2012 NFL Mock Draft Round 1: Week 15 Edition
With Week 14 in the books, the 2012 NFL Draft is starting to take shape. Teams like the Colts, Vikings, and Rams look to be wrapping up the draft's top picks as the contenders who are lobbying for the playoffs are taking their spots at the bottom.
Robert Griffin's Heisman victory also gave us a bit of a better indication for the 2012 event. His phenomenal 2011 campaign was solidified by college football's greatest individual honor. He will most likely see his draft stock rise come April.
So as we go into Week 15, here is the updated first round of 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck going No.1 overall is a clear no-brainer. The ability is there, the intelligence is there, and it looks as if he's the next big thing coming into the NFL.
Indianapolis, however, will be in perhaps the stickiest situation in the game's history. If they take Luck, which they will, what happens to the quarterback they have now? Maybe you've heard of him—Peyton Manning?
Will the Colts draft Luck and start him immediately? Will they take Luck only to place him under the wing of Peyton for a handful of the season? Or will Indy just cut ties with their longtime quarterback to make way for what looks like the second version of Manning?
There are many questions surrounding that potential scenario, but there are none when it comes to drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in 2012.
Week 14 Pick: Andrew Luck (#1)
2. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
If it wasn't for Andrew Luck, USC's Matt Kalil would be the best prospect in the 2012 draft.
The younger brother of Carolina's Ryan Kalil, Matt is another sure-fire offensive lineman that'll keep his quarterback off the turf.
Luckily for Minnesota, if they remain second in the draft order, Kalil be available for the No. 2 selection.
Through 12 games, the Vikings offensive line has allowed the fourth most sacks in the NFL. Drafting Matt Kalil would help protect the young Christian Ponder and provide some space for Adrian Peterson.
Week 14 Pick: Matt Kalil (#2)
3. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The St. Louis Rams have needs in every position besides the quarterback. Perhaps, the running backs spots. Seeing as how Justin Blackmon would be the best available player at this point, the Rams should go with the Oklahoma State Cowboy.
Blackmon is the top wide-receiving prospect in the draft. He would give Sam Bradford a legitimate target to hit in the end zone. He has the size, the speed, and the hands to become an elite receiver in the NFL.
Week 14 Pick: Justin Blackmon (#3)
4. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
In my last mock, I had Washington taking Matt Barkley with the fifth pick. Barkley is a great prospect. He would fit nicely into Mike Shanahan's system.
However, the newly crowned Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, does have a bit more upside than the USC quarterback. Griffin can run extremely well. He has ridiculous accuracy on his deep throws. The 2011 Heisman winner had phenomenal numbers. He was certainly college football's best player this season.
After seeing Carolina taking a risk that paid off huge dividends with Cam Newton, perhaps the Redskins take a calculated chance of their own on a quarterback with multiple tools.
Week 14 Pick: Matt Barkley (#5)
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Despite spending their first-round pick on a quarterback just a season ago, many within the Jags organization may be pushing to pick up another one in 2012. The disappointing play of Blaine Gabbert has opened the door for the likes of Matt Barkley and Robert Griffin.
But if I were in the front office at Jacksonville, I'd allow Blaine Gabbert to continue his growth. He isn't the worst rookie quarterback we've ever seen, and does appear to have some tools to be a legitimate starter.
So with Barkley and Griffin off the table and Justin Blackmon already drafted, the Jags would go with North Carolina's Quinton Coples. The 6'6", 275 pound defensive lineman has racked up 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss in his 2011 campaign.
Coples would be a nice fit in Jacksonville considering their need for some type of pass rush, as they rank just 22nd in total sacks.
Week 14 Pick: Quinton Coples (#4)
6. Carolina Panthers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
When it comes to putting a balanced team on the field, the Carolina Panthers are far from it. Their offense has become one of the league's most explosive under rookie sensation Cam Newton; however, the Panthers' defense is much too unreliable.
