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Mock draft 4: Two new picks for Patriots

04.05.12 at 2:28 am ET
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The draft is less than a month away, and with teams getting better looks at players at Pro Days, speculation as to who will go where is heating up.

The big shakeup early on in the latest WEEI.com mock draft begins at No. 9, where Michael Floyd‘s status has risen enough to make him a potential top-10 pick. His selection by the Panthers sets off a string of four straight new picks, with Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly also winding up in a different destination than mocks past.

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

Robert Griffin III has made a hell of a case to be the first overall pick with strong performances at the combine and at his Pro Day, but that just isn’€™t happening. Luck remains a near-lock to go first overall, and for good reason. Interesting that Griffin declined a private workout with Indianapolis.

2. Washington [from St. Louis (2-14)] Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

The Redskins won’€™t have first-round picks in the next two years, and their cap situation is a bit of a mess, but all that matters right now is that they’€™re finally getting a franchise quarterback. They won’€™t make their second pick of this draft until the third round, but they’€™ve done a decent job of putting together a good supporting cast for RGIII by signing receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.

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

If the Vikings want, they can demand quite a bit for this pick. They wouldn’€™t get nearly the haul that the Rams got, but they would still get still quite a bit. The more logical choice might be to stay put and take Kalil, giving Christian Ponder this draft’€™s best left tackle to protect him for years to come.

4. Cleveland (2-14), Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Sorry, but the talk that the Browns would really take Ryan Tannehill fourth overall after not trading up to get RGIII sounds pretty bogus. With that being said, the pick should come down to Richardson, Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon. While there may be better value in taking a wide receiver prospect in the top 5 over a running back, Blackmon isn’€™t on that Calvin Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald level, and Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson.

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

A four (out of 50) on the Wonderlic test? People can say that doesn’€™t matter on the football field, but that’€™s alarming. The last notable player to bomb the test and go in the top 5 was Vince Young, who got a seven before going third overall in 2006. The Eric Wright signing means the Bucs don’€™t necessarily have to go with a corner, but Claiborne is the best available player here.  

St. Louis [from Washington (5-11)] Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Some are wondering whether Michael Floyd could actually go ahead and Blackmon and be the first receiver taken. Crazier things have happened, but we’€™re not counting on it despite neither one looking like the next Johnson or Fitzgerald. Blackmon was commonly projected to the Rams when they had the second pick, so unless they can move up for Kalil, this would be a fine selection.

7. Jacksonville (5-11) Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

The Jaguars reportedly weren’€™t ready to change their offense for Tim Tebow, so Blaine Gabbert will remain their guy at quarterback. Oof. They might not be able to repair his fear of defenders, but they can protect him from them. Reiff would do that.

8. Miami (6-10) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

The buzz surrounding Tannehill these days reminds us of that of Jay Cutler back in 2006. That draft had two quarterbacks who figured to go higher (Vince Young and Matt Leinart), but nobody would have been surprised to see him go in the top 10. Tannehill, a former receiver, isn’€™t anywhere near Luck or Griffin’€™s level, but quarterback-needy teams will likely go after him because he’€™s the only other signal-caller who warrants a first-round selection.

9. Carolina (6-10) Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Steve Smith will be 33 next season, and the Panthers probably don’€™t plan on picking in the top 10 too many more times if Cam Newton continues to improve. Floyd would be a terrific weapon for Newton, and his stock is on the rise after he impressed at his Pro Day this week.

10. Buffalo (6-10) Luke Kuechly, ILB, BC

We had North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples in this spot in the last mock draft, but the Bills would have no need for him after signing Mark Anderson away from the Patriots. Their defensive line is terrifying with Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Anderson, and they can make their front seven that much better by getting the talented and intelligent Kuechly.

11. Kansas City (7-9) Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Kelly Gregg is 35, so the Chiefs could bring Poe in and have him learn the ropes before eventually taking over as the team’€™s starting defensive tackle. Cornerback is also a possibility, as the Chiefs signed Stanford Routt but lost Brandon Carr to free agency.

12. Seattle (7-9) Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

Our previous mock drafts have given South Carolina’€™s Melvin Ingram to the Seahawks, but the choice between the two would be simple if Coples were to fall to the 12th pick. The two ran nearly identical 40-yard dashes (both in the high 4.7 range), but Coples has about four inches on Ingram and is considered this class’€™ top defensive end.

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

They didn’€™t get Peyton Manning, but the Cardinals still have a quarterback to protect, whether it’€™s Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. Martin started every game over his final two seasons at Stanford before declaring for the draft.

14. Dallas (8-8) Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

The Cowboys needed help at guard and cornerback, but they signed Nate Livings and, to a lesser extent, Waltham native Mackenzy Bernadeau to address the former and Brandon Carr to address the latter. Those moves leave center as perhaps the team’€™s biggest need, and Konz is the best center in the draft.

15. Philadelphia (8-8) Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

If the Eagles have their pick of Brockers and Mississippi State’€™s Fletcher Cox at this point, it might be a tougher call than you’€™d think. As crazy as it sounds, they could also stand to add a cornerback if they are able to trade Asante Samuel.

