NFL 1st Round Mock Draft

Luck and RG3 will always be synonymous with the 2012 NFL Draft.

I love the NFL Draft, always have and always will. Recruiting is the lifeline of college coaches and the draft is the same in the NFL. Projecting players is hard but fun. I will publish a 2nd round mock on Friday morning (Unlike most mockers, I WILL hold my 1st round mock accountable). I have been working on this for a month and I am still not confident but here is my 2012 1st Round Mock Draft (enjoy because as soon as I publish I guarentee there will be a 5 team trade that shakes everything up!):

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB – Stanford – Give the Colts credit, the right move was to let Manning walk and draft Luck (I would not have had the guts to pull the trigger on that one.). There are no sure things in the NFL Draft but Luck is as close as it gets. Luck is the best QB prospect in decades. He has it all: size, arm strength, accuracy, athleticism, leadership, work ethic and NFL pedigree.

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB – Baylor – I LOVE RG3. He has amazing athleticism that he uses to buy time and make plays with his arm, only runs when he has to. He has excellent arm strength and can make all the throws. He throws a deep ball that is as pretty as a Ray Allen 3-pointer. He is a leader who put Baylor Football on the map. He has a sense of “the moment” such as when he beat Oklahoma late in the season with a last minute touchdown pass. He is smart and will pick up professional schemes.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB – LSU: The Vikes are commonly thought to be taking Kalil here. I disagree. Their secondary is dreadful and 6 of their games every year are against Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler. They need more than Claiborne in their secondary to compete but he is a great start.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB – Alabama: RB is an unappreciated position in today’s NFL. With the new CBA, you do not have to break the bank and kill your cap by paying the 4th overall pick so if you have a shot at a true workhorse you pull the trigger on it. They aren’t drafting him because they feel the need to pound the football, they are drafting him because he is the best player available and you can never criticize that philosophy.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Michael Brockers, DT – LSU: Did you know that the Bucs finished dead LAST in the NFL against the run last year? Neither did just about every mock drafter out there. New coach Greg Schiano is a defensive oriented guy, he will not allow a team he coaches to be so porous against the run.

6. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT – USC: Most people believe Blackmon is a lock for the Rams but the bottom line is that they believe Sam Bradford is a franchise QB so they need to protect him better as he has injury concerns dating back to college and the Rams get the man they want and a boatload of other picks. 3 teams in their division all have a great pass rush. The Rams trade out of the 2 spot, collecting numerous picks and still get the guy they would have taken.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR – Oklahoma State: This pick is about 1 thing: putting butts in the seats. Blackmon is a good prospect but not worth a top-10 pick in my opinion. It does give Gabbert a nice weapon however.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB – Texas A&M: Tannehill has major upside and the Dolphins are talented enough to compete with Matt Moore at QB while Tannehill’s former college coach continues to develop his pupil.

9. Carolina Panthers: Quintin Coples, DE – UNC: The Panthers were not good against the run or pass last year, Coples plays them both well. Most have the Panthers going DT but I think they try to develop the 2 kids from last year, draft DE and hope they have their entire DL figured out.

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT – Iowa: The Bills invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick last season and the defense in free agency. They have an elite RB and a very good WR who were both affected by injuries last season. Block for them and let them perform.

11. KC Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG – Stanford: When you lose your starting QB and RB to season ending injuries, you need to upgrade your Offensive Line. The best way to defeat Peyton Manning (who is now in the division) is to keep him on the sidelines. With this pick, the Chiefs will now field the NFL’s best offensive line.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Cordy Glenn, OL – UGA: Pete Carroll longs to run the ball at will and knows he needs to keep his inexperienced QB protected. This behemoth will help him with those desires.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR – Notre Dame: Whisenhunt has a strong desire to line up and maul teams. All the OL that he wanted are gone so he goes with the big WR to replace what they lost 2 years ago when Anquan Boldin went to the Ravens.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S – Alabama: The Cowboys addressed their biggest need by signing CB Chris Carr. They would prefer to upgrade their pass rush here but don’t see the value so they take Barron to round out their secondary.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DL – Miss St: Andy Reid knows that in any sport, your up the middle defense is the most important phase of the game. With DeMeco Ryans signed, Reid protects that investment. The Eagles can now not get pounded by other teams running games, their biggest weakness. Will Fletcher Cox, combined with DeMeco Ryans, vault the Eagles over the Giants in the NFC East?

