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This seems a little high but the Giants do have a need at the position. Brandon Jacobs left the team via free agency this year and Ahmad Bradshaw has had continued foot injuries. This is an insurance pick, one the Giants, the defending Super Bowl champs, can afford to take.
SB Nation's Big Blue View explains the pick:
There are questions about Polk, but this is a need pick. The Giants simply have to try and protect themselves with Ahmad Bradshaw's feet and ankles being such a huge question.
For more analysis of the pick, visit Mocking The Draft.
The secondary was a major focus for the Patriots entering free agency and the draft. That's the biggest weakness for what is a strong team. They can help their chances quite a bit by upgrading the secondary with players like Taylor.
SB Nation's Pats Pulpit explains the pick:
With the 62nd pick, I was really in a unique position from a Patriots perspective. With the first three picks, I addressed the front seven of the defense with the selections of Whitney Mercilus, Kendall Reyes, and Shea McClellin. That left the biggest Patriots need as safety. I considered going BPA (possibly WR Mohamed Sanu), but at the same time, safety is such a big need for the Patriots that I didn't think I could leave the position unaddressed. While it would have been ideal to get a safety such as Mark Barron or Harrison Smith with one of my previous picks, Barron was never available and Smith went right before the Patriots' last pick at 47 to the Jets. So at 62, that left three safeties remaining that I would consider: George Illoka, Markelle Martin, and Brandon Taylor.
None of these three safeties is anywhere close to being a finished product, but all are late 2nd-3rd round prospects who have some strengths and could become immediate contributors in the Patriots' secondary. Ultimately, I went with LSU's Brandon Taylor, who has risen up draft boards as of late and who the Patriots have shown some interest in. Taylor is a reliable safety who is both smart and hard working -- two characteristics the Patriots love in their defenders. He can be a force against the run in the box, is instinctive in coverage, and while has only average athleticism and coverage skills for the position, I think he could develop into a solid starter at strong safety for the Patriots (with Patrick Chung transitioning to free safety).
Brooks wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, which some feel was a mistake. If he ends up getting picked in the second round, then it was definitely a mistake. The 49ers keep adding to their already strong offensive line.
SB Nation's Niners Nation explains the pick:
The 49ers enter the NFL Draft looking primarily to fill depth needs at wide receiver, safety and along the defensive line. However, there is the possibility that they will be looking for a starter at right guard. They traded up in the fifth round for Daniel Kilgore last season, and he spent most of the season on the sideline, learning the ropes. The 49ers need at guard will depend primarily on what they expect out of Kilgore in his second year. They have no qualms bringing in somebody to compete for the job, and they could go early on if they think the draft pick or Kilgore could eventually also transition over to the center position. Kevin Zeitler and Amini Silatolu are the two names at the top of the draft board, but Brandon Brooks could be an interesting prospect for the 49ers interior line.
If you're a linebacker, and you're picked by the Ravens, consider yourself lucky. It seems they hit on every linebacker in the draft, so I'll defer to GM Ozzie Newsome, one of the best GMs in the business.
SB Nation's Baltimore Beatdown explains the pick:
The knock on Utah State's Bobby Wagner is is smallish height (6'0, 241 pounds), but his body of work on the field speaks for itself. He is a four-year starter, two-year captain and three-time All-WAC Conference selection. A 40-yard dash in the 4.4-4.5 range with a 39.5" vertical leap proves this guy plays bigger than he actually measures. Any doubt whether he could play with the boys in the bigger conferences was dispelled when he was named the defensive Most Outstanding Player of the North team in the 2012 Senior Bowl with seven tackles, one for loss and an interception. Other than a bout with pneumonia, which caused him to miss the Combine, Wagner has been injury-free in his collegiate career. The Ravens have been watching him closely, going to his pro day as well as bringing him to Baltimore for further review. With the loss of OLB Jarret Johnson to free agency and ILB Ray Lewis not getting any younger, this guy looks to be a fixture on the Ravens great defense for years to come.
Some around the league say Irvin could end up being the best pass rusher of the entire group. He has some off-the-field question marks but his on-the-field talent is legit. He could be a steal here in the second round.
SB Nation's Acme Packing Company explains the pick:
The Green Bay Packers' biggest problems in 2011 were along the front seven. B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews are Pro Bowl-level talents, but the players around them looked like anything but for most of the year. Acme Packing Company addressed one need for a versatile defensive lineman that can play as a 3-4 end in Round 1 with Devon Still, so we're addressing the other pressing issue along the front seven in Round 2 with Bruce Irvin, who could make an immediate impact as a pass rusher on the opposite side of Matthews.
There are questions about Irvin's ability to drop back in coverage and he had a minor run-in with the law, picking up a destruction of property charge in March after he broke a sign at a sandwich shop, but his physical tools and production are too good to ignore. He has the size to play as a 3-4 rush linebacker at 6'3, 245 pounds (though he could stand to put on a bit of weight) and his 4.50 40-yard dash time is impressive. His 8.5 sacks in 2011 were a drop-off from his 14 sacks in 2010, but he put up that lower number under a new coaching staff and on a bad all-around defense.
Irvin is limited, but he fits a need perfectly for the Packers, and it's a bit rare that guys with this combination of physical upside and production fall into the lap of a team that needs them in the late 2nd round.
One of the goals for the Texans this year was finding another weapon in the passing game outside of Andre Johnson. That takes the pressure off of Johnson, who is one of the best receivers in the NFL. This is a solid pick.
SB Nation's Battle Red Blog explains the pick:
The deficiency in Houston's receiving corps is well-documented. After Andre Johnson, the Texans have a solid veteran who may be losing a step (Kevin Walter), a guy who follows up a highlight play with three bad ones (Jacoby Jones), and no one else ready to develop. It's not a matter of if Gary Kubiak will take a wide receiver but when and how many. Since it's our call, Battle Red Blog takes Marvin Jones in Round 2.
Off many people's radars in January, Jones has steadily improved his stock with a strong Senior Bowl week and great Combine. He's got everything the Texans value in a wide receiver: the ability to play in the slot or outside, the route-running skills that'll mesh well in the West Coast Offense and the size that the front office prefers. As a side note, the Texans have had 10 receivers catch a pass in the Kubiak Era, seven were 6'0'', 200 pounds or larger, which Jones is.
All said, Jones fits what the organization wants, improves a weak receiving corps, and should make Houston fans happy.
Dennard was arrested earlier this week so I wouldn't surprised if he ended up falling in the draft. But hitting on cornerback is the right move for the Broncos, who will need to plan for life after Champ Bailey.
SB Nation's Mile High Report explains the pick:
After taking Michael Brockers in the first round, I was prepared to go with either the best running back or best cornerback on the board. I think there is good value here with Chris Polk as well, but getting a guy with the potential of Alfonzo Dennard at the cornerback position is too much to pass up on at this point. Dennard was once considered among the best cornerbacks in the draft, and I still have him ranked 44th overall on my board. The Broncos just cut Andre' Goodman, and have some guys coming off of injured reserve in Syd'Quan Thompson and Cassius Vaughn, but adding Dennard seems to make sense with what I've been hearing they want to do.
Denver also signed Tracy Porter, but just to a one-year contract and I think breakout undrafted rookie Chris Harris is better suited as a nickel defensive back, so this could very well wind up being the pick. In today's NFL, you can never have enough pass rushers, and you can never have enough guys ready to stop opposing quarterbacks. I think Broncos fans would be very pleased with this selection.
You must be good if you're a second round pick out of little Midwestern State. Silatolu fits in well with the Steelers offense and would be a good pick here.
SB Nation's Behind The Steel Curtain explains the pick:
After restocking at linebacker with the selection of Dont'a Hightower, it's time to turn attention back to the Steelers' most obvious area of need -- along the offensive line. Outside of Maurkice Pouncey, the two-time Pro Bowl center who has already cemented his status as one of the game's very best, the Steelers could upgrade any and all other positions. None more so than at guard where the team has received average, and at times awful, play for several years now.
Enter Amini Silatolu, the raw but promising guard out of unknown Midwestern State. Despite having played against lesser competition, Silatolu's upside and potential is easy to identify. The fact that he could potentially develop into a competent right tackle makes him even more intriguing considering the uncertainty of Willie Colon's ability to stay healthy. I suppose the Steelers might be taking a big gamble on a prospect that has yet to show his mettle against the country's best athletes, but the need is certainly there and the possibility of him blossoming into something special makes Silatolu worth the gamble in my mind.
