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.
This mock draft goes deeper and more in-depth covering the first 64 picks over the first two rounds.
Let’s strap it up and get right to it…
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: We still believe that the Colts are locked in on Luck. Andrew is poised and has handled the national spotlight already. He’s an ideal pick to rebuild the Colts franchise around.
2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: RG3 is the perfect fit for the Mike Shanahan offense. Griffin should also see better early success as he has a better supporting cast built around him.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC: The Vikings have to get Christian Ponder protection. This isn’t a draft that’s deep with elite talent at the offensive tackle position. Minnesota needs to get Ponder his tackle early and use draft depth at wide receiver to add a play maker later.
4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The running back game in the NFL is a young man’s game & the best at the position cost a pretty penny. Richardson is a complete back & will dominate early. The Browns have to get weapons all over the offense & Trent will ease the quarterback’s workload. It doesn’t hurt to get a top 10 NFL running back for a little more than what you would pay a backup.
5. Tampa Bay Bucs – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: Yes, Ronde Barber has re-signed & they also added free agent cornerback, Eric Wright. You can’t have too many cornerbacks in this league & Claiborne is a natural fit with this Bucs team. Barber can help with Claiborne’s growth in the NFL over the ‘12 season.
6. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: It’s a passing league. The money being thrown at mediocre receivers is insane. The Rams can select a talented,receiver, who we call a faster Brandon Marshall, without all of the off-field issues, for minimal money. It’s a great fit for a young quarterback & these young college rivals matchups have worked well with Matt Stafford (Georgia) & Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech). So, St Louis could only hope for the same success with their rivals, Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) & Justin Blackmon (Ok State).
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: Before getting in an uproar of us placing an offensive guard in the top 10 & before the second offensive tackle goes off the board, let us explain. While it is true that guards don’t hold the draft value of tackles, you have to also grade players / positions individually. DeCastro isn’t your run of the mill guard. He’s one of the best prospects to come out in quite some time. It’s also not the first time a guard has gone in the top 10. The Bucs just made Carl Nicks a rich man & actually paid him more than their tackle, Donald Penn. Last time I checked, quarterbacks needed to be protected on the interior of the line as well.
8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: We DO NOT feel that Tannehill is a top 10 pick but we also don’t believe most of the moves the Dolphins make are good. Tannehill isn’t even our 3rd best quarterback in this draft. The Dolphins have made moves with the addition of David Garrard and the play of Matt Moore, that makes you think they’ll draft a quarterback early. Tannehill is a talented quarterback but he has to develop. He’s just now getting use to the college game and will be asked to adjust to playing NFL talent. IF the Dolphins allowed him two years to develop and improve, it actually wouldn’t be a bad pick. But, their ownership and fan base won’t be that patient. We also don’t like drafting a kid in the top 10 picks that needs to sit for 2 years.
9. Carolina Panthers – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: Brockers is best suited as a 34 defensive end. But there only two 34 teams picking in the top 10 and both of them are taking quarterbacks. So, the Panthers will gladly scoop Brockers up at 9 and place him in the middle of their poorish defense and rely on him stopping the run and pursuing the passer. Brockers is intriguing because we honestly believe we haven’t seen the tip of his talent yet.
10. Buffalo Bills – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia: No matter what you hear, Cordy Glenn is the second best offensive tackle in this draft. The Bills let Jason Peters get away to the Eagles a few years ago and they’ve regretted it ever since. They get the chance to replace him & drastically improve their offensive line.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Kuechly, M/ILB, Boston College: Kuechly could actually go to the Panthers inside the top 10 if they decide they want to try and move Jon Beason and free up his huge contract numbers. If they pass, the Chiefs will continue to build a complete & deadly team, that is only lacking a great quarterback.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama: We have the Seahawks improving their pass rush with Upshaw. They have a very talented defense that they will continue to improve upon. They could also look to add a pass rusher that is better known for his burst at the snap but we believe they would be interested in Courtney’s physical style & short area burst.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: The Cardinals have to improve their offensive line. If DeCastro is available at 13, then he’s the obvious choice but he’s not in this mock. Adams has great size but is a bit inconsistent. Ohio State had a lot of distractions and we believe that he will improve the most at the next level.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: The Cowboys will be crazy to pass on the best cornerback in the draft with the 14th pick. His off-field concerns will cause him to slide but truthfully speaking, he’s a better cornerback than Morris Claiborne. Dallas would be a completely different defense if they added Janoris with Brandon Carr.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: Cox is an athletic freak that can actually play football. The Eagles had a hole in the middle of their defense that started at defensive tackle and went straight back through the middle linebacker and all the way to the safety. They filled the middle linebacker void with a trade for DeMeco Ryans and we believe Cox helps up front. While Cox will have to improve against the rush, he can cover a lot of ground that is left due to how spread out the Eagles defensive front is.
