NFL Thoughts – 2012 Mock Draft (First Version)
Dustin James makes Man Cave history by contributing the first ever guest post to the site. Dustin puts on his best Mel Kiper hairpiece and puts together his 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
With just weeks left until we hear the magical words “And with the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select, Andrew Luck, QB from Stanford!”, I decided it must be that time of year again. That’s right, it’s time for “Dustin James’ NFL Mock Draft (that is sure to be wrong!)!” Just so you know, I have been unusually obsessed with the NFL draft and anything that relates to it for about the past ten years or so. I’m not sure why, but I’m a bigger fan of college football than I’m of the NFL. I get used to watching these college kids compete for 3-4 years and then jump over to the NFL and there’s something about the appeal and mystery behind the draft that just gets me excited every year. Sure, players like Robert Griffin III looked absolutely amazing in the college game, but how is that going to translate to the professional game?
Will Griffin follow in the shoes of guys like Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham and go on to find success in the NFL or will he flop hard like Akili Smith did? Is Andrew Luck really going to be a 15-year franchise NFL QB? Will Trent Richardson get drafted in the top 10 or will he drop due to the amount of teams that already have solid RB’s? So many questions in this year’s draft that we have no answers to at this time. I tried to make it a little easier on everyone by adding yet ANOTHER mock draft to fill your heads with. This is my first attempt at a mock draft this year and I’ll try to throw up another one before the draft actually arrives in about a month. So with that all said, here’s THE MOCK!
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford
This is the easiest #1 pick in recent memory. Luck has the talent to have a “John Elway-esque” career in the NFL and it’s not really a matter of “if” with Luck, but a matter of “when”. Easily one of the best QB’s to come out of college in years. The Indianapolis Colts are once again set up with a franchise QB because karma pretty much hates the rest of the league. “Luck”y bastards…..
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III – QB, Baylor
The Redskins gave up A LOT to move up to the #2 pick and that’s obviously because they think RG III is their franchise QB. Griffin’s a big-time mystery to me though. It’s no secret that the kid is a highly-skilled athlete, but does he have the skill set to be a successful NFL QB? All signs currently point to “yes”, but there are definitely tons of questions marks still surrounding this kid. For one, Washington hasn’t had a franchise QB since god knows when. Is Griffin the guy to finally turn this franchise around? He has the talent, but does he have a good head on his shoulders? He’s going to need one if he becomes apart of this NFL franchise…..
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil – LT, USC
Can the Vikings pass up the opportunity to draft someone who can be a surefire dominant left tackle in the league for years to come? The Vikings drafted QB Christian Ponder last year in the first-round and now they need to start building around him. Selecting Kalil with the third overall pick is a great first step in doing exactly that. If the Vikings pass on this guy, they will look back five years from now and slap themselves in the face for making such a huge mistake. Left tackle is one of the most important positions on a football team and the Vikings could have a starter for years if they select Kalil here. Another option for them could be CB Morris Claiborne, but that’s a stretch at #3.
4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon – WR, Oklahoma State
Poor Cleveland. In a perfect world, Cleveland would have ended up with either the #1 or #2 pick in this draft and after years of seeing guys like Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy, and Tim Couch behind center, they could have finally got their guy. Unfortunately the dice didn’t roll the way they wanted them to and they are stuck with the fourth pick in the draft. The good news for Browns fans is, Justin Blackmon is still on the board and the Browns are in dire need for a great WR. The Browns haven’t selected a WR in the first-round since they selected Braylon Edwards in 2005. Edwards may have been a disappointment in Cleveland, but something tells me Blackmon would be the exact opposite of that. Cleveland has to make this pick if they want to keep their fans happy. If they couldn’t get rid of McCoy, they need to at least acquire targets for the guy and Blackmon is the perfect guy for that role.
5. Tampa Bay Buccanneers: Trent Richardson – RB, Alabama
Most NFL franchises these days are running the dual RB system. The New York Giants did it with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. The Kansas City Chiefs did it with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. The Carolina Panthers are doing it with Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. You see my point? Tampa Bay already has an excellent RB in LaGarrette Blount, but just imagine what a two-headed monster of Blount and Trent Richardson would look like! The thought alone can send chills down every other NFL teams spine. Richardson is one of the best running backs to come out of college in years. He’s compared in a lot of ways to Adrian Peterson and something tells me that if Andrew Luck and RG III weren’t in this draft, Richardson would potentially be taken with the #1 pick. That’s just how good this kid is. If Tampa does pass on Richardson, I could see them trading the pick and moving down in the draft to potentially take Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw. Either way, the Tampa pick is where things should really start to get interesting in this year’s draft.