16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, DL – South Carolina: Is he a DT, DE or OLB? He is a football player and he knows how to get to the QB. Rex believes in this attribute above all else and feels he will figure out how to best utilize it.

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Whitney Mercilus, DE – Illinois: The Bengals are a good young team with no glaring needs but they could withstand to improve their pass rush off the edge.

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB – USC: With Peyton Manning now in the division, the Chargers look to upgrade their pass rush.

19. Chicago Bears: Stephon Gilmore, CB – South Carolina: The Bears play Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford twice per year. The pass rushers they desired are all gone so they look to improve their coverage.

20. Tennessee Titans: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB – Alabama: After losing Cortland Finnegan in free agency, the Titans need to bring in a top line CB, they get it in this Bama product.

21. Cincinnati Bengals Dontari Poe, DT – Memphis: When you are in a division with the Ravens, Browns and Steelers, you better be able to defend the run. This monster of a man will help with that!

22. Cleveland Browns: Coby Fleener, TE – Stanford: The Browns would have preferred a WR here but in the end they feel the draft’s best TE is also the best receiving option. Tight Ends are a QB’s (especially young ones) best friend. No more excuses for Colt McCoy.

23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB – North Alabama: Jim Schwartz once coached Adam “Pac Man” Jones so he does not view Jenkins as a major character concern. He does view him as a difference maker in a secondary in dire need of a playmaker. Jenkins is too talented at a position of high value to fall out of the 1st round, despite the major character concerns.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, LB – Alabama: The team was forced to cut mainstay James Farrior. Hightower is a perfect fit to replace him.

25. Denver Broncos: Luke Kuechly, LB – BC: They Broncos need to shore up their run defense. John Fox falls in love with Kuechly’s instincts and fundamentals. They would have preferred a Defensive Tackle but there is more value in Kuechly at this point Fox and Elway know that 1 of the 4-5 DT options they had will be available early in Round 2.

26. Houston Texans: Jonathon Martin, OT – Stanford: Kubiak is an OL guy and he lost the best RT in football. He replaces him with Martin who may not quite be ready but will be a good player.

27. New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw, DE – Alabama: The Pats need to upgrade their pass rush and do so with Upshaw. Belichick loves drafting players who played for coaches he knows and trusts so he jumps at this Nick Saban disciple. Is Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw the pass rusher Pats fans have been craving for years?

28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McLellan, OLB/DE – Boise St: The Packers feel like they are 1 pass rusher away from being back in the Superbowl. Clay Matthews just did a back flip.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Amini Silatolu, OG – Midwestern State: This brawler type Guard fills a need and fits right in with a very physical Ravens team. John beats Jim to the punch on this guy.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Harrison Smith, S – Notre Dame: The 49ers play the top 5 passing QB’s from last season and Eli Manning this coming season. They would have loved a pass rusher here but the better value is in the football smart, center-fielder Smith to shore up their secondary.

31. New England Patriots: Peter Konz, OL – Wisconsin: Patriots fans will groan but the Pats could use some depth on the interior of their offensive line and Konz can play both Guard and Center.

32. New York Giants: Chandler Jones, DE – Syracuse: The best pass rush in the NFL gets a nice insurance policy and makes Osi expendable at seasons end. The rich get richer.

NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (2 Rounds)

With the draft order set and prospect rankings filling out nicely, it is time to mock again.

Round 1

1. Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck (Stanford) – Andrew Luck has been the biggest name in the draft and deserves to the first overall pick. Some pundits are trying to talk up a controversy between Luck and Robert Griffin III but that will not be enough. The last time when the Colts were faced with taking a Quarterback first overall they took the precision pocket passer over the gun-slinger, it seemed to work out and will again.

2. Washington Redskins

QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor) – The Redskins traded up to this spot for Robert Griffin III and will not waste a second selecting him. RG3 is an exciting player that can make plays with both his arm and legs. Winning the Heisman this year, RG3 catapulted himself into the national spotlight, into the top 2 of the NFL draft and a multimillion dollar contract.

3. Minnesota Vikings

OT Matt Kalil (USC) – Kalil is the best non-Quarterback prospect in this draft and will help solidify the offensive line in front of current QB Christian Ponder. Kalil was an all-star at USC and has all the makings of continuing that in the NFL. The Vikings could also look for Wide Receiver help but go for the safer choice in Kalil.

