2012 NFL Mock Draft: January 12, 2012

1. Indianapolis Colts - QB Andrew Luck, Stanford. This pick is 99% etched in stone. The Colts will do the smart thing and turn the page with Andrew Luck behind center. The core pieces of the Colts dynasty are all entering or in their mid 30's, so cleaning house and starting over is a smart, though unpopular, strategy. Luck will be the fourth quarterback the Colts have selected first overall in the past 25 years. They hope he will be more Peyton Manning and less Jeff George.

2. St. Louis Rams - OT Matt Kalil, USC. This pick will come down to Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon. Both are huge needs for St. Louis. I think they have to go with the offensive tackle here, though this pick won't be popular amongst Rams fans. They are probably tired of seeing their team take offensive tackles high only to see them bust. Well, Roger Saffold isn't a bust. He just needs to play on the right side. Jason Smith, however, has not lived up to his draft position. He might be a better fit inside. If you look around the NFL at the best tackles the past 20 years, pretty much all of them were high draft picks. You have to draft your elite left tackle, and plug him into your lineup for the next 10 years. Guys like that just aren't available via trade or free agency. It is much much easier to get a wideout or two. Though ask that to Rams fans, who have seen their team draft bums like Mardy Gilyard and Donnie Avery. Also, Brandon Lloyd announced he will be following Josh McDaniels wherever he goes, which winded up being the Patriots. So the Rams are back to square one at wideout. They could go either way, and it might depend on which coach is brought in.

3. Minnesota Vikings - WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St. In this mock, the Vikings will take whoever the Rams don't. They have a huge need for a big, strong playmaking wide receiver as well as guys all along the offensive line. If Robert Griffin III declares they could receive quite a haul from this pick as the Dolphins and Redskins go into a bidding war. But as it stands right now Blackmon is their guy. He is the most productive receiver in college football, and would be a monster upgrade across Percy Harvin. If Adrian Peterson can come back from his knee injury, Christian Ponder could have quite a few weapons around him. If they choose to go another direction, Morris Claiborne could be the pick. The Vikings also have a huge need for a cornerback.

4. Cleveland Browns - QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor. If Griffin declares he will not last past this point. The Browns have to be tired of their plodding, weak, predictable, terrible offense. Griffin is a dynamic talent and a Heisman Trophy winning celebrity. Just what the Browns need to put themselves back on the map. But Mike Holmgren has never taken a quarterback this high. I expect the Browns to go hard after Matt Flynn. So this would be a prime spot for a team to trade up for Griffin. My prediction? The Redskins will move up here and take Griffin, and Cleveland will go with Trent Richardson at number 6.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Morris Claiborne, LSU. I took a long, hard look at Trent Richardson here. LaGarrette Blount is not a starting running back in the NFL. He is a major liability in the passing game. Richardson is a stud who is the best back to come out since Darren McFadden. But the Buccaneers have too big of a need at cornerback, and Claiborne is worth the number five overall pick. This defense was an absolute mess last year and needs huge upgrades everywhere. I think either Claiborne or Richardson would be a great pick, but it is hard to find a shut down corner then an every down running back.

6. Washington Redskins - RB Trent Richardson, Alabama. This is a very tough pick to predict. The Redskins will probably throw the farm at the Rams for that number two pick, or try to acquire Peyton Manning is his neck checks out. Matt Barkley and to a lesser extent Landry Jones decision to return to school has really hurt the Redskins, who absolutely have to find a way to upgrade the quarterback position. The rest of the roster is pretty solid, so which direction do I go? I might as well flip a coin between Trent Richardson and Luke Kuechly. Richardson it is, especially since Mike Shanahan likes to rotate running backs. Really, I have no idea. Any help, Redskins fans? Also, if the Redskins trade with the Browns, I think Cleveland goes with Richardson here.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. This may look like a reach, but when you look at the wideouts Jacksonville has, it might be necessary. Jeffery came into the season as a top ten pick and showed how explosive he could be during South Carolina's bowl game before being ejected. There are worries that he could be too big and turn into another Mike Williams, but I think he will be just fine as a tough possession type. Jacksonville just hired an offensive guy as head coach and his and GM Gene Smith's job will be to get something, anything out of Blaine Gabbert. Bringing in someone who can actually catch the ball would help.

