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Mark Scott’s Official 2012 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially upon us as the first round gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Stanford’s Andrew Luck is set to be taken with the first overall pick by the Colts beginning a new era in Indianapolis, while Robert Griffin III will be drafted right behind him by the Washington Redskins, who traded three first round picks and second round pick to move up to take the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. The Draft takes off from there as recent reports have the Vikings possibly looking elsewhere after being locked into USC left tackle Matt Kalil for months. Then the Cleveland Browns at no.4 are debating between three offensive players in Trent Richardson, Ryan Tannehill and Justin Blackmon. Tannehill will be a central figure to watch throughout the first round as the Texas A&M quarterback awaits to see where he will be taken. It could be Cleveland or Miami or perhaps another team will make a move to trade up to get him. Regardless of where he is taken it is widely believed that he will be vastly over drafted. Watch out for names like Fletcher Cox, Mark Barron, David DeCastro, Michael Floyd, Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones as they appear to be highly coveted prospects heading into the draft. This really feels like the year where there will be twists and turns all over the first round as teams trade up or down and prospects rise or fall and expect that to continue throughout the draft. Let the mocking begin.

1.       INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-14) – QB ANDREW LUCK, STANFORD

It’s basically official after the Colts notified Andrew Luck and the sports world this past week that he would indeed be their selection with the first overall pick ending months of waiting and finally beginning the Luck era in Indy and closing the book on Peyton Manning as a Colt. The Stanford product is the best prospect since John Elway in 1983 and has been ready to take this step for a long time. He possesses all the tools physically and mentally and is a once in a lifetime type talent.

2.       *WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-11) – QB ROBERT GRIFFIN III, BAYLOR

The Redskins were desperate to fix their quarterback situation after disastrous seasons with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck as their signal-callers and will do so after making a blockbuster trade with the Rams to move up to the no.2 spot to take Robert Griffin III. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has rare abilities for a quarterback and is a truly special talent. He appears to be a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s offense, who can finally attempt to take the next step forward with this franchise after taking over in 2010.

*pick acquired from St. Louis.

3.       MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-13) – LT MATT KALIL, USC

Despite all the reports coming out that the Vikings and GM Rick Spielman are leaning towards a different direction than Kalil, it is very likely that when it comes down to it, the USC offensive lineman will be putting on the purple and gold. Spielman is likely trying to drum up some late trade interest for other coveted players like Claiborne, Richardson, Blackmon and Tannehill in an attempt to move down a couple spots and still land Kalil. They do really like Claiborne and Blackmon, who both could fill a major need at either the cornerback or receiver position and it wouldn’t be that big a surprise if one of them is selected. Kalil is the only legitimate franchise left tackle available this year and would fill the Vikings’ major hole protecting Christian Ponder’s blindside.

4.       CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12) – RB TRENT RICHARDSON, ALABAMA

The Browns desperately need to fix their offense and with three picks in the top 40 selections they should be able to add some talented pieces. The debate for their front office will be which direction they should go first. Colt McCoy is not the answer as a starting quarterback, but is Ryan Tannehill really that much better, especially considering his inexperience at the college level and the fact he probably won’t be ready for a couple seasons and will still have to deal with the lack of offensive weapons in Cleveland. Then there is the absence of a true no.1 wide receiver to throw too. They have Little, Robiskie and Massaquoi as their current wide outs, but all of them are just nice complimentary pieces. They also have a major need at running back after Peyton Hillis was let go and took his sideshow to Kansas City this offseason and Montario Hardesty’s inability to stay healthy. Trent Richardson is one of the top six elite talents in the draft and the only feature, 3-down running back available. He has the ability to pound the ball inside or break it out wide for big gains and is a flawless receiver out of the backfield. He is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Plus there will be a number of wide receivers available later in the first when they select again at pick no.22.

5.       TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12) – CB MORRIS CLAIBORNE, LSU

Ronde Barber is likely playing his final season before retiring. Free Agent signing Eric Wright isn’t very good at all and no.1 corner Aqib Talib is probably going to be suspended and may even be headed to jail if his trial doesn’t go his way. He’s in the last year of his contract anyways and it wouldn’t a surprise to see the Bucs cut him any day now. Morris Claiborne is not only the top cornerback in the draft, he’s the top defensive player too. He’s an elite cover corner with terrific instincts and ball skills. He has big play ability and can contribute on special teams as well. It should be noted that Tampa has hired acclaimed LSU Defensive Backs Coach Ron Cooper to its new coaching staff in the same role. Cooper guided and transformed Claiborne into an elite cornerback after he came to LSU as a high school wide receiver.

