January 15th was the deadline for underclassmen to register for the NFL draft so what better time to unveil mock draft version 2.0! In the 11 weeks since the first mock draft we've seen Robert Griffin III rise from fringe first rounder to top 5 prospect and saw the Cardinals, Broncos and Seahawks play their way out of the top 10. Below is a breakdown of how I see the top 10 picks shaking out in the 2012 NFL draft.
Mock Draft 2.0
Underclassmen noted with a *
Pick – Team (Needs)- Player – Position – School
1 – Indianapolis Colts (QB, DB, LB) – Andrew Luck* – Quarterback – Stanford
Unless someone comes in and gives up everything they can for the first pick, Luck will be playing for the Colts next year. Now the only question in Indianapolis is what to do with Peyton Manning. If Manning is cleared by team doctors, Luck will probably be sitting on the bench until Manning retires, is traded or his contract runs out. Sitting for a year or two worked for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, it can work for Andrew Luck.
2 – St. Louis Rams (DB, WR, OLB) – Matt Kalil* – Offensive Tackle – USC
There are other positions of need for the Rams, but Kalil is expected to be a stud left tackle in the NFL and injuries exposed St. Louis' lack of depth on the offensive line. Drafting Kalil would allow the Rams to move current left tackle Rodger Saffold to right tackle and former #2 overall pick Jason Smith inside to right guard. Don't be surprised if another team trades up to snag Robert Griffin III at this spot, in which case the Rams could stockpile picks and take either receiver Will Blackmon or one of the top cornerbacks.
3 – Minnesota Vikings (OT, DB, WR) – Morris Claiborne* – Cornerback – LSU
Claiborne is as close as you're going to get to a shut down corner in this draft and the Vikings are terrible in the defensive backfield. Minnesota's defense gave up the most passing touchdowns in the league this past season (34) and Claiborne has been known to be able to take away opposing teams' top receivers.
4 – Cleveland Browns (RB, WR, DB) – Robert Griffin III* – Quarterback – Baylor
In the first mock draft I had the Browns taking running back Trent Richardson, but with Griffin III's meteoric rise during his Heisman winning season and Browns quarterback Colt McCoy looking overwhelmed last year, the Browns need a better option at the QB position. Highly mobile quarterbacks have not traditionally excelled in the NFL, but with the success of Cam Newton in Carolina this year and the fact that he is a pass first run second QB, his stock has definitely rose.
5 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LB, RB, CB) – Trent Richardson* – Running Back – Alabama
Tampa has a decent corps of runners, but Richardson is a true feature back. The Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman will be able to lean on Richardson who has prototype size and has explosive play making ability. Team him up with Lagerrette Blount and Tampa has a thunder and lightning backfield for the next few years.
6 – Washington Redskins (QB, CB, OT) – Will Blackmon* – Wide Receiver – Oklahoma State
Blackmon is by far the best receiving prospect in this draft and the Redskins should be more than happy to get him here. Washington needs to figure out who their future quarterback will be first so don't be surprised if they trade this pick to move up and Take Robert Griffin III. Otherwise, Blackmon will make whoever lines up under center for the 'skins look a lot better. Blackmon is just as good if not better than former teammate Dez Bryant and Blackmon isn't a headcase like Bryant.
7 – Jacksonville Jaguars (WR, CB, DE) – Quinton Coples – Defensive End – North Carolina
The Jaguars have flopped in recent years taking pass rushers with high picks, but you can't pass on a star just because of a team's past transgressions. Coples is a mountain on defense (6' 6",285 lbs) but has the size, strength and athleticism to excel in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense.
8 – Carolina Panthers (DT, WR, OL) – Devon Still – Defensive Tackle – Penn State
Carolina was one of the worst teams stopping the run and one of the most porous defenses overall. Building a team should start from the inside out and Still is an impressive building block. With Frank Kearse lining up at nose tackle for the Panthers, Still will have a little freedom to go after running backs as well as opposing quarterbacks though he needs to develop a quicker first step to be a true pass rusher.
9 – Miami Dolphins (QB, OL, DL) – Riley Reiff* – Offensive Tackle – Iowa
Miami has lots of holes to fill and their late season resurgence didn't help their chances at filling their top priority at quarterback. But taking Reiff will give them an instant starter at right tackle and some much needed insurance if current all-pro left tackle Jake Long decides to leave via free agency after next season.
10 – Buffalo Bills (OLB, DL, WR) – Courtney Upshaw – Outside Linebacker – Alabama
Upshaw has the perfect size for a 3-4 OLB at 6-2 268. His speed is a small concern but his quickness and agility allow him to be a disruptive force as a pass rusher. The Bills' defense needs upgrades at almost every position, but when you put pressure on the quarterback everybody looks better.
Log on for more of CraveOnline's coverage of the 2012 NFL draft throughout the off-season leading up to the draft on April 26-28.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS