The regular season is now over and the playoff matchups are finally set. This year's edition of the NFL postseason certainly looks promising, leaving many fans extremely excited for the next month or so.
But for the fans of the 20 teams that did not make the playoffs, there isn't much to look forward to as of right now. The only fun left is the pure anticipation leading up to April's draft.
So in an effort to keep you entertained, postseason fans or not, here is my latest mock of the 2012 NFL Draft's first round.
*Order is based on current records and projected playoff finishes. (Picks 1-20 are official with the exception of Kansas City at No. 11 and Seattle at No. 12. A future coin flip will eventually settle those two selections.)
**Updated version based on decision to return to Oklahoma by Landry Jones.
With their Week 17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts have officially clinched the No. 1 pick in 2012 NFL Draft. Even though they'll be on the clock for four months, we all know the pick must be Stanford's Andrew Luck.
Luck going No.1 overall is a clear no-brainer. The ability and intelligence are there and it looks as if he's the next big thing coming into the NFL.
Indianapolis, however, will be in perhaps the stickiest situation in the game's history. If they take Luck, which they will, what happens to the quarterback they have now?
Maybe you've heard of him—Peyton Manning?
Will the Colts draft Luck and start him immediately?
Will they take Luck only to place him under the wing of Manning for a chunk of the season?
Or will Indy just cut ties with their long-time quarterback to make way for what looks like the second version of Manning?
There are many questions surrounding that potential scenario but there are none when it comes to drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in 2012.
Since the Rams do not get into the No. 1 spot in the draft, Matt Kalil should be the pick here.
Despite his disappointing sophomore season, Sam Bradford is still a franchise quarterback and could certainly use some protection. Kalil is 6'7", 275 lbs. and is far and away the best prospect in the draft not named Andrew Luck.
He can instantly come in and improve the worst offensive line in all of football.
The Minnesota Vikings will have two major needs coming into the 2012 draft, one being on the offensive line and the other being in their secondary. Since Matt Kalil was just snatched up by St. Louis, expect Minnesota to take LSU's Morris Claiborne.
Minnesota's defense has allowed 251.2 passing yards per game, leaving them as the seventh-worst pass defense in the NFL. So drafting Claiborne could be a nice boost for this thin secondary.
At 6'0" and 185 pounds, Claiborne has been one of college football's best cornerbacks over the last two seasons. In fact, he may be the best defensive player coming out in 2012.
The Vikes could also opt for Oklahoma State's stud wideout Justin Blackmon in this spot. He would provide their young quarterback, Christian Ponder, with a very capable target.
I would still side with Claiborne going No. 3 due to the deep group of wide receivers available through free agency. As legitimate receivers such as Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson and Dwayne Bowe hit the market, the cornerback spot looks pretty shallow to say the least.
Grabbing Claiborne to improve their defense would be a more logical selection.
Cleveland will be tempted by the prospect of taking Robert Griffin. The Browns, however, should stick by their current investment at the quarterback position.
Colt McCoy hasn't been the greatest, but he hasn't had much help either. So instead of throwing him away for Griffin, the Browns could go with a sure-fire selection in Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon is the top wide receiving prospect in the draft. He has the size, the footwork and the hands to become an elite receiver in the NFL. And from the looks of his Tostitos Fiesta Bowl performance, Blackmon is certainly worth a go this early in the draft.
There would be no doubt Blackmon would become the immediate No. 1 wideout in an otherwise thin group of receivers.
If worse comes to worst and McCoy isn't the guy, the Browns would still have an elite talent in Blackmon and could always hope for Matt Barkley or even Landry Jones in next year's draft
The Buccaneers need help in just about every spot besides the quarterback position. Expect Tampa to take the best available player not named Robert Griffin at the fifth slot in the draft.
That man would obviously be Alabama's Trent Richardson. Richardson is the undisputed champion when it comes to this year's crop of running backs and would most definitely give the offense some help. LaGarrette Blount isn't the best or brightest bulb in the bunch, so replacing him wouldn't be a problem.
If anything, Blount can assume the No. 2 RB role.
Richardson has nice vision, great speed and the hands to take some passes out of the backfield. Quite frankly, the guy is probably the most complete back coming into the NFL since Adrian Peterson.
If available at this spot for Washington, Baylor's Robert Griffin III would be the easiest selection in the draft.
We all know about Washington's horrific quarterback history, so Griffin would be nothing short of a savior for the struggling franchise. He has ridiculous accuracy on his deep throws, can make plays with his feet and was college football's best player in 2011.
Griffin has passed for 36 touchdowns, 3,998 yards and has thrown just six picks. He has also displayed his explosive run game, rushing for 644 yards and nine touchdowns.
After seeing Carolina taking a risk that paid off huge dividends with Cam Newton, perhaps the Redskins will have no problems taking a calculated chance of their own on a quarterback with multiple tools.
If Robert Griffin and Justin Blackmon do not land in a position to be drafted by Jacksonville, the Jags would go with North Carolina's Quinton Coples. The 6'6", 275-pound defensive lineman has racked up 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss in his 2011 campaign.
Coples would be a nice fit in Jacksonville considering their need for some type of pass rush as they ranked just 25th in sacks.
With Robert Griffin just taken and Andrew Luck being far gone, the next best quarterback prospect would be Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. If the Dolphins want to reach in an attempt to fix their quarterback problems they may take a flyer on him.
I just don't see that happening, though. Tannehill is a good prospect but is not worth the eighth overall selection for Miami given the recent success of Matt Moore.
Moore isn't the long-term solution at quarterback but he has bought himself at least another season after this year's impressive play.
If this is indeed the case, Riley Reiff would be a great pick for Miami.
Reiff has emerged as one of college football's best players as a result of his impressive 2011 season. He's 6'6", 300 lb
s and has been praised for his great fundamentals. Reiff has great footwork, bends very well and has already played in a pro-style offense.
He would be a much-needed addition for an offensive line that has allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL.
Morris Claiborne should be gone by this point, so Carolina could look to provide Cam Newton with a nice weapon for next season. The best wide receiver at this point in the draft would be South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery, 6'4" and 229 lbs, has an incredible combination of size and speed, making him a very desirable player in the upcoming draft. In three seasons at South Carolina, Jeffery has hauled in 22 touchdowns and eclipsed the 600-yard receiving mark each year.
Adding Jeffery would be a great complement opposite Steve Smith and would give Newton a legitimate target for years to come.
The Buffalo Bills finished dead last in the NFL in sacks. They have had some trouble getting to the quarterback and could use one of the draft's best pass-rushers.
Courtney Upshaw, the linebacker from Alabama, would give them an immediate boost.
Upshaw has tremendous versatility in terms of positioning on defense. He has good speed, good strength and is very quick off the ball.
Upshaw recorded 8.5 sacks this year. He could help Buffalo get to those quarterbacks.
Kansas City didn't have the worst offensive line in football, but passing up on Stanford's Jonathan Martin would be quite a mistake.
Martin is flat-out huge, standing at 6'6", 305 lbs. He has good footwork, has great mobility and is a very smart player. Martin has the ability to open holes for running back Jamaal Charles and keep their quarterback, whoever that be may, off the ground.
Instead of reaching for a quarterback in the first round, they can certainly help out their future play-caller with a great lineman in Martin.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks, they've seen Matt Barkley and Landry Jones thin up the quarterback crop in this year's draft. They could opt for Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, but that would be quite a reach. So look for Seattle to take the best available at this point, Dre Kirkpatrick.
Seattle put a nice secondary on the field in 2011, but Marcus Trufant's troubling back problem could steer them towards the 'Bama cornerback.
At 6'2", Kirkpatrick is a considerably tall cornerback. He has great speed and a knack for making big plays.
There are concerns surrounding his footwork but he does have the tools to be an incredible grab for the Seahawks.
The Cards' offensive line hasn't exactly been great in 2011, ranking 31st in pass protection. So if the team believes Kevin Kolb is their guy, they must help him.
Stanford's David DeCastro would be a great fix for the O-line. DeCastro plays with a consistent mean streak and never takes a play off. He is also very athletic, exhibits nice footwork and is quite intelligent at his position.
DeCastro is undoubtedly the best guard in the upcoming draft.
Everybody, and I mean everybody, knows of Dallas' struggling secondary. It's been quite a problem for the past handful of seasons, sinking the Cowboys defense as well as their playoff hopes.
Their secondary isn't entirely responsible for their failure to reach the postseason but it sure did hurt them. Had the Cowboys had a more talented group of corners, Eli Manning and the Giants may be the ones cleaning out their lockers instead.
The breakdown of Rob Ryan's defense cost Dallas both of their games against New York this season. So if Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska is still here, Jerry Jones shouldn't have a problem jumping at him.
Dennard has excellent speed, good athleticism and displays great instincts. He does, however, need to improve his reaction on coverage. As well as improving his footwork—he also needs to make better breaks on the ball.
He does need some work, but he has the tools to be a great corner in the NFL
Philly's linebacking corps have been nothing short of terrible. This problem has been plaguing their defense and needs to be addressed. So if Luke Kuechly of Boston College is still there for the Eagles, expect them to jump on him.
He is a sound tackler, displays good mobility and is a very intelligent player. Kuechly also has good size and always seems to be in the middle of every play.
Hey, Jets fans! Do you trust Plaxico Burress?
Nah, me neither. The guy is older and isn't even close to what he used to be. Burress, a free agent in 2012, just turned out to be another one of those veteran busts for the Jets.
Add that to the enormous amount of flak Mark Sanchez will get this offseason along with the Santonio Holmes fallout and you get a need at the wideout spot. Luckily, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd could be available for Rex Ryan's squad.
After watching this team in 2011, there is no doubt the Jets must improve their offense in order to compete. This man would do just that.
The 6'3" receiver has done nothing but dazzle during his collegiate years. In his four seasons at South Bend, Floyd has never failed to put up less than 700 yards receiving and catch at least seven touchdowns.
He raked in a bulky 95 passes in 2011, eight of them in the end zone.
With the first of two first-round picks in 2012, the Bengals will look to address the cornerback position.
As the top corners in Claiborne, Kirkpatrick and Dennard off the board, North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins would be the next in line.
Jenkins is a very gifted athlete. He has the potential to be a great corner in the NFL. His off-field issues, however, may have some teams worried.
If the Chargers cannot draft an offensive lineman that'll be worth their while, they should be looking to upgrade their weak pass rush. San Diego ranked 23rd in sacks. Their inability to consistently get to opposing quarterbacks played a huge factor in their disappointing defense in 2011.
Whitney Mercilus of Illinois would be one of the best available at this point and could help increase the team's sack total. No defensive end in college football was better in 2011 than Mercilus. He racked a gaudy 14.5 sacks in 2011. He has slated his name into the thick of the first round.
San Diego did draft a defensive lineman last year in Corey Liuget. Liuget, however, hasn't quite panned out as he totaled just one sack in the 2011 season. Perhaps San Diego could draft Liuget's former teammate in Mercilus to fix that.
In order to provide Jay Cutler with some much needed protection, the Bears could go with Cordy Glenn.
Glenn is just huge, standing at 6'5" and 348 pounds. He is relatively nimble for a man his size and is very good in opening up holes for the run game.
The Titans may look for some O-line help with their first pick. Melvin Ingram, however, may be much too tempting to pass up for Tennessee, given their poor defensive line play.
Ingram is incredibly athletic, has a good first step and is one of the draft's best pass-rushers. He chalked up 8.5 sacks in 2011 and could help the Titans increase their chances of getting to opposing quarterbacks, a category they finished 31st in.
