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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Andrew Luck At The Top, An Unexpected Pick For Cardinals

With two weeks, and two games, remaining in the 2012 season, most Cardinal fans have shifted their focus on the upcoming NFL Draft. Much has been argued here on Revenge of the Birds, when we're not debating Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton, about whom we should draft with our 13th pick, and hopefully this Mock Draft provides a forum for some good draft discussion. The same rules as the previous mock draft will apply from the previous RotB Mock Draft of CardsFan08, only teams whose draft position is secured will be mocked and there will be no mocked trades. For those about to mock, I salute you!

The first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft is...

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. No surprises here as the Colts go with the near universal number one pick. Luck is by far the best quarterback prospect in a long time, combining a strong, accurate arm, very good mobility, comfortablility in a pro style offense, great work ethic, and strong leadership. For the Colts, this is the easy decision in their off season, overshadowed by rumors and speculation about what the intend to do with Peyton Manning.

2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT, USC. Sam Bradford may have had a bad year, but he is still an excellent quarterback prospect, with a bright future ahead of him. His only problem is his supporting cast. The Rams have a large assortment of problems to rectify before this team can become a legitimate contender, and a good place to start would be securing their franchise left tackle with this pick. Kalil is easily the best left tackle prospect since 2008, when Jake Long was selected first overall by Miami. Kalil will protect Bradford`s blindside for years to come.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. The Vikings are in a similar situation to the Rams. They drafted their quarterback of the future last year in Christian Ponder, but lack players around him to maximize his potential. The Vikings address that issue with the number three pick by taking the very talent Justin Blackmon. While Blackmon does not have any truly elite qualities, speed, hands, size, he utilizes his great power with above average ability in all three of those aforementioned qualities to become an elite receiver. Him and Percy Harvin give Ponder more than enough talent at the wide receiver position for many years.

4. Cleveland Browns - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Murmurs have started that Colt McCoy's concussions are far more serious than initially thought, and even when McCoy was on the field, he didn't do enough to outright secure the starting job for himself. While I fully expect a team more desperate for a quarterback of the future to trade up, in this mock, Robert Griffin III falls to the star-depraved city of Cleveland. Griffin III is much like Michael Vick, expect that he makes better decisions with the ball, and has excellent accuracy. With this choice the Browns get an excellent player who could quickly change the fortunes of this team.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claibourne, CB, LSU. For the second year in a row, an LSU cornerback is selected with the fifth overall pick, this time going to the Bucs. However, Claibourne is a very different type of cornerback than the other LSU fifth overall selected cornerback Patrick Peterson. Claibourne fits the mold of the prototypical shutdown cornerback, and seriously improves a young Tampa Bay defense coming off of a disappointing season.

6. Washington Redskins - Riley Rieff, OT, Iowa. More than any other position, the Washington Redskins need a quarterback. Unfortunately for them, both of the highly coveted quarterbacks have already been taken, and the next best quarterback prospect, either Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles, would be major reaches here. Instead, the Skins bring in Rieff to man the right tackle position, with Trent Williams, fourth overall in the 2010 draft, on the left side. Whoever the Redskins bring in to play quarterback next season, won't have to worry much about incoming defensive ends. For an in depth look at Rieff, read khodder's draft profile.

7. Jacksonville - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Another team desperate for wide receiver help takes the star Fighting Irish wide out Michael Floyd. When your teams best wide receiver is Mike Thomas, you know wide receiver is a serious need, and this time, need matches value as the Jags pick up an excellent player. Floyd has good size, good hands, and would add a great possession receiver for Blaine Gabbert.

8. Miami Dolphins - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. The Dolphins get an absolute monster in the running game here in Richardson, who could very well contend with the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson in the debate over who is the best running back in the NFL. Great value here at number nine for the Fins who, despite picking Daniel Thomas at the end of the second round last year, pick up Richardson. Richardson combines incredible strength, with very good speed, elusiveness, pass catching ability, and the tools to be a good pass blocker too. This kid could be something special.

9. Carolina Panthers - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. With the ninth pick, the second member of the national champions, Alabama Crimson Tide, is taken. Although, there is some controversy with this selection. Just last week, Kirkpatrick was arrested for marijuana possession, and with his arrest, many questions were raised pertaining to how it would affect his draft stock. Despite the arrest, Kirkpatrick is the best player available and fills a need on this Panthers defense. He very well may not be taken here, but the value and need match up too well.

