2012 NFL Mock Draft: Will Minnesota Vikings Pass on Kalil for Claiborne?

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Will Minnesota Vikings Pass on Kalil for Claiborne?
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Offensive Tackle Matt Kalil at February's combine

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford

While there is some talk of the Colts taking Robert Griffin III, I severely doubt Indianapolis will take a chance on not drafting a guy who is being labeled "the next Peyton Manning."

Make no mistakes about it, Robert Griffin III is a great quarterback and athlete, but prospects like Luck come around every 10-to-15 years, and if you're fortunate enough to be drafting first, you need to make that move.

Andrew Luck recently completed 46-of-50 passes at Stanford's pro day, with three incompletions coming on drops.

I would be extremely surprised if the Colts drafted Robert Griffin III, but it wouldn't exactly hurt the franchise. Ultimately, both quarterbacks are future Pro Bowlers.

 

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor

The Redskins didn't trade up for no reason. They did it to get their hands on one of the most agile and athletic quarterbacks in NFL history.

Robert Griffin III was an absolute force with Baylor in his junior year, which resulted in him being awarded the Heisman Trophy. After his successful season, RG3, not surprisingly, declared for the 2012 draft.

 

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While at first it looked like the Browns would be taking him with the fourth pick, it became clear in the Rams' organization that they badly wanted to trade out of the second spot.

Washington has not had a stable quarterback in years. They flopped on both Donovan McNabb and John Beck, and now are turning their attention to the 6'2", 220-pound Griffin.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC

There have been recent rumblings coming from the Vikings front office that they plan to take a long look at both Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon.

This came as a surprise to many Vikings fans, as they expected the team to solely focus on left tackler Matt Kalil.

Minnesota has also been rumored to trade down, despite the fact that the Redskins already made a move to get ahead of them.

While I believe the Vikings will continue to look at trading down, I doubt it happens. The only team likely to move up would be the Dolphins or Jaguars, but moving down five-or-six spots wouldn't be the best case scenario for a team that needs talent on both sides of the ball.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama

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If Browns fans actually think their team is going to take Ryan Tannehill, they are sorely mistaken. That would set the franchise back even further than it already is.

Colt McCoy is basically at the same talent level as Tannehill is, and adding a rookie to an already young team wouldn't make any sense.

Trent Richardson is a physical, aggressive runner who the Browns will covet. He has ideal speed, and if you've seen his recent YouTube video--- you know that he's extremely tough to bring down.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU

The Buccaneers made two great free-agent acquisitions in Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, eliminating any chance that the team would spend their first-round pick on Justin Blackmon.

While they did add two great pieces to their offense, Tampa Bay's defense is still lacking a few key elements. Had they been able to sign Curtis Lofton as well, the Buccaneers defense could be well above average.

Tampa's front-seven is full of young talent, but their secondary is a mess. Ronde Barber will play one more year, but there's no guarantee what kind of player he'll be. There's a chance he'll even get switched to safety.

Either way, Morris Claiborne, if taken by the Bucs, will be a starter right away.

 

 

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State

Surprisingly, I'm not actually a fan of this pick in some ways. For starters, I'm not sure if Blackmon will live up to the hype. Receivers aren't often taken in the top six picks, and that's for a reason.

The Rams have talked about trading down once again in order to acquire more picks. It looks as though Jeff Fisher has some big plans for the upcoming draft.

If St. Louis stays put, this pick will likely come down to either Blackmon or Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina

I've heard plenty of Michael-Floyd-to-the-Jaguars talk as of late, but I don't think Floyd is worthy of being a top-10 pick.

Jacksonville did sign Laurent Robinson to a fairly big contract, and it appears as though they still have faith in Mike Thomas. The only way, in my opinion, that the Jaguars take a receiver, is if Justin Blackmon is on the board.

Melvin Ingram is a very physical, quick pass-rusher who can play at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

 


8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M

If the Dolphins seriously believe they are going to get anywhere with David Garrard or Matt Moore at quarterback, they are sadly mistaken.

