Mock drafts are a popular aspect of the NFL draft season. A Google search for “2012 NFL mock drafts” shows over 4.4 million results, a testament to their popularity.
NFL Scout Jayson Braddock and NFL & NCAA Football Writer Dory LeBlanc have released their pre-combine round one mock. Many different attributes went into each and every pick including (but not limited to) team needs, prospect talent, free agency, coaching changes, front office changes, draft history, etc.
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These picks may vary slightly after the combine, pro-days, and free agency as we get closer to April, but this is the preliminary combined effort:
* NO Trades Allowed!
** Other Options Listed in (Parentheses)
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1. Indianapolis Colts – QB – Andrew Luck – It wasn’t called “Drifting for Griffin”, they decided to “Suck for Luck”. While it’s fair to argue Luck or Griffin talent wise, we still believe that Indy has already decided on “The Next Peyton Manning”. (Is there a younger Manning brother?)
2. St Louis Rams – OT – Matt Kalil – We don’t feel bad for the Rams losing the tie-breaker to Indy. The only difference is that the bidding now begins at pick #2 instead of #1. We’re 99% sure that the Rams trade out of this pick, auction style via phone. “Do I hear two 1st rounders? Yuuuup! Got two 1st rounders from Cleveland. Do I hear two 1sts and a player? Yuuup! Got 2 1sts and the Redskins said they will throw in Kyle Shanahan. Ummm, St Louis has decided to take Cleveland’s offer. (Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson)
3. Minnesota Vikings – WR – Justin Blackmon – While we do like Blackmon, we don’t like him this high. If Kalil is gone, this is the pick that makes the most sense. In a trade scenario, Griffin will go second overall and the Vikings will probably draft Kalil here and look for receiver help in the later round. (Matt Kalil or Robert Griffin)
4. Cleveland Browns – QB – Robert Griffin – Colt McCoy needs to be replaced but they also have to get Griffin a lot of help. They have to select their franchise guy here though and hope to fill the rest with later picks and free agency. (Trent Richardson or Janoris Jenkins)
5. Tampa Bay Bucs – RB – Trent Richardson – Tampa has to help their quarterback out. He really regressed in 2011. If they can lean more on the running game, Josh Freeman should get back to his 2010 form. Richardson also adds a bigger, instant impact here. If they draft a cornerback, teams could still throw at the other side of the field. They wouldn’t go after Janoris Jenkins because of the marijuana charges and the issue they’ve had with Aqib Talib. (Morris Claiborne or Luke Kuechly)
6. Washington Redskins – QB Nick Foles – It’s never to soon to draft your franchise quarterback. All the talk at quarterback for the Redskins is RG3, Peyton Manning, and Ryan Tannehill. Mike Shanahan plays it close to the vest. He drafted Jay Cutler 11th overall and never met with him and his name never came up with the Denver Broncos. Foles is a highly successful 3 year starter at Arizona that can make all the throws. Prototypical build and good on the run as Shanahan’s offense desires. Mike had an up close look at the Senior Bowl. (Luke Kuechly or David DeCastro)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – CB – Janoris Jenkins – Jacksonville’s defense played surprising great last season. Jenkins is the most talented cornerback in this draft and could be an integral piece for the Jags. He has been arrested for marijuana a few times but it wouldn’t scare us off if we were Jacksonville. The Jags are probably hoping for a receiver and Kendall Wright would be an explosive big play guy but, if they draft Wright, they would be in the same situation as Chicago. They would have like a 100 receivers that were all under 6’0 tall. It’s way too early to draft Michael Floyd. (Kendall Wright or Nick Foles)
8. Carolina Panthers – CB – Morris Claiborne – The Panthers offense wasn’t the problem last season. However, they could use this pick to ensure Cam Newton has plenty of time in the pocket. More than likely though, they’ll use it to either get better at defensive tackle or cornerback. Claiborne could come in and start opposite of Chris Gamble day one. They could also look to draft a guy to clog the middle of the D line. The Panthers struggled to keep healthy linebackers all year, they could look to Luke Kuechly to step in if Jon Beason doesn’t remain healthy and Dan Conner leaves via free agency. (Jerel Worthy or Luke Kuechly or Cordy Glenn)
9. Miami Dolphins – LDE – Quinton Coples – Coples is a guy that we aren’t as high on as the buzz surrounding him. He’s athletically gifted but he doesn’t seem to work at it and depends on natural ability. We love him going to a team like Miami that’s suppose to switch to a 4-3 defense this year and needs a bigger, athletic left defensive end, opposite of their premier pass rusher Cameron Wake. It doesn’t hurt matters that the new defensive coordinator for the Dolphins, Kevin Coyle, played a part in recently drafting 6’6 Carlos Dunlap and 6’7 Michael Johnson as defensive ends in Cincinnati. They could also look for a speed receiver opposite of Brandon Marshall or draft their quarterback of the future if they don’t find one in free agency. (Kendall Wright or Nick Foles)
10. Buffalo Bills – OT – Cordy Glenn – Like their divisional foes down south, the Bills are rumored to be going to a 4-3 as well. They could look for a true 4-3 end, pass rusher. Even after drafting a cornerback fairly early last year, a top tier talent at the position isn’t out of the question. But, the Bills have two very skilled backs that performed well in 2011, despite injuries cross the offensive line. Demetrius Bell is also a free agent and Buffalo gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a fat, new contract. So, why not give him a fat, new left tackle. Due to Glenn carrying 350 pounds and playing offensive guard in the past, some seem to think that’s where he’ll play in the NFL. He’s a left tackle and one of the best prospects. Actually, he could remind Bills fans of a very big and athletic tackle they traded to Philly, Jason Peters. Sounds crazy? Remember, Peters was undrafted and played tight end in college. (Vinny Curry or Dre Kirkpatrick or Kendall Wright)
11. Kansas City Chiefs – OT – Riley Reiff – The Chiefs showed promise towards the end of last season with Romeo Crennel in charge. He can get the defense to play. He needs to focus on creating an offense as the AFC South is any one’s division next year. They could draft their future quarterback here if Foles is still available. They also need to protect whoever is taking snaps from under center next year. KC doesn’t hardly have any offensive tackles under contract currently. Reiff could come in and make an impact immediately. It wouldn’t hurt to provide some holes for Jamaal Charles, who should be coming back healthy. A lot will depend on the Chiefs free agents as well. (Kendall Wright or Dre Kirkpatrick or Nick Foles)
12. Seattle Seahawks – DE/DT/OLB – Melvin Ingram – Seattle’s defensive schemes are their own creature. It’s unique and highly effective. What type of prospect would be ideal for them? Melvin Ingram is the most unique prospect in this draft and he’s highly effective. If they wanted to try, I’m sure that Ingram could become the Magic Johnson of the NFL. My meaning is that he could become the first player to play all 11 positions in the same game. Of course I’m exaggerating but not by much. In their defense, Ingram could switch from outside linebacker to defensive end to defensive tackle, if they desire. Pete Carroll could also be interested in a PAC-12 guy like Nick Foles after a few failed free agent tries at finding a franchise quarterback. Or, he could stick it to Jim Harbaugh and draft the best guard prospect in ages, David DeCastro. (Nick Foles or David DeCastro)
13. Arizona Cardinals – OG – David DeCastro - We don’t like going offensive guard this early in drafts, especially with talented offensive tackles still available but DeCastro is the exception to the rule. They have to get stronger on the offensive line and DeCastro will help accomplish that. They could look to help Fitzgerald out, after facing double coverage all season. They will probably wait to draft a complimentary receiver later in the draft though. (Courtney Upshaw or Kendall Wright or Mike Adams)
14. Dallas Cowboys – CB – Dre Kirkpatrick – Kirkpatrick is a big, physical corner. He’s amazing in zone coverage and would even be a great safety. Seeing how the Cowboys need both, they get extra insurance with this pick. Dallas would jump at the chance to draft DeCastro if he’s available. (David DeCastro or Courtney Upshaw)
15. Philadelphia Eagles – ILB – Luke Kuechly – The particular defense that the Eagles run put a lot of stress on the linebackers. They didn’t have the personnel to handle that stress last season. Kuechly should excel in that defense and be the worker in the middle. They may need to replace DeSean Jackson if he leaves in free agency. (Kendall Wright or Mark Barron)
16. New York Jets – OLB – Courtney Upshaw – We aren’t blown away by Upshaw’s film as a whole. But, the Jets need a pass rush and he can provide that. Upshaw would also benefit from playing next to Bart Scott. Rex Ryan will like what he sees and probably already has his target set on Courtney. We have to wonder if this is the year that he realizes that Mark Sanchez isn’t the answer. He could look for Plaxico’s replacement as well. (Ryan Tannehill or Michael Floyd)
17. Cincinnati Bengals – DE – Vinny Curry - The Bengals need a more consistent pass rush and Curry is an effort guy. He’s going to go all out every play. Offensive linemen will have to be prepared to battle at the snap of every series. He can dip and get around the corner in a hurry and will benefit from the Cincinnati defensive tackles. They need to find a powerful running back that can work for them. Adding a young cornerback to grow with the veterans wouldn’t be a bad idea as well. (Doug Martin or Jayron Hosley)
