Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Mel Kiper's first mock draft is up!

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Aw, yeah, fans of teams that aren't still playing this week. Do we have some fresh meat for you. Our NFL draft expert, Mel Kiper, has posted his first mock draft of 2012, and here it is in all its glory. Looks like it's an Insider piece, so you have to pay to read the whole thing. But in the interest of keeping the blog fed, the masses happy and reasons for people to pay for Insider access obvious, I'll let you know what he's got for our four teams. The comments here are mine, not Mel's.

6. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU. This came up in this morning's breakfast links, with John Keim of the Washington Examiner suggesting cornerback at a spot where most people have been hoping or assuming the Redskins would take a quarterback or wide receiver. But Mel's got Andrew Luck gone to Indy at No. 1, Robert Griffin III gone to Cleveland at No. 4 and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon gone to St. Louis at No. 2, and he doesn't forecast trades. He also doesn't have another quarterback going in the first round, so second-tier options like Ryan Tannehill could still be available there if this were to come true. I'm curious to see whether Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd could get this high, though he said this week that he's dropping out of the Senior Bowl, where Mike Shanahan and the Redskins will be one of the coaching staffs.

14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro, G, Stanford. Seems high for a guard, and it would seem odd for the Cowboys to spend top-15 picks on offensive line two years in a row. But other than cornerback, interior offensive line is the Cowboys' biggest need position, and Mel has Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick gone in the top 10. I wonder if the Cowboys would maneuver to grab a pass-rushing outside linebacker such as Alabama's Courtney Upshaw or South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, who are gone at No. 10 and 12, respectively, in Mel's mock.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College. No question linebacker is the Eagles' biggest need, but will Andy Reid really go far enough out of character to take one in the middle of the first round? Everybody loves Kuechly for his instincts and tackling, and those are two aspects of their linebacking corps the Eagles desperately need to improve. I could see, as Mel says he could also, the Eagles taking a safety here. (Mel has Alabama's Mark Barron going next, to the Jets.) And if they part ways with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles could certainly look for a wide receiver in the first round. But Kuechly seems like a big pile of exactly what Philadelphia needs.

29*. New York Giants: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State. The Giants will pick in this spot if they lose Sunday, 31st if they win Sunday and lose the Super Bowl and a very happy 32nd if they win the Super Bowl. Tackle's not a bad way to go, since they have some question marks there. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie is a free agent and Will Beatty didn't look like the answer at left tackle before eye surgery ended his season. David Diehl has played well there since, but he's 31, and it can't hurt to add young depth at a spot like this. The Giants could use help at linebacker and maybe in the secondary depending what happens with Terrell Thomas, but clearly, since they're still playing this week, their needs appear to be relatively few.