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Your Draft, It’s Mocking Me

April 16, 2012

By Ross Mitchell

The NFL Draft is by far my favorite off-the-field sporting event of the year. You can have your selection Sundays, your NBA Draft Lotteries, your various All-Star game festivities. Nothing wets my pallet like filling New York’s Radio City Music Hall with college football‘s best, waiting for whatever species Roger Goodell is to call their name, and don their new team’s cap. I’ve spent entire weekends watching Chris Berman fill airtime with superfluous observations; live interviews with players at remote sites, conducted with equipment you know isn’t synched properly; Joe Thomas walking onto a fishing boat with his father; Mel Kiper Jr. brutally draining the blood out of his latest victim while avoiding daylight. I’m not saying Mel Kiper is the Count from Sesame Street, but I’ve never seen them in the same place at the same time. All physical comparisons to necromancers aside, both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay do an tremendous job scouting the collegiate prospects. ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft is actually very informative. Those two really do their research, unlike some other people at that network.

This year’s draft has a slew on interesting storylines: Who will go number one overall? Will a team in need of a quarterback trade up for Ryan Tannehill? What will happen with the Saints post-Bountygate? Who will overreach? Can the Minnesota Vikings get their pick in on time? Well here at The PUP List we, like so many other publications have taken our time to compose our inaugural NFL Mock Draft. We will draft under the presumption the draft order remains the same, though that is highly unlikely. You know what is likely though? Ozzie Guillen praising Fidel Castro days after his franchise’s new ballpark opens in Little Havana. “It’s just Ozzie being Ozzie,” his apologists say. Well maybe being Ozzie is a problem. Here’s hoping he doesn’t Twitter-blast The PUP List (or does, we could use the publicity):

1. Indianapolis Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford University

The Colts have to take Luck. He was named the 2012 Week 1 starter the day the Colts put Peyton Manning on IR back in September 2011. There wasn‘t a national campaign entitled “Dippin’ 4 Griffin”, it was “Suck 4 Luck”. Now do I believe Andrew Luck is significantly better than Robert Griffin III? I do not. I will go so far as to say it is too close to tell which QB is A) more pro ready and B) has more of an upside. Here’s the most striking differences in their games as I can tell: Luck has the best mechanics I have ever seen from a quarterback coming out of college. Griffin is a world-class sprinter. Everything else is a coin flip. But similar to the Colts selection of Edgerrin James over Ricky Williams back in 1999, the good people of Indianapolis will take to the streets with torches and pickaxes if Jim Irsay does not deliver the franchise “savior” they have been promised for over half a calendar year.

2. Washington Redskins (From St. Louis)- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor University

I remember saying seven weeks into the college football season that perhaps the most impressive statistic I had heard in recent memory was RG3 having more touchdown passes than incompletions after five full games. Think about the absurdity of that statistic. All Griffin III did from that point on was win the Heisman Trophy and propel Baylor to one of, if not their greatest seasons in school history. If I absolutely had to pick between Luck and Griffin III I would pick Luck. But I fully acknowledge that could be the wrong pick. I think he has better pocket presence and a better understanding of a Pro-style offense than Griffin III at this point in their careers. However Luck will never possess Griffin III’s speed. The Washington Redskins gave up a king’s ransom to acquire the rights to select who I assume will be the Baylor Bear, but I think he is worth it. I initially thought they gave more than they needed to, which still might be true, but after signing Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to help compliment Santana Moss and Fred Davis, the Redskins have surrounded Griffin III with enough weapons to succeed out-of-the-blocks. Now if only he can dethrone Rex Grossman…what’s that? He did? That was easy.

