Hanson: Updated 2012 NFL Mock Draft
With the NFL Scouting Combine behind us and pro days underway, it is time for an updated mock draft, which I have done.
Since the start of free agency will be upon us on Tuesday, that means this mock might need to be updated (again) soon. Over the upcoming weekend, I plan on adding a second round.
For now, here is are my first 10 picks with commentary:
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14) - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
After having 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. Manning and the Colts parted ways on Wednesday (take our poll on his next team) so Luck, like Manning, should start Week 1 as a rookie.
[* Projected Trade: Browns trade both of their first-round picks plus a high pick in 2013 to move up to No. 2.]
2. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Rams (2-14)) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Three things are clear: (1) the Rams want to trade out of this spot -- for a king's ransom, (2) many quarterback-needy teams will be willing to give them a king's ransom for this pick and (3) the team that does will undoubtedly take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, this year's Heisman Trophy recipient. Despite a report from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Browns are unwilling to give up their second first-round pick, this deal makes the most sense. Although I believe the Redskins have more motivation to trade up, the Browns have more ammunition to pull off a trade. RG3 has the intelligence, athleticism, strong arm and accuracy that would have been the top overall pick in any other draft class.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13) - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, Kalil was, without question, the top offensive tackle in this draft class. Some have described Kalil as the best left tackle prospect since Joe Thomas. After the combine, the gap has widened for the athletic brother of Panthers Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. Only four teams allowed more sacks than the Vikings last year, which makes this pick a no-brainer.
4. St. Louis Rams (projected trade with Browns (4-12)) - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Yes, the Colts won the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes, but the Rams are certainly winners as well. With the two most likely trade partners being the Browns or Redskins, the Rams should still have a top-six pick in the draft and gain another first-rounder plus an additional early-round pick. While Blackmon would be drafted behind A.J. Green and Julio Jones if they were in this year's draft class, Blackmon, the back-to-back Biletnikoff winner, has been highly productive in his collegiate career and gives Sam Bradford a potential No. 1 receiver. Over the past two seasons combined, the physical receiver had 232 receptions for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Cornerback is the biggest need for the Bucs for three primary reasons: (1) the potential retirement Ronde Barber, who turns 37 next month, (2) the off-field issues with Aqib Talib and (3) the Bucs have to face Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan (at least) six times per year. Not only does he have good size, athleticism and ball skills, Claiborne, the top cornerback in this year's class, does not have the character concerns of some of the other top cornerbacks in this year's draft class.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11) - 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, intangibles and arm strength that teams desire in quarterbacks despite lacking the experience. Tannehill fits the mold of the type of signal-callers that Shanahan covets.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Melvin Ingram, DE, South 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 at times -- last season, but the Jags arguably have the league's worst receiving corps). This a deep wide receiver class so the Jags will have the opportunity to add a playmaker early in the second round or even later in the draft. Considering the Jags have ranked in the bottom 10 in sacks for the past three years in a row, Ingram gives them an athletic, high-motor guy to help boost their pass rush.
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10) - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
In my previous mocks, I've had the Dolphins take a tackle to give them an immediate upgrade over right tackle Marc Colombo. For whatever reason, the Dolphins have decided to switch from a 3-4 to 4-3 defensive scheme and taking Coples helps to start putting the pieces in place to make that transition as successfully as possible. The biggest question mark about Coples is his motor, but he has great size, athleticism and the versatility that makes him worthy of being a top-10 pick.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-10) - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Not only were the Panthers bad versus the run (130.8 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns allowed last year), but they also ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in sacks (31). Cox has good size (6-4 and 298 pounds), strength (30 reps at 225) and athleticism (4.79 forty) and will immediately help improve the Panthers defensive line.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
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. According to Tony Pauline, Alabama coach Nick Saban has called Upshaw the “meanest player he’s ever coached.” Upshaw had 9.5 sacks last season and five sacks in his final two games (vs. Auburn and Michigan State) in 2010.
To see the rest of my mock draft, click here.