2012 NFL Draft: Final 1st-Round Mock with Analysis
Luck, RG3 Era to Start in Indy, Washington
After months of excruciating build-up and hype, the 2012 NFL Draft is just days away. We are almost there, folks.
Beginning on Thursday, April 26 and running through the weekend, football fans nationwide will spend the rest of the upcoming weekend watching every second of analysis—predicting all 253 picks, cheering when their favorite players are selected and booing every other team's selections.
It will be completely glorious.
This mock draft predicts the entire first round, and there are a few selections that might differ with some of the experts', so let me know what you think. Whether you agree or disagree, be sure to leave a comment and let's keep this discussion going up through draft night!
With that said, let us start the final mock draft!
1. The Indianapolis Colts Select... Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
Andrew Luck Has Big Shoes to Fill
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The Colts have many glaring holes on their roster, but the largest of all is the one that was so secure for over a decade: the quarterback position. With city icon Peyton Manning released and playing for the Denver Broncos, the Colts have made the decision to move on to the next great thing, and that is exactly what Andrew Luck is.
A quarterback prospect has not been this hyped and praised since Manning back in 1998. Luck put up a series of fantastic seasons at Stanford. Here is a look at his incredible production:
The Colts simply must take Luck, but not just because he is the best player in this draft. The front office needs to make a statement by drafting the face of their franchise, and Luck is set to be that guy. He will be your No. 1 overall draft selection.
2. The Washington Redskins Select... Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor
The Nation's Capital Welcomes the Heisman Winner
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"RG3" seemingly came out of nowhere in 2011. His exciting play at quarterback, in which he ran like a lightning bolt and threw the prettiest deep ball in the nation, led Griffin III to the Heisman ceremony, and he took home the hardware.
Griffin kept the positive momentum going into the 2012 NFL Draft, and he will be rewarded for his tireless work ethic and freakish athleticism by going to the Washington Redskins. This franchise has needed a top-flight quarterback for decades, and they have finally found their man in Robert Griffin III.
Let us just hope that he was worth trading up for. Remember, they moved up to the No. 2 spot by trading away their first-round draft picks in the next two seasons, along with this year's second-round pick. That is a major haul for the Rams, but Washington is banking on it being worth the selection of Griffin.
3. The Minnesota Vikings Select... Matt Kalil, OT USC
Kalil Will Protect QB Ponder For Years to Come
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There are rumors swirling that Minnesota might trade this pick, but I am not predicting trades in this final mock, so the Vikes stay put. They have invested in quarterback Christian Ponder as their future signal-caller, so it would be wise to protect him by drafting a franchise left tackle.
Kalil is all of that and then some. He is the prototypical NFL tackle prospect and has all of the tools that you are looking for at that position. Standing at 6'6", 315 pounds, he has an excellent frame and also possesses elite footwork and agility for a player of his stature.
Look for the Vikings to also consider taking WR Justin Blackmon or CB Morris Claiborne, but in the end, taking Matt Kalil would be the smartest selection for the team.
4. The Cleveland Browns Select... Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
Richardson Will Replace Former Madden Cover Star Peyton Hillis
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The Cleveland Browns are another team that has holes everywhere, but one that they did not expect to have was at running back. They featured break-out performer Peyton Hillis at running back last season, but he did not meet expectations at all and left the team in the offseason.
Quick note: the Madden curse strikes again! This thing is real!
Anyway, back to the Browns. They do not have any weapons for quarterback Colt McCoy to use at his disposal, especially with the departure of Hillis. Therefore, Cleveland needs to give McCoy a running game, and no running back in the 2012 NFL Draft fills that need better than Trent Richardson.
The 2012 Heisman finalist was the nation's best running back last season, rushing the ball 283 times for 1,679 yards and leading Alabama to the BCS National Championship. He backed up former Heisman winner Mark Ingram during his time with the Crimson Tide, but Richardson clearly grades out as the premier runner out of the duo. Cleveland certainly hopes he lives up to these expectations.
