Updated mock draft: 28th December

December 28th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Projecting the 2012 draft is proving increasingly difficult. High-profile prospects opting to return to college is hitting a talent pool that was never particularly deep to begin with. Matt Barkley will head back to USC, dynamic linebacker Jarvis Jones will remain with Georgia and emerging defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has reaffirmed his intentions to stay at Utah. It could impact the draft in two ways – some players will be taken earlier than they should, while others could now declare in the hope of taking advantage of a weaker class.

In this latest mock I’ve added three news names to the mix, purely down to the increased chance they will declare. Barrett Jones (OT, Alabama) has played virtually every position on Alabama’s offensive line, but has caught the eye replacing James Carpenter as the team’s blindside blocker this season. With a lot of teams expected to consider drafting a left tackle, he could end up competing with Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin to be the next player taken after Matt Kalil.

Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU) missed a lot of  2010 through injury, but he’s had an impact this year with nine sacks. He’s got a lean frame with room for extra size (he’s playing at about 250lbs right now). He fits as an outside rusher in the 3-4 and has an outspoken character, which could attract people like Rex Ryan but repel others.

Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri) is a big time playmaker and the epitome of a modern-era tight end. He’s not going to be restricted to a lot of blocking duties, he’s a pure pass-catcher and the impact of Jimmy Graham in New Orleans will make players like Egnew more appealing in a copy-cat league.

I’ve paired another new name with Seattle too as we run through the different options they face with limited quarterback options available. I still think this team will really attack the WILL linebacker position currently occupied by pending free agent Leroy Hill. I’m surprised Jarvis Jones has given so little consideration to turning pro with a lot of teams looking for his skill set. Zach Brown at North Carolina isn’t the same kind of edge threat on third downs, but he’s a sideline-to-sideline player who gets around the field and makes tackles. He’s very fluid, he’s a sure tackler despite needing to add some size. In many ways he’s the anti-Aaron Curry – more measured in his approach but silky smooth in the process.

Whether he’s enough of a pass rusher, I’m not sure. The Seahawks need to find ways to create pressure in a scheme that utilises three big-bodied defensive lineman, no top-end three technique and one pass-rush specialist. If they’re forced into a situation where the top two quarterbacks are unavailable, I expect linebacker to be a target area in round one.