Miami failed to sign Peyton Manning, Alex Smith or Matt Flynn, and now are looking at a horrible quarterback situation for next year. Their obvious lack of receivers isn't going to help too much either.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill is available here. If Matt Barkley and Landry Jones had declared for this year's draft, Tannehill wouldn't even be close to the first round. That being said, he's basically a lock to go top 10.

 

9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis

Not many people were aware of Dontari Poe before the 2012 combine, but after it was all over, anybody who knows anything knew who he is.

Dontari Poe is a rare talent, who has excellent speed and agility, despite being 350 pounds. This is something all teams covet in a defensive tackle.

Carolina has an obvious need at defensive tackle. While the man to fill that need was once Michael Brockers, he has since slipped significantly.

 

 

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa

After losing tackle Demetress Bell to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Bills' offensive line situation is not looking ideal. Clearly, this is a team that could not only use a starting left tackle, but depth behind every offensive line position.

Despite a recent report that Reiff was arrested in 2009, there's not a chance he slips past the top 15 picks. He has far too much potential, and the arrest was likely not as big a deal as the media recently made it seem.

Reiff, at just under 6'6", will have the ability to play at either tackle or guard. However, he's best suited at left or right tackle.

 

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford

With the signing of Peyton Hillis this offseason, it's clear that the Chiefs plan to be a run-first team next year. With Matt Cassel as their starting quarterback, I don't blame them for doing so.

Considering the way their offensive line is right now, the Chiefs are going to have their work cut out for them. Signing former Texan Eric Winston was a start, but they'll need more than that to become a dominant run-team.

David DeCastro is one of the best guard prospects in years, and his work on the field shows it. He and Jonathan Martin are two of the biggest reasons why Andrew Luck was so successful at Stanford.

 

 

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Boston College

It's not often middle linebackers are taken in the top 15 picks, but with a talent like Luke Kuechly on the board, the Seahawks won't be able to pass.

Kuechly is an absolute monster on the field, and he never gives up on a play. With his strength and tenacity, there's no reason to believe he won't notch 150 tackles in a season, early on in his career.

Seattle wanted David Hawthorne back, but they lost him to the Saints after they offered more money. They won't miss him if they're successful in landing Kuechly.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame

The Cardinals, who once possessed one of the best passing attacks in the NFL, now have one of the worst. You can blame that on Kevin Kolb and John Skelton all you want, but Arizona's lack of receivers aren't helping the cause.

Larry Fitzgerald is there to stay in Arizona, and the Cardinals did re-sign Early Doucet. However, Doucet's "breakout" season only resulted in 54 catches and five touchdowns.

Next season, the Cardinals would be wise to keep Doucet in the slot, while having Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd run routes. Kevin Kolb could finally have a big year in the NFL with these weapons.

 

 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, Strong Safety, Alabama

It's been reported for a week now that the Cowboys' draft decision is likely going to come down to Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe or Alabama strong safety Mark Barron.

With Poe off the board, the Cowboys will settle on Barron. Signing Brodney Pool isn't going to turn around the Dallas secondary, by any means.

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Barron is a physical safety with great ball skills and tremendous tackling ability. Basically, Barron is the all-around safety the 'Boys have been looking for, for many years.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina

This might not be the most popular move for Eagles fans, but it's something they'll definitely consider. Most likely, though, Philadelphia will try to trade this pick.

The Eagles will definitely consider a defensive tackle like Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers, but Philly's secondary could use more work.

In my opinion, Asante Samuel is going to eventually get cut or traded. Doing this would bump Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie into the starting lineup, opposite of Nnamdi Asomugha. Gilmore will cover slot receivers in his rookie year.

 

 

16. New York Jets: Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Illinois

It's surprising that a defensive-minded team like the Jets don't have more players who can rush the quarterback. They're hoping Aaron Maybin will be able to, but he has primarily been a bust throughout his career.

A month ago, I would have been confident that New York would select Courtney Upshaw. However, over the past few weeks, Upshaw's stock has dropped steadily.

Whitney Mercilus is a tremendous pass-rusher with solid speed, great strength and an un-dying motor. He's a lock for the top 20 picks.

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama

There were talks a while back that Dre Kirkpatrick was likely to slip out of the first round due to his arrest for marijuana. Those charges have since been dropped, and it's safe to say that Kirkpatrick is now a lock for the first round.

The Bengals were much improved on defense last year, but they could use upgrades in a few areas. Nate Clements was effective against the run as a cornerback last year, but his cover skills are terrible.

 

Clements is set to make $4.3 million in 2012, so there's a strong chance he gets cut. Kirkpatrick may very well start right away in his rookie season.

 

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, USC

In case you were unaware, the Chargers were pathetic at getting to the quarterback last year. Antwan Barnes managed to rack up 11 sacks, but nobody else came close to that number.

San Diego tried to turn Travis LaBoy into an impact player on defense, but he completely flopped, only managing 38 tackles and a sack.

Nick Perry might not be a top-20 talent to some people, but that's likely where he'll be picked. Although he may not start, he should make a difference for the Chargers in 2012.

 

19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina

There's been a lot of talk that despite trading for Brandon Marshall, the Bears plan on taking a receiver in the first round. I don't buy it, personally.

I think spending a pick on somebody like Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill this early, would be a foolish choice. Besides, taking a receiver in the first round is something the Bears dislike doing.

 

Quinton Coples is a top-10 talent who will fall because of his attitude and work ethic. If he doesn't stay in shape on a consistent basis, he may turn out to be a bust.

 

20. Tennessee Titans: Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State

This pick will likely come down to either Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers, as it has become relatively apparent that the Titans plan on taking a defensive tackle in the first round.

Jurrell Casey and Sen'Derrick Marks might be viewed as Tennessee's starting defensive tackles for the moment, but that's not something to look forward to.

While Brockers is the better fit for Mike Munchak's defense, but he's not the better prospect. Fletcher Cox should get the nod if the Titans base it purely off talent.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, Guard, Georgia

With their first pick, the Bengals went with cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. With their secondary in tact, Cincinnati should turn their attention to upgrading their offensive line.

Bobbie Williams was once considered one of the best guards in the league, but he's now a free agent and his career is likely over.

Cordy Glenn was a monster at the combine, but he's still not the better prospect between himself and David DeCastro. Nonetheless, Glenn is the perfect candidate for the Bengals at pick No. 21.

 

 

22. Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford

With the fourth pick, I have Cleveland taking Alabama running back Trent Richardson. This, in itself, will make the Browns one of the best running teams in the NFL, but they will need a little help on the O-line if they want to be as such.

Jonathan Martin is a great talent who is likely going to slide because of the crop of talent there is on the offensive line this year. If it weren't for guys like David DeCastro or Cordy Glenn, Martin may be a top-10 pick.

Cleveland should be thanking their lucky stars for getting somebody of Martin's caliber this late in the draft. There's no reason to believe that he shouldn't start from day one.

 

23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama

Not sure why, but the Lions are extremely high on Janoris Jenkins as a prospect. Somehow, despite his numerous off-the-field incidents, Detroit finds him intriguing.

While there's no denying Jenkins' talent, one has to wonder if his mental state-of-mind will be able to stay on track in the NFL.

Don't buy the talk that Jenkins is going to slip into the second round, because he's far too talented for that. The Lions will most likely roll with him as one of their starting cornerbacks next year.

 

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, Inside Linebacker, Alabama

In my opinion, this pick is pretty much a lock. The Steelers need an inside linebacker, and Dont'a Hightower has that aggressive streak to him. It's a match made in heaven.

The Steelers cut James Farrior this offseason, which immediately prompted people to believe they'll go with an inside linebacker in Round 1. Those people will not be wrong.

Dont'a Hightower will be brought up with great veteran talent, and I'm confident he'll be an impact player for the Steelers in the very near future.

 

25. Denver Broncos: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech

Many Broncos fans might be slamming their keyboards for not seeing the name Michael Brockers here, but there's plenty of good reasons as to why Denver should pass on a defensive tackle for a wide receiver.

Demaryius Thomas is a great talent, of course, but there's no telling whether or not he can hold up for the course of an entire season. The same goes for third-year receiver Eric Decker.

Stephen Hill and Demaryius Thomas were both at Georgia Tech together, so this could be a big factor in Denver's decision. The Broncos' passing game just became dominant.

 

 

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner, Baylor

Houston already possesses one of the best offenses in the NFL, but there's no doubt that they need to find a true No. 2 receiver on the opposite end of Andre Johnson.

Jacoby Jones was at one point expected to be the man who would fill that role, but he's a below-average receiver with above-average kick-returning skills.

Kendall Wright has excellent speed, agility and ball skills. He's a near lock to start over Kevin Walter in 2012.

 

27. New England Patriots: Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU

While it's probably not one of the picks you're used to seeing to the Patriots, it's one that is very likely if Brockers somehow falls to New England.

Over the past few years, the Patriots' defensive line has drastically gone down in talent. Ever since Richard Seymour was traded, New England hasn't been able to find a consistent pass-rusher.

Yes, Mark Anderson and Andre Carter had great seasons with the Pats, but Anderson is now with the Bills and Carter is a free agent who's nursing an injury.

 

Michael Brockers may be somewhat of a project to start, but Bill Belichick is tremendous with young talent.

 

28. Green Bay Packers: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin

Despite the recent signing of Jeff Saturday, the Packers should look for a center early on in April's draft.

Saturday is 37 years old, has declining skills and this is very likely to be his last season in the NFL. He's mainly looking to add a second Super Bowl ring to his name.

Peter Konz, if drafted by Green Bay, would have the chance to learn behind Saturday for a year. In 2013, he will take over the starting center vacancy for the Packers.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, LSU

If the Ravens don't intend to sign Joe Flacco to a long-term extension this year, they'll have to soothe his soul in a different way. Drafting a great talent like Rueben Randle would be a start.

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While Baltimore does have several weapons, they're not weapons that are scaring opposing defenses. Torrey Smith has great potential, but I'm not sure if he's a bona fide No. 1 wideout. Meanwhile, Anquan Boldin is getting older, and his ability to get open is dwindling.

 

Rueben Randle has great size at 6'3", 215 pounds, and has been compared to New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford

I recently saw this pick mocked to the 49ers on WalterFootball.com, and I couldn't help but agree with it.

The usage of two tight ends is something that is becoming way more common in the NFL. New England, Minnesota, Baltimore, Houston, Washington, Seattle and Detroit are all teams that are known to run this style of offense.

Jim Harbaugh is a fan of Delanie Walker, but it's mainly because Walker is used in various ways. I think he would be better suited as a fullback/wide receiver. He deserves to be on the field, and it will be exciting to see what he can do in the final year of his contract.

The reason I believe San Francisco will take Fleener is because he has been compared to Rob Gronkowski, played under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and will be able to make an immediate impact with his soft hands and excellent speed.

 

31. New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Alabama

I have the Patriots going with a defensive tackle in Michael Brockers with their first pick, and now it's time to look for a pass-rusher to replace Mark Anderson.

 

Courtney Upshaw has been falling down draft boards recently, due to his size not being ideal for either a defensive end or outside linebacker. Some feel he's too short for defensive end but too big for rush-linebacker.

Nevertheless, the Patriots will ultimately be able to find the perfect spot for Upshaw. He could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the first round.

 

32. New York Giants: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback/Safety, Nebraska

Not exactly a huge area of need for the Giants, but I'm sure Prince Amukamara wouldn't mind being reunited with his former teammate.

The Giants lost long-time cornerback Aaron Ross to the Jaguars, but they won't mind losing him if they land somebody like Dennard.

With his ability to play at either cornerback or safety, the Giants will be able to use him in different ways.

Don't be surprised if the Giants trade down here, either. Look for them to take a running back in the second round.

 

Be sure to follow Tanner Thoms on Twitter @TannerThoms 

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