This 2012 NFL Mock Draft is based on my current predictions for the 2011-2012 NFL Regular Season. I may put 2 rounds up.
1. Washington Redskins Andrew Luck QB Stanford I have the Washington Redskins finishing with the worst record because they made no effort to obtain a franchise quarterback in this years NFL Draft. A new regime should come in and draft a new signal caller. Andrew Luck would have been a lock to go #1 overall had he declared so Luck goes #1 overall in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.
2. Miami Dolphins Matt Barkley QB USC Matt Barkley has that quick release that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers have. I think Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith had success in college because of Matt Barkley. I really love Matt Barkley because he is a pro style quarterback and was the #1 overall recruit coming out of high school. Matt Barkley is ineligible to play in a bowl game as long as he goes to USC. People are given things when they go to the bowl games so I’m almost certain that Barkley declares in 2012. Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are so good that there both worthy of going 1 and 2 in the 2012 NFL Draft.
ESPN may rave about Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley the same way everyone raved about Peyton Manning in Ryan Leaf going 1 2. Luck will be that guy who would have been a #1 lock had he declared the previous year and Matt Barkley will be the upstart quarterback challenging Luck for that #1 spot, but Matt Barkley won’t be a complete bust like Ryan Leaf.
3. Carolina Panthers Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina Carolina gets a wide receiver who is a hometown prospect. Not only is he a hometown player he is the most complete wide receiver in college football. Jeffery is so good he may be able to save Cam Newton’s career. Newton has a great chance of busting so they have to get Jeffery to keep Cam Newton from being an all time draft flop.
4. Arizona Cardinals Jonathan Martin LT Stanford Jonathan Martin is a can’t miss prospect at left tackle. Martin is the most complete left tackle in this draft. Its a good thing Jonathan Martin returned because 3 of Stanford’s 5 starters on the offensive line are gone including right tackle Derek Hall. Good thing Martin is back at Stanford or Andrew Luck’s draft stock would have taken a Brady Quinn type hit on draft day. Passing on Landry Jones will be difficult, but there will be other players in this draft like Nick Foles, Terrell Pryor, Kirk Cousins, Tyler Wilson, maybe Aaron Murray if he declares but Murray returns to school, and Robert Griffin. I’m not ruling Garrett Gilbert or Dayne Crist as sleepers that could creep up, but I doubt either is worth taking in the first two rounds. The bottom line is there are going to be quarterbacks available in round 2 for the new regime in Arizona while they select Martin at #4.
Martin is a can’t miss prospect and Arizona needs help at the offensive line drafting Jonathan Martin and moving Levi Brown would make the Arizona Cardinals offense better.
5. Buffalo Bills Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama Dre Kirkpatrick is 6 foot 3 215 pounds, can cover, tackle, deliver hard hits, stuff the run, and runs a low 40 between 4.29 while his high 40 time is 4.39. Buffalo always drafts running backs, linebackers, and key players on secondary in round 1. With a chance at a special player like Dre Kirkpatrick staring them in the face, I don’t expect that to change.
6. Cincinnati Bengals Trent Richardson RB Alabama Trent Richardson is an impact player. He is the top running back in the draft who may go in the top 10. I don’t think the Bengals are giving up on Andy Dalton unless their in position to draft Luck or Barkley.
7. Seattle Seahawks Landry Jones QB Oklahoma Pete Carroll tried to recruit Landry Jones coming out of high school If the Seahawks are picking in the top 10 Seattle will take Jones.
8. Oakland Raiders Robert Griffin QB Baylor Robert Griffin has a cannon arm, good zip, good release, accuracy, and can be a dual threat. I think Griffin is going to creep up into the top 10 this season. Even if Griffin gets drafted in the 6th round he has more talent than Cam Newton ever will. I can see the Oakland Raiders war room on draft like this before Al Davis crashes the party.
Hue Jackson: So we can either take Stephon Gilmore, Ricky Reiff, Matt Kalil, Justin Blackmon, or Michael Floyd at #8.
The scouts are in agreement on taking Gilmore, but then Al Davis invades the draft room running into the office like a little kid excited about their new Christmas present.
Al Davis: Robert Griffin is an extraordinary playa I must have him.
Hue Jackson: No were not drafting Robert Griffin we can get him in round 5.
Al Davis: Draft Robert Griffin or your fired.
Hue Jackson agrees to draft Robert Griffin.
