2012 NFL Mock Draft: Free Agency Alters Draft Plans
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This pick has stayed the same since January and will remain the same until April’s draft. Andrew Luck is the next franchise quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
2. Washington Redskins (Trade via St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
After giving up multiple first-round picks to move to this spot, all signs point to the Redskins making RG3 the next king of our nation’s capital.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Like the first two picks, this one is obvious. Kalil is without a doubt the best offensive lineman in the draft and will serve as Christian Ponder’s blind-side protection for years to come.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
After missing out on RG3 and Matt Flynn, it appears as if the Browns are prepared to build around Colt McCoy. That starts with getting a do-it-all running back to ease the pressure off McCoy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
In the pass-happy NFC South, the Bucs need to get a shutdown corner like Claiborne. Rated as my top overall prospect in the draft, Claiborne is the best cornerback to enter the draft since Darrelle Revis.
6. St. Louis Rams (Trade via Washington): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
While the Rams could trade down from this pick because of the overwhelming amount of holes the team needs to fill, Blackmon is a solid pick here. Sam Bradford needs a true No.1 receiver to build a relationship with for the rest of his career.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
For quarterback Blaine Gabbert to develop, he needs a play-making receiver to throw to. Floyd is the best receiver available and will start from day one in Jacksonville.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins missed out on every available quarterback (Manning, Flynn, Smith, Griffin), leaving them with Tannehill. While he may not start right away, Tannehill would be a solid pick for Miami.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Panthers are set offensively, meaning the team will likely go defense with this pick. Poe is a dominant nose tackle who would find an immediate role in Carolina’s defense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
After addressing the defensive side of the ball in free agency, the Bills will likely draft an offensive player with this pick. Reiff fills the void that will likely be left by Demetrius Bell, who is expected to sign with another team.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I’m a bit hesitant to put Kuechly here for two reasons: his draft stock is falling and the Chiefs don’t need a middle linebacker. However, the Chiefs don’t have many needs, so they will likely go with the best player available. As for Kuechly’s stock, expect him to possibly fall down in some of my upcoming mock drafts.
12. Seattle Seahawks: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
After investing a considerable amount of money into quarterback Matt Flynn and running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks will go offensive line here. DeCastro is the best lineman available and has a chance to be the best player from this draft 10 years from now.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Cardinals lacked a consistent pass rush in 2011, making Upshaw an easy pick here.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Cowboys need a pass-rusher to play opposite of DeMarcus Ware, and Ingram is the best outside rusher available.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
After settling the linebacker problem by trading for DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles need to improve the up-the-middle run defense. Barron would help with that, as he is much better against the run than he is against the pass.
16. New York Jets: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Jets need to upgrade the pass rush, so Coples is an easy pick here.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Bengals need to address the pass defense with one of the team’s two first-round picks, and if Jenkins is available here, he’s too good to pass up.
18. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford
Despite re-signing Jared Gaither, the Chargers still need to improve the offensive line. Martin is one of the more fundamentally sound linemen in this year’s draft and would fit well in San Diego.
19. Chicago Bears: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, Southern California
After trading for Brandon Marshall and signing Michael Bush, the Bears offense is pretty much set. That means the team will likely address the pass rush, and Perry is the best pass-rusher available.
20. Tennessee Titans: Fletcher Cox, DE/DT, Mississippi State
With the team signing Kamerion Wimbley to aid with the outside pass rush, it’s time to address the interior defensive line. Fletcher Cox would find immediate playing time as an interior defensive linemen, but is versatile enough to move to defensive end.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
The Bengals need to solidify the interior offensive line, making Glenn an easy pick. Glenn will begin as a guard, but his athleticism will allow him to move to tackle if the Bengals need him to.
22. Cleveland Browns: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
To continue the process of building around Colt McCoy, the Browns draft another playmaker for the offense. Wright is one of the fastest receivers in the draft and would help add some excitement to Cleveland’s offense.
23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
It’s no secret that the Lions’ biggest need is pass defense, making Kirkpatrick an easy pick here.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
While this may be a bit of reach to take Adams here, the Steelers need to find a franchise left tackle. The subpar play at left tackle held the Steelers back last season, making this pick that much easier for Pittsburgh.
25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
After losing Brodrick Bunkley in free agency, the Broncos now have a major need at defensive tackle. Brockers is the best tackle available here.
26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
It is becoming more and more apparent that the Texans will draft a receiver to complement Andre Johnson with this pick. Hill stole the show at the combine and is the best receiver available at this point.
27. New England Patriots: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
After losing Mark Anderson in free agency, the Patriots are in dire need of a consistent pass rush. Branch is a versatile pass-rusher, as he can play either defensive end or outside linebacker.
28. Green Bay Packers: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The Packers need to upgrade the interior defensive line with this pick and Still is the best defensive tackle available.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Now that the Ravens lost both Cory Redding and Jarret Johnson in free agency, the team could go with a defensive end or outside linebacker here. But instead, the team needs to draft Hightower, as he can serve as the heir to Ray Lewis.
30 San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
While the 49ers have one the best defenses in the NFL, the secondary could still use an upgrade. Gilmore is an athletic, versatile corner who can cover any type of receiver.
31. New England Patriots: Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut
After an impressive Senior Bowl, Reyes has been gaining some momentum during this draft process. Even though I have the Patriots addressing the defensive line with their first pick, I could see them doing it here again to add much-needed depth.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Even though the Giants signed tight end Martellus Bennet in free agency, they still need more help at the position. Fleener is my second ranked tight end behind Georgia’s Orson Charles, but I have him here because he fits better in New York’s offense.
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