6.       *ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-14) – WR JUSTIN BLACKMON, OKLAHOMA STATE

The Rams have one of the worst wide receiver corps in the league and it has had a major affect on quarterback Sam Bradford’s development. St. Louis partly made the trade with Washington in hopes that Blackmon would still be available a few picks later allowing them to select the feature wide receiver they so badly need, while adding a major haul of draft picks from the Redskins. Blackmon is an absolute monster that can dominate defenders and has the ability to take over games by himself (see his legendary performance vs. Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl).

*pick acquired from Washington.

7.       JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-11) – DE MELVIN INGRAM, SOUTH CAROLINA

The Jaguars are reportedly very interested in cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but with a pass rush that has finished near the bottom of the league in sacks the past three seasons, they need to add some new talent at defensive end. Ingram has emerged throughout the draft process as the top pass rusher available and while he is a bit of a tweener in size, he has the skills and versatility to play a multitude of positions and defensive end in a 4-man front like the Jags employ is one of them. He has good explosion off the snap and is able to gain leverage on opposing offensive linemen and his endless motor allows him to be an every down player.

8.       MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10) – QB RYAN TANNEHILL, TEXAS A&M

It’s know secret that the Dolphins have been looking to add a new quarterback to their team after missing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith in free agency. They also missed out on trading up for Robert Griffin III. So what’s left for Miami, well it is the rising, but perhaps slightly overrated Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M, who is actually pretty good fit for their offense especially after they named his former college head coach Mike Sherman as their new offensive coordinator. Tannehill has fantastic potential, but lacks experience at the position after playing two-plus years as a receiver for the Aggies before switching back to quarterback and taking over for Jarrod Johnson in 2010. He has a live arm and possesses great mobility, but his accuracy and decision-making are major question marks. He is still a year or two from being ready to play in the NFL and needs some work.

9.       CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-10) – DT FLETCHER COX, MISSISSIPPI STATE

The Panthers run defense was abysmal and repeatedly gashed week after week this past season. They drafted a pair of defensive tackles in Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in the third round last year, but neither player showed very much promise during the season. Fletcher Cox was the best defensive lineman in the extremely talent-laden SEC and has emerged as just that in this draft as well. He is great at stopping the run, but it is his pass rush skills from the interior that have him in such high demand and he’s still getting better at an incredible rate. He also provides great versatility should Ron Rivera ever decide to switch his defense to his preferred 3-4 scheme. He’s an instant upgrade over everyone on their roster at the position.

10.   BUFFALO BILLS (6-10) – ILB LUKE KUECHLY, BOSTON COLLEGE

The Bills have had a major need for a new franchise left tackle for a few years now and Riley Reiff is available, but there are questions about his ability to play left tackle at the next level and he’s starting to slide. If Buffalo can trade down a few spots he could definitely be in play. GM Buddy Nix likes to often go with the best player available and Kuechly fits that description. Linebacker isn’t the biggest need for the Bills, but they can use a third guy next to Nick Barnett and Kelvin Sheppard. He is an outstanding athlete that is a tackling machine and a complete linebacker that continues to turn this Bills defense into one of the strongest in the NFL.

11.   KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (7-9) – OG DAVID DECASTRO, STANFORD

Center Casey Wiegmann will likely retire before the start of the season allowing the Chiefs to move Rodney Hudson over from guard to replace him. Doing so will still leave a hole that needs to be filled and DeCastro seems like the smart, safe Scott Pioli type of pick he’s become known for. Guards normally don’t go this high in the draft, but DeCastro is the best guard prospect in the last decade and is ready to step in immediately and play at a perennial Pro Bowl level. He is one the best prospects in the entire draft and is worthy of this high of a selection.