5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select... Morris Peterson, CB LSU
Claiborne Looks to Replace Old Veteran CB Ronde Barber
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could go a lot of different ways here, with a potential group of Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson and Riley Reiff to choose from.
However, it is time to revamp the secondary. Veteran cornerback Ronde Barber is still with the team, but his prime is long past him and he should be nearing retirement. As for current No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib, who knows what you will get with him on a weekly basis?
Enter Peterson, who is the best shut-down corner in the 2012 NFL Draft and would be an instant starter in the Buccaneer's secondary. He excelled during his playing days at LSU, hauling in five and six interceptions in his past two seasons, respectively.
Long story short, the Bucs need to make a big talent upgrade on defense, and Claiborne is the best defensive player in this draft. This would be a great pick by the Buccaneers.
6. The St. Louis Rams Select... Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State
Blackmon Would Make QB Sam Bradford the Happiest Person on Draft Day
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Sam Bradford came into the NFL and posted a stellar rookie season, throwing for over 3,500 yards and completing 60 percent of his passes. Fans expected a jump into stardom for his second season, but the Rams receiver corps struggled, Bradford's confidence was shaky at best, and his numbers fell dramatically as a result.
The Rams are committed to reversing this trend by surrounding Bradford with better skill players. That starts by providing him with a No. 1 wide receiver, and selecting Justin Blackmon would fulfill that need.
Coming out of Oklahoma State, Blackmon lit up the college football scene during his final two seasons. He won the Biletnikoff award, given to the nation's best wide receiver, in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. In 2012, he capped an incredible college career with a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford by hauling in eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
In other words, Blackmon is ready for the big time. Sam Bradford is ready to bounce back with a strong third NFL season. By working together, the two can help each other in their goals and form an extremely exciting duo.
7. The Jacksonville Jaguars Select... Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
Michael Floyd, Meet Blaine Gabbert. He Needs Your Help
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The Jacksonville Jaguars selected quarterback Blaine Gabbert in last year's draft, and he replaced incumbent starter David Garrard as the leader of the offense. His season had mixed results, as he did not play necessarily well but also did not have any weapons to throw to.
The Jags hope to fix that in this year's draft, and they would love nothing more than for Justin Blackmon to fall to them at the seventh pick. However, that is unlikely and a great consolation prize would be to select former Notre Dame wideout Michael Floyd.
He has steadily risen up the draft boards with a great series of interviews, combine results and overall talent level. Floyd had a stellar career with the Fighting Irish, catching 37 career touchdown passes and hauling in over 3,000 receiving yards in his four-year career.
His physical gifts also make him an ideal selection for the Jaguars. Standing 6'3" tall and weighing 224 pounds, Floyd has the height to leap for jump balls and the muscle to out-physical small corners. He has the potential to become a Pro Bowler in the NFL, which would be music to Blaine Gabbert's ears.
8. The Miami Dolphins Select... Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M
The Dolphins FINALLY Get Their QB (Who Is Overrated)
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This pick is not hard to explain: the Miami Dolphins NEED a young quarterback. They whiffed on every single free agent target, including Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn. The Dolphins also missed out on trading up to the second spot and taking Robert Griffin III.
Therefore, the front office must select a young quarterback, as it is an urgent need for the team. More importantly, this pick needs to happen to satisfy the team's fans, who have been disheartened by the lack of free agent success.
As for Ryan Tannehill, he is certainly an intriguing quarterback prospect, but he has been overvalued in this draft. Simply put, there is no consensus third quarterback prospect behind the Luck-Griffin duo, and no other prospect is close to their potential in the NFL.
Therefore, Tannehill will emerge as the quarterback of the future for the Dolphins, and the fans are hoping that he finally becomes the guy to replace franchise legend Dan Marino. Those are some big shoes to fill, and it is not known if Tannehill is in fact the guy to fill those shoes.
9. The Carolina Panthers Select... Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State
Wouldn't You Be Running Away Too?
