Courtney Upshaw, Whitney Mercilus Move Up As New York Jets, San Diego Chargers Prioritize Pass Rush

Courtney Upshaw, Whitney Mercilus Move Up As New York Jets, San Diego Chargers Prioritize Pass RushTen down, none to go. It's been a long journey with these 10 mock drafts, and a large chunk of these first-round prospects have really begun to take shape.

It's been fun to analyze the group, especially as players' stocks have fluctuated and team needs have changed throughout the course of free agency, which has yielded a number of unpredictable turns.

Speaking of which, Thursday's first round has two guarantees at the top of the board. After that, expect total mayhem. We've all got an idea of how many of the first 10 picks will play out, but one surprise — either by a trade or a perceived reach — could change the entire shape of the rest of the round.

So that's it. It's time to unveil Mock Draft X, but this is just the start of a weekend's worth of draft content, so stay with NESN.com for more coverage to get you through one of the busiest stretches of the year.

1. Indianapolis Colts

2011 Record: 2-14

Positional Needs: Quarterback, cornerback, guard, center, defensive tackle, wide receiver, outside linebacker, safety

The Pick: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck

Analysis: Even if we'll never find the answer, the real question is: How long have the Colts known they were taking Luck? The NFL universe has speculated this since about October.

2. Washington Redskins

2011 Record: 2-14

Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, guard, cornerback, tackle, tight end, safety

The Pick: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III

Analysis: The hype around Griffin is going to be epic in D.C. once this thing is official. It's going to be fun to follow.

3. Minnesota Vikings

2011 Record: 3-13

Positional Needs: Tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, guard, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, running back

The Pick: USC tackle Matt Kalil

Previous Pick: Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon

Analysis: Since the first two picks are a lock, Kalil has started to face the type of late criticism that's usually reserved for the No. 1 selection. It's crazy how that works.

4. Cleveland Browns

2011 Record: 4-12

Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, defensive end, tackle, guard, outside linebacker

The Pick: Alabama running back Trent Richardson

Previous Picks: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne

Analysis: Whether it's Richardson, Blackmon or Claiborne, Browns fans should be comforted knowing they're getting a great player. Richardson is a special talent, but I'd admire the bold move of pairing Claiborne with Joe Haden with this pick.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2011 Record: 4-12

Positional Needs: Cornerback, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, wide receiver, tackle, guard, running back

The Pick: LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne

Previous Pick: Alabama running back Trent Richardson

Analysis: What in the world are the Bucs going to do if the Vikings surprisingly take Claiborne? They might have to reach for Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly.

6. St. Louis Rams

2011 Record: 5-11

Positional Needs: Tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, guard, outside linebacker, safety, defensive tackle, running back

The Pick: Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon

Previous Pick: Alabama running back Trent Richardson

Analysis: The Rams are already one of the draft's big winners by drawing a haul of picks from the Redskins. If they can build on that by giving quarterback Sam Bradford a weapon like Blackmon, they'll be getting close to competing in the NFC West again.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

2011 Record: 5-11

Positional Needs: Wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback, defensive end, safety, tackle

The Pick: South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram

Previous Pick: North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples

Analysis: The Jaguars are probably the first team that could take Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, but they've been looking for a threat off the defensive edge for years. Here's their chance to take the first one in the draft.

8. Miami Dolphins

2011 Record: 6-10

Positional Needs: Quarterback, defensive end, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, tight end, safety, wide receiver

The Pick: Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill

Previous Picks: Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples

Analysis: Quarterback Matt Moore is just good enough to make sure the Dolphins don't get Matt Barkley or one of the top signal callers in next year's draft. The Dolphins have to pounce on Tannehill while they have the chance.

9. Carolina Panthers

2011 Record: 6-10

Positional Needs: Defensive tackle, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety, tackle, wide receiver

The Pick: Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox

Previous Picks: LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe

Analysis: Michael Floyd would make the Panthers even more fun to watch, but Cox has too much value. Plus, Ron Rivera is a defensive-minded head coach.

