2012 Final Mock Draft - 1st Round
Last Updated: April 26, 2012 Mock Draft: Picks 1-16 - Picks 17-32 - Round 2 - Round 3 - Rounds 4-7
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
University of Notre Dame
After the seasons A.J. Green and Andy Dalton had last year, there's no reason to believe Cincinnati's front office won't want to keep building the passing offense. Michael Floyd is a very talented receiver who, if he can stay out of trouble, would make a fantastic option opposite Green. The Bengals have never shied away from players with off-the-field issues, so there's nothing to suggest Floyd's alcohol-related offenses will scare them off. Although the Bengals have other position needs, this scenario is far too intriguing to pass up. They added BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, and can continue to bolster a blossoming offensive attack with this pick.
Also Considered: Courtney Upshaw (DE-Alabama), Dont'a Hightower (LB-Alabama), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB-Alabama)
18. San Diego Chargers
University of Illinois
Mercilus was a pass-rushing monster during his junior year at Illinois, amassing 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. The Chargers need a rusher like Mercilus, who is versatile and can play in a 3-4 front like San Diego employs. The Chargers drafted former Illinois standout Corey Liuget last season, and could look to follow that selection with another Fighting Illini stud this year. San Diego has been missing a rusher of Mercilus' caliber since Shawn Merriman's issues and subsequent departure. They are also rumored to be looking for a cornerback in the draft, but the value simply isn't there. Mercilus has a very high ceiling and can make an immediate impact on a defense in need of a playmaker.
Also Considered: Cordy Glenn (OG-Georgia), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB-Alabama)
19. Chicago Bears
University of North Carolina
The Bears were tied with three other teams for 19th in the league with 33 sacks a year ago and seem intent on pairing up another great pass rusher with the 31-year-old Julius Peppers. Chicago was in on the Mario Williams sweepstakes earlier this offseason before he signed with the Bills, making Quinton Coples perhaps the most likely player to land in the Windy City. Coples has been one of the most scrutinized prospects this offseason due to his inconsistent motor but the boom or bust prospect has ideal size and athleticism to be a force at the next level. He has a lot of upside and is just scratching the surface of his potential, and would be a good fit playing alongside another UNC product in Peppers in Chicago.
Also Considered: Jonathan Martin (OT-Stanford), Kendall Wright (WR-Baylor)
20. Tennessee Titans
University of Alabama
The Titans lost Cortland Finnegan to the St. Louis Rams in free agency and have a void to fill at the cornerback spot. Kirkpatrick is a physical presence who can take over for the departed Finnegan and be a great cover corner. He's best in press-man coverage which the Titans like to run. Alterraun Verner has been an opportunistic play maker, but Jason McCourty would be better suited as a nickel corner; this would allow him to play in that role and give the Titans a top level cornerback. Wisconsin center Peter Konz and LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers would both also fill needs and represent good value at this pick but Kirkpatrick does as well.
Also Considered: Peter Konz (C-Wisconsin), Michael Brockers (DT-LSU)
21. Cincinnati Bengals
University of Alabama
In the AFC North, pass rushers are an essential asset, and Upshaw is a tremendous force off the edge. He recorded 9.5 sacks last season, and can do serious damage if he gets a shot at opposing quarterbacks. Although Cincinnati employs a 4-3 front, Upshaw is extremely versatile. He lined up at linebacker and defensive end in college, and has experience at multiple positions. Teams looking for a pass rusher could do much worse than Upshaw. The Bengals could also consider Georgia guard Cordy Glenn with this selection to shore up their interior line and bolster their running attack.
Also Considered: Cordy Glenn (OG-Georgia), Dont'a Hightower (LB-Alabama)
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Oklahoma State University
We actually expect the Browns to do some maneuvering to end up with Weeden in the first. It may not happen at pick 22, but the Browns seem to really like him -- and question Colt McCoy -- enough to use a first-round selection on Weeden. He has all the physical tools NFL teams look for in a quarterback, but age concerns and the system from which he came scares some teams. Although Tom Heckert makes most of the personnel decisions for the Browns, President Mike Holmgren might pull the string here. He wants a quarterback and pick number four was too early for Ryan Tannehill. This scenario makes too much sense.
