2012 NFL Mock Draft: 17-32
17. Chicago Bears: OT Matt Reynolds, BYU:
Carimi was a good start, but I’m simply not buying Webb as a starting tackle. I think the pressure will be the Bears downfall this year and they will look for a bookend to ensure Cutler’s health. Reynolds is a good pick here as he can step in from day one as a starter and give the Bears what they need. He comes from a pro style system so he should be even more appealing to NFL teams.
18. Oakland Raiders: OT Nate Potter, Boise State:
The Raiders failed to address their tackle needs this year and it is likely going to cost them. The Raiders will likely be searching for a tackle at this spot since they have already traded away their 2nd rounder. Potter is a nice fit here, since he comes from a passing offense so he is very adept at pass blocking. I think this is a good fit and a potential steal, as Potter has big time upside.
19. New York Jets: OLB Brandon Jenkins*, Florida State:
I know this seems early for the Jets, but I just don’t know how many years they can be a Super Bowl contender with poor QB play. Unless Mark Sanchez steps it up this season, I believe they are on the outside looking in. Now I doubt they will do anything drastic yet and take a quarterback, but rather I think they will try to keep making their defense better to atone for Sanchez’s struggles.
Jenkins is a big time pass rusher and could be a star coming off the edge in New York. For as good as the Jets defense has been these last two years, they’ve lacked that star pass rusher. Jenkins could be that guy and should be a good fit for New York.
20 Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): OT Riley Reiff*, Iowa:
I know the Falcons just added Julio Jones, but I wouldn’t write their playoff ticket in pen just yet. They have serious o-line issues with their top 3 players free agents, and LT Sam Baker apparently forgetting how to block. Their D-line is basically relying solely on 34 year old John Abraham and their back 7 has some serious holes in it as well. Some of those questions will get addressed in free agency, but they can’t fix all of them. The NFC is more competitive this year and the Buccaneers are rising. Atlanta could finish just out of the playoff hunt with a 10-6 record.
Atlanta’s falling out of the playoff hunt is the Browns gain as it would give them another top 20 pick. Reiff here is a good fit for Cleveland and gives them the bookend tackle they have been searching for. While their offense is showing much improvement they need to get better play from the right side of their o-line.
21. St. Louis Rams: RB Trent Richardson, Alabama:
The Rams could very well win the NFC West this year, but I don’t see them advancing too far in the post season. St. Louis should target either a RB, DT or G at this spot (the 3 positions they didn’t address this season). Richardson has some big play ability and probably is talented enough to go earlier, but luckily there are teams with bigger needs.
22. Houston Texans: WR Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M:
Houston really doesn’t have much after A. Johnson at WR so drafting another quality pass catcher makes sense here. The Texans could go defense if a major need emerges this year, but I’m guessing their biggest need will be WR. I like Fuller as he has big time size and big play potential. He has excellent hands and uses his body to win jump balls.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jayron Hosley Jr., Virgina Tech:
If the Eagles don’t add a top corner in free agency they should look to address the position in the first round next April. Hosley is moving up draft boards and if he follows up on his impressive Sophomore campaign he could be a top 25 pick. Hosley looks like a true ballhawk and reminds me somewhat of former VT corner DeAngelo Hall.
24. San Diego Chargers: LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame:
The Chargers will likely look at Te’o as an inside linebacker, though I think he is versatile enough to play outside as well. Te’o is a smart football player who always finds the ball and is a ferocious hitter. I think this would be a good spot for him and he could keep that Chargers unit at the top of their game.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Alonzo Dennard, Nebraska:
The Bucs didn’t really address their cornerback needs with this year’s class and I’m guessing that gets rectified. Dennard played in the shadow of Amukamara this past season, but i think he is more than ready to step into his own this year. I see day one starting potential from him and feel that he has a chance to be a shutdown guy.
26. New York Giants: LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona St.:
Burfict could play inside or outside, but I think he fits best as a middle linebacker in the Giants system. He has elite potential and is just scratching the surface of where he can go. I think he will have a breakout year and prove himself worthy of a first round pick.
27. Indianapolis Colts: G/T Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State:
The Colts added a pair of offensive linemen to protect Peyton Manning, but it might not be enough. Osemele can play either inside or outside so a lot will depend on how Ijalana fits in this year. The window for the Colts is closing, but the more they keep Peyton upright the better their shot and the longer they can prop that window open.
28. Baltimore Ravens: C Michael Brewster, Ohio State:
The Ravens center Matt Birk will be a free agent next season, and while he is still playing at a high level, he will be 35 this next season. If he retires or the Ravens decide to go in another direction, Brewster would be the perfect replacement. He looks to be a Pro Bowl caliber center and should start from day one for Baltimore.
29. New England Patriots (from Saints): S Robert Lester, Alabama:
Lester is drawing some big time comparisons from scouts and he is flying up draft boards. He has great size and range and could take over the FS role for the Patriots. Merriweather just hasn’t been as good as most people believe and combined with his off the field issues he is a liability in NE.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame:
Hines Ward really can’t have that many more years in the tank, and when he is gone the Steelers will need a physical receiver to replace him. Floyd would have likely been a top 50 pick had he come out this past season and should move up with another strong year. Currently he is suspended for a DUI, but I’m guessing he will be reinstated and maybe just have to miss the first game or two. If Pittsburgh is confident that Floyd has his life in order than I can see them making this selection.
31. New England Patriots: DE Jared Crick, Nebraska:
New England needs to think about getting younger along their front line and one of these late first rounders should go to that area. Crick isn’t a stats machine, but he gets good production and penetration. He looks like a perfect fit for a 5-technique and should be the Pats pick.
32. Green Bay Packers: OLB Andre Branch, Clemson:
The Packers didn’t prioritize getting another rush linebacker this past season, so it could be their top need next year. Branch had a big year on a stacked Clemson line, so it will be interesting to see how he does now that some of them have moved on. He flashes big play ability and could be a stud complement to Matthews.