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The Carolina Panthers landed the top draft prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft, and quarterback Cam Newton went on to have a stellar rookie season, which was capped off by winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Now it is time to address the other side of the ball, which the Panthers struggled mightily at last season. Their defensive line is in desperate need of an interior lineman who can rush the passer, so taking a player like Fletcher Cox makes total sense.
He is one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the draft, and emerged on the national scene after posting a dominating season at Mississippi State. His addition would be an instant upgrade to the team's defensive line and pass rush, which would put Cam Newton back on the field more often. That is certainly a pattern that the Panthers could agree with.
10. The Buffalo Bills Select... Riley Reiff, OT Iowa
Riley Reiff, Get Ready For the Freezing Cold Tundra of Buffalo
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There are two dominant tackles in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Riley Reiff is one of them. Standing at an imposing 6'6" and weighing 313 pounds, Reiff possesses an excellent blend of strength and quickness at the tackle spot.
As for the Buffalo Bills, they have been depleted on the offensive line and badly need to address this area. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took a beating last season, and the run game suffered to create gaps once Fred Jackson went down for the season.
Therefore, adding Reiff would be an excellent selection for the team. However, they could also target a wide receiver at this pick, so look for them to target Michael Floyd if he falls this far, or to trade down and select Kendall Wright if the right offer comes up on the table.
11. The Kansas City Chiefs Select... Dontari Poe, NT Memphis
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The Chiefs have spent a lot of recent first-round draft picks on defensive players, and this trend looks to continue in 2012. Kansas City has a big need for a run-stuffing interior linemen, and luckily for them this is a deep draft for defensive tackles.
Picking at the eleventh overall selection in the draft should allow Kansas City to choose an elite-level prospect at this position, and they would pounce at the opportunity to draft nose tackle Dontari Poe.
The former Memphis defensive lineman measures out at a massive 6'4", 345 pounds, so he projects as a perfect space-eater at the next level. He also posted excellent combine measurements, running a 4.98 40-yard dash and pushing himself to 44 reps of 225 pounds.
However, Poe did not post dominant statistics in college. There is also concern about the level of competition that he faced in college and whether he can adjust to the talent seen in the National Football League. Despite all of these question marks, Poe has steadily risen up recent draft boards and should be the second defensive tackle selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.
12. The Seattle Seahawks Select... Luke Kuechly, ILB Boston College
Look Out, Tyshawn Taylor! Luke Kuechly is Coming For You
There are many holes to be filled on the Seattle Seahawks' defense, but one of the most glaring and important is at inside linebacker. Pete Carroll's team needs to select a player who can be the anchor of the defense and man the middle, and they should be able to find that prospect at the twelfth selection of the NFL draft.
Therefore, Luke Kuechly should be the selection here. The middle linebacker from Boston College had been remarkably consistent during his three-year tenure in college. He posted an incredible 183 tackles in his sophomore season and topped it by collecting 191 tackles in his junior season.
13. The Arizona Cardinals Select... David DeCastro, OG Stanford
DeCastro Will Be a Pro-Bowl Guard For Years
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Draft pundits have praised the play of quarterback Andrew Luck for the past few seasons, and for good reason. His talent is unquestionable and he projects to become an excellent. However, there were a few high-level players on his offensive line that made his life fairly easy, and David DeCastro is one of those prospects.
DeCastro projects as the top offensive guard in the draft. In fact, some pundits believe that he is one of the best guards to come out in recent years. Therefore, he is going to be a hot prospect on draft night and he will make one team extremely satisfied with their selection.
If he is available at the thirteenth selection, then the Arizona Cardinals should absolutely pounce on him. One of the weakest links of their roster is the quality and depth of the offensive line. Therefore, picking DeCastro would be a huge boon for the team and would greatly improve the talent level of their line.
