CLICK HERE > http://wp.me/p2bHH4-1lB FOR LATEST MOCK UPDATED 4/5/12
Rattle and Hum’s 2012 NFL Mock Draft 4.0
NFL Free Agency Causing Major Changes At the Top of the Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Peyton Manning is officially done in Indy. The beginning of the Andrew Luck era starts now. There isn’t much drama surrounding the 1st pick of the draft any longer. Even contract negotiations shouldn’t be too strenuous as the new rookie salary cap has put a halt to preposterous guaranteed contracts for unproven players. It still seems unfair that the Colts get the best QB prospect since John Elway on cue as the legend Peyton Manning departs. If only God loved Cleveland this much…
2. Washington Redskins (Traded from Rams)- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
This pick should belong to the Cleveland Browns. There is no reason, in my mind, that the Browns shouldn’t have traded up for RG3. They have the most ammunition (#4 and #22 pick) and they have been wallowing in quarterback mediocrity since their return to the NFL. However, according to Mike Mayock, the Browns believe that Ryan Tannehill is a better fit than RG3 (we’ll get to that below).
As a result, the opportunity to snatch Robert Griffin III has fallen right into Daniel Snyder’s hands. After reports surfaced that Peyton Manning is not interested in playing for the Redskins, this has got to be great news to Washington Redskin fans. RG3 is the type of player who makes everyone around him better. With him, the Redskins will be one of the top 5 rushing teams in the NFL next season, guaranteed. Griffin is a leader and an ultra-high character franchise quarterback around which a team can be built. He is the reason that people even talk about Baylor football these days.
3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, OT, Stanford
The Minnesota Vikings have expressed interest in CB Morris Claiborne here, but they won’t take him over Matt Kalil. No way. It’s not every day that a franchise left tackle falls into your lap, and left tackle just happens to be the second-most important position offensively in the NFL. Corner help can wait.
Christian Ponder needs help, and lots of it. Matt Kalil is the perfect fit for the Vikings. Charlie Johnson and Phil Loadholt, the tackles for the Vikings, were both really bad in pass protection in 2011. Matt Kalil can step in right away to possibly allow the Vikings to shift either Johnson or Loadholt over to guard.
Recently, NFL Network asked Twitter followers who the Vikings should take with the #3 pick. Seriously? I tweeted a response: “If the Vikings don’t take Matt Kalil, Christian Ponder should quit on the spot.” NFL Network aired my tweet, and yes, I’m proud of it.
4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Cleveland Browns desperately need a quarterback, but Ryan Tannehill is simply not worthy of the #4 overall pick. The Browns could possibly trade down and try to pick him later in the 1st round, which would be ideal, but there are no guarantees in the NFL draft.
It’s not like quarterback is the only need on this team, anyways. The Browns just invested $9M into re-signing CB Dmitri Patterson, so Morris Claiborne is highly unlikely as the pick here as well. That leaves us with Trent Richardson.
I can’t imagine that the Browns view Montario Hardesty or Brandon Jackson as a viable option as the #1 running back. If the Browns think they will score points with Colt McCoy at QB and Hardest as the starting running back, they are fooling themselves. Cleveland finished last in the NFL in 2011 with 3.7 yards per carry as a team. They also finished last in rushing touchdowns with 4. No, that is not a typo. Four. The Browns had a hard time getting into the red zone as it is, and even when they did, they couldn’t punch it in for a touchdown because they had no running game.
While I feel that the #4 pick is too high for any running back, it can’t be denied that Richardson is a special talent that would give Colt McCoy (or whoever the quarterback ends up being) a crutch to lean on to help get the tough yards and sustain drives, something the Browns have been incapable of doing for several years now.
