2012 NFL Mock Draft: Ryan Tannehill and More Shocking First-Round Picks

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2012

There are guys right now who are seen as mid-round selections who will sneak into the first round.

Once GMs and scouts have a chance to evaluate prospects' film, meet the players face to face and see them work out, draft boards are going to shake up considerably.

While guys like Landry Jones and Alshon Jeffery lose steam, there are several prospects who are going to come out of nowhere to crack the first round.

Here is a full first-round mock, along with a few players making a surprise appearance in the first round.


1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

If the Colts evaluate Andrew Luck and believe that he can be an elite quarterback, there is no way they can afford to pass on him.

Manning is on his way out, and though they could build around Manning and surround him with tools to win it all now, this is the best move for their present and future.


2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, T, USC

The Rams can't afford to have Sam Bradford on the bench. Their tackles have been injured, and they are still looking for an Orlando Pace blind side protector to keep Bradford safe.

Kalil has incredibly quick feet for his 6'7" frame and has proven to be impenetrable in pass pro. He's not the sexy pick, but he'll help Bradford more than a guy like Justin Blackmon would.


3. Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford

This is a reach, but the Vikings won't want to leave a hole at left tackle and Jonathan Martin is the best tackle on the board.

They could try to trade down, and finding a trade partner should be easy, especially if a team falls in love with Robert Griffin III. Riley Reiff would compete for the starting job right away, and they wouldn't be in danger of going empty-handed if they decided to trade out of this spot.


4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Many would argue that running backs are a dime a dozen and drafting one at No. 4 is ludicrous. While the first part of that statement may be true, the latter part of the statement doesn't apply here.

The Browns need a running back to replace Peyton Hillis and Trent Richardson's elite combination of size, power, speed and agility make him wildly attractive. Richardson is the best running back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson. An elite back warrants a selection here.


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The Buccaneers are a young team who grossly underachieved this season. They need help on the offensive line, but a giant hole is going to be opened up at corner if Ronde Barber (ever) retires.

Morris Claiborne is already asserting himself as the best corner in a deep class and will only gain steam after the the season comes to a close.


6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Every 4-3 team wants a top-notch rush end that can get pressure and become a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Coples' production doesn't suggest that he is the second coming of Osi Umenyiora, but his upside and freakish ability will make him a highly-coveted acquisition. The Jaguars have an underrated defense, and the addition of Coples would make them dangerous up front.


7. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

A team could easily trade up ahead of this spot to draft Robert Griffin III, and that team could ultimately wind up being the Redskins.

They watched their season go down the tubes at the hands of miserable quarterback play, and bringing a guy in like RGIII gives them the potential to go from stagnant to explosive in an instant.


8. Carolina Panthers: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Justin Blackmon and Cam Newton would be a lethal combination in Carolina for years to come. The Panthers have plenty of holes to plug, but surrounding Newton with weapons has to take precedence over all else.

Newton resurrected Steve Smith's career and would get the most out of the young rookie. Both come out of a similar offense, and Blackmon's crazy production would translate well with Newton on the field.


9. Miami Dolphins: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Landry Jones' stock is plummeting. Oklahoma underachieved and Jones' regression is a huge reason why.

That being said, the Dolphins don't want to wind up with Matt Moore under center again. Bringing in Matt Flynn through free agency is a possibility, but taking a prototypical quarterback who went through a rough patch this season is a more likely scenario.


10. Buffalo Bills: Kevin Reddick, LB, North Carolina

Kevin Reddick is a guy whose stock is going to soar as the draft approaches. His lack of production on the field raises a red flag, as teams want to make sure that a top-10 pick is going to perform on Sundays.

Even so, he's a guy they could plug into their front seven and who looks so good on paper, the Bills are going to be enticed reach for him. Upside packs a ton of power in the draft. We'll see that on display with Reddick.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, T, Iowa

Riley Reiff is a guy who could easily crack the top ten. His wrestling background and combination of power and quickness will make teams take a long, hard look at him leading up to draft day.

The Chiefs have holes that they could fill on defense, but beefing up their offensive line and protecting whatever quarterback ends up under center is of the utmost importance.


12. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

David DeCastro isn't a first-round surprise, but it is a bit odd seeing a guard being selected at No. 12. The Cardinals need help up front, and DeCastro is the best offensive lineman on the board.

There isn't a tackle worth reaching for here, and DeCastro would start from day one. This isn't an ideal scenario and the Cardinals would likely trade back if presented with it, but it's entirely possible.


13. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

We saw last season how willing teams are to reach for quarterbacks if they think they have the potential to be a franchise QB. With Matt Barkley off the board, the Seahawks will likely have to choose between Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and ignoring their need at QB.

Tannehill's background as a receiver speaks to his versatility and athleticism. He's an intriguing prospect, and in the musical chairs games teams play in the draft, the Seahawks could easily push the panic button and draft the top QB left on their board.


14. San Diego Chargers: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The Chargers could find themselves in a bind if they can't get things squared away with Vincent Jackson. Their passing game took a step backwards already and Antonio Gates isn't getting any younger.

They need to reload and Michael Floyd is a great place to start doing so. He really established himself as a go-to play maker and would thrive in San Diego's pass-happy offense.


15. Philadelphia Eagles: Vontaze Burfict, MLB, Arizona State

Vontaze Burfict is out of his mind. At his best, he's a one-man wrecking crew, capable of taking over a game and making plays four yards in the backfield and owning the field from sideline to sideline.

At his worst, he serves his team better on the sidelines. Andy Reid and the Eagles have a history of turning high-risk players into success stories. Will Burfict's character issues make him the next Randy Moss or Pacman Jones.


