14th February, 2012 - 7:40 pm
CLASSICS: Who Will Draft The Newtons And Who Will Draft The Russells?
Abu Mara returns for his sixth annual Stars, Sleepers and Overrated of the NFL Draft.
TEAM RANKINGS: Final NFL Power Rankings For 2011
The final 2011 NFL Power Rankings have very few surprises, with the Packers, Texans, Ravens, Steelers, Saints, 49ers and Patriots in the top-seven.
PLAYER RANKINGS: Pre-Bowl Big Board For The 2012 NFL Draft
Heading into Bowl season, identifying the top-five prospects at each position for the 2012 NFL Draft.
LOCKER TALK: Brady: Injury Was A Blessing In Disguise
Tom Brady has watched his Patriots fight their way to a 5-3 record through the first half of the season, and in actuality, he's pretty darn happy with where he currently stands.
MARCUS ALLEN: How GMs Build Winning Rosters
While everyone focuses on the marquee players that will be drafted on day one this Saturday, the key to building a winning team is by acquiring 5-7 impact makers. It was Marques Colston last year, who will it be this year?
I know the normal protocol dictates that including trades in mock drafts is taboo, but I'm more about living in reality than clinging to antiquated notions. Go ahead and shun me from your Amish clan if you must, but it's far easier to project trades to get the players in their closer approximate draft slot than it is to have the Rams drafting RG3 and the Panthers drafting Ryan Tannehill.
An asterisk (*) will indicate Jeff-induced trades. I tried to keep them as realistic as possible in terms of compensation.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. New GM Ryan Grigson stands pat and takes the best prospect to come along since Peyton Manning to replace Mr. Manning. To quote Tenacious D, "It's time to pass the torch!"
2. *Washington Ethnic Slurs (from STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Washington trades #6 overall, #70 overall, and their 2012 1st round pick to move up and take the dynamic Griffin. His ability to make plays outside the pocket makes him invaluable for a team with a struggling offensive line and no real playmakers at receiver...yet.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, T, USC. I'm not as high as most on Kalil but he certainly represents an upgrade for the Vikings, who started a middling guard at left tackle last year. They got their franchise QB (they hope) in Christian Ponder last year and this draft is about keeping him comfortable and getting him more weapons to throw the ball. Of course the secondary is a hot mess, which could point them towards Morris Claiborne.
4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. They covet RG3 but won't mortgage their draft to get him, and it could be a moot point if they aggressively pursue Matt Flynn in free agency--a distinct possibility. No matter who is throwing the ball, Cleveland needs someone who can threaten the defense on the receiving end. Greg Little is a nice start, but Blackmon has the size and attitude to really cause problems for defenses.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. The Bucs currently do not have a running back under contract on their roster. Blount, Graham, Lumpkin, and Madu are all free agents in various states, and although the Bucs have beau coup cap room, don't expect more than one of them back in 2012. Richardson reminds me a lot of the young Eddie George, a punishing between-the-tackles grinder that has enough giddyup to break it outside. That can be brutally effective against the weak run defenses in the NFC South.
6. *St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. From the earlier trade. Lots of different directions for the Rams to look here, but in this scenario they go for the best cover man in the last two drafts. I suspect they would have strong interest in Richardson if he is still on the board. This pick marks the deviation point at which the elite prospects will be gone, and I doubt the Rams want to fall beyond that mix.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Adams, T, Ohio State. Probably higher than you'll see Adams anywhere else, but guys with his size and athleticism don't come along every day. He can become a solid left tackle but could make a dominant right tackle, and the Jaguars sorely need someone to take over that spot with Eben Britton's back problems snuffing his potential. GM Gene Smith has never been shy about sticking to his board no matter what others might think.
8. *Seattle Seahawks (from CAR): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. The Seahawks trade #12 overall, their 4th round pick in 2012, and their 2013 1st round pick to move up and select Tannehill. He might not be ready to start right away, but his long-term ceiling is very high and with all the young talent on the roster Pete Carroll can afford to roll the dice on getting a legit franchise QB. They make the move to get in front of Miami, whom I believe they believe would take Tannehill.
9. Miami Dolphins: Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU. With both Philip Merling and Kendall Langford free agents and Randy Starks hitting a walk year, new coach Joe Philbin must infuse some fresh talent and depth along the D-line. Brockers has a chance to be a real impact player, but his bust factor is pretty high.
