Mock drafts are a popular aspect of the draft season. A Google search for “2012 NFL mock drafts” has over 4.4 million results, a testament to their popularity. Jayson Braddock and Dory LeBlanc released their pre-NFL Combine round one mock a couple weeks ago, but they re-watched tape and took Combine workouts into consideration, as well as combine interviews and press conferences to bring you their updated round one mock draft.
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. These picks may vary again slightly after the pro-days and free agency as we get closer to April, but this is the post-combine effort:
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*Make sure to click the “NFL Draft Cheat Sheet” link for more details on each draft pick.
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – We can debate all day about who’s the better prospect between Luck and Griffin but as far as the Colts are concerned, we believe they’ve decided months ago. We feel that Indianapolis has made a decision on Luck and will only change if something surprising comes out during this evaluation period.
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2. Washington Redskins (trade with St. Louis) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – We always felt that the Rams would trade out of this pick but didn’t want to assume the trade until we had what we feel is a clear front runner for the trade. Mike Shanahan has always wanted mobile quarterbacks that can run an effective play action or bootleg. Griffin fits his blueprint perfectly.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California - Minnesota will entertain the thought of Justin Blackmon here but should decide to lock up the cleanest offensive tackle prospect in this class. Not only is Matt the best talent but he also shows to have the most upside. Kalil will allow Christian Ponder the protection he needs to develop and this will allow Minnesota the time to evaluate Ponder as a long term solution or not.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama - In this mock we went with the thought process of the Browns acquiring Matt Flynn via free agency. his allows Cleveland the ability to build up the rest of the team through the draft. I never suggest drafting running backs high, especially in the top 5 picks. Richardson is a special type back. He’s the closest thing to Earl Campbell that I’ve seen in years. He would immediately be an every down back and would be quite a bit cheaper and more talented than resigning Peyton Hillis.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – What’s odd about this selection is that Claiborne isn’t even our best cornerback prospect. But we definitely think he’s an elite talent and he’s less of a “character concern” than Janoris Jenkins, our #1 cornerback prospect. Tampa doesn’t have the luxury of selecting Jenkins after their former first round corner, Aqib Talib allegedly shot at another individual. New management will look to clean up their image, while increasing talent vs. risk.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - Even if the Rams work out a deal with Brandon Lloyd, I would still expect them to add Justin Blackmon. We thought about adding an offensive tackle to help keep Sam Bradford upright but Dory’s extensive Jeff Fisher research, proved that the Rams will be more inclined to add receiving help early and find line help late.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – Here’s another team that has to find weapons for their young quarterback. The Jags can’t draft another sub 6’0 receiver. They need a big target that gets open and can bail out a young quarterback that makes mistakes. While we aren’t big believers in Blaine Gabbert, we do believe having a guy like Floyd, who runs great routes, has great size, and catches everything, will help with his development tremendously.
8. Miami Dolphins – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina – Coples isn’t the best defensive end in this class and he also isn’t the best defensive tackle. He’s got great size and potential. He also meshes well with what the Dolphins need and like. Miami will switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 this year, supposedly. If they switch, Quinton would be perfect to man the left defensive end position opposite of Cameron Wake. He could also kick inside on third downs and would be perfect as a 3-4 defensive end if they decide to run hybrid looks.
9. Carolina Panthers – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama - If Jenkins is truly done with marijuana or at least with getting bust for it, than this could go down as the steal of the draft. We think Jenkins is that special. We’ve called him the Darrelle Revis of college football, since first watching his game film a few months back. Carolina could choose to improve their run defense by adding a defensive tackle but we believe the better value is in improving their pass defense by adding one of the best prospects in this draft.
10. Buffalo Bills – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia - No matter how many times we watch Cordy Glenn’s game film, we see Jason Peters. What better team to select Glenn than the team that let Peters get away to Philly. Glenn adds value to the running tandem of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller and it protects Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just came into a new contract last season.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State - Adams is a beast when fighting off defenders. His 6’7 frame engulfs pass rushers and while concerns were raised in Indy about his strength, it wasn’t enough to scare us off. Adams will get into an NFL training program and should protect whoever the Chiefs’ quarterback is for years to come. He could be protecting Peyton Manning’s blindside or Ricky Stanzi for that matter.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Melvin Ingram, DE/DT/OLB, South Carolina - There’s been a lot of buzz about teams drafting Ingram to play the outside linebacker position exclusively. Any team that is willing to do that will be setting themselves and Ingram up for failure. On Melvin’s college film he lacked explosion when he was standing to rush the passer. He also struggled to get off of blocks when he had his hand down as a defensive end. The majority of his plays came when he was at the defensive tackle position. Seattle would be the perfect fit for Melvin. They like to mix up their looks and could play Ingram all over, much in the same manner the Gamecocks did. This would easily be his best fit.