3. Minnesota Vikings- Did Not Get The Pick In On Time

Here we go again…

4. Cleveland Browns- Trent Richardson, RB, University of Alabama

For the longest time I had the Browns selecting Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. There is still a strong possibility they could (and follow up with fellow OSU Cowboy Brandon Weeden in the second round to compete with Colt McCoy for the starting QB gig). Three things have swayed me in recent days; 1. Peyton Hillis signed with the Kansas City Chiefs; 2. Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya are the only two running backs on the roster; 3. the Browns have two first-round picks. Richardson is just an absolute animal. If you’ve never seen footage of him in the weight room check it out. If you didn’t have an inferiority complex before, you will. Richardson catches well out of the backfield, blocks, and has explosive first-step speed. I rate him higher than former Alabama Crimson Tide teammate Mark Ingram (who the New Orleans Saints took in the first-round last year). In my mind he is the closest prospect coming out of college to Adrian Peterson since Adrian Peterson.

3. Minnesota Vikings-

Still no pick submitted.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State University

Let me begin by saying whoever leaked Claiborne’s Wonderlic Test (an aptitude test used by NFL GMs and front-office personnel) is gutless. The kid took a test poorly, to expose him to the scrutiny he will undoubtedly face and potentially cost him millions of dollars should any General Managers be scared off only reveals the lack of moral fiber of whoever went public this information. And for the record these test results are not generally made public. Can anyone tell me what Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Dwight Freeney, Laurent Robinson, Rob Gronkowski, or Brian Dawkins scored on their Wonderlic tests? Claiborne was by far the best defensive player in the NCAA last season. By far. Teams didn’t throw to his half of the field because he took it away. If Tampa Bay passes on Claiborne simply because of his Wonderlic (and that would be the only reason because they desperately need a shutdown cornerback) it would be a travesty. Then again this franchise hired Greg Schiano when they could have hired anybody else. And this is purely speculation but I wouldn’t be surprised if another GM leaked Claiborne’s score hoping to scare off Tampa Bay so they could draft him. Hacks.

3. Minnesota Vikings- Matt Kalil, OT, University of Southern California

Better late than never. Kalil is the prototypical bookend left tackle every organization seeks to have blocking for their franchise quarterback. Whether you believe QB Christian Ponder fits that bill, his job will be made easier with Kalil protecting his blind side.

(Wait…are you serious? I have to pay Sandra Bullock royalties to use the term “blind side”? Since when? Ben Grubbs doesn’t even play left tackle anymore. I know it was Michael Oher, it was a joke! Okay, then I want my money back for Speed 2)

Whether you believe QB Christian Ponder fits that bill, his job will be made easier with Kalil protecting the side in which he is not facing and therefore cannot see. I have Kalil ranked well above last year’s top tackle (and former USC teammate) Tyron Smith, but not nearly as high as tackles Joe Thomas or Jake Long.

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

The Rams elected not to get involved in they Peyton Manning sweepstakes because new head coach Jeff Fisher has confidence in Sam Bradford. After a great rookie campaign Bradford fell victim to the dreaded “Sophomore Slump“. Being hurt all season didn’t help, neither did having no one in which to throw. Blackmon, I feel, is a playmaker who can win jump balls down field and fight off a jam at the line of scrimmage. He isn’t the best route-runner and will need to improve that aspect of his game, but he has a terrific work ethic and fights until the echo of the whistle. I have him as the third most talented player in the draft and to get him here would be a coup for the Rams. Unfortunately I think Jeff Fisher is terribly overrated. He, Mike Shanahan, and Mike Singletary can ruin a quarterback like no one’s business.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Quinton Coples, DE, University of North Carolina

Do not be surprised if the Kansas City Chiefs or Arizona Cardinals trade up to this spot and draft Ryan Tannehill. Neither franchise is sold on their current starting quarterback (Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb, respectively). There are four players the Jaguars could choose from here; Coples, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, and Whitney Mercilus. I think Coples and Ingram are the most versatile; able to play both outside linebacker in the 3-4 or defensive end in the 4-3. Coples has the size advantage and is just slightly faster than Ingram (based on their NFL Combine 40-yard dash times; Coples ran a 4.78, Ingram a 4.79), so the Jaguars go with him.

