. In this mock, the Bengals already drafted a CB and there are no guards remaining worthy of this pick. Besides, the Bengals just signed a starting-caliber guard in Travelle Wharton.
No. 2 WR opposite A.J. Green has quietly became a need for Cincy. Andre Caldwell signed with the Broncos, and it doesn't appear as if the Bengals will re-sign Jerome Simpson (and even if they do he is inconsistent). Stephen Hill is a giant, fast player who is great at picking up YAC as well. He's a bona fide home run threat.
He makes highlight reel plays, but often loses focus and drops balls—that can be fixed, though. Coming from the Triple Option at Georgia Tech, he will have to learn how to play in a pro offense. However, Demaryius Thomas finally seems to have it figured out and Hill is a better prospect than Thomas was.
The Bengals could develop the most physically dominant WR duo in the league with Hill and A.J. Green.
Other Possibilities: D-Line depth never hurt and the Bengals lost a couple of guys to free agency, so Michael Brockers and Flethcer Cox would be solid picks. Signing Benjarvus Green-Ellis probably eliminates the possibility of drafting a RB, but David Wilson could be a deep sleeper, though he is more of a second round prospect.
Pick: Alshon Jeffery
College: South Carolina
Measurables: 6' 4", 235 lbs, Didn't run or do shuttle (two biggest concerns)
Analysis: If the Browns don't pick Justin Blackmon at No. 4, they will almost surely continue the run of WRs with this pick. If they truly feel Colt McCoy is their guy, they need to get him weapons. And if he's not, well, WR is still the biggest need on this team.
The general consensus is that Alshon Jeffery has been bumped down to a second round pick due to an inconsistent year and supposedly very slow 40 and shuttle times. While not a burner or an explosive guy by any means, Jeffery plays much faster on the field than any 40 time would indicate.
Jeffery's size, strength, leaping ability and gigantic soft hands will make him a force to be reckoned with in the red zone and over the middle. He beats press coverage with ease, as he is simply stronger than any CB he'll ever have to face. With that said, his route running needs work.
Jeffery could very easily fall into the middle of the second round, but there was a time not too long ago when he was being talked about as a top 10 pick.
Other Possibilities: I feel the Browns need to go WR here, and most people have Kendall Wright out of Baylor as the top one on the board. I like Wright, but he seems like more of a slot receiver (or at best a No. 2) to me, while Jeffery has the talent to become dominant.
Pick: Janoris Jenkins
College: North Alabama
Measurables: 5' 10", 183 lbs, 4.46 40 time, 33.5" vertical, 6.95 three-cone, 4.13 shuttle time
Analysis: In case you haven't heard the story about Janoris Jenkins, here it is in a nutshell: Jenkins came into the University of Florida as a top recruit. He was named a starter his freshman year and instantly proved to be one of the best corners in the country. He shut down both A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Then Jenkins was arrested three times—twice for marijuana, once for fighting—and kicked off the Florida team. He transferred to North Alabama, where he was again suspended for throwing a punch in a game.
That's Jenkins for you. Elite—and I mean elite—talent, but a constant troublemaker. If he screws his head on straight, he has the speed, balance, athleticism, ball skills and tackling ability to be a lockdown NFL corner. There really aren't any physical flaws you can point to with Jenkins.
He may take some time to teach—both off the field and on it—but if he learns the intricacies of NFL defenses and what it means to be a professional athlete, he could be a diamond in the rough. The Lions are a talented young team, and could be a shutdown corner away from becoming a Super Bowl contender.
Jenkins could very well be the next Pacman Jones. But he also could be the next Joe Haden.
Other Possibilities: The Lions will surely go DB here, and may go with a corner without the character issues, like Stephon Gilmore or even SS Mark Barron. Both would start right away.
Pick: Mike Adams
College: Ohio State
Measurables: 6' 8", 320 lbs, 5.4 40 time, 19 bench press reps, 28.5" vertical, 7.94 three-cone, 4.95 shuttle time
Analysis: The Steelers need help all over their line, and Mike Adams is a solid pick here because of his upside. He's battled injury issues and on-field inconsistency throughout his career, but he has the raw physical talent to be a dominant RT and potentially even a franchise LT in the NFL.
Mike Adams is one of those guys who always seems to be on the injury report and that will be a concern, as will the fact that he doesn't seem to really understand the game yet. He often misses assignments and doesn't know who to put a body on.
But he's incredibly strong throughout his body, and possesses great footwork and athleticism. Also, his size is simply incredible.
Adams will surely be a project and might not see significant playing time until 2013, but with the massive need the Steelers have at O-Line, they can't pass up a player with Adams' upside at No. 24.
Other Possibilities: A lot of people are mocking Dont'a Hightower here to replace James Farrior, but Adams probably brings greater upside and overall value to the table. With Hines Ward retiring, if the Steelers let Mike Wallace leave it would open up a huge hole at WR that could be filled by Kendall Wright or Mohamed Sanu.
Pick: Michael Brockers
Measurables: 6' 6", 306 lbs, 5.36 40 time, 19 bench press reps, 26.5" vertical, 7.46 three-cone, 4.81 shuttle time
Analysis: As much as Peyton Manning would love a weapon here, DT is the biggest need for this team and there is a plethora of talent at the position with Brockers, Fletcher Cox, and Devon Still. Brockers—just a redshirt sophomore—has the highest upside and most versatility of the three.
Brockers was perhaps the best run stuffer in college football last year and that is exactly what the Broncos need on their defense, especially since they play the Chiefs and Raiders twice a year. Brockers gets great leverage and has the strength to move linemen, which helps him cover multiple gaps at once. He can simply overpower the guy across from him.
Brockers struggles rushing the passer, but he's only seen playing time for one year and should be able to develop some moves and better hands. He has a good work ethic and will surely put in the effort, another attribute that moves him ahead of Cox and Still on my board.
Other Possibilities: Still and Cox, as I mentioned, will be looked at closely by Denver. And even with Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, and newly signed Andre Caldwell, the Broncos could go WR with Kendall Wright.
Pick: Kendall Wright
Measurables: 5' 10", 190 lbs, 4.61 40 time, 38.5" vertical, 6.93 three-cone, 4.18 shuttle time
Analysis: Kendall Wright is the best deep threat in the draft, and the Texans are desperately looking for that across from Andre Johnson. Wright's ability to play out wide or in the slot could add to this Houston offense what Torrey Smith added to Baltimore last year.
Wright has great speed and runs solid deep routes. His hands are better than most, and he is more polished than most primary deep threats who come out of college—DeSean Jackson, I'm looking at you. Wright is very dangerous after the catch, as well.
He's not big, but he's deceptively strong and should be able to fight through most press coverage, assuming the top corners will always be on Andre Johnson. A lot of people think Wright is the second best WR in this draft, and the Texans would be filling a need and getting great value taking him at No. 26.
Other Possibilities: The Texans will continue to look to improve their interior defensive line, so Still and Cox are viable options. If Jonathan Martin or Mike Adams are on the board, Houston will take a long look at them to play RT, since they lost Eric Winston.
Pick: Mark Barron
Measurables: 6' 2", 218 lbs
Analysis: The Patriots need to address their pass defense and I feel they will do so with their two first-rounders by getting a defensive back and a pass rusher. Mark Barron is one of the best players available and the top safety in the draft. His experience and NFL-readiness will attract the Patriots.
Barron is a smart player who picks up on what the offense is doing right away. His size and strength allow him to be a beast in run support, and his ability to read the QB and impressive ball skills make him a big-time interception threat.
Barron is a stiff player though, and not all that fast. Because of that he is a liability in man coverage, but the Patriots' safeties generally don't play too much man, so that shouldn't deter them from picking Barron. Barron is a proven player—he may never be Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu, but he is a safe bet to be a high-quality starter in the NFL.
Other Possibilities: Devon Still seems to be a common choice here and he projects as a 3-4 end in the Pats' scheme. They could also elect to grab a pass rusher like Ronnell Lewis or Andre Branch, but both of those players will probably be around when they pick again. Barron may not.
Pick: Devon Still
College: Penn State
Measurables: 6' 5", 310 lbs, 5.08 40 time, 26 bench press reps, 29.5" vertical
Analysis: Devon Still could be an imposing 3-4 end in the Packers system and provide a run stopper. He has the tools to develop into a pretty decent pass rusher, as well. Even if he doesn't necessarily get to the QB, his strength and first step would allow him to push the pocket back, making it tougher for opposing QBs.
