Updated: December 18
Alright so here’s the deal. It’s generally a bad idea to do mock drafts with games still left to be played because of the fluidity of the draft order and unknown status of underclassmen. After a couple years of taking a mental hiatus from doing mocks, I guess we forgot this little tidbit. This mock draft was constructed based on all NFL draft assumptions as of December 18th. On December 18th, Matt Barkley was penciled in the 2012 draft. A couple days later, Barkley announced that he was coming back to USC for his senior season. And it threw a pretty big wrench into our mock. I have nothing against Matt Barkley personally, I mean I’m sure he’s a good kid and everything, but below is our first mock draft in our 7th year of doing mocks–The F-You Matt Barkley Edition.
1. Indianapolis Colts:
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Easy selection here for the Colts at the top of the first round. Andrew Luck is not only clear and away the best prospect in this draft class, but he might be the best prospect the NFL has seen in the past decade. Drafting Luck while the team has Peyton Manning might not make sense to most, as Luck is an NFL ready quarterback, but both Luck and Manning would demand a ton of attention in the trade market should the Colts want to deal one.
2. St. Louis Rams:
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams once again find themselves with a top ten pick. Key needs for St. Louis are wide receiver cornerback and offensive tackle. Brandon Lloyd has been solid but Sam Bradford could really use an explosive playmaker like Blackmon going forward. Blackmon has dominated Big 12 defenses notching over 100 receptions the past two seasons (111 in 2010 and 113 and counting in 2011) and is the clear best wide out prospect this year. Morris Claiborne could be an option but corners are never taken in the top 3. With a now formidable supporting cast on offense, the pressure will be on Bradford to step it up in his third season.
3. Minnesota Vikings:
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Vikings have pretty much been in free fall mode since reaching the NFC Championship game just a couple seasons ago. Christian Ponder is shaping up to be the quarterback of the future in Minnesota. In order to protect their asset in Ponder, the Vikings will look to add the draft’s best offensive tackle here in the top three. Kalil headlined a stout USC Trojan offensive line that only allowed eight sacks as a unit in all of 2011. As an individual, Kalil did not allow a sack throughout the entire 2011 season. Impressive stuff.
4. Washington Redskins:
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The ‘Skins have tried unsuccessfully at trading or signing for a veteran qb for a few years now and should start over at the position through the draft. Barkley has been turning heads all year, highlighted by his 4 touchdown performance against Oregon. Robert Griffin III has moved himself into consideration as the best quarterback not named Andrew Luck but look for Mike Shanahan to go with a more traditional pocket passer to build around.
5. Carolina Panthers:
Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
Carolina struck gold with the selection of Cam Newton in 2011. As the NFL season progressed, it became increasingly clear that Cam is developing into the next poster child for the NFL. However, with that being said, Superman can’t play both ways. Adding a blue chipper on the defensive side of the ball would be the ideal scenario for the Panthers in the first round, and they have exactly that in Quinton Coples. Furthermore, Coples (or any defensive end really) would mean increased productivity for Charles Johnson and his new lucrative contract extension. Owners and GMs generally like when big money decisions they make pay dividends, and drafting an end to play on the other side of Johnson could go a long with in justifying his extension.