The Super Bowl is behind us, the 2011 season is finally over and all 32 teams are preparing for next year's run. The Giants win created a special place for themselves in history, but most important for our intentions the win solidified the final two remaining draft positions. Who will Coach Belicheck find as a diamond in the rough at 31? Who will Coach Coughlin (or his successor?) select with the prestigious 32nd pick (it's the only time in history that it's a good thing you're picking last, it's because you're the defending champions). In this, the fourth installment of Revenge of the Bird's 2012 Mock Draft, the same rules will be in effect as the previous three mock drafts: No trading positions and first round picks will be mocked. Without further ado.
The first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft is...
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford. With Peyton Manning packing his bags (for Arizona?) it becomes more and more apparent Colts are looking for Luck in 2012.
2. St. Louis Rams - Matt Kalil, OT, USC. The Rams need Kalil here to keep Bradford healthy for a solid year. They have the right guy behind center, now they need to protect him with the best tackle in the class.
3. Minnesota Vikings - Justin Blackmon, WR, OSU. Blackmon is an all around WR and is an instant star which is needed to take some of the pressure off of the Vikings work horse AP.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama. With Peyton Hillis' contract and Montario Hardesty not stepping up the plate the Browns pick up a future star and allow cap room to open up for free agents if they let Hillis walk away.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. Claiborne is a future lockdown corner and worthy of a top five pick.
6. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. I admit that this looks very hard to actually happen. But with the rules, there are no trade ups. The Redskins gain their QB of the future and an incredible leader with RGIII.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. The Jaguars put weapons around Gabbert to help him grow into the NFL QB they hope he can be and hope to make their running game even more deadly.
8. Miami Dolphins - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford. Martin slides in at RT and creates a tackle tandem with Long that makes Miami and ideal location for Flynn, Manning, or any other QB.
9. Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU. Brockers fills the middle of the field where Carolina was soft in 2011.
10. Buffalo Bills - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama. The Bills have a few needs in the 2012 draft, OT being one, WR another, but pass rusher is the most publicized following a lack of pass rush after being 27th in the league with only 29 sacks. The Bills need pressure on the QB to help lower the total points scored against them after being 30th in the league allowing 27.1 points per game. Upshaw's experience with Alabama and their best defense in the nation will provide an immediate impact to the Bills.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford. The Chiefs look to DeCastro to solidify their line with the best Guard in the class. Adding DeCastro will hopefully allow more time for Matt Castle to stay vertical and open more holes for the running game.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina. The Seahawks traded away former 4th overall pick Aaron Curry and have been lacking consistent pressure on the QB. The Seahawks ranked T-19th with 33 sacks on the season, performance from a first round OLB could wash the bad taste of "Curry" out of their mouths.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa. Reiff has previously been labeled a top 10 talent, but some are questioning his speed and his ability to protect the left side. Depending on Arizona's tackle situation around draft time they could either pick him up and use him as an all-star RT, or try him at LT and slide Levi (if he comes back) to RT to find the best fit. I think Reiff is solid and I would be very happy to see him fall to 13.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama. Jenkins has personality and off the field issues, the Cowboys have a soft secondary and a love for bad boy attitudes. This was a match made in Cowboy heaven.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College. The Eagles grab the best ILB in the draft and solidify a defense that is full of talent. Kuechly could be the missing piece to a championship defense in Philly.
16. New York Jets - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Coples could be an elite pass rusher with motivation and training, exactly what the Jets are best at.
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama. Similar to Jenkins, he has the physical tools, but he also has some troubles off the field. That's where the Bengals fit the bill as the likely suitor for Dre.
18. San Diego Chargers - Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State. - The Chargers were very lucky and may have found their LT of the future when the Chiefs cut Jared Gaither. Now they can add Mike Adams at RT and have a solid line to protect their Pro-Bowl QB and hopefully open up some more running lanes for their RB tandem.
19. Chicago Bears - Don'ta Hightower, MLB, Alabama. Hightower is the second best MLB in the draft and fills the Bears need position of MLB. Urlacher is aging and needs to train his heir, Don'ta is perfect role player who can work his way into that spot.
20. Titans - Melvin Ingram, DE, S. Carolina. Ingram is a pass rusher and fills the need the Titans have to put pressure on the QB.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. The Bengals pick up one of my favorite WRs in the draft to suddenly become an offensive power house in the AFC North. With A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson in the slot, and now Floyd on the edge Andy Dalton will continue to have Bengals fans saying "Palmer who?"
22. Cleveland Browns - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. The Browns answer with a needed upgrade at WR. After the initial pick to upgrade the RB, the Browns arm Colt McCoy with an explosive receiver to either prove himself or at least have the tools in place for the next QB in line.
23. Detroit Lions -Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma. The Lions take Fleming after his incredible Senior Bowl outing. Fleming's stock is on the rise and I would be surprised if he went earlier than 23.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Nick Perry, OLB, USC. Most boards I've seen have Perry going between 9-15, I think he's a talent but I think he'll fall due to the needs of other teams, which is exactly what the Steelers will hope for. Perry is an incredible talent at OLB and will learn with the best pass rushers in the business.
25. Denver Broncos - Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. Allan is a dynamic TE, and rated as the top TE in 2012. He is dynamic as pass catcher and is a good run blocker. With Tebow listed as the 2012 starter the Broncos will need to continue to build an offense to suit Tebow's strengths and Allen will be an important check down who will be a dangerous weapon in 2012. I stand by this.
26. Houston Texans - Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis. The Texans transitioned to a 3-4 defense in 2011, and in the first season they were one of the elite defenses in the league. By adding a true NT to their defense Wade Phillips will have everything in place to compete for a top spot in the league.
27. New England Patriots - Mark Barron, S, Alabama. Barron is a perfect Belicheck guy. I think the Patriots can not pass up the opportunity to pick up the best S in the draft to help rebuild the worst defense in the league. Picking up Barron is perfect beginning to addressing those problems.
28. Green Bay Packers - Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson. The Packers need help on the right side, and Branch is the guy to immediately add a punch to their pass rush.
29. Baltimore Ravens - Vontaze Burfict, ILB, ASU. Burfict is the type of player who will fit in nicely to Ravens, and he will learn from the best in the business how to lead the Baltimore defense as the heir apparent to Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Stephon Gilmore, CB, S. Carolina. The 49ers corners were good, but when the defensive line was unable to smash quarterbacks into the ground they were exposed. Adding Gilmore will be an upgrade in their secondary. I know WR is more of a need position for them, but I believe there are more quality WRs in the draft than CB talents.
31. New England Patriots - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois. The Patriots again seek to upgrade a defense that played very well despite the injuries and lack of talent. With two first rounders the Patriots hope to fix the element that just bit them from winning a Super Bowl.
32. New York Giants - Orson Charles, TE, Georgia. The Giants were using up TEs in the playoffs and found that while both TEs could catch, neither were spectacular. The Giants take Charles to take the Kevin Boss role that has been missing from their offense and makes them even more deadly.
How did we do? The fourth mock is in the books! Now let's hear what you have to say about it...