2012 NFL Mock Draft : Inching Closer to April 26th
18. San Diego Chargers – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise St.
McClellin is one of the fastest rising prospects in the draft and could come off the board as early as 18. The Chargers get over their Larry English hangover and take a much needed pass rusher. They were abysmal in 2011 at getting to the QB and McClellin can step in immediately.
19. Chicago Bears – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
This one has Rod Marinelli stamped all over it. The Bears interior defensive line is just average and could use an upgrade. Kendall Wright is getting a lot of love to the Bears but adding a Michael Brockers type impact DT may be too much to pass on for the Bears. Brockers paired with 2011 2nd rounder Stephen Paea could be a dominating duo for the Bears future plans.
20. Tennessee Titans – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The addition of Kamerion Wimbley frees up the Titans to look at another position. Peter Konz could come off the board here but losing Cortland Finnegan didn’t do them any favors. Kirkpatrick is a nice fit in the zone scheme and should be able to start from day one.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Bengals could really use someone to take some of the pressure off A.J. Green. Jordan Shipley is best working out of the slot and not much of a threat as a No. 2 receiver. Wright’s ability to stretch the defense vertically should pay huge dividends early for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Kuechly and Wright would be a very nice start to the draft for the Bengals.
22. Cleveland Browns – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Finding a weapon for this inept offense is paramount to the Browns success. Hill will need some time to develop into a starting NFL receiver but he should be able to stretch the defense early in his career with his giant frame and speed.
23. Detroit Lions – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Lions tagged Cliff Avril this offseason and don’t appear willing to dole out big time cash to the pass rusher. KVB is showing the wear on his tires, leaving the Lions with little to speak of in terms of proven pass rushers. Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young may be fan favorites but don’t have the look of dominating end rushers. Mercilus put on a show against Big Ten offensive linemen in 2011 and hopes to carry that over to the NFL.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The Steelers could take an OL here and not look back. They have plenty of holes up front but grooming an ILB to pair with Lawrence Timmons for the future seems to fit the Steelers draft strategy. Hightower has experience in the system and comes with plenty of quality coaching at Alabama. He could be an instant impact guy in the middle of this defense.
25. Denver Broncos – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
Despite what some would have you believe, Worthy has a solid motor. He tends to wear down but mostly due to the intensity he plays with. He will need to work on his conditioning especially going to the Mile High City. Worthy is as disruptive as any DT in this class not named Fletcher Cox and has the ability to make an immediate impact on this defense.
The Texans search for a counterpart to Andre Johnson may finally end with the selection of Randle. Randle is still learning the WR position but offers a ton of upside.
27. New England Patriots – Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama
The Pats needed pass rushers and that was before they lost top sack artist Mark Anderson. I’m not buying all the hype about teams such as the Bengals wanting Upshaw. Upshaw is a solid football player that plays hard but lacks elite tools to be a dominant edge rusher in the NFL.
28. Green Bay Packers – Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
The Pack need to find a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Jones is a physical specimen with great lineage (Jon “Bones” Jones and Arthur Jones are his brothers). Jones is a long-limbed athlete with the frame to add bulk without losing much in terms of speed. He’s one of the hot names in the draft at this point and many don’t think he’ll make it this far.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz, C/G, Wisconsin
Matt Birk probably has one season left in the tank. In the meantime, the Ravens really need a guard to take over for the departed Ben Grubbs. Konz has the ability to play either position making him a logical fit for Ozzie Newsome.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Delanie Walker will be in a 49er uniform for one more season. The depth behind Vernon Davis w/o Walker is abysmal. The marriage of Fleener and Harbaugh could continue in the Bay Area.
31. New England Patriots – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
If you’re NE, why not? Jenkins off-the-field issues have been well documented but he remains a very viable option on it. New England hasn’t passed on the opportunity to add talented but troubled players since Bill Belichick took over. Putting Jenkins in the fold could immediately upgrade their porous secondary. Harrison Smith probably gets more than a long look here but I like this fit for both parties.
32. New York Giants – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio St.
Long-time RT Kareem McKenzie is no longer with the team leaving a hole on the right side. Adams may be the top tackle in the draft not named Matt Kalil when he’s motivated. If the Giants can find a way to keep Adams on track from the mental side they may have found lightening in a bottle.