Richardson is 5’11”, 225 lbs. of pure beast. He has the speed to get outside, but he’s even better running between the tackles. He is an every down back in every sense of the word. He can carry a full load and take a pounding, yet hold up for the entire season. Richardson is easily the toughest running back prospect in this draft class. Reports have said he squats 600lbs. and bench presses 465lbs. He’s the type of player that turns 2-3 yard runs into 4-5 yard runs.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Tampa Bay signed free agent cornerback Eric Wright recently, and guess what? I don’t care. Eric Wright is really bad. There is a reason Detroit’s secondary was so terrible in 2011, and Eric Wright was one of them. Wright finished dead last in the NFL in receptions allowed with an astronomical 75. He finished 4th to last in yards after catch allowed with 319. The list goes on, and on, and on. Tampa absolutely, positively, MUST take Morris Claiborne.
Trent Richardson seems to be the recent trending pick here, but if the Buccaneers are smart, they will take Morris Claiborne. Ronde Barber has reached the end of the line, and Aqib Talib is an idiot. Even with those guys, Tampa Bay gave up 8.2 yards per attempt last season, worst in the NFL. The only reason opponents didn’t pass for more yards against the Bucs was because they were up by 2 or more touchdowns so frequently. This defense has a long way to go to get better, but a lockdown corner is a pretty good start.
6. St. Louis Rams- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Brandon Lloyd just signed with the New England Patriots, and that means that with their current roster, I could probably start at wide receiver for St. Louis in 2012. They certainly don’t want me starting at wide receiver, so they’ll take Justin Blackmon, the best wide receiver in the draft.
The Rams have a need at tackle, as Rodger Saffold has been awful, but the need at receiver is much greater. Just as Andy Dalton blossomed because he had a stud like A.J. Green to throw to, so Sam Bradford should benefit from having a dynamic talent like Blackmon.
Sure, Blackmon doesn’t jump out at you with his measurables. He is 6’1”, 207 lbs, but you cannot argue with production. Blackmon had 121 catches for 1,522 yards and 18 TD’s in 2011 for the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. What I love about Blackmon is how effortlessly he catches the ball, then turns and runs. He watches the ball all the way into his hands, catches it away from his body, and has great elusiveness in the open field. He reminds me a whole lot of Andre Johnson in that sense.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Jacksonville signed Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson to a multi-year deal, and according to Jaguar fans I’ve talked to, they apparently think that will solve their wide receiver problems. Umm… whatever. Unfortunately, the front office probably believes that they can get by with Robinson as the answer now, so it is highly unlikely they will go with a receiver here.
NEWSFLASH: Just because the Jaguars re-signed Jeremy Mincey, doesn’t mean they don’t have to worry about the pass rush anymore. The Jags recorded just 31 sacks with Mincey last season. Don’t get me wrong, re-signing Mincey was huge, but he needs a premier pass rusher opposite him, and Quinton Coples has the most potential out of all the available defensive ends here.
I believe that Melvin Ingram is a great talent worthy of the #7 pick, but he just doesn’t fit in well with Jacksonville’s 4-3. He’s a little undersized and I believe he projects better to a 3-4 or a 3-4 hybrid defense. Coples, on the other hand, will be an ideal fit for the 4-3 defense in Jacksonville, and he should really help improve a struggling pass rush.
Coples is a 285 lb. ferocious pass rusher. The UNC product has been knocked for his inconsistent effort, but if Jackonsville’s coaching staff can get this kid to focus, he could be an absolute monster. Coples has long arms, is very athletic, and is stout against the run. He is very strong, and once he gets ahold of a ballcarrier, they generally don’t escape. If he can figure out how to keep his motor running for an entire game, he will be instantly be the best pass rusher in Jacksonville.
8. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned, did it?
Miami’s offseason is going up in flames. The Dolphins went all in on the hopes of acquiring Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn. They even traded away their best wide receiver for two 3rd round picks to help make the locker room a more friendly place for Manning. Whoops.
Now the Dolphins are stuck with the possibility of having to reach for a quarterback with the #8 pick or rolling with Matt Moore for another season. I’m of the opinion that they should result to the latter, but logic and reason don’t always win out in NFL front offices, and history tells us that teams will reach with quarterbacks that they fall in love with. The Dolphins have scheduled a workout with Tannehill, so they are definitely taking a close look at him.
