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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Free Agent Frenzy Edition

MIKE KAYE

Free Agency is in its third stage, making the market a little less intense. With all the moves and makeovers around the league, team needs changes and so do draft picks. Juiced Sports takes a look at current needs and talent for April’s draft. With Pro Days nearly done, we have good understanding of where most guys will go, but surprises could be just around the corner.

Round 1

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

It has been said for months that Luck is the pick. The media wants to get viewers, so some of their pundits say there is a change of RG3 coming to Indy. I don’t buy it, especially after the Colts traded for Drew Stanton, who plays a similar style to that of Luck. You don’t sign a backup that is significantly different than your starter (except if you’re the Dolphins), because it changes the scheme.

2. Washington Redskins (STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

RG3 has gotten rave reviews from virtually every football analyst in the country and for good reason. The Skins are weighing their entire future on the Heisman trophy and shouldn’t be disappointed. The only reason he slips to two is because he comes from a spread offense and Andrew Luck is about as pro ready as they come. The Skins will spend the rest of the draft surrounding RG3 with weapons.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Vikings GM Rick Spielman has made it known that he doesn’t think he needs to draft an offensive tackle early, but Kalil isn’t just an offensive tackle, he’s more than that. Kalil is the best offensive tackle prospect in the last five years. The big man from USC is extremely athletic and can serve as Christian Ponder’s (or whoever is quarterback’s) blindside defender for the next decade.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, HB, Alabama

Trent Richardson is a true all-purpose back who has tons of potential and the talent to be taken high. The running back position is not the important position it once was, but Richardson can do it all and provide a weapon for Colt McCoy that the Browns offense surely lacks.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Eric Wright may have been a great signing to eventually replace Ronde Barber; the only problem is Aqib Talib may go to jail or be suspended, so the team needs a lot of help at corner. Claiborne is the best of the bunch and could go as early as third overall but the Bucs get good value and a great player at five.

6. St. Louis  Rams (WAS): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

The Rams have needed a top flight wide receiver since Torry Holt left town, now they get the best possible option with Justin Blackmon. He has the size and strength to overpower defenders and be a redzone threat. Blackmon is a significant upgrade over any pass catcher the Rams currently have.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

The Jags need a consistent pass rusher and Aaron Kampman has failed to be that guy. Ingram isn’t the biggest guy around but he has motor for days. He can play both sides of the line and finally give Jacksonville a legit threat when it comes to the pass rush.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A &M

Miami has failed to get Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, and trade up for RG3, so Tannehill may be their only hope at this point. Tannehill was coached by Miami offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman, at Texas A & M. If anyone knows what Tannehill can do, it’s the Dolphins. If Tannehill is pasted on by Miami, other teams may be scared off and he could drop into the late teens and possibly out of the first.

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.

A lot of draftniks think Carolina would go with the local guy, Quinton Coples, but Cox has more defined talents and skill set. Luckily for Cox, he fits what the Panthers need: a hardnosed, violent defensive tackle. Cox could do wonders for the Carolina defense that has had tons of issues sustaining leads.

10. Buffalo Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Bills ranked 29th in passing defense in 2011 and Leodis McKelvin has proved to be mediocre as a starter. Kirkpatrick did have a bit of character concern early in the draft process, but he still has the skill to be a top ten pick.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis

The Chiefs converted to a 3-4 defense a few seasons ago but still lack a promising option at nose tackle. One of the major keys to a 3-4 defense is the nose tackle, so it’s about time the team made it more of a priority. The Chiefs lack options, so taking Poe is likely their best bet.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

Seattle seems content on letting long-time starter, David Hawthrone, walk in free agency. With a spot open, the Seahawks get the best linebacker in the draft. The common misconception is that Kuechly can only play middle, but his weight gain and speed at the Combine has a lot of draftniks thinking he can set the edge as a SAM linebacker as well.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Since Anquan Boldin left Arizona, there has been a huge void opposite Larry Fitzgerald. With a competition at quarterback and an uneasy offensive line, the Cardinals can give their most important player (whether it’s Kolb or Skelton) a significant upgrade at number two wide receiver.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Quinton Coples, DE/DT, UNC

Coples, while a top ten talent, falls because of lack of need and questions about what position fits the former Tar Heel best. Coples could serves as a rare 3-4 defensive end with more than capable pass rushing skills.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Brockers is a bit of one-year wonder but his potential is through the roof. The Eagles only have three defensive tackles on their roster with any experience and one of them, Antonio Dixon, is coming off an injury. Starters, Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins, are in their early 30’s so it may be good to add youth at the position.

16. New York Jets: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

One of the Jets biggest issues last season was their inability to run the play after years of depending on the run. DeCastro is an extremely safe and strong prospect that can give the Gang Green offensive line a little more push.

