2012 NFL Mock Draft: Version 3.0
John Tuvey
April 26, 2012

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
previous mocks: Luck
Sure, there was some posturing but the Colts have made it official: it’s Luck. The moral of the story is, if you’re going to suck you should time it to coincide with a franchise quarterback being available in the draft.

2. Washington Redskins (from Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
previous mock: Griffin
Mike Shanahan gets his mobile quarterback. Who knows, maybe Shanny will move him to running back and really mess with us fantasy footballers.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
previous mocks: Kalil
The Vikings would like to trade down but are unlikely to find any takers. The logical move would be to take Kalil and protect their investments in Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson; if Rick Spielman decides to go another direction there won’t be any shortage of Vikings fans willing to encase him in bubble wrap and ship him to Los Angeles whether the team follows or not.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
previous mock: Richardson
All the cool kids are hating on picking a running back early; they’re disposable, they’re injury risks, blah blah blah. Fact is, Cleveland will be a better team (and Colt McCoy a better quarterback) with Richardson getting 20 carries and the Browns adding a playmaking receiver at 22. And yes, there will be one available there.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
previous mocks: Claiborne, Richardson
The Bucs would love to add Richardson but can settle for complementing LeGarrette Blount with a quality runner on Day Two. Adding Claiborne to a secondary that will face Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan six times a year is the smart move.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
previous mock: Blackmon
Congrats to the Rams for getting Danny Snyder’s draft picks and still getting a guy who’ll help them right away. Blackmon instantly becomes Sam Bradford’s go-to guy.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
previous mock: Michael Floyd
From both a PR and football standpoint, giving Blaine Gabbert a playmaking target here makes the most sense. And the most recent buzz has Jacksonville taking cornerback Stephon Gilmore here. Of course, the Jags are like about half the teams in the first round in that they’d prefer to trade back. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll go with the top pass-rusher on their board—maybe Coples, maybe Melvin Ingram.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
previous mock: Tannehill
The consensus on Tannehill is that despite the meteoric rise of his draft stock he still needs a year or two of development. How convenient that the Dolphins have his A&M coach on staff for that task. The Matt Moore vs. David Garrard battle only needs to keep the position warm for this season.

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
previous mocks: Cox, Quinton Coples
Cox seems like the filler for the middle of Ron Rivera’s defense, getting the nod over Michael Brockers and Dontari Poe. The Panthers wouldn’t be against moving back, either, but at this juncture who’s left to trade up for?

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
previous mocks: Jonathan Martin
There’s a glaring need for a tackle on the Bills’ offensive line, but they’ve patched the position in the past without using premium picks (Jason Peters was an undrafted free agent, Demetress Bell a seventh-rounder) and with Floyd on the board the Bills give Ryan Fitzpatrick another weapon. So long as he can throw downfield from a supine position, this pick should work out well.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
previous mocks: Dontari Poe
The Poe pick still makes a ton of sense, but so does snagging the fast-rising Kuechly here and fishing for a gap-plugging nose tackle in the later rounds. In my previous mocks Kuechly kept sliding farther than he should have, so let’s fix that transgression here.

12. Seattle Seahawks: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
previous mocks: Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw
The move that makes the most sense is throwing a late-round pick at KC for the right to move up a spot and take Kuechly; the Chiefs could still get Poe and everyone goes home happy. If that doesn’t happen, watch Seattle make it three straight offensive linemen in the first round by adding David DeCastro to Russell Okung and James Carpenter. It’s a move that would make Matt Flynn and Marshawn Lynch happy—and more effective.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
previous mocks: Upshaw, Cordy Glenn
The Cardinals would love to get their hands on any of the three guys just picked, so a move up wouldn’t surprise. A rush linebacker Arizona so desperately needs is hardly a consolation prize.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
previous mocks: Barron, Dre’ Kirkpatrick
Barron is the cream of a weak safety class, and it’s possible teams will trade up to get ahead of the Cowboys to take him. Dallas has other options—offensive line help, or fast-rising Stephon Gilmore, for example—but in this scenario Barron makes it to them.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
previous mocks: Quinton Coples, Luke Kuechly
The latest mocks have Philly trading up to take Fletcher Cox, and with so many clubs looking to deal down that’s certainly a logical scenario. Or they could hang on to their depth picks and try to develop one of the athletic tackles in this year’s crop. Poe gets the nod over Michael Brockers

16. New York Jets: Nick Perry, LB, USC
previous mocks: David DeCastro, Melvin Ingram
Riley Reiff is an option as the Jets look to shore up their offensive line, but with multiple pass rushers to choose from Rex Ryan feels like he’s at a footwear convention. Perry’s speed makes him the choice over Whitney Mercilus and Melvin Ingram.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Raiders): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
previous mocks: Gilmore, Dre’ Kirkpatrick
Gilmore has been shooting up the board, with some mocks putting him as high as seventh to Jacksonville. He’s a long cornerback with speed, all skills that are extremely marketable in today’s NFL, and he’s surpassed Dre’ Kirkpatrick as the second corner off the board.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia
previous mock: Glenn, David DeCastro
Here’s the dilemma: multiple pass-rushing options on the board, but the Chargers’ offensive line was decimated during the offseason. Glenn could play inside or out and has the bulk the Bolts seem to appreciate in their linemen. Riley Reiff is an option here as well.