4. Cleveland Browns

RB Trent Richardson (Alabama) – This is where the draft starts to get interesting. The first three picks seem like locks at this point and a player like QB Ryan Tannehill is going to start getting some attention. However, the 4th overall pick for Tannehill is just too high so the Browns go with the most explosive player on the board in Richardson. Putting up impressive numbers in the defensively stout SEC, Richardson is a star in the making, finally giving Colt McCoy something to work with (if he is even still the starter by the start of next season).

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CB Morris Claiborne (LSU) – The first defensive player comes off the board to play in the Buccaneers’ secondary. After an explosive off season of signing top free agents Tampa Bay goes to find a possible replacement for Ronde Barber, who may retire soon, or Aqib Talib, who is facing possible jail time. Claiborne has been viewed as one the top defensive players available and should be heads and shoulders above Eric Wright who the team just signed this off-season.

6. St. Louis Rams

WR Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) – The Rams need to give QB Sam Bradford some help and do so by taking Blackmon. By adding to the receiving core Bradford finds a target to help spread out the field and tries to revamp a boring offense. Blackmon seems like a Santonio Holmes type player to me just without the attitude. He seems like he will be a great addition for those 15-25 yard pass plays.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

OT Riley Reiff (Iowa) – The Jaguars could go in so many different directions with this pick but the go with fixing the Offensive lines. QB Blaine Gabbert needs time to get the ball off without a pass rusher in his face. Taking Reiff here helps give their young QB more time to try and watch the plays develop however he still does not have anyone to throw the ball to.

8. Miami Dolphins

QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) – The Dolphins missed on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn and signed David Gerrard to compete with Matt Moore for the starting QB position. The front office for the team needs to do something about the QB and do so by reaching for Tannehill. Ryan does not have the buzz surrounding him that Luck and RG3 do, that doesn’t mean he won’t succeed, just the 8th overall pick for a project player is not going to help the team. When a team picks this high it is important to see a player that is going to pay immediate dividends.

9. Carolina Panthers

DT/NT Dontari Poe (Memphis) – Carolina needs help on the defensive side of the ball and take the combine standout Poe. After running two sub-5 40’s and benching 225lbs 44 times, Poe is a personal trainers dream. He will give the Panthers help at the defensive line position which they sorely need. If this team can get some help on the defensive side of the ball they can become really good, really quick.

10. Buffalo Bills

DE/OLB Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – The Bills are trying to create a defensive line to end all defensive lines. After signing Mario Williams to a $100,000,000 contract (Just look at all those zeroes!) The Bills bring in a pass rusher to support him on the other side with their first round pick from last year Marcell Dareus pushing through the middle.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

OG David DeCastro (Stanford) – One of the strongest prospects in the draft the Chiefs pick up a strong interior lineman who can start right away. The fact that DeCastro is still here at pick 11 will be considered crazy after he has spent a few years in the league.

12. Seattle Seahawks

DE/OLB Quinton Coples (UNC) – The Seahawks take one of the biggest questions marks of the draft. Some teams are high on him and some are not. There are questions about the amount of effort he puts into the game but on the other hand has the potential to be great. Personally, when there are questions about a players effort that is a huge concern but the potential upside of Coples is too much to pass up here.

13. Arizona Cardinals

OT Jonathan Martin (Stanford) – The Cardinals need offensive line help and hope to do so by taking Martin by fixing their mistake by taking Levi Brown. I don’t think this will do as much as they want but it will be an upgrade. For some reason I just can’t picture Martin going anywhere else.

14. Dallas Cowboys

DT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) – The Cowboys upgrade their D-line to help out LB DeMarcus Ware and the rest of the Cowboys front seven. The Cowboys could also look toward helping their secondary here as well but the draft stocks of DB’s Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick are falling due to character concerns.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

DT Michael Brockers (LSU) – Brockers is another question mark for this draft but the Eagles need some players that aren’t all flash. If the Eagles can put together a couple of mashers on their front seven they could get the team they were looking for last year. This game is won in the trenches and getting Brockers is a step in the right direction.

16. New York Jets

OLB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) – The Jets need to be able to get to the Quarterback without sending the secondary on a blitz. Period end of story. Upshaw has the ability and experience to work well in Rex’s 3-4 defense and hopefully can help make up for blowing a pick on Vernon Gholston (or he who must not be named to Jets fans). Another possibility here could be WR Michael Floyd to give Mark Sanchez another target to throw at.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

OG Cordy Glenn (Georgia) – The Bengals need to fill in one of their Guard positions and Glenn will fit right in. Another Combine all-star Glenn would fit well with the Bengals and has the ability to play all over the line.

