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Sobleski's mock draft

April 22, 2012
By BRENT SOBLESKI - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

1. Indianapolis - Andrew Luck, QB Stanford

The decision has already been made. Andrew Luck will be a Colt (as if it were even in question). Now the Colts will attempt to rebuild their franchise like they once did with Peyton Manning in 1998.

2. Washington (from St. Louis) - Robert Griffin III, QB Baylor

The Redskins paid an exorbitant price to trade up to this selection and secure the services of RGIII. Griffin will soon be the face of the franchise for Washington. His athleticism and arm talent are a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan's offensive scheme.

3. Minnesota - Matt Kalil, OT USC

Christian Ponder is the future of the franchise after the Vikings' selected the quarterback No. 12 overall in last year's draft. There are murmurs Minnesota may actually like cornerback Mo Claiborne more, but protecting the QB with a legit franchise-caliber left tackle is holds a higher value.

4. Cleveland - Trent Richardson, RB Alabama

Without a true quarterback worth this selection, Cleveland must find a way to establish an offensive identity. Richardson is arguably a better overall prospect than Adrian Peterson when he came into the league. Richardson immediately gives the Browns a legitimate threat on offense.

5. Tampa Bay - Morris Claiborne, CB LSU

The Buccaneers best cornerback remains 37-year old Ronde Barber. Aqib Talib has legal issues. And Eric Wright was massively overpaid in free agency. Morris Claiborne is an elite talent and one that should immediately upgrade Tampa Bay's secondary.

6. St. Louis (from Washington) - Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State

The Rams will sit here and consider the wide receiver or a defensive lineman. This draft is particularly loaded at defensive tackle, while Justin Blackmon is arguably the top wide receiver in the class. St. Louis needs to add play makers for quarterback Sam Bradford.

7. Jacksonville - Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina

Wide receiver Michael Floyd may actually be the best option here based on Jacksonville's needs, but general manager Gene Smith prefers prospects with clean backgrounds. Floyd has three alcohol related incidents in his past. Gilmore is a reliable and talented cornerback that can cover in multiple schemes.

8. Miami - Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M

If Ryan Tannehill doesn't land here, there will be plenty of people scratching their heads. Miami desperately needs a quarterback. Plus, Tannehill's former head coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, is now the offensive coordinator with Miami. It's a match made in Aggie-land.

9. Carolina - Fletcher Cox, DT Mississippi State

Carolina is sitting pretty with its choice of the draft's top rated interior defensive lineman. Fletcher Cox continued to rise up boards after he declared early for the draft. He is one of those rare interior defenders that shows a burst, can get to the quarterback and yet is big enough to hold up against the run.

10. Buffalo - Luke Kuechly, LB Boston College

Buffalo desperately needs a left tackle, but it's believed they're not enamored with any of the talent past USC's Matt Kalil. Instead, the team wants to continue and rebuild its defense around the likes of Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus. Kuechly can step in from day one at middle or weakside linebacker and rack up 100-plus tackles.

11. Kansas City - Dontari Poe, DT Memphis

There are a finite number of men on this planet with the combination of size and athleticism Dontari Poe. And those few men generally play nose tackle in the NFL. Poe is nearly 350 pounds and moves around the field effortlessly. He could be the missing piece Kansas City has lacked in the middle since it went to a 3-4 defensive front.

12. Seattle - Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame

Despite the rivalry between Notre Dame and USC, Michael Floyd never played against Pete Carroll's USC teams. It doesn't mean Carroll isn't aware of Floyd's talent. Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver would give Seattle the No. 1 caliber wide receiver it currently lacks for whatever quarterback is finally named the starter.

13. Arizona - David DeCastro, OG Stanford

Arizona head coach Ken Wisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm were spoiled during their time in Pittsburgh with Alan Faneca at guard. The Cardinals even brought Faneca into the fold during the twilight of his career. DeCastro is often compared to Faneca, and he would instantly help a makeshift Arizona offensive line.

14. Dallas - Mark Barron, S Alabama

Most fans couldn't name anyone in Dallas' secondary now that Terence Newman is no longer a Cowboy. And Abe Elam, who started at safety last year, remains unsigned. Mark Barron is a massive safety who is a punishing tackler. He was also the vocal leader within of the most complicated college defenses in the country.

15. Philadelphia - Michael Brockers, DT LSU

The Eagles will attempt to get bigger and stronger against the run in this draft. Michael Brockers is the best run down defender available. Brockers declared as a raw redshirt sophomore, but the interior tackle will have time to develop within the Eagles' defensive line rotation.

16. NY Jets - Melvin Ingram, DE South Carolina

Melvin Ingram is man of many talents. He played defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker last season for South Carolina. New York head coach Rex Ryan is known for his creative defenses, and Ingram would be used in a variety of ways to help the Jets' lackluster pass rush.

17. Cincinnati (from Oakland) - Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina

Cincinnati's defensive end position is littered with players that haven't lived up to their talent levels. Quinton Coples is a similar talent, but he possesses tremendous upside to become a potential elite pass rusher if properly motivated. He would be an easy choice for the Bengals.