Also Considered: Stephen Hill (WR-Georgia Tech), Jonathan Martin (OT-Stanford)
23. Detroit Lions
University of Southern Cal
Every mock draft in the world is probably going to project an offensive lineman or cornerback to Detroit but they've proven in the past they'll ignore team needs and simply draft the best player available. Detroit's bread and butter on defense has been its staunch defensive line the last two seasons. Kyle Vanden Bosch is still playing at a reasonably high level but is also 33-years-old and the Lions are far apart in contract talks after slapping the franchise tag on Cliff Avril. Their defensive scheme starts with the line, and putting Perry across from Avril and next to Suh and Fairley may be too good to pass up on. The Lions draft to improve their strengths and won't reach to fill a need, but there are a lot of players that make sense here so they might opt to trade down and pick up an extra pick in the process.
Also Considered: Doug Martin (RB-Boise State), Jonathan Martin (OT-Stanford), Janoris Jenkins (CB-North Alabama)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
University of Georgia
The Steelers need serious help on the offensive line. Marcus Gilbert will likely slide to the left tackle position this season, but there's no guarantee that experiment will work out. The only player who has earned his role on the line is Maurkice Pouncey. Glenn is surprisingly nimble for carrying such a large frame, and has the ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Pittsburgh could use him at right guard or right tackle, or move him around in rotation. They could also consider Dont'a Hightower with this pick given the need for another starting inside linebacker, which would make sense given the Steelers' penchant for drafting quality defensive players to groom for a year or two behind seasoned veterans.
Also Considered: Jonathan Martin (OT-Stanford), Dont'a Hightower (LB-Alabama), Janoris Jenkins (CB-North Alabama)
25. Denver Broncos
University of Alabama
After selecting Von Miller in the first round last year, the Broncos will look to add another quality linebacker in the first this year. Denver's defense continues to get better, and its offensive woes are likely over after signing Peyton Manning in free agency. Hightower is a thumping, 265 pound middle linebacker with impressive speed for his size. He has the ability to get to the quarterback and stuff the run, and gives the Broncos' defense a toughness it has been searching for in recent years. Hightower has a high ceiling and the Broncos get incredibly lucky that he is still available after the Steelers' pick at 24.
Also Considered: Stephen Hill (WR-Georgia Tech), Peter Konz (C-Wisconsin), Michael Brockers (DT-LSU)
26. Houston Texans
Stanford University
Martin was considered a top-15 prospect for much of the year, but don't let his slide in the first be an indicator of his talent. Martin is an athletic, agile tackle who will fit extremely well in Houston's hybrid offensive scheme. The Texans love to throw a lot of zone blocking schemes at defenses, and Martin has the ability to excel in such a system. He is also an adequate pass blocker, which will be essential in keeping Matt Schaub healthy this year. With Schaub's season-ending injury last season and the re-signing of Arian Foster, Houston will look to shore up its offensive line and add a quality starter who is a steal at pick 26.
Also Considered: Kendall Wright (WR-Baylor), Coby Fleener (TE-Stanford), Andre Branch (LB-Clemson)
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Peter Konz - C/OG
University of Wisconsin
Logan Mankins has been a success story after the Patriots took him at No. 32 in 2005, but overall the Patriots interior line play has been subpar. Dan Connolly is average at best and Brian Waters is 35-years-old and should be replaced soon. Konz is versatile, strong and extremely intelligent, and is a very safe pick for the Patriots should he still be available here. He has the potential to start at guard right away and move over to center in the future. The Patriots also have needs on defense but pick again at No. 31 and Baltimore has been linked to Konz as well. They opt for the offensive lineman here and plan to address that defense with later picks.