13. Arizona Cardinals – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford – DeCastro is the best offensive guard prospect that we’ve seen in years. If a team drafted him in the top 10, we can honestly say that we wouldn’t be surprised. The Cardinals could also look for offensive tackle help or add a receiving threat opposite of Larry Fitzgerald, to free him up. We still feel that DeCastro would be the best player available and could pave the way for Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Michael Brockers, DE, LSU – The Cowboys had their eyes set on JJ Watt and Tyron Smith last year. Obviously, they chose Smith. Brockers has the best arms of any defensive linemen in this draft. He will battle and fight on every snap. He’s the closest thing to JJ Watt in this draft and while the Cowboys wouldn’t be adding a pass rush opposite of Demarcus Ware with this pick, it would make his path to the quarterback a lot easier. Michael could also kick in to play some nose tackle if Rob Ryan decided to move him around on different downs, to keep Jay Ratliff fresh. Switching Ratliff and Brockers on different downs, between tackle and end, could lengthen Ratliff’s career and better utilize him in Ryan’s scheme. The most exciting thing about Brockers is the fact that he still has a ton of development ahead of him. I don’t think we’ve seen the cusp of what he can become.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College – It’s by far the best middle linebacker in this class, on the board when a team that is only a player or two away from a Super Bowl run, is on the clock. We don’t like saying that any pick is a no-brainer, because you have to evaluate every option…but c’mon, this is a no-brainer.
16. New York Jets – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama - Upshaw is a bit stiff and struggles with his change of direction. He also lacks great speed but his short area explosion is insane. If he gets a direct line of sight to the quarterback, then…well, let’s just say that the Saints would have been paying him a lot of bounty money. On most teams, we wouldn’t like him this high in the draft but in a Rex Ryan Scheme, we think he could be an intimidating beast.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama - If the Bengals selected Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall was capable of playing close to the same level as before his injury, than the Bengals would have to entertain the thought of playing a lot of zone defense. Kirkpatrick may be the best corner prospect in this class when it comes to his ability to cover in a zone. He also is capable of playing both safety positions.
18. San Diego Chargers – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – Reiff falls a little this week because our concern of some of his film was validated by the combine measurements. We noted that Reiff would be beat on film but long armed defenders. It turns out that he has less than ideal arms for an offensive tackle prospect. Reiff can still play at the next level. He plows the way on running downs and his arm never factors in on these plays. He should be able to perfect his technique to lessen the amount of times that he allows defenders to get full reach on him, without chopping their arms off.
19. Chicago Bears – Mark Barron, S, Alabama – The Bears need a new version of Brandon Marshall for Jay Cutler. They’ll have to wait until later for it. Floyd is already off the board and any other big body receiver would be a reach at 19. All last season the Bears kept trying to plug and play defenders to hold down the safety position. In a weak safety class, it makes sense for the Bears to go out and get the best talent at one of their bigger position of needs.
20. Tennessee Titans – Nick Perry, DE, Southern California – The Titans need a more consistent pass rush. Nick Perry projects as the best 4-3 defensive end prospect in this class but he’s not without concerns. He doesn’t always finish plays on his game film. If he improved his work ethic, he could be a force in the NFL. But, if he gets lazy, he could become a bust for the team that drafts him.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State - Martin is another player that immediately jumped off the film the first time we watched him. He’s similar to Trent Richardson in what he does. He’s more powerful and faster than he first looks. Adding Martin to the young offensive weapons of Andy Dalton and AJ Green could be the beginning of something special in Cincy. We also considered Kendall Wright here as he could have kept Green from drawing all of the attention.
22. Cleveland Browns – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – In the scenario of this mock, we have already assumed that the Browns signed Matt Flynn and have added Trent Richardson. In this NFL version of keeping up with the Joneses (Cincinnati), Cleveland finds their rookie receiver that they hope can have a similar rookie season to what AJ Green had a year ago. Adding Wright to Greg Little as targets for Flynn would greatly increase the efficiency of the Browns’ west coast offense. Richardson running over linebackers doesn’t hurt.
23. Detroit Lions – Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech – The Lions could use about three, new, talented cornerbacks. Hosley played at a high level in college and could be the guy to start week one in Detroit. Jim Schwartz would gladly take the talent upgrade to his defensive back group and look to find his motor city version of his music city tandem of Cortland Finnegan and safety Michael Griffin.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama - Much like his teammate at Alabama, Courtney Upshaw, Hightower is a guy that we wouldn’t value as high as we do, if it wasn’t for the teams we have selecting them. Dont’a is a massive guy that can take on multiple players and allow his teammates to get the glory. With all of the salaries that the Steelers are cutting, they will need to find talent / value with prospects that can contribute early. Hightower’s skill set and the rookie wage scale that was put into place last year will both work perfectly with Pittsburgh’s plan.