18. San Diego Chargers – OT – Mike Adams – San Diego needs to make Philip Rivers more comfortable. Whether they decide to get him better offensive linemen or if they try to find his next Antonio Gates and Darren Sproles. They have to decide quick because he looked awful for the better part of 2011. On the defensive side of the ball they need help everywhere. We refuse to put Michael Floyd on the same team as Malcolm Floyd. How many fantasy football mistakes will be made if that happened. (Mark Barron or Michael Brockers or Dwayne Allen or Kendall Wright)
19. Chicago Bears – WR – Michael Floyd - They have to find Jay Cutler his new Brandon Marshall. While Floyd isn’t as aggressive as Marshall, he does have better hands, runs better routes, and mainly, has the frame that provides the huge target that allows Cutler to go gunslinger without it costing the team. They also could look to replace the receiving threat at tight end that Mike Martz sold for magic beans. (Orson Charles or Mark Barron)
20. Tennessee Titans – SS – Mark Barron – If the Titans could get lucky and have DeCastro fall this far, I think the card would already be filled out. Especially with a guy like Mike Munchak running the team and his friend Bruce Matthews helping him. He’s probably gone by this pick and he should address the secondary that may have almost everyone leaving. Tennessee could replace some of their free agents, like Cortland Finnegan with rookies but then you would have rookies learning from other young guys. There’s almost no safeties under contract for the Titans and it’s a weak class. They need to get the best one available and sign another via free agency. (Jayron Hosley or David DeCastro)
21. Cincinnati Bengals – RB – Doug Martin – The Bengals will have a few names in mind when they go on the clock with the 17th pick in this draft. They’ll hope to select one early and have the other slide 4 picks. Isaiah Pead is a better prospect than Martin but he doesn’t fit what the Bengals need. Martin could replace Cedric Benson and he will be what the Bears thought Benson was coming out of Texas and what he was at the height of his career in Cincinnati. They could also look for another receiving threat to compliment Andy Dalton and AJ Green but that would be two 1st round picks in two years on a deep position. They will still be pondering adding a young cornerback as well. (Kendall Wright or Jayron Hosley)
22. Cleveland Browns – CB – Jayron Hosley – Well, they’ve now got that future at quarterback set and it would be so easy to give Griffin his former teammate, Kendall Wright here. After all, Greg Little dropped too many passes in 2011 to be relied on as the #1 target for a guy you just spent the 4th overall pick on. We think the Browns will split the two 1st round picks and improve on both sides of the ball. Pairing Hosley with Joe Haden could give the Browns the much needed edge when playing divisional foe Pittsburgh, especially if they re-sign Mike Wallace. It wouldn’t hurt vs Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco as well. (Kendall Wright or Nick Perry)
23. Detroit Lions – OT – Jonathan Martin – Detroit has to know how important it is to keep Matt Stafford healthy by now. Martin isn’t the top prospect but would definitely be a welcomed edition to the Detroit offensive line. They could look to add a cornerback here to improve their most glaring weakness on the defensive side of the ball. If Cliff Avril holds out, then defensive end may be the call at 23. (Casey Hayward or Nick Perry)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – ILB – Dont’a Hightower – The Steelers have heard all year about how old their defense is. They could look to add a youth injection in the middle of it with Hightower. He fits the profile of a Pittsburgh Steeler and could prove deadly in their scheme. It’s also ideal to protect Ben Roethlisberger so that may be the call her as well. If Mike Wallace leaves for greener wallets, then Kendall Wright seems too perfect as a replacement. (Kendall Wright or Zebrie Sanders or Kelechi Osemele)
25. Denver Broncos – DT – Jerel Worthy – Denver needed a defensive tackle last year but couldn’t pass on Von Miller. Jerel Worthy will instantly upgrade the middle of the Denver defense and allow their linebackers to make more plays. It’s hard to make a pick for Denver until you truly believe that they are sticking with Tim Tebow. If they don’t this is the perfect place to pick up their future quarterback. If they do, then they could add a speed receiver to keep the defense on their toes during options, screens, and who knows, maybe the guys doesn’t drop 5 passes a game. (Ryan Tannehill or Kendall Wright or Casey Hayward)