Denver's defense, not Tim Tebow, is the biggest reason for their surprising success this season. They have made big play after big play and allowed their offense to pull out points later in games.
The Broncos could, however, look to upgrade a bit on their line. Marcus Thomas isn't really great, making Penn State's Devon Still an appealing option for Denver in this spot.
Still has nice size and can plow over opposing lineman en route to opposing quarterbacks. There is room for improvement, but he could be a very nice investment for a team who could use help in that spot.
The inside linebacker position is a huge need for the New York Giants, and North Carolina's Zach Brown would provide some stability for Coughlin's defense next season.
Brown can come in and immediately help the Giants. Brown is a sound athlete that has the speed and ability to get to opposing ball carriers.
The Bengals may look to give Andy Dalton some more help with their second first-rounder. If that's the case, Lamar Miller of the U would be a nice addition.
Miller's stellar combination of size and speed make him the draft's second-best running back prospect. He rushed for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011, proving his potential worth at the next level.
Miller would presumably replace Cincy's current back, Cedric Benson. Benson will become a free agent at season's end and would not be worth the cash he will be looking for. Luckily for the Bengals, Miller would be a much cheaper and perhaps better alternative to Ced-Ben.
If Wisconsin's Peter Konz is available for Detroit, he'd most certainly be the pick.
Despite a need for a boost in their secondary, the offensive line has been a constant problem for the Lions. Konz, whether he would be at center or not, would keep Matt Stafford off the ground and help Detroit establish some type of running game.
Their pass protection ranked 17th in the league this season, so an addition to the O-line would be a logical decision.
With no outrageous needs on either offense or defense, the Houston Texans will look to upgrade their offensive line in the draft.
Barrett Jones of Alabama can help solidify an already strong O-line. Jones can help Matt Schaub stay on his feet and can also clear up some more holes for Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
After taking Justin Blackmon with the fourth pick, the Cleveland Browns could look to complete their front four at this point in the draft. The pass rush has been pretty decent but could certainly use some more help.
If USC's Nick Perry has a successful combine he may very well be the pick. Perry exhibits elite speed, great athleticism, uses his hands very well and is extremely versatile.
James Farrior and James Harrison are getting older, so in order to keep their defense atop the NFL, the Steelers may look for their predecessors in the upcoming seasons. Vontaze Burfict would be a candidate if available.
He does need work in man-to-man coverage but he carries the agility to break off blockers and get to the ball.
There is no question that New England's secondary needs some help. They have given up 293.9 passing yards per game and 8.0 per attempt.
The Patriots also have a need at safety, making Mark Barron an incredible match for New England. He has nice size, decent speed and great tackling ability.
Barron is a solid pass defender and can help the Pats' weak pass defense.
Sorry to say it, but Ray Lewis won't be around forever. So it's time for Baltimore to start auditions for the next big linebacker.
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower could very well be that guy for the Ravens. Hightower has great size, speed and is very effective against the run.
San Francisco's defense has been nothing short of incredible this season. They finished fourth in total yards allowed and have gave up just 14.3 points per game. The Niners, however, may look for an upgrade in their secondary.
Virginia's Chase Minnifield would be the next best available corner in the draft. He has nice speed, hits hard and has a knack for getting to the ball.
After taking Mark Barron a few picks back, the Patriots may look to upgrade their defensive line. If so, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State would be a nice pick.
Worthy stands at 6'3" and 310 lbs and has tremendous upside. He has a quick first step and can change direction very well. Worthy finished the 2011 season with 3.5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss.
The Packers defense has been extremely unstable this season. They relinquished the most yards per game this season and only got to the quarterback 29 times, the fifth lowest total in the NFL.
Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State would be a much needed addition for the shaky Green Bay D. He has great quickness of the ball and has the ability to play in multiple schemes. Cox has great pass rush ability, exhibited by his 5 sacks in 2011.