I love this pick. Michael Turner is on the down slide and Wilson can step right in and contribute. This is the Falcons first pick of the draft due to the Julio Jones trade last year.
SB Nation's The Falcoholic explains the pick:
Honestly, I wanted to go with Kelechi Osemele, Vinny Curry, Brandon Thompson or Dwayne Allen here. All four went off the board in rapid succession right in front of me, so I consider this somewhat of a worst-case scenario for the Falcons.
The consolation prize is pretty darn good, though. Wilson is a versatile, potent running back who can carry the rock with alacrity and catch passes with poise. The Falcons have been missing a truly three dimensional, starting-caliber back since Warrick Dunn hit the twilight of his career, and Wilson would give their already dynamic offense a huge boost. Pair him with mighty mite back Jacquizz Rodgers and still valuable battering ram Michael Turner in 2012 and watch the fireworks. By 2013, when Turner's contract is up, he could be the new feature back.
It's fair to argue that the team has bigger needs here, but I see a smart Falcons front office going with the best player available rather than reaching for an inferior prospect along the offensive or defensive line. Wilson it is.
The Lions keep filling needs. It was CB Janoris Jenkins in round 1 and now it's Osemele in round 2.
SB Nation's Pride Of Detroit explains the pick:
After addressing the Lions' need for secondary help in the first round by selecting Janoris Jenkins, I turned my focus to the offensive line in the second round. While plenty of talent is already off the board at tackle, guard and center, there were several names I was considering for the 54th overall pick, including Kelechi Osemele, Amini Silatolu and Bobby Massie.
In the end, I opted to go with Osemele, partly because he is such a versatile offensive lineman. He can play inside at guard or outside at tackle. For the Lions, which don't appear to have any openings in their starting lineup on the offensive line but do have a big need for depth across the board, Osemele is a good fit. He could start his career inside and compete for playing time while being groomed to one day take over for Jeff Backus at left tackle, a position where Osemele said he is more comfortable.
This pick makes a lot of sense and it's good value. The Bengals lost Cedric Benson this year and they'll need someone to replace him, which is Miller in this mock draft. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was also added in free agency.
SB Nation's Cincy Jungle explains the pick:
Even though the Bengals picked up BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants another guy to really get the ground game going for the Bengals, which will hopefully open things up even more for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Green-Ellis can get the tough yards and can play in goal-line situations, while Miller, a perfect change-of-pace guy, has the speed to get around the edge and can be a home run threat every time he touches the ball.
The Cedric Benson era is over and since this is a 100 percent new team, they need another new running back. With Miller's speed, Green-Ellis' tough yards and with Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard in the mix, the Bengals could have one of the better running games in the AFC North. That running game, along with Green's ability to make circus catches, will be Dalton's best friend in 2012.
The Titans defensive line used to be great and with Curry they could be working their way back there. The Titans went defense with their first round pick in Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
SB Nation's Music City Miracles explains the pick:
The Titans pass rush last season was horrible. They did add Kamerion Wimbley in free agency, but they still need a lot more help. Curry is one of those high motor guys that can come in and be a pass rushing specialist from the day he steps on the field. They will eventually want him to do more, but they will be perfectly happy if he can just come in this season and create some havoc on passing downs.
The Titans' front office would be thrilled to walk away with Dre Kirkpatrick in the first and Curry in the second. Kirkpatrick fills the hole left by Cortland Finnegan, and Curry gives them an instant threat to get after the quarterback.
Anyone else want to see Michael Vick and LaMichael James on the field at the same time? Add in DeSean Jackson, and this offense just got a lot more explosive.
SB Nation's Bleeding Green Nation explains the pick:
Last offseason, when the Eagles were signing everyone, one of the guys they went after but struck out on was Darren Sproles. Andy Reid has always loved his all-purpose, pass-catching scat backs that he can use to do pretty much anything in his offense. Now, Andy has another shot to get his Sproles. LaMichael James is the same kind of small, but speedy and shifty dual threat that Sproles would have been in the Eagles' offense.
And with LeSean McCoy likely on the verge of a huge new contract after he emerged as a top 3-5 back in the NFL last season, the need to get a backup to spell and protect him has increased. McCoy had more than 300 touches last season in part because he was so productive with them, but also because no viable backup emerged. James would give the Eagles a great compliment to McCoy and create arguably the shiftiest and hardest to corral backfield in the NFL with Michael Vick.
The Bears continue tweaking their defense. Thompson is a solid value in the second round and should quickly provide some depth while the Bears hope he becomes a future starter.
SB Nation's Mocking The Draft explains the pick:
In this mock draft scenario, Thompson is far and away the best player available. He actually fills a need for the Bears as well. When most look at the Bears, they point to wide receiver, pass rusher and offensive line. But their interior defensive linemen are largely average. Henry Melton is a solid player and Stephen Paea has potential, but missed time last season with injury. A player like Thompson could be lined up at either tackle spot and likely start as a rookie for the Bears. Marshall's Vinny Curry could have been a good choice as well, but Thompson is a big-time talent.
Antonio Gates has been banged up at times in the last few years, and he's not getting any younger. Allen provides some insurance for the Chargers at that position.
SB Nation's Bolts From The Blue explains the pick:
There are a number of players available here for the Chargers to like including a couple of pass rushers and running backs. The Chargers currently don't have a lot of room on the depth chart for anything more than a project at OLB and that perhaps isn't the best use of a 2nd round pick. The team does have a hole at backup RB, but the top players available aren't the best compliments to current starter Ryan Mathews. Instead, the Bolts will go elsewhere for help where there is similar value at this point in the draft and that can contribute now and in the future. That player is TE Dwayne Allen out of Clemson. A.J. Smith has talked this offseason about making the offense dominant enough to keep other teams off the field and Norv Turner is one of the best at scheming ways to occupy safeties. Adding another threat at TE can only help that. It allows Antonio Gates to shift outside some and create matchup problems. It also provides insurance for years to come against any future injuries to Gates. Allen isn't a finished product and might take time to get on the field consistently, but that shouldn't be a problem early in the season with the other offensive weapons available. But as he improves, so should the offense. Expect the RB position to be addressed in the next couple rounds and that project at OLB to come later. Some offensive line depth is still a priority as well.
For more analysis of the pick, visit Mocking The Draft.
McClellin has often been mocked to the Patriots because Bill Belichick loves versatile players like this. McClellin can line up in a number of positions and help the Pats where they need it the most -- rushing the passer.
SB Nation's Pats Pulpit explains the pick:
Having picked up two pieces for the front seven at picks 27 and 31 (Whitney Mercilus and Kendall Reyes), my original plan was to address another area of need with the 48th pick: safety. However, my planned selection, S Harrison Smith, came off the board the pick before me, and I decided to go with the best available player. That player, in my opinion, was outside linebacker / defensive end Shea McClellin. McClellin provides a lot that the first two selections do not. Unlike Mercilus, McClellin is more of a natural fit at linebacker. In addition to playing outside linebacker in the 3-4 and defensive end in sub-packages, McClellin could probably even play strong-side linebacker similar to Rob Ninkovich in the Patriots' 4-3 sets. On third downs, Patriots coach Bill Belichick could use McClellin in a variety of different spots. In an ideal world, I probably would have traded up from 48 to ensure getting Harrison Smith. However, considering Smith came off the board right before my pick and the safety talent left on the board, I felt the best decision was to go best player available here, and that was McClellin. The plan going forward is to select a safety at the 62nd spot, and there should be a few options available at that spot, a few of whom include Markelle Martin, Brandon Taylor, and George Iloka.
For more analysis of the pick, visit Mocking The Draft.
This sounds about right. The Jets have often been connected to Mark Barron in the first round, but after passing on him they can find value here in the second round with Smith.
SB Nation's Gang Green Nation explains the pick:
The Jets addressed one huge need in the first round by taking Melvin Ingram. I could see a scenario where they double dip at the outside linebacker position, but it probably would not be in the second round if the Draft plays out this way. Regarding their other needs, reports indicate they are intent on signing a cheap veteran receiver after the Draft. For reasons unknown to anybody, they seem content with Wayne Hunter battling Vladimir Ducasse for the right tackle spot. That leaves us with safety.