25. Denver Broncos – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State – You can’t fault Denver for passing on defensive tackles last year in order to select Von Miller. But, they can’t make any excuses this year. Worthy is our top rated 4-3 defensive tackle and he’s a play maker. He will improve the front of the Broncos’ defensive line immediately. If the two John’s aren’t as sold on Tim Tebow as they’re saying, this could be a quarterback selection here.
26. Houston Texans – Juron Criner, WR, Arizona – Criner fits exactly what the Texans are looking for. He’s a 6’3 receiver that catches everything in his vicinity. He measured the largest hands of any receiver prospect and he’ll remind the Texans of Blackmon’s after the catch explosiveness. This is something that has been missing from Houston’s secondary receivers forever. Criner could step in and play opposite of Andre Johnson and would finally give defenses the threat of the Texans’ #2 guy breaking a big play off of underneath routes. If Johnson was to go down again, Juron would be capable of feeling his role.
27. New England Patriots – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois – New England tried to switch to a 4-3 look last year, without the benefit of a full off season. They need to find a true pass rusher that can apply constant pressure. Mercilus isn’t the fastest or most gifted but he will out work every other defensive end prospect. His work ethic and discipline mesh perfectly with what the Patriots will look for in their future pass rusher.
28. Green Bay Packers – Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson - The Packers have to improve their defense. Clay Matthews is their biggest star and they have to find away to make him more effective. Adding another talented rusher opposite of him will add value to the Packers’ defense on multiple levels. Not only will it upgrade their outside linebacker talent but it’ll improve what Matthews is capable of doing. Branch isn’t as technique savvy as some of the other pass rushers but he’s experienced with rushing from a standing formation and he’s the most explosive off the snap. His motor doesn’t stop.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Johnathan Martin, OT, Stanford - We still don’t view Joe Flacco as a premier quarterback but he can produce when he’s allotted the time. There’s a ton of questions along the Ravens offensive line. Baltimore would be wise to select Martin and allow him to play offensive tackle and shift some other pieces around.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Marvin Jones, WR, California – The 49ers need that play making receiver that Michael Crabtree was sold as. Jones is 6’2, fast, reliable hands, and has a way of manipulating the boundaries. Jim Harbaugh is familiar with Marvin from his time in the PAC-10 (at the time). He will also get his feel of him at local workouts this off season. While it’s uncommon to see 5 receivers taken in the first round, the previous selections dictate the draft, far too often. If teams perceive a run on any position that they have a huge need at, they could easily panic and find a guy they believe will contribute.
31. New England Patriots – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – Cox is one of the most athletic 300 pounders that I’ve ever seen. He’s explosive and he would greatly benefit from playing next to Vince Wilfork and Whitney Mercilus. If the Patriots drafted a pass rusher and a defensive tackle like Cox and Mercilus, then they would immediately improve a horrid defense. They would pressure quicker and not force their defensive backs to remain in coverage as long as they did in 2011. New England will also get back cornerback, Ras-I Dowling this year.
32. New York Giants – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford - The Giants tried using a slow, blocking tight end in Jake Ballard. He performed better than expected and even before his injury and the injury to Travis Beckum, the Giants needed to upgrade the position. New York could look to try and find their own Jimmy Graham. Fleener will have to work on blocking more but he wouldn’t be a liability. After all, it’s not like having a blocking tight end improved the Giants’ running game. They’re a passing team and Fleener would be a new and welcomed weapon to Eli Manning.
Most asked about players & explanation:
Dontari Poe - Poe is a freakish athlete. At 346 pounds, running a 4.98 forty is impressive and so is his strength. Unfortunately, like we’ve said all along, his game film isn’t. We don’t buy the hype. Some defensive coordinator that feels he can mold Poe into a force should definitely try, but it’s buyer beware and we wouldn’t recommend that buyer attempting to do so with a first round pick.
Stephen Hill – This is another guy that lit up the combine. Hill measured 6’4 and ran 4.36, than he added a 39.5″ vertical to all of that. The most impressive showing at the combine was his naturally hands. Hill is currently our 6th best receiver, right behind Marvin Jones. He doesn’t display the speed on his game film and he also loses focus and drops easy passes. Of course we expect some team to reach on his talent and hope to harness him into the player that the workout shows. We have no problem with a team that wants to take the risk at the bottom of the first round, as long as they know it’s a risk. He’s the ultimate boom or bust receiver and that’s why we put more of a sure thing above him at his position. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see teams pass on him for a few other prospects.
If you want a more detail take on your favorite team and why we selected the player we did, listen to this week’s edition of “NFL Draft Cheat Sheet” right here. Tune-in every week as we will have a new NFL draft prospect on-air with us and we will discuss everything that has to do with the 2012 NFL Draft. Next week, safety, Winston Guy will join us. In the coming weeks we will be joined by Tauren Poole, Josh Chapman, Ron Brooks, Michael Brockers, and many more.