OpinionApril 25, 2012


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2012 NFL Mock Draft Boards: Each Team’s Top Ten

By R.J. White

We’re just a day away from the 2012 NFL Draft, and I wanted to introduce a new feature to the mock draft process. You often hear about the draft boards of NFL teams. Some prefer to focus solely on positions of need, while others truly stick to a “best player available” mentality and take players of value even if they aren’t the best fits. I imagine most teams prefer a hybrid of the two, preferring to grab a talented player at a position of need but remaining open to take just about anyone at the right price.

We know that Washington’s locked into taking Robert Griffin III at No. 2, but in the 0.01 percent chance they pass, would the Vikings take him at No. 3? Well, no, they’d get a draft haul from a team wanting to move up, but if they were forced to keep the pick, I think there’s no question they’d take Griffin, despite having Christian Ponder already locked in as the starter. At some point, value trumps need.

What I’ve tried to do over many, many hours is come up with the top 10 players on each team’s draft board that they have a realistic shot of landing, excluding the locked-in top two picks of the draft. I’ve melded need, reported player visits and prospect news into creating these boards, and they’re the basis of the final mock draft I have going up tonight.

This is all strictly my opinion, and I’m sure some of you have much better handles on your teams’ respective needs, draft history, draft strategy, etc., and it’ll make my boards look silly to your trained eye. However, I’ve tried to do the best that I can with the information I had to give you a resource that I don’t think exists on any of the main websites that provide spectacular draft coverage otherwise.

One last note: I didn’t consider certain players after a certain number of picks. For example, I didn’t have Matt Kalil on any boards outside of the top ten, but teams like the Cardinals could certainly move up if he starts to fall, and they would assuredly take him if he somehow made it to 13.

OK, here we go.

1. IND Colts
QB Luck

It’s 100 percent settled — the Colts are grabbing franchise QB Andrew Luck out of Stanford with the first pick.

2. WAS Redskins
QB Griffin III

This is also settled — Heisman winner, Baylor star and Copperas Cove alum (shout out to my HS!) Robert Griffin III is going to be the second pick of the draft.

3. MIN Vikings
T Kalil
WR Blackmon
CB Claiborne
WR Floyd
DT Cox
DT Brockers
LB Kuechly
CB Gilmore
S Barron
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Vikes would love to trade down with a team looking to secure Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon or Ryan Tannehill.

4. CLE Browns
RB Richardson
QB Tannehill
CB Claiborne
WR Blackmon
T Kalil
DE Ingram
CB Gilmore
DT Brockers
DT Cox
WR Floyd

Up or Down? Cleveland would also love to trade down and pick up some high picks to help address their many needs.

5. TB Buccaneers
RB Richardson
CB Claiborne
T Kalil
CB Gilmore
DT Cox
WR Blackmon
LB Kuechly
DT Brockers
T Glenn
T Reiff

Up or Down? The Bucs are likely happy sticking at five, but they’d listen to any team looking to trade ahead of the Rams to presumably take Fletcher Cox.

6. STL Rams
RB Richardson
CB Claiborne
DT Cox
WR Blackmon
WR Floyd
T Kalil
CB Gilmore
DT Brockers
G DeCastro
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Rams should be content sticking here, but a team looking at trading up for Ryan Tannehill or Justin Blackmon could target them in a trade. Should any of the expected top five players fall to them, a beneficial trade could also present itself. Buffalo (Kalil) and the Jets (Richardson) are just two examples. They could also use some of the Griffin bounty to move up from No. 33 later in the first.

7. JAC Jaguars
CB Gilmore
CB Claiborne
DE Ingram
WR Floyd
WR Blackmon
DT Brockers
DE C.Jones
DE Mercilus
LB Kuechly
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Jaguars look primed to add a defensive piece with this pick, but would definitely be the last stop for any team looking to secure Ryan Tannehill by trading up.

8. MIA Dolphins
QB R.Tannehill
WR Blackmon
OLB Ingram
CB Claiborne
WR Floyd
CB Gilmore
DT Brockers
S Barron
OLB C.Jones
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Dolphins could freak out that Tannehill gets selected, either by the Browns or by a team trading up, and they could be the ones to move up a few picks. They do have an extra pick early in the third round (they pick both 72nd and 73rd) that could be a nice bargaining chip.

9. CAR Panthers
CB Claiborne
DT Cox
CB Gilmore
WR Blackmon
LB Kuechly
DT Brockers
WR Floyd
S Barron
DE C.Jones
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Rams could steal popular Carolina mock pick Fletcher Cox, which could leave them wanting to trade down and recoup their missing third rounder. If their top four are gone by pick No. 9, they could swap with a team looking at moving up for guys like Mark Barron (Cowboys), Luke Kuechly (Seahawks) or Michael Floyd (Cardinals), for example, as Buffalo could be interested in any of the three.

