We are now entering full draft season around the National Football League. Once the calendar struck midnight on the first of April, it was on.
Compensation picks have been determined, a major trade was made and free agency is pretty much a wrap. This all means that teams are looking towards the NFL draft, which is less than four weeks away.
It is also time that focus shifts around the web from free agency to the annual event in New York City. Over the course of the next few weeks, you are sure to see a myriad of mock drafts and analysis about where prospects are going to go and what teams are going to do.
It happens every offseason.
This mock draft is going to provide you with four full rounds. I will analyze each pick in the first three rounds while drawing conclusions about where certain teams are going to go. The last few slides will also provide you with a team-by-team breakdown of their selections.
Hope you enjoy!
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The Indianapolis Colts did well for themselves by acquiring Drew Stanton in order to be Luck's primary backup moving forward. It gives them a quarterback with starting experience in case the Stanford prodigy is unable to assume the starter role immediately.
With that said, I see absolutely no reason why Luck wouldn't be ready to make an immediate impact. He is the most pro-ready quarterback to hit the circuit in over a decade and has all the capabilities to perform at a high level immediately.
Now it is up to the Colts to get him some weapons, outside of Reggie Wayne, on the offensive side of the ball. That is what the rest of the draft is going to be all about.
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
The Washington Redskins may have given up a bounty to acquire the rights to select Robert Griffin III. That really doesn't matter at this point considering how most experts project him to perform at the next level.
He might have a larger learning curve than Andrew Luck, but the reigning Heisman winner is going to be a special talent at the next level.
With all due respect to Rex Grossman, there is absolutely no way that RGIII sits on the sidelines. Instead, look for him to start day one.
Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, Southern California
Probably one of the most fundamentally sound offensive tackles to enter the NFL draft in quite a while, Matt Kalil should be able to come in immediately and improve the Vikings' poor pass protection.
Even without a day under his belt in the National Football League, Kalil is still a better offensive tackle than Charlie Johnson. While that might not say a lot about the veteran tackle, it does indicate that the USC product is ready to start from day one.
After all, you don't spend a top-five pick on a player that is going to be riding the pine early in his career.
Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
It is going to be a tough situation for the Cleveland Browns heading into the draft later this month. They are not going to get tremendous value no matter what direction they go on the offensive side of the ball.
This leads me to believe that Cleveland will look to trade down if an opportunity presents itself.
With that said, I am not into the game of projecting trades. It rarely works.
Justin Blackmon would provide Colt McCoy with that threat that he currently doesn't have on the outside. More than that, he will be able to stretch the field and enables the Browns to move Greg Little to his more natural position.
The former Oklahoma State star may struggle getting off the line against press early in his career, but he translates well to being a true No. 1 receiver.
Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, Louisiana State
This is where it gets a little tricky. If Aqib Talib was a good bet to play in 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might not need to look in this direction early in the draft. However, his trial for assault with a deadly weapon has been pushed back to June.
It is safe to say that Tampa Bay just cannot rely on the talented corner moving forward. Despite signing Eric Wright, the Buccaneers are in need of a true shutdown corner.
Morris Claiborne is the consensus No. 1 corner in the 2012 NFL draft. He doesn't have a glaring weakness in his game and translates well to being that true shutdown man on the outside.
Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
At first glance, this might seem like a little bit of a reach. However, I do have Michael Floyd as the No. 1 receiver in the 2012 NFL draft. We all know that the Rams must give Sam Bradford some actual weapons on the outside for him to succeed moving forward.
While Steve Smith, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, was a good signing, they need more consistent targets on the outside.
Floyd has the most pro-ready game of any receiver in the draft. He should be able to come in immediately and provide Bradford with that big play threat on the outside. Look for him to be targeted early and often in the red zone. The Notre Dame product is as physical as they come and will not struggle getting off the line against press.
Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
The Jacksonville Jaguars will definitely look to trade down if the board plays out like I expect. This is a team in desperate need of some help at the wide receiver position. Instead, they go with the best natural 4-3 pass-rusher in the draft.
While I am not incredibly high on Coples, he fits perfectly into what they are attempting to build on the defensive side of the ball. The North Carolina product will be stout against the run early in his career as he adapts to the nuances of NFL blocking schemes. Look for an immediate impact in that regard.
He will also provide a great 1-2 punch with Jeremy Mincey on the other side of the defensive line. This makes the Jaguars defense that much better, especially their pass defense.
Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
To say that the Miami Dolphins are in a precarious situation in regards to the quarterback position would be a gross understatement. They went from courting Peyton Manning to kicking the tires on Matt Flynn. After the dust settled with those two individuals, Miami went after Alex Smith and finally settled for David Garrard.
It is time to stop questioning the lackluster performance of Jeff Ireland and Co. in order to start focusing on what they need to do in order to move forward as a franchise.
This is a team that has not had a true franchise signal-caller since Dan Marino, which speaks volumes in terms of their inability to bring in the right guy for the job.
While Ryan Tannehill would be a major reach here, it doesn't seem that the Dolphins have much of a choice. They need to get that quarterback of the future, no matter how much of a reach it would be. Tannehill is nowhere near ready to start immediately and will need to ride the pine for a season or two.
With that said, he does have the skill set to be a front-of-the-line starter in the distant future.
Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
Some people believe that Poe is nothing more than a workout warrior. They say that "he didn't show up a lot at Memphis." Well, this is because the massive defensive tackle was taking on double and triple teams the majority of the time.
