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Mark Scott’s Official 2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

The new league year kicked off on Tuesday at 4 pm EST with the free agent frenzy quickly getting under way. The 2012 NFL Draft gets closer with each passing day and teams that don’t fill the holes on their roster through free agency will be eyeing the draft and all of its vast possibilities. As free agents either stay with their current teams or sign with new ones, the needs and wants of every team will change and so will the results of this mock draft. This is the first in a series of mock drafts between now and the Draft in late April that you can find on my site.

  1. IND (2-14) – QB Andrew Luck, STAN – The Peyton Manning era is officially over. Let the Andrew Luck era in Indy begin. The Colts had a tough decision to make regarding Manning, but it was the right one by releasing the 4-time MVP and starting over with Luck. The Stanford product is the best prospect since John Elway and considered a can’t miss player. He has all the physical and mental tools to succeed and live up to his high billing. He is one of those once in a generation talents that is just destined to be great and takes away a bit of the sting from seeing Manning leave town.
  2. STL WASH (5-11) – QB Robert Griffin III, BAY – The price was high, but the Redskins will get their franchise Quarterback and can finally begin the Mike Shanahan era the right way. Griffin III is an exceptional athlete the likes of Michael Vick, but with better quarterback skills that continue to improve at a rapid rate. His excellent mobility in and out off the pocket and his ability to throw on the run make him a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense. They’ve already added Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan on the opening day of free agency and have a pair of intriguing second-year running backs, so Griffin III should have a solid cast to begin his career with.
  3. MIN (3-13) – OT Matt Kalil, USC – The Vikings Offensive line is undergoing a major rebuild and selecting Matt Kalil is a big step in the right direction to providing a line that can protect Christian Ponder. Charlie Johnson again proved last year with Minnesota why the Colts gave up on him as their franchise Left Tackle. With a year left on his deal he will likely be moved to Guard after the Vikings released starters Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera. Kalil is a complete prospect and is as pro-ready as a prospect can be. He looked like a professional running through drills at the Combine and has all of the skills and potential to become a franchise Left Tackle for many years in the NFL.
  4. CLE (4-12) – RB Trent Richardson, ALA – The Browns don’t appear like they’re going to fix their Quarterback situation this year as they missed out on Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin III and don’t seem all that interested in Matt Flynn. Even if they did get a different QB other than current starter Colt McCoy, Cleveland still doesn’t have any weapons on offense to give the ball too. Adding some weapons this year might be the better route to go and would give McCoy an actual chance to succeed or any future Quarterback the team might add. Cleveland free agent Running Back Peyton Hillis was a disaster in 2011. He was a major headache for the Browns with heated contract disputes and demands, questionable injuries and below average play on the field. He’s likely gone and with Montario Hardesty’s inability to stay healthy, the team has a major need at the running back spot. Luckily for them, Trent Richardson, the best prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson, is sitting on the board waiting for them. Richardson is a complete running back and would instantly give the Browns an elite weapon on offense. Their wide receiver corps is one of the worst in the league, so Justin Blackmon could easily be taken here.
  5. TB (4-12) – CB Morris Claiborne, LSU – Ronde Barber is pondering retirement and Aqib Talib may be headed to prison, while he continues to pile up other off the field issues as he awaits trial. Morris Claiborne is far and away the top corner in the draft possessing elite cover ability, great instincts and fantastic ball skills. He can also contribute in the return game. He has no.1 corner potential and is ready to start immediately.
  6. WASH STL (2-14) – WR Justin Blackmon, OKST – The Rams chose to stand by Sam Bradford over Robert Griffin III and were rewarded for that decision with a multitude of draft picks. They drop to the six spot in the draft due to the trade with Washington and anxiously await hoping Justin Blackmon somehow falls to them. In this scenario he does fall to the Rams giving them the no.1 wide out they so desperately need to build their receiver corps around. The two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver is an absolute beast that can take over games on his own. He has incredible hands, body control and is an excellent route runner. He also proved at his pro-day that he has the speed to be an elite wide receiver.
