2012 NFL Mock Draft Last Updated: March 7, 2012
Brandon Thorn is back again, treating us with his annual Mock Draft. Follow this post as Thorn provides updates leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. And follow him on Twitter, if you dare.
- Indianapolis (2-14) – QB Andrew Luck – Stanford – Agent: Will Wilson (Wasserman Media Group) – The Colts have cleaned house in the front office, hiring a new General Manager (Ryan Grigson) and Head Coach (Chuck Pagano). With the fiasco that is the Peyton Manning situation, things aren’t so unsure for the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Luck will be chosen #1 and for good reason; he has everything you could ever ask for in a quarterback and is the ideal replacement for one of the gridiron’s greatest signal-callers ever. Having a defense with more holes than swiss cheese along with a defensive-minded head coach, expect the team to primarily address that side of the ball in the rest of this draft.
- *Trade* St. Louis (2-14) to Cleveland (4-12) – QB Robert Griffin III – Baylor – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – The Rams are in an incredible position this year. They hold the key to Robert Griffin III and will auction off this pick to the highest bidder. Word of mouth says that team will be either Cleveland, Washington, Miami, Seattle, or a possible dark horse. St. Louis will not want to move too far down so that is why I am making this prediction. Griffin is the most hyped player (for good reason) I can remember who won’t be going #1. He set the college ranks on fire last season, winning the first Heisman trophy ever for the Baylor Bears. Blessed with world-class athleticism and the brains to match, this kid’s ceiling is a mile high. The Browns could turn around their tormented franchise once and for all if they choose to give up the house for him.
- Minnesota (3-13) – OT Matt Kalil – USC – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – The Vikings took a major step back last season due to a lack of depth and countless injuries. Newly appointed General Manager Rick Spielman needs to build from the inside out and protect last year’s first round pick QB Christian Ponder. LT Bryant McKinnie got the axe last year without an adequate replacement behind him. The team suffered for it and Kalil fits the bill of a prototypical left tackle; blessed with the size, strength, athleticism, and smarts to anchor the offensive line for the next decade. Halfback Adrian Peterson is the NFL’s best, as well as fresh off a gruesome knee injury which makes Kalil even more vital to the team’s future success. WR Justin Blackmon and CB Morris Claiborne are distinct possibilities here as well.
- St Louis (2-12) – WR Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State – Agent: Todd France – Assuming the Rams go through with the trade of the #2 pick, it will send the clear message that QB Sam Bradford is their future. Newsflash: he needs help. The Rams spent a 3rd and 4th round pick on two receivers in last year’s draft (Austin Pettis & Greg Salas), neither of which are #1 receivers in the NFL. Blackmon was an absolute beast at Oklahoma State (think Dez Bryant without the baggage). Blackmon is a two-time Biletnikoff award winner and has caught 223 balls for 3,187 yards and 33 touchdowns the last two seasons. The guy can flat out play and knows what it is like to be game planned against while also producing in a major way. The Rams team needs someone like Blackmon to further enhance their most important player’s development (Bradford).
- Tampa Bay (4-12) – CB Morris Claiborne – LSU – Agent: Bus Cook – The Buccaneers #1 corner (Aqib Talib) is an ultra-talented, yet ultra-boneheaded player who is being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Head Coach Greg Schiano has said that Talib will get a fresh slate, assuming he can avoid becoming a convicted felon. Ronde Barber, the team’s #2 corner is 36 years old and currently a free agent. Enter the 2011 Thorpe Award winner, “Mo” Claiborne. Although the “Honey Badger” stole most of the story-lines throughout the season for LSU, there is no question Claiborne is the better pro prospect of the two. The Bucs would be filling a huge hole at a premier position with this selection.
- Washington (5-11) – QB Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M – Agent: Pat Dye, Jr. – Washington has been searching for a signal-caller to build around for as long as anyone can remember. Head Coach Mike Shanahan has done a tremendous job filling the roster with talented youth but has yet to find the right guy to lead the football team. Although this would be considered a reach by most accounts, last year showed us all that quarterback is one position you may need to reach on to get your guy. Tannehill is a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position having played wide receiver his first two and a half years of college. He stands 6’4” 219 pounds, has a very strong arm, and was a 3-time First-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. His measurables and intangibles could suit Mike Shanahan’s offense beautifully. *Keep in mind the Redskins could also be in the running to trade up with the Rams and select Robert Griffin III.