All that’s not to say that Tannehill can’t be a good NFL quarterback one day. On the contrary, Tannehill has excellent skills and athleticism, with plenty of upside. Tannehill has ideal size for an NFL QB at 6’4”. He lacks experience at quarterback, having only started 1 ½ seasons at Texas A&M, but many could argue that this simply means he has more room to grow than a quarterback who spent four years in a pro style system in college. Either way, he has a very steep learning curve to go through, and he will have some growing pains as he makes his way through the NFL.
9. Carolina Panthers- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Sure, the Panthers have plenty of defensive tackles on their roster, but Terrell McClain really sucked last season, and the Panthers got decimated at the line of scrimmage consistently. The Panthers could look at defensive end here, but Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy really didn’t play all that bad last season. They do need an infusion of talent in terms of pass rushers, but the Panthers were so soft up the middle that they must address it this offseason. Besides, defensive lines are built from the inside out, and Dontari Poe is about as big of a building block as you’ll find on the inside.
Sure, Poe probably projects best to a 3-4, but I’m not so sure he can’t be just as effective in a 4-3. Despite his massive size, Dontari Poe is freakishly athletic for a man his size, and adding him to a line with Marcel Dareus, Mario Williams, and Kyle Williams could make Buffalo’s D-line insanely scary. Brockers is the type of player that can be moved all over the line, and Poe can be rotated in and out with both Dareus and Williams, so I don’t think that the fact the Bills already have two effective DT’s on the roster rules this pick out.
Seriously, how many times do you see a 345 pound man run a 4.9 second 40 yard dash? Oh, and he pushed out 44 reps on the bench press. This guy is a physical freak of nature and he has rightfully been compared to Haloti Ngata already. He is the type of pick that could potentially change a defense completely.
Some have claimed that the number 10 pick is too high for a tackle like Poe, no matter how talented he is. Really? Haloti Ngata, the player that Poe is being compared to by Mike Mayock (and myself), was selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft. He had eerily similar measurables coming out of Oregon. At 338 lbs, he ran a 5.1 40 yard dash and he pushed out 37 reps on bench press. Poe weighs 7 pounds more and he easily bested both of those numbers. He is the rare three down nose tackle that is worth every bit of the #9 pick in the draft
10. Buffalo Bills- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Bills addressed their need for a pass rusher by signing free agent stud Mario Williams to a massive $100M dollar deal. Then they went out and signed Mark Anderson away from the division rival New England Patriots. The Bills should have a much improved pass rush in 2012, and while their defense still could use some help, they can’t pass on a chance to turn a good passing offense into an elite one with the selection of Michael Floyd here.
Michael Floyd is a big target at 6’3” 225 lbs. He projects as a #1 receiver who has the skillset to do it all. Floyd ran in the mid 4.4’s on his 40, so speed is certainly not an issue for him, and while he occasionally drops balls he shouldn’t, the ability to make the spectacular catch is certainly there. Floyd has strong hands and he is not afraid to run crossing routes. He’s a big receiver with the ability to beat press coverage. He’s had some off the field issues in the past, but if Floyd keeps his head on straight, he should be the total package for Buffalo.
11. Kansas City Chiefs- Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
The Chiefs just signed Texans right tackle Eric Winston, so Matt Cassell doesn’t have to have nightmares about defensive ends shoving Barry Richardson out of the way anymore to kill him. That was a huge get for the Chiefs, and it gives them the luxury to address other needs. The Chiefs also signed running back Peyton Hillis to help take the load off of Jamaal Charles, so running back is no longer a need either.
Now the Chiefs can focus on what they really need: A player who can sack quarterbacks besides Tamba Hali. Kansas City recorded just 29 sacks in 2011, and Tamba Hali had 11 of them. Hali is consistently double teamed, and yet he continues to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Just imagine what he could do if the Chiefs had someone else on their roster that opposing offensive lines had to account for?
