This first 2012 NFL Mock Draft for Zennie62.com (Zennie62 coverage sponsored by Tout.com) is simple: it’s based on a combination of which top players this blogger thinks each NFL team will take, and who they should take.
It’s not designed to follow what someone else does, so for those accustomed to doing so, please no comments about how I don’t follow someone’s pattern.
Except this: after years of battling this idea, for the first time I am willing to pick a quarterback first and pay that person a large signing bonus – in years past, I thought such a practice was stupid. Teaching a QB – as the late Bill Walsh did – always yields better results than drafting someone based on physical talent.
But this year’s draft has several players, including two quarterbacks, who’s physical talents are considerable, and they have the brains to match. With that, let’s get started.
Round Pick Overall
1 1 1 Indianapolis – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – I can see the Colts taking RG3 here, too. But after some thoughts the other way, from the NFL scheme-ready perspective Luck is more ready than any QB in the 2012 Draft. RG3 can get to that level after a year, but Luck’s ready now.
1 2 2 Washington from St. Louis – Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor – The Redskins have traded up to this position, reportedly to get RG3. My concern here is more for him than for the Redskins, as some think Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan will ruin RG3.
1 3 3 Minnesota – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St. – I know this is not the popular view, but I think observers are making up reasons why the Vikings should take USC Offensive Tackle Matt Kalil. But the truth is the Vikings lack a wide receiver to really take the load off Percy Harvin. When Harvin’s out due to his headache problem, there’s no threat at all. Blackmon can change that situation overnight.
1 4 4 Cleveland – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – The Browns may opt for Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill, but Ryan is not the impact player Richardson is, and the Browns already have Joe Thomas at Left Tackle, so Matt Kalil falls again. But Getting Trent gives Cleveland the premier break-away back they need to control the ball when necessary.
1 5 5 Tampa Bay – Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC – This is where the Bucs say “Well, look here! The third best player on many boards falls to us – best athlete available, and we’re solid at other positions, so bingo!
1 6 6 St. Louis from Washington – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – St. Louis gets the cornerback they wanted, and figured would be around at pick number six, which is why they traded down in the first place. Now, the Rams can better deal with the wealth of wide receiver talent the San Francisco 49ers have collected.
1 7 7 Jacksonville – Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame – This fills a need for the Jaquars, as they lacks a go-to wide receiver last year. Plus, Floyd’s the kind of pass-catcher than can run almost any route effectively from day one. The Bucs will get a great player in Michael Floyd.
1 8 8 Miami – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – Not a flashy pick, but this junior is the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL Draft and can be an effective three-four or four-three player. I can’t see Miami passing Cox up at pick number eight.
1 9 9 Carolina – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina – The Panthers need defenders to help Cam Newton and that high-powered offense. And while my bent is to go with a receiver, at number 9, there’s no one worth taking that action on. Quinton Coples is the best defensive end prospect, and some think is the best DL.
1 10 10 Buffalo – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – Having rebuilt their defense the old-fashioned way (using money to get DEs Mario Williams and Mark Anderson), and having no real hot outside linebacker prospect to get at 10, the best direction is to fill a need at Offensive Tackle. Reiff’s the best player and great for the Bills.
1 11 11 Kansas City – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU – This is easy because The Chiefs ranked 26th against the Rush in 2011, and lacked an anchor nose tackle to play in Romeo Crenel’s diverse schemes. Brockers is 6-6, 322, and can play 4-3 DT or over the nose in a three-technique. This may be a little high pick for him, but it works.
1 12 12 Seattle – David DeCastro, G, Stanford – Pete Carroll has shown a willingness to draft offensive lineman around this point in the draft, and over a defender. But the Seahawks need to add OL depth, as they’re lacking. David DeCastro’s a very solid player who helps Seattle here.
1 13 13 Arizona – Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina – The overwhelming favorite of Cardinals Fans at this point in the NFL Draft, South Carolina’s mighty defender can be a great edge rusher who can play inside too.
1 14 14 Dallas – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – Dontari Poe has scary, even dare-I-say Ndamukong Suh-level potential to take over a game. If he wants to. That’s all that separates him from the Lions’ already legendary DT and the Cowboys would be fools to pass on him here.
1 15 15 Philadelphia – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – The Eagles are in the hunt for a WR, having given Michael Floyd a workout. But Floyd will be gone by the 15th pick, and there’s a good fight to be made for Kendall Wright, one of the best players remaining at this point in the draft.
