Right now, it's far easier to cross guys off than put guys on.
Such is the nature of doing the first of several 2012 jaguars.com mock drafts two days after the end of the Scouting Combine, and seven weeks before the April 26-28 2012 NFL Draft. Right now, everything's speculation and very, very little is known for certain.
But you asked for it – a few of you, anyway – so here it is:
Version 1.0 of the jaguars.com 2012 mock draft.
How much is known for sure about the '12 draft? Not much, although it seems all but certain that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is going to the Colts at No. 1 overall, and that someone is going to trade up to take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III at No. 2. It's also all but certain the team trading with St. Louis at No. 2 will be giving up most of its premium selections this year and at least a first-rounder next year to do it.
That's a steep price, and it may be worth it. Glad I don't have to pay it, though.
By the time the combine ended in Indianapolis Tuesday, some of those who were bothering to worry about the non-Griffin/Luck part of the '12 draft thought the selections immediately after that duo might go something like offensive tackle Matt Kalil to Minnesota, running back Trent Richardson to whoever is picking No. 4 and cornerback Morris Claiborne to Tampa Bay at No. 5.
For the purposes of this mock, I see the Redskins as the team most likely to trade up with St. Louis to get Griffin at No. 2. I put them at No. 2 and the Rams at No. 6, then went with the Rams taking Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon at No. 6.
That brings us to the Jaguars at No. 7, and while Blackmon to the Rams there will break the hearts of many receivers-obsessed Jaguars observers, I'm not sure it's all that tragic. There are a lot of questions around Blackmon, and there was a buzz around the combine he may not be worth a Top 10 selection.
My early guess – and that's all it is, an educated guess – is the Jaguars will go defensive end early. Cornerback is a possibility, and if Claiborne is there he makes a lot of sense because he is pretty close to a lock to be a big-time player.
But for the purposes of this mock, we'll focus on defensive ends, and because of the nature of this year's class, there's no clear-cut No. 1.
I went deep into the class and went with Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, and it has nothing to do with new Jaguars owner Shad Khan being an Illinois graduate. I'm just not sure Quinton Coples is worth the selection at No. 7, and Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw aren't quite the pass-rushing forces you'd like that high.
Mercilus (6 feet 3, 260 pounds) led the nation with 16 sacks, tied an NCAA record with nine forced fumbles and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. He only started twice before his final season, but is now projected as a first-rounder by many and his stock is reportedly rising. He has collegiate production and measurables, and I get the idea he'll be talked about a lot early as the draft approaches.
Is it out on a limb? Absolutely, and we'll probably change drastically in the coming weeks, but that's what version 1.0 is about. There's plenty of time for debate and discussion, but for now, we'll go Mercilus.
One final note on version 1.0: Including the trade for Griffin breaks my personal rule of not including trades in mocks, but in this case, the Rams have said they plan to trade the pick, so that makes it a bit different than just speculating what might happen on draft night.
Besides, I'm a rebel and rules are made to be broken.
Without further delay, here's version 1.0:
1.Colts | Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Comment: Luck's as much of a lock for the No. 1 pick as you can be two months out.
2.Redskins | Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Comment: Breaking the no-trade rule in the mock draft – just this once.
3.Vikings | Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
Comment: Word around the combine is he solidified himself here over the weekend
4.Browns | Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Comment: Do I take a running back this high? No. But the word is someone will take Richardson in the Top 5
5.Buccaneers | Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State
Comment: It'd be great if he slipped to No. 7. Right now, there seems little chance of that.
6.Rams | Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Comment: Blackmon's not a lock for the Top 10 or for here, but word in Indy is the Rams like him.
7.Jaguars | Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Comment: Out on a limb here, but what the heck? It's March 1.
8.Dolphins | Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Comment: They may be too distracted by acquiring Peyton Manning to notice Coples' collegiate inconsistency.
9.Panthers |Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Comment: He didn't dazzle at the combine, but the Panthers need defensive tackle help.
10.Bills | Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Comment: The Seahawks need pass rusher, and although Ingram is a reach here, teams reach for ends.
11.Chiefs |Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Comment: Tannehill could sneak into Top 10. If he doesn't, Chiefs could surprise and take him here.
12.Seahawks | Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Comment: Maybe the Jaguars trade down and look at Floyd here. If not, Seattle makes sense.
13.Cardinals | Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Comment: Reiff can play guard or tackle, but whatever the position, the Cardinals need line help.
14.Cowboys |Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama
Comment: Word at the combine was Jenkins is pushing Dre Kirkpatrick. Here's thinking he'll push past.
15.Eagles | Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Comment: Floyd doesn't fall past here, but he's in Seattle in this mock. Kuechly here makes sense.
16.Jets |Dontario Poe, DT, Memphis
Comment: Poe's combine could push him past Michael Brockers.
17.Bengals | Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Comment: With Jenkins off this board to Dallas, this is where Kirkpatrick falls.
18.Chargers | Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
Comment: Every chance he could go far earlier, and Chargers could go receiver here, too.
19.Bears | Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Comment: Every year there's a surprise drop. Martin would be this year's, and wouldn't drop past here.
20.Titans | Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
Comment: Glaring pass-rushing need probably makes this too obvious, but for now, we'll go with him.
21.Cincinnati |Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Comment: Bengals need secondary help, but could use WR to package with A.J. Green, too.
22. Browns | Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Comment: A lot of pressure to upgrade offense in Cleveland, and Hill's stock is rising fast.
23.Lions | David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Comment: Some have DeCastro much higher, but guard isn't a premium This is a high for a guard, but he's considered as much of a Pro Bowl lock as anyone in the class.
24.Steelers |Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Comment: Didn't get the pre-combine buzz of some of the DTs, but he was impressive there.
25.Broncos |Michael Brockers, DT, Louisiana State
Comment: Denver is strong on defense, but with Tannehill gone, Brockers' value too much to pass.
26.Texans |Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Comment: His stock dropped at the combine; if another WR can rise he'll be a possibility.
27.Patriots |Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Comment: The Patriots probably will trade here (they always do); if not, Worthy is worthy.
28.Packers |Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
Comment: Green Bay needs defensive help and the Packers need it fast.
29.Ravens | Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Comment: Konz could theoretically go higher, but in practice, it's hard for centers to go too much earlier.
30.49ers |Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Comment: Niners would love a receiver to fall here; if not, Dennard would help already strong defense.
31.Patriots | Andrew Branch, DE, Clemson
Comment: Scouts and coaches loved him at the combine; with Worthy, Pats improve front.
32.Giants |Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Comment: Giants usually go BAP, but tight end Super Bowl injuries could make Fleener worth this pick.