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2012 YDKF Mock Draft – NFC South

Our GMs for the NFC West teams share the reasons behind their picks. Have a dispute? Take it up in the comments or join us in the YDKF Forums.

ATLANTA FALCONS
Rd 2 – (55) – Mychal Kendricks – Linebacker – California The Falcons were in a difficult spot this year.  A healthy amount of Atlanta’s selections were mortgaged on Julio Jones at the #6 spot in 2011. The end result is 6 overall picks, with only 2 of those 6 in the first 4 rounds. Fast forward to the tail end of round 2, and the Falcons choose linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks is an all round backer who played both inside and out at Cal. With the recent departure of Curtis Lofton to the bounty-clad Saints, the Falcons will be keen to replace his production at MLB. Kendricks has the skillset and instincts Atlanta requires.

Rd 3 – (84) – Orson Charles – Tight End – Georgia It’s not an easy task replacing who most consider to be the greatest of all time at tight end, but Tony Gonzalez is in the twilight of his career and is likely riding on his last legs. Orson Charles is considered by many to be the second best TE in the class behind Fleener of Stanford, and rightly so; Charles presents a mismatch for safeties and linebackers with his overall strength and speed at the position.

Rd 5 – (157) – Devon Wylie – Wide Receiver – Fresno State The 1-2 punch of Roddy White and Julio Jones strikes fear in to opposing defensive coordinators, but the Falcons’ offense has become stagnant at times. Strengthening the depth at WR will help, especially by providing a slot receiver that Matt Ryan can get in tune with. Although undersized by NFL standards, Wylie has the quickness and route-running ability to find separation underneath. Great for moving the chains.

Rd 6 – (192) – Duke Ihenacho – Safety – San Jose State Ihenacho is a versatile player that gives Atlanta some much needed depth at safety. Duke, a three-time All-WAC first team selection had impressed as linebacker in his sophomore year before moving back to safety in a junior year shortened by injury. His size and athleticism will lend well to special teams and underneath coverage in passing situations. Another bonus: his name is Duke, what’s not to love?

Rd 7 – (229) – Bryce Harris – Offensive Tackle – Fresno State Bryce represents great value in the 7th round at tackle. Pat Hill, ex-Fresno State head coach, has taken on the role of OL Coach in Atlanta. With him comes his protege at tackle. Harris has a great frame to build on at 6’6, 300 pounds. Very intelligent player that can be groomed into a starting role given the right situation. Interestingly, Harris had a nice career on the hardwood as well. His agility will lend well to taking on opposing pass-rushers in the big leagues.

Rd 7 – (249) – Gino Gradkowksi – Offensive Guard – Delaware Gradkowski, a three year starter at Delaware is a versatile lineman with the ability to play any position between the tackles. Excels in a zone-blocking scheme and has the intelligence to pick up Atlanta’s offense quickly. With the talk of Atlanta overhauling both offensive and defensive schemes, Gradkowski may sneak into a starting role sooner than fans would expect.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Rd 1 – (9)- Fletcher Cox- DT- Mississippi State The Panthers’ defense gave up an average of 130.8 yards rushing last year. Cox gives them a massive and powerful force in the middle of their defensive line and should play well next to a rotation of Sione Fua and Terrell McClain.

Rd 2 – (40) – Andre Branch – DE/OLB – Clemson The Panthers continue to improve their defensive front by putting a terrific pass rusher opposite Charles Johnson. Having solidified the middle, the Panthers now have dual pass rushing threats on both sides of the defensive line.

Rd 4 – (104) – Ladarius Green – TE – Louisana-Lafayette Cam Newton benefited from the use of a two tight end system. Shockey has still not been resigned, and has now become less of a necessity with the drafting of Green. Green is an impressive combination of size, speed and concentration, and has stepped up against big time competition. Should give Newton yet another target in his second year.

Rd 5 – (145) – Shaun Prater – CB – Iowa Great value with a cornerback who can flourish in Carolina’s zone defense. Aggressive attacking back with decent speed, his experience playing in a zone defense in college could translate well in the Panthers’ system.

Rd 6 – (180) – Lamar Holmes – OT – Southern Miss Holmes’s size, speed and long arms make him a quality backup tackle who can jump in for Jeff Otah if he continues to be injury prone.

Rd 6 – (207) – Danny Coale – WR – Virginia Tech Cam Newton gets more help in the passing game with a very strong slot receiver with reliable hands. Can also be a dangerous punt returner.