Updated first round mock draft

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Despite a lot of talk about keeping Manning and drafting Luck, it remains an unlikely proposition. Long term thinking will win out.
#2 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
The Rams will end up with the #1 pick if Indianapolis wins again. Whether it’s St. Louis or Minnesota picking here, they should take Kalil.
#3 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Minnesota would love a shot at Kalil. It might be a bit of a reach, but protecting Christian Ponder must be a priority.
#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
I have a feeling Holmgren will target quarterbacks later now that Barkley is out of play. That opens the door for Richardson.
#5 Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
The complete package at receiver – size, speed, good hands, competitive, adjusts to the ball. Gene Smith often does the unexpected.
#6 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
Cornerbacks don’t often go in the top 2-3 picks, so Claiborne isn’t a shoe-in to go earlier than this.
#7 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
I still believe Shanahan will show most interest in Ryan Tannehill later, while Peyton Manning remains an immediate option.
#8 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Are Miami starting to believe in Matt Moore? In reality, he’ll probably only be used as a bridge to the future.
#9 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
Welcome to the 2012 draft. The complete lack of defensive line quality will see players like Still drafted above their means.
#10 Barrett Jones (OT, Alabama)
With several potential top-ten picks staying in school, others will emerge. Barrett Jones could be one of the players to take advantage.
#11 Luke Kuelchy (LB, Boston College)
Tackling machine who doesn’t flash many big plays but will quickly become the heart of a defense. A Scott Pioli-type pick.
#12 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
They need an OT but the top three are off the board. The next biggest need is a pass rusher and Branch will start to rise up boards.
#13 Kevin Reddick (LB, North Carolina)
I won’t be too surprised if Reddick goes before teammate Zach Brown. He’s less flashy, but more consistent. Just a solid football player.
#14 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
The Seahawks could look for a more athletic option at the WILL. Brown has a bit of the Lance Briggs about him.
#15 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
Consensus opinion has Blackmon in the top ten, but he makes mental mistakes and doesn’t have elite tools. This really isn’t much of a slip.
#16 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Wright’s downfield speed and game-breaking ability will get the most out of Jay Cutler. Under rated receiver.
#17 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Teams will be suspicious of a player with Coples’ physical qualities who doesn’t dominate as much as he should.
#18 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
He’s big and good in run support, but has struggled in coverage at times. Jerry Jones will like this guy, so will Eli Manning.
#19 Sam Montgomery (OLB, LSU)
Redshirt sophomore with the kind of lean frame and speed to develop into a pass-rusher for Rex Ryan.
#20 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Slightly over rated right guard from Stanford. A very technical player, but isn’t the all-dominating power lineman some think.
#21 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
Elite cornerback talent but troubled by off-field problems. The Bengals needs to draft a corner and Jenkins is good enough to start quickly.
#22 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Cleveland needs to keep adding playmakers. Floyd has his issues, but put him on that offense with Trent Richardson and it’ll be much improved. They’d still need a quarterback.
#23 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
With 14.5 sacks this year, someone will give him a chance early in the draft. Detroit has bigger needs but could show interest here.
#24 Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
The Broncos run the ball well and could look to add another back to their stable. Carolina had two first round runners under John Fox.
#25 Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri)
He’s very much the modern tight end - a pure pass catcher who will make spectacular plays downfield.
#26 Vontaze Burfict (LB, Arizona State)
Although I think his stock is falling, someone could take a shot on Burfict. My guess is he’ll end up playing AFC North..
#27 Alameda Ta’amu (DT, Washington)
His potential to play nose tackle could keep him in round one, even if his play has been inconsistent for the Huskies.
#28 Peter Konz (OC, Wisconsin)
Stood out last year in a big-name Badgers offensive line. Could return for another year, but ready to have an impact as a pro
#29 Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (DT, Baylor)
He’s no Phil Taylor, but every time I’ve watched Baylor this year he’s been the one defensive player who looks to have some pro-potential.
#30 Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama)
Combative pass-rusher who fits the mould of the Baltimore defense. Brawling style makes up for lack of elite size and speed.
#31 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
He plays a bit like a runaway train. His running style looks off balance, but he moves for a big guy. A 3-4 fit looks ideal.
#32 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
He’s having a good year but his stock is limited due to the position he plays. This would be a nice get for the Packers.

34 Responses to “Updated mock draft: 28th December”

  1. tompage says:

    Interesting mock Rob. With Barkley staying in school and Griffin rising, it doesn’t look like there will be QB value when we pick so this version makes sense.

    You indicate the Seahawks try to get a pass rush with three oversized lineman and one under sized pass rush specialist. I think that is a little misleading, Red only plays about 60% of the defensive plays, and even less if the other team is in catch-up mode. My point is a replacement for Raheem Brock would play a lot, and is a priority.

    You make a good point about finding a long term WILL, but I think they are hopeful Malcolm Smith can develop. Smith’s biggest issue has been staying healthy, but he appears to have elite speed for the position.

    Looking at the mock, I’m wondering if they pass on Justin Blackmon. The Seahawks need more explosive players, and he could team with Sidney Rice to create a potentially elite receiving core. I don’t expect training camp to open with Mike Williams as the projected starter.

  2. Bill Bobaggins says:

    I like the idea of an LB Rob. Makes a lot of sense with the lack of depth at that position. I don’t see a lot of great options at DE and so I’m hoping that the Hawks don’t reach for one.

    I’d love it if Richardson fell to us (especially if Lynch gets away in FA), but I don’t think that’s plausible without a trade up.

    If the Colts have the #1 pick, I wonder what the chances are of Seattle being a team to trade the farm for that pick. Andrew Luck seems to be a “can’t miss” guy and I believe that the Colts could be persuaded to keep Manning for the right draft picks.

    At this point, I’d like to see the Hawks try to trade down. I know that this probably isn’t a popular opinion, but I’d really like to see if Ryan Mallett is an option. He was incredible in the off-season and I still think he’ll be a big NFL stud. However, if the Hawks FO had the chance to draft him last year and passed, I don’t think they’ll make that move.

    Lastly, picking up LaMichael James (not sure that he’s officially declared yet) in the 3rd or so would be a great pick. Keeping Lynch and picking up James would be a really nice one-two punch for the Hawks. Forsett isn’t that guy.

  3. Micah says:

    I think I would take Kendall Wright over Justin Blackmon. If you can take the top off a defense with elite speed, it makes it easier for underneath routes, which would get Zach Miller more involved in the passing game. I don’t see Mike Williams penciled in as the starter, either, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate are making good cases for why they should be there.