- Jacksonville (5-11) – DE Quinton Coples – North Carolina – Agent: Allegiant Athletic Agency (a3) – The Jaguars have one stout defensive end in Jeremy Mincey. Opposite him is free agent Matt Roth and soon to be 33 year old, often injured Aaron Kampman. By selecting Coples here, the position suddenly has a nice three man rotation, assuming Kampman has anything left. I also like the idea of Coples learning from Kampman. Hopefully Coples can pick up on Kampman’s work ethic because that is his biggest concern. I would rather select Melvin Ingram here, but Coples size/athleticism will garner him a higher selection than he is worth.
- Miami (6-10) – OLB/DE Melvin Ingram – South Carolina – Agent: Athletes First – The Dolphins currently have a defense full of players suited for the 3-4. Since hiring new Head Coach Joe Philbin, the team has said they will introduce more 4-3 concepts. Miami has one excellent rush linebacker/defensive end in Cameron Wake and will be in need of another. Ingram is undersized at 6’1” 276 pounds, yet earned 1st team All-American honors for the Gamecocks. Ingram was all over the field using his horsepower and flat out made plays, as evident by his three touchdowns and ten sacks in 2011. In this division you have to be able to get after QB Tom Brady. Ingram paired with Wake gives you that ability, point blank. *Miami remains a serious contender to trade with Cleveland and select RGIII.
- Carolina (6-10) – DT Dontari Poe – Memphis – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Carolina has slightly greater needs at cornerback and safety, yet defensive tackle remains a priority. Rumors are swirling that Janoris Jenkins could be the pick, yet his several arrests are a huge red flag. Enter Dontari Poe, who at 6’4” 346 pounds, displayed a combination of athleticism and strength we have never seen for a man his size at the NFL Combine. Pre-combine, Poe was a fringe first-rounder with pedestrian production against weak competition. Post-combine, Poe is a potential top 12 pick and the second-coming of Haloti Ngata. The “Underwear Olympics” (NFL Combine) has made Poe millions of dollars, literally.
- Buffalo (6-10) – OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw – Alabama – Agent: Octagon – Upshaw’s combine wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive, yet if you watched him this past season you saw a man among boys at outside linebacker. The last two seasons against the best competition in college football Upshaw posted 31.5 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Upshaw can play both defensive end in the 4-3 and rush linebacker in the 3-4 with equal effectiveness, making him an excellent fit for the Bills. In last year’s draft the Bills struck gold with Upshaw’s former teammate DT Marcell Dareus and could have a repeat performance with Upshaw. *Quick note – both Dareus and Upshaw were named Defensive MVPs of a BCS National Championship game while at Alabama.
- Kansas City (7-9) – OT Riley Reiff – Iowa – Agent: Neil Cornrich – The Chiefs have been needing an upgrade at right tackle for several years now and Reiff would provide the relief. Reiff is a classic Big-10 lineman: big (6’5” 313), versatile (left tackle in college, with seven starts as a guard), and tough (37 career starts in three seasons). Reiff was 121-1 as a high school wrestler and a 3x state champion as well as the Gatorade Player of the Year in South Dakota his Senior Year. The guy is a well-versed athlete who may not have dominated competition in his college career, but his intangibles and consistency will appease Kansas City’s General Manager Scott Pioli.
- Seattle (7-9) – DE Whitney Mercilus – Illinois – Agent: Octagon – Seattle currently has one defensive end who can get pressure on the quarterback and that is 31 year old, free agent Chris Clemons. It isn’t rocket science to come to the conclusion that a pass rusher is desperately needed. Mercilus last season was the nation’s best pass rusher by the numbers, leading the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (9), good for 2nd all-time in NCAA history. The issue with Mercilus is that prior to this season he wasn’t even a starter, causing team’s to wonder why. This becomes the question we have every year with certain prospects, are they a one year wonder or only at the beginning of a productive career? Mercilus is the best defensive end out of Illinois since the great DE Simeon Rice and resembles him in his length, athleticism, and uncanny knack to strip the football.
