How vain it is to sit down to write when you haven't stood up to live?
A TheSportsTrap exclusive guest post by my go-to NFL guru Kyle Chapman, better known as “Fatoss” around the streets of SE Portland.
2012 1ST ROUND FATOSS MOCK
You guys hungry? Who is hungry? Because I got that NFL Mock Draft meat sandwich stuffed with crunched numbers, player comparisons/projections and a breakdown of team selections. This mock is so loaded, by the end, you’ll be in desperate need of a Thanksgiving-esque nap (“nappy chappy”). I did this mock based on the best players on the board, going with team-by-team needs. So sit back with a brew and your choice of smoke and take in my perspective on how this year’s day-one is bound to unfold.
And with the first pick In the 2012 draft the Indianapolis Colts select:
1. Colts: ANDREW LUCK, QB STANFORD- ***NFL COMPARISON= ELI MANNING***
With all the Peyton Manning comparisons out there, let me be the first to say that it’s the other Manning that Luck resembles. Four MVP’s, 10 division titles and seven-consecutive seasons of at least 12 wins are enormous shoes to fill. I’m not saying Luck wont win a lot of football games or awards—because i think he can and will—I just anticipate Luck winning in an Eli fashion by managing the game. Don’t expect Luck to do it the Peyton way tacking up 4 or 5 TD’s per game and carrying his team to 12 wins a year despite being surrounded by subpar talent (exception: Harrison, Wayne and Freeney). In the 2nd round the Colts should grab the best player available regardless of position as the rebuilding stage will continue in Indy through 2012.
2. Redskins: ROBERT GRIFFEN III, QB BAYLOR- ***NFL COMPARISON= AARON RODGERS***
RG3 throws like Warren Moon, and runs like Michael vick, but I give him the Rodgers comparison for fact that RG3 willbeat you with his arm first, and can beat you with his legs if he has to, a la the Packers’ QB. Unlike running QB’s like Vick, Tebow, Newton—who tuck the ball and run early, known more so for there legs than arm—RG3 is a star because of his deadly downfield accuracy andamazing pocket presence. It just so happens RG3 possesses world class speed in his arsenal which makes him a deadly threat and a headache for 31 Defensive coordinators across the league. Redskins have other team needs at the OL, S, CB positions so they should fill some holes later in the draft. Regardless, RG3 alone makes this draft a success. The Redskins get the best consolation prize in a draft since Kevin Durant (damn you Oden) fell to the Supersonics in 2007, so exhale redskin fans, exhale…
3. Vikings: MORRIS CLAIBORNE, CB LSU- ***NFL COMPARISON= QUINTON JAMMER***
With all the Ryan Kalil talk, I believe it’s the Corner Morris Claiborne who makes the most sense for the third overall pick, because in the NFC North you are forced to play up against some of the more elite passing teams. We are talking about the Packers, Lions, and Bears that come equipped on game day with receivers like Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, and now Brandon Marshall. Now both the OT and CB positions are deep this year but as far as the physical man-to-man corners go, Claiborne is elite and will make a major impact right away. I think he has more playmaking ability than Jammer but they share similarities in man coverage capabilities, as well as the nature of their physicality. Overall, there are three elite corners in the draft and although I like South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore more, Claiborne is going to be a stud at the next level.
