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-grading OT who would best be served opening holes for Hardesty, Hills, and any other of Cleveland’s Backs in the future, and he is athletic enough to hold his own in pass-protection. If the Browns go QB with their 1st Pick and hold onto their second #1, it would no surprise me in the least bit if they went Offensive Line.
23. Detroit Lions: Alfonzo Dennard CB (Nebraska)
In the event that the Lions decide to build upon their success in 2011, they need to realize that to be the N.F.C.’s representative in future Super Bowls that they must find a way to stop the aerial shows led by the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, etc..
Detroit’s Secondary was utterly abused twice last season by Brees, and a season ago by Tom Brady on Thanksgiving. No matter how good their Defensive Line is and will be at attacking the QB, Detroit still needs to upgrade the Cornerback position.
Luckily for the Lions, Alfonzo Dennard’s stock has slipped enough in recent weeks that he could be available to the Lions at #23. 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 in Detroit, and could help the Lions in sub packages right away if asked. Detroit could also target Late 1st Round and Early 2nd Round prospects like CB’s Chase Minnifield from Virginia or CB Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina here at #23.
(Previous Selection: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn OG/OT (Georgia)
Let’s face it Steeler Nation, the play at both Guard spots since Alan Faneca left in 2008 and Kendall Simmons was hurt in October of that season has been dreadful to put it best. Chris Kemoeatu still remains undisciplined and lazy, and has proven to be a liability while in the game. While Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, bless their hearts, are solid backups and #6 and #7 swing guys (C/OG and OG/OT), but that’s about it.
If the Steelers want to shore up at least one of their Guard spots this offseason, they should take a long look at Cordy Glenn in the 1st Round. Glenn played both Guard and both Tackle spots in college (he projects as a Guard by most scouts), and has the versatility and size (6’5″ 346 lbs.) that Pittsburgh covets along their Offensive Line.
Adding Glenn to the mix of Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey, and a hopefully healthy Willie Colon would give the Steelers actually something to work with along the Offensive Line heading into the 2012 season. If Colbert can draft another competent Guard in the later Rounds, Pittsburgh’s Offense could be lethal in the coming seasons.
(Previous Selection: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama)
25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers DT (Louisiana 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 and a 3-Technique, Denver could find a dynamite pick in the form of the raw but talented Redshirt-Sophomore from L.S.U. Michael Brockers.
Ryan McBean, Marcus Thomas, and Broderick Bunkley are definitely not the answers at either Defensive Tackle spot. Sure they’re great guys to have around for depth purposes. But for the top three in the rotation? No thanks. Denver needs to upgrade the center of their Defensive Line, and pronto. And sporting 6’6″ and 306 lb. frame, Brockers could help out at the 1 Technique DT or the 3 Technique for a team that is in search of help at both spots like the Broncos.
One of the reasons I think that Brockers might fall to Denver is the limited amount of time he spent on the field at L.S.U.. Brockers only started one full season at L.S.U. (he started 1 game in 2010 in addition to 14 this past season). With the small sample-size, some teams may be more inclined to select a Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State or a Jerel Worthy of Michigan State instead of Brockers.
Yet many scouts are salivating over Brockers’ upside, and some even project him going in the Top 10 of the Draft. I personally think Brockers is a mid to late 1st Rounder in terms of the production a team can get from him right away, and if he is selected with better B.P.A.’s or positions of need on the board between Picks 10-17. Yet if Brockers has a solid Pro Day and Combine, I’m sure a team like Seattle or Carolina could take a shot at him at #’s 8 and 12, or a team could swoop up from the bottom of Round 1 to take him.
(Previous Selection: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State)
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: Vontaze Burfict ILB (Arizona State)
New England is in dire need of help on the Defensive side of the ball, and their ILB’s simply aren’t cutting it in pass coverage or playing against the run.
This is a typical “Hoodie” pick in terms of him taking a guy with question marks (Burfict is supposedly a dirty and undisciplined player and saw his playing time decrease last season near the end) but tons of physical ability and molding him into a star. If you paired Burfict with Pro Bowler Jerrod Mayo, New England would have two young and talented guys at ILB who could actually strike fear into their opponents’ run games.
New England is in desperate need for play-makers on Defense, and any and all help is necessary for the Patriots to make another run to a Super Bowl. Burfict is a sleeper-pick if he gets his act together, and whichever team can inspire him to greatness will reap all of the rewards.
