Well it’s that time again – time for everyone who spent hundreds of hours breaking down and mocking the NFL draft to have their own efforts mocked when nothing goes according to plan.
The 2012 NFL draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City beginning with the first round on Thursday, April 26 and concluding on Saturday, April 28. There will be trades, inexplicable reaches, and plenty of airtime to fill by the networks. But when all is said and done there will be 32 selections in the first round on Thursday, 32 more for the second round on Friday, and then the rest of the selections through Saturday as the future of the league begins to form.
Here is the final version of Doc’s Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft, which will likely be worthless after about six picks:
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1. Indianapolis – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck is the slam dunk pick. But the odds are really stacked against him become the franchise quarterback that everyone thinks. There have been 15 quarterbacks taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the last 25 years. The jury is still out on three of them – Newton, Bradford and Stafford. Three of them – Aikman and the Manning Bros. – are headed for Canton. Four of them – Bledsoe, Testeverde, Palmer and Vick – have had decent careers. The other five (Couch, Carr, Russell, Smith and George) have been total busts.
2. Washington – Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
I like Griffin as a person and I recognize his skills. But he is going to a terrible organization with no stability or leadership. And because of Washington’s ridiculous trade up to get him the bar is going to be absurdly high for him to justify this pick. I wish him luck but I’m not holding my breath that he pans out.
3. Minnesota – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
I don’t even understand how this pick is a question. A quick scan back over the last 15 drafts show one thing: you are much better off taking an offensive lineman in the first round than you are any other position. This will be a nice piece for the Vikings to build around.
4. Cleveland – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
There is no way that I would take a running back in this position and I think that the Browns may throw a wrench in my plans here and take Justin Blackmon. One way or another they need a skill player and they could do worse than Richardson, who certainly has the skill set to be a very good pro. But given the short shelf life of backs I think this would be a mistake for a Cleveland team that has a ton of needs on the offensive side.
5. Tampa Bay – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Aqib Talib’s situation (he has a trial in June for a charge of assault with a deadly weapon) has really painted the Bucs into a corner here. If Talib misses time, which is nearly a guarantee, then 16-year veteran Ronde Barber (likely in his last season) is the only thread holding together an already mediocre secondary.
6. St. Louis – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
I have said it many times: I think that Blackmon is hands down the best player in the draft. If the Rams end up with him, two extra No. 1 picks the next two years and an extra No. 2 pick this weekend (all of which they received from Washington) then they will be the runaway winner of this draft. If Blackmon is off the board then they should look to build their defense with whomever they have at the top of the board.
7. Jacksonville – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
This is where things are going to get dicey. The Jaguars are looking to trade down but I don’t know how many real suitors they will have or what their price is. They desperately need pass rushers but apparently they don’t like any of the options. I’m still going to suggest that they go with Coples over flavor-of-the-moment Fletcher Cox here.
8. Miami – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Miami is another team that is likely looking to deal. And let me say this: anyone that thinks they should take Ryan Tannehill here is an idiot. If Jerrod Johnson had turned the ball over just 30 times instead of 40 in 2011 Tannehill never would have switched back to quarterback. Tannehill is a bum. The Fins are shifting back to the 4-3 defense and you can never have too many big bodies up front.
9. Carolina – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The Panthers defense has fallen apart the last few seasons because they don’t have any linebacker depth and their core guys, Thomas Davis, Dan Conner and Jon Beason, can’t stay healthy. Davis and Conner may be in other uniforms this year so Carolina should step up and take a guy that every scout raves about.
10. Buffalo – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
I still think that the Bills should go after Reilly Reiff with this pick because they still need to bulk up the offensive line. But I don’t know that they can resist the buzz that would come with taking the Irish receiver. This would really help to continue the excitement this team has built up with their offseason signings. But I’m still not sure it would be the best decision in the long term. Then again, that’s why they are the Bills.
11. Kansas City – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
You know that coach Romeo Crennel would love to go with a defensive player here. But the Chiefs can’t deny that they have serious issues on their offensive line. I think that this would be an excellent pick if Reiff were available. David DeCastro and Dontari Poe are other options here and this is a big swing pick in the middle of the draft.
12. Seattle – Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
There is no way that Kuechly would fall past the Seahawks here and they have to be crossing their fingers that he is still available. If not they will address their pass rush and continue to build their defensive line.
13. Arizona – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Cardinals have to cross their fingers and hope that Reiff falls this far. (Which would happen if the Chiefs took David DeCastro.) If he doesn’t then I think that they will target Poe, who stunned people at the combine with his athleticism.
14. Dallas – Mark Barron, S, Alabama
This one is so simple that there is no way that Dallas will do the smart thing and take Barron. I think the kid is a stud and he addresses a huge need right away. Rookie secondary players are one of the few areas where first-year guys can step in and make an impact. I think Barron could do just that for what has been one of the worst defensive backfields for the last half-decade.