Eric Smith was one of the worst starting safeties in the NFL in 2011. Despite the signing of LaRon Landry, Smith is currently slated to start again. We'll replace him with another Smith. Landry is an in-the-box type of safety. Harrison Smith has the skillset to play centerfield in this defense. Adding Ingram and Smith in the first two rounds takes a defense that was already one of the best in the league and makes it potentially dominant.
For more analysis of the pick, visit Mocking The Draft.
The Eagles have been connected to corners in the past and Johnson was an All-American. It's a natural fit, especially if the Eagles end up trading Asante Samuel. This gives them plenty of depth in the secondary.
SB Nation's Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation, explains the pick:
At 6-2, 200 pounds with a big 33 ¼ wingspan, Johnson has rare size and strength for a corner, which will be important as WRs get bigger and stronger not just in the NFC East, but all around the NFL. And while a knock against him is that he didn't play elite competition in the Big Sky Conference, he did dominate the competition he faced. What he lacks in top end speed, he makes up for with good ball skills and a polish that's rarely seen from smaller school prospects.
The Cowboys continue focusing on the offensive line. They went offensive tackle in the first round last year in Tyron Smith and again hit the offensive line this year with David DeCastro in the first round. Now they move to the defensive line.
SB Nation's Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, explains the pick:
After picking the premiere guard in the draft in round one, David DeCastro, the Cowboys were initially looking at shoring up a troublesome secondary in round two. But, much to their delight, borderline first-round talent Nick Perry from USC was still on the board, and fits a need for Dallas. Although listed above as a defensive end, Perry's size is more suited for an outside linebacker in the Cowboys 3-4 defensive scheme. Dallas franchised current strong-side linebacker Anthony Spencer for 2012, but has yet to work out a long-term deal. Spencer's strength has always been against the run, and the Cowboys are looking for a pass-rushing bookend to superstar DeMarcus Ware. Perry's best attribute in all of the scout's eyes is his ability to rush the passer.
Perry has expressed a preference for being a hand-on-the-ground defensive end and Dallas will be able to use him in that way and as a stand-up edge rusher. Contrary to popular belief, the Cowboys use multiple defensive fronts, switching into a 4-3 alignment for a good percentage of plays. Perry can be used as a pass-rushing defensive end in that alignment, and platoon with Spencer in a base 3-4 alignment. Spencer is stronger against the run, Perry shows much more skill as a pass rusher. Dallas will have to work with Perry to develop his skills as a full-time 3-4 OLB, mainly in setting the edge against the run and dropping back into coverage on occasion. These are the areas that make the pick a bit of a risk. But the benefits of getting an athletic pass-rusher who has been graded by many as a first-round talent is too much to pass on. For too long teams have overloaded their protections to stop Ware; having a legitimate pass-rush option opposite him could greatly benefit the Cowboys defense, and may even help out a secondary that has struggled.
The Chiefs picked up offensive tackle Riley Reiff in the first round and they make another depth move by selecting Robinson here. He'll be backing up Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt in Kansas City.
SB Nation's Chiefs blog, Arrowhead Pride, explains the pick:
The Chiefs lost CB Brandon Carr in free agency but replaced him with CB Stanford Routt. Routt's deal with the Chiefs is essentially a two-year contract (no obligation from the Chiefs on the third year) so they'll need someone to step in and take his place. Enter Josh Robinson. A prospect from a smaller school may need a little more time to develop and he'll have all the time he needs in Kansas City as the Chiefs are set at starting cornerbacks for the 2012 season. In the short term, this is a depth move. In the long term, Robinson ultimately takes over as the starting cornerback opposite Brandon Flowers.
The Seahawks defense is starting to look legit after selecting Courtney Upshaw in the first round. They're re-tooling their linebackers in one draft.
SB Nation's Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, explains the pick:
Having addressed the team's greatest need by getting a pass rusher in round one, there's likely to be two other target areas in rounds two and three. The Seahawks need to draft at least one linebacker, either to fill the MIKE or WILL. With Upshaw filling in as a hybrid DE/SLB, KJ Wright would likely be moved to fill one of the other spots. Malcolm Smith is also highly regarded and Barrett Ruud was added in free agency. Pete Carroll wants to add speed to the front seven, so finding an athletic linebacker with coverage potential is crucial.
The other important need is running back. Seattle's offense is built around the run and when Marshawn Lynch missed time in 2011, the team's offense collapsed. Although Lynch recently signed a big extension, it won't stop the Seahawks looking to draft for the position early. They need a prospect who can take some of the heavy work load away from their offensive MVP and match Lynch's impact if he picks up injuries.
Zach Brown and Doug Martin would've been ideal options but both are off the board at the start of round two. Seattle could turn attentions to Mychal Kendricks and Lamar Miller who both fit the criteria in this range. I've gone for Kendricks due to Pete Carroll's knowledge -- and appreciation -- for the Pac-12. The California linebacker was named Pac-12 defensive MVP last year. He has the speed Carroll craves plus experience playing both outside and inside linebacker. The Seahawks would then be expected to address running back in rounds three or four.
The Dolphins already picked up their future quarterback in the first round (Ryan Tannehill) so they move to defense in the second round.
SB Nation's NFL draft blog, Mocking The Draft, explains the pick:
Branch would fit the role as an outside pass rusher for the Dolphins. Cameron Wake is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but he needs someone to lessen the attention he receives. It's a similar thing to what the Redskins did by adding Ryan Kerrigan across from Brian Orakpo. A college defensive end, some question whether Branch can covert to linebacker. But there were the same questions last year about Kerrigan and he was excellent. Branch has some experience dropping in coverage, both with his hand down and from a linebacker stance.
The Bills went offense in the first round selecting OT Mike Adams so they focus on the defense here, which was also the focus of their free agency period when they acquired Mario Williams.
SB Nation's Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, explains the pick:
After selecting Ohio State tackle Mike Adams in the first round to provide some competition for Chris Hairston at left tackle, there aren't too many more glaring holes to fill on a Buffalo Bills roster that suddenly looks fairly competent.
Wide receiver would be the most obvious remaining issue, but a run on receivers took the likes of Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle, Brian Quick and even Alshon Jeffery off the board before the Bills' second-round selection. There are some interesting prospects available - Mohamed Sanu and Ryan Broyles chief among them - but Sanu isn't great value here, and Broyles isn't what the team is looking for in a No. 2 receiver. Coby Fleener would have been a consideration - he'd add a second receiving threat to the mix, after all - but he, too, was gone.
The guy I really wanted to take here was Lavonte David. The Bills have very weak linebackers, in my opinion; beyond the barely-reliable (from a health and age standpoint) Nick Barnett, there is very little youth or speed, and particularly none to be found when looking for both in one package. I liked David as a down-the-line replacement to Barnett - a weak-side linebacker with the coverage ability, athleticism and instincts to man the middle on passing downs, and with the sideline-to-sideline range that the team desperately needs. Alas, Carolina snagged David at No. 40.
That left me three choices: reach for a receiver I don't like (I've done enough reaching this year), reach for a linebacker I don't like (see previous), or just take the top guy on my board. Hence the selection of Chandler Jones, who only narrowly beat out Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry and Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson for the honors.
Yes, the Bills spent a combined $115.5 million on free agent defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, but that doesn't mean that they should be done re-tooling the position. For one, the team's two primary backups at the moment (assuming Williams and Anderson are destined to start) are Chris Kelsay, who will turn 33 on Halloween, and Shawne Merriman, who hasn't been Shawne Merriman for five years now. There is no youth. There is still not enough depth to create waves of players that can cause havoc; in a division that features Tom Brady, the Bills need to replicate what the New York Giants have done defensively in trying to beat him consistently.
Jones, who is one of the hottest names in the draft class at the moment, did not have a particularly productive three-year career at Syracuse, but he does have some advantages working in his favor. For one, most scouts acknowledge that Jones has only scratched the surface of his playing potential. He also offers some versatility, having logged some time inside in college. Dave Wannstedt, who coached at Pitt through 2010, will have a strong working knowledge of Jones, having played against him for two seasons. Perhaps most importantly, Jones can be groomed, as at best he'd enter the 2012 season fourth on the end depth chart (behind Williams, Anderson and Kelsay), and playing primarily a part-time role while his game is fine-tuned.
