I hate mock drafts. I think they’re injudicious if I’m being quite honest. How can anyone correctly foresee where picks are going for all 32 teams when there are 32 general managers around the league right now unsure of what they want to do themselves?
Still, I’d be untrue to say it’s not entertaining playing armchair GM for all 32 teams and more importantly, readers definitely seem to enjoy them. If nothing else, they can serve as ammunition for spirited water cooler talk.
For the record, I nailed two of the Buffalo Bills’ first three picks last year in my final mock draft. I, along with everyone else in the world called Marcell Dareus with the third overall pick, but I can also pompously boast of successfully snagging linebacker Kelvin Sheppard in round three. I was wrong on Colin Kaepernick in round two as the Bills instead selected cornerback Aaron Williams and from what I saw from Williams late last season, am glad to be.
2010 was our first year at Buffalo Sports Daily with a mock draft and in I had the Bills taking defensive end Derrick Morgan and offensive tackle Roger Saffold with their first two selections. Of course, Buffalo went with C.J. Spiller and Torell Troup instead though to be fair, I did write a column just before the draft imploring Buddy Nix to take Spiller ninth overall. Therefore, if he eventually busts I have no right to complain—I would’ve done the same thing.
Anyway, without further ado here’s my first stab at 2012, featuring the Bills first three picks.
1. Indianapolis- Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford): Do I really need to explain why?
2. Washington- Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor): See Indy description.
3. Minnesota- Matt Kalil, OT (USC): Plug and play left tackle that can be dominant for years to come. The Vikings would love to trade out of this pick, but no one wants Ryan Tannehill that bad.
4. Cleveland- Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama): They’ll definitely be tempted to go with Blackmon, but with another first round pick and an early second, they can get a good receiver to help Colt McCoy a little later. McCoy will be aided anyway by the addition of Richardson, who many scouts think will be a stud at the NFL level.
5. Tampa Bay- Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU): Vincent Jackson’s free agent signing solidified the wide receiver position and the Bucs need a star corner badly.
6. St. Louis- Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State): Forget these “time of the year” ramblings that Michael Floyd may go off the board before Blackmon. It’s time for the Rams to get serious about helping out Sam Bradford.
7. Jacksonville- Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina): Just so you know, until I caught a last-second edit I had James Ingram listed in this spot, as in James Ingram the singer. I love me some “Just Once” and “Baby Come to Me” as much as the next guy, but the Jags aren’t drafting a singer seventh. They will draft Melvin, who by the way is not related—I know that because I actually investigated.
8. Miami- Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M): I’m not nearly as sold with Tannehill going this high as everyone else, but I guess Miami would take him in this spot. Assuming this is the guy Miami wants, they may have to be careful of Kansas City trying to trade up with Jacksonville in front of them.
9. Carolina- Quinton Couples, DE (North Carolina): The last time the Panthers took a defensive end from North Carolina with some question marks early in the draft, it worked out pretty well for them.
10. Buffalo- Cordy Glenn, OT (Georgia): Don’t believe everything you read—I’ve heard the Buffalo Bills’ front office views the kid as a left tackle, not a guard or a right tackle. He has everything Buddy Nix likes an early round pick; he’s huge, he’s athletic and he played his college ball in the south. Riley Reiff seems to be the consensus pick should the Bills decide on left tackle with their first pick and certainly the safer of the two, but the feeling here is Glenn’s upside is formidably bigger. He may not be the starting left tackle on opening week and you always want to see a top 10 pick start on day one, but if he’s coached up right the kid could have a long, Pro Bowl caliber career in this league.
Many will see how this mock went and wonder why Michael Floyd wouldn’t come off the board here. My reasoning is quite simple— both positions could be construed as a need but the talent at wide receiver is far less a drop off in rounds two and three than offensive tackle.
11. Kansas City- Fletcher Cox, DT (Mississippi State): Not really much to say about this pick, Cox could be a stud clogging up the middle. Surely Luke Kuechly will be a consideration as well.
12. Seattle- Nick Perry, DE (USC): With the Seahawks signing Matt Flynn they’ll turn their attention to the defense. Courtney Upshaw may be a bigger name, but Perry is a better fit here.
13. Arizona- Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame): Sorry, Bills fans as I know a lot of you wanted him. Arizona is pretty desperate for offensive line help but the feeling here is Floyd has more upside and will get picked here over Reiff or Jonathan Martin.
14. Dallas- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama): Depending on who you talk to, “this guy” (my Jon Gruden reference) is either a top 10 pick or will be lucky to go in the first round. I think this spot is perfect for him, though a lot of people think the pick will be Mark Barron.
15. Philadelphia- Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College): A steady, tackling machine that will remind Bills fans of Paul Posluszny. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad though.
16. NY Jets- Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois): With Floyd off the board the Jets will turn their attention to the best pass rusher available. If New York really wants a don’t be shocked to see Kendall Wright end up here.
17. Cincinnati- David DeCastro, OG (Stanford): Perfect landing spot for a guy many consider the best guard coming out of college since Steve Hutchinson.
18. San Diego- Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa): I’ve personally yet to see a single mock draft where Riley gets past Buffalo and Arizona, but in my opinion this is where he ends up. I’m pretty sure A.J. Smith would be happy about that.