They give up the most passing yards per attempt at 8.4, and the sixth most rushing yards per attempt at 4.6. They also rank 24th in total defense and have allowed 27.3 points per game.
Adding LSU's Morris Claiborne would not only be the most logical choice for the Panthers, but a very easy one.
At 6'0" and 185 pounds, Claiborne has been one of college football's best cornerbacks over the last two seasons. In fact, he may be the best defensive prospect coming out in 2012.
He has good hands, exceptional speed, and the ability to be an elite cover corner in the NFL. Drafting Claiborne would be a nice step for Carolina in their build back to playoff contention.
Week 14 Pick: Morris Claiborne (#7)
7. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Miami Dolphins fans, your prayers may finally be answered. If Matt Barkley were to drop to Miami at this point in the draft, you may not see a faster selection.
There is no question Miami needs a franchise quarterback. Their current guy, Matt Moore, has been playing considerably well. Moore, however, is not the long term answer for this franchise.
Barkley is easily one of this year's draft's best prospects. He has great mechanics and is very football savvy. In 2011, he threw 39 touchdowns to just seven interceptions with over 3500 yards.
With Griffin off the board here, Barkley is a hell of a consolation prize for the Dolphins at No.7.
Week 14 Pick: Robert Griffin (#8)
8. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Without a perfect match with the first eight teams in the draft, Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson falls into the lap of the Cleveland Browns. Alabama's Richardson is far and above the best running back prospect in this group and would fit in Cleveland quite nicely.
Peyton Hillis may not be a permanent fix there after all of the drama he has gone through this season. Plus, Colt McCoy does need some offensive help in order to reach the next level. Richardson would be a great option for McCoy to hand the ball off to.
Week 14 Pick: Trent Richardson (#9)
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like they could use just about anything, with the exception of the quarterback position. So at No.9, they could go with the best player available.
Since the team is trying to develop Josh Freeman into a big time quarterback, then why not give him some help?
Alshon Jeffery would not only give Freeman a legitimate target, but would give the franchise its biggest wide receiving prospect in years.
Jeffery has great size, soft hands, and good speed. If not for Justin Blackmon, Jeffery would easily be the draft's top wideout.
Week 14 Pick: Alfonzo Dennard (#10)
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Philly's linebacking core has been nothing short of terrible. This problem has been plaguing their defense, and needs to be addressed. So if Luke Kuechly of Boston College is still there for the Eagles, expect them to jump on him.
He is a sound tackler, displays good mobility, and is a very intelligent player. Kuechly also has good size and always seems to be in the middle of every play.
Week 14 Pick: Riley Reiff (#6)
11. Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Through 13 games this season, the Buffalo Bills rank dead last in sacks. They have had some trouble getting to the quarterback, and could use one of the draft's best pass rushers.
Courtney Upshaw, the linebacker from Alabama, would give them an immediate boost.
Upshaw has tremendous versatility in terms of positioning on defense. He has good speed, good strength, and is very quick off the ball.
Upshaw recorded 8.5 sacks this year. He could help Buffalo get to those quarterbacks.
Week 14 Pick: Michael Floyd (#13)
12. Kansas City Chiefs: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
With Todd Haley now out as Kansas City's head coach, the Chiefs will be looking to regroup in some big spots. Luckily for them, Landry Jones could be available when their turn comes around in 2012.
Matt Cassel is not reliable. Tyler Palko obviously isn't the guy. So the quarterback spot will need to be addressed.
Jones, who is in his in junior season as a Sooner, is easily the fourth best quarterback in this considerably deep class. Landry threw for over 4000 yards with 28 touchdowns this past season. He has shown he is worthy of a first round pick.
Jones' strengths include his accuracy, arm power, and footwork. But he does need to work on his elongated throwing motion.
Week 14 Pick: Courtney Upshaw (#14)
13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
If Arizona believes Kevin Kolb is their guy, they need to give him some help. Whether it be another target to sit opposite Larry Fitzgerald or a big lineman, the Cards have to build around Kolb.
