Well here it is, the final mock draft before the draft actually kicks off on Thursday night. There’s quite a bit of difference between our first mock draft and this one. Namely, free agency changed a lot of team needs and Pro Days and Combine workouts (as well as off-the-field problems) have sent some players flying up boards, while others fly down.
I will just say that I went off of team needs and consensus for the sake of being as accurate as possible, more than going from my own big board. Oftentimes I’ll tell you when I have a player ranked lower than they will likely go, or who I think a team should have picked instead of the guy I have them targeting.
Hope you enjoy, tell me what you think in the comments below…
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, QB
The Pick: We’ve known this was coming for months, it was confirmed with the release of Peyton Manning, now it’s just a matter of making it official. Luck will be a fantastic NFL quarterback, marrying a good arm with great instincts and a high football IQ. The former Stanford QB will be the pick and fans in Indy will enjoy to best QB prospect to come through the draft since Peyton Manning for years to come, provide of course the Colts can support him.
The Pick: After surrendering an arm and a leg for the second overall pick the Redskins happily select their QB of the future, Baylor signal caller Robert Griffin III. RG3 may have a higher ceiling even than Andrew Luck but he is no where near as polished a quarterback at this stage of his career. Griffin has a better arm than Luck and he’s a better athlete, he will give Washington plenty of options and hopefully a foundation to build around for years to come.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil, OT
The Pick: The Vikings have hinted that they may select LSU CB Morris Claiborne here, but barring a trade I don’t see how they could possibly justify passing over the premiere lineman in the draft. Minnesota invested heavily in Christian Ponder last season and protecting the oft-injured QB will be of the utmost importance in the future. Despite claims to the contrary by GM Rick Spielmann, the team needs a franchise left tackle and will take one here.
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson, RB
The Pick: Ideally Cleveland would love to trade this pick but, unless they can convince the Dolphins to come up and get Ryan Tannehill I don’t see that panning out. Instead the Browns add an offensive weapon in Richardson, the best back available and a guy who should help take some of the pressure off Colt McCoy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne, CB
The Pick: After some concern over whether or not he would be there at five the Bucs get their corner. Regardless of how things play out with Aqib Talib, and even with the acquisition of Eric Wright and the return of Ronde Barber, the Bucs need a talented corner to groom and Claiborne has more potential than any other CB in this draft.
6. St. Louis Rams
Justin Blackmon, WR
The Pick: The Rams gets Sam Bradford a good target by taking Blackmon, the premiere receiver in the draft. There are plenty of holes to plug with the Rams, but they go with the best available and get a stud receiver for their offense. They also get to look forward to using a bunch of extra picks thanks largely to their trade with the QB-hungry Redskins.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB
The Pick: The Jaguars grab one of the top OLB prospects in the draft with Melvin Ingram, frankly on my own board this pick would constitute a reach but given the Jaguars needs and what’s available, it’s also likely the best possible option. The Jaguars would have loved a shot at Blackmon and may feign interest in Tannehill. But ultimately will opt to grab a player who will make an immediate impact for them on defense.
8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill, QB
The Pick: This will be, hands-down, the worst pick of the first round. Ryan Tannehill isn’t a first round caliber QB, he wasn’t even getting second round grades before Matt Barkley and Landry Jones opted to return to school and old-fashioned supply-and-demand shot his stock all the way into the top ten. Miami will take the WR-turned-QB, press him into action too early and then watch as their caustic fan-base slowly devours him to the point they have an entirely new regime again in three years.
9. Carolina Panthers
Dontari Poe, DT
The Pick: The better fit here would likely be Fletcher Cox, but the Panthers are enamored with Poe’s measurables and potential and opt to build their defensive line around him. Poe is still very raw and doesn’t come from a program that played a lot of good competition in college, but his upside is undeniable and the Panthers will find it too big to pass on.
10. Buffalo Bills
Riley Reiff, OT
The Pick: The Bills could opt to select Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd here but ultimately opt to solidify the trenches by adding one of the best tackles, and prospects, in the 2012 class. Reiff should start immediately for the Bills and would help protect the sizable investment the team made last year in Ryan Fitzpatrick while hopefully keeping Fred Jackson healthy (because when he went down last season, so did Buffalo).
