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2012 NFL Draft: Nate Ulrich's mock 2.0

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 2, 2012

The most logical draft strategy for the Browns, in my opinion, would be to fill their urgent needs at running back, wide receiver and offensive right tackle with their first three picks. My first top-40 mock draft reflected that train of thought.

But the Browns might want to take a different route, so it’s time to explore another scenario I can see unfolding when the draft starts April 26.

Here’s my second mock:

First round

1. Indianapolis Colts – Stanford QB Andrew Luck

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) – Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

3. Minnesota Vikings – Southern California OT Matt Kalil

4. Browns – Louisiana State CB Morris Claiborne

Analysis: It would make sense for Browns General Manager Tom Heckert to take the best offensive player available – either Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon -- in this spot. But Heckert might not be able to resist selecting the best player available, regardless of which side of the ball he’ll help. If that’s the case, Claiborne’s name could be called here. Claiborne would give the Browns a standout cornerback opposite Joe Haden and create the following ripple effect: Dimitri Patterson could stay at nickel corner, the role in which he thrived last season; Eleven-year veteran Sheldon Brown could move from corner to free safety, where he would compete with Usama Young, a better fit at strong safety, to fill the void left by Mike Adams, who started at free safety last season but left Cleveland via free agency; The defense’s pass rush could become more productive and its takeaways would likely increase. In terms of other possibilities, the Browns also might be interested in Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but I’d be surprised if they took him here. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took Richardson, Blackmon or Claiborne at No. 4, or if they tried to trade down a couple of spots in hopes of still being able to pick one of the aforementioned prospects, including Tannehill.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Alabama RB Trent Richardson

6. St. Louis Rams – Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – North Carolina DE Quinton Coples

8. Miami Dolphins – Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill

9. Carolina Panthers -- Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox

10. Buffalo Bills – Iowa OT Riley Reiff

11. Kansas City Chiefs -- Memphis DT Dontari Poe

12. Seattle Seahawks -- Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly

13. Arizona Cardinals -- South Carolina OLB Melvin Ingram

14. Dallas Cowboys -- Louisiana State DT Michael Brockers

15. Philadelphia Eagles -- Alabama SS Mark Barron

16. New York Jets -- Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) -- Stanford OG David DeCastro

18. San Diego Chargers -- Southern California DE Nick Perry

19. Chicago Bears -- Georgia OT Cordy Glenn

20. Tennessee Titans -- South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore

21. Cincinnati Bengals -- Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick

22. Browns (from Atlanta) -- Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd

Analysis: If the Browns use the fourth overall selection to draft anyone other than Blackmon and Floyd is still available here, this pick would be a no-brainer. Floyd would give the Browns the type of receiving threat they desperately need to add to their West Coast offense, and the drop-off from Blackmon to Floyd might not be significant. Floyd has had a series of off-the-field incidents involving alcohol, but if the Browns believe Floyd’s claim that he has overcome those problems, I could see them nabbing him as an immediate starter opposite Greg Little. The Browns’ brass has repeatedly said it’s willing to surround Colt McCoy with weapons and give him another season to prove himself as a starting quarterback, and Floyd certainly could be a go-to target for McCoy if the organization follows that plan.

23. Detroit Lions -- North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins

24. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Stanford OT Jonathan Martin

25. Denver Broncos – Penn State DT Devon Still

26. Houston Texans -- Baylor WR Kendall Wright

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) -- Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus

28. Green Bay Packers -- Clemson DE Andre Branch

29. Baltimore Ravens – Alabama ILB Dont'a Hightower

30. San Francisco 49ers – Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill

31. New England Patriots -- Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes

32. New York Giants -- Ohio State OT Mike Adams

Second round

33. St. Louis Rams -- Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy

34. Indianapolis Colts -- Stanford TE Coby Fleener

35. Minnesota Vikings – Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard

36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- North Carolina LB Zach Brown

37. Browns – Boise State RB Doug Martin

Analysis: If the Browns don’t draft Richardson, Martin makes sense because they must compensate for Peyton Hillis’ departure in free agency. Montario Hardesty missed the majority of last season with a torn muscle in his right calf, Brandon Jackson was sidelined for the entire regular season with an injured toe and Chris Ogbonnaya showed promise but is inexperienced and unproven. Martin is a powerful runner with solid receiving skills, so he could have an immediate impact in coach Pat Shurmur's system. The Browns also need a starting right tackle, and they could target one in this spot. If not, they shouldn’t wait any later than the third round (No. 67 overall) to find the successor to Tony Pashos, whom the team cut on March 13. California tackle Mitchell Schwartz could be a name to watch in the third round.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Louisiana State WR Rueben Randle

39. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – Mississippi OT Bobby Massie

40. Carolina Panthers – South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery

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