Since Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery are off the board, the next logical choice would be Iowa's Riley Reiff.
Reiff has certainly emerged as one of college football's best players as a result of his impressive 2011 season. He's 6'6", 300 pounds. He has been praised for his great fundamentals. Reiff has great footwork, bends very well, and has already played in a pro-style offense.
Week 14 Pick: Alshon Jeffery (#11)
14. Seattle Seahawks: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With Luck, Griffin, Barkley, and Jones off the board, the Seahawks are still left without a big quarterback prospect. If that's the case, Seattle could go with Stanford's Jonathan Martin to improve their struggling o-line.
Seattle's line currently allows the fourth most sacks, so Martin could fill a need here.
Week 14 Pick: Landry Jones (#12)
15. San Diego Chargers: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
San Diego's Vincent Jackson will become a free agent after the season which may spell trouble for Rivers and crew. Jackson is one of the league's most explosive wideouts. He has been Philip Rivers' go-to for the past few seasons.
But if Jackson does decide to leave for a fatter contract elsewhere, they'll need to add another big receiver to fill the potential void.
The wideout from Notre Dame has done nothing but dazzle during his collegiate year. In his four seasons at South Bend, Floyd has never failed to put up at least 700 yards receiving and catching at least seven touchdowns. Floyd raked in a bulky 95 passes in 2011, eight of them in the end zone.
Week 14 Pick: Jonathan Martin (#15)
16. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
There is no question Dallas needs help in their shaky secondary. Their pass defense has been quite a problem the past few seasons, which allowed opposing offenses to throw at will. Dre Kirkpatrick can help fix that problem.
At 6'2", Kirkpatrick is a considerably tall cornerback. He has great speed and has a knack for making big plays. Although he needs to bulk up for the NFL, Kirkpatrick is a nice grab for the Cowboys at No.16.
Week 14 Pick: Janoris Jenkins (No.25)
17. Tennessee Titans: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Whether Tennessee's offensive line was really to blame for Chris Johnson's slow start, it does need some upgrading. In fact, head coach Mike Munchak has already called out the line this season.
David DeCastro is the draft's top guard at the moment, and could be a nice pickup for the Titans.
Week 14 Pick: David DeCastro (#17)
18. Cincinnati Bengals: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Cincinnati does need some help in their secondary. They can use their first pick on Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard.
Dennard has excellent speed, good athleticism, and displays great instincts. He does, however need to improve on his reaction on coverage. As well as his footwork, to make better breaks on the ball.
He does need some work, but has the tools to be a great corner in the NFL.
Week 14 Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick (No.19)
19. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland): Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
With their second consecutive first-round pick, the Bengals could look to Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict for some more help on defense.
Although the Bengals' defense has been quite impressive this year, it may be hard for Marvin Lewis to pass up on Burfict at this spot. He does need work in man-to-man coverage, but he carries the agility to break off blockers and get to the ball.
Week 14 Pick: Vontaze Burfict (No.23)
20. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
In order to provide Jay Cutler with some much needed protection, the Bears could go with Cordy Glenn.
Glenn is just huge, standing at 6'5" and 348 pounds. He is relatively nimble for a man his size, and is very good in opening up holes for the run game.
Week 14 Pick: Cordy Glenn (No.22)
21. New York Giants: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
An inside linebacker is a huge need for the G-Men, and North Carolina's Zach Brown would provide some stability for Coughlin's (or not Coughlin's) defense next season.
Brown can come in and immediately help the Giants. Brown is a sound athlete that has the speed and ability to get to opposing ball carriers.
Week 14 Pick: Luke Kuechly (No.16)
22. Cleveland Browns (From Atlanta): Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State
With their second first-rounder, the Browns can be looking for some defensive aid after taking Trent Richardson at No.9. Brandon Jenkins of Florida State has had a great 2011 season. He could give Cleveland some help in their pass rush.
