Ryan Lownes’ Latest Mock Draft

Written by Ryan Lownes on January 16, 2012


1. Indianapolis Colts

 

Andrew Luck – QB – Stanford

 

A no-brainer pick for the franchise in the midst of a massive overhaul. The Bill Polian-Peyton Manning era is officially over in Indianapolis and whether Manning remains the starter or not, the future of the Colts will depend on the success of the Stanford prodigy. There won’t be any suspense surrounding the first pick in April, this one is already set.

2. St. Louis Rams

 

Matt Kalil – OT – USC

 

Many experts feel this pick will be up for sale with teams pushing hard for the next highest ranked signal-caller, Robert Griffin III. If the Rams keep this pick they will be using it to aid Sam Bradford. No offensive line allowed more sacks during the 2011 season and Kalil gives St. Louis an elite blind-side protector.

3. Minnesota Vikings

 

Riley Reiff – OT – Iowa

 

The Vikings are stuck between a rock and a hard place here. If they are unable to trade out of this spot, it makes sense that the Vikings would attempt to supplement young Christian Ponder by drafting a receiver or offensive lineman. In this scenario, Minnesota reaches for one of the class’ elite pass blockers. Reiff steps in right away and provides a huge upgrade at left tackle.

4. Cleveland Browns

 

Robert Griffin III – QB – Baylor

 

It seems as if the Browns have been rebuilding perennially since the franchise returned to the NFL in 1999. At the root of their struggles: a tumultuous and mediocre history at the Quarterback position. Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner, has the physical and mental tools to buck the trend in Cleveland. In addition to his ability to stretch the field with his arm, “RG3” possesses the speed the offense so desperately lacks.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama

 

The argument could be made that the Buccaneers already have their franchise back in LeGarrette Blount, but don’t be shocked if the bowling ball from Alabama proves too tempting with this pick. Richardson is in an elite class in terms of running back prospects, possessing a rare combination of balance, power, vision, and burst. Tampa Bay would like to return to their smash-mouth roots and this pick gives Josh Freeman an incredibly potent weapon.

6. Washington Redskins

 

Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU

 

No team went through a more disappointing roller coaster ride of a season than the Redskins. It is do or die time for Mike Shanahan, who must find stability at quarterback and a way to generate wins. While there is no value at the position here, the draft’s elite cornerback is on the board. While not blessed with the same physical ability, Claiborne is actually a better pure cover corner than former teammate Patrick Peterson at this point.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Justin Blackmon – WR – Oklahoma State

 

After year one, the jury has to be out on Blaine Gabbert as the team’s future under center. To succeed, however, the Jaguars will have to help him by adding at least one impact receiver early on draft weekend. Blackmon is widely considered to be this class’ best at the position. Though he may lack elite size and speed, he enters the NFL physically prepared and a polished route runner.

8. Carolina Panthers

 

Michael Brockers – DT – LSU

 

The Panthers and rookie phenom Cam Newton made quite an impression on the league in 2012, but wins did not pile up for the team. While Carolina now possesses an explosive and exciting offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard, their defense is left with gaping holes. Among their greatest areas of need: defensive tackle. Brockers, while not an elite prospect, may be regarded as the best at his position come April.

9. Miami Dolphins

 

Courtney Upshaw – OLB – Alabama

 

In a perfect world, the Dolphins could sit tight and add a franchise quarterback with this high first round pick. Unfortunately there is a substantial drop-off in talent after Robert Griffin comes off the board. Expect Miami to make a push for the Baylor star, but if they are unable to trade up there are other holes the team could address. Upshaw is among this class’ top pass rushers and appears as NFL-ready as they come, with the ability to play inside or out in a 3-4 scheme.

10. Buffalo Bills

 

Melvin Ingram – DE/OLB – South Carolina

 

While no one knows for sure what defensive scheme the Bills will be running next season, the fact remains: adding a pass rusher will be the team’s utmost priority. Whether it is standing up or with a hand on the ground, Melvin Ingram is among the most gifted edge rushers in this draft.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

 

Dre Kirkpatrick – CB – Alabama

 
Depending on what happens to star receiver Dwayne Bowe in free agency, the Chiefs may feel some pressure to add a wideout with this selection. Assuming Bowe stays on board, the next area Kansas City would look to address is the secondary, which struggled this past year. Dre Kirkpatrick is a steal outside the top ten picks and provides the size at cornerback this team so desperately lacks.

12. Seattle Seahawks

 

Luke Kuechly – LB – Boston College

 

Ok, so maybe the last time the Seahawks targeted a linebacker in the first round it didn’t work out. With both Leroy Hill and David Hawthorne free agents, it looks like it is time for Seattle to revisit the position high on draft weekend. Luke Kuechly may very well be the anti-Aaron Curry. What he lacks in athleticism, he more than makes up for with rare instincts and tackling ability. Simply put: he has a nose for the ball and will be an impact player at the next level behind a solid front.

13. Arizona Cardinals

 

Jonathan Martin – OT – Stanford*

 

Whether or not the team won more games than many expected, the first year of the Kevin Kolb experiment in Arizona has to be considered a massive failure. To protect their huge investment, expect the Cardinals to address their struggling offensive line sooner rather than later. Martin is an exceptional athlete for the left tackle position and is among this class’ most proficient pass-blockers.

14. Dallas Cowboys

 

Devon Still – DL – Penn State

 

Many will be clamoring for the Cowboys to select the highest rated defensive back on the board, but at this point that appears to be too much of a reach. By using this pick to address holes in their defensive front, Dallas figures to improve against the run and give All-Pro linebacker Demarcus Ware more space to maneuver. While Still played three-technique primarily at Penn State, he is an ideal fit for the 5-technique in a 3-4 scheme.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

 

Kendall Wright – WR – Baylor

 

Perhaps the first real shocker of the day comes with the Eagles springing for a wide receiver in the draft’s opening round. Many will tell you DeSean Jackson has one foot out the door in Philadelphia and to ease the loss: Andy Reid goes after the most explosive player on the board. Kendall Wright is a picture perfect fit alongside Jeremy Maclin and comes without the ego of his predecessor.

16. New York Jets

 

Lamar Miller – RB – Miami

 
Not making the playoffs after two consecutive trips to the conference championship may be humbling for coach Rex Ryan. What will upset Ryan most about the 2011 season: the futility of the Jets’ ground game. Once a smash mouth team, New York ranked near the bottom on the NFL in rushing and yards per carry. Lamar Miller is a huge change of pace in that backfield, possessing the quickness and burst to energize the offense.

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Ryan Lownes

Ryan is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University pursuing a degree in Sport Management. He has been attending the NFL Draft in New York City since 2005 and has aspirations of a career in scouting. He is currently a draft writer and analyst on the Draft Breakdown team, posting his latest rankings, mock drafts, scouting reports, and more. Be sure to follow Ryan on twitter for year-round NFL Draft analysis. See all posts by Ryan Lownes.