15. Philadelphia – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Eagles are a team to watch here. And I think if Poe were still available it would take about 2.4 seconds for the Eagles to get their pick in and snatch him up. Philly has gone with an offensive or defensive lineman with its top pick in six of the last seven years and 15 of the last 19 seasons. Brockers is a Top 10 talent and would give the Eagles a lot of depth in their front four.
16. New York Jets – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Who knows what the Jets are looking to do with this spot. I mean, it is pretty clear that they need help with their deteriorating pass rush. But is a pick like this “splashy” enough for the Jets? As a Syracuse fan I can say that Jones is a man and that there is a good reason why he is shooting up draft boards.
17. Cincinnati – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
This would be a coup if DeCastro falls this far. I think that Buffalo, Kansas City, Arizona and Philadelphia are the only teams really targeting offensive DeCastro and Reiff so its possible one could slide through. The Bengals have two good picks and could be a threat to trade up. But they have their franchise quarterback and would be well served to put some protective pieces around him.
18. San Diego – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
Don’t rule out an offensive lineman here. But I think that they would really be reaching for someone here. They have let their defense rot out in the front seven and need some playmakers there as well. They used their first three picks on defense last year but the jury is still out on whether any of them will pan out. Upshaw has the versatility to play DE or OLB in San Diego’s 3-4 and would be a nice fit.
19. Chicago – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bears have some new faces in the front office so it is really, really difficult to predict how they are going to handle this draft. It is obvious to anyone that has seen Chicago play the last three years that their offensive line is one of the worst in football. But is there strong value here? Instead I’ll look for them to get one of the best cover corners in the draft and a guy a lot of scouts think will fit perfectly in the Cover-2.
20. Tennessee – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Titans need bulk on both lines and need some defensive help overall. But they lost their best cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, to free agency. They need to get someone that they can plug in right away. Gilmore is a guy getting a lot of buzz right now and could be gone by now. But unless someone trades up to get him I think Gilmore will still be on the board in the 20’s.
21. Cincinnati – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
This is kind of a typical Bengals pick. Jenkins has “character issues” because he was kicked out of Florida and finished his career at North Alabama. But his talent is undeniable and he fits a need. Another athletic front seven player – or even another offensive lineman – would be a nice pickup in this slot as well.
22. Cleveland – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
This pick is from Atlanta for Julio Jones. And, as I said before, the Browns absolutely have to load up on skill people. I think they would be best served taking Blackmon with their top pick and then trying to make another move to get Richardson outside of the Top 10. But that’s asking too much. Instead of having them reach for a wideout here like most other mock drafts I’ll have them grabbing a lineman here.
23. Detroit – Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
I think that whoever gets Hightower will be getting one of the steals of the draft. I felt the same way a few years ago about Rey Maualuga. Hightower is just a stud and has been a leader on one of the best college defenses of the last five or six years.
24. Pittsburgh – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Steelers will be struggling to get under the salary cap all offseason. And they have to fix their pathetic offensive line one way or another. They could grab one of the interior defensive linemen, if one were to fall, but I think the Steelers would be best served playing it straight and taking the best offensive tackle available.
25. Denver – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
I have been way, way ahead of the curve suggesting that the Broncos would go with a defensive tackle. The “mock draft echo chamber” has been predicting that Denver would go with a wide receiver here since he signed. Ridiculous. Glad everyone else caught up. I think Worthy could be a steal and would be a nice young piece in their switch back to a 4-3.
26. Houston – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Texans defense lost two of its biggest playmakers in Mario Williams and Demeco Ryans. They need to focus on that side of the ball. I think that they will look at an athletic player that can get to the quarterback. Mercilus has kind of come out of nowhere the last few weeks but there is no doubt he’s an athlete.
27. New England – Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
This is a pick that the Patriots gained from New Orleans, who traded up last year. And I could see the Patriots deciding to trade down because that’s what they do. But they have two picks and they do need some defensive help, particularly with their pass rush.
28. Green Bay – Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
Oh, I love it when Trendy Guy comes surging up the draft board in the final week prior to the draft. This year Trendy Guy is Mr. McClellin, rated as the top outside linebacker on the board. The Packers front seven fell apart at the end of last year and I would be shocked if they don’t look for someone to fit in there.
29. Baltimore – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Whoever the Ravens get will be legit. And I will admit that I have no idea who Ozzie Newsome is interested in here. But I’ll call for a curveball and look for Newsome to draft a player to groom as aging Matt Birk’s replacement.
30. San Francisco – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Most sportsbooks have the over/under on receivers taken in the first round at 2.5 with some juice on the ‘over’. I think that’s a great bet because one of these teams is going to grab Hill or Kendall Wright. The Niners obviously need offensive skill players to build around and rumor is that they really like Hill. Coby Fleener would be a decent pick here as well.
31. New England – Nick Perry, DE, USC
I will be shocked if the Patriots actually use both of their first round picks. But I’ve been working on this mock for a while and am just about done. I’m not going to waste any time trying to get into the mind of Bill Belichick.
32. New York Giants – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Giants are the champions but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some needs. They lost Kareem McKenzie this offseason and they are dangerously thin at tackle. Adams had a great career with the Buckeyes and I think that he would be an excellent value play here.
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