What jumps out about Still is the fact that someone so big and so strong can be so quick on his feet and with his hands. Still plays very aggressively, and trying to block him will be an all-day battle.
He's arguably a top 15 talent, but durability is a major issue with him. He tore his ACL in 2007, broke his ankle in 2008, and has constantly had stamina problems throughout his college career. That shouldn't matter, though—with the stacked team the Packers have, he wouldn't be asked to do too much too early.
Other Possibilities: Peter Konz is the best center in the class and the Packers will surely look at him, but he's more of a second round prospect. A pass rusher would be a nice addition, and Branch could be a nice pick.
Pick: Peter Konz
Measurables: 6' 5", 315 lbs, 18 bench press reps
Analysis: Baltimore lost Ben Grubbs via free agency and the Ravens need to replace him. Konz is a great run blocker who could do that, and eventually move to C once Matt Birk retires, which will be soon.
Konz is a very powerful blocker and has the ideal body for an NFL center. He's by no means a great athlete, but playing center he won't be in space too much, so he can hide his lack of athleticism. He plays low and has great core strength, which allows him not to be pushed around, even by the strongest DTs in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin always produces NFL-ready lineman, and Konz should be the next in line. Expect him to start right away with the Ravens or someone else.
Other Possibilities: Dont'a Hightower could be picked as a future replacement for Ray Lewis. All the first round caliber OTs are off the board in this mock, but if one of them is around the Ravens will seriously consider going in that direction.
Pick: Stephon Gilmore
College: South Carolina
Measurables: 6' 1", 193 lbs, 4.4 40 time, 15 bench press reps, 36" vertical, 6.61 three-cone, 3.94 shuttle time
Analysis: Gilmore's play this year and impressive combine have turned him into arguably the second-best CB prospect in the draft. The 49ers already-stout defense is looking for corner help, and Gilmore fits the system very well.
Physically, he has it all. He's big and strong, fast and quick, and an impressive overall athlete who should be ready to matchup one-on-one with NFL WRs. He's great in press coverage and run support, which are two areas that young CBs often struggle in.
He also has much better ball skills than most CBs, and will turn tipped passes into interceptions. He is raw, though. His footwork needs help, as he's constantly crossing legs. He also seems to get lost at times and gives up big plays.
He might not be as NFL-ready as some of the corners taken in this mock already, but physically he can compete with anyone.
Other Possibilities: Even with Randy Moss, the 49ers could still be looking to go WR, but in this mock Mohamed Sanu is the only one on the board who would make sense and he's still a bit of a reach. TE Coby Fleener out of Stanford is a common mock here because of his experience with Harbaugh and the coach's love for two-TE sets.
Pick: Andre Branch
Measurables: 6' 5", 260 lbs, 4.7 40 time, 32.5" vertical, 7.19 three-cone, 4.25 shuttle time
Analysis: After getting Barron with their first pick, the Pats will certainly look pass rusher here, and Branch is the best on the board.
He projects as an OLB in their system. While Branch is raw, he is a great athlete with a great motor, and often wills his way into the backfield. He'll need to get stronger and learn some moves, but the physical ability is there and Branch appears to have the drive to reach the next level.
The Pats will appreciate that and should give him all the tools he needs to develop into a complete pass rusher.
Other Possibilities: Fletcher Cox would give them a versatile D-Lineman. Other than Cox and Branch, I could really only see them going O-Line and no one good is left.
Pick: Dont'a Hightower
Measurables: 6' 4", 260 lbs
Analysis: There are still concerns about Hightower's ACL tear a few years back, but he has all the tools to be the man in the middle that the Giants have been looking for since Antonio Pierce hung up the cleats.
Hightower may need to work on his coverage skills and lateral movement, but he's a huge, very strong player and a tackling machine. He reads plays well and is very difficult to block. He gives it 100 percent on every snap.
What I like most about Dont'a though is his ability to pressure the QB. Alabama often blitzed him from the MLB position, and even lined him up outside and on the line at times. Even the best MLBs in the NFL lack this skill, and it could be what lands Hightower in the first round.
Other Possibilities: TE, either Allen or Fleener. David Wilson is an intriguing prospect at RB, and the Giants will give him a look for sure. Also, if one of the big four tackles falls here, the Giants will more than likely grab him.