NFL Nation: Kiper Mock 5.0

2012 Kiper mock 5.0: Rams thoughts

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
3:50
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his fifth and final 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

The San Francisco 49ers (Kevin Zeitler), Arizona Cardinals (Melvin Ingram) and Seattle Seahawks (Chandler Jones) went first in our analysis, reflecting reverse draft order.

The St. Louis Rams, picking sixth overall, round out the series.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

Kiper's give: I had St. Louis as a team likely to move down, given that we know the front office has been openly interested in the idea. But if they're still here, I think Blackmon is the pick. He'll pay immediate dividends for the offense, and Sam Bradford will finally have a target most of us evaluators can see as a potential true No. 1.

Sando's take: Kiper had Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson and Matt Kalil going with the third through fifth picks, respectively. It doesn't matter so much what order those players come off the board if they're gone among the top five picks. The Rams aren't likely to trade up. Blackmon was also the player I projected going to the Rams at No. 6, despite some concerns about value. The Rams have needs throughout their roster. They have acute needs at wide receiver, defensive tackle and outside linebacker, with a special emphasis on finding weapons to help quarterback Sam Bradford succeed. The Rams don't simply need a wide receiver. They have decent depth at the position. They specifically need a No. 1 receiver, the type teams seek near the top of the draft. The question is whether Blackmon projects as that type of player.

2012 Kiper mock 5.0: 49ers thoughts

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
1:13
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his fifth and final 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the previous ones in some detail and will not miss this opportunity to dine on the possibilities, beginning with this look at the San Francisco 49ers, owners of the 30th overall choice.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

Kiper's give: The 49ers have gotten deeper at wide receiver in free agency, and if Stephen Hill and Coby Fleener are off the board, I think they go after a big need in the run game here. The 49ers may have more weapons on the edges, but if they can't run the ball effectively it won't matter. Zeitler can move people up front and start early.

Sando's take: Kiper's logic is sound here, but sound can mean boring, and that is certainly the case when we combine the 49ers' draft position (30th) with Zeitler's on-field position (interior offensive line). The 49ers have used first-round picks for their left tackle, left guard and right tackle. Using another first-rounder for an offensive lineman would seem like overkill, but it would also continue a trend that predates the team's current leadership. Drafting a guard makes sense for the 49ers because it fills a need. Teams should also be able to find a guard or two later in the draft. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was still available in Kiper's mock draft. I had the 49ers drafting him in the ESPN Blogger Mock we put together earlier in the week. NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell recently sent Jenkins to Tampa Bay with the fifth overall choice in a mock matching on-field football abilities with team needs. His mock disregarded off-field concerns, however, and Jenkins has plenty of those. Fleener's Stanford pedigree makes him a potential fit with Jim Harbaugh, but the 49ers appear set at tight end.

Kiper mock 5.0: Thoughts on Cardinals

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
12:30
PM ET
Mel Kiper's fifth mock draft Insider for 2011 provides the foundation for discussing how NFC West teams might proceed this offseason.

I'll conclude with a look at his plans for the Arizona Cardinals, who hold the No. 5 overall choice.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Kiper's give: This is a spot where I'll stamp a big "TRADE POSSIBILITY" tag on my notes as the picks start to come off the board. But if the Cardinals don't make a move for a pick that could turn into Kevin Kolb or some other veteran quarterback, Peterson is the guy they should take. He's the best overall talent in the draft.

Sando's take: Kiper had Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert landing with the Cardinals in his previous mock. Before that, it was Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller. All these projections make sense on various levels. Gabbert would fill an obvious need at quarterback. Miller would fill an obvious need for a pass-rusher. Peterson would qualify as a value selection -- arguably the best overall player in the draft, albeit at a position of less value than the others. I have a hard time envisioning the Cardinals taking a chance this early on a quarterback they had serious questions about. I have a harder time envisioning them going into the 2011 season with John Skelton and Max Hall as their top two quarterbacks. Unfortunately for Arizona, the lockout prevented it from exploring other options before the draft. What do the Cardinals think about Gabbert? That's the No. 1 question in this scenario. Need and positional value do come into play.

Kiper mock 5.0: Thoughts on 49ers

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
12:00
PM ET
Mel Kiper's fifth mock draft Insider for 2011 serves as the foundation for discussing how NFC West teams might proceed this offseason.