4. Browns: TRENT RICHARDSON, RB ALABAMA- ***NFL COMPARISON= STEVEN JACKSON***
I have to declare right now that the safest pick and best player in this draft is Trent Richardson (yes even safer than Luck and RG3). This is the first of my three favorite guys in this year’s draft that qualify as “cant miss studs”. Richardson will make noise in the NFL right away with a combination of power, speed, vision, soft hands to go along with the determination and refusal to be taken down (always finishing with pile moving forward). He has quick feet to make you miss, yet defenders can’t resort to arm tackling him knowing he’ll run right through them. Of the slim number of RB’s drafted in the top-10 since 1990, Richardson is the cleanest all-around RB to come out since Marshall Faulk. I say this because AP had questions about his durability, Reggie Bush about handling the full load, and even my boy LT had questions about catching the ball out of the backfield. Quite frankly, Richardson carries no weaknesses entering the the 2012 season and look for him to solidify his presence as a top-tier back for the next 5 years (at least!). That is saying something considering the life span of a RB nowadays (give or take, three years?)…
5. Buccaneers: LUKE KEUCHLY, ILB BOSTON COLLEGE- ***NFL COMPARISON= PATRICK WILLIS***
Back in April 2007, I told my buddies that I would take Patrick Willis in the top-three and that he was on the verge of stardom as one of the top linebackers in the game. When he slipped to #11, the 49ers stole him and I immediately told my Niner friends that, ‘you guys got the steal of the draft and you just picked a hall of famed.’ After five seasons, five Pro-Bowls and an amazing 5 All-Pro selections, Willis already has one foot in Canton and will go down as an all-time great. All that I banked on with Willis, I’m banking on with Luke Kuechly right now. In his three years at Boston College, he led his team in tackles every year, with 158 as a true freshman, 183 as a sophomore, finishing with 191 as a junior. Kuechly is a tackling machine, durable, and the best three-down linebacker since Willis. No doubt, he’ll immediately become a star. I’ll say right now he will win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award which is why I am proclaiming him 2012’s “STEAL OF THE DRAFT,” knowing he will probably be selected in the teens at some point. Buccaneers have needs at MLB, CB and RB but there’s depth at CB and RB this year and not much depth at MLB. The Bucs grabbing Kuechly here would be a wise move. They then can swoop a CB like Jenoris Jenkins in the second round, then perhaps ink an RB like Isiah Pead in the third. In my POV, that’s how you get the most out of a draft…
6. Rams: MATT KALIL, OT USC- ***NFL COMPARISON= JAKE LONG***
What a great dilemma the Rams have in my mock. Do you take the best OT Kalil or WR Justin Blackmon? I would take the OT so that’s the selection rolling with for St. Louis.The WR class is deep and they can get a Rueban Randle, Alshon Jeffrey, or maybe even a Kendell Wright in the early second round, so protecting their franchise QB (who got killed last year) makes the most sense to me. Kalil is a full-blown beast in the run game but just average in the pass game, so he’s got to get better there but he has the skill to improve in that regard. I think he will be a perennial pro bowler but if he were to have declared in last year’s draft, I doubt his stock was high enough to surpass his former USC teammate Tyrone Smith. Therefore, he may not be an elite LT like Smith or Joe Thomas but that still doesn’t mean he won’t be a solid pickup like a Jake Long…
7. Jaguars: JUSTIN BLACKMON, WR OKLAHOMA ST- ***NFL COMPARISON= HAKEEM NICKS***
I love how physical Justin Blackmon plays at WR but let’s get one thing straight: He is no Terrell Owens. Period. Hall-of-Fame-bound TO is like a sexy, bi-polar girl that lugs a lot of baggage, yet he used to take slants for 50-yard touchdowns by flicking defenders off like they were fleas. Blackmon wont be that dominant, sorry. However, he isterrific in the red zone and will impact a team in that important area, but he’s not that explosive enough to be a premiere receiver in the league.There’s really not much separation between Blackmon and some of the other top WR’s in this draft. He might make a pro bowl or two, but don’t anticipate him ever receiving an all-pro type label.
8. Dolphins: RYAN TANNEHILL, QB TEXAS A&M- ***NFL COMPARISON= RYAN FITZPATRICK***
Like Ryan Fitzpatrick, I think Tannehill can become a decent QB, but not a great one. Now having a solid QB is nice but you need to have weapons and good players available to be successful. Tannehill simply cannot carry a team on his back the way Luck and RG3 will. The Dolphins are struggling with zero offensive weapons and other then Reggie Bush, Legedu Naanee and maybe Anthoney Fasano, they have needs all over the place which is why I think it would be a mistake to play Tannehill this year. Sit him down and maybe he’ll be game ready in 2013. Personally, I wouldn’t touch him right here if I were the Dolphins’ GM. I would draft more of an impact player, but knowing this the consensus pick, I’ll stick with Tannehill taking his “talents” to South Beach. The Dolphins take a QB here and can address WR and OL with its next two picks where those positions are deep and there’s value to be had in round deuce.