17. Cincinnati  Bengals (OAK): Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

As mentioned in former posts, Chris Crocker needs to be replaced after his horrible performance down the stretch last season. Barron is by far the best safety in this class and would make for a significant upgrade over Crocker.

18. San Diego Chargers: Riley Reiff, OT/OG, Iowa

The Chargers lost longtime left guard, Kris Dielman, to retirement earlier this season and need to sure up that spot. Reiff played left tackle in college, but the draft process has shown him to be more of a guard at the pro level. Reiff could certainly be a key piece for the Charger offensive line.

19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

The Bears go local with Mercilus, who can be a great option to bookend Julius Peppers. The Bears tried to get Mario Williams in Chicago, but failed. This move gives the Bears youth and talent as a fallback plan. Not too shabby.

20. Tennessee Titans: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

The Titans need to be able to get pressure on the quarterback and that is Vinny Curry’s specialty. Originally projected as second round pick, Curry has raised his stock in recent weeks and looks to a wildcard in the twenties. With a few options already off the board, the Titans are forced to bite on Curry a little early (yes, I realize there is a pun there).

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Like Curry, Gilmore has raised his value from a second round pick to a solid first rounder. Gilmore has size and long arms that allow him to cover bigger wide receivers. Nate Clements can serve as a stop gap before Gilmore is ready for a full-time gig next to Leon Hall (who is coming off a pretty serious Achilles tendon injury).

22. Cleveland Browns (ATL): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Even with Trent Richardson, the Browns still need major playmakers. Kendall Wright is nothing but a playmaker with big play ability and the potential to be a star. Wright can start across from Greg Little or play in the slot.

23. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Martin falls into the twenties due to a lackluster performance at the Combine and his Pro Day. A lot of critics think he is overrated and was helped by playing next to DeCastro and blocking for Luck. Still, the Lions need an upgrade at either tackle spot and Martin can fill one of those roles.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

James Farrior is done as a Steeler, so Pittsburgh needs another man in the middle. Hightower is a pure 3-4 inside linebacker and has great leadership skills. He may be safest pick for the black and yellow.

25. Denver Broncos: Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn

Broderick Bunkley played very well for Denver last season, but has now taken his talents to Bourbon Street. The Broncos need a steady replacement and Reyes can provide relief. Reyes comes from a weak conference, but has talent for days.

26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Hill blew up the Combine and now has a good shot of going in the first round. Houston needs an insurance policy for Andre Johnson and Hill can play on the opposite side or take over for Johnson when he’s out with injury.

27. New England Patriots (NO): Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama

The Patriots struggled to rush the passer last season and lost their best two rushers this offseason (Mark Anderson to Bills, Andre Carter to injury). Upshaw has no set position in the pros but has proven (especially in the BCS Championship game) that he can get after the quarterback.

28. Green Bay Packers: Lamar Miller, HB, Miami

Ryan Grant is a free agent and James Starks is better served as change-of-pace back. Miller is a burner, who comes from a long line of Miami running backs. He can add a little burst to the Green Bay running game.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Jerel Worthy, DE/DT, Michigan St.

The Ravens lost starter Cory Redding to the Colts, so Jerel Worthy can replace him. Worthy is a massive man that can eat up blockers and can be extremely valuable against the run.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia

Starting guard, Adam Snyder, signed with the Cardinals in free agency, so the 49ers need to replace him. Glenn is a versatile lineman with athleticism and power to best some of the league’s best defensive heavyweight.

31. New England Patriots: Devon Still, DE/DT, Penn St.

Bill Belichik loves to build his offensive and defensive lines. Pick 31 is a luxury for the Pats and allows them to take the best player available. Still can play any spot on the defensive line and he’ll likely be asked to do that in Belichik’s defense.

32. New York Giants: Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California

The Giants have few needs as the Super Bowl champs, but one area they can definitely improve upon is linebacker. Kendricks is a tackling machine out of Cal with great instincts and slim build. He may take a year to develop but the Giants feel they are good enough that they can wait.

Round 2

33. St. Louis: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The Rams signed Cortland Finnegan but they need an upgrade on the other side. Jenkins should be a starter right away.

34. Indianapolis: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

The best way to make Luck feel comfortable is to give him a familiar option. Fleener had a fantastic Pro Day and deserves to go here.

35. Minnesota: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

Michael Jenkins isn’t going to cut it for Christian Ponder. Randle has a rare combination of size and speed that could be valuable to the Vikes in the redzone.

36. Tampa Bay: Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska

The Bucs really struggled at linebacker last season and are due for a serious upgrade. David would fit right in at weakside linebacker for Tampa Bay.

37. Cleveland: Zach Brown, OLB, UNC

The Browns have an opening at weakside linebacker and Brown is a top talent at outside linebacker. His competitiveness and toughness have been questioned, but Brown’s talent is unquestionable.

38. Jacksonville: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The Jags need to do something about their glaring weakness at right tackle. Adams is a borderline first round pick that provides great value at 38.

39. St. Louis (WAS): Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi

The Rams still need a starting tackle. Massie is used to dealing with the top talent of the SEC and that experience will be invaluable as a he makes the jump to the pros.

40. Carolina: Alshon Jefferey, WR, South Carolina

Carolina wide receiver, David Gettis, is more fit for the slot and Jefferey’s presence on the outside can get him there.

41. Buffalo: Zebrie Sanders, OT, FSU

Buffalo is in need of a replacement for Demetrius Bell, who is circling around in free agency. Sanders has the ability to play both tackle spots.

42. Miami: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

No matter what scheme the Fins use, Branch can fit in and play right away. He has unparalleled versatility as a pass rusher.

43. Seattle: Nick Perry, DE, USC

Perry has gone up and down on draft boards but Pete Carrol recruited Perry in college and can now bring him to the pros.

44. Kansas City: Brandon Thompson, DE/DT, Clemson

Glenn Dorsey has never fit the 3-4 defense, so he may be on his way out sooner than later. Thompson can compete with him for a starting gig.

45. Dallas: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

The Cowboys signed a pair of guard this offseason, but both seem to be short term fixes. Zeitler can sit for a season or two and then take over.

46. Philadelphia: Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State

Demeco Ryans solves Philadelphia’s problems at middle linebacker, but they still need someone on the strong side. Wagner is a pure SAM linebacker and can give the Eagles a competent player to set the edge.

47. New York Jets: Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington

Nose tackle is definitely a need for Rex Ryan and Co. Ta’amu is the second best of the bunch and can give the Jets a much needed cog in their front.

48. New England (OAK): Chandler Jones, OLB/DE, Syracuse

The more pass rushers, the better for New England. Jones is dominant pass rusher with a very high motor and great hips.

49. San Diego: Ronnell Lewis, OLB/DE, Oklahoma

San Diego needs to get some pressure on opposing offenses. While Jarrett Johnson could be productive in the short term, Lewis can provide depth and eventually move into the starting lineup.

50. Chicago: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

Now that Mike Martz is out of town, the tight end becomes a necessity again in Chicago. Once considered the best at his position in the draft, Allen falls to a spot where he is badly needed.

51. Philadelphia (ARI): Josh Robinson, CB, UCF

Asante Samuel is as good as gone and the Eagles could use depth at the position. Robinson is lights out fast and take hang with the speediest of  wideouts.

52. Tennessee: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia

Adding to their acquisition of Curry is another defensive end. Irvin can stand up or put his hand down but either way he’ll get to the quarterback.

53. Cincinnati: Peter Konz, OL, Wisconsin

The Bengals need to improve their play at center and Konz is the perfect fit. Wisconsin manufactures offensive lineman and Konz is another Badger who plays his position at a high level.

54. Detroit: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

The Lions need depth at cornerback and Hosley can play nickel or base in Jim Schwartz’s defense.

55. Atlanta: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia

Tony Gonzales can’t play forever, so the Falcons go local and draft Charles who is a great prospect.

56. Pittsburgh: David Wilson, HB, Virginia Tech

Rashad Mendenhall has major injury concerns, so the Steelers need to make sure they are covered at running back. Wilson is fast and at the very least, can provide a change-of-pace in Pittsburgh.

57. Denver: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan St.

Peyton Manning needs an understudy and John Elway needs a contingency plan, especially with Peyton’s health. Cousins isn’t ready to start right away, so learning from Manning would be a plus.

58. Houston: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California

Eric Winston was shown the door earlier this offseason, so the Texans bring in Schwartz to compete for the right tackle spot.

59. New Orleans: Forfeit

New Orleans has forfeited this pick due to punishments given by the NFL.

60. Green Bay: Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska

The Packers really missed Cullen Jenkins last season and Crick can provide the same burst and pass rush skills to the Green Bay defense.

61. Baltimore: Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest

Lee Evans was a trade bust, so the Ravens draft Givens who has similar size and speed to Evans to fit their offense.

62. San Francisco:  George Iloka, FS, Boise St

The 49ers don’t have a ton of holes and adding to their safety unit could be a luxury at this point but Iloka has tons of value here.

63. New England: Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa St.

The Pats continue to build their line with Osemele who could compete for a starting job with the aging Brian Waters.