18. San Diego Chargers

OLB/DE Nick Perry (USC) – The Chargers have needed to address their OLB pass rusher position since Shawn Merriman was suspended and eventually left the team. San Diego will get Perry from down the street who spent his colligate career at USC and is a pass rush specialist. Perry is said to be explosive and that is what the Chargers need.

19. Chicago Bears

WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) – The Bears are creating quite an offense for QB Jay Cutler to work with. With trading for WR Brandon Marshall and signing RB Michael Bush to pair with the already explosive RB Matt Forte, the addition of Floyd will only help this offense. Just imagine trying to defend a split back field of Forte and Bush with Marshall, Floyd and Hester lining up on the outside.

20. Tennessee Titans

LB Luke Kuechly (Boston College) – Tennessee takes the tackling machine Kuechly from BC. There have been reports that the Titans are high on Kuechly and are setting up times to meet with him. Whoever lands Kuechly will be getting a great player with amazing athleticism.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) – Cincinnati needs help at the Cornerback position and have to disregard the character concerns there are with Jenkins (Just like they have in the past with many other players). Jenkins has the ability to be a great player but he keeps getting in his own way. He was once on the University of Florida but was dismissed from the team, thus playing at North Alabama. If he can get his act together this pick will be a steal.

22. Cleveland Browns

WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech) – Since the Browns missed on the QB’s that were worth taking with a first round selection, they will continue to try and build an offense around QB Colt McCoy. Hill should provide some offensive fire power to go along with their other first round pick RB Trent Richardson.

23. Detroit Lions

CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) – Another Cornerback with character concerns and another team that has to overlook them due to their need at the position. The lions’ secondary was their weakness last year and Kirkpatrick would come in and start right away.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

LB Don’t’a Hightower (Alabama) – The Steelers defense is getting old and they need to start feeding some youth into it and slowly turn it over instead of all in one off season. Hightower bring the right mentality with him to Pittsburgh and will help continue the strong defense they have there.

25. Denver Broncos

WR Kendall Wright (Baylor) – Peyton Manning is going to need another target to throw to and the Broncos grab the Wide Receiver Wright to give them another threat on the outside. The Broncos are all in with Manning and are going to give him everything he needs to win.

26. Houston Texans

DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) – The Texans just lost Mario Williams to the Bills and he left a hole when he left. Mercilus will not be able to replace a player like Williams on his own but Mercilus will help. The Wide Receiver prospects that the Texans should be interested in are off the board so they go to work on replacing one of their best players.

27. New England Patriots

DE Andre Branch (Clemson) – The Patriots have two first round selections in the end of the first round and knowing the patriots they will most likely trade one of them but since this is a mock draft this is where they are for now. The Pats take Branch to improve their pass rush. Where the Patriots are now, this draft should be defense heavy.

28. Green Bay Packers

CB Josh Robinson (Central Florida) – The Packers weakness last year was its secondary and take Robinson out of Central Florida. His strong outing at the combine moved him up to the late first round and early second. The Packers get a player to improve their aging secondary.

29. Baltimore Ravens

S Mark Barron (Alabama) – Ed Reed is getting old and Bernard Pollard saw his numbers drop off last year. This is not the most pressing need for the Ravens but Barron here is a good value and will benefit the team for the future by having him learn from one of the best safeties in the game.

30. San Francisco 49ers

WR Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) – The 49ers need another Wide Receiver to help their offense and in recent weeks Jeffery’s stock has fallen so much that he is available here. This pick has a 99.99% chance on being on the offensive side of the ball because the 49ers are returning all 11 starters on defense for next year.

31. New England Patriots

DT Devon Still (Penn State) – The Patriots are picking again and go with defense another time. They take Defensive Tackle Still here at an amazing value. The Patriots are revamping their front seven; they may be looking at the example of the team that beat them in the past two Super Bowls.

32. New York Giants

RB Lamar Miller (Miami) – The Giants no longer has Brandon Jacobs on the roster and will look to replace him with the speedy Miller. The Bradshaw/Miller combo will improve the Giants running game and add a new element to the offense.

Round 2

33. St Louis Rams

OT Mike Adams (Ohio State) – The Rams passed of drafting Matt Kalil by trading their pick, so they go for offensive line help with the first overall pick of the second round.

