Wow, the NFL Draft is finally here. It seems like yesterday that fans were watching the Senior Bowl or the combine, but now they watch for pre-draft visitors and smokescreens. Tonight, the focus on the draft with an updated first round, as there has been some happenings since the last update two weeks ago. As always, we would truly appreciate any and all feedback on this attempt at a mock draft or any of our articles at Steelers101. Feel free to interact with us on these picks by commenting on the post, on our facebook fan page or on twitter @Steelers_101.
1.Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck – Stanford
Luck is the top prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft and a pro-ready quarterback. With the Colts clearly in rebuilding mode, there is no doubt that they will be selecting what they hope is their next franchise quarterback.
2. Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III – Baylor
Though he has primarily been used in a spread offense quarterback, Griffin has a tremendous skill-set and has flashed the ability to be successful in any offense. He is a tremendous athlete and should be a good fit in Washington’s West Coast attack. If there is a downside, it is his overall size causing durability concerns.
3. Minnesota Vikings – LT Matt Kalil – USC
This should be a no brainer for the Vikings. Kalil is a versatile lineman who can play anywhere along the offensive line and they need the help. The Vikings will look for him to step in and become a bookend left tackle for years to come.
(Last Mock Draft – CB Morris Claiborne)
4. Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson – Alabama
Richardson makes a lot of sense. He is a solid performer and has a versatile skill-set featuring a combination of vision, power and speed.
(Last Mock Draft – WR Justin Blackmon)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Morris Claiborne – LSU
The Bucs grab the best cornerback in the draft. Yes, they need a lot and finding a shutdown cornerback can go a long way in helping them defend some of the explosive offenses in the division. Claiborne has the ability to roam their secondary for years to come.
(Last Mock Draft – RB Trent Richardson)
6. St. Louis – DT Fletcher Cox – Mississippi State
Cox is a big and physical run stuffer, who could come in and immediately pay dividends for the Panthers. After a strong combine, he is rising up some draft boards at the ever-fluid defense tackle position.
(Last Mock Draft – CB Morris Claiborne)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars. – WR Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma State
The Jaguars need weapons for whoever is taking snaps on offense. Blackmon has the combination of size, speed and hands to be a starter on day one.
(Last Mock Draft – DE Melvin Ingram)
8. Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M
The Dolphins have tried all offseason to upgrade the quarterback position and have failed miserably. Now, they are forced to turn to the draft and select someone with some familiarity with the coaching staff. Although he is raw and rather inexperienced as a quarterback, Tannehill is athletic, big and physical, with a solid skill-set that may allow him to develop into a long-term starter.
9. Carolina Panthers – LB Luke Kuechly – Boston College
The Panthers need secondary help, but find Kuechly here too good of a value to pass up. In him, they add a solid Inside Linebacker with tremendous athletic ability and is the most complete prospect at a position that is not very deep this year.
(Last Mock Draft – DT Fletcher Cox)
10. Buffalo Bills – CB Stephon Gilmore – South Carolina
The Bills defense has some age need to add some depth. Gilmore, is a big 6-1, 193 pound cornerback with the ability to succeed in multiple schemes and a tremendous value.
(Last Mock Draft – OT Riley Reiff)
11. Kansas City Chiefs – OG David DeCastro – Stanford
DeCastro is widely considered the safest pick in this years draft and is the most complete offensive line prospect available. The three-year starter has the ability to fit into any system and should help solidify the Chiefs offense for the next decade.
12. Seattle Seahawks – LB Dont'a Hightower – Alabama
The Seahawks are never shy to take the player they covet, and all signs are pointing to Hightower. He is big and physical and fits like a glove, having gained experience in Nick Saban's pro-style defenses at Alabama. They could also be a candidate to trade back and still land Hightower.
13. Arizona Cardinals – T Riley Reiff – Iowa
The Cardinals could go a few different ways with this selection, and have been somewhat of a wildcard in recent drafts. Not this year, Reiff can step in at tackle and help solidify the offensive line, something that they have been missing over the past few seasons. This pick could be moved it the price is right, with the Cardinals not having a second round selection after trading for QB Kevin Kolb last offseason.
(Last Mock Draft – WR Michael Floyd)
14. Dallas Cowboys – S Mark Barron – Alabama
The Cowboys need help at safety. Barron is the top rated Safety in a weak class and should be snatched up at this point. Yes, the Jets could look for some pass rush help, but Barron is too good to pass up.
(Last Mock Draft – Dontari Poe)
15. Philadelphia Eagles – DE Chandler Jones – Syracuse
Jones is a late riser on draft boards and could help the Eagles defensive line with a solid combination of size and athleticism.
(Last Mock Draft – DE Michael Brockers)
16. New York Jets – WR Michael Floyd – Notre Dame
The Jets have been searching for a solid number two receiver. In the end, they turn to the draft where Floyd is rising. He is a big, physical wide receiver with a knack for scoring in the Red Zone, something that could help their offense immediately.
(Last Mock Draft – S Mark Barron)
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland) – DE Quinton Coples – North Carolina
The Bengals need some defensive line and secondary help, with their first selection of the evening they get tremendous value with Coples. While not as talented as former Tarheel DE Julius Peppers, he fits the bill and will be a solid addition to their defensive line for years to come.
18. San Diego Chargers– DE/OLB Melvin Ingram – South Carolina
Ingram is a versatile hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker, who has a solid combination of size, speed and power. He a fast riser and should be an upgrade on the outside and give the Jaguars some added pass rush abilities to combat a pass happy division.
(Last Mock Draft – OT Jonathan Martin)
19. Chicago Bears – DE Michael Brockers – LSU
The Bears need a boost along their defensive line and Brockers has the ability to provide it. Yes, he struggled at the combine (dropping out of the projected Top 10), but he was productive on tape and the Bears often due some unexpected things.
(Last Mock Draft – DE Whitney Mercilus)
20. Tennessee Titans–OG Cordy Glenn – Georgia
Glenn has been rising up draft boards after a tremendous combine performance where he demonstrated outstanding athletic ability. Last season, the Titans struggled to run the ball and Glenn could step in and make their offensive line better.
(Last Mock Draft – CB Dre Kirkpatrick)
21. Cincinnati Bengals - CB Dre Kirkpatrick – Alabama
Kirkpatrick is a talented cornerback with winning pedigree. Once considered a top-five pick, he finally finds a home with the Titans, who have some holes in their secondary.
(Last Mock Draft – LB Luke Kuechly)
22. Cleveland Browns (From Atlanta) – Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech
The Browns could go many ways, but in the end, they grab a wide receiver with size and speed. He is a bit raw, but with maybe the most upside in the draft.
(Last Mock Draft – OT Mike Adams)
23. Detroit Lions – OT Jonathan Martin – Stanford
Martin could be the Left Tackle of the future. At 6-6, 305 pounds, Martin has the athleticism to succeed in any scheme.
(Last Mock Draft – DE Nick Perry)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers –DT Dontari Poe – Memphis
This selection goes against many of the draft prognosticator projections who have the Steelers selecting Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower, but it makes total sense. NT Casey Hampton is coming off an ACL injury and took a steep pay cut to stay this season. Poe’s tape may not match his athleticism, but he could learn behind Hampton and continue to develop. The Steelers could also be in a position to attempt to trade back at this point, as a player like Hightower Kevin Zeitler, Nick Perry, or even Mike Adams may have fallen a bit.
(Last Mock Draft – OG Cordy Glenn)
25. Denver Broncos – RB Doug Martin – Boise State
The Broncos landed the biggest fish in free agency, by inking QB Peyton Manning. Now they need to build the offense around him. Martin is a blue collar running back and has the ability to be an upgrade from day one.
(Last Mock Draft – C Peter Konz)
26. Houston Texans – WR Kendall Wright – Baylor
The Texans need help at wide receiver. In Wright, they get a player that is often compared to Carolina Panthers wide out Steve Smith for his ability to make a big play.
27. New England Patriots (From New Orleans) – DE Nick Perry – USC
The Patriots defense has some age need to add some depth.. In a bit of a surprise, they roll the dice on the talented pass rusher from USC to help build their defense for years to come. The Patriots love to deal, so there is always a possibility of a trade.
(Last Mock Draft – CB Stephon Gilmore)
28. Green Bay Packers – DE/OLB Shea McClellin – Boise State
The Packers are looking for a pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews. McClellin is making a strong push toward the end of the first round, and the Packers decide to pull the trigger.
(Last mock Draft – CB Stephon Gilmore)
29. Baltimore Ravens – LB Courtney Upshaw – Alabama
The Ravens love football players and that defines Upshaw perfectly. This 6-2, 265 pound Upshaw has the talent to fill many voids, but his natural position is somewhat of an enigma. The Ravens will find a place for him.
(Last Mock Draft – LB Dont’a Hightower)
30. San Francisco 49ers – OG Kevin Zeitler – Wisconsin
The 49ers have a talented offense, but continue to build that side of the ball. Zeitler fits their running game and potentially help it become better than it is already.
(Last Mock Draft – CB Janoris Jenkins)
31. New England Patriots – CB Janoris Jenkins – Northern Alabama
The Patriots defense needs help and continue to build that side of the ball. Jenkins fits the bill as a potential shutdown field cornerback. Yes, there are some Red Flags, but with a strong coaching staff and locker room, the reward may outweigh the risks.
(Last Mock Draft – DT Kendall Reyes)
32. New York Giants – WR Rueben Randle
The Giants could go many ways, but in the end, the Giants grab Randle to add some more size to their receiving corps. He may not be an immediate need; he is the best offensive talent available at this pick.
(Last Mock Draft – TE Coby Fleener)
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