12.   SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-9) – DE QUINTON COPLES, NORTH CAROLINA

Chris Clemons was the only defensive end on Seattle’s roster to provide a pass rush and he will be a 31-year old free agent following the season. Their other starting defensive end was Raheem Brock who is currently a 34-year old free agent in decline. Coples has tremendous upside and is an elite talent, but commitment and effort concerns are why he is still available at this point. After feeling a little bit of heat as he waits to hear his name called later than he thought it should, Coples will come into the league with a chip on his shoulder and Pete Carroll should be able to get the most out of him.

13.   ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8) – OT RILEY REIFF, IOWA

Arizona’s offensive line is atrocious and with Reiff still on the board, they have to overlook the temptation of adding receiver Michael Floyd and select the tenacious offensive tackle. RT Brandon Keith is a free agent and won’t be resigned, while LT Levi Brown was cut and then immediately brought back at a much cheaper price, but both guys weren’t very good and needed to be upgraded. Reiff isn’t ready to be an NFL left tackle just yet, but he can be plugged in and played right away on the right side of the line. As he matures and gains experience he should be able to be moved over to the blind side eventually.

14.   DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8) – SS MARK BARRON, ALABAMA

The Cowboys secondary has been one of their biggest weaknesses the past two years, including last season when it was just embarrassing at times. They added free agent corner Brandon Carr from the Chiefs to form a tandem with Mike Jenkins, who’s on the hot seat and then released former starter Terence Newman. Brodney Pool helps at free safety, but the rest of the Dallas safety corps is bad. Mark Barron is a hot commodity as the draft nears and Dallas will be lucky if he is still available for them at pick no.14. He would instantly give credibility to their secondary and provide them with the leader they sorely need. Barron is the complete safety prospect that can contribute in all facets of the game and is one of the top players in the draft.

15.   PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-8) – CB STEPHON GILMORE, SOUTH CAROLINA

The Eagles would like to add a big, physical defensive tackle, but the recent trade of Asante Samuel leaves them short a corner. Gilmore is soaring up draft boards and rumors have him coming off the board in the top ten, but in this scenario he is still available for the Eagles and too good to pass up. Adding Gilmore will allow them to eventually replace Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is in the last year of his deal and needed to be upgraded anyways. Gilmore has good size, speed and all-around skills with the potential to become a no.1 corner down the line.

16.   NEW YORK JETS (8-8) – OLB CHANDLER JONES, SYRACUSE

The Jets defense struggled at times last season due to a lack of pass rush. Aaron Maybin was a nice find, but is still just a situational player. Courtney Upshaw is great football player with personality that is a perfect fit for Rex Ryan and could easily go here, but with Jones skyrocketing up draft boards the past few weeks and his brother being UFC Light heavyweight Jon Jones, combined that with Ryan’s affinity for MMA and Jones could be the surprise pick. He has freakish athletic ability with excellent length. There’s a ton of upside with him and he should be ready to contribute right away, while continuing to get better.

17.   *CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-7) – CB DRE KIRKPATRICK, ALABAMA

The Bengals need for a cornerback is well-documented. Jonathon Joseph signed with Houston last offseason and was never really replaced, Leon Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles and may never be the same, while Nate Clements and the recently signed Terence Newman are aging, declining players. Kirkpatrick is a big, well-coached corner with a National Championship pedigree. He is solid in coverage and a quality tackler that contributes against the run.

*pick acquired from Oakland

18.   SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (8-8) – OLB COURTNEY UPSHAW, ALABAMA

The Chargers defense is in desperate need of playmaker, specifically at the rush linebacker position. They had just one player record more than four sacks last year. Larry English has battled injuries and looks like a bust, while the recent signing of Jarrett Johnson is a pretty good one, although he isn’t really a pass rusher and is more effective versus the run. Upshaw is falling down draft boards as a majority of teams are unsure of where to play him. At the Combine he appeared too big and slow to play outside linebacker, but too short and not strong enough to play defensive end, however his game film says otherwise as he was a dynamic playmaker and pass rusher for Nick Saban at Alabama. He is a pure football player.

19.   CHICAGO BEARS (8-8) – DE WHITNEY MERCILUS, ILLINOIS

The Bears appear to be leaning towards adding a defensive lineman in this spot instead of taking a Jonathon Martin, Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams to improve their woeful offensive line or giving Jay Cutler another weapon like Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill to work with. Mercilus put up huge numbers this past season and showed great potential as a big-time pass rusher, but he could also be a one-year wonder. Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are a good pass rushing tandem, but were badly overworked last year and could feel some after affects of that this year. Adding a young player to spell them throughout the game should help avoid that.

20.   TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7) – DE NICK PERRY, USC

Defensive ends Jason Jones and William Hayes are gone, but the Titans could’ve used an upgrade over them anyways after they provided just 4.5 sacks combined last year. They signed pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley, but former first round pick Derrick Morgan still remains an unknown commodity as injuries have hampered his development since being drafted. Wimbley and Perry should create a formidable pass rushing duo as Morgan continues to try and find his legs. There is concern that Perry is a one-year wonder, but he possesses a great first step off the snap with good footwork and body control while using his relentless motor and ability to gain leverage to get to the quarterback.

21.   CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-7) – OG/OT CORDY GLENN, GEORGIA

The Bengals lost both starting guards Nate Livings and Bobbie Williams to free agency and Cordy Glenn is the type of mammoth SEC offensive lineman that Cincinnati loves to draft. Glenn has unreal athleticism and size with the ability to play left guard and both tackle positions. He can be plugged into the starting lineup right away at guard and provide insurance at tackle.

22.   *CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12) – WR KENDALL WRIGHT, BAYLOR

The Browns continue to add weapons on offense and drastically improve their wide receiver corps, which is one of the worst in the league, by adding the dynamic Wright. The Baylor product can stretch the field or make plays in the slot and has big play ability. By adding Richardson and Wright, the Cleveland offense just got a whole lot better now and for when they find their eventual franchise quarterback.

*pick acquired from Atlanta

23.   DETROIT LIONS (10-6) – OT JONATHON MARTIN, STANFORD

Detroit has avoided fixing their left tackle position for years and while they re-signed the steady Jeff Backus, who has been manning the spot for a while now, he is just about finished. Right tackle isn’t much better with Gosder Cherilus badly needing to be upgraded. Martin solves both problems as he can take over for Cherilus in the short term, while Backus’ career comes to an end and he gets adjusted to playing the NFL before sliding over to left tackle to replace him. Martin is an excellent pass protector that has been watching Andrew Luck’s blind side the past three years at Stanford and did a heck of a job in doing so.

24.   PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-4) – ILB DONT’A HIGHTOWER, ALABAMA

The Steelers have major needs at three positions; inside linebacker, nose tackle and offensive line and there are prospects still on the board that could fill any of those needs with Hightower, Dontari Poe and Mike Adams. Poe is very tempting, but his production was lacking and his football skills are questionable, which will turn off the Steelers, who instead go for the sure thing with Hightower and fill a major hole left by the release of James Farrior. Hightower is big, nasty and physical with the leadership abilities to quarterback a defense and fits in perfectly as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

 25.   DENVER BRONCOS (8-8) – DT MICHAEL BROCKERS, LSU

The interior of their defensive line is pretty bare and got even more so after their best defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley signed with the Saints during free agency and they will need to land a couple of defensive tackles in the draft to make up for it. While guys who can play immediately appear to be on the top of Denver’s radar, they did not expect to see Michael Brockers still available and can’t pass on his immense talent. He’s very raw and young as just a redshirt sophomore, but his upside and potential are through the roof. Trying to find a more experienced, pro-ready defensive tackle later in the draft will be a priority, but will probably have to come in the second round if they want a guy that can start and contribute now.

26.   HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6) – NT DONTARI POE, MEMPHIS

The Texans are in a great position as they don’t have any glaring holes and can afford to take the best player available or a luxury pick. Wide receiver is a definite possibility as they have sorely needed someone across from Andre Johnson for a few years now, but with Poe still available and an upgrade at nose tackle needed he’s the pick. Poe is an incredible athlete with an extremely high ceiling, but is still very raw and needs a lot of work. Houston’s current nose tackles can hold down the fort while Wade Phillips develops Poe into a star.

