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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Seven First Round Pass Rushers, Arizona Solidifies Their Offensive Line

One of these Stanford Cardinals could become an Arizona Cardinal. I'll give you a hint, it's not Luck (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
One of these Stanford Cardinals could become an Arizona Cardinal. I'll give you a hint, it's not Luck (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Its Super Bowl week, and unfortunately we have seen the last of the Arizona Cardinals playing this season after last Sunday's Pro Bowl. The Cardinals were represented admirably by our three representatives Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson. With only one game remaining, a rematch of one of the greatest Super Bowl upsets in history, most Arizona Cardinal fans have fully turned their attention to the NFL Draft, with perhaps a small interlude this Sunday to watch the New England Patriots and the New York Giants battle for the Lombardi Trophy. In this, the third installment of Revenge of the Bird's 2012 Mock Draft, the same rules will be in effect as the previous two mock drafts: No trading positions and only teams whose positions have been secured will be mocked. Ladies and Gentlemen, lets get mockin'!

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

1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. All signs point to the Colts selecting the Stanford standout with the first pick in this years draft, especially considering Manning's apparent unimproved health and his recent public discord with Colts owner Jim Irsay. Unfortunately for Luck, he will have to follow an Indianapolis legend and future Hall of Famer in Manning. With the amount of hype surrounding Luck, he will have a hard time living up to expectations, but still should provide a solid foundation for the Colts to build around.

2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT, USC. Speaking of best prospects at a position for years. The Rams have their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford, now they need to build an offense around him. They start the process here by taking the athletically gifted offensive tackle, Matt Kalil. Kalil should be a staple on the Rams line for many year, and should keep Bradford upright against even the best pass rushers of the NFL.

3. Minnesota Vikings - Morris Claibourne, CB, LSU. The Vikings would have loved for Kalil to fall to them, and very well could get the chance to land him should the Rams trade away their pick for a team hoping to land RG3. Instead, the Vikings land a very talented defensive back prospect in Claibourne. Claibourne has the potential to become an elite shut down cornerback for the Vikings and has good enough ball skill to creating his share of turnovers.

4. Cleveland Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma. If Blackmon falls to the Browns, they may stick with McCoy for another season, and give him some weapons to truly evaluate the former Texas Longhorn. Blackmon is a very talented all around receiver, combining above average physical attributes in nearly every measurable with his great ball skills and body control. With a legitimate receiver in Cleveland, McCoy may finally be able to live up to his potential.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Riley Rieff, OT, Iowa. Rieff is a very good tackle prospect. He has the potential to be a very good left tackle, but has the physical skill set to become an elite right tackle. With 2011 Pro Bowler Donald Penn manning the left tackle position, Rieff can slide into the right tackle spot from day one and solidify the Bucs tackle position.

6. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Washington would absolutely love for Griffin to fall to six, however that seems very unlikely. All six teams selecting in front of them have, or drafted this year, their quarterback of the future, minus perhaps Cleveland. However, without trade ups, arguably the second best player in this draft falls to a quarterback needy team in Washington. On draft day, look for several teams trying to trade up to land the Baylor standout.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. During Senior Bowl practices and the game itself, Coples proved that, when motivated, he is an elite pass rushing and run stopping defensive end. The pass rushing deficient Jags grab Coples with the seventh pick in hopes that they can motivate him to become a playmaker on their defense.

8. Miami Dolphins - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. Miami will take a good look at Alabama running back Trent Richardson, but go with Martin instead after the emergence of Reggie Bush and having selected Daniel Thomas in the second round last season. Martin, like Rieff, slides into the right tackle spot with former first overall pick Jake Long on the left side. Martin and Long could very well become a Pro Bowl tackle tandem for the Phins.

9. Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. The Louisiana State defensive tackle has been soaring up draft boards recently, and now finds himself ninth overall to the Carolina Panthers. Many at this point in the draft process woudl argue Brockers is the best player available at ninth, and he fits a need in the Panthers defense on the interior defensive line.

10. Buffalo Bills - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama. The Bills aren't very good at keeping their draft interests a secret. After publicly displaying their interest in drafting Clemson running back C.J. Spiller for the 2010 NFL Draft, the Bills have again publicly made it aware that they are looking for a pass rusher in this year's draft. Well, the highest ranked pass rusher is National Champion outsider linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

11. Kansas City Chiefs - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. Jamaal Charles is an excellent back, but there are some concerns coming out of Kansas City about how Charles will hold up after having surgery on his torn ACL. The Chiefs select Richardson with this pick and when he is matched up with Charles, the Chiefs will have the deadliest running back tandem in the NFL.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois. In my last mock draft, I had Mercilus going one pick later to the Cardinals as an outsider linebacker. Mercilus now climbs up one pick to play defensive end in the Seahawks 4-3 defense. Whitney Mercilus is an excellent pass rusher and run stopper and should further improve Seattle's young and imposing defense.