  7. JAX (5-11) – DE Melvin Ingram, SCAR – Jacksonville’s pass rush is atrocious and has been near the bottom of the league in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Jeremy Mincey had a good year this past season, but is a free agent and so is Matt Roth, while Aaron Kampmann can’t stay healthy and really hasn’t contributed anything since he signed with the team. Throughout the draft process Melvin Ingram has been dominant in establishing himself as the top pass-rusher in the draft regardless of scheme. He looked great at the Senior Bowl and then again at the Combine. Those performances to go with a couple of seasons of excellent game tape from South Carolina are why Ingram has NFL scouts buzzing. So too is his versatility as Ingram has shown that he can line-up at a multitude of positions in the front seven.
  8. MIA (6-10) – DE Quinton Coples, UNC – The Dolphins are transitioning to a 4-3 defense under new Head Coach Joe Philbin and need a pass-rusher to play opposite Cameron Wake. Coples is an explosive athlete that may be the best pure 4-3 End in the draft, but can also play on the interior of the line as well. Coples and Wake should give Miami a pretty solid 1-2 punch rushing the passer.
  9. CAR (6-10) – DT Dontari Poe, MEM – The Panthers run defense was awful this past season and the interior of their defensive line is in need of a talent upgrade. They spent two third round picks on Sione Fua and Terrell McClain, but neither showed much as Fua was okay and McClain was awful. Dontari Poe had an incredible performance at the Combine that moved him from just on the first round radar to a for sure top 15 selection. He has great size and is a terrific athlete that brings scheme versatility and will give Carolina a couple of options should they make a rumored switch to a 3-4 or decide to stick with the 4-3 defense they’re currently using. Poe has huge upside.
  10. BUF (6-10) – DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, ALA – The Bills biggest problem on defense is that they’re sorely lacking a pass-rush and any elite talent at the position. Buffalo likes to run multiple schemes and needs someone that has the versatility to rush the passer standing up or with his hand on the ground. Courtney Upshaw can do that. The Alabama product had a tough outing at the Combine that had many scouts listing him as just a 4-3 defensive end only, but his game tape from college proves that he can line-up as a 3-4 outside linebacker and be just as effective. HC Chan Gailey loves his SEC players and Upshaw should fit in nicely with this group.
  11. KC (7-9) – OT Riley Reiff, IOW – The Chiefs need upgrades across their offensive line, specifically at the Right Tackle position where Barry Richardson was terrible, Braden Albert will soon be a free agent and in a stupid move Jared Gaither was released by the former coaching staff last year. The Kansas City front office has close ties to Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, who continues to produce NFL quality Offensive linemen every year and Riley Reiff just so happens to be available. Reiff is a tenacious blocker against the pass and run and is a great fit for the Chiefs. They will probably have better knowledge of him than any other team.
  12. SEA (7-9) – QB Ryan Tannehill, TXAM – In an attempt to fix their quarterback situation and avoid missing out on the Quarterback Derby of 2012, the Seahawks reach for Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. He lacks experience, but with Tavaris Jackson still in the fold for at least another year, Tannehill can learn from the sidelines to start his career. Midway through the 2010 season he made a pretty incredible transition back to quarterback after a couple of seasons at receiver. He has shown tremendous upside and the ability to learn at a fast pace in just a short amount of time.
  13. ARZ (8-8) – OT Jonathon Martin, STAN – The Cards cut Levi Brown and his huge contract, but he wasn’t really very good anyways and an upgrade was needed. That upgrade comes in the form of Andrew Luck’s former protector, Jonathon Martin. The Stanford product is an excellent pass protector with good strength and great footwork. He will provide whoever the quarterback is for the Cardinals with the time and space to stay upright and make plays.
  14. DAL (8-8) – CB Janoris Jenkins, NALA – The Dallas secondary was just terrible last year and is in need of significant upgrades. Terrence Newman and his contract were cut as a result. There’s a very good chance they add Brandon Carr in free agency, but they could still use a third corner to shore up the secondary. Janoris Jenkins has had his off the field troubles in the past, but seems to have gotten his life back on the right track and might be the most talented corner in this draft. He has fantastic cover skills and has shown the ability to play against and shutdown elite receivers like A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffrey.  Alabama Safety Mark Barron could also be an option if they still want to fix their secondary, but not by adding a corner.
  15. PHI (8-8) – ILB Luke Kuechly, BC – Philadelphia struggled mightily on defense last year and the biggest reason why was their poor group of linebackers that might have been the worst in the league. An over drafted fourth-round pick in Casey Mathews began the season as their starting middle linebacker before quickly having to be replaced. Luke Kuechly was an unreal tackling machine in college and then showed to everyone at the Combine that he has the athleticism to translate his skills to the NFL and become one of the league’s top linebackers.
