Mock Draft 4.0 (Post-Combine Edition, 3 Rounds): Steelers Select ILB Dont'a Hightower, NT Alameda Ta'amu, OG/OT Brandon Washington

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Alameda Ta'amu could be around for the Steelers to select in Round 2. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Okay everybody, it’s time for another edition of my Mock Draft.  This new edition has 3 Rounds and I’ve got a breakdown of each pick including one important trade in the top 10.  So let’s get started:

Each NPC mock draft will be featured in the following mock draft databases listed here: DC Pro Sports ReportWalterFootball.comSports and  All of these sites keep track of a large number mock drafts all over the web so you can get different opinions and takes on certain players and figure out for yourself where your favorite team might be thinking about going this April.  Also be sure to check out NFL Mocks and With the First Pick for comprehensive NFL draft coverage year-round.  So without further delay, here’s my mock:


1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck QB (Stanford)

By cutting ties with the Polian Family and Head Coach Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis will likely be looking to start a new existence in the A.P. period (After Peyton).  Then when you factor in Manning’s health issues and the fact he is due a $28 million dollar bonus in March, it makes sense for both sides to finally go their separate ways.

Indianapolis did however pick a great year to start playing lousy, because Andrew Luck is the best and most N.F.L. ready QB prospect to be draft eligible since Peyton Manning.  Unless a team comes calling with an offer which Indianapolis “can’t refuse” for the 1st pick, the Colts will select Luck and start anew.


2. Washington Redskins (Trade w/St. Louis): Robert Griffin III QB (Baylor)

It’s either the Redskins or Browns which make a move to acquire “RGIII,” and I’ll likely be waffling between these two teams until the impending trade is actually made.  Washington is in dire need of a QB, and has been in dire need of one since Brad Johnson left for Tampa Bay.

With Mike Shanahan on the “hot seat,” he could be inclined to make a splash move for a franchise QB of “RGIII’s” caliber.  If Washington wishes to compete in the ultra-competitive N.F.C. East, finding a QB is a must.  I’m not quite as sold on Heisman Winner “RGIII” as most scouts and fans are., because he hasn’t played in an N.F.L. Offense, he took almost zero snaps from under center at Baylor, and the Defenses in The Big XII weren’t what you’d call “juggernauts.”

Nevertheless, there are a lot of aspects to “RGIII’s” game which I think are terrific.  Griffin III can make every throw on the field, and throws the prettiest, most accurate, and most catchable deep ball of any of the prospects in 2011.  Moreover, Griffin can make plays with his feet, and like a Big Ben or Aaron Rodgers, he can scramble and improvise when need be and catch the Defense napping for huge gains when coverage breaks down.

Washington will likely have to give up their 2nd and 3rd Rounders to acquire the #2 overall pick, so I swapped them accordingly.

(Previous Selection: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State)


3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil OT (Southern Cal)

The Vikings are probably thrilled that St. Louis is looking to deal their #2 selection.  Why you may ask?  Well that’s because Minnesota is in dire need of O-Line help and the best player left on the board will be available to them at #3 in the form of OT Matt Kalil.

Over his college career, Kalil has established himself as a devastating run blocker, and at 6’6″ 295, he has the frame to put on more weight when he comes into the League.  For those of you that didn’t know, there was a reason why the Cowboy’s 1st Round pick Tyron Smith played RT in college as opposed to LT, that reason was Matt Kalil.

The Vikings were terrible up front in 2011, and they will need to address the Tackle position in either Free Agency or in the 2012 Draft.  If they are truly committed to Christian Ponder and want to see Adrian Peterson finish his career healthy and in Minnesota, rebuilding their Offensive Line must be their top priority.

(Previous Selection: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa)


4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon WR (Oklahoma State)

While Cleveland might not get “RGIII,” they can at least take solace in the fact that Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon will likely be on the board for them at #4.  Needing to upgrade their WR corps, Cleveland should take a strong look at Justin Blackmon if they aren’t able to acquire “RGIII.”

Cleveland does have the emerging Greg Little at WR, however the Browns could sure use a play-maker like Blackmon as their #1 guy.  Cleveland only averaged 193 YPG Passing last season (24th), and in a West Coast system that statistic is simply unacceptable.  If Cleveland passes on the Two Time Biletnikoff Award winner in the event that “RGIII” is off the board, then they’ll have nobody but themselves to blame.

(Previous Selection: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor)


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson RB (Alabama)

If Tampa does not elect to trade down with somebody like Cincinnati looking for Trent Richardson’s services, I could actually see Tampa taking Richardson as the Best Player Available (B.P.A.) at #5.

Granted, I’m sure many of you are saying: “The Bucs. already have LaGarette Blount, why would they need Richardson?”  Point taken, but Blount’s bruising style will only last him four to five years tops.  It’s a “2 Back League” at this point and time, and if Tampa not only wants to get the most mileage out of Blount, but also select a more talented back to pair with him, they could help themselves by selecting Richardson.

Let’s be honest here, 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 to boot.

(Previous Selection: Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State)


6. St. Louis Rams (Trade w/Washington): Morris Claiborne CB (Louisiana State)

The Rams have so many options with their #2 overall pick that we might not find out what direction St. Louis goes in until Indianapolis is actually off the clock.  If the Rams trade back in the Top 10, they should emerge as the big winners of this draft, because they can upgrade their beleaguered squad in so many different ways.  In the event that they trade down to #6, they could find themselves in position to acquire the Draft’s most talented CB: Morris Claiborne.

Claiborne has a terrific frame (6′ 185 lbs.), great speed, and terrific instincts to succeed in the N.F.L..  Moreover, Claiborne anchored the Secondary for the Tigers dominating Defense, and week in and week out he proved he could hold his own against top competition in the S.E.C..  If St. Louis is serious about fixing their Defense, they will not hesitate to select Claiborne at #6.

(Previous Selection: Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal)


7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram DE/OLB (South Carolina)

Ingram, a DE in college who could end up playing there in a 4-3 or switch to OLB in a 3-4 once he gets to the pros, has illustrated a solid knack to get to the QB during his tenure at South Carolina, and his Sack numbers are indicative of his success:  10.0 Sacks in 2011 and 9.0 Sacks in 2010.

At a short 6’1″ but a stout 276 lbs, Ingram might need to be moved around a bit to find his true position in the N.F.L., yet I see him as a quicker but shorter version of LaMarr Woodley.  Nevertheless, Ingram’s athleticism and pass rushing ability could pay huge dividends for the Jaguars if they do indeed pick him.

(Previous Selection: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina)


8. Miami Dolphins: Riley Reiff OT (Iowa)

With Matt Barkley and Landry Jones staying in school, and Matt Moore buying himself another year as the starting QB, Miami should look to upgrade their Offensive Line by selecting Iowa Offensive Tackle Riley Reiff.

The three year starter and All-Big Ten performer Reiff became 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.

Adding Reiff to a Line consisting of C Mike Pouncey and All-Pro LT Jake Long will give Miami a road-grader to open holes for RB’s Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.  It’s a luxury to have a guy with an LT skill-set swing over to RT early in his career and not throw him in the fire immediately.  And if Miami looks to upgrade their Line in Round 1, they should reap the benefits if they decide to go after Reiff.

(Previous Selection: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford)


9. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers DT (Louisiana State)

The Panthers have a lot of 4-3 personnel on their Defense left from the John Fox era.  While Head Coach Ron Rivera has helped to run a 4-3 in Chicago, he also ran a lot of 3-4 in San Diego as their Defensive Coordinator as well.  At some point Carolina will have to find a system which fits its players and Coaching Staff the best, and Michael Brockers would be an excellent selection no matter which Base Defense Carolina decides to run.

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 Carolina.  If the Panthers want to compete against the high octane Offenses of the Saints and Falcons, they must improve on the Defensive side of the ball and find ways to get to the QB with their Defensive Linemen, period.

(Previous Selection: Devon Still, DT, Penn State)


10. Buffalo Bills: Quinton Coples DE (North Carolina)

Let’s be honest, the Bills are one of the worst teams in terms of pressuring the QB in the entire N.F.L., by recording a paltry 29.0 Sacks in a 16 game season.  Thus, Buffalo must look to upgrade their pass rush over the next few months.

Coples has had experience playing all along the Defensive Line while at North Carolina.  Due to the Tar Heels’ pressing need for Defensive Tackles in 2010, Coples filled in admirably and was named first-team All-ACC and amassed 10.0 Sacks.  In 2011, Quinton went back to his more natural spot of Defensive End, yet still kept terrorizing the opposition’s QB’s and had himself a good week at the Senior Bowl.

At 6’6” and close to 280 lbs., Coples has the perfect size and enough experience to wreak havoc from the DE spot in a 4-3 set.  Moreover, Coples has the body frame to be a 5-Technique 3-4 DE if he puts on another 10-15 lbs. as well.  This combination, as well as Coples’ success at both the DT and DE spots in college should entice Buffalo to bring him in to help in their rebuilding project along the Defensive Line.

(Previous Selection: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina)


11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe NT (Memphis)

If Trent Richardson does not fall this far, or Kansas City is not smitten with Jonathan Martin, it would not surprise me in the least if they selected “The Gold Medalist of the Underpants Olympics:” Dontari Poe.  In fact, Kansas City could select Poe even if the other two prospects are there.  That being said, let’s take a look at why Poe makes sense here.

Kelly Gregg is nearing the twilight of his career at this point, and if Kansas City must find a replacement soon.  If the Chiefs are going to have any sort of stout Defense against the run in 2012 and beyond, they might want to look in the 6’4″ 350 lbs. Poe’s direction.  The Chiefs’ Run Defense was ranked 26th in the League last season in YPG, and Romeo Crennell could inevitably see Poe as a raw Vince Wilfork type of prospect which he can’t ignore.

(Previous Selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama)

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