TGS writers’ 2012 NFL mock draft

The inaugural TGS writers’ 2012 NFL Mock Draft is here. After answering the burning questions related to each team in the NFL, our writers are more than ready to step in and make first round picks for those teams, with each writer speaking for a specific team’s GM.

One note on the draft order: there would seem to be a 99.9743% chance that the St Louis Rams trade out of the #2 spot, either to Washington or Cleveland. For the purposes of this mock, we drew the Redskins out of a hat and awarded them with their QB of the future. Even the combination of Daniel Snyder and Mike Shanahan can’t screw this up. We think. 

1. Indianapolis Colts select: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

Shane: “Of all the picks in the draft, this is the biggest no-brainer of the bunch. Andrew Luck provides the Colts with a franchise quarterback right as it appears they are beginning a full rebuild. He’ll take a couple of years to develop, but it’ll take at least that long for the Colts to put a talented roster around him, so the pick makes complete sense.”


2. Washington Redskins (via STL) select: QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Anthony: “The Redskins select Robert Griffin III. Fans now reverently refer to the owner as ‘Mr. Snyder’ who now plans for the biggest Pre-Super Bowl Draft Day party ever staged at FedEx Field. Mike Shanahan plots how to land a wide receiver for RG3 to target. Why not start with Baylor’s Kendall Wright in the second round, if the Redskins didn’t throw it into the trade with the Rams? Griffin-to-Wright worked before.” 


3. Minnesota Vikings select: OT Matt Kalil, USC

 Tom: “Thank you, Rams, for your willingness to trade the #2 pick. Unless you had amnesia and forgot how Rodger Saffold played last year, you need a left tackle badly. So do we. Everybody’s fixated on the quarterbacks at the top of the draft, but if they weren’t around, Kalil would be the sure-fire top overall pick. We’re happy to have him protect Christian Ponder and move Charlie Johnson to guard.”

So much for the no-brainers. Things get interesting after the jump.


4. Cleveland Browns select: WR Justin Blackmon, Ok State

Shane: “Blackmon is not the tallest or biggest receiver available by a long stretch, but he makes up for it with athleticism. The Browns may try to move around in the draft, but it looks as if they may not be able to win the bidding war for the second pick of the draft. Blackmon makes too much sense for the Browns to pass up. He’d provide Colt McCoy (or whoever else is their quarterback) a legitimate target, and the hope is that he could be one of the pieces in fixing one of the worst offensive units in the league.”


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU

Derek: “This is becoming one of those selections that makes too much sense to not happen. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a cornerback, and Morris Claiborne is head and shoulders above the other players at his position.  The future of cornerbacks Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib are in question, as Barber nears retirement and Talib faces possible jail time. The cornerback position is their biggest need.”


6. St Louis Rams select: DT Dontari Poe, Memphis 

Will: “This is a very tough slot for the Rams, with as many needs as they have. I strongly considered Trent Richardson and Michael Floyd in this slot, but ultimately am willing to trust depth at the offensive skill positions later in the draft. I fully expect Fisher to go with a physical, ‘big off the bus’ player to help toughen the identity of this team. Poe has the dimensions and freakish strength/speed combination to do just that. While he didn’t dominate at Memphis, he will have a veteran coaching staff capable of bringing him to his full potential, and strong counterparts in Chris Long and Robert Quinn on the edges.”


7. Jacksonville Jaguars select: DE Quinton Coples, UNC

Shane: “The Jaguars’ biggest need in the offseason is undoubtedly at wide receiver, but there’s other places of need, and defensive end is a position they have a need that matches up well with the value of the 7th pick of the draft. Coples is a big man that can create nightmares for an offensive coach, and his so called ‘ceiling’ is tremendously high. It’s very possible that Coples would be the final piece of the Jaguars’ monstrous defensive front four.”


8. Miami Dolphins select: OT Riley Reiff, Iowa 

Daniel: “With the 8th pick of the draft first, Jeff Ireland punches Shane in the face cuz he wanted Coples. With Coples off the board the debate was Reiff or WR Michael Floyd. With the hope that Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne book a package tour down to South Beach, the Dolphins chose to go boring once again, taking a first round offensive lineman.”


9. Carolina Panthers select: DT Michael Brockers, LSU

Derek: “The Carolina Panthers have a major hole at defensive tackle. After a stong offensive showing in 2011 if the Panthers hope to accomplish anything in the high scoring, pass happy NFC South they need to find a way to get after the QB. A quick way to do just that is the they can use their first pick on a freakish athlete with the size, speed and length to be a factor against the run and on rushing the passer.”


