#25 – Denver Broncos: DT Jerel Worthy (Michigan State)

Team Needs (DT, CB, G/C, RB, WR, QB) / Draft Strategy: The free agent loss of their best DT Broderick Bunkley vaults DT to the top of the priority list.

The addition of first ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning under center should do wonders to bring the Denver passing game back to relevance (ranked at the bottom of the league under Tebow). Addressing the O-line (replacing Zane Beadles - allowed 7 sacks in 2011) should be at the top of their list if they plan to protect the 35-year-old Manning from needing another neck surgery.


Key Offseason Adds: QB Peyton Manning , TE Jacob Tamme , TE Joel Dreessen, CB Tracy Porter

Key Offseason Losses:  QB Tim Tebow traded to Jets for 4th- and 6th-rounders,  DT Brodrick Bunkley (New Orleans),

Pick Analysis: Denver’s run defense struggled as they finished the season ranked 24th in the league (126 YPG on the ground). Worthy ranks as the #2 DT on Mike Mayock’s board behind only Fletcher Cox. In 2011, he had 3.5 sacks with 30 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss and would be a solid 2nd round value. Conditioning and Inconsistency have his draft stock in limbo but some viewed the Spartan as the top DT entering the 2011 season.

Jerel Worthy Highlights

Other Possible Picks: CB Dre Kirkpatrick / Janoris Jenkins, OL Cordy Glenn / Peter Konz, RB Doug Martin / David Wilson

#26 – Houston Texans: WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech)

Team Needs (WR, ROT, DE, ILB, G, CB, OLB) / Draft Strategy: The loss of DE Mario Williams is significant but the Houston defense ranked among the league’s elite in 2011 despite Williams playing in only 5 games.

WR Andre Johnson will be 31 years old in 2012 and has missed 12 games over the past two seasons. WRs Jacoby Jones and Kevin Walter are 3rd WRs at best. An upgrade from LG Wade Smith (weak link on above average Texan O-line) should be addressed in the early rounds.


Key Offseason Adds: none

Key Offseason Losses: DE Mario Williams (Buffalo), CB Jason Allen (Cincinnati), OT Eric Winston (Kansas City), ILB DeMeco Ryans traded to Philadelphia for 4th-round pick (swap of 3rd-rounders)

Pick Analysis: Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill flashed electrifying speed at the combine that has him climbing many team’s charts. The 6’4 receiver is still a bit raw but he could very well hear his name called toward the end of round 1. Hill’s 29 YPC average led Division 1 and his explosiveness would be a welcomed addition for a Texan passing game that finished last season 18th in the NFL last season.

Stephen Hill Highlights

Other Possible Picks: DE Nick Perry, OT Cordy Glenn, OL/C Peter Konz, WR Kendall Wright, TE Coby Fleener

#27 – New England Patriots: DE Nick Perry (USC)

Team Needs (DE, DT, DB, C, SLB, WR) / Draft Strategy: The Patriots have multiple early round picks and would be wise to concentrate on the defensive side of the ball (especially pass defense) after they allowed 294 YPG (31st in the NFL in pass defense). The loss of DE Mark Anderson is significant as the 29-year-old racked up 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for New England in 2011.


Key Offseason Adds: WR Brandon Lloyd, OG Robert Gallery

Key Offseason Losses: DE Mark Anderson (Buffalo), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis(Cincinnati)

Pick Analysis: This pick goes to the Patriots as part of the 2011 draft day trade involving Mark Ingram. Perry led the Pac-12 in sacks with 9.5 and finished his junior season with 54 tackles. He was named a 2011 first-team All Pac-12 selection. The passing rushing specialist will be a welcomed addition to a Patriot defense that ranked 17th against the run and 31st against the pass.

Nick Perry Highlights

Other Possible Picks: SS Mark Barron, OLB Courtney Upshaw / Andre Branch / Whitney Mercilus

#28 – Green Bay Packers: DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)

Team Needs (3-4 OLB, S, QB, TE, 3-4 DL) / Draft Strategy: LB Clay Matthews is the only rush linebacker on the roster that is starting caliber. Upgrading an anemic pass rush (just 29 sacks in 2011) needs to be addressed early and often this offseason.  

The Packers pass defense was the worst in the league in 2011 (300 YPG). Safety Nick Collins suffered a career threatening neck injury so a vulnerable Packer pass defense could be even worse in 2012.


Key Offseason Adds: TE Jermichael Finley resigned , C Jeff Saturday  

Key Offseason Losses:  QB Matt Flynn (Seattle), C Scott Wells (St Louis)

Pick Analysis:  The 6-foot-2, 265 pound Upshaw has the size (6’2- 265) to hold up on the edge and the athleticism to rush the passer. Upshaw is a little short for the DE position and is likely better suited to play as an edge rushing LB at the NFL level. His coverage skills have also been questioned. He’s been labeled as a bit of a tweener with limited versatility which could cause a draft day slide.

Courtney Upshaw Highlights

Other Possible Picks: OLB Shea McClellin (Boise State), CB Dre Kirkpatrick / Janoris Jenkins / Stephon Gilmore, RB Doug Martin / David Wilson

#29 - Baltimore Ravens : DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)

Team Needs (G, OLB, LOT, DE, ILB, RB) / Draft Strategy: The Baltimore defense remains among the league’s best (ranked in the top 5 in run and pass defense) but their best players are getting old. The loss of Jarrett Johnson could mean more double teams for Terrell Suggs.

The Ravens will also need to address an aging O-line as LT Bryant McKinnie will be 33 and recently resigned C Matt Birk will be 36 when the 2012 season begins. They also need to replace OG Ben Grubbs who signed with New Orleans.


Key Offseason Adds: C Matt Birk resigned

Key Offseason Losses:  OG Ben Grubbs (New Orleans), DE/OLB Jarret Johnson (San Diego), DE/DT Cory Redding (Indianapolis)

Pick Analysis: Ray Lewis has already said he’s coming back for 2012 (his 17th season) but the soon to be 37-year-old future first ballot Hall of Famer battled a toe injury this season and will likely see his snaps scaled back going forward.  At 6-4, 265 the Illinois alum can play DE in the 4-3 and rush linebacker 3-4 – his versatility has his draft stock on the rise. In 2011, Mercilus led the nation in sacks (16) and forced nine fumbles.

Whitney Mercilus Highlights

Other Possible Picks: C/OL Peter Konz, OT Cordy Glenn, ILB Dont’a Hightower, SS Harrison Smith

#30- San Francisco 49ers: OL/C Peter Konz (Wisconsin)

Team Needs (G, 3-4 DE, WR, RB, CB, OLB) / Draft Strategy: Despite the multitude of offseason signings – I’m still not sure that the 49ers have a #1 WR on their roster. Addressing the right side of the O-line is probably a more pressing need in round 1 but don’t be surprised if the 49ers go with a WR or possibly a top flight TE (to pair with Vernon Davis) early in the draft as their anemic passing game needs a major overhaul if they expect to advance past the NFC Title game.


Key Offseason Adds:  QB Alex Smith resigned, CB Carlos Rogers  resigned, DE/OLB Ahmad Brooks resigned, S Dashon Goldson - franchised, WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham , RB Brandon Jacobs

Key Offseason Losses:  G/OT Adam Snyder (Arizona), WR Josh Morgan (Washington)

Pick Analysis: At 6-5, 315 Konz is labeled as a powerful blocker with sound technique. The first-team All-Big Ten player started 31 games for Wisconsin over the last three years. The right side of the 49er O-line needs an upgrade as RG Adam Snyder was lost via free agency and RT Anthony Davis has yet to prove that he’s starting caliber.

Peter Konz Highlights

Other Possible Picks: WR Stephen Hill, TE Coby Fleener, OT Cordy Glenn

#31 – New England PatriotsCB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama)

Team Needs (DE, DT, DB, C, SLB, WR) / Draft Strategy: We have the Pats using the first of their two first round picks on DE Nick Perry (USC).

The Patriots need to use the majority of their early round picks to address a defense that was among the worst in the league in 2011. The pass defense allowed 294 YPG (31st in the NFL). The loss of DE Mark Anderson is significant as the 29-year-old racked up 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for New England in 2011.


Key Offseason Adds: WR Brandon Lloyd, OG Robert Gallery

Key Offseason Losses: DE Mark Anderson (Buffalo), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis(Cincinnati)

Pick Analysis: This might be the ideal landing spot for the biggest character question mark in this draft. Jenkins finished his career at North Alabama after being dismissed from Florida following a second charge involving marijuana. He also reportedly has four childen with three different women (could be the next Antonio Cromartie) and has three documented arrests.

Despite the offield baggage – Jenkins is considered by some to be the best cover corner in the draft and he has return skills to boot. Jenkins  finished last season ranked 2nd in Division II in punt returns with a 21.7 average and returned three punts for touchdowns. He’s a top 20 player based on skill set but the character red flags could result in a draft day slide. JJ is the ultimate boom/bust pick as he could be in the Pro Bowl or a jail cell in the next five years.

Janoris Jenkins Highlights

Other Possible Picks: DT Devon Still / Kendall Reyes, OL/C Peter Konz

#32 - New York Giants: RB Doug Martin (Boise State)

Team Needs (OT, RB, LB, DT, DE, S) / Draft Strategy: RB Brandon Jacobs signed with San Francisco and Ahmad Bradshaw has two cranky feet that  forced him to miss 4 games in 2011 (received a February injection of bone marrow in his troublesome right foot).

The Super Bowl Champs don’t have any glaring weaknesses and might opt for the best player on the board. Upgrading the LG position is advisable after David Diehl, Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe all struggled in 2011.


Key Offseason Adds:  CB Terrell Thomas resigned, TE Martellus Bennett (Dallas)

Key Offseason Losses:  RB Brandon Jacobs (San Francisco), WR Mario Manningham (San Francisco), CB Aaron Ross (Jacksonville), OT Kareem McKenzie

Pick Analysis: Some Mocks have Coby Fleener going here but we think the offseason addition of former Cowboy Martellus Bennett buys the Giants some time as Beckum and Jake Ballard should be back by the middle of the season at the latest. Depth at the RB position has emerged as an issue this offseason. The Boise State running back (5’9, 220) has drawn comparisons to Ray Rice as he has a skill set that includes solid pass protection and receiving ability. Martin scored 47 total touchdowns during his Boise State career and amassed over 2,500 rushing yards the past two seasons with another 600 yards receiving.

Doug Martin Highlights

Other Possible Picks: OL/C Peter Konz, S Harrison Smith, RB Doug Martin 


Here are a few players that just missed the cut but could climb into round 1 as April 26th approaches:  RB David Wilson (Virginia Tech) / Lamar Miller (Miami), TE Coby Fleener (Stanford) / Dwayne Allen (Clemson), DE Chandler Jones (Syracuse) , DT Kendall Reyes (UConn) / Devon Still (Penn State), OLB Shea McClellin (Boise State) / Andre Branch (Clemson), ILB Mychal Kendricks (California), Safety Harrison Smith (Notre Dame)

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