Rd 7 – (216) – Chris Greenwood -CB – Albion  Project pick taking a Division III cornerback, but a back impressive enough to get an invite to the East-West Shrine Game. He raised eyebrows at Michigan’s pro day, running a 4.34 40, a verticle jump of 43 inches and a 11 foot 2 inch broad jump. With work, could prove to be a steal.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Rd 3 – (89) – Nigel Bradham – Linebacker – Florida State  Not getting to participate in the draft until the end of round three (first round pick was traded to the Patriots, second round pick was forfeited due to Bountygate) makes this a very difficult draft for the Saints. It’s further complicated by the fact that they’ve lost a number of key coaches, which will impact their ability to get rookies productive immediately, and that they’re likely to lose key players on defense to suspensions. With that in mind, the Saints need to fill holes on defense with players who are as close to being NFL-ready as possible, and Nigel Bradham ticks that box. The Saints’ pass rush has been fairly anaemic and the addition of Bradham probably won’t fix that on its own, but his speed and his aggressive style will be an all round boon to New Orleans’ defensive unit and he should be able to fill the Jonathan Vilma-sized hole after the veteran linebacker inevitably falls victim to the wrath of Roger Goodell.

Rd 4 – (122) – Kheeston Randall – DT – Texas  The defensive overhaul continues, this time on the line where Kheeston Randall’s great physique and athleticism allow him to eat up blocks and even draw double teams. Solid against the run, disciplined on the field and very much a character guy off it with a reputation of being a well respected leader in the locker room, Randall’s the sort of stand up blue collar guy that the Saints need to be building around right now.

Rd 5 – (162) – Donnie Fletcher – CB – Boston College  Maybe Williams and Vilma should have been offering bonuses to the New Orleans secondary for making big tackles, because they didn’t do a lot of it last year. The Saints gave up a lot of yards per game – Fletcher is a big, physical corner who will cause problems for receivers at the line of scrimmage and has good scheme versatility. He’ll need a bit of coaching but should provide an immediate upgrade to the Saints’ coverage; the special teams will appreciate his use as a gunner as well.

Rd 6 – (179) – Scott Solomon – DE – Rice  Pass rush upgrade continues. Solomon is an aggressive and violent player who has some versatility allowing him to play at end or tackle, and will not ever give up on attempting to get to the ball carrier.

Rd 7 – (234) – Robert Golden – DB – Arizona  The New Orleans secondary will appreciate the versatility of Golden as an all round DB who can play at corner or strong safety. Good foot speed, tackles well and likes to make plays on the football; if his football sense matched his physical skills he’d probably go earlier than the seventh round. Will need some coaching, but an interesting prospect with good upside, especially at safety.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Rd 1 – (5) – Trent Richardson – RB – Alabama The Buccaneers desperately need CB help (Barber was moved to safety and Talib has huge off the field concerns), but I still couldn’t justify passing on an elite talent like Trent Richardson for Morris Claiborne. LeGarrette Blount is not a starting running back, and Trent Richardson should be a top tier NFL running back for the next 7-8 years. It is also important to continue to surround young QB Josh Freeman with weapons so he has a greater chance to succeed. Signing Vincent Jackson and drafting Trent Richardson in one off-season does just that, and immediately gives the Bucs elite talent at their skill positions.

Rd 2 – (36) – Lavonte David – LB – Nebraska After a run on corners in the bottom half of round 1, there weren’t any worth taking at pick 36. I never like reaching for a need, so I went with Lavonte David, who is surely one of the best players available, and is still a big-time need. David will be an immediate starter at outside backer to replace Quincy Black, who was terrible last year. It was impossible to watch a Nebraska football game without noticing David all over the entire field making plays; he will immediately produce at the next level.

Rd 3 – (68) – Alfonzo Dennard – CB – Nebraska I was finally able to address the CB position with Lavonte David’s teammate Alfonzo Dennard sliding to pick 68 in the 3rd round. Many consider Dennard to be a top 50 talent, so this was tremendous value and fills the Bucs’ biggest need (note: this selection was made before Dennard’s recent arrest).

Rd 5 – (140) – Marcus Forston – DT – Miami
A team can never have enough depth on the defensive line, and Marcus Forston is excellent value in the 5th round. Forston had some injury problems throughout his career at Miami, but when healthy the 6’3, 300 pounder looked like a legit round 1 or 2 talent. Many still see him going as high as the 3rd round in this year’s draft.

Rd 6 – (174) – Levy Adcock – OT – Oklahoma State Levy Adcock has the talent to go much higher than the 6th as well, and can provide immediate competition for the up and down Jeremy Trueblood at RT, and further fulfill this franchise’s #1 priority: protecting Josh Freeman. Plus, Adcock has a sweet mullet.

Rd 7 – (212) – Eddie Whitley – S – Virginia Tech I was happy to land Eddie Whitley in the 7th round; he played 4 years at Virginia Tech, has above average size and athleticism, and shows a knack for making plays. Worst case scenario, he will be a great special teamer at the next level, and best case he can replace the FS hole left by the recently cut Tanard Jackson.

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