10. Buffalo Bills select: DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama 

Daniel: “Now that the Bills have signed Stevie Johnson to a big contract extension, their biggest burning question has been answered and they don’t have to go WR here. Hopefully Upshaw can help bring a pass rush to Buffalo seeing as Lights out Merriman is more fragile than Kim Kardashian’s ego.”


11. Kansas City Chiefs select: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama 

Lawrence: “While the Chiefs have holes elsewhere, Richardson is simply too good to pass up this late in the draft. Kansas City struggled to find consistency in the ground game when Jamaal Charles went down with a torn ACL last year, and Richardson should be able to be the feature back from week one. He brings a blend of speed, strength and agility that could make him an elite back in the league in short order.”


12. Seattle Seahawks select: G David DeCastro, Stanford 

Will: “Quarterback is a tempting proposition here, with the highly mobile Ryan Tannehill gaining traction among Seahawks media. But I’m more tempted to say that Pete Carroll rolls the dice on the ‘best player available’ strategy once again, and reinvests in his offensive line – still very much a work in progress. Decastro becomes the highest guard drafted since the Seahawks drafted Steve Hutchinson with the 17th overall pick in 2001. With the rookie cap in place, there are no longer heavy penalties for drafting an interior lineman this early, and this will be the best way to enhance the running game of Marshawn Lynch, and help protect Tarvaris or whoever their QB of the future will be.”


13. Arizona Cardinals select: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama 

Will: “Stuck in no-man’s land at the quarterback position, the Cardinals are hoping to commit to a plan of winning via defense and the run. If Courtney Upshaw had fallen this far, he would have been an ideal pick, but Dre Kirkpatrick gives them a physical playmaker in the secondary that can bracket Peterson at corner, or potentially slide over next to crafty vet Adrian Wilson at safety.”


14. Dallas Cowboys select: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame 

Anthony: “DARN! I knew the Cowboys should have jumped ahead a spot or two to ensure that we get CB Dre Kirkpatrick, the cornerback of our dreams. This is an ideal pick to trade down from the 14th pick to the 20th for more picks and still snag either CB Jaron Hosley or S Mark Barron. Or perhaps the Cowboys can work a swap with Philadelphia for veteran CB Asante Samuel. For this mock, the Cowboys are going with the best available talent and give Tony Romo another wide receiver target in Michael Floyd.”


15. Philadelphia Eagles select: DE/LB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina 

Anthony: “Philadelphia has a clear need for linebacker help. Part of the solution is a veteran, free agent linebacker with football IQ and discipline. All BCS linebackers must be taught pass coverage at the pro level. The Eagles will look for raw material in an outside linebacker with tight end speed that can also pass rush. South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram fits the bill, but he must convert from his college defensive end position.”


16. New York Jets select: DE/LB Nick Perry, USC 

Daniel: “Even if the Jets do decide to draft competition for Mark Sanchez, they won’t do it in the first round. Despite what you might think about the Jets defense because of Rex Ryan, the mean green pass rush last year was very mediocre. Linebacker Bryan Thomas tore his Achilles tendon, which could lead to the selection of Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw or Quinton Coples should he drop. Jets get the next best thing in Nick Perry.”


17. Cincinnati Bengals select: CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama 

Shane: “One of the few problems the Bengals have on defense is a lack of depth at the cornerback position. They’ll look to improve at that position with Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins, formerly of the University of Florida, had to finish his college days at North Alabama after being arrested twice for marijuana possesion. It wouldn’t be the first time the Bengals took a chance on a player’s character. Still, he’s one of the best corners in the draft, and he’s almost certainly worth the 17th pick of the draft, especially considering that cornerbacks are at a premium.”


18. San Diego Chargers select: OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford 

Lawrence: “The burning question of whether AJ Smith will make Vincent Jackson an offer he can’t refuse still has not been answered. But either way, the Chargers have serious protection issues that can’t be ignored, no matter who lines up at receiver. Martin has experience in pass protection in a pro-style scheme, and should slot in immediately.”


19. Chicago Bears select: WR Kendall Wright, Baylor 

Tom: “The Bears are probably hoping Michael Floyd is here, as he’s less like what they already have at receiver. Wright is still an excellent option to upgrade a group with no real standouts. Offensive line is a possibility here as well, but Wright is the superior prospect.”


20. Tennessee Titans select: DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State 

Tom: “Defensive end will be a high priority for the Titans, but with Coples and Perry off the board, there’s not an end who wouldn’t be a reach. Instead they’re happy to grab Cox, who I expect to go higher on draft day, to upgrade the DT corps.”


