By Don Banks
April 25, 2012
2012 NFL Mock Draft 7.0
All of us mockers know we'll never once in our entire career crank a perfect first round, top to bottom, nothing but bulls-eyes from No. 1 through No. 32. But I do dream of some day having at least the right 32 guys in my first round, even if they're not in the right order. That would be something of an accomplishment in and of itself.

At the very real risk of overconfidence, I feel like I'm close to having the right 32 guys in my final mock of this year, the vaunted 7.0 version. And that's with projecting one late-round trade between New England (naturally) and Cleveland, with the Browns moving back up to No. 31 to take Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and make it a triple-header of offensive playmakers in the first round.

There will be other first-round deals, of course. Between picks 11-20, where most of the round's elite pass-rushers figure to be available, it's all about how you have those prospects rated. Deals will get done when teams with pass-rush needs start to fear the the well is running dry, and their guy is about to get taken. Surprises will ensue.

Without further ado, here's our seventh and final attempt at mocking out the events of Thursday night at New York's Radio City Music Hall. As always, your results may vary: (Send comments to
1 QB Andrew Luck Stanford Jr. 6-4 235
Not that there ever was any real suspense, but at least Jim Irsay and the Colts have now dispensed with all of it and gotten their Andrew Luck T-shirts printed up and ready to pull on Thursday night.
2 QB Robert Griffin III Baylor Jr. 6-2 220
(Trade with St. Louis). The honeymoon between RG3 and success-starved Redskins fans might be the romance of the year in the NFL. Back in February I told you the NFL was about to fall in love with Griffin, and nobody develops a crush like Washington.
3 OT Matt Kalil USC Jr. 6-7 295
I know Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon remain in play for the Vikings, but when it's all said and done, I think general manager Rick Spielman wants to get his offensive line fixed first and foremost. Even ahead of a historically bad secondary. That's my logic in sticking with the USC offensive tackle and not going for the last-minute change of direction.
4 RB Trent Richardson Alabama Jr. 5-11 224
The Browns grab the only elite back in this year's draft, and worry about their issues at receiver, quarterback and offensive right tackle somewhere down the line.
5 CB Morris Claiborne LSU Jr. 6-0 185
The Bucs get the one guy in this draft who has a chance to be their next Ronde Barber. And they get to play him alongside Barber even while Barber is showing him how to be the next Barber. Not a bad little line of succession there.
6 WR Justin Blackmon Oklahoma State Jr. 6-1 215
There are rumblings the Rams might take a pass on Blackmon to take prized Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, but again, I'm not going to over-think this one. St. Louis needs a No. 1 receiving weapon for Sam Bradford to grow with, and I think Blackmon has been the target from the Rams' earliest pre-draft planning sessions.
7 DT Fletcher Cox Mississippi State Jr. 6-4 295
I have vacillated between Cox and South Carolina's gifted cornerback Stephon Gilmore all week, but a league source I trust told me to keep the Jaguars on the big man and let that bet ride. Then again, another source told me not to forget about South Carolina's Melvin Ingram when the Jags' turn comes around. It's that time of year.
8 QB Ryan Tannehill Texas A&M Sr. 6-4 222
By now I get the feeling the Dolphins do indeed want Tannehill, but they're almost tempted to not take him in order to prove their point about how they were never really desperate for him anyway. And somehow that's just how the Dolphins stay the Dolphins.
9 CB Stephon Gilmore South Carolina Jr. 6-1 193
It wouldn't shock me if the Panthers went for LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers in this slot, or rolled the dice a bit and selected Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd. But if I'm trying to get the right 10 names into the top 10, Gilmore's got to be among them. And besides, the Panthers can rightfully claim cornerback has to be on their need list after last season.
10 LB Luke Kuechly Boston College Jr. 6-3 237
With a three-down linebacker like Kuechly in hand, the Bills will have taken yet another significant step in building a defense to be reckoned with in the AFC East. The other name being connected to the Bills in the draft's final hours of buildup is Alabama safety Mark Barron.
