2012 NFL Mock Draft: Dontari Poe and First-Round Worthy Defensive Tackles
Whether it's a run-stuffer, pass-rusher or both, the defender closest to the ball can be one of the most important players on the field. If a defense can control the line of scrimmage, it genuinely starts with the big guy at defensive tackle.
They may not be the most glamorous members of the team, but they can be vital to team success.
Here is a look at the defensive tackles who are worth first-round selections within a full first-round mock draft. Those picks are in italics.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck will be the pick, and the Colts can only hope he's close to the QB he's replacing in Indianapolis.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (via trade with St. Louis)
RG3 to the Skins should become a reality not long after Luck holds up his Colts jersey.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns will likely take Richardson here. If they do, they still need to address their receivers in this draft.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
If the Vikings don't take Claiborne at No. 3, the Bucs have to take him here. He would be an instant starter for Tampa Bay.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Matt Kalil would be a solid pick for the Rams—if he slips, Blackmon is a great fit as well. Both of them would help Sam Bradford take the next step.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Another effect of Kalil not going to the Vikings is Blackmon available here for the Jaguars. I wouldn't fault them for taking him, but if he isn't there, Ingram is still a stud.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that any shake up can save the Dolphins from making this monumental reach. The Fins would be better off drafting a QB in the second round.
9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Brockers has the size at 6'5", 322 pounds to dominate. He also displayed a great motor at LSU, something that is especially attractive for such a big man.
He didn't perform well at the combine, so some thought he would plummet in the draft.
Thus far, his stock hasn't fallen dramatically. The size and versatility he offers makes him a unique and intriguing prospect.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Bills' weakest area is offensive tackle at this point. It's not to say they are perfect at every other position—but no area is as in need as the tackle position. Reiff would be a great addition.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
DeCastro is a future Pro Bowler—and I'm talking near future. This is a great pick for the Chiefs.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College
Kuechly could rise because of his strong combine and pro day, but if he's available for the Seahawks, he makes a ton of sense for them.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Placing Floyd opposite of Larry Fitzgerald makes the Cardinals pass offense one of the best aerial attacks in the NFC. If he's available here, Floyd is a smart pick.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Teams are hoping King Combine brings some of that freakish athleticism to the field. At 6'4", 346 pounds, the massive strength is impressive (44 bench press reps of 225 pounds)—but not surprising. The 4.87 40-yard-dash is another story.
It's true, Pro Bowlers aren't made in a t-shirt and shorts. But for a prospect considered a late first round, or early second pick to perform like that changes things.
Poe has tremendous boom or bust potential, but the latter is too high to let him past this point.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Eagles need a strong defensive presence in the middle of their defense. Cox is one of the best athletes at DT in the draft. His ability to rush the passer and stuff the run should instantly upgrade the Eagles’ defense.
The Dream Team was missing this type of presence last year. Drafting Cox is a great step towards creating a solid defensive unit.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama
The Jets need a pass-rusher more than safety. They should take Upshaw here, but it would not surprise me to see them take Mark Barron.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
This will likely be the Alabama section of the draft. Kirkpatrick to the Bengals makes sense as Cincy needs youth and depth at the position.
18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Perry's combine performance was very impressive. He could add an element to the Chargers defense they haven't had since Shawne Merriman was there and healthy.
19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
The Bears and Mercilus seem like a good match. Chicago needs a pass-rusher and Mercilus went to Illinois, where he led the nation with 16 sacks in 2011.
20. Tennessee Titans: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
Unless the Titans address the WR spot, Glenn is a solid and safe selection. The Titans could strengthen their interior blocking and fortify their running game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Martin is one of my favorite players in this draft. If the Bengals take him, he'll have a very good rookie season.
22. Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
This Martin could give the Browns a second bookend offensive tackle to go with perennial Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.
23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Lions lost Eric Wright and in my opinion, they need to address this position. Gilmore's size and athleticism would be a good fit in Detroit.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Hightower will be a quality player in the NFL. If he lands in Pittsburgh, he could replace Larry Foote.
25. Denver Broncos: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Wright's speed and run-after-the-catch ability would be a huge asset to the Broncos offense. He could also be a contributor as a return man.
26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
If we go off what we saw at the NFL combine, Hill has the potential to be a star. I think the Texans are fascinated with the prospects of matching him with Andre Johnson.
27. New England Patriots: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
I think Coples is going to slip, and when he does, the Pats will grab him. This would be a great environment and fit for him.
28. Green Bay Packers: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
With Nick Collins released, the Packers could look to shore up the safety spot. It could mean some movement in the secondary, but the Packers will need the unit to be top notch in the NFC North.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Ravens' current center is Matt Birk, but he is 35 years old; the Ravens need to address the position now. Konz is clearly the best prospect here and the smart pick for Baltimore.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
If Fleener goes to the Niners, he and Vernon Davis could become an explosive TE tandem.
31. New England Patriots: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Most scouts realize Jerel Worthy has the potential to dominate the line of scrimmage. But he doesn't always bring it as hard as critics expect him to.
He is 6'3", 309 pounds, but his arms are a bit short. He could be a solid defensive tackle in the Pats' system because of his ability to play and his lower body strength. He has the potential to become a run-stuffer in the NFL, and if the Broncos don't take him at No. 25, he'd be a good selection for the Pats here.
32. New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
The Giants' offense could use a big play threat at RB. The passing game is solid, but the defending champions need depth in the backfield.
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