The value is good, the prospect is good and philosophically, adding another pass-rushing threat makes all the sense in the world. I took a lot of heat for the pick of Adams - justifiably so, as I hated it more than most - but I'm much more comfortable making this pick. Jones would be an excellent investment for Buffalo in Round 2.
The Panthers have had some injury issues at linebacker in recent years so they're hoping David will be able to stay healthy in Carolina.
SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, explains the pick:
Panthers HC Ron Rivera indicated early on he is looking for impact players on defense, in particular the front 7. We also have a big question mark as to whether LB Thomas Davis can achieve what has never been achieved to date in the NFL; to return to the field after a 3rd ACL surgery on the same knee. Even the best case scenario warrants an early selection for one of the key positions in the Panthers 4-3 base defense; the weakside LB. Lavonte David not only fills that role extremely well but he also rises to the NFL in a manner similar to the guy he will back up.
David played the 2011 college season around 225 lbs but has since bulked up to 233 lbs as measured at the combine. The added weight didn't affect his speed the slightest (4.56) and so, just like Davis he is being questioned as to whether he is a safety in the NFL. Like Davis, Lavonte will put on a little bulk and settle in at WLB whenever Davis is not able too, whether that is this fall or another season or two. In the meantime he will also be another boost to our special teams unit.
On the field David brings the speed to cover TE's out of the backfield, a talent sorely missing in 2011 without Davis or MLB Jon Beason. He shows a talent for penetrating the line and making tackles for losses both in short yardage and end runs. David has great football instincts, is physically strong and is a sure tackler, making him the kind of impact player Ron Rivera seeks from the WLB position.
The Rams are in desperate need of receivers, which is why some have them taking Justin Blackmon in the first round. But the Rams wait until Round 2 in this mock draft to address their receiver concerns with the boom or bust Jeffery.
SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times, explains the pick:
The Rams are quickly forming the all-motivation team in the second round of this draft. In reality, this has the potential to be a pick with very good value, and Jeff Fisher has been willing to take chances in the past on players with questions about character and motivation issues. Jeffery is unlike any receiver the Rams currently have on the roster. Tall and sure-handed he gives Sam Bradford a large target, someone that excels at stretching for a ball and plucking it out of the air with one hand.
The Jags addressed the pass rush with their first round pick and now move back to offense with their second round pick.
SB Nation's Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country, explains the pick:
The Jaguars need to add to their receiving corps after picking up a defensive end in the first round. The team needs a bigger receiver added to their line up after picking up Laurent Robinson in free agency, who can stretch the field. Quick adds a player with size to the team who can also add another big red zone threat for Blaine Gabbert. Quick is also a high potential type player who's still a bit raw and will need refining, but early on his size and strong hands will get him into the lineup.
The Browns went offense with their first two picks -- Justin Blackmon and Kendall Wright -- so it makes sense they'd focus on defense with this one.
SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, explains the move:
Linebacker Scott Fujita has ended the past two seasons on the injured reserve. While he has been a veteran to rely on when he does play, the Browns desperately lack depth at linebacker and could use some youth to inject some more life into the group. His quickness and explosiveness should help the team in pass coverage, as the team had trouble covering tight ends at times last season (see Jared Cook outrunning the linebackers for an 80-yard score).
SB Nation's NFL bloggers have completed the first round of their 2012 NFL mock draft. Follow each pick here.
The Bucs went with Morris Claiborne in the first round when they could have had Trent Richardson. Martin is no Richardson, but he's a solid back and a good value here in the second round.
SB Nation's Bucs blog, Bucs Nation, explains the pick:
By picking Morris Claiborne in the first round of the draft, the Bucs addressed one need -- but they still have two major needs left: linebacker and running back. Tampa Bay has a large number of linebackers, yet none of them can be safely relied upon to start and play well next season. Meanwhile, at running back they only have two players under contract: the one-dimensional Legarrette Blount, and undrafted second-year player Mossis Madu, who played about a dozen snaps last year.
With the players still on the board, the Bucs have some options here. Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David is a popular pick for the Bucs, but I'm taking a different route: running back Doug Martin out of Boise State. The Bucs need a running back who can help Legarrette Blount, who can provide them with security if Blount goes down and, most importantly, who can function as a third-down back.
Doug Martin can do all of that. He's a versatile running back who can run downhill with power, has the speed to get to the edge and has enough wiggle to make a man miss in space. He's also an experienced pass-catcher, although his pass-blocking needs to improve as with most drafted players. I've seen people compare him repeatedly to Ray Rice, Greg Schiano's old college running back, and that comparison certainly bodes well for him. In short: Martin's a complete running back who could carry the load if needed, but would at the very least be a very good complement to Legarrette Blount.
The Vikings picked up Matt Kalil in the first round, and he should help protect Christian Ponder. Now, with this pick, it's time to give Ponder some weapons.
SB Nation's Vikings blog, Daily Norseman, explains the pick:
With the Vikings making at least some token moves to attempt to upgrade their secondary this off-season, their second-biggest need in this year's draft appears to be at the wide receiver position. While I was really hoping for Stephen Hill to somehow make his way to this spot, he got snapped up by San Francisco a few spots earlier. So, in an effort to find a player that could help to fill the Vikings' need for a player that can get deep and potentially open up the offense, we turn to Rueben Randle, the wide receiver from LSU.
At just a shade under 6'3" and around 210 pounds, Randle fits the bill as the sort of receiver that can play on the outside for Minnesota. He has the size to get off of press coverage and better top-end speed than you might expect, averaging a shade over 17 yards/catch for a team that was (largely) saddled with lousy quarterback play. He'll probably need some time to adjust to the NFL game, as all wide receivers do, and I know some folks might not have him rated quite this highly, but I think he has as much potential as any wide receiver remaining at this point in the proceedings, and could be a big-play threat for the Vikings in the future.
The Colts house cleaning efforts this offseason included parting ways with longtime TE Dallas Clark. He was a safety net for Peyton Manning for all those years in Indy and the Colts hope Fleener becomes the same for the presumptive No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.
SB Nation's Colts blog, Stampede Blue, explains the pick:
HEY! It's a Colts draft party, and only prospects from Stanford are invited! At pick No. 34, the impulse for the Colts is to take a nose tackle, ANY nose tackle, because their new look 3-4 defense simply will not work without one. It is completely pointless to run 3-4 without a quality nose tackle, and while I had my sights on Brandon Thompson of Clemson, at the end of the day it comes down to value. A kid like Thompson is a nice player. He'll give you 100%. He'll play tough. He'll be a good player in the middle of your defense. However, Fleener has the potential to be a dominant offensive player in the NFL. As the Patriots showed last year, utilizing the tight end in the modern NFL (where safeties can no longer use their helmets to spear receivers over the middle) can carve up just about anyone. The 6'6, 245 lbs Fleener ran a 4.45 second 40 at his Pro Day. A windy, outdoor Pro Day! His hands are football magnets. He can jump. He fights for yardage and drags defenders for first downs. Basically, Fleener has a chance to be a Pro Bowler while most NT prospects here are just solid. Thus, the move here is Fleener with, possibly, grabbing someone like Baylor's Nicolas Jean-Bapiste in round three.
The Rams need help at a lot of positions and Worthy is one of the best players remaining. Defensive tackle is a tough position to fill, so if the Rams can find that guy in the second round, all the better.
SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times, explains the pick:
Gregg Williams is exiled, and nobody has a good idea of what exactly the Rams' defense will look like in terms of scheme specifics. They signed Kendall Langford, and Worthy will be a good pairing in the middle of the front four. Some say Worthy will need pushing from his coaches to realize his full potential. The Rams finally have a coaching staff known for getting the most of their players.
An elite player at the end of the first round. Center isn't a position that's normally highly regarded but I think you can justify a first round pick on a center who is considered the best in the class, as Konz is.
SB Nation's Giants blog, Big Blue View, explains the pick:
The Giants could go a lot of different ways here: offensive line, wide receiver, running back, linebacker, and cornerback. Konz seemingly doesn't fill the need for an offensive tackle, but he is the best offensive lineman and best value left on the board. Giants GM Jerry Reese is all about value, so Konz is the choice. Besides, he could end up starting at left guard.