9. Panthers: STEPHON GILMORE, CB SOUTH CAROLINA- ***NFL COMPARISON= CHARLES WOODSON***
Meet my second favorite “can’t miss stud” in this year’s draft, Stephon Gilmore. This is a guy who started day one at CB for the Gamecocks in the most talented Conference in college football. I love his game because when you study his highlight reels you can clearly see he’s a physical corner unafraid to make a tackle and get dirty aiding run support defensively. Being able to make a big open tackle to stifle a team’s run game is a breath of fresh air when your talking about suspect cornerback tackling these days. He’s also great coming off the edge on a blitz and I think as a rookie he’ll get put in the class of a Charles Woodson or Antoine Winfield. The Panthers have a lot of needs on defense especially on the DL and in the secondary, but like I already mentioned, there’s three elite corners in this year’s class, and a deep second round of talent of DT’s…so my move would be to get an elite corner here, then go ahead and grab a DT like a Alameda Taamu or Brandon Thompson in the 2nd to plug the middle of the D. This pick gives the Panthers an elite corner who understands the tough task of defending against division foes like Roddy White, Julio Jones, Marquis Colston, Steve Smith and freshly aquired Vincent Jackson (YIKES)…
10. Bills: MICHAEL FLOYD, WR NOTRE DAME- ***NFL COMPARISON= DWAYNE BOWE***
If not for some off the field trouble Michael Floyd could of been rated and selected higher then Justin Blackmon. If I was a GM I would take Floyd over Blackmon because Floyd not only has more consistent hands but because Floyd can catch it in traffic with the best of them. When projecting WR’s going to the NFL, traffic hands is a significant attribute I like to consider extremely valuable. Not only is he great as snagging passes, he gives a Hines Ward attitude when blocking in the run game which is always a blessing to have when talking about top-ten caliber receivers. This move gives the Bills two great WR’s who can do different things and with there next two picks, they can focus on OT in the second and a DB in the third.
11. Chiefs: DONTARIO POE, DT MEMPHIS- ***NFL COMPARISON= BJ RAJI***
Dontario Poe is one of those players that can get a GM fired because he oozes withpotential andstar power that can send him to multiple Pro Bowls, perhaps even to an All-Pro level down the road someday. But that P- word (potential) is scary in the draft world, and this guy defines what a “boom or bust player” is all about. Whatever team ends up rolling the dice on Poe, they better have a good D-line coach and a solid defensive structure or else he will fall into that bust category real quick. Now as a player he looks like he doesn’t have a nose for the ball and won’t play sideline to sideline or chase plays like Warren Sapp, but there’s not too many players that move that well (carrying that kind weight), still able to push pockets as an anchor 3-4 NT, or in the traditional 4-3 DT role. He fits either system and will be a great upfield disrupter/space eater. That being said, beware of the bust.
12. Seahawks: QUINTON COPLES, DE NORTH CAROLINA- ***NFL COMPARISON= CALAIS CAMPBELL***
Speaking of “boom or bust picks” this is another guy who fits the bill. He had a great junior year with 10 sacks and was a disruptive force as a DT but was moved to DE his senior year and underachieved with seven sacks (four in two games, three in 11). He admitted he didn’t play as hard as he could have (red flag!) and therefore went from being a top-ten lock before the season to being a mid-first round pick. At 6’6 280 lbs, Coples resembles Julius Peppers, but I personally don’t think he’s on a Peppers or Jason Pierre-Paul level knowing he lacks explosion off the edge unable to get to the QB with a burst of speed. Therefore, I see him more as a Calais Campbell or Antoine Odom type. Another direction they can go is G David Decastro, but I think the Seahawks can get a guard like Kevin Zeitler or Brandon Brooks in the second round, so fill your pass rusher need early (not a great year for pass rushers) and fill your OL need in round 2…
13. Cardinals: DAVID DECASTRO, G STANFORD- ***NFL COMPARISON= LOGAN MANKINS***
Say hello to the best interior offensive linemanin the draft and in my opinion the best guard to come out since Steve Hutchinson. Decastro is one of the best prospectsregardless of position but due to the lack of value in the first round for guards he will slip to the teens or even the twenties, so a lucky team is bound to get great value selecting him there. He started over 40 straight games in college, is durable, plays with a mean streak, and also he can play center which adds to his value as well. I would take him anywhere in the top-10, because if you’re a top-10 talent, you’re a top-10 talent. I disagree with experts when they say this spot is too high for him to be taken which is what would be said if a team drafts Decastro in the top-10. I’m going against the grain on this pick, encouraging teams to go ahead and draft him high knowing this guy will be a Pro Bowl regular. When his career is wrapped up, he may end up in the Hall like Hutchinson. Like Kuechly, after this season is over people will say this guy should of been picked much sooner.
