2012 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Every First-Round Pick, Postseason Edition
With the 2011 NFL regular season wrapping up, many fans will begin to look for their teams' answers via the upcoming draft.
With the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and NFL Combine still to come in the next couple of months, many prospects will see their stock begin to soar, while others begin to fall.
There will also be a lot of teams looking at Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III, and the St. Louis Rams, who hold the second overall pick, may look to move the pick.
Stanford's Andrew Luck has long been the consensus top pick; the Indianapolis Colts may look to move down with the right package of picks and or players.
Unlike recent years, this draft will have a lot of suspense during the time leading up to the event due to the larger possibility of trades in the top picks.
The first mock before the big three of prospect scouting occur and before the order is finalized is here and ready to, in theory, fix your favorite teams.
1st Overall: The Indianapolis Colts Select: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
While Andrew Luck will be selected first overall, it is to be seen who will be on the clock selecting first overall.
While the Indianapolis Colts would be wise to build for the future, if Peyton Manning is upset by this, it may be hard for the organization to turn its back on the face of the franchise and could perhaps swap the pick for a large package.
The Cleveland Browns, who own two first-round selections—one of which being fourth overall—could make a phone call to check the availability of the pick.
What else is there to say about Luck?
While I am not like some who treat him like the football messiah, he is low risk and would be one of the biggest surprises ever if he does not become the face of the franchise.
2nd Overall: The St. Louis Rams Select OT Matt Kalil, USC
Matt Kalil projects as a great left tackle.
With great pass protection and an NFL bloodline, Kalil should step into the starting lineup from day one and contribute.
The Rams recently took both Jason Smith and Roger Saffold with early draft picks, and neither have dominated the way the Rams hoped.
Protecting Sam Bradford and landing him a stud receiver to pair with the aging Brandon Lloyd and the young core of Lance Kendricks, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas are the greatest offensive concerns heading into the draft.
Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon may be in the conversation, but Kalil is the most logical pick to take over the left tackle spot, moving Jason Smith inside similar to his fellow offensive tackle busts such as Robert Gallery and Andre Smith.
Teams may be calling whoever the GM of St. Louis is come draft night about swapping picks in attempt to land Robert Griffin III, and the Browns (fourth), Redskins (sixth) and Dolphins (eighth/ninth) are all possibilities.
3rd Overall: The Minnesota Vikings Select CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
The Vikings will take the best player on the board not named Trent Richardson because they have many holes.
If RG3 is selected second and Kalil falls, he will be the no-brainer selection.
Currently, Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon would be the selection.
Cornerback is more of a need at the moment despite the fact that Percy Harvin is a one-man show at the position.
Claiborne has the size and production to backup this selection, as well as anchoring the nation's best defense.
Again, if RG3 is still on the board, a number of teams may be making calls to move up for the Heisman Trophy winner.
4th Overall: The Cleveland Browns Select QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
While Colt McCoy has shown potential to be a future franchise quarterback, he has also not made a convincing amount of progression in his first two years.
Throw in the on-the-field drama from the Steelers game in which McCoy was not tested for a concussion, and things may be coming to an end for Colt in Cleveland.
Robert Griffin III is an incredible athlete. A potential Olympic hurdler, RG3 has obvious pocket mobility as well as possessing as good a touch as anyone else in the league at the college level.
While these "dual-threat" quarterbacks are always risky, Cam Newton may help Griffin if teams look at his phenomenal season and take the risk with RG3.
Blackmon and Trent Richardson are possibilities, as Blackmon would serve best in the west coast system, and pairing with Greg Little would make a nice duo at the wideout position, as well as Peyton Hillis' status being uncertain.
5th Overall: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves in a tough spot at five because cornerback and offensive tackle may be the top needs.
Trent Richardson is the top player and does fit a need, as LaGarrette Blount is still a character concern, as well as extremely inconsistent. Richardson is a great between the tackles runner with speed and solid hands out of the backfield.
Again, Justin Blackmon could be the pick, as wide receiver is also a big need, and if the new staff runs the west coast offense, he would be a logical selection.
Run defense is still a huge need, but the Bucs recently invested in Gerald McCoy, Brian Price and even Albert Haynesworth was brought in. Rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn is also good at sealing the edge.
Dre Kirkpatrick has been on the rise and would fit the need at corner with the potential departure of Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib, as well as being thin at the position to begin with.
6th Overall: The Washington Redskins Select WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
While there are no quarterbacks worthy of a top 10 other than Luck or RG3, a lot can happen in the next couple of months, and either Ryan Tannehill or Landry Jones (assuming he declares) could have a rise of stock.
The Washington Redskins need a quarterback more than any other team in the league and could be major players this offseason for Matt Flynn.