27.   *NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (13-3) – DE/OLB SHEA MCCLELLIN, BOISE STATE

Defense, defense and more defense is what the Patriots need after finishing at the bottom of the league in defense in 2011. Pass rushers are their most dire need to attend to after losing sack leaders Mark Anderson and Andre Carter to free agency after very productive one year stops with the team. Shea McClellin is a hot commodity right now, but because of the depth at pass rusher in this draft he remains just a late first round pick. He has great versatility and can play multiple positions in various schemes. He plays tough and physical with a mean streak and should help add some attitude to this soft Patriots defense. He is the type of player that will do whatever is asked from him and do it at a high level. Bill Belichick will love him.

*pick acquired from New Orleans

28.   GREEN BAY PACKERS (15-1) – SS HARRISON SMITH, NOTRE DAME

The Packers just had to make the tough decision to release safety Nick Collins after they deemed his health too much of a concern, while his career was likely over anyways. He was a core player for them for a number of years and GM Ted Thompson will need to find a replacement soon. Luckily for them Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith is still available. Smith is a very good safety prospect that has a number of teams after him and will have even more once Mark Barron comes off the board. The safety class is very weak this year, but Smith has a ton of talent. He has good size, intelligence and productivity. He is a little rough around the edges, but has the potential to be a very good safety for a long time.

29.   BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-4) – LG KEVIN ZEITLER, WISCONSIN

The Ravens lost starting left guard Ben Grubbs to free agency and then missed out on Evan Mathis after he decided to re-sign in Philadelphia instead of heading to Baltimore. Kevin Zeitler is a big, nasty mauler that has the ability to destroy oncoming defenders. He is an anchor in pass protection and a wrecking ball in the run game. He will start immediately for the Ravens, who won’t notice Grubbs is even gone after Zeitler gets on the field.

30.   SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3) – DT/DE KENDALL REYES, CONNECTICUT

The 49ers are in a great position as they don’t have too many holes to fix and can focus on adding the best player for them. Wide receiver is a need area and will be tempting, but the combination of Crabtree, Manningham and Moss isn’t all that bad and maintaining their top notch defense is a must after winning a number of tight games last year. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are an outstanding pair of defensive ends, but there isn’t a whole lot behind them should one of them get injured. Jerel Worthy and Devon Still could be options, but Kendall Reyes’ pass rush skills along with his run stopping ability get him the nod over the pair of Big Ten tackles.

31.   NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (13-3) – CB JANORIS JENKINS, NORTH ALABAMA

It’s no secret that New England had the worst pass defense in the league last season and at numerous times had to rely on wide receivers like Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater along with guys they signed off the street to play and start at cornerback in crucial games. Devon McCourty regressed and might be moved to safety where he spent some time last year, while Ras-I Dowling is a major health risk. On talent alone, Janoris Jenkins would be a top ten pick and could be the best cornerback in the draft, but a laundry list of off the field issues have him plummeting down draft boards. He is the top cover corner with the experience of shutting down the likes of A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffrey when he played for Florida before being dismissed from the team and ending up at North Alabama last year. Belichick’s close relationship with former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will help in the selection of this pick. What a steal for the Patriots.

32.   NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7) – OT MIKE ADAMS, OHIO STATE

Protecting and keeping Eli Manning healthy should be priority number one when New York’s projected starting offensive tackles are William Beatty and James Brewer. Beatty has battled injuries and missed 18 games over the past two seasons, while Brewer has yet to play a snap on offense. Kareem McKenzie is gone as well. They would’ve preferred Jonathon Martin over Mike Adams and his off the field issues, but adding an offensive tackle that can play and start right away is necessary. Adams has rare size and ability for an offensive tackle and has the skills and potential to be a special talent, but he needs to grow up, cut out all the off the field crap and become a professional or he won’t be around for very long.

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  1.    sms romantic 04.28.12 @ 3:47 pm      

    Thanks for every other fantastic post. Where else may anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such information.

  2.    Janine 07.19.12 @ 8:18 pm      

    Dwight Jones was inconsistant with his drops this year, codlun’t figure him out. He reminds me a lot of Calvin Johnson. I drafted Megatron last year and plan to keep him for as long as I can in my league (we can keep our first 6 picks from this year). Jones has the size and speed for a great NFL career. I can’t wait to see who picks him up. RG3 will be a great NFL qb, he ran well but the guy’s arm is sweet and accurate. The revolution of the running qb will continue. I’d like to see Luck in SF and see what he does staying home under Harbaugh if the stars aligned for that to happen.