The 2012 NFL Combine is almost upon us all. The anticipation of 40-times and cone drills is nearly unbearable. Thus, it is time for the mock which is dubbed uncanny — a pre-Combine edition.
TFY contributor Brent Sobleski stepped up to the plate and predicted the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
|Analysis: Despite all of the posturing by Colts’ owner Jim Irsay and his current quarterback, Peyton Manning, it’s hard to imagine Indianapolis going in a different direction even at this juncture. It’s been Andrew Luck all along.|
|2||St. Louis||Matt Kalil||OT/USC|
|Analysis: The slot has already been discussed as a likely trade spot for a team to leap up and grab quarterback Robert Griffin III. Matt Kalil isn’t a consolation prize. He’s a franchise left tackle to protect Sam Bradford’s blindside. Roger Saffold can simply slide inside to guard or move to right tackle if Jason Smith is eventually cut.|
|Analysis: Minnesota will sit at No. 3 and wait to see which top talent slides to it. Age and inconsistency have plagued a secondary the Vikings have already invested heavily, but Mo Claiborne is hard to surpass to replace Antoine Winfield|
|4||Cleveland||Robert Griffin III||QB/Baylor|
|Analysis: Colt McCoy proved he wasn’t the answer at quarterback last year in the Cleveland, and the Browns need a tremendous talent boost among their annually awful offense. It all starts with the quarterback, and Cleveland hopes RGIII will be there without having to trade up to acquire his services.|
|5||Tampa Bay||Riley Reiff||OT/Iowa|
|Analysis: Greg Schiano was a surprise hire by Tampa Bay, but there is nothing surprising in how he built the Rutgers program. Defense and toughness in the trenches is where Schiano will start, and Riley Reiff fits the bill perfectly.|
|6||Washington||Michael Floyd||WR/Notre Dame|
|Analysis: Michael Floyd may not be the top rated WR in this class by many, but he is an ideal fit in a west coast offense. His physicality, route running and size make him a better option for the Redskins’ offense than his peer, Justin Blackmon.|
|7||Jacksonville||Justin Blackmon||WR/Oklahoma State|
|Analysis: Jacksonville, now under the supervision of the offensive minded Mike Mularkey, should jump at the opportunity to finally acquire a legitimate top target (something the team has lacked since Jimmy Smith). Blackmon will certainly help in Blaine Gabbert’s maturation under center.|
|8||Carolina||Quinton Coples||DE/North Carolina|
|Analysis: Coples, simply put, is an enigma. He has all the tools to be a dominant end, yet he never put it all together at North Carolina. His overall talent and positional value keep him hovering around the top ten, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him slide on draft day.|
|9||Miami||Ryan Tannehill||QB/Texas A&M|
|Analysis: Miami desperately wants to upgrade its quarterback position. The team hired Mike Sherman to be its offensive coordinator. Sherman coached Ryan Tannehill in college and recently compared him to Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre. It could all be a massive smokescreen, but the possibility is just too logical.|
|Analysis: Demetrius Bell, the Bills’ starting left tackle, is looking for a big payday. Bell may not receive the compensation he’s searching for in Buffalo. His replacement last year, Chris Hairston, was severely outmatched. Jonathan Martin is a strong run blocker with enough athleticism to play the blindside at the next level.|
|11||Kansas City||Trent Richardson||RB/Alabama|
|Analysis: Over the past two seasons, new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll rode Peyton Hillis and Reggie Bush as both posted career numbers. Jammal Charles is expected to return, but it’s hard to pass on a talent like Trent Richardson at this point if there is even some uncertainty at the RB position.|
|Analysis: The Seahawks shall be searching for an QB, but they’re slotting isn’t favorable. Instead, the team can take the next step with an unit which already ranked ninth overall in total defense. Courtney Upshaw would bring toughness, pass rush ability and versatility to Pete Carroll’s front seven.|
|13||Arizona||Mike Adams||OT/Ohio State|
|Analysis: Both of Arizona’s starting offensive tackles from last year’s squad are free agents. Neither may be retained by the Cardinals. Mike Adams is a bruising tackle with all the natural gifts to immediately start at left tackle.|
|Analysis: Dallas is in dire need of an upgrade within its secondary. The Cowboys lost multiple leads throughout the season, in part, to their 23rd ranked passing defense. Kirkpatrick is a tremendously talented cornerback who will have to answer multiple questions about potential off-the-field concerns.|
|Analysis: Michael Brockers is a raw prospect, but he has the length and ability to stuff the run which will help solidify a Philadelphia interior that played soft at times. The Eagles also have the opportunity to develop Brockers behind the likes of Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Derek Landri and Trevor Laws are both free agents.|
|16||NY Jets||Nick Perry||DE/USC|
|Analysis: Since NYJ head coach Rex Ryan implemented his attacking defense, the Jets have not had a constant edge rushing presence in their version of the 34. The team’s last attempt to address the problem in the draft was Vernon Gholston. Obviously, the team is still looking for the answer.|
|17||Cincinnati (from Oakland)||Peter Konz||OC/Wisconsin|
|Analysis: Both starting guards are free agents in Cincinnati. Peter Konz can play both guard and center at a high level. Kyle Cook has been consistent at center, but he also could be upgraded. Konz is the physical type of lineman Cincinnati usually covets.|
|18||San Diego||David DeCastro||OG/Stanford|
|Analysis: David DeCastro is very highly rated, but he does possess some holes in his game. The Chargers won’t complain since the team’s entire offensive line is in question. DeCastro immediately upgrades one of the guard positions.|
|Analysis: Chicago has been searching for a large target to compliment the wide receivers already on the roster. Kendall Wright doesn’t fit that mold, but his explosive ability is hard to deny for a team which doesn’t possess a legitimate top target of any size or shape.|
|20||Tennessee||Janoris Jenkins||CB/North Alabama|
|Analysis: The uncertain fate of Cortland Finnegan helps make this selection. Janoris Jenkins has top ten ability, but he developed a few bad habits against inferior competition. The former Florida Gator would help build one of the better young secondaries in the NFL alongside Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner.|
|Analysis: The Bengals and running back Cedric Benson have yet to sit down and negotiate a possible return. Benson, a free agent, is already on the wrong side of 30 years. Lamar Miller could provide added insurance or start out of the gates.|
|22||Cleveland (from Atlanta)||Dwayne Allen||TE/Clemson|
|Analysis: Cleveland lacks offensive play makers, period. The team is in need of wide receivers, but tight ends are currently en vogue around the league. Dwayne Allen can provide match-up problems for opposing defenses while rotating among the Browns’ numerous two-tight sets.|
|23||Detroit||Stephon Gilmore||CB/South Carolina|
|Analysis: Ndamukong Suh and Detroit’s defensive line gets all of the attention, but the Lions’ secondary has been woeful in recent years. A defense is built from front to back, but cornerbacks still need to cover at least a little bit. Stephon Gilmore would be a step in the right direction. Gilmore has all the physical ability to be a No. 1 cornerback in the league, but he’s struggled with inconsistency.|
|Analysis: Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin already decided to move Marcus Gilbert from right to left tackle. Willie Colon restructured his contract. Maurkice Pouncey is the rock in the middle. Brandon Washington is a massive yet athletically gifted guard/tackle who should fit in nicely with the Steelers revamped offensive line.|
|25||Denver||Devon Still||DT/Penn State|
|Analysis: Broderick Bunkley was a nice surprise for Denver in 2011, but he is a free agent. The Denver defensive interior was very thin on the depth chart past Bunkley. Devon Still is arguably the most well rounded defensive tackle in the class and should start immediately.|
|26||Houston||Alshon Jeffrey||WR/South Carolina|
|Analysis: It was easy to see the difference in Houston’s offense when Andre Johnson wasn’t available. Johnson has been a workhorse, but he needs a running mate. Kevin Walter has never proven to be that guy. Alshon Jeffrey should pair with Johnson to become a scary combination.|
|27||New England (from New Orleans)||Melvin Ingram||DE/South Carolina|
|Analysis: Is there a more perfect prospect for Bill Belichick to mold? Ingram has the ability to play defensive tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. The South Carolina product should add a consistent pass rush, something New England lacked over the past few seasons.|
|28||Green Bay||Whitney Mercilus||DE/Illinois|
|Analysis: Whitney Mercilus led the nation in sacks last year with 16. Clay Matthews III had a down season, in part, due to Green Bay’s lack of a true bookend. Mercilus may be better with his hand in the dirt at the moment, but some scouts believe he can be an outside linebacker in the Packers’ version of the 34.|
|Analysis: Ray Lewis can’t play forever. He just can’t. Eventually time will catch up with the future Hall of Fame linebacker. Dont’a Hightower is ideal replacement as a thumping mack linebacker in the middle of Baltimore’s imposing 34 defense.|
|30||San Francisco||Rueben Randle||WR/LSU|
|Analysis: Too much of the blame fell on Alex Smith’s shoulders after the NFC championship game. The quarterback didn’t necessarily cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl, but a lack of play makers on the outside surely did. Rueben Randle quietly went about his business this year at LSU. He has the size and surprising initial burst off the line to become a top target in the NFL.|
|31||New England||Fletcher Cox||DT/Mississippi State|
|Analysis: Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Shaun Ellis and Gerard Warren surrounded Vince Wilfork in Super Bowl XLVI. Those names don’t exactly invoke Richard Seymour. Or even Ty Warren. Fletcher Cox has the length and versatility to mold into a top 34 DE.|
|32||NY Giants||Luke Kuechly||LB/Boston College|
|Analysis: A former Boston College assistant coach once described Luke Kuechly’s instincts for the football as “Ed Reed-like.” Despite the Giants tremendous run to another championship, a gaping hole exists at MLB (sorry, Chase Blackburn). Kuechly is smart, productive and a Boston College product — everything Tom Coughlin loves.|
|33||St. Louis||Mohamed Sanu||WR/Rutgers|
|35||Minnesota||Zach Brown||LB/North Carolina|
|36||Tampa Bay||Alfonzo Dennard||CB/Nebraska|
|39||Washington||Brandon Weeden||QB/Oklahoma State|
|44||Kansas City||Josh Norman||CB/Coastal Carolina|
|46||Philadelphia||Vontaze Burfict||LB/Arizona State|
|47||NY Jets||Alameda Ta’amu||DT/Washington|
|48||New England (from Oakland)||Kelechi Osemele||OG/Iowa State|
|49||San Diego||Joe Adams||WR/Arkansas|
|50||Chicago||Mike Brewster||C/Ohio State|
|51||Philadelphia (from Arizona)||David Wilson||RB/Virginia Tech|
|53||Cincinnati||Bobby Wagner||LB/Utah State|
|57||Denver||Brock Osweiler||QB/Arizona State|
|58||Houston||Jerel Worthy||DT/Michigan State|
|59||New Orleans||Kevin Zeitler||OG/Wisconsin|
|60||Green Bay||Jayron Hosley||CB/Virginia Tech|
|61||Baltimore||Stephen Hill||WR/Georgia Tech|
|62||San Francisco||Andre Branch||DE/Clemson|
|63||New England||Leonard Johnson||CB/Iowa State|
|64||NY Giants||Orson Charles||TE/Georgia|
The seven rounds are complete but due to the lockout everyone is sitting around on their hands, just waiting. We offer some recent news as to what may happen with the UDFA’s as well as why some players slipped. 5/17: An honest opinion on Da’Quan Bowers
-The opinions on Da’Quan Bowers remain wide and varied almost a month after the draft has ended. Published reports have some saying his career is already over and Bowers won’t play in the NFL- an opinion we don’t share. Sources from the Bowers camp gave us an honest assessment; its’ a 50-50 shot for the Clemson underclassman. If his knee responds as Shaun Rogers did, who had a similar procedure on his joint, Bowers will have a long career. Otherwise it could be a situation similar to Willie Howard, who spent two years in the league before his career was cut short by the same type of injury.
-Many, including ourselves, were surprised when North Carolina senior cornerback Kendric Burney went undrafted. Some based his drop on his pedestrian forty time at the combine in which Burney ran a hand time of 4.71-seconds. That’s part of the reason, though former SJSU corner Dwight Lowery was selected in the middle frames with similar speed. Lack of size was also an issue yet poor interviews at the combine loomed large in the decision by teams to stay away. Sources told us Burney came across as not admitting to, or seeing the wrong doing, of the violations which resulted in his six game suspension.
– We were equally surprised when Stefen Wisniewski was taken in the second round by the Raiders. Teams have openly said if the Raiders, who recently hired Stefen’s uncle, former All Pro Steve Wisniewski as the teams assistant offensive line coach, had not selected him in round two the Penn State senior would have slid into the fourth frame. The belief amongst most is nepotism was in play.
– Other major sports outlets are now picking up on the story we posted here and on twitter May 2nd; teams were speaking with agents and players about potentially signing them after the draft if they were not selected during the seven rounds after the lockout was reimposed. As we mentioned in our original report one team talked dollars and cents with an agent about a player, who was later chosen in the late rounds. What will become of this? Most we spoke with said nothing.
– The football world anxiously awaits the decision from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether they will grant the owners a stay or lift the lockout. Most in the know told us the longer it takes for a decision to come down the more likely the court will not lift the lockout, especially with this same court setting a June 3rd date to expedite the overall matter. The longer the lockout looms the worse the situation gets for the undrafted players. Several sources have told us if the 8th Circuit Court rules in favor of the owners in the next few days, as many expect, it could deliver a death blow to all but the top UDFA’s on the market. The reasoning in simple and understandable; teams will eventually turn to players that had previously been in camp in the past or even seasoned veterans who they were going to, or had recently, cut ties with rather than invest the time in players that are basically foreigners to a franchise. The fact all the UDFA’s have missed several weeks of exposure to position coaches is critical, and the longer these players are locked out the less valuable they become.
– A three judge panel in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals St Louis is reviewing the NFL labor dispute today and most we spoke with expect a ruling sometime tomorrow. If the panel decides the lockout remains in effect not much is expected to happen. If the lockout is lifted numerous sources have told us the league could start signing undrafted free agents by Thursday or Friday of this week.
– We spoke with a half dozen agents who told us they and/or their players were contacted by NFL teams during the final day of the draft on Saturday, probing interest to sign specific players as undrafted free agents if they went unselected after the seven rounds were completed. In one instance the source told us a franchise spoke specific terms on the contract that would be offered once teams received the green light to sign undrafted players. In the other instances both players and agents were told teams would be calling once given the go-ahead by the league.
– Why did several high profile players slide out of the draft or unexpectedly slip into the late rounds? Seemingly it centers around one word at this point; injuries. Tackle Lee Ziemba and tight end Virgil Green were both red-flagged with injuries as were running back Derrick Locke and receiver Terrance Toliver. This harkens back to something we posted and stated in interviews after breaking the story of Nick Fairley’s injury during the combine; teams were going to be leery selecting injured players in the draft when they could not monitor them due to the lockout.
After eleven months of scouting film, making phone calls and general stressing out- besides the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, Combine and Pro-Day Workouts, draft day has finally arrived. We’ll be updating this page over the next three days and posting on Twitter as information comes in. 4-28/6:45PM: More on Jets & Vikings
– Word is the Kansas City Chiefs are set to take Phil Taylor with the 21st pick of the draft. This is bad news for the New York Jets who have Taylor atop their wish list. The latest from the Jets war room is head coach Rex Ryan is lobbying hard for the team to take Brooks Reed/DE-OLB/Arizona but the front office has a lower grade on Reed and feel he’s a bit of a reach at 30.
– There are a lot of nervous nellies in the Tennessee Titans war room. The team wants quarterback Jake Locker but feel taking him with the 8th pick of the draft could blow up in their face and are afraid of making a mistake coming off the Vince Young debacle. There best case scenario would be a trade down to spots 14-through-18 then tabbing Locker. Problem is the Minnesota Vikings would scoop up Locker with pick number twelve.
– The ninth pick of the draft is the one in play as we alluded to the past month and the Dallas Cowboys will do all they can to move the choice. The big suitors right now are the St Louis Rams, if receiver Julio Jones is available, or the Miami Dolphins, if one of the quarterbacks slides. Sources have told us Miami would part with 2012 picks if necessary to move up for the quarterback. Dallas would then trade down and, in all likely hood, take an offensive lineman. The name of Gabe Carimi has been mentioned the past two months but lately the name of Nate Solder has also entered the conversation. The Cowboys plans include picking up a veteran tackle when free agency begins.
– What will the Cowboys do if they can’t move the 9th pick? We reported last week Cameron Jordan is on the list and can now tell you JJ Watt is also being considered.
–Cameron Jordan is the hot name as we move towards the start of the draft, and justifiably so. The Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets all covet the highly rated lineman.
– We’ve posted last week that the Minnesota Vikings are considering Da’Quan Bowers with the 12th choice if they cannot land a quarterback. In conversations the past few days sources close to the situation have told us Bowers and Aldon Smith are the top choices of the defensive coaches while the front office is leaning towards Cameron Jordan. Some members of the Viking hierarchy feel the need at quarterback is too great and are pointing towards Jake Locker.
– For months sources have told us the Jacksonville Jaguars want a bigger defensive end versus a smaller pass rusher. Yet there’s been nothing we’ve heard to this point that makes us believe Jacksonville would seek a trade up for either Cameron Jordan or JJ Watt, the top two players that fit the desire. Previously the names of Cameron Heyward and Adrian Clayborn were talked about in the conversation for the 16th pick. The surprise choice could be Muhammad Wilkerson.
– As far as the New York Jets are concerned; sources have told us while the team would love to move up for Cameron Jordan they just don’t have the ammunition to do as much considering all the draft picks they’ve traded away in recent years. That being the case sources have told us all signs point to Baylor tackle Phil Taylor with the 30th pick, if he’s available. Taylor is building some late momentum and could end up being selected by either the Kansas City Chiefs or New Orleans prior to the Jets pick.
– The player sitting atop the San Francisco 49ers wish list at this moment is Patrick Peterson of LSU.