That’s where the best pass rusher on the board, Melvin Ingram, comes in. Melvin Ingram, who would play outside linebacker in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense, showed he has the speed to do it in the NFL at the combine. He’s a little short at 6’1”, but that’s ok as long as he isn’t at defensive end. Ingram has plenty of speed for pursuit, and he’s quite strong for his size, showing the ability to hold his own in run support.
12. Seattle Seahawks- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
If middle linebacker David Hawthorne isn’t re-signed, then that position becomes an immediate position of need for the Seahawks. Now that Seattle has addressed their need for a quarterback with Matt Flynn, they can turn to improving their defense, and Kuechly is the best player on the board.
Luke Kuechly tested excellently at the combine, running a 4.5 40. He also has prototypical size for an inside linebacker at 6’3” and 240+ lbs. The Seahawks have many different needs, including more pass rushers, but passing on Kuechly would be crazy at this point. He is the model of consistency; a sure tackler, great instincts, extremely high character, elite athleticism, and his great size all combine to make him one of the most pro-ready draft picks in 2012. Kuechly should bring stability to the linebacking corps for years to come.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Arizone is extremely fortunate to find Riley Reiff on the board at #13. If it weren’t for Matt Kalil, Reiff would easily be the best offensive tackle prospect in this draft, so Arizona is getting incredible value here.
It’s hard to come up with an adjective to describe how bad Arizona’s pass protection was last year. They need upgrades all over their line. Adam Synder was signed, but he’s not the answer and should provide depth at most. One thing’s for sure, Levi Brown cannot be allowed to start at tackle in 2012. For some reason, Arizona re-signed him, but he gave up 11 sacks and 40 hurries in 2011, so I think Ken Whisenhunt will have no problem replacing him with Riley Reiff. He better. It’ll be awfully hard for Kevin Kolb to improve as a passer if the Cardinals give up 54 sacks again next year.
Reiff is 6’6”, 300 pounds. What I like about him is that he really has no holes in his game. He doesn’t jump out at you in terms of his athleticism, but he is a very intelligent football player that seems to understand not only blocking schemes, but what the defense is trying to do as well. He projects as a future solid to spectacular NFL left tackle, something that will make Mr. Kolb quite happy.
14. Dallas Cowboys- Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Dallas Cowboys have quietly had one of the better offseasons in the NFL thus far. The Cowboys had big needs at cornerback and linebacker, and they addressed them both by signing CB Brandon Carr and LB Dan Connor, respectively.
Now for the bad part of the Cowboys’ offseason: I really think David DeCastro would be a perfect fit here, but for some reason, the Cowboys committed $30 Million to two guys named Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. Huh? Obviously, the Cowboys think these two guys can help the line, so I find it hard to believe that they would also use a 1st round pick on another guard. But hey, it’s not like adding another talented cornerback will be a bad thing.
With this selection, the Cowboys will be able to take a position that was a huge liability in 2011 and turn it into an instant strength in 2012. Teams don’t often get the opportunity to do that, and in this modern era where it is not uncommon to see quarterbacks average 300 yards passing per game, it may be the smartest move the Cowboys could make.
Gilmore has excellent size for a corner at 6’, 190 lbs. He showed off his speed at the combine, running a 4.44 40 yard dash with a 1.5 second 10 yard split, showing he has the burst to keep up with the fastest wide receivers. He also faced some pretty darn good competition in college playing cornerback in the SEC.
15. Philadelphia Eagles- Fletcher Cox, DE/DT, Mississippi State
The Eagles finally addressed their dire need for linebacker help by trading for Houston’s Demeco Ryans. Ryans will be a stud for the Eagles, a player who can step in right away and provide stability and leadership in the middle of what was a very soft D in 2011. Now the Eagles can put a nail in the coffin of their interior defensive problems..
At 6’4” 300lbs, Fletcher Cox can be moved all over the defensive line, and he will be a much needed physical prescence to go alongside pass rushers Jason Babin and Trent Cole. Cox is extremely strong in his lower body and he is tough to move. Nationalfootballpost.com even said that he has a “bubble butt” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that—An ode to Walter Cherepinsky).