14. The Dallas Cowboys Select... Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama
Dre Kirkpatrick Fills a Huge Need for the Cowboys
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This pick will likely be that of an Alabama secondary player, so either corner back Dre Kirkpatrick or safety Mark Barron will be taken here with the fourteenth selection. While either one would be a fantastic pick, I predict that Dallas selects Kirkpatrick.
The Cowboys are in desperate need of help in the secondary, especially with veteran corner Terence Newman leaving the team and signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Dallas lacks size and talent at the position, and they can ill afford to suffer through another season of getting torched by division opponents Eli Manning, Michael Vick and soon-to-be starter Robert Griffin III.
Kirkpatrick should be the second cornerback taken after LSU's Morris Claiborne. He measures out with great size at 6'2", 186 pounds, and his 4.5 measured 40-yard dash displays good speed, although not elite speed, for a guy of his size.
Also, his experience of playing on the Alabama defense, which will go down as one of the greatest in college football history, should greatly benefit him transition to the speed and tactics of the NFL.
15. The Philadelphia Eagles Select... Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB South Carolina
Ingram is the Best DE/LB Duo in the Draft
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The Philadelphia Eagles have always had great players on their defensive line and defensive secondary, but they lack talent at the linebacker position. The Eagles also love to blitz and pressure the quarterback. Therefore, a pass-rushing OLB/DE would be a position of need and preference for this team entering the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Luckily for them, there should be a few elite prospects available at their draft spot who can fulfill their need and fit into their scheme. The perfect player would be South Carolina OLB/DE Melvin Ingram.
He grades out as the draft's elite "edge" pass rusher, and it is likely that he will not be available at this spot come Thursday. However, I have him falling to Philly in this mock and it would be an excellent pick for the team. He piled up ten sacks last season for the Gamecocks, and his versatility along the line should ensure a high selection in the first round.
16. The New York Jets Select... Quinton Coples, DE UNC
Rex Ryan Would Love Implementing Coples Into His Defense
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This pick is also questionable, because Quinton Coples has the talent to be selected in the top ten picks of the draft. However, his stock has slightly fallen during the offseason, and Coples could be available by the time the Jets are placed on the clock.
For New York, they need to add youth and talent to an aging defensive line. Coples provides both of that in spades, and at times was projected to be the first defensive lineman selected in this draft. He has an absolutely incredible physical stature for a defensive end, measuring out at 6'6", 285 pounds. The guy is a physical freak.
However, his college production did not match his physical gifts, as he only totaled 7.5 sacks during the 2011-12 season. Some also question his consistency and motor.
Regardless, Coples will be a high-round selection and the Jets would be ecstatic if he fell to the sixteenth slot.
17. The Cincinnati Bengals Select... Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB Alabama
Upshaw Would Be a Great Pickup For Cincinnati
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Courtney Upshaw was the defensive MVP of the BCS Championship Game as he led the Alabama Crimson Tide to victory over the LSU Tigers. He put constant pressure on the quarterback from the first snap and finished the game with six total tackles and one sack.
This kind of play is why the Bengals would snatch him up in a heartbeat with the seventeenth selection in the draft. Their defensive strength is along the line, but they lack dynamic "edge" pass rushers who can blitz from the 3-4 look.
Therefore, drafting Upshaw would be a great pick for the team and will bolster the team's already potent pass rush.
18. The San Diego Chargers Select... Cordy Glenn, OT Georgia
Cordy Glenn Will Fill In For Marcus McNeill's Departure
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San Diego lost a huge piece of their offensive line this offseason, literally. Former starter Marcus McNeill left the team and is being courted in free agency by a number of teams. He stood a gargantuan 6'8" and 335 pounds, and he was a Pro Bowler for the Chargers.
His massive frame is gone from the team, but they can replace him with a frame of similar size in talent. By selecting OT Cordy Glenn, the Chargers would fill their left tackle need with a 6'5", 348 pound run-stuffing offensive tackle.
Hailing out of Georgia, Glenn is difficult to project at this portion of the draft, as some teams have him going much higher and some letting him fall to the end of the first round. However, I believe that the Chargers would select him and attempt to replace that massive hole of a man on the offensive line.
19. The Chicago Bears Select... Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford
Martin Would Help Solidify a Porous Chicago O-Line
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Chicago could go a few different ways with this pick. One one side, they have dominant wide receiver Brandon Marshall needing more talented wide receivers to play with. On the other hand, they need to beef up their protection of quarterback Jay Cutler while also providing more running lanes for star running back Matt Forte.
It depends on who is at the board by the time this pick rolls around, but I believe that the Bears will be going with an offensive lineman at this selection.
Tackle Jonathan Stewart will be selected in a heartbeat if he lands in the Bears'' spot. He could be picked as high as the tenth pick, but his stock has slightly fallen during the past few weeks and he is no longer the 2nd-highest rated offensive tackles in the draft.
However, Stewart blocked flawlessly for quarterback Andrew Luck last season.. If Chicago truly wants to make the right move, then taking Taylor would be an excellent pick.
20. The Tennessee Titans Select... Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina
Gilmore is a CB, not a WR right?
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Tennessee needs to replace his toughness and athleticism in the secondary, and they could go a long way towards doing that by selecting cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
He would be a perfect pick for the team, although he might not be available. Gilmore be the second corner back off of the board, but I grade out Dre Kirkpatrick slightly ahead of Gilmore and going to Dallas.
With Gilmore going to the Titans, they are gearing up to play against the likes of Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub for the foreseeable future.
21. The Cincinnati Bengals Select... Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
Wright Would Form an Incredible WR Duo with A.J. Green
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The Cincinnati Bengals are on the rise and surprised the entire National Football League with their 8-8 regular season record, after going 4-12 the previous season. Led by rookie sensations Andy Dalton at quarterback and A.J. Green at wide receiver, the Bengals put up a lot of points and also emerged as a force on defense.
However, they still have plenty of holes to fill, and one of those is finding a legitimate second wide receiver to play opposite Green. They do have Jerome Simpson, but he appears to be better suited for the slot.
Therefore, the Bengals make a splash and select speed-demon Kendall Wright from Baylor. The former Bear hauled in long bombs all season long from "RG3" and set school records with 108 receptions for 1,663 yards in 2011-12. In fact, Wright was a four-year starter for Baylor and has hauled in over 4,000 career receiving yards.
Wright is known as a deep threat burner, but his official time at the combine clocked in at 4.61 for the 40-yard dash. This reportedly angered Wright, and he clocked in times between 4.41 and 4.46 seconds at Baylor's pro day. Therefore, Cincinnati should not be concerned and instead should pair this young stud wide receiver with star A.J. Green by selecting him with the 21st selection in the draft.
22. The Cleveland Browns Select... Rueben Randle, WR LSU
Drafting Randle & Richardson Would Revitalize Browns' Offense
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I will admit that Rueben Randle would not be the ideal pick here for Cleveland. They desperately need a star wide receiver to compliment with quarterback Colt McCoy, and Baylor's Kendall Wright would be much more desirable at this position in the draft. However, I have the Cincinnati Bengals taking him one pick before Cleveland, which would surely spark mini riots in the state of Ohio.
Therefore, the Browns should select the next-best wide receiver in the draft and that is Rueben Randle. The three-year player from LSU has an excellent physical frame for an NFL wideout, standing 6'3" and only weighing 210 pounds.
He flies down the field, as evidenced by his official 40-yard dash time of 4.55 at the NFL Combine and a 4.42-second time clocked at LSU's pro day.
Randle and fellow Cleveland-draftee Trent Richardson will drastically improve the talent level of the Browns' offense, which should help McCoy have more success next season and prove his worth as an NFL starter.
23. The Detroit Lions Select... Mark Barron, S Alabama
Barron Brings Toughness and Tenacity to Lions' Secondary
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The Detroit Lions have focused entirely on defense during the past few drafts, as evidenced by their first-round selections of defensive linemen Ndamokung Suh and Nick Fairley in 2010 and 2011, respectively. This has turned their defensive front into a force, but their secondary is still lacking.
