By: Steve Balestrieri
Welcome to the PatsPub NFL Mock Draft 2012, while there are so many variables involved in the NFL Draft that it’s hard to accurately predict what will happen, it is always an enjoyable fan favorite come April.
But Patriots fans want to know who the Patriots will covet and pick, right? And every year we pick an edge rusher who is fast and athletic and every year, the team passes on those type players and opts for someone nobody sees coming.
So what’s in store this spring? Rumors abound (just like every year) that the Patriots will actually move up in the first round this year. Will it happen? Possibly if someone they truly covet is available in the mid-teens- early 20s is still around. But with no draft picks in the 5th, 6th or 7th rounds this year, I can pretty much guarantee that they will trade one or perhaps both of their first or second round picks this year for a package of picks to include the later rounds this year and either a first or second next season.
So with that in mind, I made these picks firmly in the order that the draft follows as of today. And no trades are made, but put a check mark next to #27 or #31, because the Patriots will invariably trade one or both.
2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
1. Indianapolis- Andrew Luck QB Stanford
Surprised? Really? If you don’t have this pick, you’ve been living under a rock for the past 6 months.
2. Washington-Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
See above comment….
3. Minnesota- Matt Kalil T USC
The Vikings need help at the OL and Kalil is the player most often mentioned in the draft after Luck and Griffin. Simply the best OL available this year.
4. Cleveland- Trent Richardson RB Alabama
The Browns need a RB and Richardson is the best available RB since Adrian Peterson. They also need a WR but Richardson will be hard to pass up. He can do it all.
5. Tampa Bay- Morris Claiborne CB LSU
Bucs defense took a big step backwards last year and with Ronde Barber in his last season. Aqib Talib won’t be a popular player with no-nonsense coach Greg Schiano, so this move makes sense. Claiborne is a very talented corner and can be a difference maker on defense.
6. St. Louis- Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St.
The Rams need help and a lot of it after stumbling badly last year. With Brandon Lloyd now in NE, they need WR help and Blackmon is just the guy. Tall WR with great hands…I think Bradford will agree
7. Jacksonville- Quinton Couples DE North Carolina
The Jaguars defense was a bright spot last season but still needs help with their pass rush and Couples is arguably the best at that in this year’s draft.
8. Miami Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M
The Dolphins need a QB, regardless of their posturing now, they courted Peyton Manning and also Flynn so this one is no shocker
9. Carolina- Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College
Carolina may be trying to trade out of this slot, however if they keep this pick Kuechly or Kirkpatrick makes sense here.
10. Buffalo- Riley Reiff T Iowa
Reiff adds a nice addition to an offense that shined early but struggled down the stretch with injuries.
11. Kansas City- Jonathan Martin T Stanford
KC stumbled last year after a 13 win season, Martin or Hightower may be the guy for them.
12. Seattle- Melvin Ingram DE SC
Seattle needs a pass rusher and Ingram has lined up at DT, DE and OLB. Versatility and a flair for big plays that the Hawks need.
13. Arizona- Alshon Jeffery WR SC
Arizona may opt to go defense here but a big target opposite Larry Fitz would be a nice fit but if not, look for them to seek help along an OL that gave up way too many sacks.
14. Dallas- Mark Barron S Alabama
The Cowboys scouted Barron at his pro day in ‘Bama, and is an obvious fit….sorry Pats fans, many wanted the Patriots to draft Barron but he gets the Star on the helmet. Elvis has left the building
15. Philadelphia– Michael Brockers DT LSU
Philly got Demeco Ryans in free agency and now by adding Brockers they improve even more down the middle. Instant upgrade, the middle of that defense is now solid.
16. New York Jets– Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama
The Jets defense struggled getting after the QB last season, even with their overloaded blitz packages. Upshaw can do that and drop into coverage.
17. Cincinnati– David Wilson RB VT
Cincinnati has been linked to Wilson a lot in the draft talk and his choice makes perfect sense, it’s a position of need and Wilson could step right in and contribute.
18. San Diego– Nick Perry OLB/DE USC
Perry stays in Southern California as he brings the edge rush the Bolts need opposite Antwan Barnes
19. Chicago– Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
With Brockers off the board, this move makes sense for ‘Da Bears’, Floyd isn’t blistering fast but makes catches and will thrive with a QB that can throw the ball
20. Tennessee– Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB Illinois
The Titans really need a DE and Mercilus is the best player available. Explosive off the line and makes a lot of plays.
21. Cincinnati– Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama
With a bookend to go with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the books, the Bengals go for help at CB. Jenkins has off-field issues but is very talented…seems like these players gravitate toward Cincy.
22. Cleveland– Cordy Glenn T/G Georgia
The Browns need OL help and Glenn could play T or G and will immediately step in and contribute.
23. Detroit– Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama
Detroit needs a CB and Kirkpatrick is a perfect fit for them. Arguably one of the top 2-3 CBs in the draft at #23 is a steal.
24. Pittsburgh– Dontari Poe DT Memphis
Pittsburgh has bigger need along the OL, but Poe may be hard to pass up with a defense getting long in the tooth
25. Denver– Stephon Gilmore CB SC
The Broncos have Peyton Manning and adding the Gamecock Gilmore will add depth to the defense. He’ll have Champ Bailey to learn from and be ready to step in for, if the need arises.
26. Houston– Kendall Wright WR Baylor
The Texans already have big WRs in Johnson and Walters so Wright at 5’10” doesn’t have to be a big target to be successful. He’s fast and can get separation, opposite Johnson, he should thrive in Texas.
27. New England– Andre Branch DE/OLB Clemson
The Patriots are always looking for depth along the defensive line and Branch will give them that. Can play DE in a four man front or is athletic enough to play OLB in a 3-4 defense. That is if the Patriots don’t trade out of this position which they most certainly will in either the #27 or #31 spot.
28. Green Bay– Kevin Zeitler G Wisconsin
Zeitler can play G or C and should step in and contribute to the Packers offense. They may opt for defensive help here if any of the pass rushers fall.
29. Baltimore– Peter Konz C Wisconsin
The Ravens have been linked a lot to Konz this off-season and he will eventually take over for Matt Birk at C.
30. San Francisco– Stephen Hill WR GT
The Niners need a WR and CB help and Hill can provide the help they need outside and provide a viable target with Vernon Davis.
31. New England– Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama
Invariably a trade down here. Best player available, Hightower is a bone-crusher at ILB who runs straight downhill. His selection gives the Patriots flexibility and depth to switch players out and possibly move Jerod Mayo more to the outside where he will be able to make plays.
32. New York– Mike Adams T Ohio State
Adams is an excellent pass blocker and not exactly a road grader in the run game, but he should be able to step in contribute to the Giants offense.
Listen to our podcast radio show, Patriots4thand2 every week as we bring you the best in Patriots talk as well as some great guests. Until the draft is over, two of our PatsFans writers and 4th and 2 contributors Damien Jarrett and Derek Havens are doing a weekly draft show. Check it out for some outstanding draft talk.
Check all of us out on PatsFans.com, there are always interesting stories, features and great stats compiled by Ian Logue on there. Kind of like, your one-stop Patriots news source for information.
Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG
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