10. Buffalo - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama. Following the trend of the Dolphins and the Panthers, the Bills select the third straight member of the Crimson Tide. Upshaw immediately improves a pathetic Buffalo pass rush which ranked 27th in the NFL with 29 sacks. Of those 29 sacks, eight and a half came from the four outside linebackers on the Bills roster. Drafting Upshaw gives the Bills an every down outside linebacker, who can pass rush, play the run, and has the skills to be put in pass coverage, when necessary.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. And there goes the final tackle of the big three, including Kalil and Rieff. The Chiefs are in a very similar scenario as the Redskins, they need a quarterback, but the two big one are gone, and there is no one else who provides good value at 11. Instead, much like the Redskins, the Chiefs select Martin, who will likely man the right tackle spot with Branden Albert at left tackle. Martin excels in run blocking, and is above average in pass protection, so he should be able to protect Matt Cassel(or who ever else is under center) while creating large holes for Jamaal Charles to run through.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Andre Branch, DE, Clemson. The Seahawks also struggled a bit in pass rushing last season, tied for 19th in the NFL with 33. Andre Branch is the prototypical pass rushing 4-3 defensive end with good size at 6-4, 260 pounds, good speed, and is rising very quickly on everyone's draft boards. Unfortunately for Levi Brown, Brandon Keith, and Jeremy Bridges, Branch is a pass rushing fiend, and will easily beat them one on one. The biggest problem with this pick for the Hawks? What to put on the back of Andre's jersey, as he and former Cardinal Alan Branch share the same last name and first initial.

13. Arizona Cardinals - Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois. I think this is a pick that fits the Cardinals perfectly. Horton wants big guys that can run and small guys that can tackle. In Mercilus, he gets that type of player, in the 6-4, 265 pound OLB. Mercilus led the nation in sacks this year, utilizing a plethora of average to great pass rushing moves. This is a good pick for Whiz, because of his preference to let rookies sit and learn their first year. The Cardinals could draft Mercilus, and bring back Haggans to start at OLB and to teach Mercilus the intricacies of playing outside linebacker in the NFL. In Mercilus, the Cardinals get a great pass rushing outside linebacker, who is great against the run, and can be used in pass coverage when needed, but those times are likely to be few and far between, much like DeMarcus Ware who rarely drops into coverage. Mercilus is rising up most draft boards and should have a good showing at the combine, making this a good pick for the Cards.

14. Dallas Cowboys - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. The Cowboys would have loved for Kirkpatrick to fall to them, but instead go with DeCastro. In DeCastro the Cowboys fill a need on the interior line, and pick up a pretty darn good player while at it. DeCastro should become a perennial Pro Bowler, and when paired with Tyron Smith on the left side, the Cowboys have one of the best, young pair of linemen in the NFL.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. The Eagles desperately need linebackers, and start rebuilding with a very good piece in Luke Kuechly. Kuechly is a player almost identical to our very own Daryl Washington, and with his addition to the Eagles, fills in the weak inside linebacker position for years to come. Great value and fills a need here, with the Eagles looking for outsider linebackers and safety help as well.

16. New York Jets - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. Another offensive tackle taken, another team solidifying both tackle spots with great players. The Jets fill a need here with Mike Adams, who will slide into the right tackle spot, with the left side occupied by D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Adams should excel on the right side, and be able to man handle most pass rushers coming of the right edge. For an in depth look at Adams, read khodder's in depth draft profile.

17. Cincinnati Bengals - Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. From last years draft the Bengals appeared to find both their quarterback of the future and number one wide receiver of the future, in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green respectively. However, apart from those two players, the Bengals have very few weapons. Alshon Jeffery would give the Bengals a great possession receiver, and when matched with Green, give the Bengals a great receiver combination, similar to Larry Fitzgerald, Green, and Anquan Boldin, Jeffery.

