2012 NFL Mock Draft: Final Predictions for Top 50 on Matt Miller's Big Board
A number of rumors pick up steam in the days leading up to the draft, and it's our job as NFL fans to decipher what is true and false.
Matt Miller's "Big Board" gives us an inkling of where some prospects may be going, but in this out-of-order mock draft, we will go player-by-player, in order of his board, to determine who will go where.
This is not necessarily a mock draft in that I have some projected trades and don't have the players in any sort of order, but it should be interesting nonetheless.
Here we go!
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
No. 1: Andrew Luck
Projection: IND (No. 1 Overall)
Analysis: This pick has been set in stone since the draft order came out, as much as the Colts didn't want to admit it. Luck makes perfect sense here.
No. 2: Robert Griffin III
Projection: WAS (No. 2 Overall)
Analysis: The Redskins traded way too many picks to just take a flier on Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil—Griffin is the guy who brings renewed hope to D.C.
Trent Richardson and Matt Kalil
No. 3: Trent Richardson
Projection: STL (No. 3 Overall)
Analysis: A lot of pre-draft buzz is nothing but smokescreens, but the Rams have thrown Steven Jackson under the bus by claiming interest in Richardson. I have a feeling that this rumor is real and the Rams move their first- and second-rounders to get here and pick the Alabama standout.
No. 4: Matt Kalil
Projection: MIN (No. 6 Overall)
Analysis: Though they trade down the board, Minnesota is still able to land the player they want in Matt Kalil. Christian Ponder's blind side needs protecting, and Charlie Johnson just won't do.
Morris Claiborne and David DeCastro
No. 5: Morris Claiborne
Projection: TB (No. 5 Overall)
Analysis: The Buccaneers can't do much better with this pick, and if they don't trade out of their current slot (and I don't see them doing so), Claiborne is their man.
No. 6: David DeCastro
Projection: CIN (No. 17 Overall)
Analysis: However great a talent he is, DeCastro plays a position that just isn't in demand. A team like the Bengals, who can address a more pertinent need with their next first-rounder, goes with the Stanford guard.
Alshon Jeffery and Nick Perry
No. 7: Alshon Jeffery
Projection: JAX (No. 38 Overall)
Analysis: I'm somewhat confused as to how Miller put Alshon Jeffery on the top of his wide-receiver rankings, as I have a second-round grade on the South Carolina standout. The Jaguars take a flier here.
No. 8: Nick Perry
Projection: CLE (No. 37 Overall)
Analysis: Nick Perry falls out of the first round in my mock draft because of the sheer surplus of pass-rushers, but the Browns nab him early on Day Two as they notice his unique skill set.
Michael Brockers and Michael Floyd
No. 9: Michael Brockers
Projection: NE (No. 31 Overall)
Analysis: Brockers could slide down the draft board due to his lack of experience, and I project him as more of a 3-4 defensive end. He will be a good fit in New England where he can learn on the job.
No. 10: Michael Floyd
Projection: ARZ (No. 13 Overall)
Analysis: After Larry Fitzgerald declared interest in bringing Kevin Kolb to Arizona, the Cardinals went after the young quarterback. Fitzgerald has told the front office that he would like the team to draft Michael Floyd. You do the math.
Fletcher Cox and Melvin Ingram
No. 11: Fletcher Cox
Projection: CAR (No. 9 Overall)
Analysis: The Rams looked like they would be deciding between Justin Blackmon and Fletcher Cox with the sixth pick, but I have them moving up to get Trent Richardson. Nonetheless, Cox doesn't stay on the board too much longer.
No. 12: Melvin Ingram
Projection: SEA (No. 12 Overall)
Analysis: The Seahawks have shown some heavy, late interest in this South Carolina defensive end, and I can see them grabbing the defender with the twelfth pick to improve their pass-rush.
Riley Reiff and Kendall Wright
No. 13: Riley Reiff
Projection: BUF (No. 10 Overall)
Analysis: With Chris Hairston currently entrenched as the starter at left tackle, look for the Bills to select a very safe player in Riley Reiff, who can protect Ryan Fitzpatrick's blind side from day one.
No. 14: Kendall Wright
Projection: CIN (No. 21 Overall)
Analysis: Andy Dalton would love to have another weapon or two in the receiving corps, so the Bengals give him speedster Kendall Wright out of Baylor to stretch the offense.
Courtney Upshaw and Coby Fleener
No. 15: Courtney Upshaw
Projection: GB (No. 28 Overall)
Analysis: Upshaw has some personality issues and may not be the best locker-room fit, but he has a polished skill set that will allow him to get to the passer in the NFL.