He would provide a massive upgrade on rush defense for the Carolina Panthers, who were among the worst in the NFL in this category last season.
Additionally, Poe should be able to take on double teams and open up gaps for oncoming pass-rushers from the outside. If the Memphis product falls to the Panthers here, they would be foolish to pass up on him.
Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Now that the Buffalo Bills have fixed some of their issues on the defensive side of the ball with the signings of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, it is time for them to get that franchise offensive tackle.
While Reiff might not have the upside of some of the other tackle prospects in the draft, he will be a good player right out of the gate. You are looking at someone that has pro-ready technique after succeeding in that style of a blocking scheme in college at Iowa.
He should be able to come in and immediately improve the Bills' pass protection issues.
David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
Not only is this a position of need for the Kansas City Chiefs, they get a player that is No. 6 on my overall ranking of prospects for the 2012 NFL draft.
David DeCastro is the best guard prospect to enter the league in two decades, even better than Steve Hutchinson. He has the ability to maul inside, dominating opposing defensive tackles at the point of contact.
The former All-American at Stanford will also be a key cog in pass protection. He already possesses good pad level on blocks, utilizes amazing technique and is extremely strong at the point of contact.
A surefire Pro Bowl performer at the next level.
Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
If the board plays out this way, the Seattle Seahawks couldn't possibly pass up on the opportunity to draft Trent Richardson. He is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson entered the draft in 2007.
This leads me to believe that some team like the Cincinnati Bengals would trade up for his services should he fall out of the top 10. However, I have already acknowledged the fact that I am not going to project trades in this mock draft.
Seattle did re-sign Marshawn Lynch to a four-year, $31 million contract earlier this offseason. That doesn't mean that they will not look at a complementary guy.
A backfield of Lynch and Richardson would cause tremendous matchup concerns for opposing defenses and would help Seattle go up against a stout San Francisco 49ers front seven twice a year.
Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, South Carolina
The Arizona Cardinals are in desperate need of help along the offense line; that is pretty much assured at this point. However, they would have to reach tremendously at that position if the board plays out like I suspect.
Rather than grabbing a second-tier offensive line prospect, Arizona will look to address their pass-rush issues with this pick.
Melvin Ingram is a top-10 ranked player on my big board and would provide the Cardinals with that immediate pass-rush threat on the outside. He would be able to play both with his hands down at the line and as an outside linebacker depending on the specific scheme.
Tremendous value at a position of need.
Fletcher Cox, Defensive Line, Mississippi State
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely use an upgrade at the cornerback position even after signing Brandon Carr away from the Kansas City Chiefs. However, there are going to be a tremendous amount of corners available in the second round that would give them more value.
Fletcher Cox has the ability to play multiple positions in the Cowboys 3-4 defensive scheme. He can play on the inside to stop the run and has the ability to move to defensive end in other situations.
This is something that the Cowboys are missing right now along their front three. Cox is probably the most versatile defensive player in the entire draft.
Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
I have been switching between Kuechly and Dont'a Hightower for quite some time now. One provides them with a tremendous amount of upside, while the other provides them with a pro-ready skill set.
I decided to go with the linebacker that can make an immediate impact for the struggling Philadelphia Eagles defense.
Kuechly will be able to come in and immediately upgrade their linebacker corp. He is as surest of a tackler that you will find and is pretty darn good dropping back into coverage. Kuechly will not get into the backfield too often on the blitz and has limited upside athletically. He will still be a solid starter for the next decade without much of a bust risk.
Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
Glenn continues to skyrocket up the draft boards, and for good reason. He has the rare combination of athleticism and strength that just doesn't come along all too often. This is a prospect that has the ability to jump outside and take on speed rushers while remaining in the zone against interior linemen.
He plays with great pad level, never getting too upright or being thrown into the backfield.
The former Georgia standout projects to be a Pro Bowl guard at the next level, but could easily make the transition to the outside without much of an issue.
The New York Jets are said to be looking for upgrade along the offensive line. Bringing Glenn in would enable them to get more athletic and young at either the guard or tackle position.
Dre' Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
Cornerback might not be a major need for the Cincinnati Bengals heading into the 2012 season. However, they are going to have to look to the future at this position and have an extra first-round pick to find value here.
Dre' Kirkpatrick is as physical as they come in the defensive secondary and can consistently dominate in press coverage. While he does struggle in man, that is something that can be fixed with some seasoning and the right coaching.
It has been suggested that the Alabama product fits better as a free safety at the next level. After watching a tremendous amount of tape on him, I would be inclined to agree. Either way, he provides need and value at both positions for the Bengals moving forward.
Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Alabama
Despite signing Jarret Johnson, the San Diego Chargers are going to have to look for a long-term replacement at outside linebacker opposite Antwan Barnes.
Johnson has been a steady performer in a 3-4 defense for the Baltimore Ravens over the course of the last few seasons, but he isn't a pass-rush threat at this point.
Courtney Upshaw might be the best pure pass-rusher in the 2012 NFL draft. He has limitations in terms of coverage, which has caused some to believe that the Alabama product fits betters as a defensive end. While that might be the case short-term, he does seem to fit better as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme over the long run.
Andre Branch, Defensive End, Clemson
Before you claim that this selection is a bit of a reach, just take a look at where certain "experts" currently have Andre Branch ranked on their big board.