1 16 16 New York Jets – Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia – This is a good, solid pick at a place where you don’t want to spend too much for the wrong player. The best players over Glenn are both corners, but the Jets are set in the secondary. Glenn’s perfect.
1 17 17 Cincinnati from Oakland – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College – The 6’3 242 lbs jr is perfect to help add depth and potential starting talent to a group that needs it. The Bengals are set at QB, WR, and really most of the offense considering this pick, so Boston College’s LB star is the best choice.
1 18 18 San Diego – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – For the San Diego Chargers to get Dre, one of the SEC’s best corners, here, is a near miracle, but here we are. A.J. Smith takes him.
1 19 19 Chicago – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama – The Bears have two new corners, got Brandon Marshall at WR, and now lack an impact defensive end. Courtney Upshaw of the Alambama Crimson Tide will be available at 19 for the Bears, and may be one of the best picks of the draft.
1 20 20 Tennessee – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – the Titans have lost a great player in Pro Bowler Cortland Finegan, so here’s one of the SEC’s top corners (How many times can we say that in this draft?) available at 20. Gilmore’s the perfect replacement for Finegan.
1 21 21 Cincinnati – Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois – While some will yell about passing on Stanford’s Jonathan Martin here, the idea of being able to rebuild the Bengals defense with two new LBs is too juicy to pass up. Illinois’s LB is the outside guy, Boston College LB is the inside guy. Perfect to build a champion.
1 22 22 Cleveland from Atlanta – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – While I’m not completely high on Ryan Tannehill, I’m not low on him either, and this is the perfect place for the Browns to take a person they’ve had their eye on, but did not want to spend too much money for.
1 23 23 Detroit – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford – The Lions have filled almost every important position with future stars except offensive line. Here’s Stanford’s standout OL right at 23. Another “best-in-draft” pick – this to the Lions.
1 24 24 Pittsburgh – Nick Perry, DE, USC – While the Steelers need OLs, they can get them later. I can’t see them passing on the Pac-12s sack leader in 2011, can you? He would make Pittsburgh a Super Bowl contender, yet again.
1 25 25 Denver – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford – Peyton Manning likes a tight end like Coby Fleener, the Cardinals magic worker over the middle. But also, the Broncos have not got a lot of production, and have got a lot of injury and failure out of a position they’ve not spent money on. Time to change.
1 26 26 Houston – Mark Barron, SS, Alabama – Barron’s a great pick here for the Texans who added fifth year player Benard Pollard, but can use Barron as the fifth defensive back or hope that he beats out Pollard for SS. Barron is better than a WR for the Texans here.
1 27 27 New England from New Orleans – Rueben Randle, WR, LSU – The Super Bowl showed the Pats lack a wide receiver who can really make the big play when its needed. Considering his speed (4.4) and size (6’3) Randle would be plain scary with Tom Brady under center. Another “best-pick” scenario here.
1 28 28 Green Bay – Andre Branch, DE, Clemson – A solid defender at 6-4, 256, and for all of his other less-thans, a proven hitter who can catch runners before they get through the hole, and has been compared to Clay Matthews.
1 29 29 Baltimore – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech – The Ravens need this young man who I think has what it takes to be the next Jerry Rice. Speed of 4.3, size of 6’4, and played in a run-oriented offense, where he was a good blocker and called on to make big plays in the passing game. Time to take off the training wheels and let him run.
1 30 30 San Francisco – Devon Still, DT, Penn State – The Niners have great linebackers, ends, got wide receiver and backs via free agency, and now we have DT. This man Devon Still is the perfect complement for Aldon Smith, has a high-energy-level, and makes the Niners defense even more dangerous.
1 31 31 New England – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State – Adams is 6’7, 324 and at this level a safer pick than the small college OL Amini Silatolu, because Adams faced better defensive talent week after week. He’s also a good pick who can come and start if need be, or add depth. But I’m betting he fights for the starting job.
1 32 32 New York Giants – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – This fast, strong, long-armed star of the local Syracuse Orangemen is perfect to come in, add depth, and – to me – CJ just has NYG written all over him. This would be a “best-in-draft” pick. I think this guy will start on opening day.
So, those are my selections, and it all turns on what the Vikings do at number three. If they trade down, or pick someone else other than Matt Kalil, the NFL Draft will wind up looking a lot like this.