34. Indianapolis Colts

C Peter Konz (Wisconsin) – Jeff Saturday is getting up there in age and has been rumored to be going to Denver with Manning. Luck gets a new Center to grow with.

35. Minnesota Vikings

WR Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers) – Minnesota still needs help at the Wide Receiver position and takes Sanu will be great with a developing QB.

36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

OLB Zach Brown (UNC) – The Bucs take Brown to help fill the possible hole left by free agent Geno Hayes.

37. Cleveland Browns

CB Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska) – Cleveland takes a player to eventually replace Sheldon Brown at CB and play across from CB Joe Haden.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Rueben Randle (LSU) – Jacksonville needs someone for Gabbert to throw to and take the speedy Randle to give him a target.

39. St. Louis Rams

DT Jerel Worthy (Michigan State) – St. Louis needs help at Defensive Tackle and take a strong prospect from Michigan State.

40. Carolina Panthers

CB Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina) – A great pickup for the Panthers here to help upgrade their defense in the secondary.

41. Buffalo Bills

OT Zebrie Sanders (Florida State) – The Bills are going to need to find some help on the offensive line if starting Left Tackle Demetrius Bell leaves. Having good Offensive line Depth is never a bad thing.

42. Miami Dolphins

S Harrison Smith (Notre Dame) – The Dolphins released starting Safety Yeremiah Bell was released and they were already hurting at that position.

43. Seattle Seahawks

CB Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech) – The Seahawks take a strong combine prospect and improve the Cornerback position.

44. Kansas City Chiefs

NT Alameda Ta’amu (Washington) – The Chiefs add some youth at the nose tackle position by taking Ta’amu out of Washington.

45. Dallas Cowboys

C Michael Brewster (Ohio State) – The ‘Boys add a center that fell off a little this year but has the talent to really improve their O-Line.

46. Philadelphia Eagles

LB Bobby Wagner (Utah State) – The Eagles need to improve their Line Backer core and add Wagner who can play either inside or outside Linebacker

47. New York Jets

S Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State) – The Jets can go with a Right tackle to replace Wayne Hunter here but go for the center fielder to pair with new SS Laron Landry.

48. New England Patriots

RB David Wilson (Virginia Tech) – The Pats replace Green-Ellis with an absolute steal and make their offense that more dangerous.

49. San Diego Chargers

OT Mitchell Schwartz (California) – The Chargers need help all over their offensive line and go for the tackle.

50. Chicago Bears

CB Chase Minnifield – The Bears could be facing a number of their CB’s leaving the team so adding depth to this spot is necessary.

51. Philadelphia Eagles

S Antonio Allen (South Carolina) – Philadelphia gets more help with more players who don’t mind getting their nose dirty up the middle by taking a safety strong against the run

52. Tennessee Titans

C Philip Blake (Baylor) – The Titans need help in the middle of their line and take the arguably 2nd overall Center available.

53. Cincinnati Bengals

WR Marvin McNutt (Iowa) – The Bengals give QB Andy Dalton another young target to grow with across from WR A.J. Green.

54. Detroit Lions

C Ben Jones (Georgia) – The Lions could use some help at Center and take the prospect from Georgia.

55. Atlanta Falcons

RB Doug Martin (Boise State) – Atlanta looks to get younger in the backfield by adding Martin who is a good value here.

56. Pittsburgh Steelers

OT Jeff Allen (Illinois) – A bit of a reach here but the Steelers need help on the offensive line and can use Allen for now.

57. Denver Broncos

OG Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) – Peyton needs to be protected and the Broncos should do as much as they can to do so.

58. Houston Texans

OG Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) – Houston could use some work on it Offensive Line and use a pick on it here.

59. New Orleans Saints (Forfeited)

Due to the Bounty Program Scandal the Saints were forced to forfeit this draft pick.

60. Green Bay Packers

OLB Vinny Curry (Marshall) – The Packers get some help across from Mathews to help the defense get back to the Quarterback.

61. Baltimore Ravens

OLB Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma) – The Ravens add another young player to continue to keep their defense one of the best in the league.

62. San Francisco 49ers

TE Coby Fleener (Stanford) – The 49ers take Fleener here to add to the potential targets for QB Alex Smith to throw to. Having two Tight-End sets with Davis and Fleener will help Smith as a QB as well.