Jenkins has great size, is a good athlete, and can play on the defensive line or move to outside linebacker in the pros.
Week 14 Pick: Manti Te'o (No.18)
23. New York Jets: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Jets must upgrade their pass rush as well as their run defense in order to solidify their spot amongst the league's best defenses.
Rex Ryan's crew currently ranks 14th against the run. Much lower than their top ten positioning from the previous two seasons. They also need a legitimate threat to rush the quarterback, so Ryan doesn't have to use the blitz so much.
No defensive end in college football was better in 2011 than Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus racked a gaudy 14.5 sacks in 2011. He has slated his name into the thick of the first round.
Week 14 Pick: Zach Brown (No.20)
24. Denver Broncos: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
All the Denver Broncos seem to do is run. They do it with Tim Tebow, they do it with Willis McGahee, and they'll do it with just about any other player that has two legs.
Anyway, drafting 'Bama's Barrett Jones would solidify the line to help force the running game into opposing defenses.
Week 14 Pick: Barret Jones (No.26)
25. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Detroit boasts two huge needs in its offensive line and in its secondary. Since Janoris Jenkins is a better prospect than any remaining lineman, look for Detroit to go with the North Alabama transfer.
Jenkins is a very gifted athlete. He has the potential to be a great corner in the NFL. His off-field issues; however, should have some teams worried.
Week 14 Pick: Whitney Mercilus (No.21)
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Since Houston's defense is simply one of the best thus far, they may look to add some help on offense.
Kendall Wright of Baylor could be an option here for the Texans. He has great hands, killer speed, and has the ability to break off big plays.
The Texans do need a wideout to sit opposite Andre Johnson, and Wright may be it.
Week 14 Pick: Kendall Wright (No.24)
27. New England Patriots (From New Orleans): Devon Still, DE/DT, Penn State
New England's pass defense has been nothing short of atrocious in 2011. They rank dead last in the NFL.
Devon Still, who would be the best available talent here, could provide some pass rush help to keep teams from getting off big passing plays.
The Patriots, however, may look to pick up a corner later in the draft.
Week 14 Pick: Devon Still (No.29)
28. New England Patriots: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Hey, it's later! Time for New England to pick up a cornerback to improve that terrible secondary.
Virginia's Chase Minnifield would be the next best available corner in the draft. He has nice speed, he hits hard, and has a knack for getting to the ball.
Week 14 Pick: Chase Minnifield (No.30)
29. San Francisco 49ers: Kelechi Osmele, OT, Iowa State
Since the 49ers seem to have a legitimate quarterback in Alex Smith, they'll need to give him more protection. San Francisco has given up the seventh most sacks this season, and could use Kelechi Osemele to keep Smith off the ground.
Osemele of Iowa State, would be a good pick for San Francisco here. He has tremendous size, plenty of strength, and plays extremely physical football.
Week 14 Pick: Mike Adams (No.28)
30. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
I'm sorry to say, but Ray Lewis won't be around forever. So it's time for Baltimore to start auditions for the next big linebacker.
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower could very well be that guy for the Ravens. Hightower has great size, speed, and is very effective against the run.
Week 14 Pick: Dont'a Hightower
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Ben Roethlisberger is tough, but the human body can only take so much. Including this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line has been amongst the very worst. They gave up the second most sacks in 2009, the eighth most in 2010, and the fifth most through 10 games in 2011.
Pittsburgh may look to Ohio State Buckeye Mike Adams here as the next best lineman.
Week 14 Pick: Kelechi Osmele (No.31)
32. Green Bay Packers: Vinny Curry, OLB, Marshall
Green Bay's pass defense certainly could use some help. They may look to Vinny Curry for it.
At 6'4" and 263 lb, Curry is a very good pass rusher. He can put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks and give Green Bay someone to play across from Clay Matthews.
Week 14 Pick: Vinny Curry (No.32)