Hue Jackson shakes his head nodding no in distraction thinking, Why did I take this job when I could have gone to Tennessee as a head coach?
9. Jacksonville Jaguars Quinton Coples LE North Carolina Quinton Coples can play either side of the defensive end position. Jacksonville needed to address the defensive line in the 2011 NFL Draft.
10. Indianapolis Colts Nick Foles QB Arizona Nick Foles could creep into the first round. The other argument here is that the 2012 quarterback class is better than the 2011 quarterback class. If 4 quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft can go in the top 12 then 5 2012 quarterback prospects can go in the top 10 because the 2012 NFL Draft is much stronger at quarterback. I know the Colts need help at wide receiver with Justin Blackmon, but Peyton Manning will be 36 before the 2012 NFL Draft. If your the Colts, and you have a top 10 pick in this case you draft a quarterback to groom for the future. I doubt 5 quarterbacks go in the top 10. This is very unlikely to happen, but 4 quarterbacks in a weak quarterback class went in the top 12 so maybe 5 quarterbacks go in the top 10 who knows.
The only reason I have the Colts drafting at #10 is because there schedule is tough. Plus teams who host Super Bowls never make the playoffs that year. I said this with the Dallas Cowboys hoping people would take my opinion seriously. The Cowboys missed the playoffs. I know I sound crazy thinking this, but history does not bode well for teams hosting the Super Bowl.
The Colts play NFC South teams along with AFC North teams so if you look at 5 losses to the 3 NFC South powers along with potential losses to Pittsburgh or Baltimore. 6 if you count the fact that they play New England. Indianapolis could be drafting in the top 10. Its unlikely that the Colts draft this high, but I have them drafting here because of their tough schedule and because their division is getting stronger.
11. Denver Broncos Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State Jerel Worthy is one of the best defensive tackles in the country.
12. Minnesota Vikings Matt Kalil LT USC Some say Matt Kalil is a top ten pick and may even be the first offensive tackle drafted. Getting him at #12 as Ponder’s blindside for the future is incredible value for the Minnesota Vikings. I like Bryant McKennie and Phil Loadholt, but another losing season by the Vikings and they may find a new blindside for the new quarterback during the new regime. They could also target Justin Blackmon the Oklahoma State wide receiver.
13. Philadelphia Eagles Riley Reiff LT Iowa The Eagles needed offensive tackle help on both sides and Reiff could be a top 10 pick. The Eagles were irresponsible early in the draft reaching for Watkins and Jarrett in the first 2 rounds. The Eagles have to address offensive tackle in 2012.
14. San Diego Chargers Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State Justin Blackmon would be a great #2 wide receiver option across from Vincent Jackson. I saw one mock draft have Blackmon go #1 overall. Blackmon is not the best wide receiver in this draft, but has done enough to solidify his status here.
15. Detroit Lions Stephen Gilmore CB South Carolina I have Detroit finishing 8-8 because they lack shutdown cornerbacks or a left tackle. Detroit gets Gilmore and becomes a playoff contender in 2012-2013.
16. Cleveland Browns Brandon Jenkins RE Florida State I think the Browns could finish ahead of Pittsburgh, but the Madden Jinx and the development of Colt McCoy keeps Cleveland from contending in 2011. Cleveland should have double dipped at pass rusher at the 4-3 defensive end, but they didn’t. I know Michael Floyd is another option to team up with Greg Little, but the 2012 NFL Draft is so deep at wide receiver they can use Atlanta’s 2012 first round pick on a wide receiver to team up with Greg Little.
17. St. Louis Rams Keleche Osemele LG Iowa State Osmele is the only guard projected to go in the first round. St. Louis needs to address both guard positions. I know they should get a running back to compliment Steven Jackson, but its the 17th pick. LaMichael James, Knile Davis, Brandon Bolden, and Bernard Pierce are all still available so the Rams can get a running back in round 2. Plus the 2013 will have Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore both backs should be 1st round picks.
18. Chicago Bears Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame The Chicago Bears have wide receivers, but lack a Calvin Johnson type game changer. Michael Floyd could be that game changer. If your a Bears fan and a Notre Dame fan you love this pick.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers Vontaze Burflict 3-4 MLB Arizona State Burflict is the top linebacker in this draft. Some mock drafts have him going in the top 10 believing he is the next Rolando McClain or Brian Urlacher. Pittsburgh will need someone in a year from now to replace James Farrior so getting the top linebacker in the draft who may be a top 10 pick who could go as high as #7 overall is great value here.
