With the NFL Draft fast approaching, I have decided to design a mock draft of my own. However, I'll only focus on the first round, but I'll also add a small bit of commentary to each pick. Despite the popularity of trading down in the first round for more draft picks later on, there will be no trades.
Luck could have been the first overall pick last year rather than Cam Newton, yet he decided to return to Stanford for his senior year. Luck has been compared to another Stanford legend, John Elway, along with the man he is going to replace-Peyton Manning.
2. Washington Redskins- QB, Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Griffin burst onto the college football scene early in the year, and with good reason. Griffin can make every throw and had a 72% completion rate last season. He's a great leader and seems to be content and/or relaxed with himself and the attention that comes with being the savior of a moribund franchise. He ran a 4.3 40 yard dash, one of the fastest times ever for a quarterback. I honestly think that RG3 will eventually be recognized as the best QB in the 2012 draft, due to the fact that his pure athleticism and strong pocket presence will take over the league.
3. Minnesota Vikings- T, Matt Kalil, USC
Tough pick between the talented Justin Blackmon and corner Morris Claiborne, but I have a feeling that they will try to get some cover for second year quarterback Christian Ponder and running back Adrian Peterson.
4. Cleveland Browns- RB, Trent Richardson, Alabama
Richardson may be the most talented non-quarterback in the draft, and after the loss of hardnosed runner Peyton Hillis, he fills an obvious hole in the backfield. He's the ultimate combination of speed and strength, and literally knocked the Browns off the their feet during a strength drill in his pro day.
The Buccaneers have always been a defensively oriented team, and they need to fix a secondary with many holes and stopgap players. Plus, the Bucs play in a division with franchise quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon is a possiblity, but unlikely after the signing of the speedy Vincent Jackson. Watch for them to take Richardson if he falls to them.
6. St. Louis Rams- WR, Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Sam Bradford needs actual weapons to succeed.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- CB, Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
Guard David DeCastro is a better pick, but the Jaguars were terrible against the pass last season. I expect them to reach for a player marginally better than any other corner they could get in the second round.
8. Miami Dolphins- QB, Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
The Dolphins went hard after Manning and Matt Flynn, AND the Dolphins front office isn't very smart. I expect them to reach for the most divisive player in the draft, as Tannehill played wide receiver before converting to his current position, starting only 19 games at the helm of his team's offense.
9. Carolina Panthers- DT, Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State,
Combine legend Dontari Poe is a possibility, but he wasn't very productive in college (5 sacks in 3 years). Regardless, the Panthers need a penetrating force on the defensive line, and Cox has the potential to be that force.
10. Buffalo Bills- WR, Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Floyd is arguably the most pro ready wide receiver in the draft, and has shot up the draft boards as of late. The Bills have sorta-kinda-not really committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and need a second option for him to throw to opposite of Steve Johnson.
Kuechly went to my high school, and I have had the privilege of watching him fly around the field and tackle everything that moves. He has had the benefit of a St. X education and has been taught to be a "Man for others" (Our school motto). I wish he would fall to Cincinnati, but he's too good for that to happen. As his high school coach Steve Specht states in an interview with our school newspaper, "Talent and work ethic was never a question with Lucke. h was always the first in and one of the last to leave. He wanted to get better and studied the game as much, if not more, than anyone I've ever coached."
12. Seattle Seahawks- OLB/DE, Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
Seahawks need someone to fix a broken pass rush, but also linebacker. Ingram fills both holes.
13. Arizona Cardinals- T, Riley Reiff, Iowa
The Cardinals could pick guard David DeCastro, but they need a guard to protect the overpaid Kevin Kolb's blindside.
It is a distinct possibility that the Cowboys could trade up to guarantee getting Barron, but no teams in the top fifteen have as dire a need for a safety than Dallas does. They just traded away Terrence Newman, so they are essentially without an identity. Barron rejuvenates an entire unit with his play. He'll be the best safety Dallas has had in a long time.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- OLB/DE, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
The man with the girly name but manly game adds another threat to an already loaded Eagles front seven. This reminds me of the Lions picking defensive tackle Nick Fairley to combine with Ndamakong Suh. North Carolina's Quinton Coples is a possibility, but scouts have questioned his commitment.
16. New York Jets- DE, Quinton Coples, North Carolina
Talented but inconsistent. Rex Ryan may take a risk by taking fellow fatty Dontari Poe, but that may mean fewer donuts for him at team meetings, and we all know that's not going to happen.
17. Cincinnati Bengals- G, David DeCastro, Stanford
Andrew Luck's best friend on the offensive line will serve the same purpose in Cincinnati. He'll protect Cincinnati's second year quarterback, the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton.
Marcus McNeill left, and someone needs to replace him. Glen can play both guard and tackle, so his versatility will allow the Chargers to move him around in order to protect signal caller Phillip Rivers.
19. Chicago Bears- T, Jonathan Martin, Stanford
The line of solid Stanford lineman continues. Part of the reason people question Jay Cutler's ability and toughness is because he can't stay upright. He was getting pressured on every play. Forget about a receiver, your quarterback actually has to have time to get the damn ball in his hands without worrying about getting drilled before he can even focus on throwing downfield.
20. Tennessee Titans- OLB, Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
Another feminine name with manly game! Mercilus has the potential to be legendary, though raw.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- DT, Dontari Poe, Memphis
This pick could easily be Dre Kirkpatrick, but anchoring the defensive line is a much more pressing matter considering all the talent at corner in the second round.
The Brownies get cute and try to get as many weapons for Colt McCoy as possible. Wright has below average speed but is a good route runner. This may be the "We tried to get him help, but he just wasn't good enough" pick in the draft. If McCoy fails this season, expect a new face at quarterback.
23. Detroit Lions- T, Mike Adams, Ohio State
The offensive line needs to get younger, and needs has a reason to protect 5,000 yd. passer Matthew Stafford from any harm whatsoever.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- LB, Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
With salary cap-cutting moves costing the Steelers linebacker James Farrior, and with the always possible James Harrison getting suspended for an illegal hit, Hightower makes sense here.
25. Denver Broncos- DE, Michael Brockers, LSU
Could also go to the Bengals at 21, or the Steelers. He has fallen from the top 15 for no apparent reason, and on potential alone, should be a top 10 pick. Brockers fills the gap created by the departure of Broderick Bunkley.
Houston picks the speedy but inexperienced receiver to pair with perennial Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. This pick also gives the Texans two wide receivers taller than 6'3- a nightmare for defensive coordinators everywhere.
27. New England Patriots-CB, Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama State
Risky pick, and I think I'm the only one who has this happening. On talent alone, Jenkins is a top 15 pick, with all the baggage, (criminal record, multiple children) he's a second rounder at best. New England has a way of taking risks on players with character issues and turning them into valuable players on championship teams.
28. Green Bay Packers-DT, Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
Last year's defense was anemic. With the departure of defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins, the Packers need a big man to fill a gigantic hole.
29. Baltimore Ravens-C, Peter Konz, Wisconsin
Matt Birk, the NFL's reigning Man of the Year, is old and contemplated retirement. He may be playing on borrowed time as it is, and Konz will be the perfect replacement. He can sit behind the Harvard educated Birk for this season and learn from him.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh coached Fleener for four years at Stanford, so no coach knows him better. Plus, two tight end attacks are all the rage in the NFL, and pairing Vernon Davis with Fleener is going to be a lot of fun to watch.
31. New England Patriots- OLB/DE, Nick Perry, USC
The Patriots have to put together a defensive line. They have to. Perry is a great value at 31 and can start immediately due to injuries.
32. New York Giants- S, Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
The reigning Super Bowl winners have a strong defense, but Smith will put them over the top with his ability to play both safety positions, for he has the speed to play free safety and the tackling ability and strength to play strong safety.
Images retrieved from: www.vikingsfootballhome.blogspot.com, www.thexlog.com,www.giantsgab.com, www.sportstalk.triblive.com, www.sports.yahoo.com, chicagonow.com, and www.nflmocks.com