16. New York Jets (8-8) Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Ingram would be a steal here, and in one man’€™s opinion, a falling defensive stud should be the only thing that prevents the Jets from going offense in the first round. They don’€™t have the quarterback, so they’€™ll need to make the supporting cast better.

17. Cincinnati [from Oakland (8-8)] Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The idea is out there that Jenkins could fall to the second round due to his character concerns (he was kicked off the team at Florida after multiple arrests), and while that’€™s possible, the talent may be too much to pass up. Remember, all it takes is one team liking him for Jenkins to be a first-rounder.

18. San Diego (8-8) David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Georgia’€™s Cordy Glenn has been projected to the Chargers in our recent mocks, but DeCastro is the better option if he is on the board. San Diego could also use help at tackle, so don’€™t rule out Ohio State’€™s Mike Adams.

19. Chicago (8-8) Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Another possible destination for Adams, Chicago could go in a few different directions with this pick. The need at receiver isn’€™t there after trading for Brandon Marshall and signing Devin Thomas, but holes exist on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield. If it comes down to Kirkpatrick and Thomas, Kirkpatrick should be the pick based on the best-player-available line of thinking.

20. Tennessee (9-7) Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

The Titans signed Steve Hutchinson, but Tennessee shouldn’€™t be comfortable with Leroy Harris as the other starter. Glenn in the first round and Georgia teammate Ben Jones in a later round would make for a sound-but-not-flashy draft.

21. Cincinnati (9-7) Mark Barron, S, Alabama

This would be one of the more interesting choices in the draft if such a situation were to arise. The Bengals could either fill a need at safety with Barron or further bolster their offense with Wright. While there may not be a wrong choice there, Barron would certainly be the safer pick.

22. Cleveland [from Atlanta (10-6)] Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

While coming out of the first round with two skill position players may seem like a very early 2000′€™s Detroit Lions move (hello Roy Williams and Kevin Jones), it wouldn’€™t be a disaster as long as they wound up in position to select a franchise quarterback the following year. If there’€™s one thing you can count on this team to do, it’€™s finish next season with a poor record.

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

Johnson has been projected to the Lions in our recent mock drafts, and though there are obvious questions about the level of competition he faced in college (just one FBS game), his size and physicality easily makes him one of this draft’€™s top corners. If the Lions aren’€™t the team to roll the dice with Johnson, it won’€™t be long before a different team does.

24. Pittsburgh (12-4) Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Our previous mock drafts have projected Alabama linebacker Dont’€™a Hightower to Pittsburgh, but Adams also makes sense. The Steelers don’€™t know whether Max Starks will stick around on a long-term deal, and they certainly don’€™t know how he’€™ll be when he returns from his torn ACL.

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

The Broncos could make Manning happy by going after a future star receiver like South Carolina’€™s Alshon Jeffery, but that would be tough to do if Cox was on the board. The defense was good enough to bail Tebow out at times last season, now imagine what it would be like with a versatile defensive lineman like Cox.

26. Houston (10-6) Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

The Texans took a WEEI.com favorite when they selected Miami cornerback Brandon Harris in the second round last year, but they still need help at corner. Former first-round pick Kareem Jackson is expected to be a starter after the team lost Jason Allen to the Bengals.

27. New England [from New Orleans (13-3)] Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

It’€™s one of the most frequently asked questions in New England, and it’€™s being asked once again: Is this the year that Bill Belichick drafts a pass-rusher in the first round? If Mercilus is on the board, the answer should be yes. The Illinois product had 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles last season as a junior. A knock against him is that he only had one year of strong production, but so did Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith.

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

Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith may be the pick here with Nick Collins‘€™ future uncertain. If they don’€™t elect to go with a safety, the Packers would be wise to add an outside linebacker to complement Clay Matthews.

29. Baltimore (12-4) Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Jeffery finally ran the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and that was a very good thing for the tall receiver whose bulk and speed has been questioned in the past. A time of 4.48 should clear up concerns about speed, while Jeffery showed in person at the combine that he isn’€™t overweight.

30. San Francisco (13-3) Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Sure, the 49ers have already added a tall receiver with excellent speed in Randy Moss, but he won’€™t be around forever. Despite his blazing speed, the question with Hill is whether he can separate. He is also a strong blocker after playing in Georgia Tech’€™s option offense.

31. New England (13-3) Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

There are lots of questions about the Patriots’€™ secondary: Will Devin McCourty stay put at corner or continue to see time at safety? Will Ras-I Dowling be healthy enough to show why he was the 33rd overall pick? Why did they sign Steve Gregory? Smith has good size and athleticism, and aside from Barron is the only safety with a first-round grade.

32. New York Giants (9-7) Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

The Giants would probably like to add offensive line help when they close out the first round and Zeitler is the best offensive lineman on the board at this point. After playing right guard at Wisconsin, Zeitler has expressed willingness to play either guard position or center at the next level.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck, Harrison Smith, Robert Griffin III
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