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.