21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins CB (N. Alabama)
The Bengals have issues at the CB position heading into 2012, and that is a complete and total fact. Their Defensive output at that position plummeted when Leon Hall was lost for the season. Of course this was after Jonathan Joseph jumped ship to Houston in Free Agency. Furthermore, Pacman Jones proved to be utterly useless down the stretch, and basically gave up in Cincinnati’s Wild Card loss to Houston a couple of weeks ago.
The Bengals will likely look past Jenkins’ off-the field issues and look to him to shore up their Secondary if he is available. In spite of his run-ins with the law, the 5’10” Jenkins started as a Freshman on Florida’s 2008 B.C.S. National Championship team, and established himself as one of the S.E.C.’s top CB’s during his three year career in Gainesville.
22. Cleveland Browns: Mike Adams OT (Ohio State)
Many Cleveland fans will be clamoring for “RGIII” to reunite with his college teammate WR Kendall Wright, and continue the Griffin III-Wright connection in “The Mistake By The Lake.” However, Cleveland has a more pressing need along the O-Line, and it is at the Right Tackle spot which has a massive hole at it.
If the Browns do indeed draft Griffin III, or even decide to stick with McCoy, they need to be protected at all costs. They have some terrific and Pro Bowl players in LT Joe Thomas and C Alex Mack, but they are still in need of a solid RT that can give whoever is playing QB a nice set of book-ends for the next 7-10 seasons.
The massive (6’8″ 320 lbs.) Mike Adams from Ohio State could give Cleveland the answer it is looking for at RT. Adams is a road-grating OT who would best be served opening holes for Hardesty, Hills, and any other of Cleveland’s Backs in the future, and is athletic enough to hold his own in pass-protection.
23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn OG/OT (Georgia)
While this pick could likely be a CB, there aren’t any left at this juncture to justify Detroit reaching for one at #23. I mean, they could conceivably trade down to acquire one, but if they play the “Best Player Available at Position of Need” strategy, Cordy Glenn could help to shore up the Lions’ O-Line.
With Gosder Cheruils being average at best, and Jeff Backus getting up there in age, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Detroit pulled the trigger on Glenn or another Offensive Tackle early in the Draft.
An imposing figure weighing in at almost 350 lbs., the surprisingly nimble and athletic Glenn could even make the move to the Guard position if he is needed there as well. If the Lions don’t want to see Matt Stafford injured again, they’d better think about protecting him.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower ILB (Alabama)
Unlike most collegiate football teams, Alabama not only runs an N.F.L. style of Defense, they are one of they few teams that actually run a true 3-4 system. Because the Steelers are in desperate need of help at the ILB position, and Dont’a Hightower is one of the best available players on the board, this pick is a no-brainer.
Hightower (6’4″ 260 lbs.) had a highly successful career at Alabama where he started 40 games, and last season led the Tide’s #1 Ranked Defense in Tackles in addition to being named a 1st Team All-American.
Kevin Colbert has done a fantastic job in the 1st Round during his career in Pittsburgh, and Hightower could be the next in a long line of players to become 1st Round success stories.
25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy DT (Michigan State)
It’ll be Year 2 in Denver’s transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and the Broncos will be looking to acquire more personnel to fit their new scheme. In need of a 1-Technique or even a 3-Technique, Denver could find a solid pick in the form of Jerel Worthy now.
Ryan McBean is definitely not the answer, and the Broncos can continue building upon a solid Defensive core which includes Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and the ageless Champ Bailey.
At 6’3” and 310 lbs., worthy could be that force in the middle that the Broncos are looking for in Year 2 of their 4-3 set. Worthy turned in dominating performances during his 4 years in East Lansing, and started 37 games in the 3 seasons after his redshirt campaign.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright WR (Baylor)
Andre Johnson has basically done it “all by himself” when it comes to his career with the Houston Texans and his role in their passing game. Maybe the Front Office will wise-up this offseason and give Johnson as well as Matt Schaub some more help to bolster their terrific Offense.
Wright was Robert Griffin III’s main-man at Baylor (108 grabs for 1663 yards and 14 TD’s in 2011) and had himself a whale of a collegiate career while Baylor experienced a football “Renaissance” period. Speedy and possessing good hands, Wright (5’10” 190 lbs.) could consistently burn teams underneath when they decide to key on Andre Johnson. Wright also has big-play ability and would just give Matt Schaub and the Houston Offense another terrific weapon to work with.
27. New England Patriots: Mohamed Sanu WR (Rutgers)
Remember when the Patriots had Randy Moss in 2007 and he caught an N.F.L. record 23 TD passes and re-established himself as the N.F.L.’s best “deep threat?”
Yeah, I did too, and I still have nightmares about it. The worst part is that the only hole which the Patriots really have at a skill position on the Offensive side of the ball is a “tall, down-the-field” WR.