  16. NYJ (8-8) – OG David DeCastro, STAN – The Jets are recommitting to their ground and pound running attack this year and there is no better prospect to improve it with then Stanford’s rugged Guard David DeCastro. He is a ferocious run blocker with great mobility and is just as good in pass protection. Like Matt Kalil, DeCastro is as pro-ready as any prospect in this draft and that includes his former teammate and no.1 pick Andrew Luck. The addition of DeCastro will be a major step forward in solidifying the interior of the line that completely fell apart last year when Nick Mangold was out of the lineup. This move remedies their failed attempt with Vlad Ducasse, who has been a major bust for the Jets since they drafted him.
  17. OAK CIN (9-7) – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, ALA – They lost Jonathon Joseph to free agency last year. Leon Hall tore his Achilles and might not be ready to start the season or ever the same player he was. Joseph’s replacement Nate Clements is on the wrong side of 30 and has significantly slowed over the past few years. Adam Jones is also a free agent and probably won’t be back. The need for a cornerback is pretty obvious and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick would be a great fit if he manages to fall to the Bengals here. Cincinnati loves their SEC players and won’t be deterred by the Kirkpatrick’s recent off the field issues.
  18. SD (8-8) – OLB Whitney Mercilus, Ill – San Diego’s pass rush struggled mightily this past year as only Antwan Barnes had more than four sacks and was their only legitimate threat.  He had a very impressive 11.5 sacks, but outside of him there was nothing. Three years in Larry English has proven to be a bust as he played just 5 games with 2 sacks last year and has just 7 career sacks to his name. Whitney Mercilus really came on last season at Illinois leading the nation with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles. He is a risky prospect as he could be a one year wonder after seeing very little playing time as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. He has good explosion of the snap, solid speed and plays with all out effort on every play. He also brings some versatility and can be moved around the front seven.
  19. CHI (8-8) – OT Mike Adams, OSU – The Bears added Miami’s Brandon Marshall in a trade on Tuesday significantly upgrading their wide receiver corps and reuniting him with former Denver teammate Jay Cutler. The addition of Marshall allows Chicago to continue rebuilding their woeful offensive line at the draft. They added Gabe Carimi in last year’s first round and this year they add Ohio State’s Mike Adams to play across from him. Adams has his issues, but he has a ton of talent and is a significant upgrade over JaMarcus Webb at Left Tackle. In the few games the Bears’ Offensive line played well in showed that if given a little bit more time and space Jay Cutler can be one of the best Quarterbacks in the league. It’s too bad the O-line rarely gets Cutler that time and space. The addition of Adams and a healthy Carimi should change that.
  20. TEN (9-7) – DE Nick Perry, USC – Three of the Titans four defensive ends are free agents and not all of them will be brought back. The pass rush was lacking anyways as rookie Defensive Tackle Karl Klug led the team in sacks with seven. Nick Perry shined at USC in 2011 and then again at the Combine. He is a ferocious pass rusher that fits best as a 4-3 End with his hand on the ground which fits perfectly with the Tennessee defense.
  21. CIN (9-7) – OG/T Cordy Glenn, GEO – This could easily be a running back, but with both of their starting guards, Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings, free agents the Bengals need to look at adding a guard. Williams should be brought back, but Livings was awful and needed to be replaced anyway. Cordy Glenn was one of the big stories at the Combine where he put on an incredible show for a man of his mammoth size. He has the potential to be special at guard, but can also play both Tackle positions. The Bengals are another team that loves to draft players from the SEC and Glenn is a perfect fit for them. He’s another blue chip prospect to go with an already very impressive collection of young players on the Cincinnati offense.
  22. ATL CLE (4-12) – WR Michael Floyd, ND – The Browns continue to add weapons on offense by gleefully selecting Michael Floyd, who will be the steal of the draft if he drops this far. Floyd is a big, athletic wide receiver that can make huge plays down the field, but is also tough enough to go over the middle. The building blocks are now in place for the success of any current or future Browns Quarterback by drafting Floyd and Trent Richardson.
  23. DET (10-6) – CB Stephon Gilmore, SCAR – Detroit’s secondary was clearly their biggest problem in 2011 as they got torched by opposing Quarterbacks game after game all season long constantly putting added pressure on the offense. Stephon Gilmore has been rising quickly up draft boards the past month and some even have him ranked as the second best cornerback in the draft ahead of Jenkins and Kirkpatrick. Gilmore is a solid cover corner with good instincts and ball skills.
