The Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft - Be Prepared For Some Wheelin? And Dealin? In Round One!

The Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft - Be Prepared For Some Wheelin’ And Dealin’ In Round One!

Let’s be quite clear about one thing when it comes to this year’s NFL Draft that takes place this Thursday/Friday/Saturday:

It’s not all about heralded quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as they will indeed be the #1 and #2 picks in this year’s draft pecking order but there are a slew of “impact players” on the big board even if it seems there is a dearth of high-quality running backs and only a smattering of big-time pass-catchers out there in rookie-to-be land.

After Luck and Griffin are off the board by approximately 8:15 p.m. ET (give or take a minute) Thursday night, you can bet your proverbial bottom dollar that there will be some colossal deals involving first-round picks as Jim Sez is forecasting as least three big deals (and probably even more) involving first-round choices and so here’s an idea:

Maybe one-time TV game-show host legend Monty Hall should be running this NFL Draft instead of Commissioner Roger Goodell … just a thought!

Okay, so we’ll get to our NFL Draft Round One selections (and forecasted trades) in just a moment but first this key reminder when it comes to Major-League Baseball and the National Basketball Association …

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to rock this 2012 MLB season and remember there’s still a couple of nights of NBA Regular-Season play before we get to this weekend’s NBA Playoffs and so sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily/nightly Baseball and Basketball winners.

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The NFL Draft - The Way We See Round One

#1. INDIANAPOLIS - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD -- The Colts surprised nobody the other day when they publicly announced they were gonna snap up this guy with the first pick in the draft but the only question is can Luck handle what figures to be a Peyton Manning-like rookie season in the NFL (see 3-13 record way back in 1998)? It’s clear that Luck is a once-in-a-generation player who has all the tools and all the brains and now he must be patient too because it will be awhile before Luck wins 11 games in a single season as was the case the past two years in college.

#2. WASHINGTON (previous trade with St. Louis) - ROBERT GRIFFIN III, QB, BAYLOR -- The Redskins truly shocked the football world when last month they dealt a king’s ransom to the woeful Rams for the right to be second overall in this draft and now the $64,000 question is will all of RG3’s skill sets translate onto this next level? In short, Griffin has a better-than-you-think arm and brains to boot but just how many hits will his 6-foot-2 (or less) frame be able to take on a weekly basis over the course of 16 weeks? We’ve called him the most exciting player to enter the league since QB Michael Vick a decade ago and here’s hoping he stays in one piece come 2012 and beyond.

#3. MINNESOTA -- MATT KALIL, OT, USC - No doubt the Vikings will be fielding lots of calls regarding this pick but gut feel is that Minny stands pat here and takes the best O-lineman (by far) in this draft while trying to ease the pressure on young QB Christian Ponder. Note that Kalil - whose big brother is the starting center with the Carolina Panthers - is a monstrous force at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds and he’s been trained well in a pro-type offense and so look for a brilliant 13-to-15 year career ahead.

#4. MIAMI (trade with Cleveland) - RYAN TANNENHILL, QB, TEXAS A&M - The Dolphins (pardon the pun) need to make a splash after they failed in off-season attempts to land the likes of QBs Matt Flynn and Kevin Kolb and so under-fire GM Jeff Ireland makes the move up from #8 because he fears someone else might be willing to trade up for the third-best slinger in this draft. Maybe this qualifies as a reach - and we believe it is - but the bottom line is Miami needs to identify who will be the long-term answer at QB and so they pay the piper to get Tannehill here.

#5. TAMPA BAY - MORRIS CLAIBORNE, CB, LSU - The Bucs probably will go right down to the last moment before opting for a cover corner over RB Trent Richardson but in the NFC South you better have guys who can play pass defense down the field against the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Good move by T-Bay who is really in a building block-by-block mode of getting this club back to respectability plus Claiborne can play some special teams too and so he’s worth his weight in gold.

#6. ST. LOUIS (previous trade with Washington) - FLETCHER COX, DT, MISS STATE - New head coach Jeff Fisher probably expected Claiborne to fall into his lap here but that won’t be the case and so the Rams utilize their traded-down pick with the ‘Skins to take the next-best defensive player in this draft and someone who should open things up a bit for St. Loo’s pass-rushing DEs (see Chris Long). There will be some scuttlebutt about trading down again here for the Rams but they need to stock their shelves with quality players and Cox is a make-sense pick.

#7. BUFFALO (trade with Jacksonville) - JUSTIN BLACKMON, WR, OKLAHOMA STATE - Conventional wisdom is that the Bills are gonna wait it out and hope Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd is sitting there at pick #10 but Buffalo’s “all-in” this year (see recent free-agent signing of Houston DE Mario Williams) and so they gamble here and flip-flop picks with the Jaguars and send away a couple of mid-round picks to boot. Blackmon is considered one of the top six or seven talents in this draft and so the Bills make their move and hope to close the gap in the AFC East with rivals New England and the New York Jets.

#8. CLEVELAND (trade with Miami) - TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - Give the Browns and boss-man Mike Holmgren credit because they will switch spots with Miami and still nab the guy they were after in the first place and so it’s a win-win as they collect an extra draft pick or two as well. No doubt Richardson has the body/brawn to be a tough back in this man’s league for a long time and watch how QB Colt McCoy can finally mature at this position now that he gets some RB help. Three cheers, Brownies!

#9. CAROLINA - QUINTON COPLES, DE, NORTH CAROLINA - This will be a popular pick along Tobacco Road as the Panthers take one of the state’s native sons but you better believe that this NFC South club will toss-and-turn plenty while entertaining trade offers from the likes of the always-aggressive New York Jets and San Francisco too. Coples may need the occasional kick in the fanny to get him jump-started but he has talent and could be a sackmeister deluxe when facing one-on-one blockers.

#10. JACKSONVILLE (trade with Buffalo) - MELVIN INGRAM, OLB, SOUTH CAROLINA - The Jaguars copied Cleveland’s blueprint and trade down and still wind up with a guy they wanted badly (plus get extra picks) as this guy has top 10 draft talent and can be popped in on the D-line too when necessary. Jacksonville toys with the idea of going with the next-best past-catcher (that’s Mr. Floyd) but than realize that Ingram’s the slightly better talent and so make the stab here.

#11. KANSAS CITY - MARK BARRON, SS, ALABAMA - Okay, so here’s a surprise choice but do keep in mind this ‘Bama defensive back has been climbing the draft boards for weeks now and many folks believe he’s borderline top 10 material. True, the Chiefs need to address their defensive line (just about every mock draft has ‘em grabbing a D-lineman here) but this dude’s a big winner and will lay some mean hits from the get-go on NFL wide outs … you’ll see.

#12. NEW YORK JETS (trade with Seattle) - NICK PERRY, DE, USC -- The “Let’s Make-A-Deal” theme continues here on Draft Night as the J-E-T-S move up from #16 to grab a high-quality pass rusher. The thinking in Gotham City is that the Jets will sit tight and grab Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw with their mid-first round pick but that’s smokescreen stuff as GM Mike Tannenbaum loves to move up in these drafts and snag a guy generally only rated a 20-to-25 pick player by most draftniks.

#13. ARIZONA - MICHAEL FLOYD, WR, NOTRE DAME - You could make the case that the Redbirds have way more pressing needs but at least with this selection they take some heat off WR Larry Fitzgerald and spread out the field more in hopes of getting one-on-one matchups down the field. Floyd has great hands and will make his fair share of acrobatic grabs too but must admit we would have opted for the best defensive player on the board here (that’s Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly).

#14. DALLAS - STEPHON GILMORE, CB, SOUTH CAROLINA - Yup, the Cowboys are crestfallen when they can’t trade up in the opening round and than watch as SS Barron is nabbed by KC three picks ahead of ‘em and so Jerry Jones and Company regroup and opt for a top-flight cover guy and keep in mind this former Gamecock star has been a hot commodity on the draft boards in recent days.

#15. PHILADELPHIA - LUKE KUECHLY, ILB, BOSTON COLLEGE - Good fit for the Eagles who don’t necessarily have to rebuild following last year’s somber 8-8 season but the Birds do have to shore up a handful of areas and it helps to get one of the draft’s great tackling machines.

#16. SEATTLE (trade with New York Jets) - RILEY REIFF, OT, IOWA - Maybe this doesn’t exactly qualify as a “sexy pick” by the Seahawks but head coach Pete Carroll’s club needs some protection for aforementioned new slinger Flynn and the ‘Hawks figured this former Hawkeyes stud would still be there at this pick. Bingo!

#17. CINCINNATI - COURTNEY UPSHAW, DE/OLB, ALABAMA - Note that the Bengals have a pair of first-round picks (also #21) and look for the AFC North crew to split the picks with a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman and so they snag this national championship player first and than wait on their blocker. Just one question: Why not swap the picks and move up inside the top 10? Hmmm.

#18. SAN DIEGO - MICHAEL BROCKERS, DT. LSU - The Chargers need to do some refurbishing of their roster and so they hold onto this late-teens pick and gobble up a guy who probably has top 10-to-12 pick draft talent. Brockers is still on the raw side but the Bolts plan on moving him around on the D-line and watching to see where he grows the fastest. Solid pick.

#19. DALLAS (trade with Chicago) - WHITNEY MERCILUS, OLB, ILLINOIS - The scuttlebutt is that the Bears don’t mind trading out of Round One for a #1 next year and so that’s the gig here as the ‘Boys get themselves more high-quality help on defense after this former Illini star collected a nation’s best 16 quarterback sacks in 2011.

#20. TENNESSEE - DAVID DeCASTRO, OG, STANFORD - The rumor mill says the Titans will be happy to nab one of three players with this 20th overall pick and since South Carolina’s tandem of OLB Ingram and CB Gilmore are long gone they opt for the best guard in this draft and one of Luck’s top protectors the past couple of years.

#21. CINCINNATI - JONATHAN MARTIN, OT, STANFORD - The Bengals’ brass practically fall off their chairs when DeCastro is picked right in front of ‘em here but that’s how the cookie crumbles and so Cincy goes for “Plan B” and that’s to take the next-best blocker from “The Farm”. Hey, they’ll live with the choice!

#22. CLEVELAND - COBY FLEENER, TE, STANFORD - Let’s call this an official run on Stanford Cardinal players as this makes it three in a row as the Brownies use their second first-round pick to give McCoy a middle-of-the-field target who can make things happen after the catch. Truth is the Browns would have liked to get either Martin or DeCastro but Fleener is a top 25 talent worth the plunge here.

#23. DETROIT - CORDY GLENN, OT/OG, GEORGIA - Not used to the Lions drafting this low in Round One, right? The Motowners can go in any direction and still hit a home run but fact that O-line is starting to get a little old makes NFC North crew select best available blocker and a guy at nearly 350 pounds who can block out the sun and the stars.

#24. PITTSBURGH - DRE KIRKPATRICK, CB, ALABAMA - No ands, ifs or buts about it the Steelers need secondary help of all kinds and so they thank their lucky stars that this national championship stud is still on the board when their turn comes up. If Pittsburgh is wise than it will opt for safety help in the next round … just sayin’!

#25. DENVER - KEVIN ZEITLER, OG, WISCONSIN - Makes perfect sense that the Broncos would want to shore up their O-line in front of new QB Manning and so they debate the pros and cons of this former Badgers star with a couple of other Big 10 guys (like Ohio State OT Miek Adams and Wisky C Peter Konz) and decide to take this so-called “perfectionist” here.

#26. SAN FRANCISCO (trade with Houston) - DONTARI POE, DT, MEMPHIS - Here’s the skinny on the 49ers: They really wanted Zeitler and were flabbergasted when he went to Denver with pick #25 and so they package their #30 pick in Round One with some other draft goodies and get this guy who is said to have top 15 talent. Poe may need some motivation from time-to-time but he can get after enemy ball carriers and has monumental strength at 345 pounds (give or take a sugar cookie!).

#27. NEW ENGLAND - ANDRE BRANCH, DE, CLEMSON -- As we have learned from watching NFL Network, Bill Belichick likes to go for the “best value” and the truth is all the real standout first-round guys are gone save for Baylor WR Kendall Wright and he simply does not intrigue the Patriots head coach. So, the Pats go D-line and hope Branch’s straight-line speed is effective in getting after enemy quarterbacks.

#28. GREEN BAY - JEREL WORTHY, DT, MICHIGAN STATE - The Packers believe this guy slipped through the cracks with all the high-quality defensive linemen on the big board and maybe that shaky showing at the NFL Combine was an aberration. Just ask Big 10 RBs/QBs what it likes to get swallowed up whole by this 6-foot-2, 310-pounder.

#29. BALTIMORE - DONT’A HIGHTOWER, ILB, ALABAMA - If you’re keeping track of such things, this would make it five players from last year’s national title team with ‘Bama to get plucked in Round One and no doubt the Ravens are readying themselves for the post-Ray Lewis Era (although that still might be two or three years away).

#30. HOUSTON (trade with San Francisco) - CHANDLER JONES, DE, SYRACUSE - As stated above, DE Williams has shuffled off to Buffalo and so the Texans merely wish to pop in the best available player at the position plus remember Houston will also get some other goodies from San Fran for flip-flopping the first-round draft positions. Good move by a solid organization.

#31. NEW ENGLAND - MIKE ADAMS, OT, OHIO STATE - The Patriots utilize their second pick in Round One for the heir to now-retired Matt Light at LT and while he might not offer the “value” that Belichick craves in first-rounders he does make perfect sense as the hefty Adams could overpower the lighter defensive ends in this AFC East.

#32. NEW YORK GIANTS - DEVON STILL, DT, PENN STATE - The defending Super Bowl champs gobble up last year’s Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year while further bolstering this incredible D-line and GM Jerry Reese than figures he can grab a quality running back in the second/third round. What, you’re gonna question this two-time Super Bowl-winning talent evaluator? Not us!

NOTE: More NFL Draft goodies plus NBA & MLB Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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Aug

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