With Philly’s crazy defensive scheme, Cox’s versatility and ability to play virtually anywhere on the line of scrimmage will be a huge plus. He will make the Eagles’ defensive line tougher, which is exactly what they need.
16. New York Jets- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Tim Tebow isn’t the only thing Mark Sanchez will have to worry about this year if Wayne Hunter is still the starting right tackle for the Jets.
While right tackle is obviously the greatest position of need on the offensive line for the Jets, they won’t be picky if David DeCastro falls to them at #16. Rex Ryan and the staff will figure out a way to make it work. Decastro is the most complete guard prospect to come out of college in almost a decade. He is going to have a very long career in the NFL and he instantly upgrades any offensive line that takes him. Pairing DeCastro next to Nick Mangold would give the Jets a dominant interior offensive line. Guard Brandon Moore had a good season last year, but Matt Slausen could stand to be upgraded.
DeCastro has power and agility. He was often asked to pull and trap in Stanford’s offense, and he excels at getting to the second level of the defense. He is highly intelligent, seeking out defenders and lanes for ballcarriers downfield. It will be fun to watch Tim Tebow run the wildcat and whatever else the Jets have planned for him behind a dominant offensive line like this. He sure didn’t have anything like it in Denver.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from the Oakland heist)- Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
You can’t tell me Hue Jackson kept a straight face when he decided to accept a job as an offensive assistant for the Bengals. First, he trades away all of Oakland’s draft picks for a crappy Carson Palmer, then he gets fired, and then he signs on with the team that he traded all of his picks to. I personally think it’s hilarious.
The Bengals just signed Jason Allen away from Houston, and while he is a solid player who could start and be effective if he needs to, the Bengals should look to upgrade if they have the chance. With two picks in the first round, they should jump all over it. Leon Hall is coming off of an Achilles tear and there are no guarantees that he’ll be the same player he once was.
Jenkins has gotten in a lot of trouble over the past couple years, but supposedly he has gotten his life back on track. He even said that he doesn’t even hang out with people that smoke weed anymore. Wow. Good for you, Janoris. Anyways, the Bengals have never been scared off by character issues, and they won’t be this year, especially considering the dire straits they face at the cornerback position. Pacman Jones and Kelly Jennings are both free agents, but even if they are retained they aren’t the answer for Cincinnati.
Jenkins has elite cover corner skills. He’s a bit undersized for a corner, but he makes up for it with his speed and physicality. He isn’t afraid to come up in run support and he is a confident young player. He has the upside of an All-Pro cornerback if he is a good boy.
18. San Diego Chargers- Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
Other than Antwan Barnes, nobody mustered more than 4 sacks last season for the Chargers. Barnes actually didn’t see the field as much as he should have last season during pass rush situations, but that should change in 2012. Regardless, the Chargers still need to add pass rushing talent, and that’s where Mercilus comes in.
Not only does Mercilus have an awesome name (the Chargers’ marketing department will love him), he’s also pretty darn good at getting after quarterbacks. Many look at Mercilus with skepticism, calling him a one year wonder, but the man forced NINE fumbles last season and notched 22.5 tackles for loss. That doesn’t just happen. That tells me he has a nose for the football and he hits hard. I want defenders like that on my team.
19. Chicago Bears- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Bears’ offensive line was a disaster in 2011. They had players playing out of position all over the line, and they allowed Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie to constantly get harassed. Chris Williams was like a revolving door, allowing 30 quarterback hurries. Roberto Garza struggled playing out of position. The Bears need stability, and Jonathan Martin will help provide it.
Martin is 6’6”, 305 lbs, with an excellent frame. While he’s not an overpowering player, he plays with excellent leverage and technique and could transform into a leader on the offensive line. Martin protected Andrew Luck’s blindside at Stanford, and he did quite a good job at it. This should help solve the Jets’ pass protection problems from the right side
20. Tennessee Titans- Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Tennessee has yet to address the pass rush in free agency. They lost another defensive lineman in Jason Jones, so the front seven becomes even more of a priority. The Titans have no pass rush and if they expect to get a leg up on the Texans in the AFC South they better get one.