Branch seems to be a perfect fit for a Chicago Bears team that was flirting with Mario Williams in the offseason. They are definitely looking at an upgrade at the defensive end position opposite Julius Peppers.
Not only is Branch decent in terms of gaining leverage at the point of contact, he already has a few pro-ready pass-rush moves. Additionally, Branch is going to be solid against the run a great deal of the time.
He might not have the upside that some of the other defensive end prospects have, but Branch is already a damn good player that could handle a starter role early in his career.
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
Gilmore provides tremendous value in the middle of the first round. Not only does he have the capability of making an immediate impact on defense, he is a great return man on special teams.
The Tennessee Titans lost Cortland Finnegan in free agency to the St. Louis Rams. This means that they are going to look at the corner position early in this month's draft. Look for them to nab a player that can fit perfect into their defensive scheme.
Gilmore is a lanky prospect that doesn't shy away from contact on the outside. He already possesses pro-ready technique and can shine in man coverage. Pretty much one of the most well-rounded defensive back prospects in the entire draft.
Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami (F)
With all due respect to Benjarvus Green-Ellis, he isn't going to be the long-term answer for the Cincinnati Bengals in the running game.
This is a team that has built a strong foundation on the offensive side of the ball in terms of the passing game. It is high time that they bite the proverbial bullet and spend a first-round pick on a running back.
Lamar Miller should be able to come in as a rookie and rush for 1,000 yards while providing some really nice balance for an improving Bengals offense. He has breakaway speed and will give you that tough yardage between the hashes.
The value might not be great here, but it is hard to argue against the need.
Nick Perry, Defensive End, Southern California
Sure, the Cleveland Browns could probably go offense with both of their first-round picks, but it makes little sense to ignore the defensive side of the ball. You also have to take into account the perceived value Cleveland gets with this pick.
Many people have Nick Perry as a top-10 talent, which indicates that they believe he will be a major pass-rush threat at the next level. While I am not too incredibly high on the USC product, he does have some solid pass-rush moves already.
You are looking at a player that will have to play defensive end, not linebacker. He doesn't have the athleticism or field awareness to drop back into coverage in a 3-4. This doesn't really matter to the Browns, who would be using him up at the line anyway.
A combination of Jabaal Sheard and Perry as bookends in their 4-3 scheme doesn't seem to shabby for the foreseeable future. Does it?
Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, Florida
If it weren't for a myriad of character concerns, Jenkins would be a top-10 pick. This is the type of true shutdown capabilities the young cornerback has.
He is extremely strong in press coverage, playing physical at the line of scrimmage. Jenkins will not struggle running with the receiver after initial bump and already possesses fluid hip movement on the outside. More than that, he is a true ball hawk on the outside and understands exactly when to make a play on the ball.
The Detroit Lions lost Eric Wright to free agency, only to replace him with an average Jacob Lacey on the outside. To say that they need upgrades at corner would be an understatement.
Jenkins should be able to come in and start immediately. Not bad value for a pick on the latter third of the first round.
Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana State
At first glance, it would appear that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of help along the offensive line. While that may be true, they just cannot pass up on the value of selecting Brockers here.
Despite struggling through a pedestrian combine performance, this LSU product has all the necessary talent to anchor a defensive line for the next dozen years. He possesses brute strength at the point of contact and can consistently take on double teams.
Brockers has the ability to play nose tackle in a base 3-4 defense, but can move outside when it is warranted. He plays with a solid pad level and has that great initial burst off the snap.
The most glaring issue with Brockers is his inability to get into the second gear, which creates an issue with consistency. He is also extremely raw and needs to refine technique in order to become a truly dominating player at the next level.
Pittsburgh did retain Casey Hampton after restructuring his contract, but they need to find an eventual replacement. Brockers could be that guy.
Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
Imagine Peyton Manning in the backfield with a dual-threat running back. That is something that he really hasn't had over the last decade with the Indianapolis Colts.
Doug Martin reminds me a great deal of Ray Rice. He has exception field vision, is able to hit the outside quickly and finds that second gear before defenders have an opportunity to adjust.
More than that, Martin is solid in pass protection and catches the ball cleanly out of the backfield. He should be able to come in and run for 1,000 yards while catching between 50 and 60 passes.
His mere presence in the backfield would make Manning and the Broncos offense that much more electric in the 2012 season and moving forward. I do understand that Denver has Willis McGahee at running back, but he is nowhere near the long-term answer with the Broncos.
Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
It isn't a secret that the Houston Texans are looking for a threat opposite Andre Johnson in the passing game. They just don't have that player that Matt Schaub can rely on when his primary target is double-teamed. Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter just weren't getting it done.
Wright has the ability to stretch the field deep, can play in the slot if need be and possesses one of the best skill sets at this position in the draft.
Don't let his pedestrian combine performance fool you, Wright is the real deal and should help the Texans improve a great deal in the passing game. He will immediately become Johnson's best friend in the passing game.
Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
Defense, defense and more defense. This is what the motto of the New England Patriots is going to be in the draft. They need to get upgrades along all three tiers of that unit. In short, it was one of the primary reasons that the Patriots failed to win their fourth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady era.
Mark Barron would be able to come in and make an impact in the box against the run right off of the bat. Once he starts to fully understand the nuances of the NFL, Barron will be solid in pass defense as well.
Right now, he translates into being a strong safety at the next level and should be able to start immediately. This just adds another cog in a revamped Patriots defense.
Vinny Curry, Outside Linebacker, Marshall
The Green Bay Packers had a historically bad pass defense last season. A primary reason for their struggles in this category in 2011 was an inconsistent pass-rush. It doesn't matter how good your secondary is if you are unable to put pressure on the quarterback.
This was a huge issue for Green Bay.
They would get a player in Vinny Curry who translates really well in a 3-4 scheme as an outside linebacker. He will provide a consistent pass-rush opposite Clay Matthews.
Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
At some point, the Baltimore Ravens are going to have to look for a replacement for Ray Lewis. No matter how good the future Hall-of-Fame linebacker has been, father time will catch up to him.
Hightower would work perfect as an understudy to Lewis until the latter makes the decision to hang up his cleats. The former Alabama standout is extremely solid in terms of tackling and in coverage. He also has the speed to go sideline to sideline on a whim.
If it wasn't for injury concerns, Hightower would have been a top-12 pick in the draft.
Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
Some would argue against this projection simply because it isn't necessarily a position of need for the San Francisco 49ers. The issue with that argument is that they really don't have a whole lot of needs at this point. Of course guard seems to be an issue, but there really isn't any value in going in that direction with this pick.
Fleener would make the 49ers nearly impossible to cover in the passing game. Match him up with Vernon Davis between the hashes, and opposing defenses are going to have an incredibly hard time covering the dynamic duo.
This is more of a value pick than anything. It is also something that talented football teams are able to do. Just look at the New England Patriots when they selected both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the 2010 NFL draft.
Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
I am pretty sure that some of you haven't even heard of this small-school product. Make no mistake about it, he is the real deal.
Robinson has the ideal size and ability to be a really good starting corner at the next level. He matches up physically with some of the bigger receivers in the National Football League and doesn't shy away from contact on the outside. Instead, Robinson seems to revel in the idea of laying the wood.
He is strong in press coverage and already possesses pro-ready technique on the outside. More of a ball hawk than a simple cover guy, Robinson will help the Patriots a great deal in the secondary immediately.
Of course, this is predicated on the possibility that all the "first-tier" corners are already gone when the Patriots select here.
Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
When the New York Giants signed David Baas last offseason, they really thought he was going to be their long-term solution at center. That never materialized, as Baas struggled a great deal in pass protection.
Tom Coughlin has build the Giants in the mold of being physically intimidating up front. This is exactly the type of player that Peter Konz is.
Anytime you can get a Pro Bowl-caliber player with the last pick of the first round, you jump on it. This is what I expect the Giants to do later in April.
33. St. Louis Rams: Jayron Hosley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
Even after adding Cortland Finnegan to the mix, the Rams are going to have to get young and more talented at corner. Jayron Hosley is a player than can come in and contribute immediately.
34. Indianapolis Colts: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
Andrew Luck gets some more help in the passing game with this selection. I have Hill with a first-round grade, so they get value at a need position.
35. Minnesota Vikings: Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Percy Harvin became more of a consistent threat on the outside for the Vikings in 2011, but they need more help at wide receiver. Michael Jenkins just isn't the answer as the No. 2 wide receiver. The addition of Jeffery enables Minnesota to look to the future and get a player that should contribute in the slot immediately.
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David, Linebacker, Nebraska
The Buccaneers were downright horrible on defense towards the end of the 2011 season. In short, they need to get some help in the front seven. David provides them with upside and speed at the linebacker position.
37. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden, Quarterback, Oklahoma State
They would be wise to wait until the second round to find competition for Colt McCoy at the quarterback position. Reaching for a quarterback with either of their first-round picks makes no sense right now. Weeden has a tremendous amount of upside and possesses better NFL skills than McCoy.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, Louisiana State
Despite signing Laurent Robinson in free agency, the Jaguars are in need of more help on the outside. Robinson and Mike Thomas will not scare opposing defenses. Randle has the ability to stretch the field and could make an immediate impact.
39. St. Louis Rams: Chris Polk, Running Back, Washington (From Washington Redskins)
Steven Jackson is getting to that age where running backs start to slow down a great deal. Additionally, this is an extremely deep draft in terms of this position. It just makes sense for them to get that eventual replacement for Jackson. Polk has first-round value as well.
40. Carolina Panthers: Chase Minnifield, Cornerback, Virginia
They need a tremendous amount of help all along the defensive side of the ball. Carolina struggled to stop the passing game in 2011 and need to get younger at the corner position. Minnifield is physical at the line and can provide some help as a nickel guy early in his career before moving to the outside after he gains some more experience.
41. Buffalo Bills: Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
The Bills are quickly building a nice core on the defensive side of the ball to go along with that electric offense. Jones provides them with an immediate burst at the defensive end and outside linebacker position. He should be helped a great deal with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson on the roster.
42. Miami Dolphins: Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
This is all about rebuilding when it comes to the Dolphins. They not only need to replace Brandon Marshall, they need to get more depth and talent at wide receiver. Sanu has not had a great postseason, but provides them with size and physicality on the outside.
43. Seattle Seahawks: Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
It would be a shame for Seattle to waste the production of Red Bryant in the front four. The massive defensive linemen will create gaps on the outside by taking up double teams. This is where Mercilus comes into play. While he doesn't have a tremendous amount of upside, there is value and need with this selection.
