Mike Mayock 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Best and Worst Picks of Guru's Mock

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IApril 26, 2012

NFL Network's Mike Mayock delivered his annual mock draft on Wednesday, giving readers the one and only look at the respected draft analyst's view on how the 2012 NFL draft may shake out. 

Here's the best and worst of Mayock's mock draft:



Boston College LB Luke Kuechly to Buffalo Bills (No. 10)

I'll admit I wasn't thrilled by the pick upon first glance, but Mayock sold me when he mentioned how the athletic Kuechly could match up with the New England Patriots' tight end duo in the passing game.

A tackling machine at Boston College, Kuechly could also help improve the Bills' leaky run defense from a year ago. He'd be a solid starter from the get-go on a team with playoff aspirations. 


Alabama RB Trent Richardson to Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 5)

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 12:  Running back Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide cuts away from defensive back Corey Broomfield #25 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs on November 12, 2011 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. Alabama
Butch Dill/Getty Images

The Bucs can't go wrong with either Richardson or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, but it's hard not to love the idea of the Alabama running back taking handoffs behind an offensive line that will feature two Pro Bowl guards in Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph.

Richardson could easily run for 1,200 yards or more in his rookie season in Tampa Bay, given the opportunity. And when push comes to shove, the Bucs need to score more points this season to compete in the NFC South.

Adding Richardson moves Tampa Bay's offense in the right direction.


Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower to Baltimore Ravens (No. 28)

Hightower has so many fits at the end of the first round, but Baltimore might represent the very best. The former Alabama defensive captain could start right away as a pass-rushing outside linebacker, later moving inside once Ray Lewis regresses or retires.

Hightower would also be the natural leader that Baltimore is certainly craving with Father Time starting to catch up to Lewis. It's a win-win for Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome. 


Baylor WR Kendall Wright to San Francisco 49ers (No. 30)

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26:  Kendall Wright #1 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball against Cornelius Douglas #2 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Cowboys Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 49ers went offense-heavy during free agency, which makes me think they'll look defense early in this draft. But could they really pass on a pass-catching talent like Wright at No. 30 overall?

I doubt they would.

Wright could give the 49ers another vertical threat to team with Randy Moss, and his ability to win in the slot would be beneficial for quarterback Alex Smith, who doesn't have a big arm.

A depth chart featuring Wright, Moss, Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn and Vernon Davis gives Smith all the weapons he needs to get over the Peyton Manning flirtation that went down this spring. 




Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill to Tennessee Titans (No. 20)

I understand the size/speed factor that comes with Hill, but are the Titans in any position to take a project receiver at No. 20 overall?

This looks like a luxury pick that Tennessee can't pull the trigger on. They would be better served adding a pass-rusher at this selection, and Mayock lets plenty of names—Courtney Upshaw, Nick Perry and Shea McClellin—unnecessarily pass the Titans by here.


Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon to Cleveland Browns (No. 4)

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Justin Blackmon #81 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys catches a 67-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against Chase Thomas #44 of the Stanford Cardina during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Browns should avoid passing on Trent Richardson for Blackmon. While Mayock eventually gives Cleveland a three-down back in Doug Martin at No. 22 overall, is a Blackmon-Martin haul better than a Richardson-Wright/Hill duo?

GM Tom Heckert and vice president Mike Holmgren would get more value and production from Richardson and Wright, especially right away. While this is a rebuilding process in Cleveland, the Browns need positive results next season. 


South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore to Philadelphia Eagles (No. 15)

The pick here is solid, although the Eagles probably would have held on to Asante Samuel had they thought cornerback was an upgradable position.

However, I list this selection in the "worst" category for the simple reason that Gilmore likely won't last this long.

And if he does, someone will jump the Eagles to take Gilmore, who makes a lot more sense on a few teams in the late teens. Mayock even states that Gilmore is his No. 8 overall player. 


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