    With the appearance being that next years draft is going to be more talent laden than this one, I could see some teams valuing next years picks more than usual. I could see Seattle trading into the top 7 if Griffin is around at the right price. I might even be willing to go with 2 firsts and 2 seconds. I think Cleveland would make that deal. It would give them all the ammunition they need for Barkley next year. If the Rams end up at number one, I think Cleveland is a natural partner for them. Tampa may be willing to make that trade also.

  4. tom page says:

    Interesting suggestion to go with Kendall Wright, but I’m wondering if he is a little small. Baldwin and Tate are both long term receivers under six feet tall, and Butler is still on the roster. I think there are only so many roster spots for smaller players.

  5. GUMP says:

    Is Dwight Jones valued this high around the league? Seems to be underated by many which ESPN doesn’t even have him as a top 4 WR. Rob, I know you see him as a hidden gem or something to that effect. If he slips down to our area you see us picking him or would that be too much of a luxury pick with other areas in more need?

  6. Billy Showbiz says:

    I hope we’d attempt to make a move for RGIII if he is still there after the 5th pick. He may be a litttle bit of a developmental player but he has Cam Newton potential with a more humble attitude. I don’t really think that he’ll last that long though. It’s not like we’ll be in the position Atlanta was in where they had to move up 20 spots? It will be more like 8 spots which should make the price a little more reasonable.

    We do have other needs. Tom Page made a great point about replacing Brock. As for a Will, didn’t Leroy Hill have a pretty good year? Him along with Smith should keep us from addressing that position in Round 1. The O Line looked pretty good but I still think that more depth could not hurt. Especially if there is as much first round talent as this mock suggests. It’s just tough to say if we can’t get the QB, it is such a glaring hole. I hope we make the move, I’d love to see RGIII on this team.

  7. Matt says:

    There is absolutely no way that the Redskins will pass on a QB for Reilly Reiff. Absolutely no way.

  8. GUMP says:

    RGIII will probably have multiple teams trying to trade up with the falloff from him to the next best projected QB. Even if it is only 8 spots it might take kings randsom. Don’t get me wrong I would love him on our team but it might be too rich. Cant believe with previous years depth at DE that only one is in the top half.

  9. Rob says:

    GUMP – I like Jones a lot, but think he’s under rated. Whether he goes that high or not I’m not convinced, but it’s early in the process and I want to represent a view on the guy’s talents. Jacksonville do things differently (Tyson Alualu anyone?) so it’s not beyond possibility.

    Matt – The only reason I have Washington going in that direction is because I think there’s a very good chance Shanahan will target Ryan Tannehill later. I also think there’s a pretty good chance Peyton Manning ends up in Washington if Indy owns the #1 overall pick – so if you consider Manning and Tannehill are possible options on Washington’s roster, suddenly a non-QB pick in round one becomes less unbelievable. Let’s not forget how picky Shanahan is with QB’s, many people expected Washington to take one last year too and they passed.

  10. Colin says:

    I’m assuming Zach Brown has some pass rush skills that Leroy Hill currently lacks?

  11. Rob says:

    The potential is there for Brown, he needs to add a little more size but part of the WILL’s role is to offer more of a rush in passing situations.

  12. PatrickH says:

    If St Louis Rams end up with the 1st pick, it will be interesting to see the bidding war for Andrew Luck. Unfortunately the Seahawks likely wouldn’t be part of it, because the Rams wouldn’t want to benefit their division rival.

  13. USAFANARC says:

    In reference to Manning and the Colts: From what I understand, the Colts have to pay Manning $28mil five days before teams can trade players. So, the Colts only option if they don’t want to write him a $28m check is to cut him. So, I can not see the Colts paying him $28m and then trading him. They don’t get that money back when they trade him, so they will have essentially wasted $28m. Rob, please correct me if I’m mistaken, but that’s what was discussed on a radio show I was listening to today. Because of this, I can’t see how they don’t draft Luck and keep Manning. If they cut him, do you see him still ending up in Washington? Since he’s been most productive in a dome, would other dome teams be better suited for him? St. Luis, for example?

  14. Kip Earlywine says:

    I still need to see more of Brown, but I wouldn’t be terribly thrilled with that selection. Lance Briggs is one of the best run stopping OLBs of his generation, and nothing I’ve seen from Brown makes me think he’ll be that good. It doesn’t get talked about a lot, but Seattle does need an a run stopping upgrade in the LB group. I wonder if its Hill we should be upgrading though. Hill has always been good against the run and is probably a better pass rusher than Brown would be.

