11. Kansas City Chiefs (coin flip): Trent Richardson RB (Alabama)
I can’t believe I have the nation’s best RB falling this far, but with the teams ahead of Kansas City all having bigger needs to fill, the Chiefs would snap up Richardson in an instant if he fell to them at #11.
Why would Kansas City take a RB with guys like Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles, and Dexter McCluster on their roster? Well first, Richardson might be the best and most complete RB to come out in the Draft since Adrian Peterson in 2007. His size and speed combination (5’11 and almost 225 lbs.) is ridiculous and he tore up the S.E.C. this past season (and his entire career) to the tune of 1,679 yards and 21 TD’s. Most importantly however, Thomas Jones in entering his late 30’s, Charles is coming off of knee surgery and only one successful season, and McCluster isn’t a 15-20 carries a game type of guy.
If Richardson is available at #11 the Chiefs will think long and hard about Drafting him or trading down (and collecting a bunch of picks) with a desparate team in need of a RB.
12. Seattle Seahawks (coin flip): Riley Reiff OT (Iowa)
Last season, Seattle found a starting RT/RG in the form of James Carpenter in the 1st Round. This season, the Seahawks could be looking to find their LT of the future.
The three year starter and All-Big Ten performer Reiff is yet another solid OL churned out by Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa program. The 6’6″ 300 lbs. Reiff is considered with Jonathan Martin to be tied for the consensus #2 Tackle spot on most boards.
If Russel Okung cannot get healthy, and or the Seahawks feel more comfortable kicking Carpenter into the Guard slot, the selection of Reiff could be their chance to really build a solid O-Line heading into the future.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro OG (Stanford)
Finally, a top tier O-Lineman for Russ Grimm to work with. DeCastro fits the mold of what Arizona would like to do on Offense: Pound the rock and hit the opposition through the air on play-action fakes to the League’s best WR in the form of Larry Fitzgerald.
You want to know a big reason for not only Stanford’s Running Game’s success but Andrew Luck’s success as well? You needn’t look further than David DeCastro, Johnathan Martin, and the rest of Stanford’s Offensive Line.
DeCastro kind of reminds me of former Steelers Guard and future Hall of Fame candidate Alan Faneca. He gets to the 2nd Level quickly, he pulls very well, his pass blocking is solid, and sometimes he can flat out dominate an opponent. Plus he’s got a mean streak in him as well. Not the type of mean-streak that will cost your team 15 yards, but the mean-streak that every good O-Lineman should have that drives him to outright kick the tail out of the man in front of him by any means necessary.
If Kevin Kolb/Jon Skelton want to keep from getting planted next season, and Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams want holes to run through then Arizona must go Offensive Line with this pick if DeCastro is in fact the top guy on their board.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Alfonzo Dennard CB (Nebraska)
Before they can make more upgrades to their lowly Offensive Line, Dallas must find a way to stop the opposition through the air. Dallas had the N.F.L.’s 23rd Ranked Pass Defense in 2011, and it really cost them in some meaningful games (both Giants contests). Terence Newman will be entering his mid-30’s soon, and if the Cowboys’ don’t find a replacement soon, it could get really ugly.
Alfonzo Dennard (An All-Big 12 Performer in 2010) had a solid career at Nebraska and teamed with Prince Amukamara to form one of the best CB duos in college football during their time together. The scrappy 5’10 205 lb. Dennard could immediately entrench himself near the top of the CB depth chart and maybe Dallas could end up winning a game or two which they lead in the 4th Quarter.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly ILB/OLB (B.C.)
“The Dream Team” faced quite a bit of nightmares in the early going during the 2011 season, and just couldn’t get back on track enough to qualify for the Postseason. One of Philadelphia’s biggest issues however was at the Linebacker position, which proved to be an Achilles Heel for an already shaky Defense.
Kuechly has the size (6’3” 237 lbs.) and displayed his athleticism, and versatility in college to play the MLB or OLB spot in a 4-3 Defense like Philadelphia’s. With their “Wide 9” sets on the Defensive Line, it is imperative that the Linebackers are able to not only shed blocks, but make tackles as well. Kuechly himself proved to be a tackling machine at B.C., and could step in Day 1 to help Philadelphia’s undersized and underachieving LB corps.
16. New York Jets: Mark Barron S (Alabama)
Let’s face it, Eric Smith should be playing in the Arena League, and Jim Leonhard always seems to be on the sidelines with some sort of injury come January. Thus, the Jets sure could use somebody to help shore up the back end of their Secondary.
Mark Barron (6’2″ 218 lbs.) is the consensus #1 Safety in this 2012 Draft Class, and fills a position of need for the Jets. He is an All-SEC player, gets turnovers, and was the anchor in the Tide’s Secondary as a collegian. If New York is going to compete with the likes of Tom Brady for the next half decade, they need to draft more Secondary help. Otherwise Brady will simply avoid “Revis Island” and pick the rest of the Defense apart through the air.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller RB (Miami)
With Cedric Benson entering his early 30’s and Bernard Scott’s production dwindling, the Bengals I believe will look to address the RB position early in the 2012 Draft. With Richardson off the board (although they could trade up for him), Lamar Miller could very well be the guy that Cincinnati selects.
Miller is known as a solid “one-cut” guy that can shoulder the load at first with Benson and Scott, and could help the Bengals 19th ranked rushing Offense out next season. A RS-Sophomore, Miller doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires, and Cincinnati could be getting him for the best years of his career.
18. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Ingram OLB (So. Carolina)
San Diego’s Defense didn’t do a very excellent job rushing the passer last season, and a lot of that had to do with their lack of an OLB pass-rushing threat. Luckily for the Chargers, if Melvin Ingram is available at 18, they could end up taking their next 2006-version of Shawne Merriman.
Ingram (10.0 Sacks and 2 INT’s in 2011) could very well be the answer to the Chargers’ pass rushing woes. Travis LaBoy is in the twilight of his career, and Larry English has proved himself to be a full-scale bust since being drafted in the 1st Round. If the Chargers can find another pass-rushing threat across from Antwan Barnes they could make some noise in the A.F.C. West come 2012.
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd WR (Notre Dame)
While Chicago’s Offensive Line is still in need of help, they can’t pass up a chance to take a talented player like Michael Floyd. To be perfectly blunt, Chicago’s WR corp is not only awful, it is arguably the worst in the League. If Jay Cutler is going to succeed in the “Windy City” he must have better targets than Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett to throw to, plain and simple.
Even with his off-field issues (D.U.I.), Floyd played incredibly at Notre Dame during his 4 year career in South Bend. I watched his games every weekend, and I can say with full effect that Floyd will be a stud in the N.F.L. if he goes to the right team. Floyd’s got the body type (6’3″ 224 lbs.), the speed, the route running ability, and the attitude to make it in this League.
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus DE (Illinois)
The Titans ranked #31 in the N.F.L. in Sacks last season, and if they want to take the next step from a 9-7 team on the outside looking into the Playoffs, they’d better find some Defensive Ends which can rush the passer. Tennessee might be able to find their next Javon Kearse “Freak,” in the form of “one-year wonder” Whitney Mercilus.
Mercilus tallied 16.0 Sacks and amassed 9 Forced Fumbles in 2011. What’s particularly remarkable about that is because it was during his first season as a starter. At 6’4″ and 265 lbs. Mercilus has a decent frame to work with as a Defensive End, and illustrated last season how explosive of a pass rusher he was. Pairing him with 2010 1st Round Pick Derrick Morgan would give the Titans two terrific young pass rushers which could bring the heat on guys like Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck four times per season.