21. Cincinnati Bengals select: DT Devon Still, Penn State 

Shane: “Still is a the product of the lack of weapons left at 21st overall. The Bengals would love to add weapons around Andy Dalton, but adding receivers from the stock available would be irresponsible. To get the best value out of this pick, it’s far more prudent to draft Devon Still. He’s a big defensive tackle that can hold the point of attack and force inside runs to bounce to the outside. Still adds an extra big man in the rotation of the Bengals’ already solid defensive line and elevates that unit to one of the better groups in the league.”


22. Cleveland Browns select: OLB Zach Brown, UNC 

Shane: “The Browns are in the same boat here as the Bengals are in. They’d like to add an offensive weapon to help out Colt McCoy, Matt Flynn, Robert Griffin III, or whoever their quarterback turns out to be. Once again, however, a defensive player gains the most value out of the pick, and Zach Brown gives the Browns a dynamic, quick lineback that can make big plays at any point.”


23. Detroit Lions select: OT Mike Adams, Ohio State 

Tom: “It’s time to finally move on from Jeff Backus. Adams isn’t yet as consistent or good as he’ll need to be in the NFL, but has the size and the potential to be an outstanding left tackle.”


24. Pittsburgh Steelers select: LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College 

Shane: “The Steelers are the best team in the league in regards to turning linebackers into stars. Enter Luke Kuechly. The Steelers just cut James Farrior, so there’s a need in Pittsburgh for a young inside linebacker. That said, the Steelers may be the best example in the league of drafting the best available player, otherwise known as a BAP team, and this is one of those rare instances where Kuechly fits the bill of both need and BAP.”


25. Denver Broncos select: TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson 

Lawrence: “One thing that Tebow was sorely missing was a good tight end. One that can both act as a safety valve when his deep options are covered, but also help in pass blocking on sweeps and tosses. Dwayne Allen is a beast of a tight end coming to the league via Clemson. At 6-foot-4 and tipping in at 255-pounds, Allen is a mismatch when he is downfield and a mauler in the running game.”


26. Houston Texans select: WR Rueben Randle, LSU 

Tom: “Forget his lousy college stats, which were a reflection of LSU’s quarterbacks. Even if Andre Johnson can stay healthy, the Texans could use an upgrade at WR. Randle provides that. Assuming Matt Schaub stays healthy, Randle could contribute immediately to the Texans offense.”


27. New England Patriots select: SS Mark Barron, Alabama 

Daniel: “The top corners are off the board, so the Pats decide to improve their secondary by adding the top safety in the draft. Hopefully this will create more depth for a New England secondary that sorely needs it.”


28. Green Bay Packers select: DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut 

Tom: “As I wrote on TGS, the Packers’ lack of defensive line depth hurt them badly in 2011. While he probably won’t have a big impact as a pass rusher, Reyes immediately slots into the rotation at 5-tech DE.”


29. Baltimore Ravens select: C Peter Konz, Wisconsin 

Shane: “Matt Birk has been a solid center for the Ravens, but at 35 years old, it’s time to think about finding his replacement. Peter Konz isn’t a glorified pick, but offensive linemen are a need that must be addressed, and it’s far better to fix an offensive line in the draft than in free agency. Centers are the brains of the offensive line, and Konz was fantastic at making adjustments and a picking up blitzes in his time with Wisconsin.”


30. San Francisco 49ers select: WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers 

Will: “Mohamed Sanu isn’t the fastest receiver, but his intelligence, catch ability – he had no drops in two gauntlet drills at the NFL combine, hand-catching each pass – and his tenacity as a run blocker make him a perfect fit for San Francisco.”


31. New England Patriots select: DE/OLB Vinny Curry, Marshall 

Daniel: “Curry hopefully will bring help to a Patriots pass rush that simply could not get to the QB last year.”

Editor’s note: As his press conference tribute to Nature Boy Ric Flair shows, he might also bring a little personality to a bland, overly professional Patriots team.


32. New York Giants select: DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State 

Anthony: “The Giants’ habit is to select best available talent regardless of position. Wide receivers Reuben Randle and Stephen Hill could be considerations. Hill’s 6’5″ height and performance at the Combine are especially intriguing. However, the Georgia Tech’s offense makes it harder to envision Hill in a pro system. Defensive tackle Kendall Reyes would have been a good fit with New York’s signature pass rush, but the Packers snapped him up. Jerel Worthy is next on my draft board.”

So ends the first ever TGS writers’ mock draft. We will have another one starting up in just a few weeks, after the gates have opened on free agency. Peyton Manning’s new home, the new owners of the #2 pick, and much more may be decided between now and then.