Nick Perry is a highly active pass rusher, and one of the best left on the board at this spot. Perry had a fantastic combine, showing that he has the speed and agility to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He’s 271 lbs. and he ran a 4.5 40, with a 38.5” vertical leap. Yikes. He has largely been known as a speed rusher, and considering the fact that he showed up to the combine 20 pounds heavier than his listed weight, he will fit in at defensive end in Tennessee.
Derrick Morgan has yet to reach his full potential, but if he can get fully healthy from his ACL tear a year ago, pairing him with Perry could give the Titans a nice 1-2 punch. Perry is solid in run support, and that was when he weighed around 250 lbs. Adding the extra bulk will only help him anchor at the point of attack.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Kendall Wright boosted his stock a bit with a solid pro day, running in the mid 4.4’s on his 40 yard dash. Any skepticism after his 4.61 time at the Combine should be firmly put to rest now. The Bengals desperately need help at running back (Green-Ellis isn’t the answer), but any back at this point would be a bit of a reach, and Kendall Wright fills another need: A #2 wide receiver to spell A.J. Green.
While Kendall Wright is undersized at 5’10”, he still has the ability to be a potential #1 receiver in a passing game. If you watched any Baylor games, you know how fast Wright is in game speed. If he gets in space, watch out. Wright will be the perfect compliment to A.J. Green. He can be lined up out wide or in the slot, and he will give the Bengals an instant scoring threat from anywhere on the field.
The addition of Wright will punish opposing defenses for trying to bring safety help over to A.J. Green’s side of the field. If they do, leaving Kendall Wright one on one with a nickel back, he has the game breaking speed and agility to take it to the house and make them pay.
22. Cleveland Browns- Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
The bright side about not trading up for RG3 for Browns fans is that they get to keep their #22 pick. It’s not much, but hey, beggers can’t be choosers. The Browns re-signed cornerback Dmitri Patterson, so it’s unlikely they will draft a corner in the first round. They also gave Frostee Rucker $20 Million for some reason. Hopefully for Browns fans, the front office doesn’t actually believe that Frostee Rucker will solve their pass rush woes.
Upshaw measured out at 6’2” 272 lbs. at the NFL combine, but he didn’t run. While Upshaw has been viewed as an outside linebacker prospect, the fact that he has gained so much weight concerns me. Upshaw was not really asked to drop back in coverage much at Alabama, and he definitely won’t be able to do it very effectively in the NFL. Upshaw slides in this mock simply because he has eaten his way off of some teams’ draft boards with his weight gain.
While the inability to drop back in coverage hurts, Upshaw makes up for it with a relentless motor and a wide variety of good pass rush moves. He is very strong and he also does a nice job holding up against the run. Upshaw’s upside, combined with his ability to play the run and rush the passer, make him a great pick here for the Browns. They desperately need to start putting more pressure on the quarterback, as nobody other than Jabaal Sheard recorded more than 4 sacks in 2011; adding Upshaw is a good start.
23. Detroit Lions- Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
It’s no secret that the Lion’s secondary stinks. Eric Wright was a huge disappointment, leading the league in completions allowed with 75. For some reason, the Buccaneers thought that cornerbacks are SUPPOSED to lead the league in completions allowed, so they gave Wright $37.5 Million. I’d be pretty disappointed if the Lions don’t draft a corner or safety in the 1st round.
Mark Barron is far and away the best safety in this draft class, and safety has been a position of need for quite a while in Detroit. The Lions already have a great defensive line; they just need playmakers in the secondary who can help create turnovers. Detroit’s secondary has a reputation for being soft and giving up easy plays, and Barron’s physical style of play and tough work ethic will be welcomed in the Motor City.
