The Viking’s Mock NFL Draft
Admittedly, I’m no Mel Kiper Jr. No, my hair isn’t slicked back into a hardened shell. No, I don’t debate with ESPN analysts. And no, I didn’t score 1.4 points per game as a senior basketball star.
That being said, I can give you some insight into how this draft may pan out. Being a life-long Bills fan, I have seen more front office blunders than ESPN discussions about Tim Tebow. However, drafts are always unpredictable and Thursday night’s is shaping up to be no exception.
With no further adue, I give you my picks.
1. Colts (2-14)
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck is the clear-cut no. 1 draft pick. What with his astronomical Football IQ and rocket-arm, any NFL Coach would be drooling over this QB out of Stanford. Also, the Colts didn’t clean house and get rid of one of the best QBs of all time in Peyton Manning to take a gamble on RGIII. Unless they’d prefer to keep faith in their star Curtis Painter, the Colts are taking a QB with the first pick. Now I’m no expert, but with the Colts informing Luck that he will be selected first overall, chances are he will become a Colt next year.
2. Redskins (Rams) (5-11)
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
RGIII at no. 2 is almost as sure of a pick as Luck is at no. 1. The Redskins didn’t trade multiple first and second round picks to get Joe Shmoe to play Left Tackle. The Redskins need a QB and Rex Grossman simply doesn’t cut it. It has been proven that this is a QB driven league and RGIII is clearly the second best QB in this draft class. Although he may be a bit of a gamble, RGIII is looking like he could be an astounding NFL QB and is the right choice for the Skins. Also, what owner wouldn’t be sold on such a varied and exotic sock collection?
3. Vikings (3-13)
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
After shocking the world with the daring first round selection of Christian Ponder in last year’s Draft, the Vikings will probably opt for a much safer pick. Coming out of USC, Matt Kalil was one of the most dominant Tackles in the Pac-12 and is a lock at no. 3 for the Vikes. Kalil would be a welcome addition to protect the blindside of Ponder, while beefing up an incredibly powerful running game headed by Adrian Peterson and Stanford’s own Toby Gerhart. Bolstering the confidence of their young quarterback and strengthening an already great running game could put the Vikings in prime position to make a run at an NFC Wild Card spot. Sure AP is great, but he can’t take them all the way to the playoffs, and Kalil can help build a solid foundation around which the Vikes could establish themselves as a playoff caliber squad.
4. Browns (4-12)
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I’ll stave off my criticism for the Browns because Cleveland has had a rough couple of years, however I’m still scratching my head over the decision to let their star Peyton Hillis leave. The departure of the coverboy of Madden 12 and the face of their franchise will certainly leave a huge gap in their running attack. Alabama’s Trent Richardson would fit perfectly in to their system. Richardson has the power of Hillis yet has considerably more speed and quickness. Richardson’s elusive jukes and bone-crunching hits could make the Browns prime to contend with the best of the NFC in 2012.
5. Buccaneers (4-12)
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Let’s be honest, the Bucs D was abysmal in 2011. They were 32nd in opponent rushing yards and 21st in opponent passing yards. While Tyronne Mathieu ate up the spotlight at LSU, it is clear to any NFL scout that Morris Claiborne is much more pro-ready than any member of the stout LSU secondary. Claiborne’s shut-down defense would allow the Bucs to worry less about the NFC South’s passing attack and allow them to bolster their rushing defense which is currently dead last in the league.
6. Rams (Redskins) (2-14)
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
Woah boy. The Rams sure got a bargain for their second overall pick. The Rams already have Bradford who has proven himself as a capable quarterback, so choosing another QB would be superfluous. After dominating all the secondaries he faced, Justin Blackmon has proven himself an elite player by any standards. A key reason for the Rams’ 30th overall passing attack was due to the fact that Bradford had no one to throw to. Blackmon would surely dominate the weak NFC West secondaries and is a steal at sixth overall.
7. Jaguars (5-11)
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Sure the Jags were bad last year. Scratch that, they were terrible. But they can make moves in the off-season to help them move forward. Michael Floyd, a dominant receiver out of South Bend, is certainly a step in the right direction. The Jaguars have no-names at WR and young quarterbacks like Blaine Gabbert simply struggle to hit these mediocre receivers downfield. Floyd can blow the top off of any secondary and will open up the field for Gabbert and the Jags. With an opposing secondary focused on stopping Floyd, MJD will have free reign to rumble and tumble for big yardage. While they could go with a QB in the first round, it is a much safer bet to go with Floyd.
8. Dolphins (6-10)
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Chad Henne won’t cut it in the AFC East. What with Brady, Fitzpatrick, Tebow and Sanchez, the Dolphins arguably have the 5th best QB in their division. Sure they almost got Manning, but South Beach needs a QB that can last more than a couple of years. Although he had a mediocre year at A&M, Tannehill is a star and did nothing but impress at the combine. Even though the Dolphins have more holes in their team than a 10 year old sponge, chances are they will be looking at QB with the eighth overall pick.
9. Panthers (6-10)
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
To be frank, the Panthers had no inkling of a pass rush last year. After the loss of first overall pick Julius Peppers, the Panthers haven’t seemed to be able to get to any of the NFC South QBs. Being the most talented pass rusher in his Draft class, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram could strengthen a very flimsy Carolina Defense. Ingram is able to bring pressure off the side and bull-rush through linemen, making him an all-around threat that any O-line would have to game-plan for.
10. Bills (6-10)
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Bills have not had great success with their first round picks in the last few years. Perhaps due to an inept front office or a lack-luster coaching staff, all of the Bills’ first rounders have been disappointing. David DeCastro could very well change that. DeCastro has proven himself in an incredibly successful Cardinal offense with a great passing and rushing attack. The Bills already have a capable defense and an up-and-coming pair of RBs, so beefing up a sparse O-line could help the Bills get back to the days of circling the wagons.
11. Chiefs (7-11)
Michael Brockers, NT, LSU
Last year really didn’t pan out for the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and the rest of the gang were hampered by injuries. Thus, the Chiefs have a pretty high draft slot. That being said, the Chiefs D could use a little bit of beefing up in the middle. They allowed an average of 132 rushing yards a game to opposing teams which is an embarrassing 26th in the NFL. A member of the stout 2011 LSU defense, Michael Brockers can bring a little pop to the Chiefs D. Brockers received high praise from Les Miles at LSU and can pay dividends in a successful system in Kansas City with his large 6’6″ 306 pound frame.
12. Seahawks (7-9)
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Make no mistake about it, Quinton Coples is a stud. Sure he went to North Carolina and played in the laughable ACC, but Coples is a dual threat and racked up 17.5 sacks playing both Tackle and End at Chapel Hill. He has enormous arms to boot which will allow him to maneuver around even the biggest linemen in the NFL. And boy do the Seahawks need a good pass-rusher. The Seahawks racked up a meager 33 sacks last season compared to the 50 they gave up. Coples could be the defensive piece to push Seattle over the .500 mark and lead the skittle-crazed Marshawn Lynch-led Hawks back into the playoffs.
13. Cardinals (8-8)
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Three Stanford players in the top 15? Well as much as the media only hyped up Luck, the Cardinal had a deep 2011 squad. Jonathan Martin was the cornerstone of the Cardinal O-line in 2011. The Cardinal virtually gave up no sacks in 2011 and that wasn’t just due to Luck’s quick release. Martin protected Luck’s blindside nearly perfectly and his skills and size make him a perfect prospect that can bolster any O-line. The Cardinals did a shabby job of protecting Kevin Kolb in 2011, so Martin seems like a sensible match for the Cards. Also, it seems like the switch from the Cardinal to the Cardinals shouldn’t be a difficult one to remember.
14. Cowboys (8-8)
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
I’ll make it clear, the 2012 Draft Class is weak in the secondary department. That being said, this 220 pound First Team All-SEC safety is no slouch. Tallying 12 interceptions in his career in Tuscaloosa, Barron was the anchor of last year’s stout Alabama defense. Barron prevented any big plays from busting the Alabama secondary open at its seams and was a pest for LSU’s duo of Jarret Lee and Jordan Jefferson in the National Championship. After finishing 23rd in opponnents’ passing yards and having Michael Vick torch their secondary in Dallas, the Cowboys have recognized their deficiency in their seconday. The Cowboys ferocious front 7 are rendered useless due to their helpless pass coverage. Although Barron isn’t the biggest star that the Cowboys can find, he makes a great fit for Dallas and Jerry Jones will have to think twice before passing up on him.
15. Eagles (8-8)
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
After having been dubbed the “Dream Team” and having nearly celebrated a championship prior to the start of the season, Philadelphia had a humbling 2011 campaign. Although they finished a respectable 16th in opponents’ rushing yards, the Eagles linebacking core was laughable. I mean really. Casey Matthews and Jaqua Parker? Those two are only moderately well-known due to their big brother and hopping offsides against Buffalo respectively. Weighing in at 265 lbs, Courtney Upshaw is a big, versatile linebacker coming out of Tuscaloosa. Upshaw would effectively bolster the porous linebacking core in Philly and allow their star-studded secondary to cover more aggressively, while also giving defensive coordinator Juan Castillo more liberty to experiment with blitz packages.