18. San Diego Chargers - Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. The Chargers absolutely need to get some defensive back help. Quentin Jammer is getting older, and slower, and will likely be moved to safety next season. Perfect pick here for the Chargers as they get a good all around cornerback, with elite speed and great athleticism. Dennard has the potential to be a great play making cornerback due to his good focus and ball skills

19. Chicago Bears - Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers. Sanu is on the rise, big time. Chicago really needs a wide receiver for Jay Cutler, and will fall in love with Sanu. He has all the skills to become an elite wide receiver, good speed, good size, but most importantly good hands. He only played wide receiver for a year, so once his route running improves, he will be a very good wide receiver.

20. Tennessee Titans - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Finally, the fall of Coples comes to an end. The Titans have a need for other positions, such as guard, strong safety, and wide receiver, but the value that Coples provides at 20 is too much to pass up. Coples is a solid every down defensive end, who excels against the run, partyl due to playing defensive tackle last season. Should be a good player for the Titans, and fills a need with great value.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia. With their second first round pick, the first coming from the Carson Palmer trade, the Bengals pick up Cordy Glenn and put one of the final pieces into a very good offensive line. While they would have loved to pick up Dennard at this spot, Glenn will provide excellent run blocking and good pass blocking on the interior line.

22. Cleveland Browns - Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina. While the Browns would love to add a weapon here for Robert Griffin III, no one of good value is available at 22, and the Browns have an early second round pick where they can select a good wide receiver for much better value. Instead, they go for Brown, who will fill the weak side linebacker spot on their 4-3 defense. While Brown is not a pass rusher, he is good against the run game and the pass game, and should provide a great young piece to their linebacking core.

23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. Jenkins is a great cover corner, who can run stride for stride with the fastest wide receivers. The only downfall with Jenkins is character issues, which Detroit seems to live off of. Once again the Lions grab a great player, who has fallen because of character concerns, a should fit in nicely on an already great young defense.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Devon Still, DT, Penn State. Still is a very good defensive tackle, and would instantly fill a major need on the Steelers at the 3-4 nose tackle spot. In my mind, Still will fall a little bit, due to injuries keeping him out of this weekends Senior Bowl, and overall, not a lot of need for defensive tackles, especially over the players already drafted. Regardless, the Steelers get a fine football player, who should become a solid anchor on their defensive line.

25. Denver Broncos - Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama. Another member of the Crimson Tide is gone, this time being stud inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower. The Broncos would have loved if Still fell one pick farther, but instead go for the best player available in Hightower. Hightower should be able to fill in nicely in Denver's young linebacking group of D.J. Williams as a pass coverage linebacker and Von Miller the rookie pass rushing phenom.

26. Houston Texans - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State. Once again, a team fell one pick to late for a perfect player. Instead, the Texans pick up Fletcher Cox, a very talented, but also very raw defensive tackle. Similar skill set to Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions, but not as refined as Fairley was, going into the draft. If Wade Phillips remains in Houston as the defensive coordinator, Cox could be a devastating interior defensive lineman.

27. New England Patriots - Nick Perry, OLB, USC. One of New England's biggest needs is a pass rushing outside linebacker. Well, here they get one, with the pick formerly owned by the Saints, in Nick Perry. Perry is a very good pass rushing prospect, who utilizes his great speed to beat offensive tackles. He should only improve as he develops and learns to use better pass rushing moves.

28. Green Bay Packers - Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State. The Packers desperately need a pass rushing outside linebacker. They likely have the best team in the NFL, if they could effectively rush the opposing quarterbacks. Brandon Jenkins should fill that need. He is a pure pass rusher, utilizing good technique with a good burst off the line to sack opposing quarterbacks. Jenkins also lined up almost exclusively against opposition left tackles, and still provided excellent pass rushing.

29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin. Ravens need a center, Peter Konz is the best center in the draft, simple. The popular pick for the Ravens is ASU standout Vontaze Burfict, but with Ray Lewis unequivocally coming back next season, and plently of later inside linebackers to target, the Ravens lock up the center position.

30. San Francisco 49ers - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Anyone who watched the 49ers NFC Championship loss to the New York Giants knows that wide receiver is a pretty big need. Ironically, the 49ers fill that big need with the little man out of Baylor. Kendall Wright stands 5-10, but overcomes his size with elite speed, great separation, good hands, and good ball skills. Could easily become a very good slot receiver for the 49ers.