The other option is Bobbie Massie a 6 foot 6 312 pound left tackle entering his junior campaign at Ole Miss at a 2 year starter at Ole Miss. Massie has started at left tackle since Michael Oher left Ole Miss.
I think what the Pittsburgh Steelers do is wait to see how Max Starks recovers from his back injury. If Starks recovers well Burflict will be the pick otherwise Pittsburgh takes Bobbie Massie.
The only reason I have the Steelers drafting this high is because they are dealing with a lot of off the field distractions.
Reason #1 The linebackers are more focused on their future with the team rather than playing for the team. Harrison has had 2 back surgeries, Woodley wants a Haynesworth type deal, Farrior is declining, Timmons wants a new deal, and Sylvester is a special teams player at best.
Reason #2 Troy Polamalu is obsessed with his shampoo commercials during the lockout.
Reason #3 Hines Ward is on Dancing with the Stars rather than working out in the offseason. We’ve seen how teams struggle the following year once their star receiver goes on a reality show.
Reason #4 Ben Roethlisberger is getting married. Tom Brady’s had Ben Roethlisberger’s number for most of Ben’s career and how many Super Bowls has Brady won since Brady got married? The answer is 0. Ben could still be a superstar caliber player, but he may lose that drive to win a championship and the ability to be a gym rat in the locker room.
Reason #5 We don’t know if Starks will be back at full health.
Reason #6 I’m not sold on the cornerbacks Pittsburgh drafted. Curtis Brown is an overrated nickel corner from Texas who played behind Chykie Brown and Aaron Williams. Cortez Allen was a 5th round prospect going in round 4.
Reason #7 Rashard Mendenhall is backing up Adrian Peterson about his controversial statement where Peterson compared the NFL Owners in the CBA lockout to slavery.
Reason #8 Roethlisberger wants to throw the ball on 60 percent of the team plays. Roethlisberger threw the football on 68 percent of their plays in 2009 the Pittsburgh Steelers went 9-7 that year.
Reason #9 Is Maurkice Pouncey going to recover from his injury?
Reason #10 Some Super Bowl losers struggle to make the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have top notch talent and you cannot deny that. One thing that works against them is they play a lot of pass first teams. I’m not ruling Pittsburgh out, but it seems like they have more questions than answers as a football team heading into this year despite the talent on their roster. Teams who make the playoffs in January avoid headlines in the offseason. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been making headlines instead. The reason the Pittsburgh Steelers did so well early last year was because the only player who was distracted during the offseason was Ben Roethlisberger while the other 50 players on the roster were focused on winning after a poor season. This year more players besides Roethlisberger have made headlines off the field which has to make you wonder how well this team will do next season. That’s why I have them drafting at #19.
20. New England Patriots from New Orleans Saints Jared Crick 3-4 RE Nebraska Bill Belicheck needs a 3-4 defensive end at the right end spot. Jared Crick is drawing comparisons to Suh so he fills a need here. There are 4 3-4 outside linebackers projected to go in the first round and 3 of them are still available. I’ve seen Crick go as high as #3 overall in mock drafts so he provides good value here plus he fits a need.
21. San Francisco 49ers Alphonzo Dennard CB Nebraska San Francisco may have double dipped at corner with Chris Culliver CB South Carolina and Curtis Holcomb CB Florida A/M, but both cornerbacks were clear reaches. If you think Culliver or Holcomb is a long term answer 49ers fans your clearly kidding yourselves. Alphonzo Dennard got a lot of passes thrown his way when quarterbacks threw away from Prince Amukamara. Dennard broke up 7 passes and recorded 4 interceptions in 2010.
22. Tennessee Titans Michael Brewster C Ohio State Michael Tennessee needs a center and Michael Brewster is the only center projected to go in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
23. Dallas Cowboys Cliff Harris CB Oregon Cliff Harris fills a need for Dallas at cornerback and would make a great fit for the Dallas Cowboys with the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Dallas failed to address the pass defense in the 2011 NFL Draft.
24. New York Jets Baker Steinkuhler 3-4 LE Nebraska The Jets drafted 2 of their 3 long term starters at the 3-4 defensive line. Now the Jets get that final starter up front.
25. Kansas City Chiefs Bobbie Massie LT Ole Miss Branden Albert will play left tackle for one more year while Rodney Hudson starts out as a left guard. If Kansas City drafts a left tackle they can move Branden Albert to left guard and plug in Rodney Hudson at center.