6. St. Louis Rams: B>Morris Claiborne – CB, LSU
St. Louis really needs a WR so if Justin Blackmon is still on the board, they’ll likely keep the pick and draft a #1 WR for Sam Bradford. If Blackmon’s off the board (and he should be), I could see the Rams potentially trading the pick again. If they do decide to keep the pick though, Morris Claiborne has to be their man. Claiborne is one of the most talented guys in the draft this year and is a surefire starter for years to come. The Rams secondary was atrocious last year and something tells me new coach Jeff Fisher is well aware of that. Claiborne is the smart pick, but I think we have a better shot of St. Louis trading out of this pick than actually using it.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram – DE, South Carolina
The Jaguars have a lot of needs, however considering Jacksonville was near the bottom of the league in sacks (27th to be exact), I think it’s pretty clear where they need a major upgrade immediately. The Jaguars definitely have a lot of options here. If they don’t take Ingram, Quinton Coples is another option. In a perfect world, Justin Blackmon would fall here and the Jags would finally get a WR for Blaine Gabbert to throw the ball to. The Jaguars were 32nd in the NFL last year in receiving yards and haven’t had a good WR in years. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Jags potentially trade up to grab Blackmon, but if they stay here, they are likely taking either Ingram or Coples because outside of Blackmon, this is a shallow draft for WR’s.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill – QB, Texas A&M
The Miami Dolphins were the big losers in free agency. The team was in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes for about 10 minutes, but deep down inside, everyone knew Peyton wasn’t going there. The Dolphins are a mess and haven’t been a good organization since Dan Marino was playing, so why would Peyton want to continue his career for one of the worst ran organizations in the NFL? Even though the Dolphins have a lot of needs, I think this is where they finally try to once again draft THE guy at QB. Miami was unable to bring any free agent QB’s into the organization and they need an upgrade at the position to get their fan base excited once again. Tannehill definitely has talent and he could surprise everyone by becoming the “Andy Dalton” of this year’s draft. This may be a little early to grab Tannehill, but the Dolphins need “their guy” behind center and the Texas A&M QB may be exactly that…..
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe – DT, Memphis
Carolina was horrendous against the run last year. The Panthers allowed 130.8 rushing yards a game because they were forced to play a couple of rookies on the defensive line. A player like Dontari Poe would change that culture in Carolina real quick. He can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 and he posted up incredible numbers last season at Memphis. Safety Mark Barron from Alabama could be another option here for the Panthers, but they could likely trade down and still grab him later in the draft. Either way, things are starting to look good in Carolina.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff – OT, Iowa
The Bills needed help on the defensive line, but they got that in the form of free agent Mario Williams. Now it’s time for the Bills to focus on the offensive line and that’s why there is no better pick for the team outside of Riley Reiff. Reiff is an incredible lineman who can be an NFL starter for years. To be a successful football team, it all starts at the line. By adding Williams to the D-line and Reiff to the O-line, the Bills could be well on their way to the top of their division.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly – LB, Boston College
The Chiefs would love for Reiff to fall to them here, but I highly doubt that’s going to happen. With Romeo Crennel taking over head duties in KC, it’s no secret the team will likely try to build on the success the defense had at the end of the year last year. The Chiefs young defense became the first team to stuff Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Green Bay Packers and showed that they are one of the most upcoming dangerous squads in the NFL. The additions of a player like Luke Kuechly and the returning Eric Berry (KC’s #1 pick from 2010) would easily turn this unit into one of the league’s best. Now if only the Chiefs could get that offense going…
12. Seattle Seahawks: David DeCastro – G, Stanford
Seattle likely would have targeted a QB here, but they went out and signed Matt Flynn from Green Bay and he’s now going to battle Tavaris Jackson for the starting QB position on the team. With the QB problem solved (for the time being), the Seahawks would love to have Luke Kuechly fall to them here, but I can’t see Kuechly getting past KC if he’s on the board. With Kuechly off the board, the Seahawks could likely target offensive lineman David DeCastro out of Stanford. Seattle got their man at QB, now they need to protect him. They have a need at the guard position and DeCastro can come in and start right away. Sounds like a win/win situation to me.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Dont’a Hightower – LB, Alabama
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt knows how important having a good linebacker core is thanks to the time he spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though the Cardinals have bigger needs on offense, I can see them taking a shot at Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower here. He’s a great player who’s stock has improved over the course of the last few months. He’d be a perfect compliment for Arizona’s 3-4 defense, which is why I’d consider him the favorite to land here right now. Other options here include LB Courtney Upshaw and WR Michael Floyd….