(By the way, no one wastes a first-round draft pick like the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not even the Chicago Bears. Here are some of the draft-day “gems” in recent history (with the jury still out on Blaine Gabbert): Tyson Alualu, Eugene Monroe, Derrick Harvey, Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and R. Jay Soward)

8. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Tennehill, QB, Texas A&M University

Assuming he is still on the board the Dolphins take Tennehill. As effective as Matt Moore was at the conclusion of the 2011 season, he is the same Matt Moore who averaged 120 yards-per-game in Carolina over three seasons. Tennehill is a work-in-progress. He only played one full-season as starting quarterback for the Aggies. He will need to spend hours-upon-hours in the film room and on the practice filed to finely tune his quarterbacking skills. He is a great athlete having played wide receiver for two seasons in College Station, Texas and has the arm strength and accuracy to make any throw. Again, it comes down to the technicalities of the game and how well he adapts at the next level.

9. Carolina Panthers- Dontari Poe, DT, University of Memphis

I just read every Mock Draft on NFL.com and ESPN.com and they all have the Panthers taking Poe. It’s an obvious choice. To quote Count Mel Kiper, “The Panthers need to find a force that [can stop the run]. Poe has freakish athleticism that will inspire Haloti Ngata like comparisons but what I like here is versatility…Defense has to be a priority, starting up front”. Ron Rivera is one of the more innovative defensive minds in the National Football League and will have no trouble creating match-up nightmares for opposing offensive lines by lining Poe up in different gaps and at both the 3-technique and 4-technique defensive tackle positions.

10. Buffalo Bills- Riley Reiff, OT, University of Iowa

I tried to come up with potential trade possibilities which Buffalo could entertain, then I realized Reiff is too good to pass up. This is exactly what they need, tenfold now that OT Demetress Bell signed with Philadelphia. Reiff has the biggest mean streak in the draft, is a good athlete, and can start right away. I feel he can be as good as if not better than Kalil and will provide an immediate impact on a Buffalo team that all of the sudden could compete for a wild card berth. Another possibility here is Malcolm Floyd. The two deepest positions in this year’s draft are wide receiver and offensive tackle. If the Bills do draft Reiff, which I predict they will, I see them targeting South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffrey or LSU’s Reuben Randle in the second round.

11. Kansas City Chiefs- Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Another obvious pick. The Chiefs were absolutely horrendous up the middle on defense last season. Kuechly is the only thoroughbred in a thin class of interior linebackers. If there was a defensive award to be given out Kuechly likely won it. He brought home the Butkus Award (Best Linebacker in collegiate football), set the Boston College and Atlantic Coast Conference career tackle record, the Lombari Award (best collegiate linebacker or lineman), and was a consensus first-team All-American I once ate 8 hot wings in under two minutes. Again, the Chiefs could try to trade up if they do not believe Cassel is their QB of the future (even though they gave him a sizeable contract before the 2010 season). If not, they address their biggest need with Kuechly.

12. Seattle Seahawks- Malcolm Floyd, WR, University of Notre Dame

There are a lot of options here for a team that finished the 2011 regular season playing as well as any team in the NFL. They could select Stanford Guard David DeCastro to replace the departed Robert Gallery, but they recently signed Deuce Lutui. They could bolster what I feel is a top-ten defense by adding a pass-rusher or cornerback. However if you are going to spend $26 million on Matt Flynn shouldn’t you surround him with the best talent available (or pull a Jerry Angelo and add no one for four years)? Floyd had a monster combine and continues to skyrocket up Big Boards. Now some people will counter with “But the Seahawks drafted Notre Dame alum Golden Tate two seasons ago and he stinks!” To this I say, A) that has nothing to do with anything, stop wasting my life, and B) thank you for proving my point. Sydney Rice had one good season that looks more-and-more like a product of Brett Favre throwing him the ball. Doug Baldwin had mild success, Ben Obomanu had rare success, and Deon Butler had no success. Adding Floyd gives Flynn a reliable weapon to throw to when he isn’t handing off the Marshawn “Taste the Rainbow Beast Mode” Lynch.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Cordy Glenn OG/OT, University of Georgia

The Cardinals have a need at offensive tackle and offensive guard, and lack depth at wide receiver. This is a classic case of “need” versus “want“. The Cardinals need to add linemen up front to make Kevin Kolb more comfortable. I still think he’s a bit shell-shocked from the concussion he received from Clay Matthews Week 1 of the 2010 season when he played for Philadelphia. The Cardinals need to improve upon their 24th ranked run offense. Chris “Beanie” Wells actually had a very nice season in 2011, accumulating 1,047 rush yards and 10 rush touchdowns in 14 games. But the ground game was still something defenses found a way to negate when the Cardinals needed it the most. Last I checked Larry Fitzgerald still wore the redbird on his helmet, Early Doucet re-signed, Andre Roberts came on strong in the last quarter of the season. In the last ten years the Cardinals have spent 2 first-round draft picks and one second round pick on the offensive line. Help them out. Glenn is a massive blocker who can play both guard and tackle. Putting a man of his physical stature upfront will surely help Arizona in the running game where they were so woefully lacking in 2011.

14. Dallas Cowboys- Mark Barron, S, University of Alabama

In 2011, the Cowboys secondary was torched more times than the cast of Rescue Me and Backdraft. Terrance Newman, Gerald Sensabaugh, Abram Elam, and Mike Jenkins should be given honorary Super Bowl rings based solely on their performances against the Giants in which they allow a total of 746 passing yards in 2 games! In Week 14 Tony Romo threw for 321 yards, Eli Manning dropped 400. In Week 17 with the division title and a playoff berth on the line, in Cowboy Stadium, Romo threw for 289 yards, Manning threw for 346. Those numbers are almost unfathomable considering the pressure the Cowboys front-seven generates. They have DeMarcus Ware, the best pass-rusher in football, and yet they allowed 244.1 pass yards per game, good for 23rd in the league. Awful. This off-season the Cowboys have already added Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Brodney Pool, then released Newman, who I feel was only lauded as one of the league’s elite cover-corners because he played for Dallas. Barron is the only safety worth taking in the first round. He has above average speed (4.57 40-yard dash at his Pro Day), is a phenomenal tackler, and is good in coverage. He did have some durability issues in college but nothing that appears to be lingering. Barron reminds me of a player he will no doubt be compared to if he is selected by Dallas; Darren Woodson.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- Courtney Upshaw, LB, University of Alabama

The DeMeco Ryans signing is huge. If he comes back at even ¾th of the player he was before injury the Eagles defense has added a perennial Pro Bowler for a pittance. But linebacker is still a position in which the Eagles are extremely thin. And they are going to need all the help they can get because Andy Reid failed to replace Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator. The definition of “insanity” is repeating the same process and expecting different results. Maybe Castillo proves me wrong and the Eagles defense returns to the level of excellence they had while under the tutelage of the late great Jim Johnson. If he doesn’t it could cost both Castillo and Reid their jobs. Here’s my take on Upshaw; if you’ve ever played football you can just look at certain people and know getting hit by them will be one of the worst experiences of your life. That rule of thumb applies here. Upshaw is a brick wall who can run. Every time I watched Alabama play this season, ball-carriers would literally crumble under his supreme force. He’s the type of football player any coach would love to have. And both he and Ryans went to Alabama, so…yeah, that means nothing.

16. New York Jets- Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, University of South Carolina

I tried to convince myself the Jets would draft a big target for either Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow to throw to, but that would be a prudent course of action and therefore the Jets are disqualified. Here’s the Jets off-season so far:

1. Numerous Jets players including team captain Santonio Holmes publicly reveal their lack of confidence in Sanchez. Amongst their criticisms they say he is “not a leader”;

2. Try to sign Peyton Manning due to a lack of confidence in Mark Sanchez;

3. Fail to do so;

4. Give Sanchez a three year extension to help smooth things over between him and the front office (though nothing has been done to alleviated any awkwardness between Sanchez and the players in which he shares a huddle);

5. Let Plaxico Burress leave via free-agency, taking away the only big target on the team;

6. Sign Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator;

7. Trade a 4th and 6th round pick for Tim Tebow;

8. Hold the largest press conference for a backup quarterback in the history of press conferences.

The Jets receiving corps consist of Santonio Holmes, the guy who “supposedly” mishandled Ryan Braun’s drug test, Saturday Night Live cast member Andy Samburg, and Fireman Ed. Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill is a logical choice, so would Appalachian State’s Brian Quick who is skyrocketing up experts’ Big Boards. Even Baylor’s Kendall Wright would be an upgrade despite the fact he is virtually the same “burner” style receiver as Holmes. But Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum will go defense and take another defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. Ingram is great off the edge and will be in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but the Jets will still be behind the New England Patriots and possibly the Bills and Dolphins in the AFC East because they have no one to catch the ball. Assuming the quarterbacks can get it to them.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland)- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford University

This is a steal for Cincinnati. DeCastro is the best guard in the draft and can make an instant impact for what is already a playoff team. Who better to provide interior relief (a term that could be used in a Tums commercial) for Andy Dalton than the man who kept Andrew Luck upright for three seasons? DeCastro is quick, strong, athletic, and bulldog tough. Not bad when you find the highest ranked player at his position at 17th overall. The Bengals also need help at running back but they have another pick just around the bend. And before I forget, this is one of the Carson Palmer picks. Also not bad considering Andy Dalton is currently better than Carson Palmer. This just in: Carson Palmer was picked off for a touchdown.

18. San Diego Chargers- The next Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Darren Sproles, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, or Donnie Edwards

And then A.J. “The Lord of No Rings” Smith will let him leave via free agency because he is a big man.

18. San Diego Chargers- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, University of Alabama

Most Mock Drafts have the Chargers drafting an offensive tackle or an outside, pass rushing linebacker. In my mind the Chargers’ greatest Achilles heel was not being able to hold a lead late in games. Kirkpatrick is a tough, physical corner who has great size (6’2”, 186 lbs.) and speed. He has a knack for the big play and isn’t scared to take on the tough assignment. He was as big a part of the Crimson Tide’s National Championship winning defense as Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower, or anyone else who took the field for the Crimson Tide.

19. Chicago Bears- Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State University

I hate myself. I want to drink a jug of wine then vomit all over myself as a means of penitence. The Bears have much more pressing needs than defensive tackle. They have the emerging Henry Melton and 2nd year player Stephen Paea. They need to give Jay Cutler another target to throw to, they need to keep him upright. They need another edge-rusher or a shutdown corner back. Defensive tackle? What a waste. But here’s how I came to this conclusion (and no, it didn’t involve smoking anything). The Bears under Lovie Smith have never been better than when Tommie Harris was wreaking havoc up the middle of opposing teams’ backfields. As promising as Melton and Paea have looked at times, they don’t have the upper-body strength to rival Cox. Cox is also an explosive force and dominated the SEC. Adding him would give Rod Marineli another dimension on the defensive line, and in the NFC North, a division with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, and in the Cover-2, a defense whose success is predicated on getting pressure on the other team’s quarterback, the pass rush cannot be strong enough.

20. Tennessee Titans- Michael Brockers, DT. Louisiana State University

The Titans had 28 total sacks last season, good for 31st in the league. They also ranked 24th against the run allowing 128.3 yards per game. Words such as woeful, lackluster, and impotent have been attributed to their defensive line’s performance. In addition, they lost cornerback Cortland Finnegan to St. Louis via free agency. This defense is in need of a major overhaul. Their first step should be to replace defensive end Jason Babin whom they lost to Philadelphia after the Lockout ended. Not to say they must pick a defensive end, but someone for which the other team’s offense has to account. Picking a defensive end here is a possibility, but Brockers is a huge body and can give the Titans what they once had with Albert Haynesworth. Chris Johnson will not be holding out (hopefully) and Kenny Britt is coming off of a season ending knee injury, so the offense should have guarded optimism. If I were the Titans GM, and it’s only a matter of time before I am, I would inject an influx of young talent on the defensive line, starting with a run stopping, Vince Wilfork-esq albatross like Brockers.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Lamar Miller, RB, The “U”

The Bengals finished 2-4 against the AFC North last season with both victories coming against the Cleveland Browns. In their four division losses (twice against both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens) the Bengals leading rusher, Cedric Benson, tallied a total of 201 yards. That isn’t going to cut it. The Bengals have allowed Cedric Benson to seek employment elsewhere while signing former New England Patriot BenJarvis Green-Ellis. As much as I like Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard in backup and situational roles, neither can reliably tote the rock twenty times a game. Miller is an explosive back who can chance a game on a single play. He is a bruising back (227 lbs) with breakaway speed. There are questions about his pass-catching ability and his propensity to put the ball on the turf, but between the tackles and in the open field he should give the Bengals a dimension they have been lacking since Rudi Johnson. Yes, I made a Rudi Johnson reference.

22. Cleveland Browns- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor University

While some are quick to replace Colt McCoy by trading up for Ryan Tennehill or drafting Brandon Weeden or Brock Osweiler in the second round, keep in mind McCoy had no legitimate receiving threat to take the top off of a defense and no running game to rely upon when opposing defenses had their ears pinned back, hell-bent on rushing the passer. Greg Little will get better, Muhammad Massaquoi belongs in the NFL, even tight end Evan Moore made a few plays here-and-there, but they are still among the weaker receiving corps in the league. Adding a pure burner like Wright will keep defenses honest. He is the one player at Baylor last season who could compete with Robert Griffin III in a footrace. If you do not respect his speed he will make you pay. He also has fairly good hands. His route running needs to be refined and he comes from a spread-style offense, but he has a good work ethic and is “coachable”. If the Browns decide to draft Trent Richardson 4th overall, they have added two offensive mainstays and give everyone wearing the Cleveland Brown “orange” a better chance at success. Or they draft Kyrie Irving.

23. Detroit Lions- Lionel Hutz- Defense Attorney, Springfield University Online

Three Detroit Lions (all from the 2011 draft class) have been arrested for possession of marijuana. I’m not taking a shot at them. I would not be in the least bit surprised if the majority of players in the National Football League smoke marijuana. Nor are their hardships amusing. But this goes back to team leadership. Who is their team leader? Calvin Johnson? Matthew Stafford? Jeff Backus? I know it isn’t head coach Jim Schwantz. If there is a less likable coach in the NFL I’d like not to meet him. He lets his players have free reign, never reprimands them when they step out of line, and seemingly encourages them to take the cheap shot and embrace the “thug” nature they have portrayed since Schwantz took over in Motown. Maybe Rodger Goodell should send whomever investigated the New Orleans Saints bounty system to Detroit.

23. Detroit Lions- Stephon Gilmore, CB, University of South Carolina

Eric Wright and Chris Houston were alright at times but neither was particularly effective down the stretch or in the playoffs. Gilmore is skyrocketing up the Big Boards and getting him at twenty-three is a bit of a steal. He is another big cornerback who has had success in man-to-man and zone coverages. I’m not sold on his ability to jam the bigger receivers at the line of scrimmage and his play in press and press-man coverages. However, he is a ball-hawk who could capitalize on the frenetic play of Detroit’s front-seven. Oh, by the way, Detroit is once again the third-best team in the NFC North. Da Bears!

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford University

There’s a strong possibility that the Cardinals could draft Martin instead of Cordy Glenn, in which cases I’d substitute in Ohio State tackle Mike Adams. Martin did a phenomenal job of protecting Andrew Luck’s blind si…side in which his view is impaired…frickin’ Sandra Bullock. He needs to improve his footwork and improve his pad level when pulling, but he’s good enough to start from the first minute he is on the practice field. Yet I feel the Steelers should strongly consider drafting a running back. Skokie, Illinois native and friend of The PUP List Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL toward the end of the 2011 season. Will he be ready by the September kickoff? If he isn’t the two running backs on the Steelers’ roster are Isaac Redman and John Clay. Who? Exactly. And even if Mendenhall is can play, you cannot expect him to be “healthy”. With new offensive coordinator Todd Haley installing his run-first offense, having a bonafide running back to relieve Mendenhall is probably a good idea.