  24. PITT (12-4) – ILB Don’t’a Hightower, ALA – The Steelers defense is getting old with the majority of last year’s starters over the age of 30 and is in need of some young blood. Inside Linebacker James Farrior was a cap casualty leaving a hole in the middle of the defense that Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower should be able to fill. Hightower is a massive inside linebacker with a ton of experience leading a 3-4 defense and his attacking mentality seems made for the Steelers defense. He can also contribute on the outside as a pass-rusher.
  25. DEN (8-8) – DT Fletcher Cox, MSST – The Broncos defense was pretty bad last year and is in need of upgrades at every level. The defensive tackle group was decent against the run, but offered very little in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback. Their overall play could be much better too. Their best player at the position Brodrick Bunkley is a free agent and Ryan McBean is set to face a 6-game suspension to start the season. Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox was the best defensive linemen in the SEC last year and has the ability to stop the run and get to opposing quarterbacks.
  26. HOU (10-6) – WR Kendall Wright, BAY – The Texans don’t have any glaring holes, so adding a luxury in the first round is a definite possibility. Andre Johnson has battled some injuries the past couple of seasons and missed a number of games last year. Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones have been disappointing when called upon. Kendall Wright is an explosive playmaker that would instantly take the Houston offense to another level. Too often Andre Johnson has been their only threat in the receiving game. Johnson and Wright would be a pretty outstanding combination.
  27. NO NE (13-3) – SS Mark Barron, ALA – New England’s pass defense ranked at the bottom of the league last year and at times they had to have wide receivers and guys they signed off the street starting crucial games for them in their secondary. It’s a surprise that Mark Barron is still available this late in the first round and the Patriots can’t help but take him here. Barron is the complete package of size, speed and skill. He is as effective versus the run as the pass and possesses great leadership with a ton of experience in big games.
  28. GB (15-1) – OLB Andre Branch, CLEM – One of the main reasons the Green Bay defense struggled so much in 2011 was a lack of pass rush across from Clay Mathews. It put added pressure on the secondary that it wasn’t able to sustain. Andre Branch has decent size, good length and a fantastic burst off the line. He has outstanding pass rush abilities and should have great success with focus of the blockers on Clay Mathews.
  29. BAL (12-4) – C Peter Konz, WISC – The Ravens have a couple of glaring needs with an interior offensive lineman and couple of linebackers among them. The majority of the top linebackers are gone in this scenario leaving Baltimore looking at improving their Offensive line with this selection. Center Matt Birk is strongly considering retirement, but appears set to play one more season and Guard Ben Grubbs is a free agent that looks like he will cash in elsewhere. Wisconsin’s Peter Konz solves tow problems for the Ravens as he can fill the hole left by Grubbs in the short term and then eventually take over for Birk when he finally decides to hang them up, likely following this season.
  30. SF (13-3) – TE Coby Fleener, STAN – Outside of Vernon Davis, the 49ers passing game was severely limited last season, especially in the red zone. They seem to be trying to fix their receiver corps through free agency, but adding another athletic pass-catching tight end across from Davis could really take this offense to the next level. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh often used multiple tight ends in his offense at Stanford, sometimes lining up as many as three on the field at once. Harbaugh even used OT Joe Staley and DT Isaac Sopoga at the tight end position on certain plays last year. Fleener is the top tight end in the draft and a former player of Harbaugh at Stanford. He would seem to be the perfect guy to take here and join Harbaugh’s 49ers offense.
  31. NE (13-3) – DT Michael Brockers, LSU – The Pats went out on a limb and took a chance on Albert Haynesworth last year, but he turned out to be a major failure. Gerrard Warren and Shaun Ellis are old free agents and most likely won’t be back. They will be in the market for at least one or two new defensive tackles. As just a redshirt sophomore Michael Brockers probably would’ve benefitted from another year at LSU, but he still has a boatload of talent and brings a ton of upside that Bill Belichick can mold exactly how he wants.
  32. NYG (9-7) – RB Lamar Miller, MIA – The Giants released veteran Brandon Jacobs after seven years with the team and will need some fresh legs to pair with Ahmad Bradshaw. Lamar Miller has top end speed and reminds scouts of Chris Johnson a bit. He has big play ability and solid hands out of the backfield, but can also pound it up the middle between the tackles. The Giants almost always go with the best player available, but Miller is nearly that and fits one of their top needs at the same time.

