Posted: Wednesday April 11, 2012 10:20AM ; Updated: Wednesday April 11, 2012 10:20AM
Don Banks
Don Banks>INSIDE THE NFL
2012 NFL Mock Draft 5.0
Fifteen days away from the prime-time pick-fest, the top 12 of this year's NFL draft seems to be coalescing into something approaching consensus. My fifth attempt to mock out the first round includes defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Dontari Poe swapping places at No. 9 and 15, and Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd finally entering the top 10, but no earthshaking changes will be unveiled here.

There's still time for surprises, of course, but it's going to be nigh impossible to beat the Rams-Redskins blockbuster trade for headline sizzle. This year's draft shocker came late one Friday night in early March, and everything else is destined to feel tame by comparison. As we count down the days until April 26, here's my best guess as to how the first round unfolds. (Send comments to siwriters@simail.com)
 
1 QB Andrew Luck Stanford Jr. 6-4 235
Jim Irsay is quite correct when he tweets things have been pointing toward No. 12 all along. But the question that won't be answered until time renders its verdict is whether or not Robert Griffin III should have been ahead of Luck on the Colts' draft board all along? That will be the fascinating question to follow in the years ahead.
2 QB Robert Griffin III Baylor Jr. 6-2 220
(Trade with St. Louis). How transparent did Donovan McNabb seem when he questioned whether RG3 would fit in Washington's offense due to Mike Shanahan's ego? For starters, his point didn't even make sense. Secondly, just because McNabb didn't fit doesn't mean Griffin won't. You're proving Shanahan's case, Donovan. Not yours.
3 OT Matt Kalil USC Jr. 6-7 295
The Vikings will happily take either Kalil or LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with their first-round pick, but they'd rather make their selection at No. 4 and pick up an extra third-round pick for their trouble. I just don't see it happening. If the Browns have Ryan Tannehill fever, they're hiding it pretty well so far.
4 RB Trent Richardson Alabama Jr. 5-11 224
You're starting to hear some draft experts characterize Richardson as the guy who is better at his position than anyone else is at theirs in their entire lottery, quarterbacks included. That kind of thing should give Mike Holmgren and Co. a sense of peace about making this pick.
5 CB Morris Claiborne LSU Jr. 6-0 185
Ronde Barber sounds a little re-invigorated by the opportunity to play for an all-business head coach like Greg Schiano. But that doesn't mean Barber can play forever. Tampa Bay still could use a young cornerback to carry the torch and Claiborne more than fits the bill.
6 WR Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State Jr. 6-1 215
The gap between Blackmon and the rest of the receivers in the first round seems to be closing as we approach mid-April, but it still makes sense to me to have the ex-Oklahoma Sooner QB in St. Louis throwing to the ex-OSU Cowboy receiver.
7 DE Melvin Ingram South Carolina Sr. 6-2 276
I still think the Jaguars might have a trade offer for their spot to weigh, with No. 8 Miami seemingly poised to select Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill if no one beats them to the punch. No. 11 Kansas City makes some sense, with the rookie providing some competition for less-than-entrenched Chiefs starter Matt Cassel.
8 QB Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M Sr. 6-4 222
If the Dolphins do land Tannehill, one of the takeaways will be that Miami obviously had more faith in new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's evaluation of Tannehill's potential than new head coach Joe Philbin's evaluation of Matt Flynn's potential.
9 DT Fletcher Cox Mississippi State Jr. 6-4 295
With Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe underwhelming some scouts with his game tapes (as opposed to his combine showing), the steadily climbing Cox looks like the safer, wiser choice for a Carolina defense in need of some play-making in the middle.
10 WR Michael Floyd Notre Dame Sr. 6-3 24
There were some scoffers out there when I had Floyd lasting all the way until No. 22 Cleveland in my 4.0 mock. I heard you, loud and clear. But as I've said before, if I'm perfect on my fourth mock, what do I do to keep folks reading mocks five, six and seven? It's an annual dilemma. For now at least, Floyd cracks my top 10 and the Bills have a new weapon opposite Stevie Johnson.
11 LB Luke Kuechly Boston College Jr. 6-3 237
If the Chiefs aren't upwardly mobile in pursuit of quarterback Ryan Tannehill (see No. 7 Jacksonville), upgrading at inside linebacker with Kuechly would be a well-received pick. Again, I'm dropping boom-bust DT prospect Dontari Poe past a team that was thought be interested in him at one point this scouting season. Stanford guard David DeCastro is another sound option.
12 DE Quinton Coples North Carolina Sr. 6-6 285
There's a lot to love about the young defense the Seahawks are assembling, but they've got to create more pressure on opposing passers. Coples could drop well into the teens, but he's got double-digit sack talent if Pete Carroll and Co. can figure out how to keep his intensity and effort level high at all times.
13 OT Riley Reiff Iowa Jr. 6-6 300
The Cardinals' offensive line needs upgrading, and with both Reiff and Stanford guard David DeCastro still available, Arizona's in the right place at the right time in this round.
14 S Mark Barron Alabama Sr. 6-2 218
There have been reports the Cowboys are targeting Poe with their pick, but in Barron they'd be getting a big, hard-hitting safety who can handle run defense and move plenty well enough in coverage. That makes him a very valuable commodity in a pass-happy league, and in a division with quality running backs like LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw and Washington's Roy Helu.
15 DT Dontari Poe Memphis Sr. 6-5 350
Poe finds his NFL home, and it's not surprising to see Andy Reid taking the athletically gifted big man from Memphis. The Eagles need more strength up the middle of their defense, and the hope is that newly acquired linebacker DeMeco Ryans was just the beginning of that upgrade.
16 DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw Alabama Sr. 6-2 265
Rex Ryan covets another versatile front seven talent who can both supply some edge rush and stand up in run defense. If receiver Michael Floyd happens to fall this far, New York will have a decision to make. But Upshaw just seems like Ryan's type of player, and he can create some havoc in a variety of ways.
17 OG David DeCastro Stanford Sr. 6-5 310
(From Oakland). The Bengals should be thrilled with this scenario, given their need at guard and their ability to still select one of the top cornerbacks at No. 21. DeCastro is one of the cleanest players in this draft, and there's no other interior linemen rated in his neighborhood. The Carson Palmer trade pays off big-time with this pick.
18 OT/G Cordy Glenn Georgia Sr. 6-6 346
The Chargers' need for more pass rush and defensive line help could wind up taking them in a different direction. But Glenn is a mauler of a blocker who has experience both at guard and left tackle.
19 DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus Illinois Jr. 6-4 254
Going for an offensive tackle or a cornerback would be solid need/value picks at this point in the round, but pass rushers always carry their own temptation. In Mercilus, the homestate product gives the Bears defense a boost in a division that features games against Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford at least four times a year.
20 CB Stephon Gilmore South Carolina Jr. 6-1 193
Gilmore could go higher than this, because the more scouts have analyzed his blend of size, speed and coverage ability, the more they like it. With Cortland Finnegan's departure in free agency, the need at cornerback in Tennessee should narrow the Titans' choices.
21 CB Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama Jr. 6-3 192
Running back is a need in Cincy, but with talents such as Boise State's Doug Martin and Miami's Lamar Miller expected to be available in the second round (Cincinnati picks 53rd), taking a cornerback with a first-round grade is the smart move for the Bengals. Kirkpatrick has much less baggage than Janoris Jenkins, but don't rule out UCF speedster Josh Robinson.
22 OT Mike Adams Ohio State Sr. 6-7 314
(From Atlanta). By taking the 6-foot-7, 314-pound Buckeyes tackle, the Browns would be getting a player ready from day one to plug in and play on the right side of their line. Better protection for quarterback Colt McCoy should help the third-year quarterback progress.
23 OT Jonathan Martin Stanford Sr. 6-6 304
I'm now working under the assumption that the recent spate of pot-related incidents involving Lions players pretty much rules out taking North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, with his history of marijuana issues. Central Florida corner Josh Robinson remains a possibility, but Martin is too highly graded to pass on, even with the re-signing of veteran tackle Jeff Backus.
24 LB Dont'a Hightower Alabama Sr. 6-4 269
With offensive tackles like Adams and Martin going off the board right before their pick comes, the Steelers turn to their second most pressing need, grabbing the draft's second best inside linebacker. Hightower should walk right into the lineup as a replacement for James Farrior, and gives Pittsburgh's defense a shot of youth and athleticism.
25 DT Michael Brockers LSU Soph. 6-6 306
The Broncos defense got run on in the second half of 2011, and Brockers is a prospect who can develop into a middle-of-the-line anchor for John Fox's team. Stanford tight end Coby Fleener is the name to know if Denver opts for offense in the first round.
26 WR Kendall Wright Baylor Sr. 5-10 196
As Wright's draft stock continues to solidify based on his strong pro day showing, I'm coming back around to Houston taking the more proven ex-Baylor Bear over Georgia Tech speedster Stephen Hill. Wright can't stretch a defense as well as Hill, but he'd be a play-making complement receiver opposite Andre Johnson.
27 DE Chandler Jones Syracuse Sr. 6-5 265
(From New Orleans). The Patriots have some quality options to choose from in their search for a versatile player who can play both end and outside linebacker in their 3-4 multiple-front schemes. Getting younger and more athletic in the front seven is a must this season in Foxboro.
28 DE/OLB Shea McClellin Boise State Sr. 6-3 258
McClellin projects to outside 3-4 linebacker in the NFL after playing as an undersized defensive end in college. He's climbing into the late first round on some teams' boards, and seems a nice fit for the Packers, who seek an upgraded pass rush opposite Clay Matthews.
29 C Peter Konz Wisconsin Jr. 6-5 315
In this scenario, with both Alabama safety Mark Barron and Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower gone, the Ravens take Konz and get a long-term replacement for veteran center Matt Birk.
30 TE Coby Fleener Stanford Sr. 6-6 244
Though a defensive tackle like Michigan State's Jerel Worthy or UConn's Kendall Reyes is tempting, Jim Harbaugh takes his former Cardinal tight end and joins the growing two tight end craze in the league.
31 DT Jerel Worthy Michigan State Jr. 6-3 310
If the Patriots don't trade out of their second first-rounder, Worthy would be an excellent value and adds another talented and versatile prospect to New England's defensive front seven.
32 DE/OLB Nick Perry USC Jr. 6-3 250
The Giants have greater needs at running back, offensive tackle and inside linebacker, but Perry carries a first-round grade and New York sticks with its belief that you can never have too many quality pass rushers. Perry might even be able to play at weakside linebacker in the NFL, which would allow the Giants to shift Michael Boley to the middle.
 

 
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