13. Arizona Cardinals - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. The Cardinals finally go back to fixing their offensive line with a first round pick since Levi Brown was selected fifth overall in 2007. DeCastro is a terrific offensive guard prospect, excelling in both pass protection and run blocking. He should be a starter on day one and makes our interior line much stonger in his likely replacement of Rex Hadnot as the starting right guard. This pick fits Whiz's best player available approach that has worked so well in recent years, and DeCastro has the potential to become a perennial Pro Bowler, the first starting Pro Bowl lineman for the Cardinals since Lomas Brown in 1996 (Although Levi Brown was an alternate in 2009).

14. Dallas Cowboys - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. Kirkpatrick starts to fall a bit after his marijuana possession charges. Dallas is in dire need of a cornerback, and may overlook character issues to land a very talented corner in Kirkpatrick.

15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. The Eagles biggest weakness is their linebacking core. If you look at any other spot on their team they have great players, but on any defense, linebacking is of the utmost importance. Kuechly is a near replica of our very own Daryl Washington, a speed linebacker with great instincts, and a tackling machine.

16. New York Jets - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. Adams is starting to rise on most boards after a a strong Senior Bowl week and should excel on a physical Jets offensive line. With Pro Bowler D'Brickashaw Ferguson a mainstay at the left tackle position, Adams can slide into the right tackle position, a position in which he should prosper.

17. Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. Were it not for off the field troubles, Jenkins could be fighting with Claibourne for the top cornerback in this years draft class. Instead, the talented Jenkins falls to the Bengals, who will gladly take the value Jenkins provides and overlook some of his red flags.

18. San Diego Chargers - Nick Perry, OLB, USC. The Trojan pass rusher has started to climb up most draft boards and will likely settle anywhere between 10 and 20, depending on who you talk to. The quickest way to improve a defense is to generate consistent pass rush, and the Chargers get it here with Perry.

19. Chicago Bears - Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. While Jeffery does fall a bit here, he is still an excellent wide receiver prospect. Suffering from poor quarterback play at South Carolina, Jeffery still managed to hold his first round draft status, and should become a very good possession receiver for Jay Cutler. Jeffery likely has the best hands in the draft.

20. Tennessee Titans - Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia. DeCastro is by far the best offensive guard in the draft, but that is not a slight on Glenn, it just shows how good DeCastro played this season. Glenn is still a great guard prospect and very deserving of a first round selection.

21. Cincinnati Bengals - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. The Bengals may become a future power house in the AFC. Already having a very good young defense, with the addition of Jenkins, and boasting a sophmore quarterback wide reciever combination of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Bengals add another great young piece to their offense. Wright could be an elite slot receiver, similar to Wes Welker, but with better speed.

22. Cleveland Browns - Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina. Brown falls a bit in this draft because his position does not hold the same appeal as the earlier selections. However, Brown is a great fit in a 4-3 defense as a weak side linebacker. He is the best pass coverage linebacker in the draft, and is solid in run defense.

23. Detroit Lions - Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. One of the only weaknesses on this young, albeit slightly undisciplined, defense is the cornerback position. Dennard is an great zone coverage cornerback prospect, who is also above average in man coverage. He possess a great motor and good focus, which allows him to create turnovers.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina. Ingram had a very impressive showing during the Senior Bowl and may climb even higher after the combine and pro days. Ingram has excellent strength and pass rushing technique, but is a little slow and can be hurt by poor snap anticipation.

25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT, Penn State. Still is becoming one of the most difficult players to mock. Mock Drafts have him going almost anywhere in the first round. His draft status, at least at this point, should be hurt by injury forcing him to miss the Senior Bowl, but is still a great prospect and should be a force on the interior defensive line for the Broncos.

26. Houston Texans - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The addition of Floyd to an already impressive Texans offense further pushes them towards Super Bowl favourites for next season. With an offense that already boasts Matt Shaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Arian Foster and Ben Tate, Floyd should find himself in one on one scenarios quite often, and should be able to win that matchup.

27. New England Patriots - Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Barron is the only safety prospect worthy of a first round selection, and should be selected at some point in the first round, as he won't likely be passed by both of the Patriots first round draft picks

28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson. The pass rushing first round cupboard is starting to become bare, but the Packers still manage to get a great prospect in Branch. Some concerns may arise about his ability to transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, but if all else fails, the Packers could always use Branch as a 3-4 defensive end.

29. Baltimore Ravens - Vontaze Burfict, ILB, ASU. During the Senior Bowl many scouts were asked about the controversial Sun Devils linebacker. Of those scouts, the majority still maintained that Burfict was a first round draft pick, although not as high as he could have been. Instead, he falls to the Ravens and Ray Lewis, who will look to mold Burfict into the elite inside linebacker he can be.

30. San Francisco 49ers- Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia. We all know that the front seven of the 49ers is one fo the best groups in the NFL, and that group does a great job hiding a weaker secondary. The 49ers grab a great corner with the 30th pick, and continue to add to their already great defense.

There you have it, the third edition of the Revenge of the Birds 2012 Mock Draft. Next week we'll have a full mock draft with the completion of the regular season. Any thoughts on this mock draft? How do you feel about the Cardinals selecting David DeCastro?