19. Chicago- Michael Brockers, DT (LSU): The trade for Brandon Marshall eliminated the need for a receiver in the first round. Brockers is good enough that he might’ve been the pick had Chicago not got Marshall anyway.
20. Tennessee- Mark Barron, S (Alabama): He’ll be paired nicely with Michael Griffin and is a notable upgrade over Jordan Babinaeux.
21. Cincinnati – Dontari Poe, DT (Memphis): Some think he’s the next Haloti Ngata. I don’t know about all that but if this mock draft holds true, the Bengals would land themselves two fine interior players for a team already on the rise.
22. Cleveland- Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor): This would give the Browns the top running back in the draft and a receiver at least some feel is the second-best of this rookie crop. There certainly wouldn’t be any more excuses for Colt McCoy.
23. Detroit- Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford): A pick of both value and need. I’ve seen mocks having Martin go as high as Buffalo at 10. I just don’t see that happening.
24. Pittsburgh- Mike Adams, OT (Ohio State): The Steelers can use a real tough guy at tackle and that’s exactly what Adams is. It’s worth nothing that esteemed Buffalo Rumblings colleague Brian Galliford had Buffalo selecting Adams in his first mock.
25. Denver- Jerel Worthy, DT (Michigan State): A talented interior pass rusher who can get after the quarterback, Worthy is a good fit as Denver continues to try and build a defense around Von Miller.
26. Houston- Kevin Zeitler, G (Wisconsin): The Texans need help on the interior of the offense line. Zeitler will deliver.
27. New England- Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB (Alabama): It wasn’t long ago when plenty of Buffalo fans were clamoring for the Bills to draft this kid. He’s a tough guy that will probably be a good pro and if he slips this far, I’d be shocked to see the Patriots pass on him.
28. Green Bay- Devon Still, DT (Penn State): He can play the nose and also the five-technique in a 3-4 defense.
29. Baltimore- Dont’a Hightower, LB (Alabama): The Seahawks love this guy, but picking him at 12 would be awful high. Lord have mercy, this would be five Alabama guys going in the first 27 picks.
30. San Francisco- Amini Silatolu, G (Midwestern State): Some will think this is a reach. I am not one of those.
31. New England- Shea McClellin, LB (Boise State): The Bills would love for him to fall to them in the second round.
32. NY Giants- Stephen Hill, WR (Georgia Tech): That’s how you replenish Mario Manningham. Having three legit wide receiver threats worked quite well for them last year, and Hill is a very talented kid.
33. St. Louis- Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama)
34. Indianapolis- Peter Konz, C (Wisconsin)
35. Minnesota- Harrison Smith, S (Notre Dame)
36. Tampa Bay- Bobby Wagner, LB (Utah State)
37. Cleveland- Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)
38. Jacksonville- Ruben Randle, WR (LSU): I really wanted Randle in Buffalo. In fact, all the way until I got to this pick I had him slotted to the Bills in my head and was excited about it. But with Jacksonville three picks ahead and only Laurent Robinson as any kind of proven commodity at receiver, it dawned on me the Jags are probably going to take Randle off the board right here. I’m very disappointed.
39. St. Louis- Bobby Massie, OT (Mississippi)
40. Carolina- Kendall Reyes, DT (Connecticut)
41 Buffalo- Mohamed Sanu, WR (Rutgers): With Randle gone, I’ve flip-flopped this pick in my head several times with linebacker Zach Brown. He’s been getting a lot of negative press lately and has been criticized for not being physical or having the best work ethic, but I know the Buffalo organization is a fan of Brown.
Still, I think Sanu in this spot is perfect and a far more legit compliment to Stevie Johnson than Donald Jones, Marcus Easley or Derek Hagan. At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds Sanu has excellent size and more importantly has excellent hands, can run after the catch and is a good run blocker—something never lost on Chan Gailey’s offensive scheme. He doesn’t have elite speed but has the ability to separate from defenders and is good enough to line up on the outside in the NFL.
The one thing he may have going against him, silly as it sounds is I can’t emphasize enough how much Buddy Nix likes drafting Southern college players, especially early in the draft.
42-63: A bunch of second-rounders Buffalo fans really don’t care to read about.
64-70: A bunch of third-rounders Buffalo fans care to read about even less than those we didn’t mention the second round.
71. Buffalo- Tank Carder, LB (TCU): Listed by most publications as an inside linebacker, Carder could play the strong side in a 4-3 and would be a great addition at this spot. With Kirk Morrison manning the starting strong side for now, there wouldn’t be any rush for Carder to step in and start right away. Bills fans will love this kid’s motor and how he approaches the game. He was the 2011 Rose Bowl MVP for TCU in their win over Wisconsin.
Right now the Bills single-biggest weakness may be their lack of depth at linebacker behind the starters. If nothing else, Carder can greatly improve that depth so this wouldn’t be a wasted pick at all.
Another name to watch out for with this pick could be versatile tight end Ladarius Green of La-Lafayette. He’s a pass catching tight end who can line up at wide receiver and while Scott Chandler was re-signed, the team isn’t married to him for the long term. People I’ve talked to say Green could be one of the biggest steals of the entire draft.
(We’ll be back with our second—and final mock the day before the actual draft on April 25.)