Therefore, expect the Lions to select the top secondary prospect available, which could end up being strong safety Mark Barron. The defensive stud out of Alabama projects as the top overall safety in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he measures out impressively at 6'2" and 218 pounds.
He is projected to be taken higher in the NFL Draft, so he might not be available at this spot come Thursday night. However, I have Barron available and Detroit would pounce at the chance to select him. His talent and toughness would fit right in with the Lions' defensive philosophy.
24. The Pittsburgh Steelers Select... Dont'a Hightower, ILB Alabama
Hightower Would Continue Pittsburgh's Proud Tradition of Linebackers
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When you think of the prototypical NFL linebacker, you probably think of him as a Pittsburgh Steeler. After all, the franchise has always prided itself on defense, and the list of talented Steeler linebackers extends a mile long.
Therefore, Dont'a Hightower would be the logical selection if he is available with the 24th pick in the draft. The Alabama middle linebacker would join a talented yet aging linebacker unit that desperately needs an injection of youth and talent.
The Steelers would receive that and so much more in Hightower. The 6'2", 265 pound prospect racked up 83 tackles last season for the Crimson Tide, including four tackles and one sack in the BCS National Championship. His consistent production and elite athleticism will satisfy any team who takes him in Thursday's draft.
25. The Denver Broncos Select... Michael Brockers, DT LSU
Brockers is a Physical Specimen With Loads of Potential
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First of all, I am aware that many mock drafts have Michael Brockers being selected much higher in the draft, and I did not intend for him to fall this far. However, I do have Dontari Poe rated above Brockers and the teams drafting before Denver have more issues to fill than at defensive tackle. Also, this is a deep position in the draft, so I do not see interior defensive linemen being a priority for teams in the first round.
With that being said, Brockers has mid-first round talent and would be a great pick for the Denver Broncos. Their defense performed admirably during last season's playoff run, but they lacked a run stuffer along the defensive front and need to focus on improving their rushing defense.
By picking up Brockers, they take one of the most intriguing physical specimens in the entire draft. Measuring at 6'6" and weighing 332 pounds, he is an absolutely massive prospect at defensive tackle and would specifically excel as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.
Denver would be taking on a risk, though, as Michael is entering the NFL draft as only a redshirt sophomore. Therefore, his consistency and production is not a sure thing, but his physical size and high motor more than warrants a late-first round selection here at pick 25.
26. The Houston Texans Select... Stephen Hill, WR Georgia Tech
Hill and WR Andre Johnson Would Form a Potent Duo
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The Houston Texans have one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with Pro-Bowler Andre Johnson. However, they have yet to pair him with a legitimate No. 2 wideout who can stretch the field for Johnson.
With that, the Texans are likely to select one of the remaining first-round talents at wideout with the 26th pick in the draft, and that will likely be former Georgia Tech star Stephen Hill.
Out of all receivers in this draft class, Hill might be the most tantalizing prospect in terms of physical size. He is a huge red zone target, standing at 6'4" and weighing 215 pounds. He also posted the fastest 40-yard time of all wide receivers with a blazing 4.36 time.
Therefore, Hill would be the no-brainer selection if he is available here. Pairing this player with Andre Johnson would be downright scary for the rest of the AFC, so expect the Texans to pull the trigger on Hill come Thursday night.
27. The New England Patriots Select... Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB Illinois
Mercilus Provides a Huge Boost to Pats' Pass Rush
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For years, the New England Patriots have lacked a dominant pass rush, yet they continue to bypass addressing this need in the first round of the NFL draft. However, I have them stopping this trend on Thursday evening by selecting pass-rusher extraordinaire Whitney Mercilus.
First of all, how great is this kid's name? That is going to be the highest-selling jersey in Foxboro once he arrives to camp. In addition to his perfect last name, this prospect is a stud pass rusher who had an absolutely monster junior season, collecting 22.5 tackles for a loss and sacking the opposing quarterback 16 times in 2011-12.