Also Considered: Kendall Wright (WR-Baylor), Shea McClellin (DE-Boise State)
28. Green Bay Packers
Louisiana State University
The Packers defense last year was a far cry from their defense of 2010 and it's likely they'll draft the best available front seven player at No. 28. The Packers employ a very aggressive 3-4 defense, which means they give up a ton of yards, but also get a ton of turnovers. Injuries to the linebacker crew was a concern this year, but this is an organization known for their depth. Brockers is a very versatile and athletic defensive end that can be moved around the line of scrimmage. The Packers would love to use him as the end in their scheme though, especially since the lack of Cullen Jenkins was really noticed last year. Brockers had 10 tackles for loss as a redshirt sophomore and also has plenty of potential and room to grow as a pass rusher.
Also Considered: Devon Still (DE-Penn State), Shea McClellin (LB-Boise State), Harrison Smith (S-Notre Dame)
29. Baltimore Ravens
Boise State University
This is purely a luxury pick for the Ravens. They have very few holes to fill, and could go in a number of directions this late in the first. Baltimore plays in the AFC North, however, and Ozzie Newsome knows how important it is to be able to rush the passer and protect his own. McClellin is a great fit at OLB in a 3-4 such as Baltimore's. He is an intense worker who has the potential to wreak absolute havoc lined up opposite Terrell Suggs. The sun is also getting ready to set on Ray Lewis' career, but the Ravens can address the inside linebacker position later. McClellin can make an immediate impact on an already vicious defense.
Also Considered: Stephen Hill (WR-Georgia Tech), Amini Silatolu (OG-Midwestern State), Devon Still (DE-Penn State)
30. San Francisco 49ers
Stanford University
Alex Smith needs more weapons and the 49ers have already helped him out with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham this offseason. The presence of Vernon Davis was cause for hesitation with this pick, but Fleener is more of a hybrid receiver-tight end and it's no secret that head coach Jim Harbaugh likes to play a lot of two tight end sets. San Francisco could use the combination of Fleener and Davis in the same way the New England Patriots use Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Let's not forget that Harbaugh also coached Fleener in college at Stanford. If Fleener isn't the pick, the 49ers will look at their offensive line where they still have needs despite recent first round picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati.
Also Considered: Amini Silatolu (OG-Midwestern State), Devon Still (DE-Penn State)
31. New England Patriots
Baylor University
The Patriots had a terrible defense last year, and defense would logically be the choice here for most other teams. But when has Bill Bellicheck drafted based on need? The Hoodie loves to draft based on value and potential, and Kendall Wright can do some special things for his offense. Wright is an athletic freak with a ton of big-play ability, and there isn't a team in the league who could cover Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and Kendall Wright. Bellicheck is an offensive wizard who will be able to utilize Write in a lot of ways. They could also consider taking an edge rusher or adding a cornerback with this pick, but a home-run threat like Wright is too good to pass on at No. 31.
Also Considered: Andre Branch (DE-Clemson), Devon Still (DT-Penn State), Janoris Jenkins (CB-North Alabama)
32. New York Giants
Boise State University
Ahmad Bradshaw is going to miss OTA's with a fractured foot and Brandon Jacobs is gone to San Francisco, so there's a need for a new running back in New York. The Giants like to run the football and Doug Martin is the second best runner in this class behind Trent Richardson. He's a Ray Rice type prospect who can pound between the tackles and make plays in the passing game. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin likes to platoon at the position so the Giants will likely take a running back early in this draft. They also tend to take best player available, and Martin is a good value pick here at No. 32. If Martin is off the board, the Giants may consider adding a linebacker or right tackle with this pick.
Also Considered: Bobby Massie (OT-Mississippi), Zach Brown (LB-North Carolina)
Mock Draft: Picks 1-16 - Picks 17-32 - Round 2 - Round 3 - Rounds 4-7
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