16. New York Jets – Andre Branch, OLB Clemson: Rex Ryan will look at an ultimate speed rush threat or a safety that can cover ground with this pick. We debated Mark Barron but feel that the Jets pass rush is too important. Branch isn’t the most complete pass rusher in this draft but he’s got great speed and spent some time in college standing and rushing the passer. Ryan also worked Branch out personally in linebacker drills at the Clemson pro day.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Surprising that Floyd lasted this long in this mock. He could definitely go earlier than 17 but if he is there at 17, the Bengals would have to entertain the thought of AJ Green & Michael Floyd catching passes from Andy Dalton for the next 10 years or so.
18. San Diego Chargers – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: The Chargers have a lot of different directions they could go at 18. We feel that due to Philip Rivers ‘11 struggles, the team needs to focus on getting him comfortable again. They need to protect him, give him a new Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles, etc. They could reach on Coby Fleener here but feel that the protection is more important than a first round tight end.
19. Chicago Bears – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB/S, Alabama: The Bears tried filling holes in the secondary last year with other team’s unwanted players. Obviously, that’s not a successful plan of attack when you play in the same division as Aaron Rodgers & Matt Stafford. Kirkpatrick’s flexibility will be of interest to Chicago. They can attempt to either make him the face across from Charles Tillman or use him as the missing play maker from the safety position.
20. Tennessee Titans – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: Melvin Ingram is an explosive defensive tackle. We only hope that teams that have watched his tapes come away with the same understanding. If a team decides to make him an outside linebacker or defensive end, he won’t live up to his hype. If the Titans draft him to become Warren Sapp, this will be a steal here.
21. Cincinnati Bengals –Mark Barron, S, Alabama: The Bengals have focused a lot of their free agency attention to their cornerbacks. Barron would fit nicely with what they are doing on the back side of their defense.
22. Cleveland Browns – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: Cleveland has missed out on getting any high profile quarterbacks this off-season. Whether they stay committed to Colt McCoy or look for someone different, they have to give him a chance to survive. Martin would be an ideal right tackle to protect the edge opposite of the stellar Joe Thomas.
23. Detroit Lions – Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech: One of the most underrated, top cornerbacks in this draft class. The Lions have to add multiple players in this weak secondary. Hosley will not only help defend passes but he will switch the possession for the Lions.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: The Steelers drafted Cameron Heyward last year & also have Brett Keisel on roster at the 34 DE position. But, this defense still has to add talent and youth. Coples slides due to the lack of effort and mostly depending on natural ability. The Steelers would consider him at 24 if they feel he’s the best player available but it would be hard for them to pass on Dont’a Hightower.
25. Denver Broncos – Jerrel Worthy, DT, Michigan State: The Broncos have had a huge need for defensive tackle help for awhile now. It doesn’t help matters that Brodrick Bunkley decided to leave town. Worthy is a natural fit with this defense and would be a instant impact.
26. Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois: A second receiver is a huge need for the Texans but this class is deep at that position. They can still find a quality starting upgrade in the second or third rounds. While Houston played amazing with Connor Barwin & Brooks Reed with Mario Williams injured last year, who starts if either goes down with an injury in ‘12? Competition is key and the Texans could look to add a guy in the first round that will not only add depth at the position but also fight to start as a rookie. Looking at the players Wade Phillips drafted on defense in ‘11, they all are high effort guys. Whitney Mercilus fits the mold perfectly. He’s disciplined, and goes all out on every play.
