Ryan Lownes’ Latest Mock Draft

Written by Ryan Lownes on January 16, 2012

17. Cincinnati (f/OAK)


David DeCastro – OG – Stanford


The Carson Palmer mess really turned into a win-win for the Bengals when they traded the disgruntled Quarterback to Oakland. While Palmer and the Raiders were Tebow-ed out of the playoff picture, a young Cincinnati team was able to sneak a wild card spot despite an 0-7 record against winning teams. With this pick, value meets and area of need as they nab DeCastro, largely considered the best left guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson.

18. San Diego Chargers


Dontari Poe – NT – Memphis


While the Chargers could look to fill a number of holes on the defensive side with this selection, they are sure to be tempted by the opportunity to land a true cornerstone on their front. Dontari Poe, at 6’5 350, is this draft’s biggest and best nose tackle prospect. Immediately Poe could step in and help to re-energize the San Diego run defense.

19. Chicago Bears


Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame


It seems as if the Bears are in desperate need of a primary receiver every year when I sit down to type up mock drafts. After addressing holes in the trenches early in the 2011 draft, Chicago may actually be able to focus on adding weapons to Jay Cutler’s arsenal. Michael Floyd may very well be this class’ top talent at the position. He has NFL size, excellent body control, and is extremely explosive with the ball in his hands, but character concerns push him down the board here.

20. Tennessee Titans


Mark Barron – SS – Alabama


There are several areas the Titans could look to address with this pick. Many will tell you offensive line is the way to go because Tennessee ranked among the worst in the NFL in terms of rushing yards and yards per carry. Unfortunately the value just is not here at 20 and the team may need to look elsewhere. Starting strong safety Chris Hope is quickly aging and it appears time to find a replacement. Mark Barron is extremely aggressive against the run and possesses top instincts for the position.

21. Cincinnati Bengals


Stephon Gilmore – CB – South Carolina


It became painfully clear through the Bengals season that speed in the secondary was sorely lacking. While many point to free safety as the most glaring need in the defensive backfield, the play at cornerback dropped off with the loss of Johnathan Joseph to Houston. Nate Clements played admirably in his first year in Cincinnati, but the team’s lack of speed was evident every game this season. Gilmore is an uber-athletic corner from a strong program that looks capable of developing into a very good starter across from Leon Hall.

22. Cleveland Browns (f/ATL)


Zach Brown – OLB – North Carolina


As I mentioned before: improving team speed will be the priority for the Browns this offseason. While the defense is certainly coming along in Cleveland, there are still holes created from the shift from a 3-4 to 4-3 scheme in 2011. They are fortunate to land a playmaking linebacker here with exceptional athletic ability. Brown may not have the best instincts, but he possesses sideline-to-sideline speed and is an improvement over current weak-side ‘backer Kaluka Maiava.

23. Detroit Lions


Ronnell Lewis – OLB – Oklahoma


With all the young pieces this team has accumulated on the offensive side of the ball, the emphasis moving forward will be defense. Ronnell Lewis shifted between defensive end and linebacker last season, looking comfortable at both positions. He appears to be an upgrade over Justin Durant at the “Sam” linebacker spot and could rush from the end on third down if needed.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers


Mike Adams – OT – Ohio State

It has become clear over the past few seasons that the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger could use all the help they can get on the offensive line. This season, they were unable to keep their quarterback upright despite new milestones in passing for the team. Mike Adams played in only seven games this season but may be regarded as the top senior tackle on several boards.

25. Denver Broncos


Jerel Worthy – DT – Michigan State

While many credit Tim Tebow for the Broncos quick turnaround, the defense also experienced an unexpected improvement. Though Denver switched from a 3-4 to 4-3 scheme during a condensed offseason, the pick of Von Miller was a slam-dunk. Jerel Worthy is among this class’ best 4-3 interior linemen and would help solidify the team’s defensive front.

26. Houston Texans


Alshon Jeffery – WR – South Carolina


Coming off the franchise’s first trip to the NFL playoffs, Houston appears to be a perennial AFC South power capable of making a serious Super Bowl run at some point. With Andre Johnson missing serious time due to a hamstring injury the Texans got a taste of life without a primary receiver. Alshon Jeffery slips here after a disappointing season in which his weight and conditioning both were concerning. Still, he remains an elite red-zone option and has the upside to develop into a prolific player alongside Johnson.

27. New England Patriots (f/NO)


Fletcher Cox – DL – Mississippi State

Another year and another batch of first round picks for the Patriots. This selection was acquired as a part of a draft day trade with New Orleans involving Mark Ingram. Though the offense is nearly unstoppable, the New England defense leaves a lot to be desired. Fletcher Cox is among this class’ top down-linemen and appears a natural fit playing the 5-Tech position in a 3-4 scheme.

28. Green Bay Packers


Orson Charles – TE – Georgia

With Jermichael Finley set to become a free agent, the Packers have a huge decision to make. The price tag is sure to be high for the promising young tight end and Green Bay may not be willing to match the offers Finley is sure to receive. Orson Charles is an excellent fit, running the field like a wide receiver. He could be a terror down the seam for Aaron Rodgers.

29. New York Giants


Peter Konz – C – Wisconsin

New York shocked the football world by topping the 15-1 Packers in Lambeau and making a deep playoff run. While Eli Manning is coming into his own as a star quarterback, the once proud Giants offensive line has been reduced to a generally mediocre unit. The team finished at the bottom of the league during the regular season in terms of yards per carry and big plays were scarce in the run game. Peter Konz is a powerful and intelligent interior lineman capable of holding down a spot in the middle for years to come.

30. Baltimore Ravens


Mohamed Sanu – WR – Rutgers

Despite the acquisitions of Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, and Lee Evans in recent years, the Ravens still lack receivers capable of getting open on a consistent basis. Many have bashed Baltimore for their conservative offensive approach, but a largely mediocre group of wide-outs is partially to blame. Sanu was handcuffed by poor quarterback play while at Rutgers, but playing with Joe Flacco could prove to be an excellent opportunity to showcase his immense talent.

31. San Francisco 49ers


Cordy Glenn – OG/OT – Georgia

You simply cannot say enough about the job Jim Harbaugh has done with this defense and quarterback Alex Smith. The 49ers have gone from an after-thought in the mediocre NFC West to a Super Bowl contender. Moving forward, the team appears set for the future in all but a few places. Cordy Glenn is an ideal fit for the right guard spot alongside former top pick Anthony Davis.

32. New England Patriots


Dont’a Hightower – ILB – Alabama


When the Patriots selected Brandon Spikes in the 2010 draft they must have envisioned an intimidating run stopper ready to meet running backs in the hole. Unfortunately Spikes has not stood out since going to New England and the team will be looking for another young player to pair inside with Jerod Mayo. Don’ta Hightower is not flashy but is a smart, downhill linebacker capable of stuffing the run and making plays.

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.

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