25. Denver Broncos- Tim Tebow, QB, University of Florida

Nope. My bad. I didn’t hear he was traded to the New York Jets. That really went under the radar.

(Right now I’m furious because ESPN.com has a “Tim Tebow Tracker” on the right column of Kiper’s latest Mock Draft. I didn’t click on it because I’m a self respecting human being. I really do blame Skip Bayless for “Tebowmania“. Remember when Bayless was the best journalist in sports? I actually wrote another paragraph about this topic but I’ll save that for another article. But everyone should know Bayless was the first column I read on a daily basis and he, Bill Simmons, and Michael Wilbon are the columnists I try to emulate the most)

25. Denver Broncos- Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State University

Worthy has had some off-the-field issues which have raised red-flags in some front offices around the league. But he is a disruptive force and would be a perfect fit where the Broncos need help the most, up-the-middle. I won’t deny the Broncos defense gave Tebow his stage to pull off those miraculous 4th quarter comebacks, but there were multiple times last season, specifically against high-powered, spread-offenses (such as New England and Detroit) where they were blown off the field by halftime. Peyton Manning will bring stability to an offense which led the league in 3-and-outs. Defensive tackle is a need and Worthy is…“worthy” of this spot! I apologize.

26. Houston Texans- Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

I still feel the Texans were the best team in the AFC last season. Their Pro Bowl quarterback, Pro Bowl defensive end, Pro Bowl middle linebacker, and backup quarterback were all placed on Injured Reserve. Their best receiver (and one of the three best receivers in the game) missed nearly the entire season and was never 100% when he returned. Their defense was amongst tops in the league in every defensive category despite starting two rookies and they have the best running back in the world. They won a playoff game with their third-string quarterback and have a nasty offensive line. They are my favorites to win the AFC this season in 2012. Adding a huge wide receiver with sub-4.5 forty-yard dash speed to compliment Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Owen Daniels will only make them more dangerous.

27. New Orleans Saints- Sean Payton, Head Coach, Eastern Illinois

Too soon?

27. New England Patriots (From New Orleans)- Illegally Placed Cameras, Kodak Films

Too soon?

27. New England Patriots (From New Orleans)- Chandler Jones, DE/LB, Syracuse University

Jones is undeveloped and does not have a predetermined position, but he has eons of talent and could help a Patriots defense which can be described in no other terms than awful. Anyone who said the stats are misleading and the Patriots defense was better than the numbers gave them credit for was looking through the rosiest colored lens this side of Elton John’s wardrobe. If Bill Belichick wasn’t the head coach of the Patriots they wouldn’t have made the playoffs. This side of the ball needs to be addressed and it needs to happen now or New England’s days of participating in the Super Bowl, and possibly the playoffs are in jeopardy.

28. Green Bay Packers- Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, University of Illinois

Mercilus is a one-year wonder who tore up the Big Ten with his high motor and gifted athleticism. To clarify, calling him a one-year wonder is not to say he will not derive success in the NFL, but that until this past season he was largely a developmental student-athlete. I’m always weary of these types of players. Mercilus’s former Fighting Illini teammate Corey Liuget was selected by the Chargers in the first-round after one year of elite production and managed just one sack in his rookie campagin. Some players are late bloomers, some are products of their system, collegiate scouting isn’t an exact science. I do project Mercilus contributing to the Packers should they select him. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebacker coach Kevin Greene are two of the best coaches in football, at any level. The Packers defense is quite the quandary though. One year they are of Super Bowl championship ilk. The next have more trouble getting to the quarterback than I do running the Boston Marathon. The Packers may also draft a safety if Nick Collins is forced to retire (injury). It is a weak safety class, but more importantly Collins is one of the elite safeties in the league and for his career to be cut short would be a shame.

29. Baltimore Ravens- Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB, Ball So Hard University

Ball so hard!

