NFL 2012 Mock Draft

Three days from now I’ll begin a weekend I look forward to every year – the NFL draft.  While I preferred the full Saturday and Sunday version, getting some primetime action on Thursday and Friday will suffice.  Here’s a take on how things could shake out this week:

1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Owner Jim Irsay has done all but tweet, “With the 1st pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck.”

2. Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

St. Louis got the future haul.  Washington got the future star.

3. Minnesota Vikings – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The best thing I’ve read in the lead up to the draft regarding Minnesota is that they play Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford (I’m done calling him the longer version of his first name, that’s so lame – it wasn’t Joseph Montana or Daniel Marino – grow up Stafford) twice a year.  They need to stop the pass.

4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

My guess is that taking a running back 4th overall in what is becoming evermore a passing league is not something Mike Holmgren loves, but this is the best RB to enter the league in 5 years.  Cleveland has to hope Richardson provides an inherent deterrent to focusing on stopping Colt McCoy.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Matt Khalil, OT, USC

Richardson really made sense for Tampa but since he’s off the board, Khalil helps protect Josh Freeman get the ball to newly signed Vincent Jackson.

6. St. Louis Rams – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Justin Blackmon has been the projected #1 WR for months, but NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!  Michael Floyd is the player that will become “special” out of this draft’s WR prospects.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

When you sign Lee Evans to help your receiving corps, you draft Justin Blackmon when he is available.

Defensive value is rising quickly in this draft that is top heavy in offensive playmakers.

8. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Only because owner Stephen Ross says so.  This franchise is a mess.

9. Carolina Panthers – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

A run on defense starts here.  Carolina got their offense going with Cam Newton last year, now it is time to build from the inside out on the other side of the ball.

10. Buffalo Bills – Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina

Michael Floyd would have been a great fit, but Buffalo is determined to get to the passer and Ingram continues the influx of pass-rush talent this offseason.

11. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

The fantasy player in me wants Kuechly in a 4-3 badly.  Playing inside next to Derrick Johnson will lessen his value but this feels like a truly cannot 3 down linebacker.

12. Seattle Seahawks – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

Blowing a top 5 pick on Aaron Curry (traded for a drawer of mismatched socks to Oakland) still haunts Seattle.  Finding a solid, cover capable long-term solution helps ease the pain.

13. Arizona Cardinals – Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

A late mock riser who just couldn’t crack the top 10 but may be better than Claiborne.

14. Dallas Cowboys – Mark Barron, S, Alabama

If everyone mocks it all year will it come true?  We’ll see.  A perfect fit. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

The injury to Jason Peters creates a need and Philly loves building from its lines and letting the outsides define themselves.  Back to basics for the Eagles after being a self-proclaimed “Dream Team” last year.

16. New York Jets – Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

Randle was a Top 5 high school prospect who faded in impact in college with pretty sad QB play (welcome to the SEC!).  Waiting to find a way to get rid of Santurdio, the Jets find a replacement burner with size.

17. Cincinnati Bengals – David Decastro, OG, Stanford

This is one of the picks with the least downside, something Cincy needs after picking Andre Smith in the top 10 to become an O-line mainstay a few years ago.

18. San Diego Chargers – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews won’t make it out of the season alive if San Diego does not make rebuilding the offensive line a priority.

19. Chicago Bears – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

This pick is screaming Kendall Wright as an explosive playmaker to line-up opposite just plain explosive Brandon Marshall but Chicago doesn’t work that way.

20. Tennessee Titans – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Exit Cortland Finnegan.  Enter Dre Kirkpatrick.  Immediately replacing talent with talent fills need and meets value as we enter the 20s.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

A.J. Green and, and, and (Jordan Shipley’s ACL doesn’t count).  Jerome “POT” Simpson is gone.  Andre Caldwell is fighting for a job in Denver.  Defenses are going to triple team Green unless Cincy puts something worth watching on the opposite side of the field.

22. Cleveland Browns – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Really big, fast, fat guys get picked in the first round.  Welcome to Cleveland Michael Brockers.

23. Detroit Lions – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

The top 3 CBs are off the board so the Lions have to focus their attention on a glaring need – OT.  Jeff Backus’ bicep is not guaranteed to hold up for a season and Gosder Cherilus still doesn’t know that their are penalties for false starts and holding.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

There might not be a better fit between team and player in round 1.

25. Denver Broncos – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

If he had a motor he’d go in the Top 10.  Denver will let Peyton Manning personally build the offense with whatever he is given.  Management is responsible for building the defense.

26. Houston Texans – Whiteny Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Wow are they mad that Randle and Wright are off the board.  Drafting defense helped them into the playoffs, so why stop now.

27. New England Patriots – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama

There is no way they keep this pick, right? Bill Belichik gets giddy over picking players coached by Nick Saban and he darn near faints when Upshaw, who many believe cannot get to the QB as well as he needs to, is still available at 27.

28. Green Bay Packers – Nick Perry, DE, USC

Let’s see, offense – unstoppable, defense – not so much.  Green Bay brings in some pass rush reinforcements so they can stop using guys who were on the couch the week before to try and get to the other team’s QB.

29. Baltimore Ravens – Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Ed Reed is returning but he is getting dinged up a lot and is old.  Time to let him teach someone how they play defense in Baltimore.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

There is no way Jim Harbaugh drafts his own college player Coby Fleener.  Yes, it might make sense.  No, it does not bring you cred in the locker room (Tom Coughlin somehow drafted his future son-in-law but I digress).

31. New England Patriots – Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH)

Groomed to be a future OT, Brooks is a Belichickian reach that will pay off in short order.

32. New York Giants – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

Jerry Reese can never have enough defensive lineman.

Thursday 8pm Eastern – let the mock be dropped and the draft begin.