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Alameda Ta'amu, Defensive Tackle, Washington
The Chiefs have been looking for an anchor along the defensive line in free agency without much success. Acquiring a massive body like Ta'amu will make the rest of their front seven that much better.
45. Dallas Cowboys: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
After passing up on a corner in the first round, the Cowboys get tremendous value here. Dennard was considered a first-round talent just a month ago, but has since seen his stock level out. The Nebraska product is as physical as they come and will help Dallas make the transition to a younger secondary.
46. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Boykin, Cornerback, Georgia
It isn't a secret that the Eagles are attempting to trade Asante Samuel. I expect that to get done prior to the draft later this month. If that is the case, they are going to have to find a nickel guy that can come in and contribute immediately. Boykin improved every single year in college and should be a real find in the second round.
47. New York Jets: Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State
A great combination of value and need here. I actually have a late first-round grade on Brian Quick, who is going to turn some heads in the NFL. The Jets are also desperate to add young talent at wide receiver. This should be a no-brainer.
48. New England Patriots: Devon Still, Defensive Line, Penn State
They continue to build that defense with a prototypical New England defensive lineman. Still has the ability to maintain his gap in the trenches, which creates holes for oncoming pass-rushers on the outside. He has first-round talent, so this is a steal.
49. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
One of the biggest drops in this mock draft is Martin, who was tasked to protect Andrew Luck's blindside the last few seasons at Stanford. He has first-round potential, but has seen his stock drop after a bad combine performance. San Diego gets value at a need position here.
50. Chicago Bears: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Much like Martin before him, Adams was projected to be a sure fire first-round pick just a couple months ago. He also struggled in skill specific drills at the combine, showing a lot of rawness to his game. The Bears will be getting a player that can start after learning the nuances of the game and fixing his lateral movement ability.
51. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Thompson, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Once again, the Eagles address a poor front seven here. Thompson was one of the best gap-maintaining defensive tackles in college football last season. His performance along the interior of Clemson's defensive line was one of the primary reasons that teammate Andre Branch racked up double-digit sacks in 2011.
52. Tennessee Titans: Ben Jones, Center, Georgia
This is a position that the Titans could have easily gone in the first round. However, cornerback seemed to be more pressing of a need. Jones is the second-best center in the draft and provides them extremely good value in the latter half of the second round.
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Bobby Wagner, Linebacker, Utah State
Even before his outstanding pro day performance, I had Wagner as a fringe first-round pick. He is dominating going sideline to sidelines, has great physical ability in terms of coverage and can get to the quarterback consistently on blitzes. There is no way that Cincinnati passes up on the stud linebacker should he fall to them.
54. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, Linebacker, North Carolina
While Brown is an extremely raw linebacker, it is hard to deny the physical ability that the young linebacker possesses. He can fly to the ball on the outside, consistently closing down running lanes. What worried me about Brown is his inability to read plays and shed blocks. Will need some seasoning in order to make an impact in the NFL.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Bobby Massie, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi
Sam Baker isn't the long-term answer for the Falcons at the tackle position. They also failed to sign an immediate upgrade from the marginal veteran. While Massie wont be able to make an immediate impact, he has some tremendous upside. More of a projection pick than anything else.
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kelechi Osemele, Offensive Line, Iowa State
This is where the Steelers address their offensive line concerns. Despite being incredibly raw, Osemele does possess that raw talent that their coaching staff could work with. He can play both tackle or guard at the next level. Expect them to take the Iowa State product should he fall here and then decide what to do with him later.
57. Denver Broncos: Jamel Fleming, Cornerback, Oklahoma
I have a late first-round grade on Fleming, but in a deep draft class at this position, some prospects are sure to fall. The Broncos get tremendous value as a position of need. Fleming will be able to make an immediate contribution in pass defense and is already a pretty damn good player.
58. Houston Texans: Mike Martin, Defensive Line, Michigan
They have a really nice rotation going along the front three of this up-and-coming defense, but that doesn't mean Houston wont add another key cog. Martin is one of the most underrated defensive players in the draft. He can play both inside and outside depending on game specific situations.
59. Green Bay Packers: Markelle Martin, Safety, Oklahoma State
It doesn't appear that Nick Collins will be able to return from that devastating neck injury. If that is the case, the Packers are going to have to find a replacement. Martin has a tremendous amount of upside as a free safety and would form a nice young safety tandem with Morgan Burnett.
60. Baltimore Ravens: David Wilson, Running Back, Virginia Tech
Ray Rice is going to be the Ravens' primary running back for the foreseeable future. He still needs to have a complementary guy in the backfield. Wilson is an extremely raw back, but possesses some one of the best natural skill sets of any offensive player in the draft.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Wisconsin
This is where the 49ers go to address their only major need. Adam Snyder, who was a marginal player, left for the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. That created a hole along the offensive line. Zeitler should be able to come in and start immediately after playing in a pro-style blocking scheme at Wisconsin.
62. New England Patriots: Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver, California
They stray away from the defensive side of the ball with this because because the value was too great to pass up. Jones was a victim of horrible quarterback play at Cal; this forced a lot of us to overlook his game. The talented young receiver can stretch the field and has one of the softest set of hands in the entire draft. Definitely a first-round value here.
63. New York Giants: Orson Charles, Tight End, Georgia
Despite signing Martellus Bennett, the Giants need to get another threat at the tight end position. Just a month ago, Charles was considered a late first-round pick. Following an average combine performance and subsequent DUI arrest, his stock has dropped. Make no mistake about it, the talent is there.
64. Indianapolis Colts: Ladarius Green, Tight End, Louisiana-Lafayette
Look for the Colts to build on the offensive side of the ball here to give Luck a better chance at early success. Green is a talented tight end prospect that would provide them with a threat between the hashes.
65. St. Louis Rams: Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
The Rams continue to build the defensive secondary with this pick. Smith is as smart of a prospect that I have seen in a long time. Despite physical limitations, he should be a solid starter for the next decade. Not bad value in the third round.
66. Minnesota Vikings: Amini Solatolu, Midwestern State
Long time guard Steve Hutchinson was released earlier this offseason. That left a major hole in the Vikings offensive line. With Matt Kalil and Solatolu, they fill 40 percent of that offensive line in the first three rounds of the draft.
67. Cleveland Browns: LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon
It goes without saying that the Browns need to get more electric on the offensive side of the ball. James will never be an every-down back at the next level. However, he will provide a Darren Sproles-like impact for Cleveland moving forward.
68. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dwayne Allen, Tight End, Clemson
Sure, Tampa Bay has Kellen Winslow at tight end, but that really doesn't matter. They need to give Josh Freeman more weapons between the hashes. Allen is just another of a new generation of tight ends that can stretch the field.
69. Washington Redskins: Billy Winn, Defensive Line, Boise State
After trading away their second-round pick to acquire Robert Griffin III, Washington needs to address their front seven with this pick. Winn can play multiple positions along the defensive line and will help their young outside linebackers get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.
70. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mychal Kendricks, Linebacker, California
This would be an absolute steal for the Jaguars. I have Kendricks with a mid first-round grade at this point. He will hep them get young and more athletic in the front seven.
71. Buffalo Bills: Nick Toon, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
Despite signing Steve Johnson to a contact extension, the Bills were looking to add another veteran. Toon might have leveled out in terms of value, but he gives them a big body to help in the red zone on the outside.
72. Miami Dolphins: Kendall Reyes, Defensive Line, Connecticut
The Dolphins cannot afford to ignore the defensive side of the ball. Reyes would be a perfect fit in their newly-installed 3-4 defensive scheme. He can play multiple positions along the defensive line.
73. Miami Dolphins: Zebrie Sanders, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
Jake Long is one of the best blindside protectors in the league. However, the Dolphins needs to find a long-term solution opposite him. Sanders is extremely raw, but has the natural talent to be a great starter moving forward.
74. Kansas City Chiefs: Brock Osweiler, Quarterback, Arizona State
There isn't a question in my mind that the Chief are looking for a quarterback of the future. If that is the case, they cannot afford to pass up on the Arizona State product here. Osweiler has the upside you look for in a project quarterback. Probably would have been a first-round pick in 2013 if he had not declared early.
75. Seattle Seahawks: Ronnell Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma
Seattle lacked consistent pass-rush last season. They get a player in Lewis who might not have tremendous upside, but should be able to be part of their rotation moving forward.
76. Houston Texans: Brandon Washington, Guard, Miami (F)
With 40 percent of their offensive line leaving in free agency, the Texans needs to get more depth here. Washington is your prototypical guard prospect that could be a valuable starter after some seasoning.
77. New York Jets: Cam Johnson, Defensive End, Virginia
I had indicated that the Jets needed to get younger at wide receiver. The same can be said for their front seven. This unit looked slow and old at time. Johnson fits their scheme to a tee.
78. San Diego Chargers: A.J. Jenkins, Wide Receiver, Illinois
They did well in free agency, replacing Vincent Jackson. The Chargers could still use more depth at wide receiver, and Jenkins provides that. He has the ability to help Rivers down the field as well.
79. Chicago Bears: Brandon Brooks, Guard, Miami (O)
The Bears are in the process of revamping that lackluster offensive line. Despite not being invited to the combine for some stupid reason, Brooks is a really solid player. In fact, he could start from day one.
80. Arizona Cardinals: Nate Potter, Offensive Tackle, Boise State
I just didn't see value with the Cardinals going offensive line in the first round. This is where losing a second-round pick in the Kevin Kolb trade hurts. Potter has limited upside, but should be a pretty decent starter in the NFL.
81. Dallas Cowboys: George IIoka, Safety, Boise State
They need multiple upgrades in the secondary even after signing Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool. This former Boise State product has a tremendous physical foundation upon which to build. He seems to be fully prepared to play immediately at the next level.
82. Tennessee Titans: Chris Givens, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
The return of Kenny Britt from an injury that cost him the 2011 season is sure to help the Titans passing game. With that being said, they need more help at receiver. Givens is a high upside project that is worth a shot in the third round.
83. Cincinnati Bengals: Antonio Allen, Safety, South Carolina
The re-signing of Reggie Nelson makes this position a lesser need for the Bengals. Still, they get value in Allen in the third round. He also has the ability to play strong side or free safety at the next level.
84. Atlanta Falcons: Jerel Worthy, Defensive Tackle, Michigan State
The Falcons want to build strong units on both lines, and it starts with the draft. Worthy has first-round talent, but doesn't possess the consistency needed to perform at a high level. He needs to gain more passion for the game.
