2012 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (Picks 17-32)
17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama
Bengals weren't the same after losing Jonathan Joseph to the Texans last year. They are a young team and the defense has more holes than the offense so this makes sense. If DeCastro falls this far he won't get past Cincy here.
18. San Diego Chargers - Whitney Mercilus DT, Illinois
After addressing their defensive line in the draft last year, taking Illinois product Corey Liuget in the first round, the Chargers go back to the orange-and-blue well to get the man who led the nation in sacks last year. The Chargers were 24th in the league in sacks and 20th in run defense so their front seven could definitely use improvement. I thought about taking Kendall Wright here, but with Robert Meachem, Malcolm Floyd, and Eddie Royal I think the Chargers will have enough targets to deploy for Phillip Rivers that they'll look to address their defense or O-line in the first round of the draft.
19. Quinton Coples DE, North Carolina
Imagine adding double digit sack potential opposite Julius Pepper. That's what Chicago will get if Coples falls to them. His work ethic has been questioned by some but he has the potential to be a high reward prospect under the tutelage of a veteran Bears defense.
20. Tennessee Titans, Dontari Poe DT, Memphis
Since 2008 the Titans have had a revolving door of defensive linemen. They haven't had a stud in the middle since Albert Haynesworth left and Poe's athleticism will be perfect for their "play the run on the way to the quarterback" mentality. It's hard to believe that Poe is still on the board here at 20, as I could see him going as high as #9, but he will make an excellent addition to the Titans front four.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Michael Brockers DT, LSU
Could go Cordy Glenn here but a freakish athlete like Brockers is hard to pass up. Brockers is extremely agile for his size but will need some good coaching to make him a well rounded starter. He could be a project for a team like the Bengals that don't need him to start right away.
22. Chicago Bears - Kendall Wright WR, Baylor
This is the best-case scenario for the woeful Browns offense. They add a dynamic running back at the top in Trent Richardson then a legitimate receiver at 22 in Wright. With a pick early in the 2nd round, the Browns will probably have a shot at taking Brandon Weeden there, giving their offense a complete face-lift with two solid playmakers and a QB capable of challenging Colt McCoy for the starting job right away.
23. Detroit Lions - Stephon Gilmore CB, South Carolina
The Lions have the offense to win a Lombardi trophy. Now they need to beef up their defense, specifically the secondary. Battling a team like the Packers twice a year, Detroit could use a cover guy like Gilmore. He might not have the skill set of Janoris Jenkins but he's a low risk, high character guy with excellent tackling skills for a cornerback.
24. Dont'a Hightower LB, Alabama
Oh. Hell. Yes. In my opinion, this draft couldn't have gone any better for the Steelers with Hightower falling to them at 1.24. With the release of James Farrior, the Steelers lost the captain of their defense who made all the on-field calls and audibles. Dick LeBeau called Farrior "an extension of himself" out there on the field. Larry Foote is a stop-gap at best on the inside next to Lawrence Timmons and in reality the Steelers need an ILB that can be a future starter. The Steelers typically have drafted for their "future needs" and with Foote well on the wrong side of 30, an ILB of the future is certainly a need for this team. Hightower wouldn't be asked to contribute much in his first year and would be able to learn the defense and allow the team to jettison Foote and his $3+ million cap hit before next season.
25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still DT, Penn State
The Broncos have excellent rush passers in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervill but they desperately need help up the middle. They were 22nd against the run in 2011. He's raw but his size is what makes NFL scouts drool. It's amazing how effective 310 lbs. will clog the running lanes for opposing backs.
26. Houston Texans - Rueben Randle WR, LSU
Houston returns much of the same defense that finished in the top 5 against the run and the pass and 6th in the league in sacks. Mario Williams only tallied 6 sacks last year and his loss is mitigated by Connor Barwin's 11.5 from last year, making OLB less of a need for the Texans. I considered USC DE/LB Nick Perry with this pick, but opted for a WR as the passing game (18th in the league last year) is the one glaring weakness on Houston's resume. A healthy Matt Schaub will help, but they really have no options outside of Andre Johnson, and that needs to change.
27. New England Patriots - Nick Perry DE, USC
This pick SCREAMS trading back but lets assume they stay put. The Patriots sack leaders from 2011 are gone. Mark Anderson signed with the Bills and Andre Carter is still a free agent. Perry has the size for a defensive end that Belichick loves, a guy that explodes off the line and can play in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
28. Cordy Glenn OG, Georgia
For the second year in a row, the Packers get some help up front for Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers blitzkrieged the league for most of the season, the Packers were 27th in the league in rushing offense and Rodgers was sacked 36 times. This is somewhat of a pick based on value, as Glenn could go as high as the top 20, depending where the other offensive linemen fall. Glenn is a bit stiff in the hips to be a tackle at the next level but could be a punishing guard for years to come for Green Bay.
29. Peter Konz, Baltimore Ravens
I hate this pick. Not because Konz won't be a great pick. Just that this is what "draft experts" have been predicting for the Ravens since January. I could easily see the team trading back with a team that wants to jump on a quarterback like Brandon Weeden. Konz fills the Ravens biggest area of need though. He would give Joe Flacco maybe one more second to get rid of the ball and that's huge for a team that just lost Ben Grubbs via free agency.
30. Janoris Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers return most of their defensive starters from last year and made moves in free agency to address the offense, adding WRs Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. They also brought in RB Brandon Jacobs to complement Frank Gore. I contemplated taking Alshon Jeffrey here, but opted for a high-ceiling corner that should be able to flourish in the 49ers defense as long as he keeps his head on straight. San Francisco has a solid group of locker room leaders that should help keep Jenkins in line, assuming he doesn't hang out with Randy Moss too much.
31. Shea McClellin, New England Patriots
Obviously the Pats are not drafting two defensive linemen but I definitely see McClellin going in the 1st round. Look for the Pats to trade one of their two first rounders in order to stock up on picks. They desperately need help on defense so it makes sense.
32. Coby Fleener, New York Giants
The Giants add another weapon for Manning's offense. Fleener is the top tight end in the draft and could go even higher than this. The Giants aren't going to take a risk on a guy like Alshon Jeffrey, who is probably the best player not picked here in the mock. The defending champs have a solid enough group of guys they will probably listen to offers and may even trade back out of the first round if there is a team looking to move back in to grab someone they really want.