14. Cowboys: MARK BARRON, S ALABAMA- ***NFL COMPARISON= SEAN TAYLOR***
This was a tough comparison because I couldn’t find a safety in today’s game comparable to Mark Barron. I had rewind the clock reflecting back on Sean Taylor (R.I.P.) to find a safety with that kind of physical presence. A la Taylor, Barron can also fall back and cover the deep pass. On film the first thing that jumps out is his quickness to read and react to the play, but also that he can cover the field like a center fielder letting nothing get past him. Crucial in the NFL! Like Kuechly and Decastro, Barron is a top-10 type playerand I would have no problem with a team taking him there. Unfortunately, the NFL isn’t big on taking safeties in the first round, so that doesn’t bode well for Barron. I think this is a mistake giving that the NFL has transitioned into a passing league and its crucial to have a guy back there that can make plays (just ask the Ravens and Steelers). When Barron’s career is over, I think he will be a perennial Pro Bowler and will end up in Canton with a long Brian Dawkins type career. He’s just that damn good! The Cowboys could also use help on the D-line and could use a 3-4 OLB to replace Anthony Spencer.
15. eagles: FLETCHER COX, DT MISSISSIPPI ST- ***NFL COMPARISON= CHRIS CANTY***
Andy Reid has always used the first round to select interior O-Lineman or D-Lineman and this year is no different. The Eagles have a two second round picks so they have options this year, but to me their biggest need is the middle of the defense. They traded for LB Demeco Ryans which is a move I like but they’re still soft at the DT spot and that’s where I think they’ll try and find an upgrade. Cox, along with Jared Crick of Nebraska could be the two best pass rushing DT’s in this year’s draft and I don’t think the Eagles would hesitate if Cox were available. I give Cox the Canty comparision for the fact that like Canty, I think Cox can succeed as a 3-4 DE which Canty was for the Cowboys. Fox can succeed in the 4-3 which Canty is doing right now for the Giants. Cox will be a great welcome piece and a nice presence next to Cullen Jenkins. Look for Eagles to address OL or secondary with their two picks in the next round…
16. Jets: MELVIN INGRAM, DE SOUTH CAROLINA- ***NFL COMPARISON= TAMBA HALI***
Melvin Ingram was all over the field last year playing DE, DT, OLB, ILB and it’s made him into a versatile player that has 3-4 teams lined up waiting for him to slip and with the Jets needing help pressuring the QB. Ingram doesn’t slip far out the top-10. Ingram rushes the passer wellbut may struggle to hold the edge against the run which has scared some of the 4-3 teams. He has smaller arms like Tamba Hali so if he goes to a 4-3 team he may not be as effective (like mentioned above). He plays with a high motor and has nice hands getting through traffic, so Rex Ryan will be able to line him up anywhere a la Adalius Thomas in his Raven days. The only downside is that when he does get to the QB he doesn’t have a knack to strip the ball as he has no forced fumbles in his college career. Regardless, Ingram is a good football player who is always around the balland will make a team happy…
17. Bengals: DRE KIRKPATRICK, CB ALABAMA- ***NFL COMPARISON= ANTONIO CROMARTIE***
Dre Kirkpatrick is the last of the three elite corners to come off the board and it sounds like he has teams intrigued by his height and length. At 6’3 Kirkpatrick plays long and can cover tall receivers like Antonio Cromartie can, but can flip his hips and can get lower in and out his cuts better than Cromartie. He was on a really talented and dominant Alabama defense but he continually held his own against Alshon Jeffrey, Rueban Randle and the Stephen Hills of the SEC. He’s not the ballhawk Cromartie is but will make up for it in the I.Q. department which makes him a safer player if you ask me. Bengals have needs at DE, DB, G and WR and with two picks in the first round, they have the ammunition to do it…
18. Chargers: SHEA MCCLELLIN, 3-4 OLB BOISE ST- ***NFL COMPARISON= CLAY MATHEWS JR***