Sanu, who stands 6’2″ and 215 lbs., established himself at Rutgers as a go-to guy in the passing game. A three year starter in college who is big and strong and uses his size well, Sanu would give Brady an imposing target to find when teams key on the underneath routes.
28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry DE/OLB (Southern Cal)
I had been saying it all season long, but the Giants finally exposed the Packers’ Defense as the fraudulent bunch they are when they cannot effectively rush the passer/cause turnovers. Green Bay found out this season that having one All-Pro OLB in the form of Clay Matthews is not enough, and they could thus be looking to upgrade in the pass rushing department.
If he is available, I see Green Bay taking another Trojan alumni, Nick Perry, to pair with Matthews for years to come. A college 4-3 DE, who led the Pac-12 in Sacks with 9.5, and with loads of raw ability to boot, Perry would be able to receive some terrific coaching from former Steelers pass rush extraordinaire and borderline Hall of Famer Kevin Greene who happens to be the Packers LB’s Coach.
29. San Francisco 49ers: Alshon Jeffery WR (So. Carolina)
After a decade of selecting in essentially the Top 10 every season, the 49ers have acquired enough talent to put together a decent team. However, one area which this team is lacking in is a legitimate deep threat to pair with Michael Crabtree at WR.
Instead of watching Alex Smith go for checkdown after checkdown, the 49ers need a guy which can blow the top off the Defense. Thankfully for them the 6’4″ 230 lb. Jeffrey established himself as the S.E.C.’s most dangerous deep-threat in 2011. If the 49ers can develop Jeffery as a complete WR in addition to a deep-man, then Alex Smith can build upon his successful 2011 season.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Vontaze Burfict ILB (Arizona State)
This pick has “Baltimore Ravens” written all over it, and it makes me angry because I believe Burfict is one of the more talented players in this Draft. I’ve watched almost all of Burfict’s college career at A.S.U., and if it wasn’t for his bad (somewhat undeserved) reputation as a supposed “dirty” or “undisciplined” player, he would go in the Top 15. He is prone to over-pursuit and over-aggressive play though, but I feel that is something which can be honed and channeled into a strength by solid Coaching.
Baltimore G.M. Ozzie Newsome knows talent when he sees it, and he also understands that some players are worth taking a chance on if they have some issues (Jimmy Smith last season). If Burfict impresses during interviews and he falls to 30, the Ravens will jump at the chance to take Ray Lewis’ replacement.
31. New England Patriots: Vinny Curry OLB Marshall
If the Patriots decide to keep the latter of their 1st Round picks, they should be looking in the direction of a rush/speed OLB. Curry was an All-Conference USA 1st team selection in 2011, and put up a ridiculous 11.0 Sacks and notched 21.5 Tackles For Loss.
New England has a lot of holes to fill on Defense, but getting an effective OLB should be a high priority. They have ignored the position as of late, but the Patriots could be getting a steal with the 6’3″ 263 lb. Curry.
32. New York Giants: Zach Brown OLB (U.N.C.)
While they are the N.F.C. Champions, the Giants still have some holes to fill, and depth to acquire. Luckily for them, they can get arguably the best 4-3 LB of the 2012 Draft Class in the form of Zach Brown.
At 6-2 230 lbs. Brown has improved each and every season at U.N.C. and finished his Senior campaign with 91 Tackles, 11.5 Tackles For Loss, and 2 INT’s.
Zach’s last game of 2011 was probably his finest where he registered 14 Tackles and an INT in an Independence Bowl loss to Missouri.
Brown’s incredible athleticism was not only on the football field in Chapel Hill, but also on the track team as well. Brown set the school-record for the indoor 60 meter dash with a time of 6.72 seconds as a sophomore.
If you are interested in other N.F.L. Mock Drafts, I highly recommend checking out Fansided’s NFL Mocks. It’s got some great analysis regarding prospects and fantastic articles as well. It’s part of the Fansided network, and few websites can measure up to their astute analysis. In addition to NFL Mocks, be sure to check out other great sites like CBSSportsline, Walter Football, Kiper Jr. and McShay on ESPN, the boys led by Mike Mayock on NFL, and each prospects’ college football profile (i.e. click on their name on their athletic department’s website) for other draft news, prospect analysis, and interesting facts as well.
I also linked each team drafting in Round 1 with their specific Fansided site. So for those of you interested in jumping to your favorite team’s specific site, just click on the link and it will take you there.
I’ll be doing one of these drafts every week or two leading up to the big day in late April. Over time I will add more Rounds, Prospects, and account for off-season moves in Free Agency and Trades which will have a direct effect on the picks. But most of all, I’ll be doing my best to keep those of you in Steeler Nation updated and as interested as possible in the Draft.
(Links for teams without 1st Round Picks in 2012:)
(All team photos Courtesy of http://sportslogos.net/)
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