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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.



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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