26. Houston Texans – WR – Kendall Wright – The Texans do pretty well when it comes to getting Gamecocks to play in their secondary. They had a nice little run with Dunta Robinson and this year they had their best free agent signing in Johnathan Joseph. Antonio Allen is another Gamecock that is sneaking under the radar but would be a great strong safety for Houston. It would allow Glover Quin to move back to corner, opposite of Joseph and bump Kareem Jackson out of the starting lineup. But, Houston struggled to find a passing attack this year without Andre Johnson. He’s also been injured the last few years and they need to find a guy that can play opposite of him and take over for him if he goes down again. Wright reminds us of Steve Smith, shorter in stature but can and will play like a #1 receiving threat. The biggest weakness on their front seven is nose tackle but there isn’t a great in this class except Josh Chapman and he’s coming off an ACL injury. (Antonio Allen or Peter Konz or Casey Hayward or Kelechi Osemele)
27. New England Patriots – DT – Devon Still – New England surprised us last year when they switched to a 4-3 scheme after a lockout shortened offseason. They weren’t prepared for the switch and it showed. They need to find a speedy receiver to help out Tom Brady and possibly replace Wes Welker. But, the defense needs several positions to be upgraded. They could draft Devon Still and watch him have an insane year thanks to playing next to Vince Wilfork. They also have to improve their pass rush and linebackers. They’ll get their 2nd round pick from last year back, Ras-I Dowling and he should be able to pair well with Devin McCourty, if he can get back to his rookie form. They’ll still need depth there but the safety position is a bigger concern. (Nick Perry or Antonio Allen or Casey Hayward or TY Hilton)
28. Green Bay Packers – RB – Isaiah Pead – It’s hard to give the Packers an offensive weapon first but we had to do it, due to the fact of how perfectly he fits and how big of an upgrade he would be. The Packers could look to find their replacement for Cullen Jenkins and Michael Brockers would be an ideal 3-4 defensive end for them. Pead was made for the zone running scheme. He runs in it almost as flawless as Arian Foster. He’ll make Green Bay two dimensional and then, who’s going to be able to stop them. They didn’t have chemistry when passing against the Giants in the playoffs and couldn’t go to the rushing attack. Pead will make sure that doesn’t happen again. They also could look to find their next Nick Collins, seeing how his injury was the domino that made the whole defense collapse. They also could look to add a pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews. (Michael Brockers or Whitney Mercilus)
29. Baltimore Ravens – C – Peter Konz - Matt Birk is a free agent and contemplating retirement. It would be devastating if the Ravens didn’t replace him. Joe Flacco has to have the comfort in the pocket and Konz could become that guy. The only other option is going into free agency and not finding anyone of this talent level and over paying him. They could also look for a speed threat that won’t drop the touchdown that would send the team to the Super Bowl. Replacing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have to be coming sooner, rather than later as well. (TY Hilton or Vontaze Burfict or Zebrie Sanders or Antonio Allen)
30. San Francisco 49ers – CB – Casey Hayward – The 49ers need a wide receiver that will come in a be a #1 from day one and allow Michael Crabtree to move more into a possession type of receiver role. There’s a couple of guys that could fit here but they’ll probably wait until round two to get better value. Carlos Rogers had a great year but may leave for big free agent dollars. Hayward is a smart kid and was a four year starter. Those are two things that will sit well with Jim Harbaugh. Casey also played the tough SEC competition without the luxury of a great supporting cast, like what Claiborne and Kirkpatrick benefited from. They could also look to find free safety help but this is too soon in the draft. (Marvin Jones or Whitney Mercilus or Michael Brockers)
31. New England Patriots – DE – Nick Perry - As mentioned above, they need a pass rush bad. If they place Nick Perry next to Devon Still and Vince Wilfork, then New England would have a recipe for success. Their pass rush would improve the secondary by not allotting the quarterback enough time. Perry is a scary player as he doesn’t give a 100% to the whistle. He can win in the NFL but his stock may fall due to not finishing plays at USC. If he played the same on every down, he would be a top 10 pick. Hopefully, he goes to an environment that doesn’t except quitting. (TY Hilton or Antonio Allen)
32. New York Giants – TE – Dwayne Allen – The defending champs don’t have any tight ends worth of note that are under contract or healthy. Dwayne Allen isn’t built like the new NFL fad of tight ends, just receiving threats. He’s a capable blocker and he has good hands. He’ll be a huge upgrade over the group from the Super Bowl team. He’s a great fit in New York. The Giants could look to find their middle linebacker of the future here also. They would be wise to think about drafting last year’s first round pick, Prince Amukamara’s former teammate, Alfonzo Dennard and shifting Prince to safety. They will probably have to replace Mario Manningham as well. (TY Hilton or Alfonzo Dennard)