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron – S, Alabama
The Cowboys need help at the safety position which is why it only makes sense for them to grab the best safety on the board with the 14th pick in the draft. He provides excellent run-support and has showcased impressive coverage skills during his time in college. The Cowboys also need help on the defensive line and at the guard position, which is why Fletcher Cox and David DeCastro also remain possibilities here.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers – DT, LSU
The Eagles made a huge pick up when they traded for LB DeMeco Ryans (who they stole from Houston, by the way). Even though the Eagles could probably still use a little more help at the linebacker position, I like them taking Brockers here to help shore up their defensive line. Brockers is a big dude who could come in and make an immediate impact for Philly. The Eagles would love for safety Mark Barron to fall here, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Other options include Jonathan Martin out of Stanford or possibly even reaching for a QB like Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw – LB, Alabama
The New York Tebow’s are a team that’s on a downhill slope. After being SO close to finally becoming a championship contender under Rex Ryan, the Jets lost the locker room last year and chaos ensued. By adding talent like Upshaw, the team could once again turn things around and become contenders in the AFC East again. The Jets biggest needs are at linebacker and wide receiver. Upshaw is easily the best linebacker on the board here (and he can also move over and play DE if need be) and I’d be shocked to see the Jets pass on him. Another option here is WR Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins – CB, North Alabama
Yes, yes, yes. I know Janoris Jenkins comes with tons of baggage. The thing is, the kid can still play ball and the Bengals have a history of letting guys who have questionable judgement into the organization. I’d like to see the team take Dre Kirkpatrick here instead of Jenkins, but something tells me the Bengals still value talent over character, even if it means the guy could be kicked out of the league in a few years for doing something extremely stupid. However, Jenkins isn’t THAT bad of a guy. He got busted for pot, but big deal! Remember when Cam Newton stole a lap top while attending the University of Florida? Kids do stupid things and learn from their mistakes. Something tells me Jenkins has learned his lesson and is ready to show the world that he’s still one of the best CB’s in the NFL draft this year. Still, the guy has four kids and is in his early 20′s which shows bad judgement and of course, that scares NFL teams off.
18. San Diego Chargers: Quinton Coples – DE, North Carolina
The Chargers would love for Coples to fall to them here. Coples is one of the best talents in the draft, but there’s always that one guy who keeps falling on draft day and something tells me it could be him. The Chargers need help at CB and on the offensive line, but if Coples is still on the board here, he’s going to San Diego. Other options include Mike Adams out of Ohio State and Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama.
19. Chicago Bears: Mike Adams – OT, Ohio State
The Bears have a glaring hole at the tackle position and Mike Adams is the perfect man to help fill that need. The Bears took tackle Gabe Carimi last year in the draft and by taking Adams here, they could solidify their tackle position for years to come. The Bears could also reach for a tight end here, so Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen remain possibilities, although they could likely grab Allen in the second-round with no worries.
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus – DE, Illinois
I made this pick before the Titans signed Kamerion Wimbley, but I’m sticking with it. Mercilus is a good player, who likely needs a little bit of bench time to help him develop. The Titans could also grab CB Dre Kirkpatrick here to help replace the loss of the hot-headed Cortland Finnegan. Also, just like the Bears, reaching for a TE like Coby Fleener wouldn’t really shock anyone either. The team needs targets to help prepare QB Jake Locker (who I still think will be a bust in the NFL) better.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn – G, Georgia
If the Bengals take a CB with the 17th pick in the draft, it’s highly likely they could try to upgrade their offensive line with the 21st pick. The Bengals hit the lottery last year when they drafted A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, two rookies who went on to have outstanding years. Now they need to help protect Dalton to make sure the kid can have a long outstanding career and so he doesn’t become just a one-hit wonder. Cordy Glenn out of Georgia is the perfect kid for the job. Glenn is HUGE and can play at either the guard or tackle position. Something tells me he would have no problem keeping Dalton on his feet. Other options here could include WR Michael Floyd and safety Mark Barron if he’s available for some crazy reason….
22. Cleveland Browns: Chandler Jones – DE, Syracuse
Chandler Jones is the brother of current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon “Bones” Jones. If Chandler is anything like his older brother, the NFL has officially been put on notice. Cleveland needs some help at the defensive end position and Jones would not only provide a spark on the line, but could even get some of the fan base excited by drafting the little brother of a UFC champion. There’s no shortage of athleticism in the Jones family and MMA fans know that more than anyone. Other possibilities for Cleveland here include Mike Adams, Cordy Glenn, or Michael Floyd.
23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick – CB, Alabama
The Lions have become one of the league’s hottest young franchises. The offense is stellar, but the team still has plenty of work to do on the defensive side of things. The Lions really need help with the pass rush, which is why guys like Chandler Jones, Whitney Mercilus, and Quinton Coples could fall here. However, I think the Lions biggest need is the corner position and I think they would be nuts to pass on Dre Kirkpatrick if he’s still on the board. I don’t think Kirkpatrick is as good as either Janoris Jenkins or Morris Claiborne, but he would be a damn good consolation prize for the Lions to receive…..