The chargers with AJ Smith have made some eyebrow raising moves in the past and this year is no different. Shea McClellin is an animal, with a great burst off the edge and has the motor you look for in a football player. I compare McClellin to Clay Mathews because of his ability to make all kinds of plays off the edge whether it’s sacks or stripping a ballcarrier. He is always in the right place at the right time and not by accident. He also can hold his own against bigger O-lineman and sets the edge very well. He would be a good 4-3 DE, but I think he would be best placed as a stand-up OLB in a 3-4 to take advantage of his nose for the ball and his natural instincts getting to the passer and chasing the play. Chargers solve a pass rushing need and next round can go after a RB or get secondary help as they try and get back to football relevance…
19. Bears: CHANDLER JONES, 3-4 OLB SYRACUSE- ***NFL COMPARISON= SIMEON RICE***
It was well-known that the Bears were interested in signing Mario Williams to line up opposite of Peppers but they didn’t have a chance and now in the draft they get a chance to get a really good player in DE Chandler Jones. Watch youtube highlights and you’ll notice he’s really long, chases plays from behind which is incredible to watch for a player of his size, and how even if he doesn’t get to the QB he will bat the pass down. He is closer to Peppers then Coples is, and to me is a safe pick who sets the edge well and will be a really good player whether it’s having a hand in the dirt in the 4-3, or whether it’s standing up in a 3-4. It’s real close between Shea McClellin and Chandler Jones as far as my favorite pass rushers go, but both will be good pros, and in this case the Bears get a good pass rusher to give them a nice 1-2 punch. The Bears have needs at OL, DE, and CB and with the elite corners gone and the pass rushers being at a premium, this is the biggest need to fill in the first round…
20. Titans: MICHAEL BROKERS, DT LSU- ***NFL COMPARISON= TY WARREN***
As far as “one year wonders” go in this class, this is the guy that fits that bill. He red-shirted as a freshman, then had a nice red-shirt sophomore year where he helped anchor the 2nd best defense in college football, as well as contribute to taking his team to the Championship game, and now POOF—here he is as a first round prospect. He only has 59 career tackles (24 assisted) and two career sacks, so it’s not production teams are after, but it’s his 6’6 300 lbs frame that teams desire. I give him a Ty Warren comparison because he can be good, but like Warren I wouldn’t build my defense around him. The Titans are a team that’s all about the trenches and with this pick they hope to land a physical presence on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. They also have need at corner due to the departure of Cortland Finnegan but with the top three gone, they’ll pass on reaching for Jenoris Jenkins here and instead pick a CB in the second or third round.
21. Bengals: STEPHEN HILL, WR GEORGA TECH- ***NFL COMPARISON= RANDY MOSS***
People, say hello and give a warm welcome to the last of my three “can’t miss studs” in this year’s draft. Stephen Hill… Now I’m not saying he’s bound to be the old Vikings’ Moss where he was on pace with some of Jerry Rice’s records, but I’m talking about the ‘04-‘10 Moss were he was a major vertical threat and an amazing weapon in the red zone. What makes Hill a receiver I like is the fact that he has arguably the biggest radius for a QB to throw to (think Ochocinco) in this year’s draft class and he has just as soft hands to reel in tough catches. He can blow the top off defenses and is so physical after the catch that he often makes the first defender miss and piles up tons of YAC numbers. At 6’4, Hill ran a 4.36 forty at the combine, and averaged 29.8 receiving yards per reception as a junior. It’s not just his measureables that stand out, but his willingness to play WR at a school that runs a triple-option offense and where his downfield opportunities are few and far between. Another reason I like him is he’s a committed teammate. Right before the NCAA’s National Signing Day, Hill had a last second scholarship offer from Georgia in which he almost took, but since he already committed to Georgia Tech, Hill stayed true to his word going with the Yellow Jackets. This speaks volumes about his character…think about it… it’s like asking yourself, would you wanna stay at Oregon State if you can play at Oregon?? Yet he remained loyal. The Bengals get an elite CB and a WR to pair with A.J green with their two first round picks. They can still fill their guard and DE spot in the second or third.
