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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper Projects DT Fletcher Cox For Denver Broncos

The NFL Draft season never seems to really start until ESPN's Mel Kiper puts out his first postseason mock draft, and he just released his 2012 one (Insider required). Kiper waits until all of the underclassmen have declared, for which the date passed earlier this week. While there's no surprise with the No. 1 pick being Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts, where does Kiper go with the Denver Broncos?

Related: Updated 2012 NFL Draft Order

The answer is that he goes defense and has the Broncos selects Mississippi St. Bulldogs defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, drifting away from where other mock drafts have gone. Kiper writes:

Denver had some really good stretches on defense, particularly in the pass rush, but the Broncos weren't very consistent and the numbers were a little worse than people might realize. The pass rush is there on the outside, but Cox is a guy who can penetrate and get tackles for loss from the inside

But he notes that the Broncos could go in other directions, particularly wide receiver. We've also seen running back and tight end as the choices in other mock drafts.

Cox had 5.0 sacks as a junior and 14.5 tackles for a loss. He was credited with three quarterback hits, as well. The Broncos could use a young, talented defensive tackle. Brodrick Bunkley and Marcus Thomas could depart in free agency and Ty Warren, lost for the entire 2011 season, is injury prone.

For in-depth coverage of the Broncos, visit Mile High Report. For more on the NFL, be sure to check out SB Nation NFL and Mocking the Draft.