27. New England Patriots – Nick Perry, DE, USC: The Patriots can draft Perry and if they decide to flip back and forth from the 43 to the 34, Nick could be the constant pass rush. Rumors are that the Patriots were interested in Mario Williams and also showed interest in re-signing Mark Anderson. Both players signed with Buffalo and still leave a need for a defensive end. Perry doesn’t show the speed of Branch or the effort of Mercilus but he’s got a better repertoire than both. The Patriots will demand & coach effort. He would gel well with the team.
28. Green Bay Packers – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: EDITOR’S NOTE: Mock was submitted before Jeff Saturday signed with the Packers.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: If Pittsburgh & Houston decide to let Dont’a Hightower slide, they both could pay greatly for it as he may very well develop with Ray Lewis and pay those teams back for years to come. It’s a great situation for Hightower to fall into.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: The 49ers have Vernon Davis and he was the most important receiving threat during their playoff run last year. The team decided to re-sign Alex Smith and they baby him. They ask him to make safe throws and protect the ball. Going to a two tight end set with a player that Jim Harbaugh coached and is comfortable with, seems like the perfect match. The 49ers could easily adapt to what made the Patriots so successful with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on offense last year but they would also have the defense to make them a complete team.
31: New England Patriots – Stephon Gilmore, S, South Carolina: The Patriots love players that are flexible. Gilmore will fit perfectly with that philosophy. We personally think he’s better suited for the safety position and would be stellar there. But, there is word that New England may switch Ras-I Dowling or Devin McCourty to safety. Adding Gilmore would give the team the ability to either switch those cornerbacks or make Gilmore the safety.
32: New York Giants – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: The Giants will definitely see what guys like Danny Ware & Da’rel Scott can do next season but I expect them to add another top tier prospect into the competition after a horrible ground game in ‘11. Martin is the second best back in the draft and will come in and start week one.
33. St. Louis Rams – Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt: After all of the injuries to their secondary last year, adding Cortland Finnegan and Casey Hayward sound like music to the ears.
34. Indianapolis Colts – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: All of the talent at the receiver position in this draft could cause an early run or a slide with teams waiting until later. Wright is a 1st round talent that the Colts get Lucky with by being available at 34.
35. Minnesota Vikings – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: There’s other receivers that we like better than Hill but they don’t fit the Vikings specific need. Hill is worth the risk in the second round and the Vikings will take the chance that he can develop and be their number one.
36. Tampa Bay Bucs – David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: A David Wilson and LeGarrette Blount backfield sound mighty nice to the fans, coaches, & Josh Freeman…especially behind that line.
37. Cleveland Browns – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Any concerns regarding Weeden, quickly die the deeper we get into the second round. He will compete will Colt & be the week 1 starter.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson: Thompson is a great value, similar Worthy, who we have the Broncos selecting with the 25th pick. The Jags get a quality starter at 38.
39. St. Louis Rams – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State: One of the most versatile players in the draft. He can come in and play outside for the Rams, he can also add depth at the middle linebacker position and defensive end.
40. Carolina Panthers – Josh Robinson, CB, UCF: The Panthers were equally bad against the pass as they were vs the rush. Adding Josh Robinson opposite of Chris Gamble and Fletcher Cox in the first round will hopefully help take strides to catch the defense up with the offense.
41. Buffalo Bills – Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson: Scott Chandler worked well in the red zone last year but Allen would be a vast improvement between the 20s and in the red zone.
42. Miami Dolphins – Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame: This move makes a lot of sense and would be perfect for them, so I don’t know why we have the Dolphins making it.
43. Seattle Seahawks – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin: Adding another Wisconsin guard to a line with one already in place seems like a good plan. Solid line for an up and coming team.
44. Kansas City Chiefs – Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: This is our 3rd best QB prospect in this draft. If the Chiefs get him here, this could be the best value in the draft for a quarterback. He could be the missing piece to the most talented team in the AFC West.