(Previous Selection: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers)
28. Green Bay Packers: Vinny Curry DE/OLB (Marshall)
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 Mark Barron isn’t available to them, I could see Green Bay taking DE/OLB Vinny Curry from Marshall to pair with Matthews. The Packers found out the hard way this season that if teams can go max protect or at least chip Matthews, their Secondary can be taken advantage of in a big way. Putting Curry on the other side of Matthews would give teams around the League matchup nightmares when it would come to protecting the QB against Green Bay.
A DE in college (6’3″ 263 lbs.), Curry has more than enough versatility to line up in different places and do multiple things besides rush the passer in Dom Capers’ Defense. In terms of production, Curry was an All-Conference USA 1st team selection in 2011, and put up a ridiculous 11.0 Sacks in addition to notching 21.5 Tackles For Loss. If Curry has himself a solid Combine and Pro Day, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Green Bay or even New England made a play for him at the bottom of Round 1.
Previous Selection: (Nick Perry, DE/OLB, Southern Cal)
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: Peter Konz C (Wisconsin)
If Vontaze Burfict falls to Baltimore, I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not they will select him. It’s just a matter of how quickly. Yet ILB isn’t the only need for Baltimore in the upcoming Draft. In fact, if another player at a position of need falls to them, the Ravens will be more than happy to select him: Center Peter Konz.
Whether or not Center Matt Birk decides to retire this offseason, Baltimore should seriously consider upgrading there in the 2012 Draft. With Cincinnati’s terrific DT rotation, Phil Taylor for Cleveland, and whichever NT the Steelers settle on after Casey Hampton leaves, Baltimore needs to have a competent Center that can hold his ground and pave the way for Ray Rice and the rushing attack.
Konz anchored the Badgers’ outstanding Offensive Line in 2012, and has the experience and grit to step in by at least the middle of Year 1 and start. If the Ravens want to continue pounding the rock efficiently like they have during Ray Rice’s tenure securing a player like Konz if he is still on the board is an absolute must. Konz was a huge reason behind Heisman Finalist Montee Ball’s success last season in Madison, and if he brings his 6’5″ 314 lb. frame to Baltimore, the DT’s in the A.F.C. North and the rest of the N.F.L. had better watch out for him.
(Previous Pick: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State)
31. 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.
If Super Bowl XLVI illustrated one thing to me, it was that without Rob Gronkowski tearing up the seam, New England has no deep threat whatsoever. If any team plays Welker, Branch, and Edelman physical and can at least contain Hernandez and Gronkowski, New England’s Passing Game can go stagnant at the most inopportune of times. Thus, a tall, athletic, and most of all physical WR is needed for New England to get their Offense back to its 2007 form again.
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.
(Previous Selection: Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall)
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener TE (Stanford)
While they are the 2011 N.F.L. Champions, the Giants still have some holes to fill, and depth to acquire. Losing Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard in the Super Bowl was bad enough, and H-Back Bear Pascoe cannot be counted on to shoulder the load at TE in 2012. Thankfully , the most N.F.L. ready TE is available for them to select at the bottom of the 1st Round: the (6’6″ 245 lb. TE) Coby Fleener.
I liken Fleener to a young Heath Miller. A guy with excellent hands, an understanding of a Pro Offense from his time in college, and a decent blocker who has the ability to improve over time. At Stanford, Fleener became one of Andrew Luck’s most consistent and often sought targets.
In 2011 alone, Fleener racked up 36 catches for 667 yards and 10 TD’s. That’s a 19.6 yard average for those of you scoring at home! Without any big play threats at WR in 2011, Luck used his weapons at TE like Fleener to perfection. And to his credit, Fleener responded with some great catches all season long while he worked in all areas of the field and kept producing.
The Giants have needs along their aging yet still effective Offensive Line and at the Linebacker position in addition to Tight End. I likely would have mocked OLB Zach Brown again to New York this week. However, because of the injuries to Beckum and Ballard in the Super Bowl, the Giants might decide to go Tight End earlier than many expect.
(Previous Selection: Zach Brown, OLB, U.N.C.)
If you are interested in other N.F.L. Mock Drafts, I highly recommend checking out Fansided’s NFL Mocks. Its got some great analysis regarding prospects and fantastic articles as well. NFL Mocks is 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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