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Fletcher Cox – DT, Mississippi State
The Steelers have big holes on the offensive line and the defensive line and grabbing a player like Fletcher Cox would help solve at least one of those issues. Cox is a good enough player that the Steelers could throw him anywhere he’s needed on the defensive line and it would likely work out. The Steelers could also grab an offensive lineman like Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams if they are available.
25. Denver Broncos: Peter Konz – C, Wisconsin
The Broncos did the unthinkable when they were able to turn the turd that is known as “Tim Tebow” into the form of “Peyton Manning”. By switching Tebow out for Manning, the Broncos have pushed themselves into “Super Bowl contenders”. However, they aren’t quite the favorites to win a Super Bowl just yet as they still have a few chinks in the armor. The Broncos could really go either defensive line or offensive line here, but I think with the addition of Peyton in the off-season, they are going to need a guy to protect him and Peter Konz out of Wisconsin is the best center in the draft and the perfect guy for the job. The Broncos would likely be able to trade out of this spot and potentially grab Konz in the second-round, so a trade is a possibility here. Another possibility could be someone like Jerel Worthy or Fletcher Cox.
26. Houston Texans: Michael Floyd – WR, Notre Dame
The Texans need to give Matt Schaub some more weapons. This is one of those teams that everyone swears is right there on the cusp of breaking out and with the addition of someone like Floyd, this could very well be the year that it finally happens. It’s very likely that Floyd would be off the board here considering there are a lot of teams looking for wide receivers right now, so Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill also could be considered with this pick. The Texans also need help on the offensive line so that’s another possibility.
27. New England Patriots: Jerel Worthy – DT, Michigan State
How many more years does New England have left before they start to hit the “downward spiral” that every successful NFL team hits eventually? As long as the Patriots continue to draft the way they do, I don’t know if that time will ever come to be honest with ya. The Patriots need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the pass rush. Drafting Worthy here would instantly give New England a hot up-and-comer to groom. They could also take a look at someone like Andre Branch or Chandler Jones, but anyway you slice it, the Pats have to be thinking defensive line with this pick.
28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry – LB, USC
The Packers are one year removed from a Super Bowl win and this team still has plenty of talent to get to the big game again. The team does have a few glaring needs though and perhaps none of them are bigger than at linebacker. Clay Matthews can’t do everything himself, so why not give him some help and why not draft another linebacker from USC? Perry is an outstanding player who would immediately help the Packers out. He can play at either the linebacker or defensive end position, which is exactly what the Packers are looking for. Can the Packers strike gold again by drafting another USC linebacker? Only one way to find out…
29. Baltimore Ravens: Harrison Smith – Safety, Notre Dame
The Ravens are one of the best teams in the AFC and should once again be a favorite to win the conference. However, that doesn’t mean they still don’t have tons of needs. The team needs to start thinking about the future and what better way to start thinking about the future than to draft a guy who could be a starting safety in the league for years to come? Ed Reed is one of the best safeties to ever play the game, but the guy is getting up their in age. Harrison Smith would be the perfect guy for the Ravens to draft so they could have him serve some time under Reed and learn the ropes from one of the game’s best. The Ravens also have needs on the offensive line, so if someone like Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams is available, they would take them in a heart beat.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill – WR, Georgia Tech
The 49ers shocked the world last year when they came out and bitch slapped the rest of the NFC. The defensive unit on this team is likely the best in the league, but the offense still has a ton of work to do. While I don’t think this team will ever win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith behind center, they should at least get weapons for the guy. Even though the 49ers could use some offensive line help, there likely won’t be anyone worth taking here. That leads me to believe the team could look at someone like Stephen Hill with this pick. The guy was the “COMBINE MVP” this year and his stock took a huge turn when he tested out with some incredible numbers. Alex Smith has a hard time throwing the ball, so giving him targets like Michael Crabtree and Hill would help ease the pain for Niners fans who have to deal with not having a good QB.
31. New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore – CB, South Carolina
There are tons of possibilities here for the Patriots, but if they take a defensive lineman with the 27th pick, it wouldn’t shock me to see them take a corner here. The Pats need help in the secondary and a player like Stephon Gilmore is exactly the man to provide that help. Some people think Janoris Jenkins’ character issues will cause him to slip drastically in the draft and if he’s still on the board here, I could see Belichick taking a gamble on the kid. Other options include WR Kendall Wright out of Baylor and DE Andre Branch.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener – TE, Stanford
The Super Bowl champions have a huge need at tight end and Fleener is easily the best TE on the board this year. The Patriots showed last year just how important it is to have good TE’s that produce in your system and Fleener would be a perfect fit for the Giants. If the Super Bowl champions add the best TE in the draft, they could be staring at another championship in the very near-future.