I've gotten off to a bit of a late start this year. Typically, by this point, I'd be on my third or fourth Mock Draft by now, instead I'm trying to get my first completed.
There'll be many changes between now and the time the draft takes place, that's a certainty, in fact, one could realistically argue that there'll be many changes between now and Monday, and they'd probably be correct. For this reason I, along with the numerous other fans of the NFL draft process, typically do a series of mocks by the time the draft happens. As the days and weeks move closer to draft day, so many different things could have played a role in altering a team's draft strategy. A few examples are: poor/exemplary rookie pro days can move a prospect up or down on team's draft boards, a prospect gets himself into some off the field issue or some past indiscretions come to light, a team acquires a player in free agency, or doesn't resign a player you had guessed would still be there with that team. In any case, this is why it's important to update your mock draft before the draft takes place. You'll still most likely get the majority of your picks wrong, but at least you're guesses are educatedly based, and that counts for something, well I think it does anyhow.
So, without further ado: The 2012 NFL Draft: Mock Draft Version 1.
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck QB Stanford
I'd love to see the Colts go against the grain and really baffle the pundits out there, but Luck is the best QB prospect to come out in a really long time. The fact that they let Peyton Manning walk away is a huge indication that Luck's there guy. In my opinion he's the perfect QB to have as a foundational base for a rebuild, something Indianapolis is clearly just starting.
2. Washington Redskins- Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
Washington gave up a boatload of picks to the St. Louis Rams to move up to this spot. St. Louis received Washington's First Round picks for 2012, 2013 and 2014 and their second round pick in 2012 as well. It's obvious why St. Louis made the trade, but Washington is ecstatic that they'll have the opportunity to select on of these top two QB's, with Griffin being the odds on favorite to still be on the board at this pick. Griffin is a tremendous athlete. He's got all the talent in the world, combining the skill-sets of a "running" QB with the ability of a pocket passer. He should be a quality player for the Skins for years to come, which, I for one, look forward to watching play, I'm assuming, as early as week one of this season.
3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil OT USC
Minnesota can go in a few directions, but with an offensive line prospect like Kalil in the draft, it's almost a no-brainer. Minnesota can certainly use players like WR Justin Blackmon and CB Morris Claiborne, who each would fill a major hole on their team, but again, Kalil is too good of a OT prospect to pass up.
4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson RB Alabama
The Browns have a bunch of glaring needs and luckily have two first round picks in this draft to help address them. In my opinion they need to hit on both their first round picks, each of whom must be key starters on their week one roster. As I mentioned, they can truly go in a variety of directions, really there are very few things that will surprise me here. That all said, I think they'll stick with Colt McCoy at QB for another year, which, although being a need position, would go against the idea of gaining two starters with your first round picks. I do think they'll draft a QB in this draft, possibly as early as in round 2 where perhaps a Kirk Cousins from MSU or maybe a Brandon Weedon from Ok. St slides to them. That all said I do see them going offense with both their first round picks right now. Blackmon is a tremendous talent, but with Colt's limited arm strength, you're not necessarily gaining maximum punch with this early pick. For McCoy to succeed I think you have to have a beast in the backfield, and as far as this draft goes, Richardson is that guy. After him, there are a few talented guys, but the drop off is much more significant than it is from Blackmon to say the third or fourth WR on the board.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne CB LSU
I think Tampa really wants Richardson, but with him being off the board I would've thought Blackmon could be a smart play, but free agency has changed that thought, as they just signed Vincent Jackson to a high priced deal. They could try to trade down, which I do believe is a possibility here, but for the sake of not doing trades quite yet, I'll go with the stud CB, as Barber is at best case an at the end-of-the-ropes guy and where Talib is facing possibly imprisonment, this seems like a no-brainer to me.
6. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
This is the pick they received from their trade with Washington. If Miami doesn't get a QB in free agency, there might be a demand for QB Ryan Tannehill. If that's the case I would expect St. Louis to field and perhaps trade back again, especially if Richardson and/or Blackmon are still on the board. If they stay put here at 6, Sam Bradford needs a target and Blackmon is an elite prospect who should be an instant weapon for their former no. 1 overall QB.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Kendall Wright WR Baylor
Jacksonville is another team with more than one hole to fill and can easily go a different direction here. Coples could be their pick, but with new HC Mike Mularkey's offensive background, I see them going receiver here, hoping to give their first round QB from a year ago a bonafide weapon in the passing game. Just another quick thought to pass along, Gabbert was not Mularkey's pick and he was pretty horrific last year, albeit his first year in the league. With that said, I would not be shocked in the least bit if the Jaguars pulled out the wild card and took Tannehill here. You might be saying Wright over Floyd here, are you nuts? Perhaps, but I just have a hunch.
8. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A & M
If Miami doesn't sign Matt Flynn or at the least Alex Smith and if Tannehill makes it to them, this will be their pick. They haven't had a bonafide franchise guy at the QB position since Dan Marino retired and Tannehill, by all accounts, looks like after he gets acclimated to the NFL, should be a pretty good one. Blackmon could be an option if he makes it here, well, let's just say that with trading away Brandon Marshall, if he's still available he should be one anyhow.
9. Carolina Panthers- Quinton Coples DE North Carolina
HC Ron Rivera is a defensive guy. The offense looked good last year, and while a guy like Floyd could be a target here, I think they add another guy to their front seven. And hey, the last time they used a first round pick on a DE from UNC, it kinda worked out for them.
10. Buffalo Bills- Jonathan Martin OT Stanford
Buffalo needed a pass rusher in a bad way. That all changed when they swooped in a stole Mario Williams off the market. While they still could use DE depth, the first round is not the spot to select it. Their immediate needs are OT, CB, a second WR and LB's to vie for a starting job/provide depth. If Blackmon happens to fall to them, I think he'd be their pick, as it would be a situation too good for them to pass up. But that said, I highly doubt he'll be there and a WR can be had in the second round, Pass rushing/LB depth can be had in the second and third rounds. Guys like Martin and Reiff, the second and third OT prospects are can't miss type of plug-in day one LT starters, just what the bills need. CB Dre Kirkpatrick could also be the pick here if they choose to shore up the D a little more.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- Riley Reiff OT Iowa
The Chiefs could take Kirkpatrick, but with the signing of Routt I think they'll try to get someone to help protect Cassell. Reiff is a stud and he'll probably start off for them at RT and eventually make his way to the Left Side. They also could go with NT Dontari Poe, but seems a bit early for him. We'll see. If Reiff and Martin are both gone they could do just that and take Poe.
12. Seattle Seahawks- Melvin Ingram DE/LB South Carolina
I had a really hard time figuring out where to go with the Seahawks here. I wanted to take David DeCastro the Guard here, but with Ingram still on the board and his versatility and size, which they can use, I had to go with the DE here.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Kuechly- ILB Boston College
I thought about going OL here, but didn't want to take Glenn just yet. I thought about going with Floyd as a compliment to Larry Fitzgerald, but saw Arizona having a hole to fill at ILB and I love this kid and what type of player I see him becoming. Probably a little high for some people, but I just see the value of taking him as being greater than going a different direction.
14. Dallas Cowboys- Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
I know the Cowboys just signed Brandon Carr, but I don't think they figured on Kirkpatrick being anywhere past Buffalo in this draft. I think they'll forego line help and grab a guy that could, at the very least, see significant time in sub packages. Too good a prospect to pass up at a position of need as well.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- Dontari Poe DT Memphis
The Eagles are in a tough spot here. They really could use Kuechly, or a CB, but with Claiborne and Kirkpatrick both taken they probably don't want to take Jenkins this early. So, I just think Poe would be a good and needed addition to their Defensive front. Just a hunch if these first 14 fall as I see here.
16. New York Jets- Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB Alabama
I really thought about going with Michael Floyd here. I also thought about going with OT, but Mike Adams too early for yet. Ryan loves his defense and Upshaw should fit in nicely in Green.