Mark Barron projects as a strong safety in the NFL, and he is definitely better in run support than in coverage, but that doesn’t mean he is a slouch in coverage. For a strong safety, he has what it takes to hold his own, and he has great instincts, as shown by his 12 career interceptions at Alabama.
Barron has a solid build at 6’1”, 215 lbs., and he is known as a hard hitter. Cowboys fans will have fun watching him light up opposing ballcarriers
24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Cordy Glenn, OG/ OT, Georgia
Cordy Glenn will be charged with helping Big Ben stay out of a walking boot, something the Pittsburgh O-line seems to be incapable of doing as of late. Big Ben is a much better QB when he isn’t running for his life (imagine that). The Steelers’ offensive line is aging, injured, and just a mess in general. They need an infusion of youth and talent.
Cordy Glenn is easily the best offensive lineman left on the board, and he will really solidify the right side of this line. Glenn is a massive body at 6’5” and 345 lbs, and I could easily see him making the eventual shift to tackle with his 35 ¼” arm length. He displayed unusually good straight line speed for a man of his size, but the question will be whether he has adequate lateral agility.
25. Denver Broncos- Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Denver’s run stuff Brodrick Bunkley signed with the Saints, so defensive tackle has become a high priority. They will be tickled to death if they are able to snag a player of Brockers’ caliber with the 25th pick. Brockers will, in fact, be an upgrade over Bunkley.
Brockers is a big body. At 6’6”, 305 lbs, Brockers will likely bat down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage, much like J.J. Watt did for the Texans in his rookie season. Brockers is highly disruptive, showing the ability to get skinny and get in the backfield as well as take on double teams. Not only will he provide help in run support, but Brockers should provide an interior pass rush presence that the Broncos did not have last season. That should free up Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil to wreak even more havoc on opposing offenses.
26. Houston Texans- Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Houston Texans took a big hit to their offensive line in free agency, losing right tackle Eric Winston to the Chiefs and guard Mike Breisel to the Raiders. Cordy Glenn could be available here, but he’s stuck somewhere between a tackle and guard prospect at this point, and he doesn’t possess the measurable and skillset that the Texans traditionally look for in their zone blocking scheme.
The Texans other need is at wide receiver, and Stephen Hill is the best prospect on the board. This NFL Combine star brings the Texans a dimension of speed they haven’t seen in a long time.
The Texans desperately need some explosiveness on offense, and they need a legitimate #2 receiver opposite Andre Johnson. It’s also important to remember that Johnson won’t be around forever. He may have two elite years left in him, but it’s just a matter of time before his play begins to decline, and the Texans need to start thinking about who’s going to replace him as the main threat in the passing game.
Stephen Hill is a tall, lanky target, standing 6’5”. He was underused in Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, but when he got his opportunities, he capitalized. Hill averaged nearly 30 yards per reception, an astronomical number for any receiver. He also ran an unofficial 4.29 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. Hill gives the Texans something they don’t currently have, and that’s a player that can score on any given play.
The Texans run lots of play-action bootlegs, and they love to take deep shots down the field, and a player with Wright’s speed can easily get over the top of a safety who bites just a smidgen on a play action fake.
Another quality about Hill the Texans are sure to love is his willingness to block in the running game. Naturally, coming from a triple option offense, Hill was asked to block frequently, so he is no stranger to the task.
27. New England Patriots- Devon Still, DT, Penn State
The Patriots really need to start addressing the defensive line and their pass rush. Actually, they just need to address the defense, period. Devon Still is a tall, violent DT. Standing 6’5”, 305 lbs, Still excels at collapsing the pocket and getting into opponent’s backfields. Still had 17 tackles for loss in 2011, a testament to his ability to recognize plays and get to the ballcarrier before they develop.
Still’s versatility is a large part of why he could be the pick here for the Patriots. He can play a traditional defensive tackle in a 4-3, but he could also be effective being moved around on the defensive line, as he is stout against the run and can take on multiple blockers.
The Patriots lost Mark Anderson to free agency, so adding talent to the line has become a necessity.