19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE/LB, Illinois
previous mock: Stephon Gilmore, Reuben Randle
There are a couple o-line options that have to look pretty good to Mike Tice, who cobbled together a serviceable line out of almost nothing. But the Bears’ intent is to take the best defensive lineman available and unless Chicago wants to mold Michael Brockers the best option is the local favorite, Mercilus.

20. Tennessee Titans: Stephen Hill, WR, South Carolina
previous mock: Peter Konz, Whitney Mercilus
It sounds as if this pick is down to Konz and Hill, unless Mercilus is still on the board. Unless the Titans really like Konz they can find similar interior value on Day Two, though more at guard than tackle. Hill’s athleticism makes an intriguing pairing with a healthy Kenny Britt.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
previous mock: Wright, Doug Martin
With the Bengals taking Gilmore with their earlier pick, here they need to decide between another pass-catcher for Andy Dalton or a replacement for Cedric Benson’s carries. Martin would be more of a replacement for Benson, but if they like BenJarvus Green-Ellis they can find a complement later and add a complement to A.J. Green in Wright.

22. Cleveland Browns: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
previous mock: Riley Reiff
At this juncture the value on the board is all on the defensive side. The Browns could upgrade their o-line with Reiff or shore up their secondary with Dre’ Kirkpatrick; in this scenario they add a pass-rushing end. Late buzz is building for the Browns to perhaps deal out of this pick, perhaps to New England for Ryan Mallett.

23. Detroit Lions: Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
previous mocks: Janoris Jenkins, Riley Reiff
Here the Lions have a choice between talented corners with off-field issues; either would be a welcome addition to the Detroit secondary. You have to think the front office has fully vetted both candidates, and in this scenario they take Kirkpatrick over Janoris Jenkins. If neither passes, the fallback is upgrading the offensive line.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
previous mocks: Michael Brockers
Reiff seems to be the guy who always falls in my mocks, in part because I don’t think teams draft right tackles in the first round. Not all teams may see Reiff as an RT-only guy, however, and the Steelers’ o-line needs are so great if a talented player like Reiff falls to them they can’t afford to be too choosy.

25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
previous mocks: Devon Still, Fletcher Cox
All three of my mocks have the Broncos addressing their defensive line. Denver would be thrilled to plug him into the middle of their defense and address needs at running back and cornerback on Day Two.

26. Houston Texans: Don’t’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
previous mocks: Luke Kuechly, Alshon Jeffery
It’s very possible the Texans have a wide receiver (Rueben Randle, perhaps) they like who would make a good running mate for Andre Johnson. But adding Hightower to the middle of the Houston defense gives Wade Phillips even more options.

27. New England Patriots (from Saints): Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
previous mocks: Nick Perry, Stephen Hill
Plenty of interesting names being associated with the Patriots’ pair of picks at the end of the first round, and the options are limitless. Bill Belichick could package the picks and move up if there’s a guy they covet (Mark Barron?), or they could deal back yet again and stockpile picks for 2013. Guys like Jerel Worthy and Shea McClellin are in play here as well, as is Janoris Jenkins if the Pats are comfortable with his off-the-field issues.

28. Green Bay Packers: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
previous mocks: Don’t’a Hightower, Peter Konz
The Packers will be fielding calls and quite honestly I’ll be surprised, if the board plays out like this, if Green Bay is the team ultimately making this pick. Konz still makes sense to develop behind Jeff Saturday, but Jones is the hot name right now and some analysts say within a couple years he’ll be the best defensive player in this draft. 3-4 defensive ends are tough to find, and if Ted Thompson thinks he has one he won’t be afraid to pull the trigger here.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, OC, Wisconsin
previous mocks: Whitney Mercilus, Donte’ Hightower
With the linebackers already picked over and the safey position barren, Baltimore can beef up their offensive line. If they’re worried about Bryant McKinnie they could look at Mike Adams or Jonathan Martin, but Konz makes more sense as a cguy who could step in at guard right now and eventually take over for Matt Birk in the middle.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
previous mocks: Zeitler, Devon Still
Most reports say the Niners will take Stephen Hill if he falls and an offensive lineman if he doesn’t. Rueben Randle could also enter into the picture (he did work out for the team pre-draft), and names like Amini Silatolu and Mike Adams could also get tossed into the mix. We’ll stick with Zeitler as a guy the Niners can plug in and get immediate production.

31. New England Patriots: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
previous mocks: Andre Branch, Mark Barron
Worthy and McClellin, both under consideration with the Pats’ earlier pick, are still on the board. However, I mentioned Johnson as a possible Patriot in my last mock and I have as good a chance at hitting a mosquito with a dart as I do reading Bill Belichick’s mind so why not go ahead and toss it out there? No inside info, just a safety-sized corner with cover skills who is a converted receiver; sounds just like a New England kind of guy.

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
previous mock: Fleener, Dwayne Allen
I’m a little disappointed Doug Martin makes it out of the first round, but the last half-dozen or so spots are prime trade-up locations for guys exactly like him. The Giants could take him as well, but with the running back position deep they can add Fleener to their depleted TE corps here and still find a complement for Ahmad Bradshaw on Day Two.

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