22. Browns: REILLY REIFF, OT IOWA- ***NFL COMPARISON= BRYAN BULAGA***
With the fourth pick, I went with the RB Richardson, and now with this pick I think the Browns go best player available and with WR Hill being taken by the Bengals. I think they get a OT to line opposite of stud Joe Thomas as they continue to help out their unwatchable offense. Reiff is solid and comes from the Big Ten where they produce quality O-lineman with very few risks every April. The Browns have plenty of needs but coming away with Richardson and Reiff gives them great support for their QB regardless if it’s McCoy or perhaps a Brandon Weeden (?)…
23. Lions: CORDY GLENN, OT/G GEORGIA- ***NFL COMPARISON= SHAWN ANDREWS***
The Lions have needs at CB, OL, and they also need to find depth at LB. The way the board has unfolded, the top three CB’s are gone, so the Lions could get ILB Dont’a Hightower, but instead they go with OL Cordy Glenn who started games at both Guard and Tackle for the bulldogs. OT Jeff Backus is on his last leg and so getting a versatile guy like Glenn to eventually fill the void in the future is a smart move. Glenn meshes well in Detroit’s future with his nasty play. I think the Lions would love one of the top three CB’s but with none left they’ll be forced to settle for a nice plan B to protect franchise QB Matt Stafford…
24. Steelers: DONT’A HIGHTOWER, 3-4 ILB ALABAMA- ***NFL COMPARISON= CARLOS DANSBY***
The Steelers for the first time in a while have some legitimate holes to fill. They need big help protecting Big Ben, while needing CB help after being torched by Tebow in the playoffs. They also need front-seven depth on the defensive side of the ball. The Steelers are good at drafting the best player on the board, although I think they’ll take the second best player (after Mark Barron) on that Alabama championship defense in ILB Dont’a Hightower. Hightower, like Carlos Dansby, is a guy that can do everything you ask out of your 3-4 ILB. He can rush the passer from the inside-out, he can make the sideline-to-sideline tackles and he doesnt get eaten up by the opposing interior lineman which is crucial for a 3-4 inside linebacker in the NFL. Steelers get a replacement for James Farrior, while also injecting youth in there front-seven.
25. Broncos: JEREL WORTHY, DT MICHIGAN ST- ***NFL COMPARISON= KEVIN WILLIAMS***
The Broncos could either get help for Manning on offense or draft a player to continue to build the defense. I think the flaw last year as a team was defending the run, therefore I have them getting a big presence in Worthy. Also, they can get a RB like Lamar Miller or David Wilson in round 2, and pick up a receiver like a Ryan Broyles or Nick Toon in the third. I like Worthy a lot for the fact that he is one of the rare DT’s who stands up, reads the play, and gets his teammates lined up in the right spot, which usually is the job of a linebacker (and not a 6’4 300 pound DT)…
26. texans: JONATHAN MARTIN, OT STANFORD- ***NFL COMPARISON= JASON SMITH***
With the departure of Mario Williams, the Texans need to find a pass rusher opposite of Nick Reed who can come off the edge. Another need is at WR where there’s nothing in the cupboards to work with other than Andre Johnson. Finally, The Texans have another big need at RT with the departure of Eric Winston so finding a guy to help keep Shaub healthy through a full season is important, and to me this trumps all other needs. Martin is another Stanford lineman (Decastro) with 40+ starts in college and what makes this pick perfect is Martin is more projected to be a RT than a LT so the Texans can start him on the right side now and down the road maybe transition him to the left side when he’s ready. Texans fill OT need here and can maybe get pass rushers Bruce Irvin or Ronnell Lewis in round two and maybe get a WR like Mohamed Sanu in the third.
27. Patriots: NICK PERRY, 3-4 OLB USC- ***NFL COMPARISON= LAMAR WOODLEY***
We all know the Patriots would love to move down and collect picks which is what they likely will try to do, however I’m not projecting trades in my mock. The Patriots really need to focus on getting pass rushers and improving the defensive front-seven, which is whyPerry is a good step in the right direction. Perry can get to the QB with a quick burst off the line and knows how to run the arch real well like Woodley when rushing the passer. But like some other pass rushers in this draft Perry struggles a little bit containing the edge against the run which makes players like him less valuable to 4-3 teams and more valuable to 3-4 teams in which they can stand up and blitz off the edge. Even with Perry’s shortcomings against the run, he still gets to the passer aggressively which is something that’s been missing in New England for a couple years now…
28. Packers: WHITNEY MERCILUS, 3-4 OLB ILLINOIS- ***NFL COMPARISON= ALDON SMITH***
If I’m the Packers, the three main positions I want to fill is OLB, DE, and RB. Packers run a 3-4 defense and just like the Patriots have the exact same front-seven needs. Packers need a pass rusher opposite Mathews Jr. and a five-technique DE to help with depth, because let’s face it, they miss Cullen Jenkins and BJ Raji is only one man. I put need at RB because Ryan Grant is gone, James Starks to me is just average at best, and last year rookie Alex Green blew out his ACL so health is a big question mark. I give them Mercilus because although he might not have the total package as a 3-4 OLB yet, there is one thing he is good at and thats sacking the QB. Mercilus, like LSU’s Brockers, can be filed in the one year wonder category because he led division-I football with 16 sacks in 2011 after having only one coming into the year. But this guy is a force and a strip artist when he gets to the QB as he has nine strip sacks, with 22 tackles for loss…
29. Ravens: ANDRE BRANCH, DE CLEMSON- ***NFL COMPARISON= ANTHONY SPENCER***
The Ravens are a great drafting team and this year they need to replace G Ben Grubbs, 3-4 OLB Jarrett Johnson, and find depth at safety so they have choices of OLB Andre Branch, C/G Peter Konz, or Safety Harrison Smith who could sneak into the bottom of the first round. I give them a OLB here because the way the draft will unfold and in particular stand-up 3-4 OLB’s won’t make it long in the second round. Ravens should address the OLB need in the first round and fill guard needs in the second. Andre Branch, like Shea McClellin and Chandler Jones are one of the few stand-up rushers who can both contain the edge and rush the passer. Go Branch, it makes the most sense.
