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Mock Draft, Take 2: Patriots get help at safety

03.05.12 at 6:25 am ET
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Every year the combine impacts the outlook of the NFL draft, and this year is no different. Workouts and interviews change opinions of players, and as a result, names move up and down draft boards.

This year had its fair share of impressive and not-so-impressive performances. Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill was the top performer at his position, but we still don’t have him in the first-round mix just yet. Montana corner Trumaine Johnson is in the first-round picture now, and teams interested in trading up for Robert Griffin III now have to give up a lot more.

Not surprisingly, there’s no change with the top pick …

1. Indianapolis (2-14), Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Nobody expected the combine to change anything regarding Luck’€™s status, and nothing did. That’€™s not to say Luck, who did not throw, didn’€™t wow scouts. His 4.67 was impressive, but he also finished eighth among all quarterbacks, receivers and running backs in the three-cone drill. His first of what should be many performances at Lucas Oil Stadium did not disappoint.

2. *PROJECTED TRADE* Cleveland (from St. Louis), Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

There’€™s nothing worse than a mock draft with projected trades, but this year you’€™d have to be a fool to project anyone but RGIII going second overall. The 4.41 40 time doesn’€™t really change my expectations of Griffin at the next level. We all knew he was fast, so a great time in the 40 shouldn’€™t come as a surprise. The sweepstakes for the Rams’€™ pick should be fascinating to watch, and while it would probably cost the Browns another first-rounder to move up two spots, we won’€™t project the 22nd pick to the Rams just yet. The Browns aren’€™t the only team interested, of course, so we’€™ll see what they, the Redskins, Dolphins or some other team does to land the pick.

3. Minnesota (3-13), Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings seem committed to Christian Ponder, so they should protect him by landing the best offensive lineman in the draft. Football is in Kalil’€™s blood, as his brother Ryan is the highest-paid center in the league and his father Frank was a draft pick of the Bills.

4. St. Louis (2-14), Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

This is the other half of the projected trade, so I’€™ll take this opportunity to once again apologize for projecting a trade. The beauty of the Rams trading with the Browns (if they do), is that they could very well land whomever they may have planned on drafting second overall anyway. If that player is Blackmon, it still might be a bit high for the receiver, but giving Sam Bradford a future No. 1 receiver to grow with might be worth it.

5. Tampa Bay (5-11), Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

We tried to get Claiborne to say he’€™s better than former LSU teammate and 2011 fifth-overall pick Patrick Peterson, but he didn’€™t bite. Instead, he spoke about ‘€œCornerback U,’€ which has become LSU’€™s nickname given that it’€™s turned into a factory for top corners. The Bucs certainly could use one, even with Aqib Talib getting a clean slate with new coach Greg Schiano.  

6. Washington (5-11), Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Last year, four quarterbacks went in the first 12 picks. Could three go in the first six this year? This is high for Tannehill, as he probably isn’€™t one of the 15 best players in this draft, but when you’€™re a team like the Redskins and the opportunity to land a legitimate quarterback presents itself, you take it. Washington also figures to be in the mix to trade up to No. 2.

7. Jacksonville (5-11), Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

The real worry for the Jaguars is whether they made a big mistake by drafting Blaine Gabbert last year, but there’€™s nothing they can do about it now. Instead, they can add a potential difference-maker on defense in Coples, who will be a star as long as he puts in the work.

8. Carolina (6-10), Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

This was a very easy pick to project before the whole Michael Brockers fiasco. Brockers had a bad 40 time (5.36, but then again what does a 40 time mean for a defensive tackle anyway?), but it was NFL.com accidentally posting that he did 19 reps in the bench press that really complicated things. Brockers’€™ agents came out days later and said that Brockers did not bench at all, prompting NFL.com to take down the number. Either way, the Panthers could use a right tackle just as much as they could use a defensive tackle, so while one shouldn’€™t count Brockers out here, Carolina just might prefer Reiff.

9. Miami (6-10), Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

The Dolphins are switching to a 4-3 defense after having plenty of success stopping the run with their 3-4. Ingram is able to play in both, as he’€™d fit at defensive end in the 4-3 or at outside linebacker in the 3-4. He had a strong performance in Indianapolis, as he ran a 4.79 40.

10. Buffalo (6-10), Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

If the first nine picks go the way we have them going, the Bills might be better off trading down. They need help at receiver and offensive tackle and could badly use a pass-rusher, but there wouldn’€™t be anyone of value at those spots with Blackmon, Ingram, Coples and Reiff off the board. Should this situation present itself, the Bills could take a risk with Jenkins, who could very well be one of the best corners in the league if he gets his act together. They might be hesitant, as the top 10 isn’€™t usually where teams have to take risks.

11. Kansas City (7-9), Luke Kuechly, ILB, BC

If anyone thought Kuechly was all instincts and zero athleticism, they were proven wrong when the Butkus Award winner ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, which was second-best among inside linebackers. For a frame of reference, Jerod Mayo ran a 4.54 back in 2008.

12. Seattle (7-9), Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

The Seahawks are another team that needs a quarterback but doesn’€™t have the means of landing one logically in the first round. They also have a legitimate need at defensive tackle, so Brockers could be somewhat of a value pick at No. 12.

13. Arizona (8-8), Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

John Skelton won six of his eight starts last season, but this figures to be Kevin Kolb‘€™s team. Whoever’€™s under center, he needs to be protected. Thirteenth overall for Martin is treacherously high, but if teams can reach for quarterbacks, teams can reach to protect them.

14. Dallas (8-8), David DeCastro, G Stanford

Seventh-round pick Bill Nagy started the first four games last season as a rookie, then he went on IR with a fractured ankle. The question is whether he should have been starting in the first place. DeCastro is the best interior lineman in the draft, and he’€™s more of a sure thing than any of the corners the Cowboys could select in this spot.

15. Philadelphia (8-8), Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

The Eagles disappointed last season, but Poe sure didn’€™t at the combine. The gigantic defensive tackle (6-foot-4, 346 pounds) out of Memphis ran a 4.98 second 40-yard dash with a 1.7 second 10-yard split. With DeSean Jackson franchised, Philly doesn’€™t need to worry about a receiver here.

16. New York Jets (8-8), Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Mike Mayock made a great point at the combine, pretty much pointing out that so many teams draft running backs like they’€™re Adrian Peterson, but how many actually end up being Adrian Peterson? I’€™ll throw in my two cents and say that if a team spends a first-round pick on a running back that ends up being merely good, that team has wasted a draft pick, as good running backs can be found in the middle rounds and often are. With that said, some team probably will fall in love with Richardson and take him even earlier than this.

17. Cincinnati (from Oakland), Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

There were reportedly some concerns over how well Kirkpatrick interviewed with teams at the combine, as The National Football Post says Kirkpatrick ‘€œdid not explain his story well’€ when teams asked him about his January arrest for marijuana possession. The Bengals have never been scared off by character concerns, and they need a legitimate corner with Leon Hall likely out to start the season.

18. San Diego (8-8), Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

Glenn reportedly is moving up draft boards after the combine, as he’€™s a stud at guard but is big enough to play tackle. For a team that has needs at both positions, the Chargers would likely be happy to have Glenn at No. 18.

19. Chicago (8-8), Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

The pick should be offense for the Bears, and with some of the better offensive linemen off the board, Wright would be a good fit. Wright certainly didn’€™t impress scouts when he ran a 4.61 40, but he’€™s an explosive player regardless of what his disappointing time indicates.

20. Tennessee (9-7), Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Konz’€™ 18 reps on the bench were a little underwhelming, but ultimately nothing changed drastically for him at the combine, as he went into Indianapolis as the draft’€™s best center and left as the draft’€™s best center. He would be a big upgrade over Eugene Amano.

21. Cincinnati (9-7), Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

After Blackmon and Wright, it gets tough to rank the receivers in this year’€™s draft class. We’€™ll give Floyd the edge for now based on how productive he was at Notre Dame, as his 37 touchdowns were a school record. Floyd is another highly talented player with character concerns, as he was arrested three times for alcohol-related incidents while at Notre Dame.

22. Cleveland (from Atlanta), Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

There was once a time when pass-rushers with only one dominant season were called one-year wonders, but that was before Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith came along. Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks last year and had nine forced fumbles.

23. Detroit (10-6), Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

Johnson wasn’€™t included in the pre-combine mock draft, but it’€™s becoming clear that despite playing only one game against an FBS school, he is being seen as a first-round pick. He’€™s big and physical and has the ability to play safety, so the Lions could use him in their defensive backfield.

24. Pittsburgh (12-4), Dont’€™a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

The Steelers could use an inside linebacker after releasing James Farrior last week. While Hightower isn’€™t on Kuechly’€™s level, he does have good size and would fit in the Steelers’€™ defensive scheme after playing in Nick Saban‘€™s 3-4.

25. Denver (8-8), Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

Given how scheme-diverse and disruptive he is, Cox would be a steal for the Broncos at No. 25. He shouldn’€™t fall this far, but if he does, you’€™d have to think that pick would be turned in pretty quickly.

26. Houston (10-6), Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

The Texans have one of the best receivers in the game, but they need another one. Randle’€™s 4.55 40 time was good considering his size, so he should be a safe bet to be a late first-round pick after a productive career at LSU.

27. New England (from New Orleans), Mark Barron, S, Alabama

This would be quite the value pick for the Patriots, who have a need at safety and likely would be interested in adding a star defender who played for Saban. The Patriots have other needs as well, as they could use help at receiver, on the interior offensive line and on the defensive line. Cox falling to No. 25 is crazy enough, but if he fell to this spot the Pats would have to strongly consider it.

28. Green Bay (15-1), Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

We had Curry going in this spot prior to the combine, but if Upshaw is on the board, he should be the pick. He isn’€™t awfully athletic, and teams will need to wait for his Pro Day to see if he proves otherwise. Still, Upshaw can get after the quarterback, and the Packers could use a complement to Clay Matthews.

29. Baltimore (12-4), Vinny Curry, OLB, Marshall

Depending on what happens with Jarret Johnson, the Ravens might be in the market for an outside linebacker. We had inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict in this spot prior to the combine, but it seems his character issues will give him no shot at being a first-round pick.

30. San Francisco (13-3), Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Players meeting with teams at the combine isn’€™t information one should get carried away with, but it’€™s interesting that the 49ers met with RGIII. Imagine the possibilities if they were to make a huge splash and move all the way up to No. 2. That’€™s about as far-fetched as far-fetched gets, so we’€™ll keep them where they are and have them fill a need with Smith.

31. New England (13-3), Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Jeffery looked good at the combine, and that’€™s without him even running. By merely not looking overweight, Jeffery passed a big test, but he won’€™t have solidified his status as the next best receiver prospect behind Blackmon and Wright until he shows his speed. Jeffery’€™s hands are outstanding, and he could give the Pats the big wide receiver they’€™ve lacked.

32. New York Giants (9-7), Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

Allen might still be the best tight end in this class by default based on how weak a tight end crop it is this year, but he didn’€™t exactly nail down a first-round grade with his 4.89 40 time. Still, the Giants need a tight end, so they’€™ll make the best of a pretty bad situation for the position.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, alshon jeffery, mark barron, Robert Griffin III
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