63. New England Patriots

CB Trumaine Johnson (Montana) – The Patriots get a player that can play all over the secondary and that’s something they need.

64. New York Giants

TE Dwayne Allen (Clemson) – The Giants take a Tight End here to help add some explosiveness to the position.

Scott’s Mock Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft passed last weekend, so let’s delve into my first mock draft. For this draft I’m only going with the top ten picks, but look for more in subsequent mocks.

1: Colts – Andrew Luck – QB, Stanford

No real surprise here. Some people might expect Indy to trade this pick, but I doubt it will happen unless someone pays a king’s (or fool’s) ransom to draft Luck.

2: Rams – Justin Blackmon – WR, OK State

The Rams need to get a playmaker, especially if Brandon Lloyd leaves as expected. Their wide-out corps is so depleted, I doubt anyone could name a single receiver on the team except for Lloyd. Blackmon will change that.

3: Vikings – Matt Kalil – OT, USC

Minnesota’s QBs were sacked 49 times this year, the fifth highest total in the league (St. Louis was worst with 55 allowed). Kalil will help fix that.

4: Browns – Trent Richardson – RB, Alabama

Some people see the team going with RGIII here, but I like Colt McCoy. Cleveland average 3.7 yards per attempt on the ground last year, fifth worst in the league. A better running game will take some heat off McCoy.

5: Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne – CB, LSU

The NFC south might be the most pass-happy division in the league; Tampa will face Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton two-times apiece next year. Claiborne should improve Tampa’s pass ‘D’ which had the fourth worst opposing QB rating in the league last year.

6: Redskins – Robert Griffin III – QB, Baylor

No way does he fall past Washington.

7: Jaguars – Alshon Jeffery – WR, South Carolina

Jacksonville is in the process of rebuilding their offense. Jeffery will give freshman head coach Mike Mularky a receiver in the mold of Roddy White, who was Mularkey’s top wide-out in Atlanta.

8: Panthers – Dre Kirkpatrick – CB, Alabama

Basically take what I said about Tampa needing to improve its pass defense and apply it to Carolina. Their numbers against the pass are essentially the same.

9: Dolphins – Jonathan Martin – OT, Stanford

Miami allowed the third most sacks in the league in 2011. Protecting the passer will help them immensely, even if they don’t have a franchise QB.

10: Bills – Quinton Couples – DE, North Carolina

Buffalo needs to do a better job getting to the QB and stopping the run. Marcell Dareus was solid as a rookie, and adding couples will only help the team.

The Haynesworth Experiment is Over

Albert Haynesworth has been cut by the Patriots. The Boston Herald first reported the move.

Haynesworth came to New England after a disappointing stretch in Washington. His time in in New England wasn’t much better. He struggled to stay on the field and didn’t make much of an impact while on it. The final mark against him might’ve came Sunday during an argument with Pats D-Line Coach Pepper Johnson on the sideline.

Haynesworth won’t figure to be missed much, if at all, since the team is fairly deep along the D-Line.

Familiar Faces Return to Patriots Practice

Running back Kevin Faulk and defensive linemen Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick returned to practice Tuesday, the first day they were eligible after starting the season on the physically unable to perform list.

The “PUP” list forbids players to practice with the team or play for the first six games of the season as they heal from injuries. NFL rules allow for up to three weeks from the time a player is activated from the PUP list to determine whether on not to activate him. If the player does not begin practicing, or is not activated by the three weeks, he must be placed on the season-ending injured reserve list.

Assuming Faulk, Brace, and Deaderick are healthy and find roles with this team, could they help?

Faulk (33) is the most intriguing. This is his 12th season with the team and he has always been one of the most versatile members. The challenge for the 35-year-old is how he will fit into a crowded backfield. The Patriots drafted two backs with high picks in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, crowding a depth chart topped by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.

Faulk, the longest-tenured player on the Patriots’ roster, still can be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, but his knowledge and leadership are much more of an asset to the Patriots.

Brace (97), a second-round pick in 2009, suffered a season-ending elbow injury in a Week 16 win in Buffalo last season. It continued the slow start to his NFL career. He only played in nine games in his rookie season, and last year he failed his conditioning test at the start of year which caused him to miss the first two games. He is competing for an interior spot in the Patriots’ 4-3 defense.

Brace must find a way to crack a rotation that features Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Love, and Gerard Warren.