30. 49ers: PETER KONZ, C/G WISCONSIN- ***NFL COMPARISON= ALEX MACK***
With the luxury of having no big needs and 11 returning starters on defense, the 49ers are in a spot to take the best player available, but however when the draft is over I would hope they get an interior O-lineman, and a 3-4 DE, which is exactly what I’m suggesting they do with the first two picks here in my mock. It couldn’t hurt to find a young WR for the future as well. I think 49er fans would love the sexy pick like a Kendell Wright, Jenoris Jenkins, or Coby Fleener but I think they can get better value by taking an elite, versatile interior-lineman like Konz to replace Adam Snyder, then by taking any of the above players mentioned. Konz’s strength is in the run game as he helped anchor and clear the way for statistically one of the best run teams in college football the last 2 years. In round two, the 49ers must address the lack of depth in its D-line territory, as Aaron Smith and Ray McDonald played 92% of the team’s defensive snaps last year. It would be a mistake to let them handle that large of a load again with no help. The injury bug can be ruthless, so depth is crucial moving forward…
31. Patriots: HARRISON SMITH, S NOTRE DAME- ***NFL COMPARISON= LARON LANDRY***
At first glance you might say, huh? But as Redskins fans know, Landry is nice against the run and average against the pass. Landry struggles to stay on the field to lead his defense. I think Smith is a better cover guy against TE’s but they have a similar kind of presence in coverage. I mentioned the Pats needs during their first selection, but one thing I didn’t mention is the number of picks they have to execute. They have the 27th, 31st, 48th, 62nd and 93rd pick in the draft so they can fill most of their needs in the first three rounds, which will give them quality players if they make wise selections. I gave them pass rusher Nick Perry at 27, so here they should go with a safety to pair up with Patrick Chung. I know they need a 3-4 DE, but there’s still plenty of impact DT’s left and other then Mark Barron, Harrison Smith is the only safety worth taking until at least the third or maybe even the 4th round. Smith is a big safety at 6’2 230 pounds but he can move well for his size and can succeed in defending the run game just as well as defending the pass game. With the NFL being a passing league now I have no problem with a team pulling the trigger on him in the first round. With the next two picks, the Patriots can grab a D-lineman or maybe even a RB to replace BenJarvis Green-Ellis…
32. Giants: DOUG MARTIN, RB BOISE STATE- ***NFL COMPARISON= RAY RICE***
Just like the Steelers, the G-men love picking the best player regardless of direct roster needs, which has given them players such as Kiwinuka, Pierre-Paul, and last years pick Prince Amakumara. This tells me that just because the Giants have a need doesn’t mean they won’t draft at a position that’s already loaded. Unless a prospect like Dont’a Hightower or one of the pass rushers above slip, they could go in that direction, but otherwise I see them getting a RB to help fill the shoes of Brandon Jacobs and also have insurance just in case Bradshaw suffers another fractured leg (which has happened two years in a row now). I’ve seen a lot of Coby Fleener projections, but with the Martilius Bennett signing, I don’t see them getting another similar player and instead I see them getting a guy who can become the next Ray Rice. Martin has smooth feet, is a three-down back, and is a great one-cut-get-upfield RB that can make big plays as a RB, receiver out the backfield, and as a kick-returner where he adds additional value. I won’t say I like him better then LaMichael James, but you won’t hear me complain. He’s that good…