No. 16: Coby Fleener
Projection: IND (No. 34 Overall)
Analysis: After drafting Andrew Luck in the first round, the Colts grab their new quarterback's best friend with tight end Coby Fleener. The duo will put up big numbers for years to come.
Cordy Glenn and Mark Barron
No. 18: Mark Barron
Projection: NE (No. 27 Overall)
Analysis: A lot of the teams in the teens will pass on Barron to fill more pressing needs, so he conveniently falls into Bill Belichick's lap here.
No. 17: Cordy Glenn
Projection: SD (No. 18 Overall)
Analysis: The Chargers lost a number of offensive linemen this offseason and, after signing Jarret Johnson, need a blocker more than a linebacker. Glenn is the easy choice here.
Stephon Gilmore and Justin Blackmon
No. 19: Stephon Gilmore
Projection: JAX (No. 7 Overall)
Analysis: A fast riser late in the draft process, Gilmore works himself into the top 10 as the Jaguars need a cornerback. This South Carolina star is a solid corner and goes early.
No. 20: Justin Blackmon
Projection: CLE (No. 4 Overall)
Analysis: After striking out on Alabama's Trent Richardson, the Browns default to the No. 1 receiver on their board with Justin Blackmon. Colt McCoy gets another weapon, and the Browns get a good player.
Whitney Mercilus and Stephen Hill
No. 21: Whitney Mercilus
Projection: NE (No. 48 Overall)
Analysis: Mercilus is a very raw prospect, so he falls a bit here, but he has the potential to explode at any given time. He led the NCAA in sacks and would be a solid fit in Bill Belchick's attacking defense.
No. 22: Stephen Hill
Projection: HOU (No. 26 Overall)
Analysis: I almost had Hill falling out of the first round, but I would be very surprised if the Texans don't grab this pass catcher with their first-round pick. Houston could have a scary passing offense in 2012.
Doug Martin and Dont'a Hightower
No. 23: Doug Martin
Projection: NYG (No. 32 Overall)
Analysis: The Giants have a lot of needs despite their Super Bowl win, and I look for general manager Jerry Reese to bring in a high-profile talent like Doug Martin, who can carry the load and push the pile.
No. 24: Dont'a Hightower
Projection: PIT (No. 24 Overall)
Analysis: Though he doesn't do anything particularly well, Hightower is a fundamentally sound linebacker who makes plays the game the right way.
Lamar Miller and Peter Konz
No. 25: Lamar Miller
Projection: TB (No. 36 Overall)
Analysis: The Buccaneers don't love LeGarrette Blount, so they take a speedy running back here. Miller will spell Blount when necessary, especially on third downs and screen plays.
No. 26: Peter Konz
Projection: TEN (No. 20 Overall)
Analysis: New head coach Mike Munchak is a former offensive lineman, and he loves Konz' grit on the gridiron. Look for the Titans to snatch up this interior lineman in the middle of the first round.
Quinton Coples and Andre Branch
No. 27: Quinton Coples
Projection: CHI (No. 19 Overall)
Analysis: The Bears are building a very good team for 2012, and grabbing a bookend pass-rusher for Julius Peppers would be a perfect move here. Chicago could pair the two UNC products and expect 20 or more sacks combined.
No. 28: Andre Branch
Projection: MIA (No. 42 Overall)
Analysis: The Dolphins still need someone to rush the quarterback, and could go after Clemson defensive end Andre Branch, who has turned some heads with a solid tape.
Mike Adams and Luke Kuechly
No. 29: Mike Adams
Projection: CHI (No. 50 Overall)
Analysis: With the Brandon Marshall trade, Chicago showed that it cares more about a player's on-field performance than off-field issues. They need a lineman, and Adams is a good fit.
No. 30: Luke Kuechly
Projection: KC (No. 11 Overall)
Analysis: Miller has Kuechly ranked a lot lower than most people, and I see Scott Pioli tabbing this Boston College linebacker as the Chiefs' first overall pick.
Shea McClellin and Rueben Randle
No. 31: Shea McClellin
Projection: PHI (No. 46 Overall)
Analysis: The Eagles had trouble in its linebacking corps all of 2011, so adding McClellin through the draft and DeMeco Ryans in a trade should shore up the group.
No. 32: Rueben Randle
Projection: MIN (No. 33 Overall)
Analysis: After trading down in the first round, the Vikings get to pick with the 33rd overall selection. Minnesota goes with a receiver, as they don't have much opposite Percy Harvin.
Jamell Fleming and Kelechi Osemele
No. 33: Jamell Fleming
Projection: CIN (No. 53 Overall)
Analysis: The Bengals couldn't grab a solid cornerback with their first two picks, so they nab a talented defensive back in the middle of the second round.
No. 34: Kelechi Osemele
Projection: KC (No. 44 Overall)
Analysis: The Chiefs went with a defender in the first round and look to improve their offense here, adding needed depth along an older offensive line.
Dontari Poe and Jonathan Martin
No. 35: Dontari Poe
Projection: PHI (No. 15 Overall)
Analysis: Andy Reid would love to bring in another defensive tackle with his first-round selection, and Poe makes a lot of sense. The Eagles lack a mammoth tackle and could use this Memphis standout.
No. 36: Jonathan Martin
Projection: CLE (No. 22 Overall)
Analysis: I don't see any running backs on the board that warrant selection here, so the Browns play it safe by going after Stanford left tackle Jonathan Martin.
Chris Polk and Kendall Reyes
No. 37: Chris Polk
Projection: DEN (No. 57 Overall)
Analysis: The Broncos are trying to build a passing offense with Peyton Manning at the helm, so they get the running back with the best hands in the draft—Chris Polk.
No. 38: Kendall Reyes
Projection: STL (No. 36 Overall)
Analysis: Unable to grab Fletcher Cox in the first round, St. Louis settles for another defensive tackle, Kendall Reyes, with its second-round pick.
Harrison Smith and Jerel Worthy
No. 39: Harrison Smith
Projection: MIN (No. 35 Overall)
Analysis: One of the Vikings' most pressing needs is safety, and they shore up the position by selecting Smith, a Notre Dame standout, with their second-round pick.
No. 40: Jerel Worthy
Projection: DEN (No. 25 Overall)
Analysis: Denver's first priority is grabbing another defensive lineman, and Worthy is an above-average run-stopper and a true space-eater.
Devon Still and Mike Martin
No. 41: Devon Still
Projection: SF (No. 30 Overall)
Analysis: Isaac Sopoaga is due for a new contract after 2012, so the 49ers would be well-suited to seek a replacement. Still is great against the run and would fit right in with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.
No. 42: Mike Martin
Projection: PIT (No. 56 Overall)
Analysis: Chris Hoke recently retired, and Casey Hampton can't be too far behind, so look for the Steelers to draft a fresh, young nose tackle to eventually take over.
Kevin Zeitler and Kirk Cousins
No. 43: Kevin Zeitler
Projection: BAL (No. 29 Overall)
Analysis: Baltimore just lost Ben Grubbs and was probably hoping that Peter Konz would fall to them in the first round, but he's off the board. Needing a guard, the team reaches for Zeitler.
No. 44: Kirk Cousins
Projection: BUF (No. 71 Overall)
Analysis: Chan Gailey would love to get his hands on a quarterback he can develop for a few years while Ryan Fitzpatrick runs the show. Cousins has major upside and, if he works on his decision-making, could be a franchise guy.
Chandler Jones and Ryan Tannehill
No. 45: Chandler Jones
Projection: NYJ (No. 16 Overall)
Analysis: Historically, the Jets don't draft well and this could be one of their next big misses. Rex Ryan needs a pass-rusher and could become enamored with Jones by draft day, pulling the trigger a little early on the Syracuse end.
No. 46: Ryan Tannehill
Projection: MIA (No. 8 Overall)
Analysis: The Dolphins haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round since Dan Marino, and it's time to move into a new era. Tannehill will be the new face of this franchise.
Mitchell Schwartz and Mohamed Sanu
No. 47: Mitchell Schwartz
Projection: DET (No. 54 Overall)
Analysis: The Lions don't address their offensive tackle need in the first round, so they make a need-based pick here with Schwartz.
No. 48: Mohamed Sanu
Projection: BUF (No. 41 Overall)
Analysis: The Bills could truly use a wide receiver opposite Stevie Johnson, and Sanu brings the perfect package. He's big with a lot of range to catch the ball, which will suit the team's vertical attack.
Casey Hayward and Brandon Weeden
No. 49: Casey Hayward
Projection: TEN (No. 52 Overall)
Analysis: The team passed on a cornerback in the first round, so it only makes sense that the Titans bring in Casey Hayward at this point. The loss of Cortland Finnegan hurts, but Hayward is a solid player.
No. 50: Brandon Weeden
Projection: SEA (No. 43 Overall)
Analysis: Despite the big contract they just gave Matt Flynn, the Seahawks won't pass on having multiple talented quarterbacks on the roster. Weeden could be a very solid player for Pete Carroll's bunch.