    I’m just not seeing the upgrade to justify the investment. Our linebacking trio isn’t bad, and this is a rather pedestrian LB group at the top.

    The only LB I could realistically see us drafting would be Upshaw after a trade down. Upshaw would be a reach in the mid-1st, but in terms of personality he’s a perfect fit for Carroll’s defense.

  15. JC says:

    I caught the better part of the UNC – Missouri game and I must say that I’d hesitate to draft any Tar Heal defender in the first round. It was an ugly and uninspired game by that unit. Rob Rang, who people either love or hate so take it for what it’s worth, had some harsh things to say about Brown and Coples that I can’t find fault with.

    I agree with the theory; improve a very upgradeable unit while addressing the iffy pass rush at the same time, but I’m struggling with seeing Brown being that guy right now.

  16. David says:

    I read somewhere that if the Colts trade Manning it would cost them around 19 million, but I prolly read it wrong, and plus it was a while ago.

    I honestly cant see Manning and Luck Co-existing on the same team, Luck is going to want to play and not have to wait for Mannings Tenure to be over, and plus thats alot of weight on his shoulders, with Expectations and what not, i dont see it.

    and plus wouldnt they’re Contract both be up at the same time? am i correct?

  17. Darnell says:

    If we were to go LBer, part of me thinks that Burfict is the perfect nutjob in the middle to put this defense over the top. And I think we now have the locker room where we can risk bringing in guys with “character questions” that have bigtime upside.

    Slide Heater back outside and bring in Burfict, though I’d be hesitant to part with Leroy after the way he bounced back this season.

    Ideally, we don’t go LBer. But this defense is well on its way to being one of the most intimidating in the league, Burfict plays with the emotion to add to that.

  18. Nano says:

    Rob, Kip: What’s your opinion(s) of Mercilus? It looked as though he had a good game against a good group of lineman in Wisconsin. Do you think he has the quickness to play the Leo/”Clem”?

    He’s really intriguing to me, and he seems really quick for a guy his size.

  19. Alex says:

    And this ladies and gentlemen is precisely why you don’t play for draft picks. If we were doing so, we would be immensely screwed with Barkley returning. The simple truth is that the draft is unpredictable. At this point, I would just accumulate as many picks as possible and rely on our scouting.

  20. seanmatt says:

    Rob, do you view Brown as a day one starter at LB or do you see the need to re-sign Hill for a year and ease Brown into the starting duties? Would you, or Kip, view him as an upgrade over Hill if he does start?

  21. Jarhead says:

    I’m pretty congruent with Darnell. I think we are in the position where we should take a leap and go high-risk, high-reward. Burfict is the most physically gifted of all these linebackers, and place in the right environment, with the right coaching and veteran leadership, he could blossom into a real impact player. A player teams view in the same way they view Urlacher and Lewis. And also remember Dennis Erickson was the same coach for the Hurricanes when they had countless on the field and off the field troubles, not exactly a tight reins coach. With the way Carroll is, and the attitude of the defense, I see Burfict having the most impact on our team. Also, a lot of players have played up to and beyond their potential on this team: Sherman/Browner/Tate/Bryant/Baldwin anyone? This team seems to make players play at or above their ceilings. So we could get the Monster Burfict instead of the mouse

  22. JC says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with Darnell and Jarhead. While I’ll pick at the low hanging fruit and liken Burfict to Aaron Curry, it’s not for the reasons one might expect. In my opinion Curry failed because he couldn’t walk the line between instinct and smarts. Too often you’d see him (Curry) run himself out of a play due to his overly agressive nature. Two plays later he’d look lost and indecisive because he overcompensated and used his head too much.

    Burfict is a phyical beast and will blow away evaluators at the Combine, but the film shows a man who too often plays without discipline. That’s all the more worrisome given the NFLs emphisis on “player safety”. Cam Chancellor has been a victim of the league’s amorphous rules and I don’t think there’s anyone here who’ll say Cam’s reckless or out of control. It’s not unreasonable to see Burfict as a 15 yard penalty machine and the Hawks already have enough trouble with the zebras as it is.

  23. Richard says:

    I agree with Darnell and Jarhead. It’s time to visualize Vontaze in the middle or with his speed outside. He can and will intimidate QBs. I watched from Arizona all year and felt that Vontaze was the exact choice in the middle for the hawks. Middle of the draft, middle of the field to the middle of the play. He can be the torrent at the center of the Seahawk Storm. He creates havoc that the rest of the defense will take advantage of.

  24. Ed says:

    I have liked Burfict for awhile, but not many people on this site do. Especially when you say a guy will end up in the afc north, where linebackers are studs, we should take a shot. There is no qb for us, I would say de would be next need (weak draft for it). Hawthorne is injury proned, he can move to hills spot and and you have a pretty young athletic lb crew (burfict/wright/hawthorne). Burfict could be our ray lewis.

  25. Rob says:

    The problem with Burfict is going to be that he’s a loose cannon. You’re never quite sure what he’s going to do next – on or off the field. I’m not convinced this young team can accomodate a guy like this. In Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they have a cluster of vets ready to keep him in check. If you’re looking for Burfict to be the heart of the defense in Seattle, that scares me. I doubt he’ll ever be the leader Ray Lewis is.

  26. Tom says:

    Finding KJ in round 4, having Heater as undrafted in the middle and Hill as a 3rd and in today’s passing NFL with 2 QB’s going to break Marino’s 1984 single season record, we need to improve:

    1. Our QB play.
    2. Our Pass rush to counter the op’s QB play.

    Pete and John can find a LB in mid rounds to fit right in to our scheme.

    What about Whitney Mercilus? 6’4″, has a quick burst, long arms, 14.5 sacks and 9 forced fumbles. Mercilus sounds like a playmaking pass rusher that could be used as future LEO and to replace Brock and give us a pair of pass rushers on 3rd down.

    Pete has a way of utilizing the talent well. Moving Big Red to the SSDE from DT and moving KJ around all 3 Lb positions until he finds that fit.

    I’m saying we likely go reach for Ryan Tannehill or a pass rusher in rd 1 and Mercilus may be that guy but let’s look at some video. I don’t see a LB in this new NFL as being the type of impact player the Hawks need or would be high on Pete and John’s board unless the backer can play will and has pass rush / sack / forced fumble production.

  27. Niner Madman says:

    A NT for the Niners in the first? Not a chance. I think the Niners brain trust would pick any of the next three players on your board before a NT, with Upshaw or Barron being the preferred picks. The Niners could use another OLB or Safety depth much more than they need a NT. Even a 3-4 DE like Cox to back up an aging but still awesome Justin Smith is a higher priority.

  28. Gmoney says:

    I hope your correct about pittsburgh because I love the pick. I’m picking the Steelers over the Saints in the super bowl so Burfict may not be available at pick 32, however Donte Hightower might be and I would be happy with that pick as-well. Good mock.

  29. osbrey says:

    Trufant with his $7 Million 2012 Cap is gone.
    Seattle will not pass on Dre Kirkpatrick.
    Sherman will move to Nickle back, and Thurmond to dime back.

  30. Rob says:

    You do realise Seattle has one cornerback practically heading to the Pro Bowl and another who would’ve been had he played a full season? Why would the Seahawks spend a R1 pick on Dre Kirkpatrick – who’s wildly over rated anyway – when they already have two productive starters? It’d be a completely wasted pick on a position that just simply isn’t a need anymore. Browner and Sherman have been sensational.

  31. Norm M says:

    I hate to say it but a first round QB is not going to happen. RG3 has only improved his stock during the Alamo bowl. I would not be supprised at all if he went first overall. With a fairly weak draft class I would hope that Seattle trades down and picks up another second round pick. It seems to me that the talent levels between the bottom half of the first and middle is about the same. Seattle has proven that they can pick up players that fit their schemes anywhere in the draft. I know this is primarily a draft site but I am curious if Kip or Rob has any input on possible free agents that will be available that would fit the DE or LEO positions. Thanks again for your insight.

  32. Ed says:

    Our biggest needs are de (pass rusher) and qb. If we can trade back and get another 1st next year, we get a pass rusher late 1st/early 2nd this year, and have to 1st next year to trade up for barkley

  33. bballpapa says:

    Do you have any evaluation on Chandler Jones the DE from Syracuse that has recently declared for the draft? Would he fit in with the Seahawks – as a 2nd or 3rd rounder? With his Senior year injuries I doubt he has a 1st round grade.

  34. bballpapa says:

    I guess if he is declaring early – it would no doubt be Junior year injuries!