 

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Redskins Acquire Rams’ 2012 Second Overall Draft Pick

Written By: Mark Scott

The Rams and Redskins have made their move. In the most anticipated trade of the past few months, St. Louis chose Washington over Cleveland to deal the no.2 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft too as first reported by FoxSports.com. The Rams sent the second overall pick to the Redskins in exchange for  Washington’s sixth overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft, as well as their 2013 and 2014 first round picks along with their 2012 second round choice, 39th overall. Baylor’s QB Robert Griffin III is expected to be the player chosen by Washington with that selection.

Who the Rams would trade the second overall choice too and what they could receive in compensation has been the talk around the NFL for months, especially the past few weeks when St. Louis let it be known at the NFL Scouting Combine that they intended to trade the pick to the highest bidder. The bounty was expected to be high for the pick in order to select Griffin III, especially after the Baylor Quarterback blew scouts away with his workout in just a few select drills at the Combine. He was also excellent in team interviews and media sessions. The Rams have a number of holes to fill after a 2-14 season and a new regime coming in, but Quarterback wasn’t one of them as St. Louis chose to stand behind current signal-caller Sam Bradford, who was taken with the first overall pick in the 2010 Draft. They can now fill more of those holes beginning this year and over the next couple of years giving their new regime led by Head Coach Jeff Fisher the building blocks to build around Bradford and turn the franchise around.

Washington was desperate to fix their Quarterback position after a disastrous season with Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing passes for them. They were expected to pursue recently released Peyton Manning and still are despite Friday’s trade, but news that Manning isn’t interested in playing in the NFC, specifically the NFC East, where his brother Eli plays with the Giants seems to have eliminated them from discussions. This news about Manning probably only increased the Redskins interest in the Rams’ draft pick to select Griffin III. Barring a change in Manning’s mind, the Redskins will go forward with Robert Griffin III as their new franchise Quarterback, believed to be a perfect fit for Head Coach Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme.

Unhappy with their own Quarterback situation, the Cleveland Browns were believed to be the favorites to land St. Louis’ No.2 pick and made a late push Friday by reportedly offering three first round picks including their 2012 fourth overall pick and possibly a second round choice, but it was too late, the Rams had already settled on a deal with Washington. Cleveland will now have to look elsewhere to find a Quarterback or stick with current starter Colt McCoy. The deal between St. Louis and Washington will become official when the new league year starts on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 4 pm, EST.

It is a great move for both teams. For St. Louis, they will now have five first round and four second round draft picks over the next three years. They can now build around Sam Bradford and finally give him some weapons to utilize, while possibly finding some help and an eventual replacement for aging running back Steven Jackson and also improve a bad defense. For Washington, they can select Griffin III and finally add the right Quarterback to build the franchise around in the Mike Shanahan era, although it comes at a steep price.