64. New York Giants: Doug Martin, HB, Boise St

Brandon Jacobs is headed to San Francisco, so the Giants need a new number two running back. Martin is fast and can catch the football, something the Giants covet as a complimentary back.

Round 3

65. Indianapolis: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

With the secondary rebuilding, Boykin is a good cover corner and can play the slot for the young Colts.

66. St. Louis: Chris Polk, HB, Washington

Stephen Jackson has struggled with injuries the past few seasons and while Cadillac Williams may return, it’s good to have a young back in the mix.

67. Minnesota: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma

Minnesota struggled to cover pretty much everyone last year, which sustaining a lead nearly impossible in 2011.

68. Cleveland: Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette

Evan Moore and Alex Smith are nice players, but they aren’t starters. Green can come in and play right away.

69. Tampa Bay: LaMichael James, HB, Oregon

Tampa missed out on Trent Richardson, but James could be the Swiss Army knife that the Bucs need.

70. Washington: Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina

Laron Landry has taken his ridiculous muscles to the Jets, it’s time to find his replacement.

71. Jacksonville: Bernard Pierce, HB, Temple

Pierce absolutely tore up his Pro Day, and the Jags would be better served to have a competent back up to give MJD some time to rest every now and then.

72. Buffalo: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

Buffalo lacks a legit redzone wide receiver, that’s why they go for the 6-4 Quick.

73. Miami: Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas

With Brandon Marshall in Chicago, the Dolphins need to upgrade the wide receiver squad.

74. Miami (CHI/CAR): Brandon Mosley, OT, Auburn

The Dolphins struggled on the right side in 2011 after Vernon Carey was moved to guard.

75. Kansas City: Marvin Jones, WR, California

The Chiefs have a good three-headed monster at wide receiver, but need to be prepared if one goes down.

76. Seattle: Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri

Zach Miller was a free agency bust and John Carlson left for Minnesota. Egnew can be a great second option at tight end.

77. Houston (PHI): Billy Winn, DE/DT, Boise State

Antonio Smith is getting up there in age and Winn can sit behind him and provide depth until Smith moves on.

78. New York Jets: Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin

With only Santonio Holmes and a bunch of scrubs out wide, the Jets need another pass catcher.

79. Oakland: Forfeited (2010 Supplemental Draft-Terrell Pryor)

The Raiders used this pick to draft Terrell Pryor in the 2010 Supplemental Draft.

80. San Diego: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona

Vincent Brown and Malcolm Floyd are set to start, but someone needs to take Brown’s former job in the slot.

81. Chicago: Ben Jones, OL, Georgia

Robert Garza has been up and down at center the past few years, so this move gives him a backup and possible replacement.

82. Arizona: Matt McCants, OT, AUB

Arizona may have resigned Levi Brown but they still need a right tackle.

83. Dallas: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The Dallas Cowboys need to get better in the secondary and while Brandon Carr will help, this move solidifies the unit.

84. Tennessee: Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Cortland Finnegan is gone, so the Titans need to replenish their depth.

85. Cincinnati: Dwight Jones, WR, UNC

Jones can replace Andre Caldwell in the slot for the Bengals.

86. Atlanta: James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada

Johnson would give the Falcons a fallback plan if Akeem Dent struggles in the middle.

87. Detroit: Michael Brewster, OL, Ohio State

Dominic Raola has been consistent for the past decade but could use a young backup.

88. Pittsburgh: Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada

Either way, the Steelers are likely to lose one of their major wide-outs next offseason.

89. Denver: Trent Robinson, FS, Michigan State

Brian Dawkins is likely to retire, so adding depth is important for the safety spot.

90. Philadelphia (HOU): Tony Bergstrom, OT, Utah

Jason Peters is likely out for the season, so the Eagles need to replenish their depth.

91. New Orleans: Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona St.

Drew Brees may holdout with the Franchise Tag, so the Saints need to be prepared.

92. Green Bay: Philip Blake, OL, Baylor

Jeff Saturday was a nice signing but he isn’t going to play forever.

93. Baltimore: Shea McClellin, OLB/DE, Boise State

Jarret Johnson signed with the Chargers, so McClellin would be his replacement on the strong side.

94. San Francisco: Ronnie Hillman, HB, San Diego State

I have a feeling the Brandon Jacobs experiment will fail quite early in the season.

95. New England: Robert Turbin, HB, Utah State

The Patriots love adding running back depth in the middle of the draft.

96. New York Giants: Sean Spence, OLB, Miami

As previously mentioned, the Giants could afford to update their linebacker situation.

97. Oakland (compensatory): Josh Kaddu, OLB, Oregon

After being cutting Kamerion Wimbley, the Raiders need a replacement to set the edge.

Photo: ***** Images

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