The defensive makeover in New England continues. After picking up Whitney Mercilus with their first pick, the Patriots continue to add to the defensive line. Kendall Reyes is a future defensive end in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. Of course, the Patriots are just as likely to trade this pick to a needy team in the second round and end up with another first-round pick next year.
SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, explains the pick:
After picking up Illinois defensive end / outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus with the 27th pick, I have the Patriots continuing to upgrade their front seven with the selection of Connecticut defensive lineman Kendall Reyes with the 31st pick. While the Patriots could very well trade out of one of their two first round spots, they have a pressing need to add talent at the 5-technique position this draft. While Brandon Deaderick, Jonathan Fanene, and Ron Brace can start as needed, none have a very high ceiling. Kendall Reyes would offer that for the Patriots. He's got good size (6'4", 299 pounds), athleticism, and work ethic. He could probably jump into the defensive line rotation as an one-gap interior rusher as a rookie, and be a starter at defensive end in the base 3-4 by year two.
The 49ers added to their receiver group this offseason with Randy Moss but they need a longterm answer, which is now Stephen Hill, who tore it up at the NFL Combine with a fast 40-yard dash time. Hill is now the deep threat the 49ers have been seeking.
SB Nation's 49ers blog, Niners Nation, explains the pick:
The San Francisco 49ers have put themselves in a position where they can draft with the long-term future in mind, as opposed to getting immediate big production. The 49ers added Mario Manningham and Randy Moss this offseason, but even if they both play well this year, the only receiver signed beyond 2013 is Michael Crabtree. Stephen Hill is a very raw prospect, but the 49ers are in a position where they can develop him without rushing him. At the same time, his performance at the Combine and his YAC this past season show a guy who can make significant contributions at the next level. The 49ers are looking for Moss to stretch the field, but if the veteran receiver shows his age, Hill could be the guy who can stretch things out. Other possibilities at this spot include Coby Fleener, offensive line help, or trading down.
This pick makes a ton of sense after the Ravens lost guard Ben Grubbs to the Saints in free agency. Zeitler steps in and takes over the position. The Ravens rarely let players walk without a plan to replace them, so I wouldn't be surprised by this pick at all.
SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, explains the pick:
The Baltimore Ravens need to find a replacement for left guard Ben Grubbs, who bolted for the big bucks in free agency to the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens have mentioned trying last year's 3rd round draft pick, Jah Reid, into that position, one that he has never played before. Ironically, the choice here was between Zeitler and his Wisconsin teammate, center Peter Konz. Konz is leaving college after his junior year and has been recovering from a dislocated ankle that kept him out of the second half of the 2011 season, and disappointed at the Combine in the bench press, putting up only 18 reps. Zeitler, which had 32 reps at the Combine, is a mauler while Konz is more of a wall-off blocker, which is not what the Ravens need in putting a lot of emphasis on the running game. Zeitler led the nation for knockdown blocks with 142 and had 33 blocks that led to touchdowns. This draft pick will be the type that the Ravens "plug-and-play" right away as soon as he hits the team's practice field.
The Packers defense had some issues last year, so going defense makes sense with this pick. Still is a solid value here and with B.J. Raji in the fold likely projects to a defensive end in the Packers 3-4 defense.
SB Nation's Mocking The Draft explains the pick:
The Packers are one of those teams that can truly go best player available. With that in mind, it was fair and away Still, who also happens to be a good fit for their 3-4 front. There was no defensive tackle in the nation that played better than Still in 2011. He's a powerful player, but has the arm length and enough athleticism to line up at end.
The Patriots big needs heading into the offseason were receiver and pass rusher. They signed Brandon Lloyd to a multi-year deal so pass rusher remains as a need. Mercilus can be viewed as a boom or bust prospect considering he doesn't have multiple years of good production in college.
SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, explains the pick:
Heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Patriots desperately need to add a dynamic pass rusher to their front seven. Mark Anderson, the team's co-leader in sacks in 2011, departed to the division rival Buffalo Bills on a contract that the Patriots determined was too steep to match. His pass rush counterpart from 2011, Andre Carter, remains an unrestricted free agent on the open market, as he is still recovering from a quad injury that landed him on injured reserve late last season.
The Patriots will likely want to add pieces at wide receiver, running back, interior offensive line, and 5-technique at some point in this draft. However, at 27, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus possesses too much value to pass up at a position of need. While some are labeling Mercilus a "one year wonder," there's no denying his talent or explosion as a pass rusher. He is relentless getting after the quarterback, and is always playing all-out in effort (unlike another prospect I considered, Penn State DT/DE Devon Still). He still has some work to go on his technique, but the athleticism and potential are definitely there. He has the size/speed the Patriots look for in their outside linebackers (6'4", 261 lbs, 4.68 40 yard dash), and even if he did not work out as an outside linebacker, he'd still be able to play a majority of the team's snaps in four man fronts and sub-packages. At some point, the Patriots need to take a risk on a pass rusher who has high potential. Mercilus would be the perfect candidate for that.
A new nose tackle for the Texans already improved defense. Poe has been getting some top 10 buzz, so this could qualify as a good value for the Texans. Their defense was significantly better last season under Wade Phillips and adding Poe will only strengthen that.
SB Nation's Texans blog, Battle Red Blog, explains the pick:
Lost in the Texans' defensive improvement last season was that the defense was still weak up the middle against the run, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has ever seen Shaun Cody or Earl Mitchell play. Enter Dontari Poe. While Wade Phillips does not normally use a NT with 2-gap size, he's done so when the talent was available (Ted Washington, Jamal Williams). Poe would give him that talent, but with the added bonus of having the speed and agility to play the 1-gap style that Wade prefers, especially on passing downs. There was some discussion that perhaps the Texans should look at Whitney Mercilus or Nick Perry due to the departure of Mario Williams, and there were some concerns about Poe's possibly being a Combine warrior. In the end, however, we simply couldn't pass up improving the NT position with the unreal combination of speed, size, and strength that Poe brings to the table.
Dontari Poe 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Broncos defense played better than where they ranked last season, but they still need help along the defensive line. Brockers is huge (6'6 and 322 pounds) and fills a need along the Broncos defensive line.
SB Nation's Broncos blog, Mile High Report, explains the pick:
This would probably be some kind of best-case scenario for the Broncos. The board has played out that the only defensive tackle off the board is Fletcher Cox. That seems somewhat unlikely to me, but Cox is not the top DT on my board so for the Broncos, this could be ideal and could result in a move down. From what I've been told, the Broncos would like to trade down if they can, so this would be the ideal scenario to do so. However, it'd be very tough to pass on the talent that Michael Brockers possesses. He is my top-ranked DT this year, and I think he's going to be an absolute stud in the NFL. I read that he was given a late-first to early-second round grade by the draft advisory committee, but based on potential alone I think he is a top 15 grade. At 25 overall, this is a steal and Broncos fans would be dancing and jumping for joy.
If the Steelers are picking a linebacker in the first round, chances are he'll end up being pretty good. That's the way it always seems to work with the Steel Curtain defense, which is getting older, so you won't hear any complaints on this pick from me.
SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain, explains the pick:
James Farrior is old. Real old. It's a wonder the 36-year old quarterback of Dick LeBeau's defense has been able to play at as high a level as he has in recent years, but it's about time to pass the torch. Lawrence Timmons is quite the talent and still has room for considerable improvement, but I don't think too many fans are confident that he's best suited to be the play caller and extension of LeBeau that is expected of the position. Hightower, however, would be a great fit. He called the plays for Nick Saban's defense last season at Alabama. Though he may be somewhat inexperienced defending the pass in zone schemes, he takes fantastic angles to the ball, so I assume he'll be a quick learn and be ready to take over the reigns as a starter as early as the second part of the 2012 season.
Seems like a boom or bust type of pick. There's an obvious need in the secondary but there are concerns about Jenkins off the field. Still, he's a heck of a talent and this could be a steal of a pick if he pans out.
SB Nation's Lions blog, Pride of Detroit, explains the pick:
As tempting as it was to go defensive line in the first round for the Lions for the third year in a row and select somebody like defensive end Whitney Mercilus, I couldn't pass up the chance to improve the Lions' secondary. A year ago, when it was suspected that Janoris Jenkins would go pro, many people had predicted the Lions to take him with the 13th overall pick. Then he decided to stay in school and ultimately landed at North Alabama after being kicked out of Florida.
There are definitely several character concerns surrounding Jenkins, but the Lions have a very strong locker room, especially on defense. There are a lot of leaders on the team who would take Jenkins under their wing, and he is talented enough to select, even with the concerns. He has been compared to Asante Samuel, who the Lions nearly acquired last summer and were briefly linked to at the end of March. Rather than give up a few draft picks and a high salary to trade for Samuel, the Lions' best bet is to draft a player like Jenkins. He would fill a big need at cornerback and immediately improve the Lions' pass defense.
Janoris Jenkins 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
It's hard for me to get on board with this pick, especially after the Browns went receiver (Justin Blackmon) with their other first round pick. That said, the Browns will make a major weakness one of their strengths. SB Nation's Dawgs By Nature explains the pick:
It might seem unconventional for the Browns to go with two wide receivers in the first round. That was not the ideal case, as the team is without a starting right tackle. Mike Adams was taken earlier than expected, and it is no surprise that Jonathan Martin didn't fall this far. Cleveland could also use an additional pass rusher, but there aren't enough intriguing linebackers remaining worthy of a first-round pick. I don't believe the Browns will take defensive end Nick Perry in round one after drafting a defensive end last year and signing two defensive ends as free agents during the offseason.
The concept of drafting both Blackmon and Wright is one that says, "let's just start over at receiver already." For several years now, the Browns' group of wide receivers has been regarded as one of the worst in football. If the Browns stick with Colt McCoy at quarterback, the only chance he has at growing is if the receivers around him do a better job at getting open. Between Wright, Justin Blackmon, and last year's second round pick Greg Little, Cleveland will have patched the position they were sorely lacking at, and that's just in the first round -- they'll have 11 more picks after this to continue rebuilding the team via the draft.
The Bengals have a need at guard after losing Nate Livings in free agency and Bobbie Williams' contract expiring so this is an obvious need. Glenn comes from an SEC school where he played some of the best competition in college football. A solid pick.
SB Nation's Bengals blog, Cincy Jungle, explains the pick:
Heading into the 2012 season, one of the biggest needs for the Bengals was at guard. They lost Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn in free agency (which nobody is complaining about) and Bobbie Williams' contract is up. They addressed the position by signing free agent Travelle Wharton, who will likely start at left guard, but they still need help at right guard. Cordy Glenn could jump in and start from day one and give the Bengals one of the better offensive lines they've had in the last few years. If that offensive line could keep Andy Dalton protected and open holes for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Bengals could find themselves pushing for a spot in the playoffs again in 2012.
You lose Cortland Finnegan in free agency and replace him with a first round cornerback. Kirkpatrick has played some of the best competition and won a lot of games, so there's reason to believe he will do a fine job replacing Finnegan.
SB Nation's Titans blog, Music City Miracles, explains the pick:
The Titans need help at almost every spot on defense. Most people believe they will take the best defensive player available, and Dre Kirkpatrick is just that in this scenario. He has top 10 talent, but has been sliding down the draft because of his arrest earlier this offseason. Kirpatrick's weakness is that he isn't a very good man coverage guy, but the Titans don't play very much man. He would be a perfect fit for their system. Adding him would allow them to keep Alterraun Verner in the slot where he is best.
Imagine the Bears going from having one of the worst receiver groups in the NFL to what could be one of the best. That's what would happen if they drafted Floyd after trading for Brandon Marshall earlier this year. It's hard to complain when you upgrade a position group so drastically in one season.
SB Nation's Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron, explains the pick:
Just imagine... 2011: Devin Hester (5'11, 190), Johnny Knox (6'0, 190), Earl Bennett (6'0, 200). And then 2012: Brandon Marshall (6'4, 230), Michael Floyd (6'3, 225). Sure, the Chicago Bears offensive line still needs some significant work, but seeing a WR like Floyd fall in their lap in the first round would be too much to pass up.
At one point, there were concerns that Floyd's lack of speed could be an issue heading into the Draft, but registering a 4.47 40-yard dash during his Pro Day laid that issue to rest. Floyd is a very physical receiver, and loves to go up and fight for the football, something that has been sorely lacking in Chicago for several seasons.
Drafting Michael Floyd after trading for Brandon Marshall (and sprinkling in a bit of Hester, Knox, and/or Bennett) could potentially give the Chicago Bears one of the best WR corps in the league. ... And undoubtedly help take some heat off a QB that has been sacked 110 times in his first three years in the Windy City.
Won't find any arguments from me. Assuming he's healthy, this is a solid pick at a position that isn't necessarily a major need but could be upgraded. San Diego quickly has one of the better safety tandems in the league with this pick.
SB Nation's Bolts From The Blue explains the pick:
The plan with this pick after all the free agency moves was to go best player available. Mark Barron is that guy. The scouts over at Bolts From The Blue have been watching Barron closely since the beginning of the 2010 season. He's shown himself to a be a good playmaker, great at diagnosing plays and very good in run support. The Chargers have a prospect in Darrell Stuckey ready to take over the SS position, but Barron is a better talent. The Chargers need a player like that playing next to Pro Bowler Eric Weddle and helping out their corners who got exposed at times last year. One of the team's top priorities for the offseason was fixing their defense so that they are no longer last in the league on 3rd downs. This is a step in that direction.
Mark Barron 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Bengals lost CB Johnathan Joseph in free agency last year and they need to replace him, which is where Gilmore comes in. He projects as the future starter and there seem to be few question marks about his game.
SB Nation's Cincy Jungle explains the pick:
Even though the Bengals have loaded up on cornerbacks in free agency by bringing back Adam Jones and signing Jason Allen, Cincinnati needs to address the future of the position and figure out how they're going to replace Johnathan Joseph, who left in free agency before the 2011 season. The only way to do that is in the draft and with the talent at the cornerback position in the 2012 draft class, the Bengals are lucking out. Gilmore is a talented, mature and team-oriented corner who could contribute right away and take over as a starting cornerback down the road opposite of Leon Hall. With Gilmore and Hall in the secondary, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will be able to be much more creative with the front seven when it comes to the pass rush.
Stephon Gilmore 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
Rex Ryan has a new toy on defense. Ingram at the 16th pick is a solid value as many people have him going in the top 10. The Jets are in the AFC East, with Tom Brady and the Patriots, so rushing the passer is of utmost importance.
SB Nation's Gang Green Nation explains the pick:
Even though Rex Ryan is known for his love of getting after quarterbacks, the Jets have not made getting pass rushers a priority during his tenure. They have opted for developmental players (Jamaal Westerman), cheap veteran signings (Jason Taylor), and scrap heap pickups (Aaron Maybin). Rumors are swirling that Ryan wants to change that and add a difference maker at outside linebacker and loves Ingram. It makes sense. He loves to move his pass rushers all over, and Ingram lined up at linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle at South Carolina.
Melvin Ingram 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
Outside of the first three picks, this is the most popular mock draft selection. This is a perfect example of talent meeting need for the Eagles. If Kuechly is on the board, it would be an upset if they didn't go this direction.
SB Nation's Bleeding Green Nation explains the pick:
Now that the Eagles have traded for DeMeco Ryans, every mock drafter on the planet has seemingly checked linebacker off the list for the Eagles and moved on. Not me. If you watched the Eagles at all last season, you'd know their problems at LB were more than just the man in the middle. In reality, the Eagles could probably use an upgrade at all three spots. So for me, Ryans is just the start of the overhaul. The chance to add a guy like Kuechly here is just too good to pass up and in the course of one offseason could turn this teams' biggest weakness into one of its most talented units.
While Kuechly is most often projected at middle linebacker, he really played all over the place at BC, so I see no reason why he couldn't slide over to SAM with Ryans next to him at MIKE.
Luke Kuechly 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
DeCastro is by far the top guard in the NFL draft and the Cowboys have a need at guard. That makes this pick an easy one. Interior offensive linemen picked this high don't bust very often so it's also a safe pick.