If the 'Skins land a quarterback via free agency or trade, getting a franchise receiver is a top priority, as they tried to sign Santonio Holmes last summer.
Blackmon, paired with Leonard Hankerson—as well as the aging duo of Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth—plus the tight end depth in Chris Cooley, and pending free agent Fred Davis as well as Roy Helu being an above-average receiver out of the backfield, Flynn or whoever is taking snaps next season will have weapons.
The defensive side of the ball is pretty solid minus cornerback depth and a starting nose tackle.
7th Overall: The Jacksonville Jaguars Select DE Quinton Coples, UNC
The Jacksonville Jaguars fell down the board as a result of the victory over the Colts and will not be faced with the decision of bailing on Blaine Gabbert and looking at Robert Griffin III.
Quinton Coples was the top defensive prospect entering the season and is all over big boards at the moment.
The combine should clear some things up about where Coples would be best served and whether that is a 4-3 or 3-4 end.
Inserting Coples into the Jags defensive would replace free agent Matt Roth, who is best utilized as a 3-4 rush linebacker and provide pass-rush on the edge next to Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton.
With size and athleticism as well as a mutual alma mater, Coples is being compared to Julius Peppers.
8th Overall: The Carolina Panthers Select CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
The Carolina Panthers have a need for a big-time receiver to pair with Cam Newton in anticipation for a decline in Steve Smith's production.
Michael Floyd is an option here, but with questions around character and a number of drops in his career, the Panthers will look at Dre Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick has size and is great in the run game; however, he is not as polished in man coverage as Morris Claiborne.
There are also some concerns about Kirkpatrick's ability to comprehend an NFL playbook. However, he is best player available who fills a big need and will start next to Chris Gamble from day one.
9th Overall: The Miami Dolphins Select OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Dolphins fans do not want to see another offensive line pick; however, the best players available do not fit the needs on the roster.
Jonathan Martin is excellent in run blocking and shaky in pass blocking, and this will make him an ideal right tackle.
Insert Martin in place of the Marc Colombo, who had a poor year, and the 'Phins have one of the best young offensive lines in the league.
The new coach may want a quarterback and may look at Ryan Tannehill or Landry Jones; however, both are still a reach and the incoming coach may like Matt Moore.
10th Overall: The Buffalo Bills Select OL Riley Reiff, Iowa
The Buffalo Bills surprised everyone with a hot start; however, the team did not play at the same level throughout the whole season.
The offensive line was a strength for Buffalo last year. However, Reiff is the best player on the board and could start at the left tackle spot over Chris Hairston.
Luke Kuelchy could be an option because Nick Barnett is aging. However, the Bills have invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick and must do all they can to ensure they get the most out of him.
Reiff is also a skilled run blocker, so this will fit into Buffalo's run-first mentality led by Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller
11th Overall: The Seattle Seahawks Select QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Landry Jones could very well stay another year at Oklahoma, and it would be a logical choice, as his stock has sunk the last few weeks.
However, if he declares, Jones is likely to be a first-round pick with an outside chance of making the top 10 if quarterback needy teams begins to gamble like we saw last April.
Seattle needs franchise quarterback, as Tarvaris Jackson is a great competitor but is an above-average backup, and Charlie Whitehurst has been a huge disappointment.
Luke Kuelchy could be an option here following the Lofa Tatupu release, though K.J. Wright has stepped in with a solid rookie season.
12th Overall: The Kansas City Chiefs Select NT Dontari Poe, Memphis
The Kansas City Chiefs are a team that could look to trade down in the first round, as their needs at nose tackle and offensive tackle do not match the best available players.
Dontari Poe is the best nose tackle in this year's draft, and despite being a reach at 12th overall, the eventual departure of Kelly Gregg will leave the nose tackle depleted, assuming Jerrell Powe does not progress into a starter.
Powe has the size to anchor the Chiefs defense at 6'5" and 350 pounds.
Luke Kuelchy could be an option here, as he would line up next to the athletic Derrick Johnson, solidifying the fourth linebacker position alongside Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
13th Overall: The Arizona Cardinals Select WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
The Arizona Cardinals could use some cornerback depth and an upgrade at either offensive tackle positions. However, no one available fits the need, so the focus shifts to maximizing the Kevin Kolb investment.
14th Overall: The Dallas Cowboys Select DE Devon Still, Penn State
The Dallas Cowboys need a lot of help on defense, and it starts up front with the five-technique defensive end.
The Cowboys were rumored to be interested in last year's top five-technique, J.J. Watt, but ultimately chose to bolster the offensive line with Tyron Smith.
Courtney Upshaw or David DeCastro could be the selection here, as DeMarcus Ware is still the only one generating consistent pass rush. The offensive line is still not finished, and DeCastro would fill in nicely in the hole left by Leonard Davis.