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Luke Kuechly, ILB
The Pick: The Chiefs will thank their stars that Kuechly falls into their lap at 11. Hands down the best ILB in this class and potentially one of the best defensive prospects, period, Kuechly is instinctive and plays the game with great intelligence and intensity. Romeo Crennel is the perfect guy to coach the cerebral middle linebacker. He will be the leader of that Chiefs defense for years to come and may arguably go down as the best LB the team has had since the late, great Derrick Thomas.
12. Seattle Seahawks
David DeCastro, OG
The Pick: The Seahawks would love to have had a shot at Kuechly, but will opt to solidify their offensive line give then lack of elite pass-rushers and questions about the corners at this stage in the first round. DeCastro is the best guard in the draft, an absolute mauler who will start immediately for the Seahawks and help give Marshawn Lynch and Matt Flynn some peace of mind.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Martin, OT
The Pick: Another Cardinal offensive lineman comes off the board right after DeCastro. I have Martin as the third best tackle, but the tenth best player in the draft, at 13 Arizona gets a bargain in a player who comes from a big program, has experience covering an NFL-caliber QB in a pro style offense and can immediately start at and upgrade either tackle position. This isn’t a sexy pick, but it’s a good one for Arizona.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Mark Barron, S
The Pick: Barron is the top safety in the draft and has been inching up boards all over the league over the past few months. The Cowboys, who could also select Barron’s teammate Dre Kirkpatrick, need help in their secondary and the former Bama safety is as NFL-ready as you’ll find in that position group. Nick Saban works magic with DB and typically sends very good pros into the league, Barron will be no different for Dallas.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Fletcher Cox, DT
The Pick: The Eagles luck into the top defensive tackle in the class when the Panthers opt to draft Poe early on. Philadelphia should like what they get out of Cox, who hails from the defensive-minded SEC and looks to have all the skills and size to translate into a very good NFL defensive tackle.
16. New York Jets
Quinton Coples, DE
The Pick: If Rex Ryan can motivate Coples properly this might be one of the steals of the first round. Few players have such a wide range on draft boards as Coples, who is as high as six on some boards and in the low 20′s on either. I happen to think Coples needs to find the right fit, but if he does he could be All-Pro. The Jets are about as good a fit as anywhere for a young defensive prospect like Coples. I expect big things.
The Pick: I have Gilmore much, much lower on my corner rankings than a lot of NFL teams seem to, but his rise is more driven by character concerns over Janoris Jenkins, Alfonzo Dennard and Kilpatrick than merit. The Bengals who have been no stranger to off-the-field trouble under Marvin Lewis will make the safe pick at CB though and select Gilmore, a highly talented prospect out of the SEC.
18. San Diego Chargers
Whitney Mercilus, OLB/DE
The Pick: Mercilus shot up boards after an incredible junior season. This may be a little high given Mercilus’ inexperience but he upside and athleticism should make him an asset for the Chargers down the line. San Diego badly needs a pass-rusher and Mercilus is amongst the best in the class. When he refines his technique, he will be a stud for the Bolts.
19. Chicago Bears
Michael Floyd, WR
The Pick: The Bears add the talented Michael Floyd to line up opposite the newly acquired Brandon Marshall and go from having nothing in the way of receivers to having one of the most promising receiving corps in all of football. Floyd is a very talented wide receiver with great hands and body control, him and Marshall (both 6-3+) will drive opposing defenses up a wall with their size and athleticism. Jay Cutler should have a fun 2012.
20. Tennessee Titans
Michael Brockers, DT
The Pick: The Titans get a defensive tackle to help shore up the middle of their defensive line. Brockers was explosive on a great LSU defense and still has plenty of room to grow, the real winner in all of this will be Colin McCarthy who should see a lot fewer blockers bothering him at the point of attack with the massive Brockers keeping them at bay.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Cordy Glenn, OL
The Pick: Glenn played tackle at Georgia but a lot of scouts think he lacks the lateral quickness to play left tackle in the NFL. He could play right tackle, or he could move inside and help bolster the interior of the Bengal line. Cincy would love to grab a receiver or a tailback here, but picking either at 21 with what’s already off the board would be a big reach. Glenn will be a solid addition and the team will have shots to add quality skill players on day two.
The Pick: This does constitute a bit of a reach, but having featured an above-average defense and a bottom-five offense, the Browns absolutely must address their offense. Frankly, Stephen Hill is probably a better fit here, but Wright has the proven pedigree, was featured a lot more in college and is higher on a lot of team’s boards. Wright isn’t a number one though, and without one the Cleveland passing attack may still struggle.
23. Detroit Lions
Mike Adams, OT
The Pick: Adams is the fifth best tackle available, but in a year with a run on tackles still finds himself sneaking into the back half of the first round. I think this is high for the former Buckeye, but given the Lions need to keep Matt Stafford healthy, the Lions will reach a little to add a quality tackle.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Devon Still, DT
The Pick: The Steelers go out and add a defensive tackle from Penn State to solidify their front seven. The 6-5, 310 lb. former Nittany Lion will need to add some extra weight and strengthen himself to become more natural at the nose, but the Steelers should have no issue working their defensive magic and getting him to become productive quickly.
25. Denver Broncos
Jerel Worthy, DT
The Pick: A lot can change in a couple months. With their QB situation now solidified, the Broncos’ most pressing need is fixed and the team opts to add a talented defensive lineman to the mix. Worthy should fit nicely into the mix in Denver, where an already-established defense will help his development.
26. Houston Texans
Stephen Hill, WR
The Pick: Hill couldn’t land in a better spot than Houston where he’ll line up with Andre Johnson and Owen Daniel and may never see a double team his whole rookie contract. I love Hill, he’s another big, fast, athletic Yellow Jacket receiver (in the same vein as Calvin Johnson and Demarius Thomas) and putting him opposite the league’s best receiver (Johnson) is just downright unfair.
The Pick: The Patriots go ahead and grab the best center in this year’s draft in Wisconin’s Peter Konz. Konz is a prototypical Patriots style lineman, a big, blue-collar, high-effort blocker who has solid technique and will immediately fit into the Patriots scheme and philosophy. This is a great pick for the Pats, who select again in four picks.
28. Green Bay Packers
Lamar Miller, RB
The Pick: This pick may surprise some but it’s a good pick for Green Bay. On my board Miller is the second best back available and his skill set will ingratiate him to the Packers. A very talented runner, Miller is the best back to come from Miami since Frank Gore, he’s a handful to bring down with good speed and agility, but he’s also a factor in the passing game and will give the Packers a versatile option out of the backfield.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Dont’a Hightower, ILB
The Pick: The Ravens can’t believe their luck, but they get their heir apparent to Ray Lewis when the talented Hightower falls to 30. The former ‘Bama standout comes to the league with a great pedigree having run Nick Saban’s defense successfully in college and he will only get better as he learns from the future Hall of Famer in the middle of the Ravens defense.
30. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: A lot of people think Coby Fleener, the Stanford TE, is the pick here, but with Vernon Davis in San Francisco already, a first rounder on another tight end may not be the most productive way to use the pick. Instead the team improves their secondary by tabbing Kilpatrick, who should be gone already but dropped over concerns about an arrest back in January.
31. New England Patriots
Janoris Jenkins, CB
The Pick: I spent the longest time considering this pick of any pick in this round. The Patriots could take Clemson DE Andre Branch or Boise State LB Shea McClellin, but instead they opt for the upside presented by Jenkins. Bill Belichick is a close friend of Urban Meyer, I think that connection gives him the confidence to roll the dice on Jenkins, who should be a top ten pick if not for his off-the-field life.
32. New York Giants
Coby Fleener, TE
The Pick: The Giants decide to pass on a tailback at 32 and instead add Coby Fleener, Andrew Luck’s favorite target at Stanford. Fleener is a big-bodied tight end with good flexibility, soft hands and a dangerous knack for catching passes in the red zone. Eli Manning should like his new tight end quite a bit as the Giants prepare to defend their Super Bowl title.