Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BASJ NFL Mock Draft 2012: Part 3 of 3

Well folks, the Colts are just 48 hours away from going on the clock for their first pick, which has already been assured to be Andrew Luck. Also, the Redskins traded up to pick 2 to ensure they get their QB of choice, Robert Griffin III, but after that, things could go a number of different ways, and today we'll pick the back half of the first round, picks 21-32. Without further ado, here are our projections:

Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: The Bengals are one of the teams that have the luxury of getting two selections in the first round in this draft, and they'd be wise to use it on improving their front on both sides of the ball. I think Adams will be one of the better, more versatile tackles available here, though Jonathan Martin and Kevin Zietler could make some sense as well. They really need a young running back, but there just aren't any worthy of being taken this high. Maybe in round two for them.

WR Stephen Hill
Pick 22: Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: Now this would be the Browns second first round pick, and one they'd desperately need to cash in on, and I think Hill is the guy. Overlooked with guys like Blackmon and Floyd garnering most the attention, Hill had a great combine and played well at GT, despite playing in a run-heavy offense. He'd give the Browns another dependable target for McCoy, or whoever is behind center for them come September. Their is also speculation they could trade their 2nd and 3rd rounders to another team (New England?) to move into the first round for another pick and get Brandon Weeden, though I have a feeling he'll still be on the board when they pick again 4th in the second round.

Pick 23: Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: Kirkpatrick isn't quite the specimen that Claiborne is, but he's a terrific cover corner with great size and good speed. He's exactly what the Lions defense was lacking in 2011, as they couldn't stop any one's passing attack. Had they even had a halfway decent secondary last year, with a healthy Stafford and Megatron, the Lions should have been a playoff juggernaut, but their defense was a laughing stock. Rarely do you find a corner with Kirkpatrick's ability and size this late in a draft, so if he makes it this far, the Lions would be fools to pass on him.

Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Zietler, G, Wisconsin: The Steelers battled injuries all over last season, but no area was more exposed than their O-line. I remember watching the 49ers play the Steelers in December and Big Ben must have taken at least 15 hits. They have to get that guy protected so he can get back to his 30+TD form and the Steelers can be a true, power-running team as they've always been. Zietler may not have the talent as some of the other O-lineman in this draft, but his physical and nasty, exactly the type of player Pittsburgh targets!

Pick 25: Denver Broncos: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: The Broncos just gave Peyton Manning $90M to be their long-term answer at QB (or as long as he'll hold up). He's 36 years old, but could easily play into his 40's as long as he stays healthy and that neck problem of his doesn't resurface. Now Denver has to surround him with some talent to throw to, and Randle could be a steal. His 6'4" frame, leaping ability and athleticism have drawn comparisons to Calvin Johnson. Denver could also go after some free agent WR's like Reggie Wayne, but I think they need a young number-one type that they can groom. We all have seen the way Manning can make ordinary recievers look great, and great ones unstoppable.

Pick 26: Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford: Houston will try and do everything in it's power to move up to ensure they get one of the draft's "elite-5" wideouts (Blackmon, Floyd, Randle, Hill and Wright). Mohamed Sanu is a decent player, but he's a fall-off talnt wise from the latter-5. However, I think the rest of the league knows this as well, and unfortunately for Houston, there won't be any of the projected 1st round wideouts left at 26. Thus, unless they get lucky and one does fall, they move up or take Mohammed Sanu (an underrated talent at WR), they should shift focus to their O-Line, which was vastly outmatched in January against Baltimore's front-7. A smart, talented tackle who could come right in and start right away for them is Martin.

Pick 27: New England Patriots: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama: The Pats need to do big work on their defense, which was sadly exposed in the Super Bowl, and they really had no business even being in that game with that wretched offense. They had a wide receiver (Julian Edleman) out there playing defensive back and linebacker at times, that's how thin they are. Hightower would provide a nice anchor in the center of that defense, and give them a play-making linebacker that could go as high as the middle of the round. If he falls here though, New England can't pass him up.

Doug Martin Explodes
Pick 28: Green Bay Packers: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Martin reminds me of MJD's body-type and run style, also his college success. He's had a helluva college career, he's a tad short, but has the bulk, size and speed to be able to be a lead-back in the NFL. He's explosive, can catch the ball and would give Green Bay a true, starting every-down back so they're not switching from Grant, to Starks to Kuhn and back. They need a true #1 back and Martin has the 2nd best shot at being one in this draft. However, Martin, like the rest of the RB's not named Richardson, is considered to be more of a "2nd-round" talent, and the Pack could just as easily go defense (secondary especially) here, where they were badly exposed in the playoffs.

Pick 29: Baltimore Ravens: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: The Ravens feel good about the offensive side of the ball, and likely won't view any offensive players worth taking at this spot unless maybe Coby Fleener or one of the wideouts managed to make it down this far. They will likely look to keep inserting some youth into that defense to help some of their aging stars. Kuechely looks like a sure-fire NFL starting linebacker, and whether or not he starts for the Ravens out of the gate would be irrelevant, as they need depth there for their 3-4 system.They could also go secondary with a guy like Janoris Jenkins or Harrison Smith.

Janoris Jenkins
Pick 30: San Francisco 49ers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: I think that if either Stephen Hill or Coby Fleener fell to 30, the 49ers would take them without hesitation. Harbough worked with Fleener for 4 years in Palo Alto and loves the kid, and we all know how impressed everyone was with Hill's combine showing, athleticism and size. However, I think the 49ers will be relegated to taking the best available player that fits one of their needs, and in my mock, I have it being Janoris Jenkins. He's as good a cover corner as Kirkpatrick, but isn't near his size at just 5'10", 185 pounds and has had all kinds of off-field issues, causing him to tranfer from Florida to North Alabama for his Senior year. Still, he'd be a premium nickle back, or more realistically the starter opposite of Carlos Rogers. The 49ers could also go after another pass-rusher if someone stands out at them, especially after having success with Aldon Smith last year. They are said to have their eye on a particular player, which makes me think they're confident he'll be there at pick 30, which, in turn, tells me it could be a player that hasn't even been mentioned yet. Nick Perry, for instance, could be a guy they look at if they want to more pass-rush. Then, they could even go right-guard, as that's their one positional need, but unless Glenn or even Zietler fell to them (DeCastro won't!), I think they feel this draft is deep enough with decent guards to find one in the 2nd round.

Pick 31: New England Patriots: Stephen Gillmore, CB, South Carolina: The Pats, with their two picks in the first, have a real shot at turning around that defense, and for a team that was in the Super Bowl a few months ago, having two first rounders is like icing on the cake. Gillmore is another combine-killer, who really improved his stock with a nice showing in March. He's had some hype for a few years now though, and as I said earlier, the Pats had WR's covering people in the playoffs last year, and that has to change for them to be a complete team.

Pick 32: New York Giants: Nick Perry, OLB, USC: The Giants won the Super Bowl last year despite having just a 9-7 regular season record. A big reason for that mediocre record was the fact they were running with practice squad linebackers for much of the season. Micheal Foley is a stud, but they need some players around him, and Nick Perry could be an ideal fit. He's more a pass-rush specialist, but can also play the run, and could help give the Giants one of the meaner front-7's in all of football. They could also go O-Line here, but in terms of value, Perry's the guy to pick, especially after witnessing what other USC linebackers have done in recent years.

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