Still stands at 6'5", 307 pounds and is excellent against the run, but still needs to work on his pass rush.
15th Overall: The Philadelphia Eagles Select LB Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
Vontaze Burfict's stock has dropped, and this selection may be a borderline reach due to character concerns.
However, Burfict is the exact player the Philadelphia Eagles defense needs.
The linebacker corpse is abysmal, and not only are they undersized, but none have passion, can tackle or make plays.
Insert Burfict, who stands at 6'3" and is known for his violent hits and love for the game, and there is a new leader in the locker room that has been missing since the departure of Brian Dawkins.
While many have Luke Kuelchy rated higher than Burfict, Kuelchy is one of the best tacklers in the nation and has a passion for the game. Burfict projects as the Ray Lewis type of leader the Eagles need.
Alshon Jeffery could be an option if DeSean Jackson does not get the contract he is looking for.
16th Overall: The New York Jets Select OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
The New York Jets failed to make the playoffs after Rex Ryan promised the Super Bowl.
The Santonio Holmes drama is still unraveling; however, it is unlikely he will be cut because he is only one year through his five-year, $50 million contract.
Alshon Jeffery could be an option here because Plaxico Burress is a free agent and never developed into the consistent target the Jets brought him into be.
Courntey Upshaw is a great pass rusher, and the Jets need to get to the quarterback more consistently.
Luke Kuelchy could be an option because Bart Scott could be departing if he does not take a pay cut.
17th Overall: The Cincinnati Bengals (OAK) Select SS Mark Barron, Alabama
The Cincinnati Bengals have a need at the strong safety position, as neither Chris Crocker or Taylor Mays will be able to step into the starting lineup.
Mark Barron is only average in man coverage, but has great ball skills and is above average in run support. He can help bolster the secondary that was hurt from the departure of Johnathan Joseph.
Melvin Ingram could be an option to pair up with Carlos Dunlap and build a dynamic pass rush. However, the greater need is in the secondary. Janoris Jenkins has ruined his stock, and Alfonzo Dennard would be a reach this early.
18th Overall: The San Diego Chargers Select OG David DeCastro
The San Diego Chargers may have a number of changes to their offensive line, as Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill both face career questioning injuries.
David DeCastro can take over for Dielman, and though interior linemen are not typical first-round picks, the success of Mike Iupati and the Pouncey brothers will boost DeCastro's stock.
Again, Luke Kuechly could be the pick to take over for Takeo Spikes. However, the offensive line could be in pieces next year.
19th Overall: The Chicago Bears Select G/T Cordy Glenn, Georgia
The Chicago Bears have long had offensive line woes, and last year's first-round selection, Gabe Carimi, looks like a solid tackle. However, help is still needed.
Cordy Glenn will either be a mammoth guard or an offensive tackle in the league.
With more experience at guard, some teams may look at him as a tackle despite his struggles at the position this season.
The Bears could look at Luke Kuechly to replace Brian Urlacher or Alshon Jeffery as a No. 1 target for Jay Cutler.
20th Overall: The Tennessee Titans Select LB Luke Kuelchy, Boston College
Luke Kuechly is finally selected by a Tennessee Titans team that invested two high draft picks on linebackers last year in Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy.
Will Weatherspoon has been solid, but solidifying the linebackers will build a strong front seven for a Titans team whose best years resulted from great defensive play.
Also, Kuechly is the best player available.
Alshon Jeffery could be in consideration, as the Titans have been looking for a dynamic receiver to pair with Kenny Britt.
21st Overall: The Cincinnati Bengals Select LB Zach Brown, UNC
The Bengals use both first round picks to bolster the defense.
Zach Brown is a versatile linebacker who has speed and athleticism, as well as the ability to fall into coverage.
Weakside linebacker is not a huge need, but if Manny Lawson is not re-signed with his one-year deal expiring this offseason, Brown would take over next to Rey Maualuga and Thomas Howard.
Either Lamar Miller or David Wilson are options to replace Cedric Benson in the backfield; however, either or both are likely to be available in the second round.
22nd Overall: The Cleveland Browns Select, DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
The Cleveland Browns recently drafted Jabal Sheard, who has been great. However Jayme Mitchell needs to be replaced, and Melvin Ingram is the best player available.
Some consider Ingram a tweener. However, either he or Andre Branch would present good value at this point in the draft, as well as filling a need.
The Browns need to replace Tony Pashos at right tackle. However, Zebrie Sanders would be a reach in the first round.
23rd Overall: The Denver Broncos Select CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
The Denver Broncos need to add youth to the cornerback position, as Champ Bailey and Andre Goodman are over 30.
