FanShot

2012 NFL Ultimate Mock Draft

4

I'm pleasantly surprised that Jimmy Graham and not Gronkowski was drafted in the first round 4. Cleveland Browns – Drew Brees, QB: Just what Saints fans need: More bad news. Fortunately, this is of the hypothetical variety, but given Brees' contentious contract situation, the thought of the franchise's locker-room leader not being in the fold hits a little close to home. In this case, after drafting the exceptionally productive passer, Browns owner Randy Lerner is happy to fork over a massive contract; considering that he paid team president Mike Holmgren a reported $50 million to come to Cleveland in December 2009, a nine-figure deal for Brees seems like a relative bargain. 27. New Orleans Saints – Ray Rice, RB: With soon-to-be-suspended general manager Mickey Loomis presiding over the team's War Room – and banished coach Sean Payton popping in via hologram, Tupac-style – the Saints give their fan base a reason to smile. Rice is a resplendent runner who'd make an already prolific offense even tougher to contain, despite the fact that Payton won't be around to run it in 2012. One slight snag: Rice, like Brees, is seeking a long-term deal and has yet to sign his franchise tender. On a positive note, he ought to be able to cash in on a red beans and Rice endorsement from one of NOLA's many awesome eateries. 28. Green Bay Packers – Jimmy Graham, TE: Yeah, I know: general manager Ted Thompson needs a quarterback to replace Rodgers. No, Brett Favre, that phone won't be ringing … and no, Thompson isn't drafting Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman or any other signal-caller. Instead, he sticks to his best-player-available philosophy and takes Graham, who blossomed into a star during his second season in New Orleans. Back in the Saints' War Room, the Payton hologram just removed his shirt in disgust.

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