10. BUF Bills
T Kalil
WR Blackmon
CB Claiborne
S Barron
CB Gilmore
DT Cox
LB Kuechly
WR Floyd
QB Tannehill
T Glenn

Up or Down? The Bills seem like the perfect team to move up. They have compensatory picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds, giving them 10 picks in all. If Kalil or Blackmon were to fall further than expected, they could be more than willing to leap up and grab one.

11. KC Chiefs
G DeCastro
OLB Ingram
CB Gilmore
G Glenn
DT Brockers
OLB C.Jones
LB Kuechly
QB Tannehill
OLB Mercilus
DT Poe

Up or Down? The Chiefs should be happy picking where they are, but if anything they could move down several spots and trade with a team targeting Barron, Kuechly, Floyd, Ingram or DeCastro. If Ryan Tannehill escapes the top 10, he could also become a prime trade target at No. 11 ahead of the Seahawks.

12. SEA Seahawks
DE Ingram
DE Mercilus
G DeCastro
LB Kuechly
QB Tannehill
CB Gilmore
DT Cox
DE C.Jones
DT Brockers
G Glenn

Up or Down? The Seahawks will likely stick here and take the top player on their board, unless a presumed top-10 pick starts falling and a team decides to pay a little extra to move up and take him.

13. ARI Cardinals
WR Floyd
T Glenn
LB Kuechly
G DeCastro
T Reiff
OLB Ingram
QB Tannehill
OLB C.Jones
OLB Mercilus
WR Wright

Up or Down? The Cardinals are without a second-round pick, and if they think players like Cordy Glenn and Riley Reiff will be around in the 20s, they should be happy dropping down to that range and picking up a decent pick in the exchange.

14. DAL Cowboys
CB Gilmore
S Barron
G DeCastro
DT Cox
G Glenn
DE Brockers
CB Kirkpatrick
OLB Upshaw
C Konz
CB Jenkins

Up or Down? The Cowboys probably won’t move one way or another if they think they can get Gilmore, Barron or DeCastro. If all those picks are gone, they could be looking at moving down and letting a team come up and grab a falling player.

15. PHI Eagles
DT Cox
CB Gilmore
DT Brockers
QB Tannehill
LB Kuechly
S Barron
T/G Glenn
G DeCastro
DE C.Jones
T Reiff

Up or Down? With an extra second-round pick and a roster built to win immediately, the Eagles are definite candidates to move up. They reportedly love Fletcher Cox, and I could definitely see them trading with the Bucs or another top team for Cox.

16. NY Jets
OLB Ingram
S Barron
WR Floyd
OLB C.Jones
OLB Coples
T Glenn
T Reiff
OLB Mercilus
WR Wright
DE Brockers

Up or Down? Another team looking to win now, the Jets could be looking to move up a few spots to grab Ingram, Barron or Floyd. They could also make an even bigger leap if the Browns pass on Trent Richardson at No. 4.

17. CIN Bengals
CB Gilmore
DE Ingram
S Barron
DT Brockers
WR Floyd
DE Coples
CB Jenkins
DE C.Jones
DE Mercilus
CB Kirkpatrick

Up or Down? With the 17th and 21st picks, the Bengals should certainly feel comfortable moving up if they are in love with one particular player. I don’t think it will ultimately happen, though.

18. SD Chargers
OLB Ingram
G DeCastro
LB Kuechly
S Barron
OLB Mercilus
T Reiff
OLB C.Jones
T Glenn
OLB McClellin
LB Hightower

Up or Down? San Diego could be interested in moving down, especially with a team looking to get ahead of the Bears for a particular player to whom Chicago has been connected.

19. CHI Bears
LB Kuechly
DT Brockers
DE Mercilus
WR Wright
DE C.Jones
DE Upshaw
LB Hightower
WR Randle
DE Coples
CB Kirkpatrick

Up or Down? The Bears should be able to grab a guy they like at this pick, so they’ll probably be content to sit tight and go with their best player available.

20. TEN Titans
G DeCastro
S Barron
DE Mercilus
DE C.Jones
G Glenn
DT Brockers
CB Kirkpatrick
C Konz
DE Upshaw
CB Jenkins

Up or Down? The Titans will likely be content with whatever they get here but could move up a couple spots to nab a defensive star if their guy slips a little.