29. Baltimore Ravens- Peter Konz, C, University of Wisconsin

Losing Ben Grubbs to New Orleans means the Ravens are in need of an interior offensive lineman who can create running lanes for Ray Rice and keep the interior pressure away from Joe Flacco. Konz, a center by trade who would have to play “out of position”, is another in a long line of Wisconsin Badger linemen who will have instant success at the professional level. He is big and athletic, quick off the ball and has a diverse skill set, meaning he can play either guard positions as well as center. Baltimore remains a front runner to come out of the AFC. In a division with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, providing your quarterback with a clean pocket to throw and keeping him away from duress is the best way to get back to, and potentially win the AFC Championship game.

30. San Francisco 49ers- Kevin Zeitler, OG, University of Wisconsin

San Francisco has to be the favorites to win the Super Bowl in 2012. While I do believe teams such as the Bears, Texans, Packers, and Ravens will be in contention to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy at year’s end, the Niners have taken a 13-3 defensive juggernaut, a team that hosted the NFC Championship game and was two special teams gaffs away from playing in the Super Bowl, and added arguably the most talented wide-receiver of all-time (Randy Moss), another veteran receiver (Mario Manningham), a bruising running back (Brandon Jacobs), and kept the core of their team intact. Their biggest weakness was lack of playmakers in the passing game and they added two. They also added two players (Manningham and Jacobs) who beat the 49ers in the playoffs and won a Super Bowl. The one position the organization needs to tend to is right guard and Zeitler can make what is already an elite offensive line the best in the league. Another Badger, Zeitler adds a toughness and poise not usually seen in a colligate turned pro. At 6’4”, 315 lbs., he brings leadership and headiness with his massive frame. It’s almost unfair a player this good is available this late to a team that is already this well equipped.

31. New England Patriots- Derek Wolfe, DT/DE, University of Cincinnati

Again the Patriots go defense. They could select a cornerback to play along side Devin McCourty (such as North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins), but their pass rush needs all the help it can get. Wolfe can play anywhere in the Belichick’s 3-4 scheme and would be a prime candidate to learn under Vince Wilfork. But according to ESPN’s Trent Dilfer, the Patriots have already addressed the defense by adding Brandon Lloyd. According to Dilfer “adding Brandon Lloyd is like adding two defenders”. The context of this quote was describing how with Lloyd’s speed and his ability to thrive in Josh McDaniel’s system improves the defense because the offense will have added another dimension (the over-the-top deep threat they had envisioned for Chad Ochocinco). Of course Dilfer is entitled to his opinion, but I’m going to have issue a Mic Check in his direction.

First, as my friend and fantasy football rival Karl said during “The Skokie Fantasy Football League’s” 14th annual draft, Brandon Lloyd was in a contract year this previous season and would therefore up his game. Well, Brandon Lloyd is usually in a contract year because, with the exception of one full season in Denver, he has been a mediocre receiver at best. Also, the Patriots don’t exactly struggle to pass the ball. If Lloyd is going to make a significant impact this year, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco will make less of an impact. There is one ball, they can’t all touch it at the same time. Lastly, and I’ve touched on this many times before, the Patriots went 1-3 against teams with winning records in 2011. They won’t be facing the 8-8 Denver Broncos in the playoffs again. The Ravens won’t hand them the Lamar Hunt trophy again. If they have any dreams of playing in the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year, the defense needs to get much better.

32. New York Giants- Mike Adams, OT, The Ohio State University

The Super Bowl Champions need an injection of youth across the offensive line. This group is old. How old are they? This group is so old they voted for Lincoln. This group is so old they remember when the Old Testament was the New Testament. This group is so old they were at Larry King’s briss. Little known fact, as a child Larry King wanted to be a mohel (the doctor who performs the circumcision, information provided for our non-Hebrew readers). When asked why he strayed for the mohel path, King replied with, “It doesn’t pay much,“ follow up with, “but the tips are great.” Can I get a rim-shot? Adams is the best remaining tackle on the board. I see him starting at right tackle and improving the Giants 32nd ranked run offense with his good first-step off the ball. Lastly Adams was one of five Ohio State Buckeyes who was suspended for trading gold pants for tattoos. Yes, that happened.

And that’s it for round one. Now if you’ll excuse me I haven’t been outside in a week.

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