Round 1 Cont.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins CB (North Alabama)
The Bengals have a litany of problems at the CB position heading into 2012 due to poor performance and injuries hitting in 2011. Cincinnati’s Secondary was dealt a major blow after Jonathan Joseph left for Houston, Leon Hall was hurt at midseason, and Pacman Jones proved to be utterly useless down the stretch. The Bengals (probably more than any team) will probably look past Jenkins’ off-the field issues and look to him to help out at the Nickel Back right away. 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.
18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB (Alabama)
San Diego’s Defense didn’t do a very excellent job rushing the passer last season (32.0 Sacks), and a lot of that had to do with their lack of an OLB pass-rushing threat. If Courtney Upshaw somehow falls to them at #18, there is going to be a party in San Diego’s Draft Room in another month. The 6’2″ 265 lb. All-American Upshaw is a beast in terms of his versatility and tenacity. He could come off the edge as a down lineman in a 4-3 system, or he could stand up as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, and be the pass rushing threat the likes of which the Chargers haven’t seen since Shawne Merriman from 2005-2007.
(Previous Selection: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, Southern Cal)
19. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn OG/OT (Georgia)
By trading for Brandon Marshall, Chicago will likely not be looking to draft a Wide Receiver in Round 1 unless Michael Floyd falls to them. In any case, Jay Cutler is in need of some guys that will prevent him from having the tar beaten out of him every time he drops back to pass. Cordy Glenn is a very versatile prospect who played both Guard and both Tackle spots in college (he projects as a Guard by most scouts), and has tremendous athleticism for his size (6’5″ 346 lbs.) which would be of added interest to a team that surrendered 49.0 Sacks last season like the Bears did.
(Previous Selection: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame)
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 who tallied 16.0 Sacks and amassed 9 Forced Fumbles in 2011. 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.
(Previous Selection: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia)
21. Cincinnati Bengals: David Wilson RB (Virginia Tech)
Cincinnati will be looking for a RB next month, and Wilson displayed great speed, toughness, an ability to run through the tackles, and used his 5’10 205 lb. frame effectively throughout his career at Virginia Tech. Furthermore, Wilson also was a solid Kick Returner in college and could be called upon in Cincinnati to fill that role early in his career. If Wilson can work on his ball-security skills, he could be a solid value pick in the late 1st Round.
22. Cleveland Browns: Nick Perry DE (Southern Cal)
If Cleveland does indeed hold onto their second 1st Round pick, they should look to upgrade their Defensive Line and add a pass rushing DE like Nick Perry to their roster. Perry, a 4-3 DE in college, who also led the Pac-12 in Sacks with 9.5 in 2011, will get his chance step in Day 1 and help the Browns across from 2nd year man Jabaal Sheard if he is indeed selected. If Cleveland wants to compete against the A.F.C. North’s great QB play (Big Ben, Flacco, and Dalton), finding a way to harass the passer is the #1 priority. Perry has great quickness and speed off the edge, and the Browns must be alert and ready to find a talented DE in this April’s Draft.
(Previous Selection: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M)
23. Detroit Lions: Dre’ Kirkpatrick CB (Alabama)
If the Lions want 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.. While Kirkpatrick may have some character issues, there’s no denying his fantastic ability. Dre’ is massive for a Cornerback at 6’2″ 186 lbs., plays physical, and could instantly step in and help Detroit’s 22nd Ranked (in YPG) Pass Defense. Selecting Kirkpatrick, or his teammate S Mark Barron would be the first step in making-over Detroit’s sub-par Secondary in 2012.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower ILB (Alabama)
Unlike most college football teams, Alabama not only runs an N.F.L. style of Defense, they are one of the few teams that actually run a N.F.L. style 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. The 1st Team All-American 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.
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 or even a 3-Technique, Denver could find a solid pick in the form of the raw Michael Brockers now. A 1 year starter in college, the 6’6″ 306 lb. 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.
(Previous Selection: Mark Barron, S, Alabama)
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright WR (Baylor)
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: Stephen Hill WR (Georgia Tech)
Much like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas before him, Stephen Hill is the next tall, field-stretching Yellow Jacket WR to emerge as one of the Draft’s top prospects. While a bit raw in terms of route-running and understanding the nuances of playing the WR position, Hill is an absolute physical freak at 6’4” 215 lbs. with good hands, nice speed, and tremendous upside. Even though he only caught 28 passes his Junior season in 2011, Hill amassed 820 Receiving Yards in Georgia Tech’s Triple Option Offense. Hill could be the deep threat the Patriots have gone without since Rand Moss left town.
(Previous Selection: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois)
28. Green Bay Packers: Mark Barron S (Alabama)
Nick Collins isn’t getting any younger or any more healthy, and the back-end of the Packers’ Defense is their Achilles heel at the moment. Charlie Peprah is a nice guy to have on the roster as a backup, but can’t be relied on to be the #1 guy at Strong Safety for extended periods of time. If Mark Barron falls to them, I don’t think that there is any question they would pass on him. Not only is Barron (6’2″ 218 lbs.) the consensus #1 Safety in this 2012 Draft Class, but he fills a position of need for the Packers and should be considered one of the BPA’s at #25. Barron is an All-SEC player, has a knack for forcing turnovers, and established himself as the anchor on the Tide’s back end in 2011.
Previous Selection: (Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson)
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz C (Wisconsin)
Baltimore should seriously consider upgrading the Interior of their Offensive Line 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. 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.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Mike Adams OT (Ohio State)
It wouldn’t hurt the 49ers to upgrade their Offensive Line this offseason, and they would be getting tremendous value out of a player like Adams at pick #30. The massive (6’8″ 320 lbs.) Adams projects as a Right Tackle at the professional level, has loads of athletic ability, can run-block very well, and does a decent job in pass protection. Even though questions surround his effort/work-ethic and his suspension at Ohio State because of “Tattoo-Gate,” the 49ers could use some depth along the Offensive Line, and Tackle prospects like Adams usually aren’t around this late.
(Previous Selection: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech)
31. New England Patriots: Devon Still DT (Penn State)
If the Patriots do indeed decide to hold on to their two 1st Round picks in 2012, they will likely go with at least one Defensive difference maker. With Gerard Warren and most importantly Vince Wilfork creeping into their early and mid 30’s, New England could lessen the blow and keep those guys fresh by drafting a player of Still’s caliber. Standing 6’4″ 310 lbs., Still has the frame to play either a DT in a 4-3 system as he did in college, or even spend some time as a 3-4 DE (or even smaller NT) in the professional ranks if the Patriots want him there.
(Previous Selection: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State)
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener TE (Stanford)
Losing Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard in the Super Bowl was not good, 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. In 2011 alone, Fleener racked up 36 catches for 667 yards and 10 TD’s. Without any big play threats at WR in 2011, Andrew 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.