17. Cincinnati Bengals- Janoris Jenkins CB N. Alabama
They Need a QB, RB and WR. Luckily they have 2 first round picks. I really thought about Floyd here, but drop off after Jenkins is much greater than drop off from Floyd to Hill. RB option as well. Jenkins has good skill, but comes from a smaller school, which is probably why he doesn't go before 17.
18. San Diego Chargers- David DeCastro OG Stanford
SD needs offensive line help bad. Resigning Gaither helps a bit, with drop off at OT in effect and DeCastro still here, it had to be the call. Floyd still an option as well.
19. Chicago Bears- Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
Again, this became a tale of too much talent to pass up on. I wanted to go offensive line here, as the Bears line last year was partly responsible for Cutler getting hurt. I'm not a big fan of Mike Adams, but he probably should be the pick here or Cordy Glenn as an inside option. But even with trading for Brandon Marshall, having Floyd across from him makes a deadly set of weapons for Cutler, especially when you factor forte in. Will just have to hope on finding an OL gem sometime later in the draft or later on in free agency.
20. Tennessee Titans- Peter Konz C Wisconsin
I had this spot slated for Cordy Glenn in an earlier mock I did, (didn't post it and virtually none of the picks are the same). However, signing Steve Hutchinson helps and I think that signing allows them the luxury and need for taking clearly the best Center prospect in the draft. Their line was pretty bad last year. They struggled keeping Hasselback upright at times, but more importantly they struggled opening holes for Chris Johnson. With a former OL as a head coach, you just know that line will be rectified for this year. Note: If the Titans land Manning, I would probably expect Saturday to come along, perhaps Dallas Clark as well, I wouldn't take Konz if that happens, instead I'd either go Glenn for depth/competition or go to a guy like Fletcher Cox or Nick Perry on the Defensive side of the ball.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech
With AJ Green picked in the first round last year, you might think this isn't a huge need. Well it is. Simpson is a free agent, and I believe he got in some sort of off the field issue anyhow. But besides that, it was all Green all the time last year and adding a guy like Hill to play in this receiving corps, whether or not they sign someone else, to go along with their TE will do nothing but help Dalton. RB is probably more of a need, but I'm not a huge fan of Wilson or Martin. If I'm a Bengals fan I'm hoping they pick someone up, say a Brandon Jacobs and then Hope James is still there when they pick in round two.
22. Cleveland Browns- Mike Adams OT Ohio State
Well, my gamble on Hill still being on the board didn't work out. The Browns want two starters here. Weeden could sneak up to this spot by the draft, but I'd be disappointed if that happened, and again that pick wouldn't adhere to the two starter philosophy. I really thought long and hard about going with Jeffrey here, but backed off when I realized they need some offensive line help as well. Glenn could be a good pick, as he can start immediately at G, while subbing at RT if needed, but Mike Adams, while I'm not a huge fan of his, I think getting this guy here, who can start at RT right away and perhaps develop into a LT later on in his career is a good spot for him, and good value. The Browns pick early in Round 2, so I guess they'll have their fingers crossed Jeffrey is still there then.
23. Detroit Lions- Stephon Gilmore CB S. Carolina
I'm really not a fan of taking the third or fourth guy at a position in the draft. I'd prefer to be able to go BPA and there are still a ton of DT/DE/LB prospects still available. But CB is and has been the weak link on this strong Lions defense. After failing to bring Finnegan to Detroit in Free Agency and also losing Eric Wright to Tampa Bay, I had to go with Gilmore. He does have the makings of a decent NFL CB in him, and it's not like you're taking him early on. Having the Front that the Lions do, makes players in the secondary better, and I think that played a big part in Wright, who's never really impressed me all that much on a consistent basis, getting his big contract from Tampa. Not a sexy pick for Detroit, but I think one the fans will appreciate after they see him play.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Cordy Glenn OG/OT Georgia
I think Mike Tomlin would've loved for Poe to still be there for his club, but I rank him probably a bit higher than others and have him going 9 spots earlier at 15 to Philly. Lucky for them Glenn has slipped. OG is an immediate need as is Tackle help. As I mentioned earlier, Glenn is one of those OL prospects that can start immediately inside and if needed fill in at RT, while perhaps developing into a regular RT down the road. This is a slam dunk pick for Pittsburgh, who'll thank their fortunes he lasted till they got to the podium.
