Raul's 2012 NFL Mock Draft
By: Raul Colon
- Indianapolis Colts: Stanford QB Andrew Luck: The drama surrounding this selection was over the minute Peyton Manning was let go in March. Quarterback Andrew Luck is the only sensible pick here. He is a franchise signal caller with better-than-average athletic skills and great accuracy in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. He does not posses a rocket arm, but neither does Manning, and he is going to the Hall of Fame. The Colts could not find a better player to start their long rebuilding project. A sure fire Pro Bowler.
- Washington Redskins: Baylor QB Robert Griffin III: Another ‘no brainer’ pick. I have been hearing about RGIII since he was a freshman at Waco. An incredible athlete who became a great quarterback. Unlike Luck, Griffin will need time to adjust to the pro game. The comparisons with Carolina’s Cam Newton are unfair. RGIII is not as big or strong as the former Auburn Tiger QB, what does Griffin will have is a better supporting cast which could make for a very interesting season in our Nation’s capital.
- Minnesota Vikings: USC OT Matt Kalil: The Vikings have needs on the defensive line and the secondary, but it will be hard for the team to pass on the best tackle in the draft. Kalil is head and shoulders above every other offensive lineman available. He will solidify the Vikings’ O-line, which is in dire need of a left tackle, for years to come. This pick is reminiscing of the Rams taking Ohio State’s Orlando Pace more than a decade ago.
- Cleveland Browns: Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill: Most mocks drafts have the Browns taking Alabama RB Trent Richardson here and although his selection makes sense, Cleveland GM Mike Holmgren realized that you win in today’s NFL with a franchise QB. The Browns could find a feature back in the middle rounds, finding a starting-caliber signal caller is more difficult. Tannehill is far from a finishing product, but his is an instant upgrade over Colt McCoy, whose physical limitations make him more suited for a backup role. The Texas product has a strong arm, quick feet and all the intangibles that will enable him to start by the end of this season. Tannehill has more raw talent and has display more promise at this stage of his career than Christian Ponder, who the Vikings drafted 12th overall last year.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alabama RB Trent Richardson: The Bucs will jump at the opportunity to draft a feature tailback. Richardson is the best running back to come out college over the last four year. A stud who can run inside and outside with equal ability. It is said that you can draft a quality back in the middle rounds, but Richardson is more than “quality”. He is a game changer who could easily mound a 1,000-plus yards campaign during his rookie year. That would be welcome news in Tampa.
- St. Louis Rams: LSU CB Morris Claiborne: Many pundits have penciled Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon in this slot, and although the argument of providing young QB Sam Bradford with more weapons is a valid one, the reality is that Blackmon is not a top 6 talent. New head coach Jeff Fisher will want to solidify its secondary with a stud, shutdown corner like Claiborne. The former Tiger is clearly the best defensive back in this draft. He, alongside Cortland Finnegan, could provide the Rams with a great pass defense in a division that only feature one proven (San Francisco 49er Alex Smith) signal caller.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon: The Jaguars will jump the gun is the former Cowboy receiver is still on the board. Although his is neither physical impressive or particularly fast, Blackmon is the best wide receiver available at this spot. He could provide QB Blaine Gabbert with a reliable set of hands and a security outlet. He is not a home run threat or a game changer, but he could develop into a fine number one WR, especially with Jacksonville which does not have many quality pass catchers.
- Miami Dolphins: South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram: Poor Miami. They simply can’t catch a break. They were set to grab QB Ryan Tannehill, but the Browns snatched him earlier. Now, the Dolphins will look for the best available athlete that also fit a major need. Although Miami’s defense has some nice pieces, it lacks a force outside. Ingram, who has been rising in many boards, is a perfect complement for the team’s revamped 4-3 flex defense.
- Carolina Panthers: Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox: Along with Tannehill, Cox is the faster moving player in this year’s draft. The Panthers are in a defensive transition and need big, agile bodies inside. Last year’s third round pick, DT Terrell McClain, is a bust. The team needs a run stopper badly, Cox is that and more. If develop properly, Cox have the chance to become a force in the same mold as Green Bay’s B.J. Raji.
- Buffalo Bills: Iowa OT Riley Reiff: The Bills have been searching for an anchor to their offensive line for the better part of this decade. Reiff seems tailor made for Buffalo. The Bills could be tempted to draft Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd, but the need at left tackle is greater. This is a very solid selection for a franchise on the rise.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Boston College LB Luke Kuechy: This team have many needs, including an offensive tackle, a fast wide receiver and an edge rusher, but topping the wish list is an inside linebacker. Kuechy is the top rate ILB in the draft. He may not be as explosive as others inside ‘backers, but his instincts are second to none and the main reason why he makes a ton of plays near the line of scrimmage. Kuechy will also add value leadership to a lockerroom that could use some of it.
- Seattle Seahawks: North Carolina DE Quentin Coples: the singing of QB Matt Flynn has allowed the Seahawks to concentrate on improving an uninspired defense. Topping the wish list is a pass rushing specialist. Coples is a top 5 talent, thus a barging at number 12th. He could play outside on passing downs and inside when needed. Coples should be well motivated after dropping to this spot.
- Arizona Cardinals: Stanford OT Jonathan Martin: Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd could be an option here, but if the Cardinals are smart, they will try to solidify their offensive front and, at least, provide QB Kevin Kolb with time to throw. Besides, they could address their pass catching needs later on. Martin is a natural left tackle, a position heavily coveted in the NFL.
