2012 Mock Draft – Top 46 Picks
November 1st, 2011 Aaron Freeman
I spent my bye week trying to catch up on as much college football as I could to prep for this mock draft. It’s the first 46 picks, because at this point, the Falcons first pick will be the 46th overall due to their trading their top pick to Cleveland. So here is my mid-October projection of what next year’s draft could look like through the first round and a half.
1. Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford*
Whether Peyton Manning returns healthy to the Colts next year or not, the Colts will be smart to grab Luck, a player that many consider the best QB prospect since Manning came out in 1998.
2. Miami Dolphins – QB Matt Barkley, USC*
Barkley is not in the same class as Luck, but he’s a pretty good QB prospect that can make up for the Dolphins previous mistake of passing on Matt Ryan.
3. Arizona Cardinals – OT Matt Kalil, USC*
The Cardinals need to solidify their offensive line, starting with their left tackle spot. Kalil is a quality prospect that should allow them to move Levi Brown back to his more natural right tackle spot, killing two birds with one stone.
4. St. Louis Rams – OT Riley Reiff, Iowa*
Jason Smith has struggled at right tackle, and Rodger Saffold has not held up at left tackle. They need to add a blocker that can help out and fix one of those issues.
5. Carolina Panthers – DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina*
Charles Johnson is a solid pass rusher, but they need to find someone to play opposite him. Coples is a premier talent, arguably one of the best since Julius Peppers to come out of Chapel Hill.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State*
The Jaguars need a No. 1 target for Blaine Gabbert to throw to, and Blackmon has comparable skillset to Terrell Owens.
7. Minnesota Vikings – OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford*
The Vikings need a left tackle to replace Bryant McKinnie since Charlie Johnson was never going to cut it.
8. Seattle Seahawks – QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Tannehill is low on experience, but high on potential and is the quality passer that Pete Carroll has been waiting for.
9. Denver Broncos – RB Trent Richardson, Alabama*
Richardson offers Adrian Peterson-like potential to stabilize the Broncos ground game while Tim Tebow is under center.
10. Washington Redskins – QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma*
Jones is not quite Sam Bradford, but a good QB prospect that Mike Shanahan can grow and develop in his version of the West Coast Offense.
11. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
The Eagles need to beef up their run defense, and solidifying their front with a player like Thompson should help.
12. Cleveland Browns – WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina*
Jeffery gives the Browns a No. 1 target in the same vein as Brandon Marshall.
13. Dallas Cowboys – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama*
Kirkpatrick should improve a pair of corners that have underachieved the past few years.
14. Tennessee Titans – DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina*
The Titans get to beef up their pass rush with a speedy edge guy like Taylor.
15. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) – DE Nick Perry, USC*
Perry is a solid edge rusher that will give them another pass rusher that can team with Jabaal Sheard.
16. New York Jets – CB Morris Claiborne, LSU*
Claiborne gives the Jets another big, press corner that can help them match up better than Cromartie.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
Dennard is a physical press corner that should match up well in Tampa’s Cover-2 scheme.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame*
The Chiefs get a solid physical presence in the middle of their defense with a big, rangy linebacker like Te’o.
19. San Diego Chargers – S Mark Barron, Alabama
Barron offers what they thought they were getting at strong safety when they signed Bob Sanders.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) – OG David DeCastro, Stanford*
DeCastro is a Logan Mankins-like guard that can potentially replace Bobbie Williams, a pending free agent.
21. Chicago Bears – LB Zach Brown, North Carolina
Brown is a fast playmaker that should help replace Lance Briggs on the outside.
22. Houston Texans – CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina*
Kareem Jackson hasn’t made strides like they hoped, and they need to continue to improve this secondary.
23. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) – DE Vinny Curry, Marshall
The Patriots transition to the 4-3 needs more youth and speed off the edge, and Curry provides it.
24. New York Giants – TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson*
Allen is an athletic pass catcher that should help replace Kevin Boss.
25. New England Patriots – OC Mike Brewster, Ohio State
Brewster should replace Dan Koppen at center, who is a potential free agent and coming off an injury.
26. Cincinnati Bengals – RB Lamar Miller, Miami (FL)*
Miller is a speedy back that can help solidify the Bengals ground attack better than Bernard Scott.
27. Baltimore Ravens – OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
Adams has the potential to play either side of the line, and offer them another piece up front to team opposite Oher.
28. Buffalo Bills – LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College*
Kuechly is a tackling machine in the middle and should be a nice young heir apparent to Nick Barnett.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Alameda Ta’amu, Washington
The Steelers need to start to develop the replacement to Casey Hampton.
30. Detroit Lions – CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech*
Hosley is a ballhawk that should help improve a lacking Lions secondary to solidify their defense.
31. San Francisco 49ers – S Robert Lester, Alabama*
They have a number of journeyman veterans, but Lester adds much needed youth.
32. Green Bay Packers – LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
The Packers need to find another pass rusher to put opposite Clay Matthews.
33. Miami – OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina*
34. Indianapolis – DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State*
35. St. Louis – WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
36. Philadelphia (from Arizona) – S Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami (FL)*
37. Jacksonville – CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
38. Minnesota – S T.J. McDonald, USC*
39. Carolina – CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia
40. Denver – QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
41. Seattle – RB Bernard Pierce, Temple*
42. Philadelphia – LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama*
43. Cleveland – QB Robert Griffin, Baylor*
44. Dallas – OC Ben Jones, Georgia
45. Washington – WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
46. Atlanta – TE Orson Charles, Georgia*
If the Falcons lose Tony Gonzalez to retirement, they will be on the lookout for a suitable replacement. Charles is a guy that is a solid pass catcher that has potential to get better as a blocker in a similar mold to past Bulldog tight ends like Randy McMIchael and Ben Watson.
* Indicates an underclassman