This is my weekly 2012 NFL Mock draft update. My order is based on my weekly power rankings published earlier in the week. The numbers are in descending order because it’s also a recap of my power rankings.
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Like for all of my mock drafts, I’ll try to insert unique and different picks to offer a new perspective to the many similar mock drafts out there.
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32. Indianapolis Colts-Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford Cardinal
Easiest pick in the world. And most mundane. I like to explore the many opportunities mock drafts provide because teams make funky picks, but this one is a lock.
31. St. Louis Rams-Alshon Jefferey, WR, South Carolina
The last few times I’ve had the Rams “reel for Kalil” (mockingthedraft.com) or “Fall Flat for Matt” (walterfootball.com), but this time I have them going a different route and grabbing a very good wide receiver. Justin Blackmon has surpassed Jefferey on many people’s big boards, but when I look at Jefferey I still see a guy built like a tight end with the agility of a wide receiver. The awful quarterback play as hurt Jefferey’s stock, but if he is able to test well at the combine he can still be the first wide receiver drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.
30. Miami Dolphins-Matt Barkley, QB, USC Trojans
I’m high on Barkley and think that he could be a first overall pick in a different draft. Barkley has elite ball placement, is a leader, has good pocket poise and presence. He also can make the throws in the N.F.L. He’s not a flawless prospect, but he’s a better prospect than Landry Jones or even Robert Griffin to me and would have been selected ahead of guys like Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert if he was in the same class with them.
29. Seattle Seahawks-Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin is not reminiscent of Michael Vick. Yes they are both good athletes who play quarterback, but Griffin is a better leader, a harder worker, and infinitely more accurate than Vick was in college. Vick had a better arm. Griffin could the closest thing to Steve Young we’ve see in a while. I think when all is said and done whether it is this year draft or next, Griffin ends up in the top 10.
28. Arizona Cardinals-Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford Cardinals
The Cardinals traded for Kevin Kolb hoping to have their franchise quarterback, they also drafted running back Ryan Williams and tight end Rob Houseler. With Larry Fitzgerald at WR, Beanie Wells at running back, and Patrick Peterson returning punt returns. They have offensive weapons, what they don’t have is an offensive line. Martin is the first piece to fix that puzzle.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars-Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Claiborne’s stock is on the rise. Every mock draft has the Jaguars taking a Wide receiver, so I’ll throw a little wrecnch in that. I know this is not a “Gene Smith” pick, but I think cornerback is an under-publicized need, even though the Jaguars defense has been pretty good this year in general.
26. Washington Redskins- Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State University
Let’s suppose that Landry Jones returns for his senior season as it’s likely that Griffin, Barkley, or Jones returns to school leaving the Redskins with little options. They can reach a bit for a talent like Ryan Tannehill or Foles, or taka chance on the raw Brock Osweiler (likely to return to school). What do they do if they can’t draft a quarterback? London Fletcher is the heart and soul of the defense, but soon he will have ride off into the sun-set. Maybe the Redskins choose to get their future defensive leader with the talented Vontaze Burfict.
25. Cleveland Browns-Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
With all the news that the Browns are looking to exodus Peyton Hillis this is no longer an against the grain pick, but a likely one. Richardson will be considered the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson by many and is a justifiable top 10 pick.
24. Carolina Panthers-Quinton Coples, DL, North Carolina
I wrote Coples here as a “DL” because he has the size to play defensive tackle or to play DE in 34 or 43 system. Coples hasn’t put the same kind of numbers up this year as he did in 2010, but he’s still a pretty good prospect who could have a Justin Smith like impact for the Panthers if they move to a 34 (likely with their head coach).
23. Minnesota Vikings-Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Vikings luck out here with Blackmon falling into their laps, but these things happen. Unexpected players fall down the board. The Vikings have shown that they are about taking value in the past and will do so here, especially since wide receiver is also one of their needs
22. Denver Broncos-Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson Tigers
John Fox is all about running the football and stopping the run. The Broncos have done a good job of running the football this year, but they have done a really poor job of stopping the run. Thompson isn’t a dyanmic pass rusher from the defensive tackle spot, but he is hard to move and could really help plug up the holes in the middle of the Broncos defense. Not a sexy pick, but for Tebow fans it’s not a quarterback! The Broncos also avoid the talented Michael Floyd because of character issues and give Demaryius Thomas more time to prove he can stay healthy.
What happened to the Raiders? I thought they were supposed to be tough in their front four.
21 Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders)-Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Zach Brown is one of the players whose stock could absolutely sky-rocket during the predraft process. He’s reportedly run a 40 yard time that would be the fastest time ever for a linebacker. Brown would just make the Bengals defense that more difficult to play against. I really was thinking about grabbing Riley Reiff here, and moving former first round pick Andre Smith to guard to help improve the Bengals run game, but I went away from that here.
20. Tennessee Titans-Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
I haven’t watched the Titans line closely enough to know whether or not the problem is with Chris Johnson or the offensive line, but the offense has struggled. The Titans offense has been bad since stud Kenny Britt was lost for the season. The best wide receivers left are North Carolina’s Dwight Jones, Norte Dame’s Michael Floyd, and Rutgers Mohamed Sanu. All three are a possibility and all three big different things to the table. Floyd is supremely talented, but has character concerns. Jones is a huge guy who can be a very nice number two wide receiver, and Sanu is a jack of all trades, yards after the catch kind of guy. Reiff is the best value pick.
19. Kansas City Chiefs-Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma Sooners
One of the most exciting battles this year is who will be the first 34 OLB drafted. Right now Lewis’s stock is on the rise. He’s shown an ability to make plays, an explosiveness off the snap. He plays fast and tenacious. He doesn’t have great size, but plays with good leverage. He reminds me a bit of James Harrison. The Chiefs could use a guy to play opposite Tamba Hali.
18. Tampa Buccaneers-Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Like Prince Amukamara he takes a tumble through no fault of his own. Kirkpatrick is a very talented cornerback prospect who brings about great size, and a physicality. This isn’t your daddy’s Tampa defense that runs strictly Tampa 2 so Kirkpatrick will be useful. I wonder if there will be teams out there who are considering making Kirkpatrick a safety.
17. Philadelphia Eagles-Barrett Jones, T, Alabama
On twitter ( @NFLmocks ) I tweeted that “The Eagles are the Chargers of the NFC. They dominate the game, but then you look up and see that they are losing on the scoreboard”. They have now lost four or fives games in the fourth quarter this season. A big part of their problem is offensive line play (as well as run defense). Jones really played well vs LSU and showed how gritty he is. This might be a touch high for a guy who might be best suited as guard, but I think he can play RT for the Eagles. Jones is the 4th best tackle in this draft class.
16. Buffalo Bills-Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
This is the most obvious pick for the Bills, but a goody. Despite the strides of their defense this year, it is still below average. They need someone to rush the passer from the outside. Arthur Moats and Danny Batten are two young guys who look like they can be great reserves, but probably are not starters.
Continued on page two