16. Jets (8-8)
Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
In the wake of acquiring the demigod that is Tim Tebow, the Jets have yet again become the off-season spectacle of the NFL. Although Rex Ryan may love all eyes on him, it seems as if the Jets have crumbled when the pressure was at it highest point, like in the AFC Championship. Many of these collapses have not been solely on the soldiers of the young Mark Sanchez, but also on their defense. For too long the Jets defense has hopped on the back of Darrelle Revis and seen how far he could take them. Although it has enjoyed the spotlight for the past few years, the Jets D needs a bit of a facelift. Relatively unknown, Luke Kuechly out of BC is an all-around linebacker. He clocked in at an unofficial 4.5 40 yard dash and has razor-sharp instinct to boot. Kuechly’s intangibles combined with his large-frame and speed would move the Jets D in the right direction. Sure his name is hard to pronounce, but get used to it; Kuechly is here to stay.
17. Bengals (Raiders) (9-7)
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Yet another member of the studly Alabama defense, Dre Kirkpatrick impressed throughout his senior year. He was lights-out on the biggest stage, despite his lackluster combine performance. While Kirkpatrick may not have impressed all of the scouts at the combine, the Bengals biggest need is in their secondary. They have a young and strong offense that helped carry them into the Wild Card spot, however their defense let them down in key moments, namely against Houston in the playoffs. After having Arian Foster run through their secondary, the Bengals need to take a serious look at Kirkpatrick. Their mediocre secondary has been kept under wraps by the awful AFC North, however, they are blown to pieces in big games. If the Bengals pick up Kirkpatrick and a strong linemen in the second round, they could make a serious run at the Steelers and perhaps take the reigns of the AFC North in the coming years.
18. Chargers (8-8)
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
What has happened to the Chargers? Once the team-to-beat on the West Coast, the Chargers have fallen off the map recently after missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Despite having an elite quarterback and a capable defense, San Diego has been on the outside looking in on the playoff race. One of the key reasons for this playoff draught has been their porous offensive line. Coming out of Iowa, Riley Rieff would literally fill a huge whole. The Chargers could go with a wideout after the loss of star Vincent Jackson to the Bucs, but chances are, they will reach into the trenches and select the 6’6″ 300 pound Reiff.
19. Bears (8-8)
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
While his name may be small, Poe is a big boy. Tipping the Memphis scales at just under 350 lbs, he is a hefty hunk of man. Despite playing on a sub-par team in college, Poe caught the eye of many a NFL scout during his time in Tennessee. Poe ran a 4.87 40 yd dash at the combine and if Newton taught us anything it’s that force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma), and with all that mass, coupled with startling accelartion, Poe certainly packs a punch. Although the Bears aren’t lacking a strong defense, Bears fans would welcome the addition of an elite DT with open arms. Poe’s presence could help put the Bears back in the Super Bowl and allow them to do their famous Super Bowl Shuffle once more. (On second thought, I don’t think I want to see Poe do any sort of shuffle.)
20. Titans (9-7)
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Cox isn’t quite as big as Poe. Weighing in at only 298, Cox is a much more versatile threat. Due to his explosive speed, Cox would be a welcome addition to any 3-4 defense. Cox’s ability to come both off of the side and down the middle makes him a threat that any team would have to gameplan for. Although the Titans did have a winning record last year, they were a pretty weak team, and with an aging Hasselback, they will have to rebuild soon and Cox is a solid piece to build a defense around.
21. Bengals (9-7)
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Make no mistake about it, the Bengals are a solid team. Once the laughing stock of the NFC North, the Bengals managed to sneak their way into the playoffs in 2011. In large part due to their explosive WRs, the Bengals had a phenomenal 2011 campaign. Although they did surprise a lot of people with the strength of their passing game, their running game was lacking. Whether it was due to Cedric Benson’s frequent incarceration or a porous O-line, the Bengals couldn’t muster up a formidable rushing attack. The versatile Glenn, out of Georgia, brings deceptive agility and brute power to his position. Glenn can power his way through a hole or protect a blindside, making him one of the top linemen in the draft and the right choice for Cincy.
22. Browns (Falcons) (4-12)
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Although RGIII was hailed as a one-man show, he did actually have some pieces around him. One of the most athletic players in recent memory, Kendall Wright was explosive at Baylor. Marshall lept over defenders and made seemingly impossible catches a routine occasion. Having a young quarterback in Colt McCoy, the Browns’ no. 1 priority should be to give him every tool available to succeed and the athletic Wright should help McCoy makes steps forward in the NFC North.
23. Lions (10-6)
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Coming as a shock for many, the Lions are now serious contenders. The combination of Stafford and Megatron make Detroit a nightmare for opposing secondaries. However, Detroit’s comical secondary is a dream for any opposing QB. After having been lit up in the Super Dome in the postseason, Detroit’s secondary needs a serious remake. Ever since declaring for the draft early, Gilmore has been ranked at the top of his position. Coming from a stout South Carolina defense, Gilmore shut down some of the SEC’s elite receivers and would be a perfect fit in Detroit.
24. Steelers (12-4)
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St.
The Steelers are an aging bunch. Whether it’s their WRs or their defense, the Steelers need some young blood pumped into their squad. Despite testing positive for marijuana at the combine, Mike Adams is a star. Coming out of Ohio State, Adams held down a solid offense, even in the absence of Terrelle Pryor. However, questions about Adams’ character may come into play and send the Steelers in another direction. But, the Steelers haven’t been known for having the kindest and most respectful team in the past. It will be interesting to see whether a team will pick up Adams, or let his stock fall to the likes of Ryan Mallet in last year’s draft.
25. Broncos (8-8)
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
Praise the Lord! It is no longer Tebow Time in Denver. Having arguably the best defense and quarterback in the league, the Broncos are the early favorite to take home the Lombardi Trophy. Truth be told, the Broncos don’t have any glaring deficiencies. That being said, any team would be more than happy to have Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy. Weighing in at a little over 300 pounds, Worthy had 12 sacks in his career at Michigan State. While none of these stats may be terribly impressive, Worthy’s versatility, speed and power make him worthy of the Bronco’s first round pick. (See what I did there?)
26. Texans (10-6)
Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
Rueben Randle and Andre Johnson. Need I say anymore?
27. Patriots (Saints) (13-3)
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Despite having an extensive off-season spending spree in 2011, the Pats seemed to come up short when it mattered most. This was mainly due to their off-season acquisitions. Haynesworth, Ochocinco, and Ellis simply didn’t cut it for New England. Brady can only take the Pats so far and their front office needs to start focusing on strengthening the other side of the ball. The insanely athletic Mercilus would add some vitality to a stagnant Pats D. The quick Mercilus could bring a unique threat off of the side. Mercilus’ speed juxtaposed with the size and strength of Haynesworth and Wilfork would make the Pats D-line a serious threat in the AFC East.
28. Packers (15-1)
Nick Perry, DE, USC
Despite going 15-1, the Packers did have a hole in seemingly impenetrable armor. After losing Cullen Jenkins and Nick Barnett in the off-season, the Packers D just wasn’t the same in 2011. By no means were they bad, but the Packers lost two vital members of their squad. Nick Perry could very well fill that hole and more. After leading the Pac-12 in sacks, Nick Perry has proven himself to be an elite pass-rusher. Perry’s size and athleticism would fit in well in Green Bay and help the Pack take another run at perfection.
29. Ravens (12-4)
Peter Konz, C, Wisonsin
There really isn’t much to say about Peter Konz or the Ravens. Neither have any weak spots and both are big and powerful. Coming out of Wisonsin, Konz helped make Russel Wilson and Montee Ball the Heisman candidates that they were. Although he was an unsung hero, Konz did catch the eye of a few scouts and with an aging O-line, the Ravens could use Konz.
30. 49ers (13-3)
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Coby Fleener is hands down the best TE to come out of Stanford. And it’s fitting that Fleener came from The Farm because he is truly an animal. After leaping for one-handed TD grabs and demolishing tiny CBs, Fleener proved that he takes what he wants. Now one may say “why would the Niners take Fleener when they already have Davis?” In response, I say, what’s better than one Pro-Bowl TE? That’s right, two Pro-Bowlers. Harbaugh has shown that he will go out of his way to take his former players from Stanford and with the addition of Fleener, the Niners would have a pair of elite TEs that no secondary could cover.
31. Patriots (13-3)
David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
David Wilson’s stock is no doubt lower than it should be. Wilson was easily the second most talented RB in 2011 and trounced the lack-luster ACC defenses with ease. Wilson’s combination of speed and power gives him the option to either run over or past you. Knowing this, the Pats would be mad not to take Wilson. Despite having a big name, BenJarvus Green-Ellis can’t pick up big yards. The Pats haven’t had a proper RB in years and it’s time they changed that.
32. Giants (9-7)
Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
I know, I know. Picking up a defensive player may seem like an odd move for the Giants, but Dont’a Hightower would fit perfectly into the Giants’ defensive scheme. Ever since winning the 2008 Super Bowl, the Giants have lacked strong LBs. Dont’a Hightower, a powerful linebacker out of Alabama, would allow Coughlin to be able to mix it up with Blitz packages and would take a little pressure off of the studly Giants D-line.