16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

The Jets missing the playoffs this season points to just how badly they've strayed from their identity. They are no longer a team who shuts down the runs and runs the ball at will.

They need to get back to playing lights out defense, and drafting an outside linebacker who comes from a pro-caliber defense is the perfect move for a Jets franchise who has forgotten who they are.


17. Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Alshon Jeffery isn't the prospect most thought he would be coming into this season, but he's certainly worthy of this selection. The Bears could very well lose Matt Forte and Jay Cutler's lack of weapons is going to become an even bigger liability if that ends up happening.

They've got holes all over their offense and need to reload, but drafting Jeffery would give them the No. 1 receiver they've sorely lacked over the years.


18. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The Bengals need a corner who can fill the void Jonathan Joseph left when he left in free agency. Alfonzo Dennard is a corner whose athletic ability make up for what he lacks in size.

The Bengals invested heavily in their offense in their last draft. It's time to load up on defense and turn their talented "D" into an elite one.


19. Dallas Cowboys: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Andre Branch would give the Cowboys a pass rusher who could capitalize on offenses designating multiple players to DeMarcus Ware on virtually every play.

Having Branch and Ware in the same front seven would be a nightmare to defend. Talent isn't keeping Dallas from reaching their full potential and they don't have many holes to address, so adding a luxury item like Branch is perfectly acceptable here.

20. Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Kendall Wright is a fantastic deep threat. RGIII's go-to guy may have been overlooked with the Heisman winner at quarterback, but he's going to dazzle scouts at the combine and his tape speaks for itself.

The Titans would have a guy who could stretch the field and force a defender out of the box. Imagine what Chris Johnson would be able to accomplish against an honest front.


21. Denver Broncos: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

John Fox struck gold by bringing in Von Miller in last year's draft. Tim Tebow and their "gimmicky" offense gives them time to load up defensively for the time being and really become a feared team on that side of the ball.

Brandon Thompson constantly finds himself in the backfield. The Broncos passed on Marcel Dareus a season ago and now have a chance to have their cake and eat it too with a top-flight linebacker and Thompson in the middle.


22. New York Giants: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

The Giants need a linebacker to tie up the loose ends and help them out in run coverage. With the year Jason Pierre-Paul has had, it's clear that their ferocious front is here to stay.

Now, they need a linebacker or two to make it all come together and have their defense performing at an elite level once more.


23. Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta Falcons): Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

If Jarvis Jones had stayed at USC, he could easily be the first linebacker taken in this draft. He's a pass-rushing animal and would give the Browns a much-needed edge.

His ability to shine on the SEC scene immediately will do wonders for his draft stock, and while many don't see him as a first-round talent, that won't be the case in April.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Devon Still is a physical specimen. The Bengals would be picking up a giant man here who would be able to add a level of physicality to their defensive front that would allow them to compete in the physical AFC North.

Still can soak up blocks and allow the Bengals' talented linebacker corp to hog all the glory.


25. Houston Texans: Mike Adams, T, Ohio State

The Texans have to get a tackle and though Mike Adams isn't necessarily worthy of a selection here, he fills a need and isn't such a reach that this pick should cause fans any sort of outrage.

None of the top three tackles are slipping to this spot, which means the Texans are going to have to reach to ensure that Matt Schaub doesn't end up on the sidelines again next season.

26. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

This could be the steal of the draft. Dre Kirkpatrick's stock has slipped a bit, and he hasn't been responsible for it.

He's a physical corner with a mean streak. As long as he runs well at the combine, and all signs point to him doing so, the Lions should jump at the chance to bring in a guy who is a perfect fit for their feisty defense.


27. Pittsburgh Steelers; Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Luke Kuechly has great instincts and those who watched him in action at Boston College probably have no idea how he can logically fall this far.

Kuechly's physical limitations will ultimately keep him from ever being an elite linebacker. That being said, the Steelers need to reload defensively and would be more than happy to have such a linebacker with his ability to read offenses and make sure tackles.


28. Baltimore Ravens: Michael Brewster, C, Ohio State

Centers rarely warrant a first-round selection, but Michael Brewster is more than deserving of this selection. Brewster would give the Ravens a center who could anchor the line immediately, the way Maurkice Pouncey did in his rookie year in Pittsburgh.

The Ravens need a replacement for Ray Lewis. Unfortunately, unless Vontaze Burfict's character issues force him all the way down to this spot, they aren't going to get one.


29. New England Patriots: Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska

A player coming off of a season-ending injury has to make fans and scouts alike a bit weary, but Jared Crick's insane motor and brute strength make him a guy who would be able to contribute to their heinous defense right away.

The Patriots need to invest heavily in defensive help. They aren't bringing home a ring until they can figure out a way to cover up their glaring weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The 49ers have the best defense in the NFL, but don't be surprised to see them go defense in the first round. They don't have a lot of defensive line depth, and Jerel Worthy would even be able to compete for a starting spot in his rookie season.

Imagine what Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis could do with Worthy soaking up interior linemen the way Aubrayo Franklin did in 2009. Having Ray McDonald, Justin Smith and Worthy in front of their stacked linebacker corp would give them the edge over any offense they encounter.


31. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Patriots have address their glaring need in the secondary. They cut Brandon Merriweather and did nothing to replace him.

Mark Barron is the best safety in this class, and Belichick has no choice but to draft a guy who can help keep their DBs from getting humiliated week in and week out.


32. Green Bay Packers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Janoris Jenkins is the most talented corner in this class, and it isn't even close. Unfortunately, there are major character concerns that will have many teams taking him off of their boards.

Jenkins deserves a second chance and the Packers' stable locker room is the best-case scenario for him. The Packers need a corner to replace Charles Woodson, and if Jenkins keeps his nose clean, he's bound for greatness.


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