45. Dallas Cowboys – Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma: The Cowboys have needed a pass rusher opposite of DeMarcus Ware for some time. Check that off the list.
46. Philadelphia Eagles – Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina: Allen is a lengthy, physical safety that can cover like a corner. He’s the safety that has been missing around all of the big named players.
47. New York Jets – Devon Still, DE, Penn State: This is a value pick as far as a player that is rated much higher but ends up sliding. He’s definitely more suited for a 43 DT but we feel that Rex Ryan will attempt to mold the talent.
48. New England Patriots – Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California: The Patriots have so many picks yearly and get so creative with player positioning that they can draft a talented player like Mychal and experiment in camp with moving Spikes to the outside and allow Kendricks to man the middle.
49. San Diego Chargers – Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State: Amini doesn’t get the buzz he should but this is great value to get him here. We would love to give the Chargers some help on defense after improving their offensive line in the first round but this was too good to pass up.
50. Chicago Bears – Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: If the Bears work everything out with Matt Forte after signing Michael Bush and trading for Brandon Marshall, there offense will be set to do some great things. Marshall has risks attached to him due to his off-field issues and even if he stays out of trouble, Criner would be an improvement over the rest of the receivers.
51. Philadelphia Eagles – Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska: Even with trading for DeMeco Ryans in the middle of the linebacking group, the unit still needs to be upgraded as a whole.
52. Tennessee Titans – Ben Jones, C, Georgia: The Titans missed out on a lot of players during free agency. There was no position they tried harder to replace than center. They missed on Scott Wells and Chris Myers. Tennessee may hope that Jones answers their prayers in the 2nd round.
53. Cincinnati Bengals – Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: The Bengals defensive line is improving and they keep adding players that never reached their potential. Due to a deep class of defensive line talent, the Bengals could get a true difference maker in Curry, in the second round.
54. Detroit Lions – Nate Potter, OT, Boise State: There is still questions amongst the Lions offensive line. It would be wise if the team decided to protect Matt Stafford and also open lanes for their injury prone running backs.
55. Atlanta Falcons – Philip Blake, C, Baylor: Blake is a talented center that can come in and hold down the middle of the line for Matt Ryan for years to come.
56. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington: As great as Casey Hampton has been, the team will need to find his replacement as he ages. They need to be prepared as his injury was costly in the playoffs last year.
57. Denver Broncos – Brandon Washington, OG, Miami (FL): The Broncos can’t take Peyton Manning for granted. Just because he got rid of the ball so quick in Indy and made of for the weakness in their offensive line, doesn’t mean that you let the 36 year old try to win despite the line in Denver.
58. Houston Texans – Marvin Jones, WR, California: The Texans have to find another option other than Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. When Johnson went down, the team basically relied on the tight ends and running backs to be their top receivers. Jones can be the man opposite of Andre and step into his role if he goes down again.
59. New Orleans Saints – PICK WAS FORFEITED
60. Green Bay Packers – Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: As good as the Packers offense is, they definitely need to find more balance. Pead is made for the zone running scheme and will shoot life into Green Bay’s rushing attack.
61. Baltimore Ravens – Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH): The Ravens have to replace Ben Grubbs. Brooks fits the mold of the big body offensive linemen that they love.
62. San Francisco 49ers – Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M: Death, taxes, and a Frank Gore injury. Those are the three things that are a given. The 49ers defense is stellar but if they are going to stick with Alex Smith, they need to load the offense with weapons. Gray could be a game changer.
63. New England Patriots – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: There are several other receivers that we like more than Alshon here but Jeffery seems like a perfect fit for the Patriots. We see them taking him on as a project and hope to get his best, like they did with Randy Moss.
64. New York Giants – Orson Charles, TE, Georgia: The Giants didn’t get much out of their tight ends last year. Then they lost two to injuries. They have signed Martellus Bennett this off-season but while he’s talented, he has always shown immaturity. At the bottom of the second round, Orson Charles becomes worth the risk.
Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock