Round 1 Cont.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre’ Kirkpatrick CB (Alabama)
The Bengals have a bunch 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. Getting a physical player like Dre’ Kirkpatrick at #17 would be huge for Cincinnati, and would give them a player to cover the likes of Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith, etc. in their Division.
(Previous Selection: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford)
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. The 6’2″ 265 lb. All-American Upshaw is an absolute beast in terms of his versatility and tenacity. Upshaw can come off the edge as a down lineman in a 4-3 system, or he can 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 was in his prime from 2005-2007.
19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus DE (Illinois)
Julius Peppers is still a Pro Bowl player, and Israel Idonije is solid on the other side of the Defensive Line. However, both players are entering their early 30’s, and it would not hurt Chicago to acquire some depth at the position and help keep both guys fresh. 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 by notching 16.0 Sacks and 9 Forced Fumbles as well.
(Previous Selection: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford)
20. Tennessee Titans: Quinton Coples DE (North Carolina)
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. If Tennessee is patient, they could nab the talented Quinton Coples, whose stock has been falling as of late due to the perception of him being lazy. At 6’6” and 284 lbs., Coples has the perfect size and enough experience to wreak havoc from the DE spot in a 4-3 set, but also displayed some versatility as well. 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. Pairing Coples 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: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois)
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright WR (Baylor)
“Ginger Spice” needs more weapons at Wide Receiver, because while A.J. Green is awesome, he cannot do everything by himself. What the Bengals need is a speedster underneath which can break big plays, and Kendall Wright could be Cincinnati’s selection at #21. 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 if they dedicate too much time to Green and Jermaine Gresham and fail to account for another receiving threat.
(Previous Selection: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama)
22. Cleveland Browns: Cordy Glenn OG/OT (Georgia)
Cleveland has 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. At 6’5″ 346 lbs., Cordy Glenn is a versatile Lineman that could even develop into a top-notch Right Guard and help Cleveland at that position if he fails at Right Tackle. Glenn can play either Guard or either Tackle spot, and if Cleveland wants to protect Colt McCoy, they should look Glenn’s way with the 22nd pick.
(Previous Selection: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor)
23. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin OT (Stanford)
Jeff Backus is entering the twilight of his career, and it would benefit the once-injury prone Matthew Stafford to be protected as he enters his prime. Falling down draft boards at the moment is Stanford’s Jonathan Martin who protected Andrew Luck’s blind-side when they both were at Stanford. The 6’6″ 305 lb. Martin was an All-Pac-12 performer in 2011, and should be able to at least help the Lions along the Offensive Line and would be a great value plus need selection with the 23rd pick.
(Previous Selection: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower ILB (Alabama)
If none of the top-tier Linemen fall to Pittsburgh, we should not fret. Why? Well, because Dont’a Hightower will likely be available. 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.
(Previous Selection: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia)
25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers DE (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 terrific value pick in the form of the raw Michael Brockers at #25. 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. as he logged only 15 career starts for the Tigers. Still, at 6’6″ and 322 lbs. 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 Denver.
26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill WR (Georgia Tech)
Despite some evidence to the contrary, Andre Johnson cannot do everything by himself. If Houston wants to make their Offense even more awesome, they could help Johnson by adding another receiving threat. 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” 205 lbs. with good hands, nice speed, and tremendous upside. Even though Hill only caught 28 passes his Junior season in 2011, he still amassed 820 Receiving Yards in Georgia Tech’s run-heavy Triple Option Offense.
(Previous Selection: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin)
27. New England Patriots: Nick Perry DE/OLB (Southern Cal)
If New England really wants to wreak havoc on the Defensive side of the ball, they had better find some guys that can rush the passer from the outside to collapse the pocket. Perry, a 4-3 DE at Southern Cal, led the Pac-12 in Sacks with 9.5 in 2011, and will get his chance step in Day 1 and help a Patriots Defense which racked up a decent 40.0 Sacks, but ranked 31st in the League in YPG against the Pass. Perry has a stout type of frame (6’3″ 271 lbs.), and nice speed (4.64 40 Yard Dash) to be able to line up at either the Defensive End or Outside Linebacker positions and attack the Quarterback.
28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin DE/OLB (Boise State)
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. Thus, the Packers should definitely look in the direction of the quick rising Shea McClellin (6’3″ 260 lbs.) who projects as a solid “tweener” pass-rusher and would compliment Matthews nicely.
(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.
(Previous Selection: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama)
30. San Francisco 49ers: Janoris Jenkins CB (North Alabama)
San Francisco obviously does not care about the character of their Cornerbacks, otherwise they would not have signed Perrish Cox this offseason. That being said, if Carlos Rogers reverts back to his pre-2011 form, San Francisco could be wise to add more depth at Cornerback. In the event that the talented yet troubled Janoris Jenkins is still on the board at #30, I believe the 49ers will take a long look at him. The 49ers could 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.
(Previous Selection: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech)
31. Kansas City Chiefs (Trade w/Patriots): Brandon Weeden QB (Oklahoma State)
New England will likely do what they always do and trade one of their 1st Round picks. One team which could be in the buyers market could be Kansas City. The Chiefs might consider trading into Round 1 to acquire Brandon Weeden if they are too nervous other teams will jump ahead of them in Round 2 at #44. n spite of his age (29 this October), Weeden (6’4” 219 lbs.) has a skill set that can transfer well to what the Browns want to do on Offense . Weeden has a strong arm, quick release, and displays solid decision making that are good skills to have in any Quarterback at the professional level. His footwork may need some tweaking as he played in mostly Shotgun formations in college, but Weeden is a mature player that could unseat Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel as well.
32. New York Giants: Jerel Worthy DT (Michigan State)
The Giants are built on their strong Defensive Line, and there is no better way to come off a Super Bowl Championship than to add to a unit like theirs. Jerel Worthy (6’3″ and 310 lbs.) of Michigan State would be a solid selection at the end of Round 1 as Worthy could help out at the 1 Technique DT or the 3 Technique DT for a team New York that will look to reload at Defensive Tackle this season. Coby Fleener could be an option here, but passing on Worthy might not be worth it.
(Previous Selection: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford)