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EIGHTH ANNUAL ‘15 MINUTES’ MOCK DRAFT
April 26, 2012 - Ray Eckenrode
Disclaimer #1: This is the longest blog in “15 Minutes” history.
Disclaimer #2: We’re not draft “experts” here at 15 Minutes blog. We’re fairly successful educated guessers. (We once predicted the Steelers first-round selection for three consecutive seasons.) The following mock NFL draft was constructed using information culled from the writings of talent evaluators, media in the cities involved, expert mocks and our own observations about trends and tendencies in the NFL. For the first time ever, this mock contains several guest picks. These are who we think each team WILL pick, not necessarily who they SHOULD pick. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Please, no wagering.
#1 Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
#2 Washington Redskins select Robert Griffin III , QB, Baylor
#3 Minnesota Vikings select Matt Kalil,OT,USC
#4 Cleveland Browns select Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
#5 Tampa Bay Bucs select Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
#6 St. Louis Rams select Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
#7 Jacksonville Jaguars select Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
GUEST PICKER: If you see Mirror sports writer/parenting columnist/headline writer extraordinaire Scotty Franco sporting an NFL jersey, don’t assume he’s a fan (he just owns a lot of jerseys), unless it’s a Dolphins jersey. He’s also a draftnik so we knew we’d get the real scoop from him on the next pick:
#8 Miami Dolphins select Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Blogger’s note: There’s no doubt the first round could change dramatically based on this pick. And for no one more than Tannehill, who could fall another 15-20 spots (a la Aaron Rodgers) if he doesn’t go at #8.
#9 Carolina Panthers select Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
#10 Buffalo Bills select Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
#11 Kansas City Chiefs select Don’t’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
#12 Seattle Seahawks select Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
#13 Arizona Cardinals select David DeCastro,G, Stanford
#14 Dallas Cowboys select Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
#15 Philadelphia Eagles select Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
#16 New York Jets select Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
GUEST PICKER: How do you end up a Bengals fan growing up in western Pennsylvania in the ‘80s? Ask Kurt D’Andrea (@dandrea15 on Twitter), extreme athlete, medical researcher and all-around nice guy, who’s been bleeding orange and black since he was a kid in Carrolltown (and now pulls off the rare Pirates/Bengals/Sabres fan trifecta). Here’s his take on the Bengals first of two picks this round: #17 Cincinnati Bengals select Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
#18 San Diego Chargers select Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia
#19 Chicago Bears select Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
#20 Tennessee Titans select Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
#21 Cincinnati Bengals select Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
#22 Cleveland Browns select Kendall Wright WR, Baylor
GUEST PICKER: Altoona Curve General Manager (and Michigan native) Rob Egan and the Lions find themselves in a very strange place here: outside the NFL Draft Top 10. And with pieces in place on both sides of the ball, a sold choice could have them picking even later next year. Imagine that.
#23 Detroit Lions select Jonathan Martin, T, Standford
Blogger’s note: These has been chatter the last few days that the Lions might trade this pick to the Ravens so they could jump ahead of Pittsburgh to grab Dont’a Hightower. Obviously, Hightower is long gone in this mock, but as we told Rob, should that scenario unfold, the Lions are dead to us.
STEELERS PICK: In making this selection, we took several things we know about the Steelers history and trends into consideration. First, is the trend in the Colbert-Tomlin era to go with BCS-conference players, especially with the first choice (you have to go back to Big Ben in 2004 (and Troy Edwards before him in 1999) to find someone not fitting that bill, some would say the trend started with William Shakespeare from Notre Dame in 1936). Second, is consideration of repeated examples in the past two seasons where Steelers management action aimed at the offensive line did not match the media and fans sense of urgency about same. And, third, and most important, is this simple question: Where have the Pittsburgh Steelers drawn their identity for the past 20 years? From pass rushing linebackers, of course. So, without further ado…
#24 Pittsburgh Steelers select Nick Perry, OLB, USC
Other possible picks: It might turn out Pittsburgh likes Clemson DE Andre Branch better as their pass rusher of the future (both visited the South Side) or this could be where Todd Haley gets a lovely housewarming gift in the form of Stanford TE Coby Fleener. If they do go OL here, it’s likely to be a slight reach for one of two guards, Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler or Midwestern State’s Amini Silatolu, although in this scenario, Iowa’s Reilly Reiff might also be in play at tackle. We should probably also mention Ohio State’s Mike Adams, an early favorite in this spot, who we assume fell out of favor after he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine (although no one from Pittsburgh’s front office has confirmed he’s off their board).
AN ALTERNATE VIEW: For a different perspective on the Steelers pick, we consulted brother John (@CdrEck), an officer (in the U.S. Navy), a gentleman and a rabid and knowledgeable Steelers fan. He did not know our pick when he made his.
Will pick: Nick Perry, OLB, USC. According to Kevin Colbert, the Steelers don't draft for “need” they draft for “want” and they want players. Perry is the best player on the board and fits perfectly with Steelers 3-4 as OLB. With James Harrison aging and talk about Jason Worilds moving inside, Perry will contribute right away on special teams and learn from two of the best OLBs in the game in Harrison and Lamarr Woodley.
Should pick: Reilly Reiff, OT, Iowa. If Reiff is still available at 24 he is a steal. The Steelers have ignored their offensive line woes for far too long. Reiff can be a day one starter at RT which will allow them to kick Willie Colon inside to guard and finally, if they can stay healthy (I'm talking about you Maurkice Pouncey), field a quality offensive line.
#25 Denver Broncos select Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
#26 Houston Texans select Reilly Reiff, T, Iowa
#27 New England Patriots select Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
#28 Green Bay Packers select Andre Branch,DE, Clemson
#29 Baltimore Ravens select Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
#30 San Francisco 49ers select Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
#31 New England Patriots select Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
#32 New York Giants select Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Biggest riser: Luke Kuechly at #10.
Tomorrow: We’ll be back with quick, first round thoughts and projections on the Steelers second- and third-round selections.