21. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
>> The Bengals had already gone offense with their first, first round pick, and they go back to it here. Next offensive need is running back. Cedric Benson has lost a step, and he’s not an every-down back. He doesn’t catch too many balls. With a guy like Lamar Miller, you can do some things that Benson couldn’t do. He can take a check-down pass, and take it 40 yards down the field. He shows great explosiveness, and could be the change of pace back the Bengals need. Miller is not just a third down back, he can play any down. He is patient, and runs through holes. He is the 2nd ranked RB in the 2012 draft
22. Cleveland Browns (VIA ATL): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
>> The Cleveland Browns have already selected one of the best players in the draft, in Justin Blackmon. Thanks to the Falcons last year trading up, the Browns get another first round pick. Texas A&M senior QB Ryan Tannehill is that pick. The Cleveland Browns don’t really have a bad team, they have the offensive line, they have the defense, and they just added to their receivers. So what is missing? How did the team finish the season with a 4-12 record? A few reasons, but one sticks out, the poor play at the quarterback position. Colt McCoy is not taking any team to the Superbowl any time soon; he’s a sub-par quarterback who shouldn’t even be starting. It’s about time the Cleveland Browns draft their franchise quarterback. Ryan Tannehill was unavailable at the Senior Bowl due to a foot injury, and might also not be available for the NFL Combine. None of that matters, there is enough game tape to be sold on the guy. Tannehill is very accurate in the short and intermediate routes, and he throws the deep ball to where his receiver can make a play on it. He has an “NFL arm” which isn’t a Jay Cutler, or Michael Vick arm, but he can make all the throws. Being a former wide receiver, Ryan Tannehill should run a good forty, he’s a very mobile QB, and can throw the ball accurately 20-30 yards down the field, accurately, while on the move. He is an intelligent prospect, a student of the game, and a team leader
23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, N Alabama
>> I think the Lions would love to see Ohio State LT Mike Adams fall this far, but I have him going to the Bears at #19 overall. Lions GM Martin Mayhew has said in the past that, if his guy wasn’t available he will then take the best player available. This works out perfectly because Janoris Jenkins may not be the answer at left tackle, but he is an answer at one position of need, cornerback. The 2011 Lions had one of the better defensive lines; they got pressure and brought down the quarterback often. That’s all good, but it could be even better if the defensive backs were taking the ball away. The Lions DBs were beat, and beat often. There’s not much talent back there. A selection like Janoris Jenkins should help immediately. Jenkins has great anticipation for the ball, he reads then reacts. He is also very quick to react to the run. He may be the 3rd best CB in the draft, but he can make a play on the ball just as good as the first two CBs.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, LB-Alabama
>> The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is not getting any younger. ILB James Farrior just turned 37 years old. With age like that, you lose a step, and can’t keep up with some receivers. In the current pass-happy league, youth and explosiveness is a necessity. You need guys that can keep up with the tight ends, and take them down. Dont’a Hightower is great combination of size and speed. He stands tall at 6’4” 260 lbs and is rumored to run a 4.67 forty. He can do wonders in that Pittsburgh defense; I expect his stock to rise after he showcases his athletic abilities at the NFL combine.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
>> The 2011 Denver Boncos’ defense was one of the best. But, it was ranked 22nd in the league against the run, giving up over 125 yards a game. If John Fox wishes to make the Denver defense elite in 2012, they need an upgrade at the DT position. Current defensive tackles Broderick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas had zero sacks, and zero forced fumbles. Neither could provide good pressure up the middle, so as Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller get the outside pressure, all the quarterback needs to do is step up, and make a play. Penn State standout Devon Still is most productive against the run, but plays the pass well. He has great size combination to go along with his explosiveness. He is not a finished product; there are some areas of his play that need work.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
>> The Houston Texans are one of the only teams that have quality depth all around their roster. It became evident when their 3rd string QB T.J Yates took them to the divisional round of the playoffs. Having so much depth allows you to draft the best player available, and one good fit I see is Baylor wide-out Kendall Wright. In the 2011 season, Andre Johnson missed 8 games with a hamstring injury, while he may still be one of the best receivers in the game, he isn’t getting any younger. His body is letting him down a bit. Kendall Wright can come in and immediately contribute to the Houston offense. He is listed at 5’10” 190lbs, but he has game-breaking speed and is very quick to reach his top speed.
27. New England Patriots: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St
>> It’s always difficult to guess what Bill Belichick will do in the draft. He often trades down and acquires more picks. For the sake of this mock draft, let’s assume he stays here at #27. Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy is his guy. The highly-touted DT is very athletic for his size. And could fit very well in the New England hybrid 4-3, 3-4, scheme as either an interior lineman next to Vince Wilfork or an end on a 3-down lineman front. Worthy has shown he can be a disruptive force at times. The Patriots need another big body on that d-line pushing the pocket
28. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
>> Part of the reason why the Packers had one of the worst defenses was their defensive line. Ever since Cullen Jenkins left via free agency, B.J Raji had no help on that d-line. Brandon Thompson is Raji’s size at 6’2”, but he could play defensive end on that 3 man front. His best skill is his pass rush, aided by his extraordinary burst off the snap. He has quick feet, and he’s much quicker than he looks. Also plays the run well.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Vontaze Burfitct, ILB, AZ State
>> The Baltimore Ravens lost a very heart-breaking loss to the Patriots in the championship game. It’s hard to assess what a championship caliber team needs, but this pick just seems right. Vontaze Burfict is you’re prototypical inside linebacker. He has good size, and speed. He is a heavy hitter, and some even say he plays a bit dirty; perfect fit for the Ravens. Future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis may not be retiring yet, but he’s getting very close to it. What better way to bring up the eventual replacement of Ray Lewis, then under the tutelage of Ray himself?.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Alfonzon Dennard, CB, Nebraska
>> The 49ers may have the best front 7 in all of football, but their secondary is nowhere near that good. Carlos Rogers may have had a pro-bowl year, but he is a free agent. Even if they do bring him back, he is not very consistent. I like Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard here because man coverage is his middle name. He is very physical with the receiver; he may not have elite speed, but he makes up for it. Unlike Carlos Rogers, Alfonzo Dennard is very good with the ball in the air. He often adjusts his body, and turns into the receiver to intercept the ball. He is known to make acrobatic interceptions.
31. New England Patriots: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
>> The Patriots addressed the defensive line with their earlier pick, and I think they go wide receiver here. For quite some time now, the Patriots haven’t had a wide receiver threat. In 2011, the two tight ends made up for it, and it worked out well. But what happens when teams figure out how to stop the TE’s? They need a wide receiver. Both Wes Welker and Deion Branch will be free agents in March, and you can bet Welker will definitely be back. A pick like Mohamed Sanu would be a very nice fit to the New England offense. He’s not going to be beating defenders with his speed, but his best attributes are his hands. Sanu has natural receiving skills; he has long arms and catches balls over defenders. He has great hand-eye-coordination. You throw the ball in his vicinity; he’s coming down with the reception.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
>> The New York Giants have a very functional offense, but they lack that talented tight end. Jake Ballard had a fine season, but we are seeing more and more tight ends producing at a much higher level than that. Eli Manning needs a pass catching specialist to be his safety blanket when he needs to let the ball go. Drafting Stanford standout Coby Fleener here doesn’t mean Jake Ballard goes, it just adds quality depth at an important position on offense. Coby Fleener runs crisp routes, he has soft reliable hands, and great size at 6’6”. He’s not the greatest blocker, but he does get the job done when asked to.