Final Mock: Barron Goes Top 10Thursday, April 26, 2012
continue story »
11. Kansas City Chiefs -- Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower
Luke Kuechly always goes before Hightower in mock drafts. They're both inside 'backers, and Kuechly is regarded as the best in this class. But it's not that simple. Chiefs top ILB Derrick Johnson is an athletic, sideline-to-sideline run-and-hit defender. In Romeo Crennel's 3-4, Johnson is ideally suited to play adjacent a thumping, lead block-busting "Ted" who performs unselfishly. Hightower is far more physical than Kuechly, and ultimately a better scheme fit for Kansas City.
12. Seattle Seahawks -- Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Pete Carroll and John Schneider's first two drafts have been heavy on productive college players from BCS conferences. 18 prospects have been selected in the two drafts, and the only small-schooler (Appalachian State S Mark LeGree) is no longer with the team. Carroll and Schneider have hit the SEC, Pac 12, and ACC particularly hard. Like most of Seattle's picks over the past two seasons, Kuechly is extremely productive, fills a need, and is squeaky clean off the field.
13. Arizona Cardinals -- Iowa OT Riley Reiff
Reiff-to-Arizona is a perfect match of positional need, draft value, and system fit. Reiff is an old-school, fundamentally-sound blocker who plays a position the Cardinals have unsuccessfully attempted to solve for several years. Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd should be considered, but Arizona's priority must be to keep happy-footed quarterback Kevin Kolb's pocket clean.
14. Dallas Cowboys -- LSU DT Michael Brockers
One of the few things we know with near-certainty entering Thursday's first round is that Dallas will draft Mark Barron if he's available with the No. 14 overall pick. ESPN's Adam Schefter was adamant Wednesday that Barron won't make it to 14, however, and it would be unreasonable to doubt the league's most plugged-in reporter. Brockers is believed to be the Cowboys' fallback option. He is a long-armed "five-technique" who's drawn some Richard Seymour comparisons.
15. Philadelphia Eagles -- Syracuse DE Chandler Jones
The media was way late on this guy, though it's forgivable. Jones didn't put up jaw-dropping stats in the Big East, and he was injured for a spell last season before declaring early for the draft. But NFL teams love long-bodied pass rushers who play through the whistle and are only going to get better. Aldon Smith didn't have great production and wasn't healthy for his final college season, either, and he went seventh overall last offseason. And that worked out pretty well for the Niners.
16. New York Jets -- South Carolina LB Melvin Ingram
It may sound silly, but teams are genuinely concerned about Ingram's sub-6'2" stature and short arms (31 1'2"). They have a prototype in mind for pass rushers, and Ingram doesn't fit. But Ingram is a havoc-wreaking athlete with off-the-charts versatility, and Rex Ryan will know how to use him in the Jets' hybrid scheme. I think Ingram is a lock to the Jets if he's there. And I think he will be.
17. Cincinnati Bengals -- Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick
Profootballtalk reported late Wednesday that Kirkpatrick's stock was never as lofty as we were led to believe. Kirkpatrick is short-armed for a corner considered to be blessed with ideal size, limiting his reach and offsetting his height to a degree. He also made too few plays in college, finishing with three career interceptions. The Bengals are still high on Kirkpatrick, and they'll take him at 17.
18. San Diego Chargers -- Stanford OG David DeCastro
DeCastro has lost some luster in recent weeks. Once considered a shoo-in for the top-13 picks, DeCastro has been the subject of decreased buzz after showing mediocre athleticism in pre-draft workouts. In San Diego, he could push underwhelming RT Jeromey Clary and RG Louis Vasquez.
19. Chicago Bears -- Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus
Chicago used the trade market to address its receiver need, and is looking to the draft for pass-rush help. The Bears hosted at least seven defensive end prospects for pre-draft visits, and among them was Mercilus, who has been knocked as a "one-year wonder" but operates with a relentless motor and finishes plays. He's already a favorite of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
20. Tennessee Titans -- Georgia OG Cordy Glenn
The Titans entered the offseason emphasizing improved interior line play. They signed Steve Hutchinson to play left guard, and can move incumbent right guard Leroy Harris to center, where he is best suited. Glenn is an athletic road grader capable of clearing lanes for Chris Johnson.