I'll continue with a look at his plans for the San Francisco 49ers, who hold the No. 7 overall choice.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri


Kiper's give: I picked Patrick Peterson to fall to this point in my previous mock draft, but I don't think he gets there this time around. He offers too much trade leverage. This time, I think Gabbert lands here. While Jim Harbaugh has taken the dignified route and stated how much he wants to work with Alex Smith, I think it's pretty fair to assume the Niners will be looking for a long-term solution for their new coach.

Sando's take: What a fun selection this would be in the NFC West. For this to happen, the division-rival Arizona Cardinals would have to pass on Gabbert. That part of the equation seems plausible; there's no sense that Arizona is smitten with the top-rated quarterbacks this year. The 49ers do think coach Jim Harbaugh can get the most from quarterbacks. That thinking lends credence to taking a quarterback later and allowing Harbaugh to develop him over time. In this case, Kiper thinks Harbaugh's expertise would allow the 49ers to get the most from Gabbert, whose background in a spread offense could require an adjustment period. Again, this would have enduring ramifications within the division. The Cardinals would face two games each season against the quarterback they decided against taking in the face of an obvious need. Peterson, A.J. Green and Von Miller were gone when Kiper made the Gabbert projection for the 49ers at No. 7. Prince Amukamara, Nick Fairley, Cameron Jordan and Robert Quinn were among those still available.

Kiper mock 5.0: Thoughts on Rams

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
11:15
AM ET
Mel Kiper's fifth mock draft Insider for 2011 provides the foundation for discussing how NFC West teams might proceed this offseason.

I'll continue with a look at his plans for the St. Louis Rams, who hold the No. 14 overall choice.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

Kiper's give: A selection I'm sticking with from the previous mock, Liuget is a relentless player who displays leverage, power and the ability to locate the ball well against both the rush and the pass. ... I also can see the Rams going for an outside linebacker at this spot. If they're that intent on a pass-catcher with their first pick, the Rams could also trade off the pick.

Sando's take: Kiper, NFL Network's Mike Mayock and St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat reporter Jim Thomas all have Liuget heading to the Rams with the 14th pick. Another analyst, Rob Rang, recently had Liuget going to the New York Giants at No. 19. In other words, there's a consensus building that Liuget fits the sort of defense Steve Spagnuolo brought to the Rams from the Giants. The thinking appears sound. Liuget does appear to fit better than some of the other defensive line options, including J.J. Watt. Rams fans will be watching closely to see whether receiver Julio Jones falls out of the top 10. If that happens, would the Rams stay in the 14th spot or move up for a shot at giving quarterback Sam Bradford needed help? The Rams have been fairly predictably in past drafts, in part because they were picking so early and had such obvious needs. Their needs go beyond receiver and the defensive line this year. They could use a change-of-pace running back, a starting guard, a starting outside linebacker and help for a secondary that lost safety Oshiomogho Atogwe this offseason. No single need is great enough to force their hand at No. 14.

Kiper mock 5.0: Thoughts on Seahawks

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
11:04
AM ET
Mel Kiper's fifth mock draft Insider for 2011 provides the foundation for discussing how NFC West teams might proceed.

I'll begin with a look at his projection for the Seattle Seahawks, who hold the No. 25 overall choice.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

Kiper's give: There is talk that Seattle would be happy to move off this pick, but if not, Dalton is a guy who makes a lot of sense. A darling of the draft process, Dalton has impressed with his accuracy, smarts, better-than-expected arm strength and the suspicion that he might be as ready or more than any other quarterback in the draft to step in and manage an NFL offense.

Sando's take: Kiper had gone with Jake Locker in this spot for his previous two mocks, but the University of Washington quarterback was not available this time. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey were Kiper's choices for Seattle in his first two mocks. Mallett doesn't fit the profile from a mobility standpoint. Coach Pete Carroll has always valued at least some movement from his quarterbacks to maximize the running game. Dalton isn't particularly mobile, but he's not a statue, either, and that is important. Overall, it's no upset from a need standpoint if Seattle does take a quarterback at No. 25. I do believe the team wants to move down in theory to add picks and get younger throughout its roster. It's just tough to make a projection without knowing how teams value quarterbacks in this draft. There is no consensus publicly, that's for sure. I tend to think value will pull the Seahawks away from the quarterbacks likely to be available here. We're more apt to see the team draft the best available lineman unless a player at another position -- cornerback, running back, etc. -- falls unexpectedly.

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