21. CIN Bengals
DT Brockers
WR Floyd
DE Coples
CB Jenkins
DE C.Jones
DE Mercilus
CB Kirkpatrick
DE Upshaw
WR Wright
WR Randle

Up or Down? It seems to me the Bengals could take a page out of the Patriots’ playbook and pick up a 2012 2nd and a 2013 1st for this pick, particularly if guys like Luke Kuechly, David DeCastro or Michael Floyd are available. Someone could also move up and jump ahead of the Browns to get Kendall Wright, or even Brandon Weeden.

22. CLE Browns
QB Tannehill
WR Floyd
WR Wright
T Glenn
WR Randle
T Reiff
RB Martin
QB Weeden
DE C.Jones
T Adams

Up or Down? The Browns have 13 picks in all in this draft, including three of the top 37. Could they use this pick to move back into the top half of the first and take two of Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Ryan Tannehill?

23. DET Lions
T Reiff
T Glenn
CB Jenkins
CB Kirkpatrick
DE C.Jones
DE Mercilus
T Adams
T Martin
C Konz
S H.Smith

Up or Down? It’s conceivable the Lions could be holding the short end of the stick at No. 23 and looking at the seventh through tenth players on their board. If that’s the case, they’ll likely be open to trading out of the first and picking up a 2013 1st.

24. PIT Steelers
T Reiff
T Glenn
LB Hightower
DT Poe
LB Kendricks
G Konz
T Adams
G Silatolu
OLB Perry
G Zeitler

Up or Down? If Luke Kuechly starts to slip into the mid-teens, the Steelers could make a move and grab him. If not, they’ll likely stay put and draft the best player available.

25. DEN Broncos
T Reiff
T Glenn
DT Still
CB Kirkpatrick
CB Jenkins
DT Poe
C Konz
DT Worthy
DT Reyes
G Silatolu

Up or Down? The Broncos are likely fine where they are, but they could kick the tires on moving up if they see a key offensive lineman or defensive tackle start to slip, like DeCastro or Reiff.

26. HOU Texans
WR Floyd
WR Wright
WR Randle
LB Kendricks
C/G Konz
WR S.Hill
TE Fleener
G Silatolu
WR Jeffrey
G Zeitler

Up or Down? With an extra fourth and an early third round pick, the Texans could be in the market to move up and secure a particular receiver they like. Kendall Wright could be in play if they move up six to ten spots.

27. NE Patriots
S Barron
DE Brockers
OLB C.Jones
OLB Mercilus
OLB McClellin
OLB Upshaw
OLB Coples
OLB Perry
OLB Branch
LB Hightower

Up or Down? Trade up? The Patriots? The most likely scenario involves them taking a pass rusher with one of their picks and trading the other for a second rounder and a 2013 1st, as per usual. There’s an outside chance they could move up for Barron or Brockers, but the Pats have just six picks in this draft, though all come in the first four rounds.

28. GB Packers
OLB C.Jones
OLB Mercilus
OLB McClellin
OLB Upshaw
OLB Coples
OLB Perry
OLB Branch
RB Martin
DE Still
S H.Smith

Up or Down? The Packers have three fourth-round picks, 12 picks overall, and not many holes. That could put them in a position to move up for a particular pass rusher like Shea McClellin or Courtney Upshaw, especially since the Pats are in the market for that position.

29. BAL Ravens
WR Floyd
WR Wright
LB Hightower
WR Randle
LB Kendricks
C Konz
WR S.Hill
G Zeitler
G Silatolu
T Martin

Up or Down? The Ravens should be content sticking in their spot and taking the best player available, but I could see them moving down five to ten picks if the right deal comes along.

30. SF 49ers
WR Wright
G Silatolu
WR Randle
G Zeitler
G Konz
WR S.Hill
TE Fleener
T M.Adams
T Martin
T Massie

Up or Down? The 49ers are likely staying put, but they could also be presented with a scenario similar to that of the Ravens and move down with a team looking to get ahead of the teams at the top of the second round.

31. NE Patriots
OLB McClellin
OLB Upshaw
OLB Coples
OLB Perry
OLB Branch
LB Hightower
LB Kendricks
C Konz
DE Still
S H.Smith

Up or Down? If you’re predicting just one trade in your mock draft, it’ll be the Patriots trading down from No. 31. They have a history of rolling over first round picks by moving back from the late first to the second day. This year, their need for pass rushers is so great that they may opt for two at the end of the first.

32. NY Giants
T M.Adams
T Massie
T Martin
G Zeitler
G Konz
G Silatolu
RB Martin
DT Still
DT Worthy
WR Randle

Up or Down? The Giants seem like another worthy candidate to trade down, especially if they feel they can pick a quality lineman or running back in the mid-to-late second. If that’s the case, they could net a decent 2013 1st for their troubles, especially if someone piques the interest of the Falcons, whose first pick is No. 55.

 
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
 
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