18. San Diego - Nick Perry, DE USC

Larry English never lived up to his potential after being a first round draft pick by San Diego in 2009. The Chargers are still looking for a bookend to Shaun Phillip. Nick Perry is the best pure pass rusher in the draft, and he has the athleticism to develop into a 3-4 outside linebacker for San Diego.

19. Chicago - Courtney Upshaw, DE Alabama

It's hard to find a perfect team pairing for Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw played as a 3-4 outside linebacker at Alabama. Many project him more so as a 4-3 defensive end at the next level. The Bears simply need to add pass rush ability opposite Julius Peppers. It doesn't matter if it comes from a future defensive end or strongside linebacker.

20. Tennessee - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama

Tennessee lost one of the league's feistiest cornerbacks when Courtland Finnegan signed a massive free agent contract in St. Louis. Kirkpatrick is also a tough cornerback. He's also very talented, particularly in zone schemes. Kirkpatrick is bigger and possesses more natural talent to replace Finnegan.

21. Cincinnati - Cordy Glenn, OT Georgia

Bobby Williams had a great run at right guard for Cincinnati. Williams spent the last eight seasons with the Bengals. Now, Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis needs another massive interior blocker to replace Williams. Enter Cordy Glenn. Glenn would pair with Andre Smith to form a right side which tips the scales at 680-pounds of humanity.

22. Cleveland (from Atlanta) - Riley Reiff, OT Iowa

The Browns have an absolutely gaping hole at right tackle after they cut veteran Tony Pashos, who many believed needed replaced anyhow. Browns' GM Tom Heckert places a high value on offensive linemen and Martin is believed to be favorably rated on their board. Reiff would step in day one and start on the strongside for Cleveland.

23. Detroit - Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois

One thing is certain, Detroit isn't afraid to take the best player available. See: Fairley, Nick. The Lions desperately need cornerback and offensive tackle help. Neither is readily available. And it's not too much of a stretch to see Whitney Mercilus here considering Cliff Avril is on a one-year contract and Kyle VandenBosch's age.

24. Pittsburgh - Dont'a Hightower, LB Alabama

A more ideal fit within Pittsburgh's vaunted defense cannot be found. Steelers' fans will reminisce of Levon Kirkland days at linebacker. Hightower is 6-2 and 265-pounds with experience in a pro style 3-4 defense while at Alabama. He's also punishing downhill tackler and blitzer.

25. Denver - Jerel Worthy, DT Michigan State

Jerel Worthy is an underappreciated talent in this draft class. The defensive tackle was arguably the most disruptive defender in the nation last season. While newly minted Bronco Peyton Manning could certainly use another weapon or two, Denver is in dire need to add legitimate talent at defensive tackle. Jerel proves worthy of the selection.

26. Houston - Stephen Hill, WR Georgia Tech

Here's a scary thought. Let's pair the game's top wide receiver, Andre Johnson, with a 6-4 215-pound target that runs a legitimate 4.3 forty-yard dash in Stephen Hill. Houston's offense is already one of the best in the league, but if Hill can properly develop then the Texans can take it to another level.

27. New England (from New Orleans) - Chandler Jones, DE Syracuse

Chandler Jones could be a throwback for New England head coach Bill Belichick. Jones would play outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. His size and athleticism is reminiscent of Willie McGinest. The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since it lost both McGinest and Mike Vrabel as outside pass rushing threats.

28. Green Bay - Shea McClellin, OLB Boise State

While watching Shea McClellin play at Boise State, one name comes to mind - Green Bay's Clay Matthews III. McClellin's style of play for the Broncos is eerily comparable to Matthews' while he was at USC. Thus, it's not hard to put two and two together here slotting McClellin to the Packers.

29. Baltimore - Peter Konz, OC Wisconsin

The possible addition of Peter Konz will help Baltimore on two fronts. The Ravens must replace one of the better guards in the league, because Ben Grubbs left in free agency. Konz could initially start at guard. And Matt Birk is entering his 15th season playing center in the NFL. Konz will then slide to the pivot when Birk retires.

30. San Francisco - Coby Fleener, TE Stanford

The 49ers' brass recently admitted they have one particular player they're targeting at this slot. Due to Fleener's perceived draft value and Harbaugh's history with the tight end as his former coach, he is the prime target. Fleener and Vernon Davis in the same offense is a scary proposition for opponents.

31. New England - Kevin Zeitler, OG Wisconsin

A few years ago, the Patriots surprised everyone by taking Logan Mankins late in the first round. Granted, it may be more surprising if they actually held onto this pick based on their penchant for trading back. But, Zeitler is the style of mauling lineman that the Pats should like enough to improve their aging interior.

32. NY Giants - Jonathan Martin, OT Stanford

One of the top reasons for the Giants' success in recent years has been consistency along its offensive line. But, the line is now aging and suffered through injuries last season. Martin could easily slide into Kareem McKenzie's old right tackle spot and help the G-Men remain solid in the trenches.

 
 

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