Mock Draft 4.0 (Post-Combine Edition, 3 Rounds): Steelers Select ILB Dont’a Hightower, NT Alameda Ta’amu, OG/OT Brandon Washington
12. Seattle Seahawks: Devon Still DT (Penn State)
Seattle could look to trade back and possibly acquire QB Ryan Tannehill at the end of the 1st Round if they don’t see any players they like at #12. Yet Seattle has a dire need to upgrade their Defensive Line at both DT and DE, and there is one player in particular that has scouts salivating over his upside: DT Devon Still.
With Red Bryant facing Free Agency, Seattle could take a guy like Still who could help an already improving Seahawks Defense. Standing 6’4″ 310 lbs., Still has the frame to play either a DT in a 4-3 system as he did in college, or even spend some time as a 3-4 DE (or even smaller NT) in the professional ranks if the Seahawks want him there.
(Previous Selection: Michael Brockers, DT, Louisiana State)
13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin OT (Stanford)
Finally, a top tier O-Lineman for Russ Grimm to work with. Martin could come in right away and play Right Tackle, or if he performs up to a high standard, could switch places with Left Tackle Levi Brown and protect Kevin Kolb/John Skelton’s blind side in 2012 if selected.
At 6’6″ 305 lbs., the 2011 All-Pac-12 performer Martin could instantly step in on Day 1 for the Cardinals and improve Arizona’s Rushing Attack which ranked 24th in YPG and also upgrade a Line which gave up 54 Sacks, only one less than St. Louis’ League leading 55. Beanie Wells is a talented runner when healthy, and the young and emerging WR corps led by Larry Fitzgerald can only benefit if the Cardinals improve in the trenches.
(Previous Selection: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford)
14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro G (Stanford)
Dallas needs help on the interior of their Offensive Line, there’s no doubt about it. In the event that David DeCastro is available at #14, I don’t believe that the Cowboys will pass on one of the most highly touted Guard prospects to come out since Steve Hutchinson over a decade ago.
At 6’5″ 316 lbs. DeCastro is an imposing force that can blow holes open for Jones and Murray in the run game, and also has the ability to keep Tony Romo upright whenever he drops back to pass. There were a lot of reasons for Stanford’s success in the Running Game under Jim Harbaugh, and DeCastro and Jonathan Martin were two of the biggest reasons.
(Previous Selection: Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama)
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly ILB/OLB (B.C.)
“The Dream Team” had quite a bit of nightmares in the early going during the 2011 season, and they just couldn’t get back on track enough to qualify for Postseason play. One of Philadelphia’s biggest issues however was at the Linebacker position. And the Eagles problems at LB proved to be an Achilles Heel for their already shaky Defense.
Thankfully, Philly can get exactly what they need in the form of Boston College’s Luke Kuechly. Kuechly has the size (6’3” 237 lbs.), athleticism, and positional flexibility to play the MLB or OLB spot in a 4-3 Defense like Philadelphia’s.
With Philly’s “Wide 9” sets on the Defensive Line, it is imperative that the Linebackers are able to not only shed blocks, but make tackles as well. Kuechly himself proved to be a tackling machine at B.C., and could step in Day 1 to help Philadelphia’s undersized and underachieving LB corps.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw OLB (Alabama)
If Rex Ryan ever wants his crazy Super Bowl predictions to come true he had better think about upgrading his team on the Defensive side of the ball in a couple of months. The Jets must be relentless in their pursuit of pressuring the opposing QB, and if Courtney Upshaw fell to them at #16, there is no way they would pass on him.
The 6’2″ 265 lb. All-American Upshaw is a beast in terms of his versatility and tenacity. He could come off the edge as a down lineman in a 4-3 system, or he could stand up as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, and move all around in the exotic Defensive sets which the Jets employ.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins CB (North Alabama)
The Bengals have a litany of problems at the CB position heading into 2012 due to poor performance and injuries hitting in 2011. Cincinnati’s Secondary was dealt a major blow after Jonathan Joseph left for Houston, Leon Hall was hurt at midseason, and Pacman Jones proved to be utterly useless down the stretch. The dude basically melted-down in Cincinnati’s Wild Card loss to Houston a few weeks ago.
Thus, I believe Cincinnati will be looking to select North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins at #17. The Bengals (probably more than any team) will probably look past Jenkins’ off-the field issues and look to him to help out at the Nickel Back right away. In spite of his run-ins with the law, the 5’10” Jenkins started as a Freshman on Florida’s 2008 B.C.S. National Championship team, and established himself as one of the S.E.C.’s top CB’s during his three year career in Gainesville. Had Jenkins declared for the Draft last season he would have likely been a Top 15 Pick.
18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry OLB (Southern Cal)
San Diego’s Defense didn’t do a very excellent job rushing the passer last season, and a lot of that had to do with their lack of an OLB pass-rushing threat. Luckily for the Chargers, if Nick Perry is available at 18, San Diego could continue to rebuild their Front-7 and get one heck of a pass rusher in the process.
Perry, a 4-3 DE in college, who also led the Pac-12 in Sacks with 9.5 in 2011, will get his chance step in Day 1 and help the Chargers at one of their OLB spots if selected. Travis LaBoy is in the twilight of his career, and Larry English has proved himself to be a full-scale bust since being drafted in the 1st Round in 2009. The Chargers must put another pass-rushing threat across from Antwan Barnes if they wish make some noise in the A.F.C. West come 2012.
(Previous Selection: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State)
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd WR (Notre Dame)
While Chicago’s Offensive Line is still in need of help, they can’t pass up a chance to take a talented player like Michael Floyd. To be perfectly blunt, Chicago’s WR corps is arguably the worst as a whole in the entire League. If Jay Cutler is going to succeed in the “Windy City” he must have better targets than Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett to throw to, plain and simple.
Even with his off-field issues (D.U.I.), Floyd played incredibly at Notre Dame during his 4 year career in South Bend. Floyd’s got the body type (6’3″ 224 lbs.), the speed, the route running ability, and the attitude to make it in this League. Now it’s just a matter of him getting his shot. And with Chicago, he could inevitably be a starter when Training Camp begins.
20. Tennessee Titans: Cordy Glenn OG/OT (Georgia)
If Tennessee decides that fixing the interior of their Offensive Line is a higher priority than helping to bolster their pass rush, the Titans will look to target a Guard like Cordy Glenn this April. Glenn is a very versatile prospect who played both Guard and both Tackle spots in college (he projects as a Guard by most scouts), and has tremendous athleticism for his size (6’5″ 346 lbs.) which would be of added interest to the Titans.
Adding a player like Glenn could immediately help the Titans in the running game with CJ2K, but also give QB of the future Jake Locker a terrific Lineman to protect him. The Titans are a team that is on the cusp of the postseason, and if they continue to add solid players like Glenn in future Drafts, they could make some real noise in the A.F.C. South.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: David Wilson RB (Virginia Tech)
With Cedric Benson entering his early 30′s and Bernard Scott’s production dwindling, the Bengals I believe will look to address the RB position early in the 2012 Draft. With Richardson off the board (although they could trade up for him), David Wilson could very well be the guy that Cincinnati selects with their second 1st Round pick.
Wilson displayed great speed, toughness, an ability to run through the tackles, and used his 5’10 205 lb. frame effectively throughout his career at Virginia Tech. Furthermore, Wilson also was a solid Kick Returner in college and could be called upon in Cincinnati to fill that role early in his career. If Wilson can work on his ball-security skills, he could be a solid value pick in the 2nd Round.
(Previous Selection: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami FL)
22. Cleveland Browns: Ryan Tannehill QB (Texas A&M)
In the event that Cleveland loses “The RGIII Sweepstakes,” I believe that they will try to acquire another QB with their other 1st Round pick at #22. The one guy which I, and many believe they will go after if they cannot trade for “RGIII” is Ryan Tannehill.
I personally feel that Tannehill’s body of work is too small, his accuracy needs a bit of work, and he is still a developmental prospect. Nevertheless, QB’s are constantly over-drafted (see Ponder, Christian and Losman, J.P.), and Tannehill should garner quite a bit of interest come Draft Day due to his upside as an athletic prospect.
A WR for half his career in college, Tannehill has a strong arm, great build (6’4″ 222 lbs.), and has terrific mobility. With a year or two of development, Tannehill could fit in nicely in a West Coast system. Don’t fret however Cleveland fans, I will be waffling between Washington and Cleveland acquiring the #2 pick over the upcoming weeks so I should have the other scenario ready to go in future installments.
(Previous Selection: Nick Perry, OLB, Southern Cal)