10. Buffalo Bills: Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina. GM Buddy Nix struck paydirt with Marcell Dareus last year, and he hopes to pair him with Coples to form a legitimately scary pass rush. Coples has the physical traits of Julius Peppers but doesn't always play to his potential. I like his ability to play base end and then slide inside for pass rush scenarios.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis. His stock is only going to go up as coaches get more familiar with his game and he strikes awe in workouts. The Chiefs desperately need a legit nose tackle for Romeo Crennel's defense to work, and Poe is easily the best nose in this draft.
12. *Carolina Panthers (from SEA): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. A big corner is a necessity in a division with the Saints, Falcons, and Bucs and their bevy of sizeable receivers. Kirkpatrick is very physical and comes from Nick Saban's professional training program at Alabama. Sleeper pick: Devon Still.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, T, Iowa. It is at this point that I would like to remind readers that these picks represent what I think the teams might do in given situations and do not reflect the choices I would make. That I put that disclaimer here is not a coincidence...
14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. He has some character flags, but Jerry Jones knowingly overlooked similar drug and domestic violence issues with Michael Irvin and Nate Newton, among others. Bottom line--Jenkins has the talent to be a legit #1 shutdown corner, and Jones knows his team needs one of those very badly. I would not rule out the Cowboys in the RGIII derby.
15. *Houston Texans (from PHI): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Houston trades #26 overall, #90 overall, CB Kareem Jackson, and their 2013 2nd round pick to move up and select Wright, while picking up a 6th round pick as well. He is a blazer in the Mike Wallace mold that can lift the lid off the defense and provide a legit #2 option to Andre Johnson, something that GM Rick Smith has admitted is a major offseason priority.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama. In the spirit of the Jets always focusing on foiling the Patriots as much as helping themselves, they take the powerful Upshaw, the prototypical elephant pass rusher that Bill Belichick worships but doesn't have. The Jets don't have one either and probably need Upshaw's considerable skills more than the Pats do.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. He has great size and a pugnacious spirit for a corner. The Bengals didn't properly replace Johnathan Joseph last year (see ya Pacman Jones!) and are looking to upgrade. Pairing him with Leon Hall gives the Bengals a cornerback duo that is as physical as any in the league.
18. San Diego Chargers: David Decastro, G, Stanford. With Kris Deilman's status up in the air, and Nick Hardwick's as well, the Chargers need to focus on the interior OL in a big way. Decastro is the best guard prospect by a fairly wide margin and is ready to start right away. Sleeper pick: Michael Floyd, which is more likely if Vincent Jackson flees the coop.
19. Chicago Bears: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina. The NFL player Brown most closely resembles is Lance Briggs, arguably the best 4-3 WLB in the league over the past five years. Briggs and Urlacher are both well into their 30s and new GM must infuse the position with some young talent.
20. *Philadelphia Eagles (from TEN): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. Philly trades #26 overall and #51 overall (ARI pick acquired in the Kevin Kolb deal) to Tennessee to move up and select the tackling machine that is Kuechly. Taking a LB so high is against the grain for Andy Reid, but it is very easy to evaluate their disastrous 2011 to inept LB play. The extra picks from trades allow for this sort of aggressiveness.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina. Explosive edge rusher is not the most pressing need (WR, S, RB) but Ingram is talented enough to make an exception. The chances on the Bengals packaging their picks and moving up are smaller than New England's.
22. *Minnesota Vikings (from ATL via CLE): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The Vikings trade #35 overall and their 2012 1st round pick to Cleveland to acquire the right to select Floyd, the best of the big receivers still on the board. He could be the replacement for the one good year of Sidney Rice, hopefully even better. Top 64 picks that are acquired in trades wind up getting traded nearly 40% of the time over the last five years.
23. Detroit Lions: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. With Dominic Raiola nearing the end, the Lions opt for the top OL talent on the board. Konz is very big for the current wave of centers, which could enable him to play guard for a year or two. The Lions could use that as well.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia. Glenn is precisely the type of lineman the Steelers love--long, wide, and surly--and he has the versatility to play any spot but center. Seeing as how they have multiple openings up front, his versatility is an added bonus. He has some Leonard Davis to him.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State. Still is one of those linemen that does all the little things very well but doesn't make the splashy highlight plays. Sounds like a John Fox player to me, and they need youth all over the defense.
26. *Tennessee Titans (from HOU via PHI): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina. Gilmore has some flags but also some undeniable man coverage talent. With several free agents in the secondary, he could be a needed addition with his size and moxie. Sleeper pick: Mohamed Sanu.
27. New England Patriots (from NO): Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC. Adding sizzle to the pass rush is an imperative (among many) to fix their broken defense. Perry has a very high ceiling as a pass rushing specialist, though he is pretty raw for coming from a major program.
28. *Miami Dolphins (from GB): Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford. Miami trades #40 overall and their 4th round pick this year and 3rd round pick next year to move up and take Martin. He has fallen from earlier mock drafts and tape evaluation is not kind to Martin, but still has potential and the Dolphins badly need a right tackle.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State. Cox has an unrefined joie de vivre to his game, a bundle of hands and energy with enough size to play either end or tackle in the variable fronts that are the hallmark of the Ravens D. He could wind up much higher than this. Sleeper pick: Cam Johnson.
30. *Carolina Panthers (from SF): Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson. Carolina trades #42 overall and their 2013 1st round pick to move up and take Thompson. Perhaps the best run-stuffer in the entire draft, the Panthers need more of that to help out their linebackers. GM Marty Hurney has never been shy about dealing premiums for picks.
31. *Oakland Raiders (from NE): Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. Oakland trades RB Darren McFadden and their 2013 2nd round pick to New England to jump back into the draft and take something other than a quarterback. Allen fits with the current wave of vertical playmaking tight ends, and the Raiders already have a solid #2 in Kevin Boss. Like Bill Belichick isn't going to trade at least one of his 1st round picks...
32. New York Giants: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama. This is a gift from Testicles (pronounced test-eh-cleez), the Roman God of Football. The reigning champs get to fill their biggest need, a thumping enforcer in the middle. The Giants already have a nice stable of young LBs but Hightower would immediately top the depth chart.
33. St. Louis Rams: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
34. Indianapolis Colts: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
35. *Cleveland Browns (from MIN): Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
37. Cleveland Browns: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
39. Washington Ethnic Slurs: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
40. *Green Bay Packers (from MIA): Cam Johnson, OLB/DE, Virginia
41. Buffalo Bills: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
42. *San Francisco 49ers (from CAR): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
43. Seattle Seahawks: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
45. Dallas Cowboys: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
46. Philadelphia Eagles: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
47. New York Jets: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
48. New England Patriots (from OAK): Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
49. San Diego Chargers: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
50. Chicago Bears: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
51. *Tennessee Titans (from ARI via PHI): George Iloka, S, Boise State
52. Tennessee Titans: Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami FL
54. Detroit Lions: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
55. Atlanta Falcons: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
57. Denver Broncos: Leonard Johnson, CB, Iowa State
58. Houston Texans: Alameda Ta'Amu, DT, Washington
59. New Orleans Saints: Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
60. Green Bay Packers: Kendall Reyes, DE, UConn
61. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Washington, G, Miami FL
62. San Francisco 49ers: Dwight Bill Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
63. New England Patriots: Markelle Martin, S, Oklahoma State
64. New York Giants: Kelechi Osemele, G/T, Iowa State
65. Indianapolis Colts: Eric Page, WR, Toledo
66. St. Louis Rams: Bobby Massie, T, Ole Miss
67. Minnesota Vikings: Coryell Judie, CB, Texas A&M
68. Cleveland Browns: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
69. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Colby Fleener, TE, Stanford
70. *St. Louis Rams (from WAS): Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
71. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
72. Buffalo Bills: Mitchell Schwartz, T, California
73. Miami Dolphins: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
74. Chicago Bears (from CAR): Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
75. Kansas City Chiefs: Marvin Jones, WR, California
76. Seattle Seahawks: Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
77. Philadelphia Eagles: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
78. New York Jets: Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State
79. Oakland Raiders--used on Terrelle Pryor in Supplemental Draft
80. San Diego Chargers: Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State
81. Chicago Bears: Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas
82. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Kaddu, LB, Oregon
83. Dallas Cowboys: Kevin Zietler, G, Wisconsin
84. Tennessee Titans: Brandon Brooks, G, Miami OH
85. Cincinnati Bengals: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
86. Atlanta Falcons: Ryan Steed, CB, Furman
87. Detroit Lions: Mychael Kendricks, LB, California
88. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Polk, RB, Washington
89. Denver Broncos: Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
90. *Philadelphia Eagles (from HOU): Donnie Fletcher, CB, Boston College
91. New Orleans Saints: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
92. Green Bay Packers: Ben Jones, C/G, Georgia
93. Baltimore Ravens: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
94. San Francisco 49ers: Derek Wolfe, DE, Cincinnati
95. New England Patriots: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
96. New York Giants: Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette