2012 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Projections After Andrew Luck, RGIII Pro Days
It's an interesting project to process the impact of pro days on a mock draft. They're important to be sure, but sometimes their impact can be overestimated. There are teams who barely talk to their future first-round picks and there are others where one might think a restraining order could be in order.
A lot was made of the report that the higher-ups in the Colts franchise structure didn't make the trip to Stanford, but we know Andrew Luck will have a private session with the team.
Could the Colts go with Robert Griffin III over Luck? Sure. It'll have nothing to do with having a smaller presence at Stanford than Baylor. You could play it either way since both players had ridiculous pro days. Neither one will drop past two, I can guarantee you that.
With that in mind, now that the two "biggest" pro days are done and the bulk of the free-agency signings are past, we can take another run at a more informed mock.
Feel free to comment below, though I know I don't have to tell you guys that at this point.
1. Indianapolis Colts—Andrew Luck, QB
I just don't see Griffin overtaking Luck, but it has little to do with ability and everything to do with what the Colts will likely be looking to do offensively. Luck is mobile enough to keep a play alive, but much more a pocket quarterback—something the Colts will be far more comfortable with. As exciting as Griffin is, Indianapolis will look for something more comforting and "normal," and that is Luck.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis)—Robert Griffin III, QB
Of course they'll "settle" for Luck if the Colts pull a fast one and grab Griffin. It's not an insane thought, though again, Luck is a better fit for what they will look to do with their offense.
Griffin is a tremendous athlete who is very accurate and a good team leader. The more I watch of him, the more impressed I am. My biggest worry is whether he will be able to stand up to the beating he might get if he runs a lot. He seemed to take a lot of shots at Baylor and was occasionally slow to get up.
He always got up, though, and got right back in the huddle. That toughness will make the Redskin faithful very happy.
3. Minnesota Vikings—Matt Kalil, OT
I really tried to shoehorn Claiborne in here but as good as he is—and he is very, very good—I think it would be crazy to pass on a franchise left tackle when you have a young quarterback behind an aging offensive line. In my world, there is no way the Vikings are that kind of crazy.
4. Cleveland Browns—Morris Claiborne, CB
OK, Cleveland fans, before you send a hitman after me, hear me out on this pick. As much as Trent Richardson is an elite back, as much as the drop-off from him to the next man up is steep and as much as I feel that two of the first three picks of Cleveland's 2012 NFL draft should be—nay, must be—for offense, the Browns can easily go defense here.
The question is, how much do they value running back versus the best pick available, because both Claiborne and Richardson are top five talents. However, running backs have dropped in overall value the last few years and while Richardson is a tremendous back, there are very good backs who will be available later, but few corners with Claiborne's ability and lack of question marks.
If the Browns go this way, expect the 22nd pick or the 37th pick to be a running back. This holds the same for a wide receiver as well, only more so as Blackmon may be the top wideout, he's nowhere near as far from the second-best prospect as Richardson is to his.
Rest assured, Cleveland will still look heavily at the offense. Pairing Claiborne with Joe Haden is just too tempting to pass up. While the AFC North teams run the ball a lot, they throw too—plus the rest of the AFC loves to pass. You need corners to win in this league.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Trent Richardson, RB
Of course, Richardson won't fall far. I like LeGarrette Blount a ton, but he's limited and because he can't catch the ball, he isn't on the field for third downs. Richardson can do it all and the Bucs will want to give fourth-year quarterback Josh Freeman a weapon to keep defenses honest. Richardson can do that and more.
6. St. Louis Rams—Justin Blackmon, WR
Quite simply, Sam Bradford needs weapons. There has been some argument as to Blackmon being overrated and it's not a crazy argument. However the Rams can ill afford to pass on a big play guy like Blackmon after losing Brandon Lloyd in free agency. This is just too critical to mess with unless they get another trade offer and move back a bit.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars—Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB
You can move Ingram all over the defense and get the same high-energy, hard-working effort from him. The Jaguars will love the non-stop motor and determination as well as the high-character personality.
8. Miami Dolphins—Ryan Tannehill, QB
I don't love this pick. Tannehill is definitely the third-best quarterback in this class but he's not worth a top-10 pick. That said, the Dolphins have struck out swinging on every big free-agent quarterback they've aimed for and while they can spin it all they want, it looks bad.
So don't be shocked if the Dolphins reach for their future Dan Marino earlier than they should. Tannehill is a solid quarterback with upside, he's just not top-10 worthy. Unlike previous bad ideas (Ted Ginn, Jr., Pat White, Marcus Vick, John Beck), this one won't be a disaster. They'll just be overpaying. Hopefully they'll give Tannehill time to develop and show patience with him.
Unfortunately, I don't believe patience is Stephen Ross' strong point.
9. Carolina Panthers—Dontari Poe, DT
The Panthers need a big body inside and while Poe doesn't always stand out on tape, he had an absolutely ridiculous combine and his combination of speed and explosive power will more than overcome that. His upside is huge and the Panthers need good players to build a defense around.
10. Buffalo Bills—Riley Reiff, OT
The Bills have gone heavy on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, so expect them to improve the offensive line early on to keep franchise quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on his feet. Reiff could start off at right tackle or move to left right away. The Bills need offensive line help in a few spots, so either way he'll see early action.
11. Kansas City Chiefs—Michael Brockers, DT/DE
With the signing of offensive tackle Eric Winston, the Chiefs now have the flexibility to go any direction. They may continue to beef the line up with another pick, but they do have some need on the defensive side of the ball. You could put Brockers anywhere along the defensive line and he'll have a quick impact. He's a great value here and will kick the Chiefs' draft off to a good start.
12. Seattle Seahawks—Luke Kuechly, ILB
The Seahawks have a lot of linebacker issues, the worst of which is the potential departure of middle linebacker David Hawthorne. Even if Hawthorne returns (and the market for him is drying up quickly), it could be a short contract as the Seahawks don't cough up big money for linebackers. So getting a younger linebacker who is also cheaper could be the move. That Kuechly is a tremendous player makes this all the more attractive.
13. Arizona Cardinals—Jonathan Martin, OT
Levi Brown finally seems to be an OK solution at left tackle, but there has been talk of him moving back to right tackle. Even if he stays on the left side the right tackle is an issue. Enter Martin, who did a great job protecting Andrew Luck at Stanford and would be a big help in keeping whomever the Cardinals have taking snaps.
14. Dallas Cowboys—Courtney Upshaw, OLB
Sure, Anthony Spencer was franchised and will remain at least one more year to play across from DeMarcus Ware. Spencer hasn't been much of a force there, though, so grabbing a younger pass-rusher who can actually get to the quarterback as well as defend the run just makes loads of sense.
15. Philadelphia Eagles—Fletcher Cox, DT
The DeMeco Ryans trade was a brilliant move but isn't a cure-all for the issues in the middle of the field. Defensive tackle isn't a huge need for the Eagles, but they don't have a tremendous player there while Cox could line up as a three-technique and can get penetration behind the line.
16. New York Jets—Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB
The Jets have some age issues at outside linebacker and the Jets could use help there. On top of that, they could use someone who could fill in across from second year player Muhammad Wilkerson. In both spots, they could use another guy who can get to the passer. In fact, the Jets need more guys in general who can get at the passer. Mercilus can rotate in his first year at either spot and would be a starter by next year, if not sooner.
17.Cincinnati Bengals—David DeCastro, OG
Bobby Williams was OK at right guard last year and "OK" isn't good enough. DeCastro is the complete package and a tremendous player, able to work at either guard spots. They need to open holes for newly minted Bengal BenJarvus Green-Ellis and keep franchise quarterback Andy Dalton upright. DeCastro proved at Stanford that he can do both.
18. San Diego Chargers—Quinton Coples, DE
Luis Castillo is gone and the Chargers have issues on the defensive line to begin with, so adding an end in the draft is a pretty good bet. Coples has some doubters who say his effort is inconsistent, but his upside is huge and he's likely to prove many people wrong. Middle of the first round could end up being a steal—at the least, it's great value.
19. Chicago Bears—Cordy Glenn, OG/OT
The Bears will be awfully tempted by Michael Floyd here, but they have to open holes for their running backs and protect Jay Cutler at all costs because without Cutler there is no playoff run, much less a Super Bowl. If there is a tackle or guard here worth the pick, any other selection is just business as usual—and all things being equal, business as usual hasn't been good enough.
20. Tennessee Titans—Devon Still, DT
Still will be a great anchor for this line and while he isn't going to generate a lot of sacks personally, he will create enough of a mess to allow his defensive teammates to harass quarterbacks all day.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Stephon Gilmore, CB
Nobody in the Bengals secondary is close to as talented as this hard-charging, aggressive cornerback. With Nate Clements aging and Pacman Jones...well, Pacman Jones, this unit is in desperate need of help.
22. Cleveland Browns—Michael Floyd, WR
I told you an offensive player was coming, didn't I? In this case, the Browns get very lucky and are able to snag Floyd as he surprisingly drops all the way to 22. Floyd had some off-the-field issues, but sounds like he is back on track. Colt McCoy needs weapons and this tough, aggressive and fast wide receiver.
23. Detroit Lions—Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
With Eric Wright signing in Tampa Bay, the Lions could use an upgrade in the secondary. Kirkpatrick is a physical corner who can make plays as well and would be an excellent fit in this defense from day one.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers—Peter Konz, C/OG
Konz can play guard or center but as the Steelers have an excellent center I would expect him to begin his career as the left guard for the Steelers, who are in desperate need of offensive line help.
25. Denver Broncos—Jerel Worthy, DT
Worthy will release some pressure off Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller as well as help clog the middle up. As if this defense needs more front seven help.
26. Houston Texans—Kendall Wright, WR
Wright could go higher, given an excellent combine and pro day, but if he drops this far, that's it. The Texans aren't desperate for a wide receiver but would go best pick available and Wright is an excellent value here. He'd start very quickly across from Andre Johnson.
27. New England Patriots—Nick Perry, DE/OLB
Perry isn't keen on switching from defensive end to outside linebacker and that's fine for the Patriots as they need to get younger at end anyway. Still, they could give him a few shots at OLB as well and it's that sort of versatility that Bill Belichick and company love.
28. Green Bay Packers—Dont'a Hightower, ILB
Hightower can bring the heat from the inside or the edge and any pressure is good pressure as far as the Packers are concerned.
29. Baltimore Ravens—Stephen Hill, WR
The Ravens had a good year from Torrey Smith last season, but Anquan Boldin is about done and nobody else is stepping up yet. Hill has good size and speed, as well as a "my ball" mentality that makes him able to overcome defenders for a jump ball. Once he gets his routes down, he'll be deadly.
30. San Francisco 49ers—Coby Fleener, TE
Delanie Walker will be gone next year and hasn't been impressive to date anyway. Fleener would be a pain in the rear lined up across from Vernon Davis and would help overcome a lackluster group of wide receivers (yes, including Randy Moss). He blew everyone away at Stanford's pro day and would be a heck of a draw for the Bay Area 49ers.
31. New England Patriots—Andre Branch, DE/OLB
Expect this pick to be one that gets traded. If not, Branch is a great selection. Like Perry, his versatility will be coveted by the Patriots, who mix up both 3-4 and 4-3 looks. Branch would be coming off the edge in either case, and this is a defense that needs more pressure from the outside.
32. New York Giants—Doug Martin, RB
Luxury pick? Sure. Martin is a hot riser post-Senior Bowl and combine and could go anytime in the late first round. The Giants let Brandon Jacobs go and could use another hard running back to match with Ahmad Bradshaw. I'm a big fan of Martin and he'd be a perfect fit in New York.
That said, this pick could also be Mark Barron (who dropped in this mock but won't last past the first few picks in round two) or another defensive back, a linebacker or even yet another defensive end.
You can pretty much do as you like when you win a Super Bowl.
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