The NFL Scouting Combine is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for college football players to impress NFL scouts, coaches and the media, leaving them making breathless comments like, “The fact a guy who weighs that much can be that strong and that fast is fairly ridiculous” and sending their draft stock through the roof.
Unfortunately, those same experts then have two months to go back and look at video of that player in action, which sometimes leads to utterances like, “I mean watch him play, just watch. He didn’t do anything. and he wasn’t playing at a very high level, either,” as their stock crashes back to earth.
Just like any other season, 2012 has its poster boy for this post-combine fall from grace, and he’s among this latest, admittedly tongue-in-cheek, projection for the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: The Colts have reportedly informed Luck that he will indeed be the first overall pick, and given the current the present state of the Colts, offense I bet he just can’t wait to get started. I’d start by practicing running…for your life.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is already meeting with Griffin to help acclimate him to the Redskins offense. hopefully Griffin will then travel to Washington and acclimate the Redskins to winning.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC: If the Vikings take anyone other than the draft’s top tackle prospect quarterback, Christian Ponder will know that the team intends on replacing him next season, because he’s not going to survive this season.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The Browns are beyond desperate for offensive playmakers, and it would make the majority of Cleveland fans happy to see the team draft the 228-pound bell cow after he tallied over 2,000 total yards in 2011. this, of course, insures that it will not happen, as Browns fans are forbidden by the universe from being happy.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: The Buccaneers are trying out Ronde Barber at safety and trying to find someone to take Aqib Talib off their hands before the cops do. that kind of makes the defensive backfield a priority, so the Thorpe Award winner it is.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: with Brandon Lloyd now in new England, neither of the Rams’ top two wide receivers had 900 yards in 2011…put together. that is what is known in technical football-type lingo as craptastic.
After reeling in 100 catches in 2011 and lighting up Notre Dame’s pro day, wide receiver Michael Floyd has laid his claim to the title of top wideout in this year’s draft class, and the 6’3″, 220-pound senior can count among his supporters draft expert Matt Waldman of The Fifth down Blog at The new York Times:
I think he is capable of developing into a physical receiver like the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe, but just a notch below Calvin Johnson in terms of out-of-this-world athleticism. there are a few players capable of approaching this kind of ability in this class, but none are as close as Floyd.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: The Jaguars have been linked to more players in the NFL draft over the past few days than Snooki would be if she were invited to the NFL draft. that said the 6’0″ cornerback fills a need, is shooting up draft boards and has been a favorite of NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock for some time.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: After watching the Dolphins get jilted by every quarterback except Donovan McLookatme in the offseason, you almost want to stop Jeff Ireland from making the mistake of drafting a guy in the top 10 who received the comparison of doom. It’s sort of a glass half-full thing for Dolphins fans. At least the pick will get Ireland that much closer to being fired.
9. Carolina Panthers: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: I have no doubt that the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner will prove the naysayers wrong and become a fantastic receiver alongside Steve Smith with the Panthers. I know this because if he doesn’t, his new teammate may well kick the snot out of him. I’m afraid he’ll come after me just for typing that.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: Harvard-educated quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has presented general manager Buddy Nix with a report based off of a sophisticated computer algorithm that states that Fitzpatrick has a 94.2 percent better chance of being successful if he’s not looking out his earhole.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: The All-American would make an for an imposing duo inside with Derrick Johnson in Kansas City, and Hightower’s experience in the 3-4 would save head coach Romeo Crennel valuable coaching time that could be better spent at Dunkin’ Donuts.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: The Seahawks have fans that are so rabid that they literally cause earthquakes. The All-American defensive end could help Seattle generate a pass rush that would literally cause opposing quarterbacks to break a sweat.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: The Cardinals allowed the second-most sacks in the NFL and need to upgrade their pass protection given their investment in quarterback Kevin Kolb. although, that’s sort of like hiring a better jockey to ride your three-legged horse, only backwards.
Stanford guard David DeCastro is a two-time consensus All-American and one of the best prospects at his position in some time, and Peter King of Sports Illustrated doesn’t see Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm letting DeCastro get past Arizona:
When offensive line coach Russ Grimm sees DeCastro, he sees a young Russ Grimm: nasty, efficient, mistake-free. and though I’m sure that the Cardinals would love to see Michael Floyd fall to them here, the best guard to come out in several years is a good consolation prize, especially for a team that’s had nothing but trouble on the O-line.
14. Dallas Cowboys: mark Barron, SS, Alabama: The Cowboys have a need in the back end of the secondary and have been interested in the draft’s best safety prospect for months. So as long as Jason Garrett can keep Barron from going to the mall with Dez Bryant, this should be a fine pick.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: The Eagles are reportedly “drooling” over Cox, so only two things on earth can stop Philadelphia from taking the 298-pound defensive tackle here: Andy Reid.
16. New York Jets: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: At 6’6″ and 281 pounds, Coples is an athletically-gifted player with questions about his motor and work ethic who would most likely thrive in an environment of structure and discipline. Yep, no way this ends badly.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: If you needed any more evidence that 2012 is the year of the Apocalypse, not only did Mike Brown steal this pick from the Raiders in the Carson Palmer deal, but the Bengals are going to spend it wisely. The end is near, y’all.
18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama: The San Diego pass rush managed only two sacks per game last year, while head coach Norv Turner looked confused at least 11 times per contest. something has to be done about that ratio, and for reasons that are above my pay grade, Turner’s still there, so pass rush help it is!
19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois: The Bears got quarterback Jay Cutler a weapon by reuniting him with Brandon Marshall (who hasn’t slugged anyone in over a month, so get off his case), but after missing out on Mario Williams in free agency, the defensive line still needs a boost.
Some experts questioned whether All-American defensive end Whitney Mercilus was a one-year wonder after he exploded for 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 2011. But Mike Mayock told mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times that he sees more than just one fluke season when watching the 6’4″ 261-pounder on tape:
However, when you look at what he is on tape, he’s a natural pass rusher. He’s a natural edge rusher. He’s got excellent take-off. He understands how to work up the field. He’s one of the most gifted natural pass rushers in this draft.
20. Tennessee Titans: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC: only one team in the National Football League accrued fewer sacks last year than the Tennessee Titans, so at this point, not only does the 2011 Pac-12 sack champion look good to the Titans, but they’d probably draft Luke Perry or Tyler Perry if they thought either could get after the passer.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: At this point in the draft, I don’t know what to do. Up is down. right is left. The Bengals make another solid selection and fill a big need on the offensive line with an even bigger lineman, and everything I know about how the NFL works gets thrown into chaos.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College: Along comes my beloved Browns to restore order to the cosmos, drafting a middle linebacker even though they just overpaid the one they already have.
This actually wouldn’t be a horrible pick, though, and the 349 combined tackles that D’Qwell Jackson and Kuechly had last year will come in handy while the Cleveland defense is spending 58 minutes a game on the field in 2012. besides, I like the kid, so sue me.
23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: This pick could be a win-win for both sides. The Lions would get a badly-needed infusion of talent into their defensive backfield, and apparently, potential new teammate Mikel Leshoure knows how to roll in the Motor City…literally.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis: The Poester boy we alluded to earlier (thanks folks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server), Poe’s draft stock has come crashing back to Earth after some began to question whether his huge combine but pedestrian production was an indicator of a player who ran like Tarzan but played like Jane.
That is, if Jane weighed 346 pounds and could bench press 225 pounds 44 times—in which case we’re going to need a bigger vine and Tarzan better behave himself.
However, if there’s a landing spot where the Memphis standout might realize his Poetential (I’ll stop now, I promise), it’s in the Steel City. with Casey Hampton coming off January ACL surgery, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Poe could make sense as the next nose tackle in Pittsburgh:
Poe, 6 feet 4, 346 pounds, is considered the best nose tackle in the draft next week. and nose tackle is one of two positions in the Steelers defense — a replacement for James Farrior at inside linebacker is the other — that could be immediately addressed with the top pick.
Five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton is coming off surgery to his anterior cruciate ligament and is likely in his final year with the Steelers.
25. Denver Broncos: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: According to Pro Football Focus, starting center J.D. Walton was the worst starting center in the NFL last year by a significant margin. with the reign of King Peyton I now underway in the Mile High City, there’s no way that Manning will sully his digits by touching the posterior of an inadequate protector of his forehead.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wright’s stock has cooled after poor workouts at the combine and Baylor’s pro day, and the Texans already have a speedy receiver who can return punts in Jacoby Jones. Wright would, however, give Houston an offensive dimension that Jones cannot, in that Wright can, you know, catch.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints): Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: It may seem strange that the 322-pound Brockers, who some view as a top-10 talent, could fall this far. however, after landing the NFL’s easiest schedule in 2012 despite a Super Bowl appearance in 2011, I’ve learned not to underestimate the evil power of Bill Belichick.
28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State: The Packers defense ranked dead last in the NFL a season ago due in large part to a pass rush that was less a rush and more a “please hurry.” The 260-pound all-conference performer should help in that regard. although, there are questions as to whether or not he could be effective on a green field.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: The Ravens have a need at the wide receiver position, and that’s all I have to say on the subject. It’s bad enough I may already have Steve Smith after me without angering a guy who once missed all of two games after having his face ripped off.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Amini Silatolu, OT/OG, Midwestern State: Not only does Amini Silatolu sound like the name of an offensive lineman, but he comes from a school that sounds like it would have commercials on TV at four in the morning. I mean both as compliments, and Silatolu has the makings of a steal here.
31. New England Patriots: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida: Trying to predict what the Patriots will do with two first-round picks is like asking me what an Aborigine would do with an iPhone. I’ve never seen an Aborigine use an iPhone, but they have the sense to stay alive in the Outback and could probably at least call Skip Bayless to call him an idiot.
Therefore, by that same train of logic (which derailed along with the rest of this mock about 30 picks ago), if the Patriots use both of their first-round picks, I’ll assume that they have the sense to realize that their secondary sucks.
32. New York Giants: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: When your starting running back hasn’t even really started running yet and is already getting bone marrow injections in his “perfect” feet, that’s generally a good time to consider adding depth at the position.