25. Denver Broncos- Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State
Denver has a bunch of holes to fill, but they have a lot of money to spend and are just waiting for Peyton to make his decision, one that will , if made, completely alter John Fox's team as far as his offense goes. Cox fills a need and is a stud, another example of a guy slipping who probably should've been gone long earlier. Excellent value pick here.
26. Houston Texans- Alshon Jefferey WR S. Carolina
I thought long and hard about taking a replacement for Mario Williams, but they actually played pretty well when he was down last year. By going with Jeffrey they're getting a guy that if he would've had his head on straight and performed as he can at the combine, he'd have been a top 15 pick, in my opinion. He'll instantly alter the dynamics of the Texans passing game, lining up opposite from Andre Johnson. Such an upgrade, that will do nothing but make their explosive offense that much more explosive. This pick could've been much more difficult if Adams or Glenn were still available, but they aren't so this is not only a pick of need, it's also a potentially tremendous value pick as well.
27. New England Patriots- Whitney Mercillus DE/OLB Illinois
This is the pick they got from NO in the Ingram deal last April. The Pats pick twice here in the final picks of the first round and they get lucky. Their number one needs are on defense and getting some additional rush is what they covet the most. There are plenty of rushers left to choose from, and if they don't trade away one of their two picks, which is a pretty likely if scenario, I see them taking two of these remaining valued rush players. Mercillus is not just a guy with an awesome name for a pass rusher, he's pretty good as well. Definite need pick, definite value pick as well.
28. Green Bay Packers- Nick Perry DE/OLB USC
The super powered Green Bay Packers from a year ago are virtually intact going into this years draft. They lost their Center to the Rams, but with Konz off the board, depth/competition at OLB is an important area to consider. Vinny Curry is also another possibility here. I have Perry a bit higher and think with Matthews also being a USC guy, this choice makes a little bit more sense. Value pick and need pick.
29. Baltimore Ravens- Ronnell Lewis OLB Oklahoma
Ravens have several important needs here. They could use another receiver, but with Johnson and Grubbs leaving I had to downgrade WR as a priority here. Grubbs departure is huge, but with the lack of first round ability left at the position I thought I'd go LB with this pick. I thought about Curry and Branch, but I see Lewis as a guy who can immediately contribute to the rush, but also play some Inside backer if needed/to groom behind Ray Lewis. He's very versatile, can also play DE if needed. In my opinion an underrated value pick that should turn out to be one of the better picks in this second half of the first round.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Vinny Curry DE/OLB Marshall
San Francisco really has limited holes to fill. I thought WR was a big hole and losing Morgan didn't help at all. Signing Randy Moss, may pay off big dividends, but it could also provide little if any returns. So WR is still a play, yet there really isn't any WR worthy of a first round/early second round pick yet. They did a nice job resigning their players, as it seems as if the team has really bought into Harbaugh's system and why wouldn't they? QB seems to me, as outside of WR, the biggest need. Weeden probably would be a good pick here, but I think if they fail in this last minute Peyton Manning pitch, they'll resign Smith and roll with him and Kaepernick, perhaps picking up another veteran guy to fill out their depth chart. This all said depth with upside seems to be the way to go, and with the quality still left on defense, and a couple RB's some teams may want to jump on here, I can easily see the niners trading out of the first round. But let's say they don't, Curry is both a value pick with definite upside potential and does fit that depth/competition role on this squad.
31. New England Patriots- Andre Branch DE/OLB Clemson
New England will probably look to trade out of the first round with this pick, but assuming they stay there are still some quality pass rushing/ Front seven prospects left. Branch, in my opinion, is the best of this group left. A value pick, a need pick with upside. At worst it's depth and competition that should pay off down the road. Nice pick here at the end of round 1.
32. New York Giants- Michael Brockers DT LSU
The Giants won the Super Bowl, so that said, I guess it's not a big shock to say that they don't have too many holes to fill. But one should remember that they won their division on the last game of the year. Some of their needs have been addressed already. Originally I had them slated to go TE, which although they just signed Martellus Bennett, it's only for a one year deal, so Fleener could be an option for NYG. RB is probably their big need with Jacobs being cut, Bradshaw battling injuries on and off and Ware not necessarily consistently impressive. CB was a bit of a worry, but they resigned Thomas. So, like the 49'ers, they have the luxury of going BPA if they so desire. Wilson or Martin should probably be the selection here. Both decent RB's but not all that different from Bradshaw either. If I were GM I'd seriously consider either of the two, and being a thin class, they may not be able to address it until later on. Yet, with a guys as talented as Brockers, Still, and Hightower left on the Defensive side of the ball, I thought RB had to be passed and grab that BPA. The Giants are thin at DT depth and while Still is a bit more proven, I just love what I've seen of Brockers, who, to me, would fit in great with that Giant D-Line philosophy. He doesn't have as much film as you'd probably like, but the Giants weren't scared off with JPP, so I don't see them getting scared off on Brockers either. He could be a bust, but I think you get somewhat of a pass for this type of gamble, at this particular spot in the first round, which of course, just having won a Super Bowl, probably helps out a bit too. This pick is value, depth/competition with the potential for becoming a dynamic player with the luxury of versatility. Could turn out to be the steal of the first round.
First round quality prospects still on the board after round 1, (In Order):
Devon Still- DT Penn State
Dont'a Hightower- ILB Alabama
Brandon Weeden- QB Oklahoma State
David Wilson- RB Virginia Tech
Doug Martin- RB Boise State
Kendall Reyes- DT/DE Connecticut
Jayron Hosley- CB Virginia Tech
Coby Fleener- TE Stanford
Mike Barron- S Alabama
Some positional players I like that are projected second round or later:
Nick Foles- Arizona (4th)
Russell Wilson- Wisconsin (4th)
LaMichael James- Oregon (2nd)
Lamar Miller- Miami (2nd)
Tauren Poole- Tennessee (6th)
Juron Criner- Arizona (3rd)
Marvin Jones- Cal (3rd)
Joe Adams- Arkansas (4th)
Brian Quick- Appalachian State (6th)
Derek Moye- Penn State (6th)
Greg Childs- Arkansas (6th)
Chris Owusu- Stanford (6th)
Terrance Ganaway- Baylor (3rd)
Cody Johnson- Texas (5th)
Joe Suhey- Penn State (6th)
Dwayne Allen- Clemson (2nd)
Ladarius Green- Louisiana-Lafayette (4th)
Kevin Koger- Michigan (7th)
Zebrie Sanders- Florida State (2nd)
Jeff Allen- Illinois (2nd)
Nate Potter- Boise State (3rd)
Kevin Zeitler- Wisconsin (2nd)
Will Blackwell- LSU (3rd)
Ben Jones- Georgia (2nd)
Michael Brewster- Ohio State (3rd)
Zach Brown- UNC- (2nd)
Lavonte David- Nebraska (2nd)
Vontaze Burfict- Arizona State (2nd)
Bobby Wagner- Utah State (3rd)
Tank Carder- TCU (3rd)
Chase Minnifield-Virginia (2nd)
Casey Heyward- Vanderbilt (2nd)
Josh Robinson- Central Florida (3rd)
Jamell Fleming- Oklahoma (4th)
Cam Johnson-Virginia (2nd)
Derek Wolfe- Cincinnati (3rd)
Chandler Jones- Syracuse (3rd)
Jack Crawford- Penn State (5th)
Ethan Johnson- Notre Dame (7th)
Brandon Thompson- Clemson (2nd)
Jerel Worthy- Michigan State (2nd)
Jared Crick- Nebraska (3rd)
Josh Chapman- Alabama (4th)
Kheeston Randall- Texas- (5th)
Tydreke Powell- UNC (7th)
I'll probably do an update in a couple of weeks and then a final one a few days prior to the draft.