11 OG David DeCastro Stanford Sr. 6-5 310
I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that the first-round trading game starts with the Chiefs slot, but if K.C. sticks, DeCastro represents the kind of solid, no-brainer selection that will never come back to haunt general manager Scott Pioli. I keep hearing the Chiefs could move down and target Dontari Poe, but I'm not buying that theory because Poe remains someone who will require some patience in terms of his NFL development.
12 DE/OLB Melvin Ingram South Carolina Sr. 6-2 276
The pass rush and linebacking help is where the need is the greatest in Seattle, and Ingram would address and upgrade both areas. But I could also see Seattle vacating this slot, trading down with a team eager to come up to get Michael Floyd, Michael Brockers or Mark Barron.
13 WR Michael Floyd Notre Dame Sr. 6-3 224
While the Cardinals would go for a Cordy Glenn or a Riley Reiff if they were drafting by a need-first approach, they'll be instead pleasantly surprised that a playmaker like Floyd has fallen to them. That'll make Larry Fitzgerald happy, and if you think Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals front office don't care about that, you haven't been paying attention.
14 DT Michael Brockers LSU Soph. 6-6 306
I feel strangely confident that Brockers, Mark Barron and Dontari Poe will be the next three players off the board in some order, but I can't quite decide the order. In the end, the Cowboys' need for a disruptive front seven player nudged me away from Barron, and while Dallas is said to love the potential-laden Poe, Brockers is more NFL-ready from day one.
15 S Mark Barron Alabama Sr. 6-2 218
Having just moved to the Philly area earlier this year, I'd love to nail this pick and impress the new neighbors. I think the Eagles lean toward Barron over Poe, but I'm pretty sure they'd be content with either. If it comes down to a choice between Brockers and Barron, that's where it gets sticky. But I believe I'd still have Andy Reid taking Barron in that scenario.
16 DT Dontari Poe Memphis Sr. 6-5 350
I could see where the Jets might be easily convinced to take Alabama defensive end-outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw in this scenario. New York needs his 3-4 edge rush ability in its front seven. But Rex Ryan is intrigued with Poe's vast potential and you get the sense some team is going to fall in love with him right here in the middle of the teens.
17 CB Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama Jr. 6-3 192
(From Oakland). The Bengals feel like they've neglected their defense to some degree in recent drafts, but they've got some good choices here to correct that trend. We're going with Kirkpatrick given Cincy's need at cornerback, but pass rushers Quinton Coples and Chandler Jones probably look very tempting to Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer.
18 DE/OLB Chandler Jones Syracuse Sr. 6-5 265
This is right about where I see a mini-run on pass rushers starting, and Jones may be the hottest name among them. Though he didn't crack my first round until the 4.0 version, in the first week of April, scouts say his game tapes have marked him a first-rounder all along. The Chargers are desperate for some edge pass-rush production in their front seven.
19 DE Quinton Coples North Carolina Sr. 6-6 285
Everybody seems to think the Bears are in the market for another pass rusher to help lighten the load on Julius Peppers, so why not go out and land his fellow Tar Heel? He's the most accomplished sack artist at North Carolina since Peppers went second overall in 2002.
20 DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus Illinois Jr. 6-4 254
I'm not convinced the Titans are in love with the one-year wonder of a pass rusher from Illinois, so maybe they're a candidate to trade down and out of this spot. But if they stand pat and take the pick, pass rush and cornerback are their two needs, and the top three cover men are all gone. Mercilus has potential, but because he hasn't proven more over the span of his collegiate career, he comes with a boom-bust warning.
21 OT/G Cordy Glenn Georgia Sr. 6-6 346
I think the Bengals will jump on one of the pass rushers if Jones, Coples or Mercilus falls to them. Barring that scenario, Glenn is a big, athletic offensive lineman who can handle either tackle or guard, and who could plug in and play as a rookie, filling a need for Cincinnati at guard.
22 WR Kendall Wright Baylor Sr. 5-10 196
(From Atlanta). This strikes me as too early a slot to go after Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, especially if Cleveland can grab Wright and give its anemic offense a double dose of playmaking potential with Richardson at No. 4 and the ex-Baylor receiver at No. 22.
23 OT Riley Reiff Iowa Jr. 6-6 300
Reiff's stock has dropped since his days as a potential top-10 pick, but his fall ends in Motown, which isn't a bad place to land these days. He infuses the Lions offensive line with some much-needed youth. Again, Detroit strikes me as a potential trade-down candidate, with Baltimore perhaps eyeing this slot as a means to get ahead of Pittsburgh and grab Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower.
24 LB Dont'a Hightower Alabama Jr. 6-4 269
With Dontari Poe having revived his draft stock to some degree, I no longer foresee any scenario where he drops into Pittsburgh's lap. So unless someone trades up ahead of them, giving the Steelers the inside linebacker they need in Hightower seems an easy call.
25 DT Jerel Worthy Michigan State Jr. 6-3 310
Nothing fancy about this pick. The Broncos need a wide-load type in the middle of their defensive front, and this is the year to get one in a first round that's ridiculously deep at defensive tackle. Worthy isn't as flashy as some of the other first-round DTs, but he's got a solid body of game tape tucked under his mostly obscured belt.
26 OG Kevin Zeitler Wisconsin Sr. 6-4 315
After marrying the Texans to a receiver all spring, the story changes at the very end, especially with Baylor receiver Kendall Wright no longer an option. I'm doing mostly dot-connecting here, but the Texans did lose their starting right guard and right tackle this offseason, and Houston had pretty good luck taking an ex-Badger in the first round of last year's draft in J.J. Watt.
27 DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw Alabama Sr. 6-2 265
(From New Orleans). If the Patriots stay in this slot, they'd be an ideal landing spot for the sliding Upshaw, who once seemed destined for the top 12. There's confusion about where he'll wind up playing in the NFL, but that's exactly how Bill Belichick likes it when it comes to his front seven players. I have to imagine Belichick has learned all he needs to about Upshaw from his good buddy, Nick Saban.
28 DE/OLB Shea McClellin Boise State Sr. 6-3 258
The Packers seem intent on finding a player who can carry his share of the pass rush load, making sure linebacker Clay Matthews isn't the only 3-4 outside edge rusher in the lineup. McClellin carries a top-half-of-the-round grade in the eyes of some NFL scouts.
29 WR Stephen Hill Georgia Tech Jr. 6-5 206
As much as the Ravens need some youth on the offensive line and might be tempted to turn in their card for Wisconsin center Peter Konz, they're intrigued by Hill's field-stretching potential. After watching the Steelers amass a young and impressive receiving corps in recent years, Baltimore knows that getting another weapon for Joe Flacco makes plenty of sense.
30 49ers">49ers">49ers_45.gif" border="0"> OG Amini Silatolu Midwestern State Sr. 6-3 320
The 49ers' need at right guard has led them to do their homework on Silatolu, and they like what they see of the small-school standout. As much as the re-pairing of Stanford tight end Coby Fleener and Jim Harbaugh would make sense, he would represent something of a luxury pick for the 49ers.
31 QB Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State Sr. 6-4 218
(Trade with Patriots). I'm taking my best guess at a first-round trade, and it revolves around the idea that quality quarterbacks always get pushed up into the first round, and New England loves to always trade out of the first round. So you do the math. It all adds up, right? Maybe a third-round pick from Cleveland gets it done (in addition to its No. 37 pick of the second round), and that gets the Browns an immediate dose of quarterback competition for Colt McCoy.
32 TE Coby Fleener Stanford Sr. 6-6 244
The Giants are low on tight ends after the Super Bowl, and even with the free-agent addition of ex-Cowboy Martellus Bennett, Fleener makes solid sense as a potential impact rookie and a handy secondary target for quarterback Eli Manning.

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