- Arizona (8-8) – ILB Luke Kuelchy – Boston College – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Kuelchy is the classic All-American linebacker who produced at levels rarely ever seen in college football. The three year starter, 3x All-American and 2011 Lombardi, Butkus, and Nagurski Award winner left Boston College as the ACC’s all-time leading tackler, finishing his career with an astounding 532 tackles which ranks 2nd all-time in NCAA history. Once you wrap your head around that unparalled production consider he is 6’3” 242 pounds. Everyone knew about Kuelchy’s stellar play in college but were skeptical of his athleticism. Those mumblings can be put to rest after posting a 4.50 40 yard dash, 27 reps of 225, and a 38 inch vertical at the NFL Combine. Did I mention that Arizona needs a middle linebacker?
- Dallas (8-8) – CB Dre Kirkpatrick – Alabama – Agent: Brian Overstreet – Under Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, cornerback play is at a premium, considering the amount of blitzing. Looking at the way Owner Jerry Jones does things I would not be surprised to see RB Trent Richardson here or even the quicker CB Janoris Jenkis go here. Kirkpatrick is a safer pick than Jenkins mainly because he hasn’t been arrested five times, or kicked off of a football team. I don’t like holding a player’s past against him forever, but Jenkins is an enigma in this year’s draft. Forget five arrests or pass? I would pass. Plus, Kirkpatrick offers some glitz in his arsenal that the Cowboys covet in their high draft picks; he measures 6’2”, played against top notch competition, was a difference-maker for the deepest team in college football, and he’s a winner.
- Philadelphia (8-8) – WR Kenny Wright – Baylor – Agent: Select Sports Group – Assuming the Eagles franchised WR DeSean Jackson to trade him, the team will have a need for a deep threat. Wright’s 40 time at the combine (4.61) was disappointing, but remember Steelers WR Antonio Brown ran a mid 4.5 and proved game speed is all that matters. Wright was extremely durable and improved every year in his college career. With soon to be 32 year old QB Mike Vick’s poor durability in mind, the organization needs to continue and give him ample weapons to win, and win soon.
- New York Jets (8-8) – RB Trent Richardson – Alabama – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Rex Ryan’s preference on offense is to pound the opposition, same as his defensive philosophy. The team hired former Dolphin Head Coach Tony Sporano to run the offense, confirming as much. While RB Shonn Greene fits the mold of a bruising tailback, he is a poor man’s Trent Richardson. The beast from Pensacola has lived up to the hype from day one and can truely do it all, catching and blocking included. Richardson fits this scheme beautifully, presents a major upgrade, and will make QB Mark Sanchez’s leash a little bit longer. If New England signs LB/DE Mario Williams, OT Cordy Glenn or OT Jonathan Martin will be a must.
- Cincinnati – from Oakland (8-8) – CB Janoris Jenkins – North Alabama – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Unfortunately CB Leon Hall torn his Achilles’ tendon late in the season so his availability for next year is in question. Aside from CB Nate Clements, the defense needs another guy to matchup with the likes of WR Mike Wallace, WR Antonio Brown, and WR Torrey Smith. All of these guys are burners and Clements is almost 33 years old. Jenkins is risky due to off the field concerns, but Head Coach Marvin Lewis and Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer are the kind of coaches who could get the best out of him.
- San Diego (8-8) – OG David DeCastro – Stanford – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Former Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman had an emotional retirement this off-season, leaving a gaping hole at the guard position. While OT/OG Cordy Glenn would allow the team to cut OT Marcus McNeill, DeCastro is much more polished and could actually eliminate much of a drop off from losing one of the franchise’s greatest players (Dielman). I feel that DeCastro is a decade player, will start and produce for 10+ years barring an injury. That’s worth a mid-first round pick and QB Philip Rivers won’t complain. If WR Vincent Jackson isn’t retained, WR Michael Floyd is a distinct possibility.
- Chicago (8-8) – WR Michael Floyd – Notre Dame – Agent: Athletes First – Word around league circles is that the team will be in heavy pursuit of WR Vincent Jackson. While this would be a phenomenal signing, the Bears won’t be the only suitors for one of the most talented receivers in the league. Floyd is in the mold of Jackson and finally would give QB Jay Cutler a #1 receiver, for much cheaper than it would be to lure Jackson to Chicago.
- Tennessee (9-7) – DE Nick Perry – USC – Agent: Lock Metz Malinovic and Panos – Tennessee’s best defensive lineman DE/DT Jason Jones is a free agent and will be highly coveted and expensive to keep. Assuming they let him walk to get younger, Perry will fit right into the team’s 4-3 base defense. Perry can develop into a stud left end while also sliding inside on passing downs. Not only does Perry carry the “versatile” tab with him, he’s built like a brick house and lit the combine on fire with a 4.50 40 yard dash, 35 reps of 225, and a 38.5 inch vertical leap all at 6’3” 271 pounds. Yeah, he’s a freak.
- Cincinnati* (9-7) – S Mark Barron – Alabama – Agent: Creative Artists Agency – Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defense is built on discipline and depth. Safety is the weakest group with S Reggie Nelson a free agent and S Chris Crocker in need of a demotion. Barron could be the missing piece for this defense to truly be solidified. Not only can Barron cover tight ends, he is a true enforcer who can clean up the loose ends on the back-end of the defense with his range and solid tackling.
- *Trade* Cleveland (4-12) to St. Louis (2-14) – DT Fletcher Cox – Mississippi State – Agent: Todd France/Brian Ayrault – The Rams defensive tackles are 33 and 35 years old and there isn’t exactly a Warren Sapp waiting in the wings. While I prefer DT Jerel Worthy, Cox’s stock is relatively higher right now. Cox has been in the starting rotation since his freshman year, stands 6’4” 298 pounds and ran an extremely impressive 4.79 40 yard dash at the combine. Anytime a man his size can move like that he is a rare commodity for NFL teams. Plus he produced consistently in the SEC to boot.
- Detroit (10-6) – OT Jonathan Martin – Stanford – Agent: Priority Sports – Detroit has to address the tackle position after barely getting by for years. This is even more important due to QB Matt Stafford’s 5,000 yard season, ranking him as truly elite. Martin has been the blind-side protector for college football’s golden boy (Andrew Luck) so he has the experience needed to do the same on the next level. While Martin’s tenacity has come into question as of late, the guy is a very effective pass blocker. This pick will allow OT Jeff Backus to walk via free agency and ensure their best player has the protection he needs to lead this team to the promised land.
- Pittsburgh (12-4) – OT/OG Cordy Glenn – Georgia – Agent: Pat Dye, Jr. – It seems like every season the Steelers have to overcome injuries and inconsistency on their offensive line. The team cut guard Chris Kemoeatu, tackle Max Starks career is in jeopardy after suffering a torn ACL late last season, and tackle Marcus Gilbert is moving to the left side. Glenn is a mountain of a man at 6’5” 346 pounds and was voted team captain last season, starting all 14 games at left tackle. Add his impressive 35 ? inch arms and 31 reps of 225 and you can insert him at left guard and be set on that side for years.
- Denver (8-8) – DT Michael Brockers – LSU – Agent: Albert Elias – The Broncos have solidified their defensive ends and pass rush, now they need to insert a stud defensive tackle. Brockers presents more potential than DT Jerel Worthy and DT Devon Still, yet either could be the pick instead. Brockers is 6’5” 322 and is reminiscent of DT John Henderson. He has the size to be a 1 or 3 technique in the 4-3 as well as the quickness. With his ceiling and the team’s dire need for a tackle, Brockers fits the bill of what they’re looking for in the Mile High City.
- Houston (10-6) – WR Alshon Jeffery – South Carolina – Agent: Maximum Sports – It was painfully obvious last season when WR Andre Johnson went down that the Texans are thin at receiver. Luckily for them they had Pro Bowl RB Arian Foster and a stellar offensive line. Jeffrey was questioned about his work ethic leading up to the combine but showed up in very good shape at a surprising 216 pounds. March 28th is his pro day, which will determine a lot based on how well he runs and performs there.
- New England – from New Orleans (13-3) – DT/DE Jerel Worthy – Michigan State – Agent: Joel Segal – The Patriots have had major issues getting pressure on the quarterback in the last couple seasons. While Worthy would could come in and play tackle in their 4-3, he also can transition to 3-4 end and free up the linebackers to make plays. Worthy was the first 1st team All-American defensive tackle from Michigan State since Bubba Smith in 1966 and raked up 27.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks during his tenure as a Spartan. Worthy would be an upgrade over DE/DTs Kyle Love and 34 year old Gerard Warren.
- Green Bay (15-1) – RB David Wilson – Virginia Tech – Agent: Joel Segal – With RB Ryan Grant set to be a free agent its hard to imagine the team wanting him back after dealing with constant injuries and him being 30 years old. RB James Starks is an average player with little burst. The only aspect missing from the Packers prolific offense is a halfback capable of the home run who also can catch the ball out of the backfield. Enter David Wilson, the former high school track star who ran for 1,709 yards and a 5.9 yard average last year while being named the ACC Player of the Year. The Hokies produce some of the most talented running backs in the nation. Wilson could be going to the best situation of all in “Title Town.”
- Baltimore (12-4) – LB Dont’a Hightower – Alabama – Agent: Pat Dye, Jr. – While C Peter Konz would be a nice pickup to transition from C Matt Birk, if Hightower falls this far I can’t imagine General Manager Ozzie Newsome passing up on the possible replacement for Ray Lewis. Hightower is a beastly middle linebacker at 6’3” 265 pounds who was the centerpiece of the best defense in college football last season. Not only was he a team captain and unanimous 1st team All-American, he was responsible for all checks and calls on the defense. Hightower has plenty of big-game experience, is a very effective blitzer, and a sure tackler. Running a 4.62 40 yard dash was more then enough to solidify his status as a sure fire first rounder in my book.
- San Francisco (13-3) – C Peter Konz – Wisconsin – Agent: BTI Sports Advisors – What the 49ers really need is a right guard but this pick would allow the team to move current 34 year old center Jonathan Goodwin to guard or put Konz there for a season. Konz fits the mold of a typical Wisconsin offensive lineman; big (6’5” 314), a technician, and a mauler. Konz may be the best lineman out of the school since LT Joe Thomas and the only reason he won’t be going higher is because he doesn’t play a premier position. *His 18 reps of 225 at the combine garnered negative press until you watch the tape and see him routinely push guys back and pancake them.
- New England (13-3) – LB Ronnell Lewis – Oklahoma – Agent: Kelli Masters – Lewis possesses plenty of Bill Belichick type of qualities when you watch him on film. Not only is Lewis a tremendous explosive hitter, he is built like a tank (6’2” 255) and moved much faster on film and in underwear (4.55 40 yard dash at the combine). Lewis is strong enough at the point of attack (36 reps of 225) to play defensive end in the 4-3, while primarily being a 3-4 outside linebacker. New England employs both defenses regularly, so the versatility makes him an intriguing possibility. Lewis is just a red-shirt sophomore and played eight man football in high school so he is raw and can really be coached up into a difference-maker at the next level.
- New York Giants (9-7) – RB Doug Martin – Boise State – Agent: Athletes First – The Super Bowl Champions have to make a decision on RB Brandon Jacobs. He is due $4.9 million in 2012 and has not sounded keen on restructuring. His production and overall attitude has not matched his pay and I don’t expect him to return. RB Ahmad Bradshaw is extremely injury-prone as well so not only will Martin save money, he would bring fresh legs to the position. Martin is 5’9” 219 pounds and has incredibly quick feet for his size (6.79 cone drill at the combine). His decisiveness in the hole and underrated power (28 reps of 225) are his best traits and his 4.47 40 yard dash make him a fringe first-rounder. *RB Lamar Miller offers more speed and could be selected here as well.
1. CB Josh Robinson – UCF – Agent: Drew Rosenhaus
2. WR Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech – Agent: SportStars
3. DE/OLB Vinny Curry – Marshall – Agent: Universal Sports
4. RB Lamar Miller – Miami – Agent: Drew Rosenhaus
5. DT Devon Still – Penn State – Agent: Drew Rosenhaus