26. Cleveland Browns from Atlanta Falcons Jeff Fuller WR Texas A/M Fuller is 6 foot 3 215 pounds. In 2010 he caught 72 balls for 1,066 receiving yards while catching 12 receiving touchdowns. I know Greg Little is a good wide receiver, but he does not provide a #1 presence that Jeff Fuller can provide. Greg Little can be a #2 receiver and Mohammed Massaquai can move to slot. With these receivers for Colt McCoy to work with Cleveland finally becomes a playoff contender.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Omar Bolden CB Arizona State Ronde Barber is retiring and Aqib Talib is going to get released from the team. Atlanta’s top priority in 2012 will be getting a shutdown cornerback.
28. New England Patriots Donte Paige Moss 3-4 ROLB North Carolina Wow Donte Paige Moss should be a top 10 pick, but since most 3-4 teams have pass rushers Moss drops to New England and the Patriots get a steal.
29. Houston Texans Janzen Jackson FS Tennessee Houston’s needed a free safety for a long time. Shilo Keo and Glover Quinn will compete for the free safety job while Keo serves as a backup for Bernard Pollard at strong safety. Janzen Jackson provides excellent value late in round 1.
30. New York Giants Mike Adams LT Ohio State If William Beatty struggles again at left tackle New York can take Mike Adams. James Brewer is a right tackle only and the 2012 NFL Draft is stacked with tackles. The two best players available are Mike Adams and Knile Davis. Both would be smart 2012 First Round Picks.
31. Baltimore Ravens Nate Potter RT Boise State Jah Reed could succeed as a right guard, but he should not be starting at right tackle. Nate Potter would be a good late first round pick for the Baltimore Ravens at the right tackle position.
32. Green Bay Packers Courtney Upshaw 3-4 ROLB Alabama If Green Bay wants to keep Clay Matthews on the left side instead of moving Matthews to the right side and moving Ricky Elmore to the starting 3-4 left outside linebacker spot they may want to consider Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw had 7.5 sacks as a pass rusher in 2010.
33. Washington Redskins Billy Winn 3-4 LE Boise State Billy Winn can play the 5 technique or the 3 technique just like Jarvis Jenkins. I had Markus White as a 3-4 end, but everyone thinks he moves as a backup to rush linebacker. If that’s the case Washington will need a 2nd 3-4 end on the defensive line.
34. Miami Dolphins Michael Egnew TE Missouri Egnew is the top tight end in college football. Charles Clay is a fullback at best from Tulsa. Miami needs a playmaking tight end who can catch the football plus teams like adding offensive players around their quarterbacks. Egnew provides good value in round 2.
35. Carolina Panthers Zach Brown LOLB North Carolina The Panthers need a sam linebacker to complete their front seven. Why not take Zach Brown at the top of round 2?
36. Arizona Cardinals Kirk Cousins QB Michigan State The new regime in Arizona will want his own quarterback and this is the right spot for Kirk Cousins to get drafted.
37. Buffalo Bills Terrell Pryor QB Ohio State The Bills never draft quarterbacks early and they may be able to get Terrell Pryor here in round 2.
38. Cincinnati Bengals Marcus Forston DT Miami FL Cincinnati had to draft a defensive tackle in 2011 and they didn’t. I feel like Marcus Forston is the kind of player that the Bengals would draft.
39. Seattle Seahawks Mark Barron SS Alabama Mark Barron would be a good pickup to challenge Kam Chancellor for that strong safety spot.
40. New England Patriots from Oakland Raiders Mohammed Sanu WR Rutgers Wow Sanu is a deep threat wide receiver that New England should have obtained in this years draft and he fits in perfectly with Bill Belicheck’s scheme.
41. Jacksonville Jaguars Chase Minnifield CB Virginia Chase Minnifield did a good job stepping in as the #1 corner for Virginia in 2010 after being a nickel corner behind Ras I Dowling and Chris Carr in 2009.
42. Indianapolis Colts Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma The Colts will probably take a wide receiver with high character along with talent and Broyles has the talent and the character to blend in Indianapolis.
43. Denver Broncos Knile Davis RB Arkansas A power back like Knile Davis should not fall this far, but since Denver failed to address running back by obtaining a power back and Davis is still available I have to give Denver Knile Davis because the value is too good here. One mock draft has Davis going 9th overall.
44. Minnesota Vikings Kenny Tate FS Maryland Kenny Tate fills a need if your the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota needs a free safety and Tate provides great value in round 2.