10. Buffalo Bills

2011 Record: 6-10

Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, cornerback, tackle, wide receiver, inside linebacker, defensive end

The Pick: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd

Previous Picks: South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram, USC defensive end Nick Perry, Iowa tackle Riley Reiff

Analysis: And the Floyd watch comes to an end. The Bills continue to build a team that can match up with the Patriots. They got their two pass rushers in free agency and can make their offense more explosive in the draft.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

2011 Record: 7-9

Positional Needs: Tackle, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, running back

The Pick: Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly

Previous Picks: Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox

Analysis: I've put Kuechly here for weeks, and the Chiefs would have one of the best groups of linebackers in the NFL with this pick.

12. Seattle Seahawks

2011 Record: 7-9

Positional Needs: Defensive end, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, cornerback, guard

The Pick: North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples

Previous Picks: Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill

Analysis: Coples' questionable motor could cause him to tumble down the board, but there's so much potential there. Head coach Pete Carroll has to hope he can be the guy to draw it out of him.

13. Arizona Cardinals

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Tackle, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, guard, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, cornerback

The Pick: Stanford guard David DeCastro

Previous Picks: Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw

Analysis: If Alabama safety Mark Barron is still on the board, look for the Cardinals to trade this pick to a team that wants to steal him from the Cowboys. Otherwise, Arizona goes with the best offensive lineman available.

14. Dallas Cowboys

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Cornerback, safety, guard, inside linebacker, defensive end, center, defensive tackle, outside linebacker

The Pick: Alabama safety Mark Barron

Previous Picks: Stanford guard David DeCastro, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe

Analysis: Barron would completely change the shape of Dallas' woeful secondary. With Barron and cornerback Brandon Carr in the mix, the Cowboys might do something crazy in 2012, like stop the Giants from scoring.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Defensive tackle, outside linebacker, safety, guard, wide receiver, cornerback, inside linebacker

The Pick: Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe

Previous Picks: Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, Alabama safety Mark Barron, Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers

Analysis: The greatest trick Poe ever pulled was convincing the world his game tape didn't exist. Poe's phenomenal combine overshadowed his blah performance at Memphis. But if anyone can turn Poe's potential into some on-field success, it should be the Eagles' defensive minds.

16. New York Jets

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, safety, tackle, defensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end

The Pick: Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw

Previous Picks: Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Iowa tackle Riley Reiff

Analysis: As much as the Jets need a right tackle, head coach Rex Ryan knows he's also got to upgrade his pass rush, and defense rules in his kingdom.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

2011 Record: 9-7

Positional Needs: Cornerback, running back, wide receiver, safety, guard, defensive end

The Pick: South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore

Previous Picks: North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw

Analysis: This would be a terrific pick for a defense that is continuing to improve.

18. San Diego Chargers

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, safety, cornerback, wide receiver, tight end, guard, tackle

The Pick: Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus

Previous Picks: Stanford guard David DeCastro, Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn, USC defensive end Nick Perry, Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw

Analysis: Somewhere along the line, the Chargers stopped attacking the quarterback, mustering up just 32 sacks last season. Mercilus led the country with 16 quarterback takedowns last year, so this seems to be a nice match.

19. Chicago Bears

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Defensive end, wide receiver, tight end, tackle, guard, safety, cornerback, running back

The Pick: Iowa tackle Riley Reiff

Previous Picks: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright, USC defensive end Nick Perry

Analysis: I've been giving the Bears a defensive end for weeks, but this was the furthest Reiff has slid in 10 mock drafts. This gives the Bears the chance to take the second tackle off the board.

20. Tennessee Titans

2011 Record: 9-7

Positional Needs: Guard, center, cornerback, safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver

The Pick: Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick

Previous Picks: Stanford guard David DeCastro, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly

Analysis: This would be a great fit for the Titans. Kirkpatrick is a terrific cover corner, and the Titans play a man scheme.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

2011 Record: 9-7

Positional Needs: Cornerback, running back, wide receiver, safety, guard, defensive end

The Pick: LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle

Previous Picks: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright, Alabama safety Mark Barron, Clemson defensive end Andre Branch, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus

Analysis: Randle is a big wide receiver who could help the Bengals create matchup problems with wideout A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham.

