2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 – Bills Nab Courtney Upshaw

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21. Cincinnati Bengals
Coby Fleener – TE, Stanford
Another TE, just two years after they hit on Jermaine Gresham?  Cincy decides to go all Gronkowski/Hernandez on the league by adding the sure handed Fleener, surprising the league by taking him over Miami’s Dwayne Allen.  Andy Dalton just got another great weapon for the end zone for years to come.  Dark Horse Pick: Lamar Miller RB Miami.  Miller is the 2nd best rated RB in the draft, and a young RB to pair withDalton makes good sense.

22. Cleveland Browns (TRADED TO MINNESOTA) (from Atlanta)
Nick Perry- OLB/DE, USC
Jared Allen had a year for the ages in 2011, but if he was not getting to the QB, no one was.  Minnesota upgrades the pass rush at linebacker and feels pretty darn good about themselves after this year’s draft.  The Vikings will look to upgrade the Corners in the later rounds, because pass rush always trumps coverage.  Dark Horse Pick: remember that as it stands this is technically Cleveland’s pick before the trade, but since there isn’t a human alive who thinks they won’t be desperate to trade up, either St Louis or Minnesota will be picking here, and if it’s the Rams, a wide receiver could definitely go here.  If somehow Cleveland is still picking here, Ryan Tannehill, QB for Texas A&M replaces the underwhelming Colt McCoy.

23. Detroit Lions
Alfonzo Dennard – CB, Nebraska

They need help on the OL, but the value just isn’t there.  CB is a secondary need, but Dennard could convince people he represents the highest value.  Detroit has a fierce some defensive line, and they just need time to mature into a truly terrifying unit.  Offensive line, particularly Center and LT will be addressed later on in day 2.  Dark Horse Pick: Peter Konz, the Wisconsin Center will be available here, but its not great value here, despite the need.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Vontaze Burfict – LB, Arizona State
Burfict fits the mentality of what the Rooney’s want in Pittsburgh, blue collar, hard working, and hard hitting.  He’s a bit of a head case, but the leaders on the Pittsburgh defense will help keep him in line.  The beat goes on what seems to be an eternally great defense. Dark Horse Pick: The Steelers corners got absolutely torn to shreds in the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Mile High Messiah and Denver’s receiving corps. Dennard may be available to them here.

25. Denver Broncos
Dont’a Hightower – ILB, Alabama
Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil represent a rapidly improving set of edge rushers for the Broncos, and having Hightower in there to help against the rush is key.  Since Denver plays in the same division as Oakland, KC, and Seattle all have above average running games, this becomes all the more important.  Dark Horse Pick: the Broncos grab Dwayne Allen to remove the one dimensional offensive attack they run, and follow John Elway’s plan of airing it out more.

26. Houston Texans
Kendall Wright – WR, Baylor
If Matt Schaub had stayed healthy, we may very well be looking at a Giants/Texans Super Bowl this week.  But he didn’t, so we aren’t.  The Texans have a silly good defense, and are could really use a number two receiver to pair with Andre Johnson.  Here’s the perfect fit for Houston at number 26.  Dark Horse Pick: if one of the higher ranked receivers are available.  I cannot really see the Texans going in any other direction, maybe tight end if there’s a good one available at this point.

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Andre Branch – DE/LB, Clemson
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if NE trades a pick, but they have a weak pass rush, and Branch is good value here.  Knowing the way Bill Belichick works the draft, anytime you slot the Patriots, it’s a total crap shoot.  Dark Horse Pick: trading it, what else?  If it’s a player selection, one of the aforementioned DB’s will certainly help the cause.

28. Green Bay Packers
Zach Brown- OLB, North Carolina
Bit of a reach here, but there’s nothing on offense the Packers could possibly need, and Clay Matthews is in desperate need for some help rushing the passer from the outside.  Brown is quick and powerful, and while many mocks do not have him in the top 35 for ceiling and talent, this pick is based purely on need for Green Bay.  Dark Horse Pick: a DT to pair with Raji on that line to help occupy blockers and provide interior presence.

29. Baltimore Ravens
Fletcher Cox- DT, Mississippi State
They want Burfict, but his stock is rising and outside of a trade, I just don’t see him falling here, even though he would be the perfect Padawan to Ray Lewis’ Jedi.  Cox though would help an already very good Baltimore defense stop the run, as we all saw in the AFC championship; Baltimore allowed far too many yards to the very average Green-Ellis.  Dark Horse Pick: could help Flacco out with a TE or a guard, Georgia’s Cordy Glenn should still be here, but not much longer…

30. San Francisco 49ers
Michael Adams – OT, Ohio State
A match made in heaven!  The 49ers need help on the offensive line and Adams is available and willing to help open holes for Frank Gore.  Don’t really see much of a Dark Horse Pick here, unless someone else on the line rises out of the 2nd day picks, which is entirely possible.  Their defense does not need much, especially if the guys who are all expected to resign, do.

31. New York Giants
Lavonte Davis – OLB, Nebraska
Keeps with the Giants philosophy that you can never have too much pass rush, and we’ll see in a few days just how much that affects them in the Super Bowl against NE.  He’s not a flashy player, and this is a reach in the first round, but when you have a franchise QB, a pair of very good receivers and an above average RB, you can afford the risk.  Dark Horse Pick: David Wilson, RB Virginia Tech.  Who knows how much Brandon Jacobs has left, Wilson would help add depth to the ground game.

32. New England Patriots 

Certain Trade!
I’m not going to bother putting in a player here, because I’ve no doubt this pick gets traded, and the beat goes on in New England. If in the extremely unlikely event they make both of their picks here, you’d have to think it’s for either a DB or a DE/OLB.

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