SB Nation's Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, explains the pick:
The Cowboys interior offensive line was a problem last season, and with the release of Kyle Kosier at guard last week, the position is truly in flux. Dallas did pick up a couple of veteran guards in free agency, but the future of the position is still in question. Enter David DeCastro, who many scouts have said is the best guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson. He's got every skill you need and is a fierce run-blocker. Blessed with agile feet, he's extremely good on the move, and in the Cowboys run-blocking scheme the guards are often asked to pull. DeCastro is projected as the kind of player you pencil into the starting lineup for the next decade. Dallas picked up their tackle of the future last year with Tyron Smith, they could do the same at guard this year with David DeCastro.
David DeCastro 2012 NFL Draft Player Profile (via sbnnfl)
Can't knock this pick. I'm a sucker for any and all offensive line help. The Cards recently re-signed OT Levi Brown, former fifth overall pick who hasn't been elite in his five-year NFL career. Martin gives the Cards more help and helps solidify the offensive line, while also pushing Brown.
SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Revenge of the Birds, explains the pick:
The offensive line is clearly the Cardinals' greatest need. With both David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin on the board, the decision is tough. DeCastro could be an elite guard. Martin has great film, but has one glaring weakness -- his weakness (lack of strength). In the end, Martin is the guy to go with because the Cardinals seek a tackle, especially someone who could play left tackle. Martin's technique is great, his athleticism is without question and if strength is the only thing lacking, he can acquire that with John Lott, one of the best in the business at strength and conditioning.
Jonathan Martin 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Seattle Seahawks picked up Matt Flynn in free agency so quarterback is no longer an immediate need. Thus, the Seahawks turn their attention to defense where SB Nation's Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, makes the pick of Upshaw.
Seattle's priority in round one has to be improving the team's outside pass rush, as it currently relies too much on Chris Clemons. Pete Carroll will be looking for someone who can fit as a DE/OLB hybrid, get to the quarterback and provide solid run support. Courtney Upshaw played the exact same role for Alabama and in many ways is ideal for the Seahawks. Don't be surprised if they make him the 12th overall pick.
Upshaw is one of those guys who may not have great Combine numbers but he has what matters and that's production on the field. Alabama defenders are well-coached and generally come to the league well prepared. Upshaw will be no different and should hit the field quickly.
Courtney Upshaw 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Chiefs picked up RT Eric Winston in free agency which would seemingly eliminate the need for an offensive tackle in the draft. But KC is surprised to see Reiff drop this far. GM Scott Pioli has a good relationship with Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and they don't pass up an opportunity to select Reiff.
SB Nation's Chiefs blog, Arrowhead Pride, explains:
The Chiefs are stunned when they see Reiff, considered by many to be a better prospect than Mike Adams (No. 10 to Buffalo), still available with the 11th pick. This is a best player available type of situation and the Chiefs select Reiff knowing full well they have two NFL starters already on the offensive line.
Reiff is the future replacement for LT Branden Albert, who is entering the final year of his contract. Reiff's availability means the Chiefs don't have to give Albert a long-term deal and could entertain trading him. Reiff comes from Iowa, where he was coached by Kirk Ferentz, a close friend of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. Iowa linemen are noted for how well-coached they are and Reiff is no different. He pushes for playing time immediately but he's not truly in the plans until 2013.
Riley Reiff 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Bills let OT Demetrius Bell hit free agency which means they're in the market for an offensive tackle. Many people have Iowa OT Riley Reiff ranked higher than Adams but SB Nation's Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, rolls with Adams Instead.
Buffalo Rumblings writes:
Bills GM Buddy Nix is one of the most transparent personnel evaluators in the league, always willing to tell some degree of the truth when speaking with reporters. In discussing the draft this winter, two themes have emerged: Nix has a desire to pick up an extra draft pick if possible, and he's not particularly fond of the top of any positional group this year in terms of valuing those prospects worthy of a Top 10 pick.
Translation: the Bills seem ready and very willing to move down. Had I had that option in this here mock draft, I'd have most certainly explored it. I considered no fewer than 16 players with this selection. Every one of them felt like a reach.
In that light, knowing I'd be reaching, I decided to reach for a player that seemed like a Nix type of prospect. With Demetrius Bell looking like a sure bet as a free agent departure, the Bills have exactly one left tackle on the roster in second-year pro Chris Hairston - and the team admits that he's probably not ready to be handed a starting job yet. He needs a competitor for that job, and the 6'7", 323-pound Adams fits Buffalo's size requirement (the nine linemen Nix has acquired in just over two years are, on average, 6'6" and 331 pounds) better than other similarly-skilled prospects at the position.
Yes, Adams is highly inconsistent and has some red flags. No, he is not franchise-caliber. But he's experienced, had very strong performances against top competition, and would be playing in a Bills offense that emphasizes getting the ball out of Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands as quickly as possible. He's mobile enough to move around in the Bills' spread-type attack, get to the second level as a run blocker out of those alignments, and can be polished up into a quality starter by line coach Joe D'Alessandris.
Adams fits what the Bills are looking for at tackle better than the likes of Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin, in my opinion. Could they get him lower? Absolutely - and again, a trade down is looking like the Day 1 goal for Buffalo. They may even be able to do better in a pinch if they're forced to stay at No. 10; Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Melvin Ingram, Luke Kuechly and Dre Kirkpatrick, among others, all make sense. But on a roster that suddenly looks like it could be playoff-competitive, finding quality depth at left tackle is an absolute must. The earlier they address it, the better their chances of finding a guy that can push to start.
Mike Adams 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Panthers had some defensive tackle trouble last season so Cox fills an immediate need, which is to help shore up the run defense. With Charles Johnson at defensive end, the team needs to establish a strong interior presence. SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, explains the pick:
There is no question the Panthers will look to bolster the defense with this draft, and that starts up front at DT where the Panthers were terrible at stopping the run last year. Though the Panthers would prefer an elite pass rusher like Quinton Coples, with Coples off the board, instead they take Fletcher Cox as the best DT in the draft. In spite of Dontari Poe getting all the hype from the combine Cox was just as impressive and is a better fit for the Panthers scheme.
Cox can play anywhere along the 4-3 front line, plays with a relentless motor and is the best DT in this draft getting off his blocks and making plays against the run and pass. Cox played against top flight competition and is a strong, agile and athlete DT who can make plays in the backfield and might end up the best interior pass rusher in this draft. Another big plus is no one questions his effort and he enters the NFL as a high character guy with no red flags.
Fletcher Cox 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The Dolphins basically have no choice at this point when it comes to quarterback. Tannehill is the only option that represents some longterm upside. Argue about Tannehill being worth the No. 8 overall pick but there just aren't many good quarterbacks out there so you take your chances on one when you can. SB Nation's Dolphins blog, The Phinsider, explains the pick:
Taking Tannehill here may not be a popular choice among Miami Dolphins fans. He's a reach at the eight spot, and I would agree with many fans that he may not be worth taking here. But, the Dolphins need a quarterback, and he's the top one left on the board.
There's a good possibility that the Dolphins could look at Melvin Ingram at this position as well, and I would love that pick. He's the perfect pass rusher the Dolphins need to pair with Cameron Wake. But, in the end, the need for a quarterback outweighs the pros for picking Ingram.
The Dolphins know Tannehill, having his head coach, Mike Sherman, as the team's new offensive coordinator. If they believe he is capable of being a franchise quarterback, then I am all for this pick -- even if it is a reach in a down quarterback draft year.
Ryan Tannehill 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
With the seventh pick in SB Nation's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select North Carolina DE Quinton Coples.
The Jaguars have been seeking pass rush help ever since they last used a top 10 pick on a defensive end (Derrick Harvey, 2008). Coples is the biggest impact player remaining on the board even if other positions may make more sense. SB Nation's Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country, explains the pick:
Picking Coples at seventh overall has become the cliché, boring pick for the Jaguars, but with Morris Claiborne off the board, it's really the only player that makes sense. The Jaguars have lacked a legitimate pass rusher since ... well, forever. Tony Brackens was quite the pass rusher, but he hasn't been on the team since 2003. The failures of Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves from the 2008 Draft only further stagnated the pass rush.
Jeremy Mincey emerged for the team in 2011 with eight sacks, but he's less a pure pass rusher and more an every-down player that forces quarterback pressures with his high motor. Even if he does continue to improve in 2012, though, there is no pass rusher on the roster to have much faith in on the other side of the line.