85. Detroit Lions: Philip Blake, Center, Baylor
The Baylor product has been jumping up my rankings for quite some time now. Blake translates as a strong starting center and provides the Lions with value at a position of need.
86. Pittsburgh Steelers: Keenan Robinson, Linebacker, Texas
The Steelers showed James Farrior the door after the veteran slowed down a great deal in 2011. They need to get more athletic and younger here. Robinson is the perfect fit in their 3-4 scheme.
87. Denver Broncos: Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
No matter how much Bronco fans pray, Peyton Manning isn't going to be able to play forever. They cannot make the same mistake the Colts made in regards to the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Instead, Denver needs to find a replacement in the near future. Cousins has the skills to be successful and will be able to learn from Manning.
88. Philadelphia Eagles: Janzen Jackson, Safety, McNeese State
Jackson is a hard-hitting safety that the Eagles seem to be missing in the secondary. He might be a bit raw out of the gate, but provides them with exceptional athleticism at a position of weakness.
89. New Orleans Saints: David Molk, Center, Michigan
There are about five or six starter-caliber centers in the draft. To grab one in the end of the third round is an absolute steal. After all, the Saints do need that strong presence along the interior of their offensive line.
90. Green Bay Packers: Trumaine Johnson, Montana
This is extremely good value in the end of the third round. I have Johnson with a second-round grade right now. He also fits an area of concern for the Packers, who struggled a great deal in pass defense last season.
91. Baltimore Ravens: Emmanuel Acho, Linebacker, Texas
A perfect fit in the Ravens 3-4 defense, Acho will provide them with depth and talent at a position they appear to be relatively thin at. He will also be able to learn from some of the best veteran players in the entire league.
92. San Francisco 49ers: Jared Crick, Defensive Line, Nebraska
Crick would have been a late first-round pick is it wasn't for recent injury concerns. He reminds me a great deal of a poor man's Justin Smith, which is mighty praise. He also fits perfect in the 49ers 3-4 scheme.
93. New England Patriots: Shea McClellin, Defensive End, Boise State
The former Boise State standout isn't scheme specific. Instead, McClellin has the ability to play defensive end and outside linebacker. The Patriots covet this type of player in their hybrid defensive scheme.
94. New York Giants: Bernard Pierce, Running Back, Temple
The loss of Brandon Jacobs provides the Giants with a need at the running back position. Pierce is a dynamic running back that will come in and provide a nice change of pace with Ahmad Bradshaw.
95. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Johnson, Cornerback, Iowa State
Not a bad compensatory pick if you ask me. Johnson fills a position of glaring weakness for the Raiders and gives them tremendous value with the final pick of the third round.
96. St. Louis Rams: Mitchell Schwartz, Offensive Tackle, California
97. Indianapolis Colts: Bruce Irvin, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, West Virginia
98. Minnesota Vikings: Casey Hayward, Cornerback, Vanderbilt
99. Houston Texans: Aaron Henry, Safety, Wisconsin
100. Cleveland Browns: Senio Kelemete, Guard, Washington
101. Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina
102. Washington Redskins: Juron Criner, Wide Receiver, Arizona
103. Miami Dolphins: Michael Egnew, Tight End, Missouri
104. Carolina Panthers: Joe Adams, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
105. Buffalo Bills: Nick Foles, Quarterback, Arizona
106. Seattle Seahawks: Coryell Judie, Cornerback, Texas A&M
107. Kansas City Chiefs: Asa Jackson, Cornerback, Cal Poly
108. Denver Broncos: Terrell Manning, Linebacker, North Carolina State
109. Washington Redskins: Ryan Steed, Cornerback, Furman
110. San Diego Chargers: Josh Chapman, Nose Tackle, Alabama
111. Chicago Bears: Jarius Wright, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
112. Arizona Cardinals: Dwight Jones, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
113. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Brewster, Center, Ohio State
114. Philadelphia Eagles: Robert Turbin, Running Back, Utah State
115. Tennessee Titans: Deangelo Peterson, Tight End, Louisiana State
116. Cincinnati Bengals: Greg Childs, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
117. Detroit Lions: Trenton Robinson, Safety, Michigan State
118. Cleveland Browns: Jeff Fuller, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
119. Pittsburgh Steelers: Isaiah Pead, Running Back, Cincinnati
120. Denver Broncos: Brandon Taylor, Safety, Louisiana State
121. Houston Texans: Brandon Lindsey, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
122. New Orleans Saints: DeVier Posey, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
123. Green Bay Packers: Ronnie Hillman, Running Back, San Diego State
124. Buffalo Bills: Omar Bolden, Cornerback, Arizona State
125. San Francisco 49ers: Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker, Arizona State
126. New England Patriots: Shaun Prater, Cornerback, Iowa
127. New York Giants: Audie Cole, Linebacker, North Carolina State
128. Minnesota Vikings: James-Michael Johnson, Linebacker, Nevada
129. Oakland Raiders: Josh Kaddu, Linebacker, Oregon
130. Baltimore Ravens: Eddie Whitley, Safety, Virginia Tech
131. New York Giants: Travis Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma
132. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Forston, Defensive Line, Miami (F)
133. Green Bay Packers: Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
134. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Wolfe, Defensive Line, Cincinnati
135. Dallas Cowboys: Cyrus Gray, Running Back, Texas A&M
1. Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
2. Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
3. Kendall Reyes, Defensive Line, Connecticut
3. Zebrie Sanders, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
4. Michael Egnew, Tight End, Missouri
1. Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
2. Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
3. Nick Toon, Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
4. Nick Foles, Quarterback, Arizona
4. Omar Bolden, Cornerback, Arizona State
New York Jets
1. Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
2. Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State
3. Cam Johnson, Defensive End, Virginia
New England Patriots
1. Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
1. Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida
2. Devon Still, Defensive Line, Penn State
2. Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver, California
3. Shea McClellin, Defensive End, Boise State
4. Shaun Prater, Cornerback, Iowa
1. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
2. Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
3. Ladarius Green, Tight End, Louisiana Lafayette
4. Bruce Irvin, Defensive End, West Virginia
1. Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
2. Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, Louisiana State
3. Mychal Kendricks, Linebacker, California
4. Josh Norman, Cornerback, Coastal Carolina
1. Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
2. Ben Jones, Center, Georgia
3. Chris Givens, Wide Receiver, Wake Forest
4. DeAngelo Peterson, Tight End, Louisiana State
1. Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
2. Mike Martin, Defensive Line, Michigan
3. Brandon Washington, Guard, Miami (F)
4. Aaron Henry, Safety, Wisconsin
4. Brandon Lindsey, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
1. Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
1. Nick Perry, Defensive End, Southern California
2. Brandon Weeden, Quarterback, Oklahoma State
3. LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon
4. Senio Kelemete, Guard, Washington
4. Jeff Fuller, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
1. Dre' Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
1. Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami (F)
2. Bobby Wagner, Linebacker, Utah State
3. Antonio Allen, Safety, South Carolina
4. Greg Childs, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
1. Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana State
2. Kelechi Osemele, Offensive Line, Iowa State
3. Keenan Robinson, Linebacker, Texas
4. Isaiah Pead, Running Back, Cincinnati
1. Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
2. David Wilson, Running Back, Virginia Tech
3. Emmanuel Acho, Linebacker, Texas
4. Eddie Whitley, Safety, Virginia Tech
Kansas City Chiefs
1. David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
2. Alameda Ta'amu, Nose Tackle, Washington
3. Brock Osweiler, Quarterback, Arizona State
4. Asa Jackson, Cornerback, Cal-Poly
San Diego Chargers
1. Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End/Linebacker, Alabama
2. Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
3. A.J. Jenkins, Wide Receiver, Illinois
4. Josh Chapman, Nose Tackle, Alabama
1. Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
2. Jamell Fleming, Cornerback, Oklahoma
3. Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
4. Terrell Manning, Linebacker, North Carolina State
4. Brandon Taylor, Safety, Louisiana State
3. Leonard Johnson, Cornerback, Iowa State
4. Josh Kaddu, Linebacker, Oregon
1. Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
3. Billy Winn, Defensive Line, Boise State
4. Juron Criner, Wide Receiver, Arizona
4. Ryan Steed, Cornerback, Furman
1. Fletcher Cox, Defensive Line, Mississippi State
2. Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
3. George IIoka, Safety, Boise State
4. Michael Brewster, Center, Ohio State
4. Cyrus Gray, Running Back, Texas A&M
1. Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
2. Brandon Boykin, Cornerback, Georgia
2. Brandon Thompson, Defensive Line, Clemson
3. Janzen Jackson, Safety, McNeese State
4. Robert Turbin, Running Back, Utah State
New York Giants
1. Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
2. Orson Charles, Tight End, Georgia
3. Bernard Pierce, Running Back, Temple
4. Audie Cole, Linebacker, North Carolina State
4. Travis Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, Louisiana State
2. Lavonte David, Linebacker, Nebraska
3. Dwayne Allen, Tight End, Clemson
1. Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
2. Chase Minnifield, Cornerback, Virginia
4. Joe Adams, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
2. Bobby Massie, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi
3. Jerel Worthy, Defensive Line, Michigan State
New Orleans Saints
3. David Molk, Center, Michigan
4. DeVier Posey, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
1. Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, Southern California
2. Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
3. Amini Solatolu, Guard, Midwestern State
4. Casey Hayward, Cornerback, Vanderbilt
4. James-Michael Johnson, Linebacker, Nevada
4. Derek Wolfe, Defensive Line, Cincinnati
1. Andre Branch, Defensive End, Clemson
2. Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
3. Brandon Brooks, Guard, Miami (O)
4. Jarius Wright, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
1. Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
2. Zach Brown, Linebacker, North Carolina
3. Philip Blake, Center, Baylor
4. Trenton Robinson, Safety, Michigan State
Green Bay Packers
1. Vinny Curry, Linebacker, Marshall
2. Markelle Martin, Safety, Oklahoma State
3. Trumaine Johnson, Cornerback, Montana
4. Ronnie Hillman, Running Back, San Diego State
4. Marcus Forston, Defensive Line, Miami (F)
4. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
St. Louis Rams
1. Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
2. Jayron Hosley, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
2. Chris Polk, Running Back, Washington
3. Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
4. Mitchell Schwartz, Offensive Tackle, California
1. Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
2. Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
3. Ronnell Lewis, Linebacker, Oklahoma
4. Coryell Judie, Cornerback, Texas A&M
1. Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Linebacker, South Carolina
3. Nate Potter, Offensive Tackle, Boise State
4. Dwight Jones, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
San Francisco 49ers
1. Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
2. Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Wisconsin
3. Jared Crick, Defensive Line, Nebraska
4. Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker, Arizona State