- Dallas Cowboys: Alabama S Mark Barron: The Cowboys have one of the least athletic defensive backfields in the NFL. Owner Jerry Jones is in love with Barron, a fact that makes this pick inevitable. Still, Barron is an enticing talent who could solve Dallas’ strong safety needs once and for all. Other options could be LSU’s massive DT Michael Brockers, who the team picking up next covets.
- Philadelphia Eagles: LSU DT Michael Brockers: This is not a major need area, but Eagles’ HD Andy Reed loves to draft big and athletic players with his first round pick. With a talented and relative young roster, look for Philly to draft the best available player. Brockers is a load and should develop into a force inside.
- New York Jets: Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd: This team has many needs, including RB, LB and DT, but quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow need targets to throw to. Head Coach Rex Ryan knows this fact and that’s why the Jets will gamble on Floyd, who has legitimate 4.4 speed and the size to become a dominant number one receiver.
- Cincinnati Bengals: South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore: After masterfully addressing their offense last year, the Bengals will try to do the same with their defense this time around. Cornerback is a major need in Cincinnati because of Nate Clements’ inconsistencies and Lean Hall’s injury. Gilmore have shutdown skills and the demeanor the new-look Bengals now covet.
- San Diego Chargers: Syracuse DE/OLB Chandler Jones: The first major surprise of the draft. There has been a buzz about Jones going even higher. He has the perfect combination of size and explosiveness. Still, this is a major risk as the former Orangeman carries a high ‘bust’ potential. It seems San Diego has been trying to improve its pass rush for year. They need an athletic linebacker and recently signed Travis LaBoy is not that type of player.
- Chicago Bears: Baylor WR Kendall Wright: Chicago needs a defensive back, but they will not take a gamble on Alabama’s Dre’ Kirkpatrick. Instead, the Bears will look to add more weapons to QB Jay Cutler’s arsenal. Wright wowed scouts at his Pro Day with his blazing speed and better than expected route running skills. Cutler is on the brink of stardom and this pick could propel him and the team to another level.
- Tennessee Titans: Alabama CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick: The Titans need help at cornerback. Cortland Finnegan jumped to the Rams in the offseason, so it’s obvious the club will be looking for a replacement. Although Kirkpatrick carries a lot of question marks in terms of character issues, his size and versatility are top notch.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Memphis NT Dontari Poe: Depth for the offensive line could be tempting here, but if HC Marvin Lewis follows his instincts he will add more bodies to the defensive line. Poe is a massive clogger who has some nice pass rushing skills for such a huge man. This is a developmental pick as Poe probably will not contribute much this season, but watch out in a year or two.
- Cleveland Browns: Georgia OG Cordy Glenn: New QB Ryan Tannehill needs to be protected, so GM Mike Holmgren will address a porous offensive line early. Glenn is agile and have the strength to move the pile. Guards usually does not go this high but he has a unique skill set.
- Detroit Lions: USC DE Nick Perry: This team desperately needs help in the secondary, but they will not reach for a cornerback here. Instead, look for the Lions to keep upgrading their defensive line. Perry is a possible steal at this slot. He is a good pass rusher with the strength to play the run equally well. He is also a local product so there will be incentives for him to play up to his potential.
- Pittsburg Steelers: Alabama ILB Dontá Hightower: The loss of longtime ILB James Farrior guarantees that the Steelers will take an inside backer with talent. Hightower is the best ILB in the draft. He would be a fixture in Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense for years.
- Denver Broncos: Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill: This pick has Payton Manning written all over. The success of Demaryius Thomas, another Tech wideout, allows the Broncos a sense of calm in taking Hill, who will need time to develop his route running skills. Manning will love to have two, big and tall receivers to throw to around the red zone.
- Houston Texans: Ohio State OT Mike Adams: This franchise is on the brink of becoming a perennial playoff contender. The decision to let Eric Winston go opened a spot on the offensive line. Adams is versatile, as he could play either side of the line, but the Texans view him as a solid right tackle.
- New England Patriots: Boise State DE/OLB Shea McClellin: In recent days HC Bill Belichick has been making comments about McClellin, which leaves to the possibility of the Patriots selecting the talented but still raw linebacker. He certainly fits the need for a rusher, but for a team close to another Super Bowl run, this pick is a reach as McClellin will need a year to develop into a solid contributor.
- Green Bay Packers: Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw: All Everything LB Clay Matthews needs help, he can’t do it all by himself. The Packers are set to draft a pass rusher here. The choices are Upshaw or Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus. In the end, vaunted GM Ted Thompson will go for the Alabama stud because he played for Nick Seban.
- Baltimore Ravens: Stanford OL David DeCastro: This team is loaded and primed for a legitimate Super Bowl run in 2012. GM Ozzie Newsome is great at finding talent on the back end of the first round. This time around, he will get for help along the offensive line. DeCastro could be a steal at this slot. He could play both sides and have the ability to become an anchor for years to come.
- San Francisco 49ers: South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffry: Randy Moss, even if he plays to his potential, is at the tail en of his career. Mario Manningham is not a true number one receiver. That’s why the Niners will pull the trigger and select Jeffry who could put fear in opposing defense by opening up the vertical game. Something the team lacked in 2011.
- New England Patriots: Virginia Tech RB David Wilson: It’s not unusual for the Patriots to pull a “rabbit out of the hat” in the draft and this pick is certainly that. But a closer look indicates that Wilson, not only fit a major need, but has the speed and running style that could develop him into the consistent 1,000 yard rusher the team has lacked in the Tom Brady era.
- New York Giants: Stanford TE Coby Fleener: The former Cardinal will be a major upgrade over the uninspired Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard; the two TEs New York used in their Super Bowl run last year. Fleener could develop into a potent weapon this year.
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