8. Miami Dolphins - DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois. Aldon Smith was considered a reach at #7 overall last year, but he turned in a spectacular rookie season. I think Whitney could do the same. He is probably a better fit at a 4-3 end, but in Miami he could be the first guy off the bench to be brought in to get to the quarterback. Mercilus was a terror for the Illini last year and should learn how to be a complete 3-4 outside linebacker in a couple years. This could give the Dolphins the best linebacking group in the NFL.

9. Carolina Panthers - DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina. The Panthers have really missed Julius Peppers since he moved on to Chicago. They take another North Carolina product with similar size. Coples production wasn't the best, but he played for a very deep Tar Heels defense that often rotated guys in and out. He has the size and skills to be a great all around 4-3 end. Defensive end is not the biggest need but Coples is the top player available. He should team with Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy to give the Panthers a strong pass rush.

10. Buffalo Bills - OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford. The Bills have needs all over the place, so they go with best player available. Martin might not be good enough to play left tackle in the NFL, but he just might have to to start out his career, since the Bills have next to nothing on the offensive line. But if they can ever get a guy to protect the blind side, Martin should be a very good right tackle.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - OT Riley Reiff, Iowa. The Chiefs have done a decent job of rebuilding their offensive line, but they still have a long way to go. Berry Richardson is terrible on the right side and Reiff is one of three first round prospects at tackles, even though he might be better on the right side.

12. Seattle Seahawks - CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama. The Seahawks are starting a bunch of no names at cornerback these days. They have got to add some talent to the position. Kirkpatrick is a very talented corner who is somewhat of a project, but he could be a very good one one day.

13. Arizona Cardinals - OG David DeCastro, Stanford. The Cardinals have missed out on an offensive tackle, but they have just as big of a need at guard. Interior lineman are going higher and higher recently, and DeCastro is a lock for the top 20.

14. Dallas Cowboys - CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska. Dennard doesn't have the ceiling of a Kirkpatrick, but he is very seasoned and ready to step in and help right away. The Cowboys cornerback group is old and mediocre, and they could really use a talent upgrade.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - MLB Luke Kuechly, Boston College. This is a great fit for both sides. The Eagles rotated several mid to late round rookies at linebacker last year, and the results were not very good. They need to get a reliable guy in there that can go chase down the ball carrier. No one in college did that better then Kuechly, the Dennis Rodman of the tackling statistic. Kuechly registered an amazing 191 tackles in 12 games this past season.

16. New York Jets - WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame. The Jets suddenly have huge problems at wideout. Santonio Holmes will probably not be back after quitting on the team and Plaxico Burress does not have much left. The cowardly Jets players who anonymously threw Mark Sanchez under the bus will probably want to see hopeful new quarterback Peyton Manning have someone to throw to.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders) - RB Lamar Miller, Miami. The Bengals have a ton of young talent that just needs time to grow. I would like to see them package both picks to move up and take Trent Richardson. But if they chose to hang on to their two first rounders, Miller would be a nice consolation prize. Jay Gruden has hinted that the team has grown tired of Cedric Benson, so they will most likely be looking for an upgrade. Miller sits squarely in the first round in my opinion. He has good speed and size, without much wear and tear on the tires.

18. San Diego Chargers - DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama. The Chargers have struggled to replace Shawn Merriman. Larry English is a bust, and they really need someone who can get to the quarterback. Upshaw is a better all around player then pure pass rusher, but he should be an upgrade.

19. Chicago Bears - OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia. The Chicago Bears offensive line needs a complete makeover. Glenn is a tweener who can play at guard or right tackle at the next level.

20. Tennessee Titans - OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina. Will Witherspoon is one of the worst starting outside linebackers in the NFL. Zach Brown would be picked higher if so many teams didn't run a 4-3. He will be a great compliment to the bigger Akeem Ayers and give Tennessee a great linebacker trio.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama. This pick makes too much sense not to happen and I have been mocking it for months. Jenkins has the talent to be the second corner off the board, and the Bengals often ignore off the field incidents for on the field production.

