Hanson: 2012 NFL Mock Draft, Version 2.0
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We are less than two weeks away from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and colleges will hold their pro days starting only a few days after that. [See pro day schedule.]
While my first-round mock draft will likely change (perhaps quite a bit) later this month, I still decided to make a pre-combine update.
Over the next couple of weeks, I plan on adding a second (and perhaps) third round to my mock and then at some point in March to release my first 2013 NFL mock draft.
For now, here is my updated first round with commentary:
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14) - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
With Peyton Manning, a four-time league MVP, under center for more than a decade, the Colts have the "luck" to be able to transition into the next era with a quarterback many have called the best prospect since John Elway. Due a $28 million roster bonus on March 8th, five days before the league year begins, it seems all but certain that Manning won't be on the roster to collect it.
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14) - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
There will be plenty of interest from quarterback-needy franchises (Redskins, Browns, etc.) to move up to the No. 2 spot to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. If the Rams hang on to the second pick, I see them going in one of two directions: USC left tackle Matt Kalil or Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. Either way, the pick would help franchise quarterback Sam Bradford. No team allowed more sacks than the Rams (55) last year and Jason Smith has been a bust so I have the Rams going with the talented brother of Panthers Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil.
[Related: Take our poll on which player will be selected second overall.]
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13) - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
If a team does trade up to select RG3, I would expect the Vikings to take Kalil. Only four teams allowed more sacks than Minnesota. However, their pass defense was atrocious last year and they have to face the Packers and Lions four times a year. No team allowed more passing touchdowns (34) than the Vikings and no team intercepted fewer passes (eight). Claiborne is clearly the top corner in this year's draft class.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Browns will jump on the opportunity to take this year's Heisman Trophy recipient (see past winners) if he's still available at this spot. Accurate, athletic and intelligent, Griffin completed 72.4 percent of his passes and was just shy of 5,000 combined yards -- 4,293 passing yards and 699 rushing yards -- in 2011. For his career, Griffin has a 78:17 touchdown-to-interception ratio not counting his 33 rushing touchdowns.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
With the possible (perhaps likely) retirement of cornerback Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib's character and legal concerns, the Bucs would prefer to take Claiborne at this spot to address their most pressing need. And in my previous mock, I had the Bucs taking running back Trent Richardson. Regardless of how talented Richardson is, there are not many teams that value a running back to be worthy of a top-five pick these days. Reiff, the second-best tackle in this year's draft class, has the size, toughness, intelligence and athleticism to warrant a top-five pick and many mocks project him as the No. 3 pick to Minnesota.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11) - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
There is plenty of speculation that the Redskins will try to trade up to select RG3. If they don't, they will boost their passing game with the draft's most-talented pass-catcher at this spot. Blackmon, who is the back-to-back Biletnikoff recipient, has 232 receptions for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns combined over the past two seasons.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
If Blackmon is still available at No. 7, they won't hesitate to get their "franchise" quarterback a legitimate weapon in the passing game. (Granted, Blaine Gabbert looked horrible -- and scared -- last season, but the Jags arguably have the league's worst receiving corps). While many question Coples' motor, he is the premiere pass-rusher in the draft and the Jags have ranked in the bottom 10 in sacks for the past three years in a row.
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10) - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Although the Dolphins have an elite left tackle in Jake Long, the top overall pick in 2008, they could certainly use an upgrade on the right side to replace Marc Colombo. With offensive tackles Kalil and Reiff off the board, the Dolphins will take the next best tackle available at this point.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-10) - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Panthers were horrible against the run last year as they allowed 130.8 rushing yards per game and 18 rushing touchdowns, the fourth-most in the NFL. Brockers, who was recruited to LSU as a linebacker, has size (6-6, 306 pounds), athleticism, versatility and a ton of upside.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Only two teams had fewer sacks than the Bills (29) last year -- Tampa Bay (23) and Tennessee (28). In other words, the Bills could use an impact pass-rusher. Here's what Tony Pauline wrote about the speed of Ingram, who weighed in at 276 pounds at the Senior Bowl: "... Many are convinced a time in the 4.6’s, or possibly faster, is legitimate for the play making defender."
11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Richardson has an impressive combination of size, freakish strength and speed and is one of the best running back prospects in years. While running backs may not be coveted like they once were, Richardson would give the Chiefs a tremendous value at this spot. Along with Jamaal Charles, who is returning from an ACL injury, Kansas City would have the league's most dynamic running back duo.
12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
After converting to receiver (from quarterback) when he arrived at A&M, Tannehill led the team in receiving in his first two seasons. He became the team's starting quarterback in the middle of his junior season, however, and has the size (6-4, 220 pounds), athleticism, smarts and arm strength that teams desire in quarterbacks although he is a bit raw.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) - Michael Adams, OT, Ohio State
If Arizona doesn't draft an offensive tackle here, I can see them taking a receiver to help take some pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald. By improving their offensive line, however, that will give Kevin Kolb (or perhaps even Peyton Manning) better protection. Aside from the Rams, no other team allowed more sacks than the Cardinals (54) last season.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The two biggest areas of need for the Cowboys are interior offensive line and secondary. They bolster one of those here with one of the best guard prospects in years. Otherwise, I could see them going with Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick or North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins, but both cornerbacks carry with them some off-field baggage.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8) - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
The Eagles run defense improved as the season went on, but they need to upgrade the middle of their defense. Although some may worry about his (lack of elite) athleticism, Kuechly just makes plays. An instinctive tackling machine, Kuechly racked up more than 500 tackles in his three seasons at Boston College.
16. New York Jets (8-8) - Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
In my first mock, I put Upshaw's teammate Mark Barron here and the Jets could certainly use an upgrade over Eric Smith. That said, they also need to improve their pass rush as Aaron Maybin, a first-round pick with the Bills that was cut after only two years, led the Jets in sacks (six) last year.
To see the rest of my first-round mock, click here.