22. Cleveland Browns

2011 Record: 4-12

Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, defensive end, tackle, guard, outside linebacker

The Pick: Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn

Previous Pick: Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, USC defensive end Nick Perry, Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright

Analysis: At 6-foot-6 and 345 pounds, the Browns would literally have a lot to work with if they draft a monstrosity like Glenn.

23. Detroit Lions

2011 Record: 10-6

Positional Needs: Cornerback, safety, tackle, center, defensive end, outside linebacker

The Pick: North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins

Previous Pick: Ohio State tackle Mike Adams, Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn, Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson

Analysis: This is a tough spot for the Lions, who could wind up reaching for one of the two greatest needs — cornerback and tackle — so it makes sense for them to trade down, perhaps with a team interested in Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower. I very begrudgingly gave them Jenkins because he's the only player among those positions with a first-round grade strictly based on field work. And clearly, the Lions have no issues drafting guys with problems.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

2011 Record: 12-4

Positional Needs: Tackle, guard, defensive tackle, cornerback, inside linebacker, running back

The Pick: Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower

Previous Pick: Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn

Analysis: Hightower is too perfect for the Steelers, who should find it way too difficult to select an offensive lineman with this pick.

25. Denver Broncos

2011 Record: 8-8

Positional Needs: Defensive tackle, inside linebacker, safety, cornerback, wide receiver, running back

The Pick: LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers

Previous Pick: Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe

Analysis: Brockers would be a top-10 pick if he were close to a finished product, so this could turn out to be a great pick in a few years. As it currently stands, Brockers fills the Broncos' greatest need anyway, so it works out now, too.

26. Houston Texans

2011 Record: 10-6

Positional Needs: Wide receiver, right tackle, guard, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, safety, cornerback

The Pick: Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright

Previous Picks: LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle, Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill

Analysis: The Texans need a weapon to take some heat away from wide receiver Andre Johnson. And since Johnson has played in all 16 games just twice in the last five seasons, they need someone to fill in for him, too.

27. New England Patriots

2011 Record: 13-3

Positional Needs: Safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback

The Pick: Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones

Previous Picks: Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, Alabama safety Mark Barron, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins

Analysis: Jones fills the edge presence that the Patriots need, but he's also stout against the run, which will make head coach Bill Belichick much more inclined to get him in the first round.

28. Green Bay Packers

2011 Record: 15-1

Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, defensive end, safety, cornerback, running back

The Pick: Clemson defensive end Andre Branch

Previous Pick: Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still

Analysis: Branch has remained here for weeks. He's not a perfect player, but with so much attention on Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, Branch will have room to make plays on the other side of the defense.

29. Baltimore Ravens

2011 Record: 12-4

Positional Needs: Inside linebacker, wide receiver, tackle, center, safety, outside linebacker

The Pick: Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler

Previous Picks: Wisconsin center Peter Konz, South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery

Analysis: Zeitler fills the most immediate need, but the Ravens might choose to take his teammate, Konz, if they believe he's a better fit to play guard now before taking over at center when Matt Birk retires.

30. San Francisco 49ers

2011 Record: 13-3

Positional Needs: Guard, cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle, safety, outside linebacker, quarterback

The Pick: Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu

Previous Picks: South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn, Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy

Analysis: Silatolu plays the game with some nastiness that's befitting of Jim Harbaugh's style, and he fits the 49ers' greatest need.

31. New England Patriots

2011 Record: 13-3

Positional Needs: Safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback, defensive tackle

The Pick: Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy

Previous Picks: Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, Clemson defensive end Andre Branch, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still, South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins

Analysis: Worthy would be a really good rotational player with Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. Worthy has a mean streak, and he can get after the quarterback. He'd be a strong complement for that group.

32. New York Giants

2011 Record: 9-7

Positional Needs: Inside linebacker, tackle, tight end, running back, safety, cornerback, guard

The Pick: Boise State running back Doug Martin

Previous Pick: Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, Georgia tackle Cordy Glenn, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin

Analysis: Martin is most often compared to Ravens running back Ray Rice, and the Giants need to upgrade their offensive backfield.

Fallen Out: USC defensive end Nick Perry, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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