As amazing as those numbers are, his physical size is also ideal at an imposing 6'4" and 261 pounds. He will be a favorite of Bill Belichick and should drastically improve New England's sack total next season.
28. The Green Bay Packers Select... Nick Perry, DE/OLB USC
Perry Improves the Packers' Pass Rush
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This pick is very similar to the previous Patriots selection of Whitney Mercilus. The Green Bay Packers need to improve their pass rush, and Nick Perry would provide a huge upgrade over their other options at linebacker.
Perry came out after his junior season at USC and is another DE/OLB hybrid who can play at linebacker while also providing elite pressure on the opposing quarterback. He has good size at 6'3" and 271 pounds, and he also showcased his high-end speed by posting a 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash.
His 9.5 sacks in the 2011-12 season led the Trojans in that category, and he would pair an exciting duo with fellow linebacker Clay Matthews. Whether it ends up being Perry on draft night or not, expect Green Bay to address their pass rush in the first round.
29. The Baltimore Ravens Select... Peter Konz, C Wisconsin
Konz Would Replace Long-Time Starter Matt Birk at C
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The Baltimore Ravens are known as one of the best drafting teams in the NFL, as they always seem to address needs and pick long-time starters in the early rounds of the draft. That trend should continue this season with a deep pool of talented players who will available near the end of Round One.
Therefore, expect the Ravens to address both a need and take the best player available by spending the 29th overall selection on Peter Konz. The center out of Wisconsin grades out as the draft's top-rated center prospect, as he anchored an elite Badger offensive line that paved huge holes for Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball all season long.
Konz served as the anchor of this year's offensive line, and he projects to be an elite anchor for an NFL offensive line as well. He has a huge frame, standing 6'5" and weighing 314 pounds. He has excellent quickness, agility and footwork for a player of his size, as evidenced by his 5.16 time in the 40-yard dash.
However, there are injury concerns and they could cause him to slip a few more spots and into the second round. But as long as the Ravens' are confident in his durability, then he would be an excellent selection near the end of the first round.
30. The San Francisco 49ers Select... Coby Fleener, TE Stanford
Harbaugh Would Love to Draw Up Plays For Both Fleener and Vernon Davis
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This would be a very interesting selection for the San Francisco 49ers. They already have an elite-level tight end in Vernon Davis, but head coach Jim Harbaugh utilized multiple tight end sets during his tenure at Stanford.
Following the Patriots' model, the 49ers could mimic their duo of Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez by drafting Coby Fleener and pairing him with Davis. This would be a matchup nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators, as Fleener has the potential to be a Pro Bowler just like Davis already is.
The two pairing up together would make San Francisco a dominant team in the red zone. They would also make quarterback Alex Smith's job much easier on offense and should give him a plethora of options during pass plays.
31. The New England Patriots Select... Harrison Smith, SS Notre Dame
Smith Would Give Belichick Hard Hitting in the Secondary
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At this point, Bill Belichick could take the best player available, and who that would be is anybody's guess. He always makes surprise picks near the end of the first round, and this year will be no different.
I have him selecting strong safety Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame. The Patriots need a big hitter and strong playmaker in the secondary, and Smith could be that guy for New England.
He has good speed, running a 4.57 time at the 40-yard dash, and has good size for a secondary player at 6'2" and 213 pounds. This would give the Patriots a big guy to help improve their passing defense.
32. The New York Giants Select... Jerel Worthy, DT Michigan State
Worthy Makes the Giants D-Line Completely Ridiculous
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At this point, the New York Giants would take the best player available, and they would love to take Worthy if he is available at this point. He grades out as one of the best defensive tackles in the draft and would makes the Giants defensive linemen even better than it already is- and it is the best one in the NFL.
Worthy would provide a better run support option for New York, which they really don't have. Their line is full of pass rushers, so Worthy would be able to matchup against some of the larger offensive linemen in the league.