A 6-6, 284 pound athletic freak like Coples is a risky, home run type of pick, but the Jaguars need more star power and need to swing for the fences to find stars. In my opinion, the best idea would be for the Jaguars to trade down 10-15 picks and go after another pass rusher like Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus.
Quinton Coples 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
Eight years ago the Rams picked up RB Steven Jackson in the first round of the draft and I'm not even sure they could've predicted how much production they would get out of him. He's carried the ball at least 237 times every season dating back to 2005, his second year in the league.
Richardson is the same type of back, but even more dynamic. This is a perfect fit. SB Nation's, Rams blog, Turf Show Times, explains the pick:
The Rams desperately need skill players on offense. Blackmon is a better fit given the need at receiver, but Richardson is a superior talent. He compares well with Steven Jackson, who has since lost his speed and explosiveness as a result of being leaned on so heavily in the last five years. Richardson can be a feature back or a one-two punch with Steven Jackson. The offense can use the pairing to create mismatches and draw the attention of defenses, which would ideally free up some space on the field for their receivers.
Trent Richardson 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
With the fifth pick in SB Nation's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select LSU CB Morris Claiborne.
The Bucs are in a tough spot at cornerback right now. CB Ronde Barber is returning for another year so he'll be involved and CB Aqib Talib has been in some off-the-field trouble and has a trial date scheduled for June, which means the Bucs won't know his status for the upcoming season until after the draft.
Claiborne is extremely talented at a premium position so the Bucs are doing the right thing in locking it down now. SB Nation's Bucs blog, Bucs Nation, explains the pick.
After a flurry of high-profile free agent signings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have managed to fill a number of needs, eliminating a few prospects from consideration for their fifth overall draft pick. The team still has two major needs it must fill, though, as they need a new starting linebacker and a third-down back who can act as a complement to the limited Legarrette Blount. However, no linebacker or running back on the board would represent great value with the fifth pick. While Luke Kuechly and Trent Richardson are both terrific players, picking 4-3 linebackers or running backs in the top 5 seems like a thing of the past. The Bucs haven't viewed these positions as particularly important in the past, either, mostly relying on mid- to late-round draft picks.
Instead, the Bucs are more likely to select cornerback Morris Claiborne. While the Bucs don't have a huge immediate need at the position with Aqib Talib, Eric Wright and Ronde Barber under contract, the team does not have a lot of certainty at cornerback. Ronde Barber has had a great career, but he's been steadily declining for years. Aqib Talib's various legal problems have been well-documented, and it's not even clear whether the former first-rounder will be able to enjoy his freedom during the season. Add to that possible discipline handed down by Roger Goodell, and the fact that he's entering the final year of his contract and he can't be counted on.
All of this means the Bucs must find a long-term, reliable starter at cornerback at some point in the next year, and Morris Claiborne could easily fit the bill. The LSU cornerback is the best cover cornerback to come out in years, and could immediately start in case of an Aqib Talib jail sentence and/or suspension. Barring that, he'd get a season to learn the ropes with Ronde Barber as a mentor, before becoming a likely starter in 2013. Either way, the Bucs get a good, young player who could be a long-term starter at a position in dire need of stability.
Morris Claiborne 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
With the fourth pick in SB Nation's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Cleveland Browns select Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon.
Our first semi-surprise in the SB Nation mock draft. The Colts took QB Andrew Luck, the Redskins picked QB Robert Griffin III and the Vikings took OT Matt Kalil -- all those were expected. The Browns taking Blackmon is a bit of a surprise, at least for me. RB Trent Richardson is also an option, as is QB Ryan Tannehill, and you could argue that they would make a bigger impact.
Let's see what SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, had to say about the pick:
Losing out on Robert Griffin III (in the attempted trade with St. Louis) couldn't have been easy to stomach for team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert. That doesn't mean the draft is a loss for the Browns, though. They have two first-round picks at No. 4 and No. 22 overall, and if the chips fall Cleveland's way, they'll still be able to improve upon an offense that was downright unbearable last season.
I'm not making excuses for quarterback Colt McCoy, but the only way he is going to have a chance at getting better this coming season is if he has better talent around him. That's where Justin Blackmon comes in. The Browns are thin enough at receiver where Blackmon would start immediately, probably alongside last year's second-round pick, Greg Little. In the long-term, hopefully fans can look back at last year's trade with Atlanta that allowed the Falcons to select Julio Jones and say, "Cleveland was better off because they still got a defensive player in 2011 and got a solid receiver in 2012."
The other positions to consider here are quarterback and running back. The Browns' front office wanted to trade the farm for Griffin, not another quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) at such a high pick. Running back Trent Richardson is an option too after the departure of Peyton Hillis, but Cleveland needs receivers more than they need a running back.
Justin Blackmon 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The top of our mock draft continues to go about as we expected. The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins selected QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, respectively, and the Vikings follow suit with Kalil, the top offensive tackle in the draft.
The Vikings are working with 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder at quarterback so it makes sense to establish a cornerstone left tackle to keep his jersey clean. SB Nation's Vikings blog, Daily Norseman, explains the pick:
With the highest pick the team has had in a quarter-century, the Vikings find themselves in a position to take the best non-quarterback prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft, whoever they deem that prospect to be. It just so happens that the three biggest areas of need for the Vikings - cornerback, wide receiver, and offensive tackle - intersect with three blue-chip prospects in Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon and Matt Kalil. With the team being in a prime position here, they might be able to trade back and accumulate some more picks for their rebuilding process, but if they do stay here, Kalil is the smartest play, in my opinion.
The Vikings have some youth in their secondary and at wide receiver that they could potentially develop, but the one thing that we know for sure is that the Minnesota Vikings absolutely, positively can not go into the 2012 NFL season with Charlie Johnson as their starting left tackle. The Vikings have placed their future on the shoulders of Christian Ponder (and/or Joe Webb for the "true believers" out there), and they're never really going to know what they have in either of those quarterbacks if they have to scrape themselves off of the turf at the rate they did in 2011. Kalil would immediately be the starter at left tackle, moving Johnson to one of the guard spots and improving two spots on an offensive line that was woefully deficient in 2011. Kalil showed in his time at USC that he was head and shoulders above every other offensive tackle prospect in the nation, and some of the experts have him graded the same (or higher) as current Cleveland Browns' offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who has developed into one of the NFL's elite left tackles. Not only would this serve to protect Ponder, it would also help to open holes in the running game for Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, particularly if the former is slow in coming back from the torn ACL that he suffered on Christmas Eve against the Washington Redskins.
While Blackmon or Claiborne would be a fine pick for the Vikings as well, the ripple effect of improvement that Kalil would have on the Minnesota offense makes him too good to pass up with the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Matt Kalil 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
The lack of drama at the top of our 2012 NFL mock draft continues. The Indianapolis Colts selected Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the top pick, as expected, and the Redskins don't surprise anyone here by selecting RG3. He is a dynamic quarterback with a terrific long ball that you don't often see with such athletic quarterbacks. His ability to move around in the pocket and throw on the run is perfect for Mike Shanahan's offense.
SB Nation's Hogs Haven explains the pick:
Well, Washington finally has a franchise QB. Redskins fans have had to endure 20 different starting quarterbacks since the glory years including such names as Jeff George, John Beck, Heath Shuler, Jeff Hostetler, Tony Banks, Patrick Ramsey ... I think my point is clear. No one wins without a quarterback. I'm tired of the "Trent Dilfer" logic since the game has evolved since then. The Redskins made a bold move to trade away two extra first round picks and a second this year, but frankly it was a trade they had to make. Griffin's high character background (military parents), work ethic (graduated college early and already working on Master's), and athletic accomplishments make him a much less risk of a "bust" where previous quarterbacks failed in these departments. I think of Ryan Leaf over-sleeping a meeting with the Colts. With a defense that has a knack for forcing turnovers, a quarterback that can protect the ball and make smart decisions will certainly add wins. At the very least, fans have something to be excited about. Sorry, Cleveland.
Robert Griffin III 2012 NFL Draft Profile (via sbnnfl)
SB Nation's 2012 NFL draft is underway with the Colts selecting Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick. The Redskins are on the clock.
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