Deaderick (71), a seventh-round pick made five starts in his rookie season, including a postseason loss to the New York Jets. He played mainly at an end last season but has the versatility to move across the line.

Coach Bill Belichick said about Deaderick, “He played end, he played tackle, he played nose — in their four-man line, he played outside [and] he played inside. I think you could look at the Alabama tape and you could see him pretty much playing everywhere — left side, right side, inside, outside.”

These players already know the system and the Patriot way. If activated they provide depth and could become important for the playoff push.

Mario Williams Out For Year

The Texans suffered more than a loss to the Raiders yesterday. They also lost one of their leaders on defense. Linebacker Mario Williams is done for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Williams leads the team (and is tied for fourth in the NFL) with 5.0 sacks.

Williams, 26, was the first overall pick in the 2006 draft. His pick was controversial because Houston passed on a chance to take Reggie Bush, who ended up going to the Saints. Williams, however, proved to be the right choice as he recorded 14.0 sacks in his second season, and has 53 in his career. Bush on the other hand, has 34 total touchdowns and 21 fumbles, and has averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry in his career (the Saints did win a Super Bowl though, and Houston’s never made the playoffs).

Williams left Monday’s game in the first quarter; he was barely able to move his arms as he left the field. Rookie Brooks Reed, a second round pick out of Arizona, is likely to take Williams’ place in the line-up.

This is the second major blow to Houston in two weeks. In week four’s win over Pittsburgh, the team lost star Wide-Out Andre Johnson to a hamstring injury. He’s expected to miss at-least three more weeks.

The Houston Chronicle initially reported Williams would miss the remainder of the year.

Reunited (And It Feels So Good)

Guess who’s back in town, Pats fans.

No, it’s not Randy Moss. It’s Dan Gronkowski.

The Tight End was on the team earlier this season, but was cut on September 23 (the day after my birthday). The team had signed him on September 6 and he played in two games without recording a catch. Dan is of course the brother of Pats TE Rob Gronkowski.

To make room for Dan on the roster, the team parted ways with OT Thomas Welch. Welch primarily saw action as the team’s third TE, so the move isn’t surprising. It also probably means that All Pro RT Sebastian Vollmer is fully healed from his back injury.

The Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport originally reported the news. It’s not expected that the third brother, Fullback Chris Gronkowski of the Colts, will join the team.

Pats To Work Out Gurode

The Patriots are set to work out Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode. Ian Rapoport of The Boston Herald first reported the story.

Gurode was released by the Cowboys late last month because of contractual issues. New England might try him at the right guard spot they’ve had problems filling during the preseason.

As an aside, Gurode might be best known as the guy whose face Albert Haynesworth stomped on a few years ago. Haynesworth, off course, is now a Patriot. It’d be interesting to see them on the same team.

Larry Fitzgerald Gets Paid

Fitzgerald has 120 million reasons to celebrate

“Show me the money” worked for fictional Cardinals receiver Rod Tidwell. It worked for actual Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald as well.

The five-time Pro Bowler has, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, agreed to a eight year, $120 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. The deal is largest in the NFL, surpassing Peyton Manning‘s five year, $90 million contract.

When news of the deal broke Fitzgerald said “To have to talk about it on the business side is a little bit uncomfortable, but I am really happy to put it behind us.”

Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald’s quarterback when Arizona played in the Super Bowl reacted to the contract on Twitter “Dude, split that new deal w/ me & I will CONSIDER coming back? Either way, I think u owe me a piece of the pie! Congrats!”

Of course Tidwell didn’t get paid like Fitzgerald. “Rod Tidwell’s contract extension paid him $11M over four years (inflation adjusted $15.8M),” CNBC’s Darren Rovell tweeted. “Fitzgerald gets avg of $15M/year.”

Ty Warren Likely Out For Season

The injury bug bit Ty Warren again.

The former Patriots and current Broncos DE missed all of last season after hip surgery. Now, the Denver Post is reporting he tore his triceps.

Warren, a Texas A&M Product, was New England’s first round pick in the 2003 draft. Between 2004 and 2009 he recorded 19.5 sacks and missed only eight games. In 2007 he was voted to the Pro Football Writer’s first All-Pro team.

He was released earlier this off-season by the Patriots. He quickly signed on in Denver to the tune of $8 million over two years.

His latest injury will likely force him to miss the season, and could be career threatening given that he missed last season. The Broncos are still holding out hope that he’ll be able to play later this season.