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons) - DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina. Ingram was one of the best defensive playmakers in college football in 2011. Jabaal Sheard had a very nice rookie season but Cleveland needs to find an end to play opposite of him.

23. Detroit Lions - WR Kendall Wright, Baylor. Not the biggest need for Detroit but they go with best player available these days. Wright and Titus Young would really stretch the field on offense. This team just gets faster.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - DE/OLB Nick Perry, USC. No one is better at drafting defenders then grooming them to take over in a few years. Perry would learn behind the great James Harrison then take over in a year or two.

25. Denver Broncos - DT Devon Still, Penn St. The Broncos got by with castoffs at defensive tackle in 2011. Still would upgrade the unit and provide the team with a long term starter.

26. New York Giants - MLB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona St. Burfict had a very disappointing 2011 season, but I think with some solid coaching he would be a steal here. The Giants usually don't reach for need but a talent at a huge position of need would be difficult to pass up here.

27. Houston Texans - NT Montari Poe, Memphis. Shaun Cody played pretty well in 2011 but he is too undersized to be a long term option at nose tackle.

28. San Francisco 49ers - CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia. The Niners are pretty deep so they take the best player available who fills a need.

29. New England Patriots - DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson. Thompson is a run stuffing tackle who would go along with Vince Wilfork to give the Patriots two rocks.

30. Green Bay Packers - DE/OLB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma. Clay Matthews play was down this year, mainly because there was no one to take some pressure off of him on the other side of the ball.

31. Baltimore Ravens - MLB Donta' Hightower, Alabama. Ray Lewis can't play forever. Hightower can learn behind one of the best 3-4 middle linebackers to ever play the game.

32. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints) - CB Stephen Gilmore, South Carolina. The Patriots always seem to need cornerbacks, even though they take one in the first round every year.

Jonathan Carrano

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Anonymous said...

Since 1998, the Patriots have only taken one CB in the first round!

Anonymous said...

Well do you want help from a Redskins fan this is what Redskins's fans are thinking. Most of the fans want RGIII at the 6 spot,but their has been a change in this area,They're going young,they will probably go for a top two cornerif they can't move the pick.I believe they will try and trade the pick down and grab more picks for next year and bet the farm on Matt Barkley next year.They might used RGIII as a Ginny pig for Miami.Snyder is not running things like it was so stay off his back. They do have a GM

Anonymous said...

I think most Redskins fans, when presented with this scenario, where the BPA is Trent Richardson, and the Redskins do not trade down, would pick Reiff, Martin, Kirkpatrick or Jeffrey.

Being one of the long suffering ones, I would pick BPA. I really like Helu, but they need someone who can keep opposing defensive coordinators awake at night. Richardson would do that.

As Rich Tandler pointed out on realredskins.com, the Redskins offensive line advanced to average this last season, even with their injuries and suspensions. Unless they can get value out of their 2nd round pick, they should trade down. The linemen they want will be available from the late 2nd round to the end of the 4th round. So will QB Foles, who their coaching staff will coach at the Senior Bowl.

Their current regime had an excellent draft last year. I hope they do as well this time around.

Ehab Abutaleb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ehab Abutaleb said...

If Blackmon, Griffin, Luck, Claiborne, and Kalil are each off the board by the time the Redskins are on the clock, then they'd probably trade down with a team who's looking to draft Dre Kirkpatrick, Alshon Jeffrey, Riley Reiff, or any other top ten talents (Arizona, Cincinnati, and the New York Jets come to mind)

Jonathan Carrano said...

Thanks for the Redskins comments guys. I definitely think a trade down would be in their best interest, especially since they won't have the ammo that the Browns will have if they want to trade up to 2 to take Robert Griffin.

Anonymous said...

Seattle fans are laughing at you right now... No names at CB? One is an All Pro alternate and the other would have been if he played the whole season. Just because you don't know their names doesn't make them no names. Look to Seattle to get pass rushers from DE, OLB, ILB, or DT in that order.