28. Green Bay Packers- Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Green Bay Packers finished dead last in pass defense in 2011. Part of the reason for this is that they generated just 29 sacks, despite having Clay Matthews on their team. Offensive coordinators simply game planned to stop Matthews, and it worked. Adding a player like Branch would help spell Matthews, making opposing teams pay for focusing solely on Goldilocks.
Branch would play OLB in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. He weighed in at 259 lbs. at the combine and he has great length, standing 6’4”. Oh, and he ran a 4.6 40 as well, showing the ability to drop back in coverage when asked.
29. Baltimore Ravens- Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
I know that Ray Lewis is coming back, but if Hightower were to fall this far, I think he’d be too good of a talent for the Ravens to pass up. Baltimore doesn’t really have any pressing needs to address in the draft, so they have the luxury of taking the best player available. Plus, middle linebacker will likely be a position of need in 2013, so why not take care of that now when you have the chance? A year under the tutelage of Lewis won’t hurt, either.
Hightower isn’t just your average run stopping middle linebacker. He’s extremely physical and very mobile for a linebacker his size. He’s 6’2”, 265 lbs. and he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash at the combine. Hightower has the ability to rush the passer and he meets the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. He also has the fire and leadership ability that will fit in perfectly with the Baltimore clubhouse.
30. San Francisco 49ers- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The 49ers could go any number of directions with this pick, but adding weapons to help further the development of quarterback Alex Smith is paramount. Signing WR Mario Manningham was a good start, but Randy Moss is a wild card and this passing game needs all the help it can get.
Fleener had a phenomenal Pro Day, running a blazing 4.45 40 yard dash. He displayed excellent route running ability and sure hands, showing that he has the athleticism to be lined up as a traditional tight end or out of the slot
Fleener is 6’6” with huge hands. While it is obvious that Fleener has good straight line speed, his savvy route running seems as if it has been overlooked. Fleener is very quick out of his breaks and should be able to separate from linebackers and safeties with ease. He will give Smith a much needed red zone threat. The 49ers finished 30th in the NFL in red zone efficiency in 2011, so that must be addressed.
If one of the top offensive linemen were to fall to this spot, I could see San Francisco going that direction with this pick as well. G/T Adam Snyder was lost in free agency weeks ago.
31. New England Patriots- Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
The Patriots really couldn’t draft enough defensive players this year. Like I said, they need help all over. With Mark Anderson leaving and Andre Carter a free agent, the need for pass rush help is even greater in New England than before the offseason started. The Pats will continue to address the front 7 here with the addition of a sleeper prospect in Chandler Jones. Jones is quietly rising up draft boards, but there’s no question he has 1st round-type talent.
The lengthy Jones is 6’4” 266lbs with a huge wingspan. He will likely enter the league as a situational pass rusher, but this player has the frame and the potential to develop into a premier NFL pass rusher. Jones needs to work on his technique, as he tends to play too high and doesn’t understand the concept of playing with leverage fully yet, but that can be coached. Pure talent cannot, and Chandler Jones has a lot of it. A coach like Bill Belichick will get the most out of him early on.
32. New York Giants- David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
The Giants recently cut running back Brandon Jacobs, so they’ll need to draft a replacement for him, especially considering the amount of time Ahmad Bradshaw has missed throughout his career.
David Wilson should help rejuvenate the Giants’ running game with some freakish athletic ability. Wilson had a phenomenal combine in Indianapolis, showing off his incredible athleticism. He ran a 4.40 40 yard dash and he jumped out of the building with a 41” vertical leap. He also led all running backs with an 11’ broad jump. Wilson is very stout at 5’10” 205 lbs, and he has the makings of an every down back. He will add even more explosiveness to the Giants offense and make them that much scarier for opposing defenses.
New York really struggled to run the ball for most of the season in 2011, ranking among the NFL’s worst in rushing, but they turned it on come playoff time. They need to get more consistent, though.
- Rattle and Hum’s NFL Mock Draft 3.0 (rattleandhumsports.com)
- Rattle and Hum’s NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (rattleandhumsports.com)