Alfonzo Dennard is a bit of a reach here because of his below average contribution against the run, as well as possessing average ball skills.
However, Dennard is above average in man coverage and would be a nice addition to the Broncos defense.
Defensive tackle is a need. However, Fletcher Cox would serve best as a five-technique end, and Brandon Thompson would be a huge gamble in the first round.
24th Overall: The Detroit Lions Select CB Janoris Jenkins, Northern Alabama
Janoris Jenkins is a very talented corner. However, his stock falls resulting from his long list of character concerns.
The Detroit Lions have long needed a dominant corner, and while the core of Chris Houston, Eric Wright and Alphonso Smith is decent at best, Jenkins, if focused, can be elite.
The Lions could take an offensive lineman, as the unit is below average. Jeff Backus is a free agent, while Dominic Raiola is 33.
25th Overall: The Houston Texans Select WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
The Houston Texans have solidified the defense even with the potential departure of Mario Williams because last year's second rounder, Brooks Reed, could replace him across Connor Barwin.
Matt Schaub's only consistent targets are Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, and both Schaub and Johnson would benefit with another big-time receiver on the field.
Alshon Jeffery has great hands. However, his stock has been declining from lack of production, as well as questions surrounding his speed and the scuffle he got in with Alfonzo Dennard that ultimately led to his ejection,.
26th Overall: The New York Giants Select LB Kevin Reddick, UNC
The New York Giants have been taking the best player on the board in past years, such as Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara.
However, while the defensive line has been stellar and the secondary should be solid once it is at full strength next season, the linebackers are a weak spot.
This may lead to the Giants drafting for need, and Kevin Reddick is the best 4-3 linebacker on the board.
Some prefer Dont'a Hightower to Reddick; however, Reddick's instincts and leadership he has shown on a prospect heavy Tar Heel defense outshines Hightower, who plays with even better players such as Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Chapman.
27th Overall: The Pittsburgh Steelers Select RB Lamar Miller, Miami
Lamar Miller's stock has fallen since his production began to fall at the end of last season. However, a strong combine as well as the University of Miami's strong reputation of producing NFL studs, especially at running back, should keep him in the first round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could always look to add youth on the offensive line or any linebacker position. However, Miller is the best player available.
With injury concerns, as well as some tough games, Rashard Mendenhall's future with the team could become a question.
28th Overall: The San Francisco 49ers Select DE Fletcher Cox
The San Francisco 49ers had a surprising season and will likely take the best player available.
Whether its an offensive or defensive player, adding youth to a growing team will continue Jim Harbaugh's progress.
Unless a free agent such as Carlos Rogers or Dashon Goldson walk, most of the positions are solidified, and this pick could be a luxury pick.
With Fletcher Cox being on the board, the 49ers can look to add the eventual replacement of Justin Smith.
Jared Crick could be available in the second round. However, Cox is the best player on the board and will eventually fill a need.
29th Overall: The New England Patriots Select WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
The New England Patriots need help on defense. However, the best player available on that side, Dont'a Hightower, would not solve much with Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes on the roster.
Kendall Wright is the best player available who could add another dimension to the offense, as he has the speed and explosiveness to be a big-time player.
Also, Wright does not have character concerns, which is something Bill Belichick looks for.
30th Overall: The New England Patriots (NO) Select DE/DT Nick Perry, USC
With the Patriots' second first-round pick, they can look to reach on Nick Perry.
The transition to the 4-3 defensive was a rough one, and there is speculation the unit may move back to the 3-4.
Nick Perry has the versatility to rush the edge as a down lineman or a linebacker, so he will be a nice piece for the Pats defense.
Andre Carter was playing at a high level before injury. He is a free agent and is 32 years old.
31st Overall: The Baltimore Ravens Select Dont'a Hightower, Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens will need to replace Ray Lewis whether this year or next be his last.
Lewis has long been the heart of the Ravens team and will likely have a say in who his successor will be.
Jameel McClain looked good stepping in for Lewis. However, Baltimore will need a defensive leader with passion, and Dont'a Hightower could be that guy.
Vontaze Burfict could drop to the late first round and would be ideal, as he, like Lewis, had great passion for the game but also had questions surrounding his character.
32nd Overall: The Green Bay Packers Select OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
The Green Bay Packers have found themselves taking luxury picks the last couple of years; however, another dynamic pass rusher across Clay Matthews would be a good target.
Jarvis Jones had a great season at Georgia; however, he is likely to stay for his junior year. But, until he announces his return, he is the best player on the board, as well as the best 3-4 linebacker on the board.
The Packers could always look to add David Wilson; however, Ryan Grant and James Starks get the job done. Also, Alex Green was drafted early last April.