Three Round Mock Draft

Written by Ryan Lownes on February 20, 2012


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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. Andrew Luck is a rarely cerebral quarterback prospect with both the physical and the mental ability to be a perennial All-Pro in the NFL. 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. Though that is bound to be a tempting option, the Rams may instead opt to use this pick to aid young franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford. Ultimately, there may not be an offer strong enough to convince them to give up their chance at this blue-chip left tackle. No offensive line allowed more sacks during the 2011 season and Matt Kalil gives St. Louis an elite blind side protector. If the Rams are able to move from this pick, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon look to be the likely targets.

 

3. Washington Redskins (f/MIN)

 

Robert Griffin III – QB – Baylor

 

In a move that would surprise few: the Redskins move up here to secure their quarterback of the future. After the team surged to a 3-0 record to start the season, they dropped ten out of the next 13, with a revolving door at quarterback partially to blame. It is unlikely Washington could compete in the NFC East this season without a new face under center. Griffin, the electrifying Heisman Trophy winner, could jump-start the Skins offense from day one.

 

4. Cleveland Browns

 

Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama

 

The Browns just cannot win here. Had Robert Griffin III fell one spot further, Cleveland may have found the solution to a problem that has plagued them since re-entering the NFL in 1999. Trent Richardson, however, is one heck of a consolation prize. One of this draft’s few “can’t miss “players, Richardson is the kind of three-down, smash-mouth runner that is needed in the physical AFC North. The Browns will no doubt be looking for a way out of this pick here, but LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne is sure to draw consideration if they cannot move down.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Morris Claiborne – CB – LSU

 

Last season was an unfortunate step back for a Buccaneers team that came so close to making the playoffs in 2010. Ideally they would like to add a star receiver for promising young Josh Freeman. Without an elite wideout in this class, Tampa Bay instead turns their focus to the other side of the ball. Morris Claiborne is the complete package at cornerback and may be more NFL-ready than former teammate Patrick Peterson. If the Bucs are set on drafting a receiver early, it would not be a surprise to see them trade back and look for Justin Blackmon or Baylor’s Kendall Wright.

 

6. Minnesota Vikings (f/WSH)

 

Riley Reiff – OT – Iowa

 

In this scenario, it is the Vikings, not the St. Louis Rams who accept the trade that seals the fate of Robert Griffin III. Once stuck between a rock and a hard place at third overall, Minnesota is able to add a few picks in the trade. Riley Reiff is not in the elite league as a prospect, but fills a gaping hole at left tackle in front of second year quarterback Christian Ponder. Were the Vikings to go another direction with this pick, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and wide receiver Justin Blackmon appear to be the two most likely options.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Courtney Upshaw – DE/OLB – Alabama

 

The Jaguars turned heads at last year’s draft when they made the move up the board for Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, sealing the fate of former starter David Garrard. While the move did not come to fruition in year one, it is the duty of Jacksonville’s staff and front office to give him a team capable of winning. Many would have the team springing for a receiver here, but without depth or talent at defensive end, I think their first priority has to be to add a pass rusher. A college outside linebacker primarily, Courtney Upshaw is among this class’ top edge rushers and one that could receive snaps at both right end and linebacker. If the Jaguars looked elsewhere, North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples or a wide receiver such as Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd would draw heavy consideration.

 

8. Miami Dolphins

 

Ryan Tannehill – QB – Texas A&M

 

As I type this pick, I am gearing up for a hard time from the Dolphins fans. Nobody wants their team to be the one that springs for a quarterback “too early.” I put those words in parentheses, however, because the concept of a reach is quickly becoming blurred due in part to the rookie wage scale. Last year, few expected four signal-callers off the board within the first twelve picks. Ryan Tannehill is not so different from 2011 eighth overall pick, Jake Locker. Loaded with potential, Tannehill possesses ideal size and mobility as well as strong intangibles. Were Miami to pass here or acquire Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn: defensive end Quinton Coples and Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin would be among the next on their board.

 

9. Carolina Panthers

 

Michael Brockers – DT – LSU

 

The Panthers and rookie phenomenon 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. Michael Brockers, while not an elite prospect, may be regarded as the best at his position come April and appears brimming with upside. Were the Panthers set on using this pick to help their young quarterback, Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams or Justin Blackmon would be a couple of the top options.

 

10. Buffalo Bills

 

Quinton Coples – DE – North Carolina

 

It should come as a surprise to no Bills fan that the team will be actively pursuing pass rushers both in free agency and early on draft day. As the team looks to run a hybrid 4-3 scheme, their options are limited by a thin class. Quinton Coples is not only a perfect fit at defensive end, but also provides good value with this pick. Immediately, the talented Coples could step in on the defensive line and bolster Buffalo’s pass rush. If the team were interested in a more dynamic edge rusher, they may consider Clemson’s Andre Branch or South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram here.

 

11. Seattle Seahawks

 

Fletcher Cox – DT/DE – Mississippi State

 

In an ideal scenario, the Seahawks will be sitting here with their quarterback situation figured out in late April. Whether it is Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn, Seattle would be wise to act before the draft, where it appears they are unlikely to find much value early. Unfortunately if they do not find help, there will not be another signal caller worthy of consideration in the early first round. Here they opt to add defensive line help in the versatile, athletic Fletcher Cox. A rare athlete for his size, Cox is capable of playing running downs at left end and moving inside to rush the passer on third down. Were the Seahawks really feeling the pressure, they may explore trade options in attempt to land Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden.

 

12. Kansas City Chiefs

 

Mike Adams – OT – Ohio State

 

Perhaps no team was as snake-bitten during the 2011 season more than the Chiefs. After injuries to key players forced Kansas City to stumble out of the gates, the team did a better job picking up the pieces than many expected. Moving forward, retaining free agents Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr will be the team’s top priority. Still, they must address the offensive and defensive lines in the draft if they are to return to the top of the AFC West. Mike Adams is a prospect with ideal size and athleticism for the tackle position. Considering the Chiefs’ weakness at the spot, Adams would likely step into the right tackle position from day one. Other options here include Justin Blackmon and Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals

 

Justin Blackmon – WR – Oklahoma State

 

After what could be considered a modest slide for the draft’s top receiver, the Cardinals are happy to land Justin Blackmon here. Because the first year of the Kevin Kolb experiment was an epic failure in Arizona, adding weapons and protection for their franchise quarterback will have to be the team’s first plan of action. Blackmon falls here due to a lack of elite speed, but he could complement Larry Fitzgerald in ways very reminiscent of former teammate Anquan Boldin. Were the Cardinals to make pass protection their utmost priority, Stanford offensive guard David DeCastro or tackle Jonathan Martin could be the pick.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys

 

Dre Kirkpatrick – CB/FS – Alabama

 

There could be a riot in the streets of Dallas if Jerry Jones & company fail to land the top defensive back on the board here. If the Cowboys are to contend for a Super Bowl in the near future, the first priority must be to shore up a thin and weak secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick may not be the elite cover corner many fans desire, but he is an extremely tough, physical player capable of matching up with anybody physically. Were the Cowboys to pass here, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins or Melvin Ingram could prove tempting.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles

 

Jerel Worthy – DT – Michigan State

 

Another pick here that is likely to create a collective groan from the team’s fan base. Defensive Tackle may not be among the areas in which the Eagles need an overhaul. In fact during the 2011 season, the position looked among the deepest on Philadelphia’s roster. Despite that, Derek Landri and Trevor Laws are each free agents and head coach Andy Reid has a history of drafting linemen early. Jerel Worthy may be too good to pass up here, with an intriguing combination of quickness and power. If they do look elsewhere, Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly look to be options that fit more immediate needs.

 

16. New York Jets

 

Michael Floyd – WR – Notre Dame

 

With reports that the Jets locker room was in complete turmoil late last season, expect some significant roster moves this offseason. Rex Ryan is putting his neck out for Mark Sanchez and it is likely that the team will put an emphasis on finding starting talent at running back, wide receiver, and offensive tackle. Michael Floyd is a tremendous talent with bona fide #1 potential. Though he comes with some character red flags, New York may be willing to set aside their concerns if they must replace both Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. If the Jets look to instead add a young pass rusher with this pick, Southern California’s Nick Perry and Melvin Ingram fit the bill.

 

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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.