45. Philadelphia Eagles Levy Adcock RT Oklahoma State Philadelphia double dips at offensive tackle and positions themselves to make a Super Bowl run down the road.
46. San Diego Chargers Devin Taylor 3-4 ROLB South Carolina If Devin Taylor falls out of round 1 San Diego needs to consider taking him. He had 12 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, played well in zone coverage, while deflecting 8 passes by breaking those passes up.
47. Detroit Lions Travis Lewis ROLB Oklahoma If Travis Lewis falls to round 2 at this point Lions should get him because they need weak side linebacker help.
48. Cleveland Browns Josh Oglesby RT Wisconsin If Cleveland wants to move Jason Pinkston inside to guard they can while getting an effective right tackle in Josh Oglesby.
49. St. Louis Rams LaMichael James RB Oregon I know running back is an important position and this pick is a toss up between two backs. LaMichael James is more battle tested so I’ll give him to the Rams in my mock draft.
50. Chicago Bears Brandon Bolden RB Ole Miss Brandon Bolden is an underrated back in the SEC that would be a great complimentary piece behind Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. Chicago may have bigger needs, but this is a good pick.
51. Pittsburgh Steelers Matt Reynolds LT BYU Pittsburgh gets a left tackle that could go in round 1 in round 2. Once again Kevin Colbert drafts well in the first two rounds whether he drafts players in the NFL Draft or in my mock drafts.
52. New Orleans Saints Jacquies Smith LE Missouri New Orleans adds a 4-3 left end for depth at pass rusher. Cameron Jordan and Greg Romeus can anchor the right side for now in New Orleans.
53. San Francisco 49ers Chris Owusu WR Stanford Harbaugh wants one of his former Stanford players. Since he cannot obtain Andrew Luck he gets Chris Owusu in round 2.
54. Tennessee Titans Andre Branch LE Clemson Branch can play on either side of the defensive line.
55. Dallas Cowboys Mani Te’o 3-4 MLB Notre Dame I know Dallas already stacked up on 3-4 middle linebackers in 2010, but Te’o’s value is just too good to pass up on if he falls this far.
56. New York Jets Vinny Curry 3-4 ROLB Marshall Curry plays in the 3-4 and is a very versatile player. The Jets need a rush linebacker and Curry provides good value at 6 foot 4 245 for a rush linebacker at the end of round 2.
57. Kansas City Chiefs Donta Hightower 3-4 MLB Alabama The only thing that is missing from the Chiefs defense is a 3-4 middle linebacker. Hightower is a great late round 2 value.
58. Atlanta Falcons Ryan Deehan TE Colorado I know he’s a 7th round prospect, but Deehan is 6 foot 5 245 pounds. Atlanta failed to address tight end in 2011 plus there is always one team who takes a 6th or 7th round prospect in round 2.
59. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Chris Marve MLB Vanderbilt If the Buccaneers want to part ways with Barrett Rudd, Chris Marve would be a good late round 2 pick.
60. New England Patriots Ryan Lindley QB San Diego State Lindley is 6 foot 4 215 pounds. In case Bill Belicheck isn’t sold on Mallett he may bring in some competition. Ryan Lindley of San Diego State was ranked as the #4 quarterback behind Luck, Barkley, and Landry Jones. Maybe New England takes a chance on him.
61. Houston Texans Brandon Lindsey 3-4 LOLB Pittsburgh Lindsey was a 4-3 end and a 4-3 outside linebacker for Pittsburgh, but he has the size of a 3-4 linebacker at 6 foot 2 240 plus he pass rushes well. If Houston isn’t sold on Connor Barwin or Mr. Irrelevant the Texans could draft Lindsey as a rush linebacker.
62. New York Giants Bernard Pierce RB Temple I’m not exactly sold on Da Rel Scott and Bernard Pierce would give the New York Giants excellent value at the end of round 2.
63. Baltimore Ravens Nigel Bradham 3-4 MLB Florida State Bradham can play the will, mike, or sam, in the 4-3 and makes an excellent tackler inside with the 3-4 scheme. Baltimore needs to find that successor to Ray Lewis and Nigel Bradham is a good pickup in round 2.
64. Green Bay Packers Greg Childs WR Arkansas Wow another Ted Thompson steal. Your giving Aaron Rodgers another receiver to work with by taking the best available player plus you got insurance in case Randall Cobb doesn’t work out.