2011 NFL Draft logo2011 NFL Draft

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Landing Spots for First Round's Top Playmakers

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Justin Blackmon #81 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys catches a first down pass on a fourth down play against the Stanford Cardinal during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Austin GreenCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2012

Even with several top prospects like Matt Barkley returning to school, the 2012 NFL draft class is loaded with playmakers.

From NFL-ready quarterbacks to powerful running backs to explosive wide receivers, there are plenty of offensive difference makers available.

A lot can change between now and draft day, but here's how the first round looks right now.

*Picks 21-32 are dependent on playoff results.

 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal looks to pass against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald M
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

With Robert Griffin III skyrocketing up draft boards, it looked like Luck's reign as the top prospect was in jeopardy. However, recent reports out of Indianapolis have squashed that notion. 

Luck played well in Stanford's heartbreaking Fiesta Bowl loss, throwing for 347 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once, but that certainly won't have an impact on the Colts' decision making.

Luck is the smart pick hear. If the Colts pass him up, they will regret it for years.

 

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

The Rams desperately need someone to protect Sam Bradford and Kalil is the best offensive lineman available. 

 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

STILLWATER, OK - OCTOBER 29:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears is grabbed by defensive end Cooper Bassett #80 of Oklahoma State Cowboys in the first half October 29, 2011 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma St
Brett Deering/Getty Images

I actually think the Vikings will trade this pick to Washington, who will then draft Robert Griffin III.

The Vikings have multiple needs and would be better off landing more draft picks.

Washington desperately needs a quarterback and RG3 would be a godsend in the nation's capital.

If Minnesota does keep the pick, they should draft Claiborne to upgrade one of the NFL's worst secondaries.

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

If RG3 falls to Cleveland, they will definitely snag him. However, I'm expecting the Redskins to trade up and pick him at No. 3.

If that happens, the Browns should draft Richardson, who is unquestionably the best running back available. Peyton Hillis was a huge bust this season and will likely be leaving in free agency.

Richardson would be the perfect replacement. Everyone loves Luck, but Richardson will be the best player from this class.

The bruising 224-pound back is one of the most violent runners I've ever seen. If the Browns are smart, they'll pick him up.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Buccaneers have plenty of issues, but the most glaring is their horrible secondary. They need to  upgrade at cornerback and they will do that by adding either Claiborne or Kirkpatrick.

If the Minnesota/Washington trade I mentioned goes through, Claiborne will still be available. If he's not, Kirkpatrick isn't a bad consolation prize.

 

6. Washington Redskins: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Quarterback Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners during the Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Sun Devil Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This would be a major reach for Jones, but the Redskins can't endure another year of Rex Grossman.

They should do whatever it takes to move up to No. 3 to draft Griffin. If that doesn't work, they either have to draft Jones or pick up free agent Matt Flynn.

I'm not in love with Jones, but Andy Dalton proved this year that a rookie quarterback doesn't have to be great to make an impact.

If my proposed Redskins/Vikings trade goes down, look for Minnesota to pick up either Claiborne or Kirkpatrick, depending on what Tampa Bay does.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

The Jaguars need another weapon for young quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Blackmon is the best wide receiver in this class.

Blackmon doesn't have blazing speed, but he's big (6'1", 225 pounds) and catches everything thrown his way. He has exceptional timing, awareness and ball skills.

I wouldn't be surprised if somebody (I'm looking at you, Carolina) traded into the top six to draft Blackmon. But if he falls to No. 7, the Jaguars will happily select him.

 

8. Miami Dolphins: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

This isn't a sexy pick, but the Dolphins need some help on the offensive line. They also need a quarterback, but unless they trade up for RG3, it isn't happening in this year's draft.

 

9. Carolina Panthers: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

Personally, I would love to see Carolina trade up to get Blackmon. It's scary to think what Cam Newton could do with Blackmon on the outside.

However, if Carolina stays put, they should improve their offensive line. Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd isn't worth a top ten pick and DeCastro could step in and start in the NFL tomorrow.

 

10. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Demetrius Bell hasn't lived up to his potential and is a free agent this offseason. The Bills would be smart to upgrade at tackle.

 

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

The Chiefs could use an offensive tackle, but with Kalil, Reiff and Martin off the board, they should turn their attention to defense.

Kuechly is a tackling machine with outstanding instincts. A Kuechly-Derrick Johnson combo would be one of the best linebacker duos in the league.

 

12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

The Seahawks need an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, but that isn't happening in this draft.

They have plenty of holes to fill, and if Red Bryant leaves for free agency, Coples will be the smart pick.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Wide receiver Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fight Irish runs upfield against the Florida State Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  FSU won 18 - 14. (Photo b
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Arizona really needs an offensive tackle to replace Levi Brown, but the top three are off the board and this would be a huge reach for Florida State's Zebrie Sanders.

Floyd would give the Cardinals another playmaker and draw some attention away from Larry Fitzgerald. Floyd had 100 catches for 1,147 yards and 9 touchdowns this season.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Cowboys were on the verge of a playoff berth, until their secondary was shredded by Eli Manning in Week 17.

If Dallas is going to make the playoffs next season, they must add a defensive back. Barron is the best available at this point. He's a versatile safety who excels in both pass and run coverage.

He would be a welcome addition in Dallas.

 

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

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:   Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils points and yells at quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the University of Southern California Trojans just prior to a play at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tempe, Arizo
Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Eagles have loads of talent, but until they upgrade their linebacker core, they will continue to have disappointing seasons.

Burfict would be a great fit. The violent tackler has all the tools necessary to be Ball So Hard University's next great linebacker.

 

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

The Jets could use another pass rusher and Upshaw is the best defender available. He has great instincts and is willing to take on bigger blockers.

He would be a good addition to Rex Ryan's defense.

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

I'm not a Bengals fan, but I would love to see Cincinnati package their two first round picks to move up and draft Trent Richardson.

A core of Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Richardson would keep the Bengals exciting and relevant for at least the next five seasons.

If they don't trade up, Wilson is a solid option to replace Cedric Benson.

 

18. San Diego Chargers: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Kendall Wright #1 of the Baylor Bears runs during a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Vincent Jackson is headed for free agency and I wouldn't be surprised if he bolts.

Even if he stays, Phillip Rivers could use another weapon. Wright is small (5'9", 190 pounds), but is elusive and has exceptional speed a la Steve Smith (Carolina version).

If he shows some improvement in his route running and technique between now and Draft Day, Wright could skyrocket up draft boards.

 

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

Jay Cutler needs a new toy to play with and the Bears will be content with drafting either Wright or Jeffery.

Jeffery is a big dude (6'4", 229 pounds), but is pretty raw overall. If he improves his fundamentals, he could be a force in the NFL.

 

20. Tennessee Titans: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

The Titans desperately need to put more pressure on the quarterback and Ingram is the best pass rusher available at this point.

 

21. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

The Broncos need another wide receiver, but with the top four off the board, they should turn to defense.

Defensive tackle is a position the Broncos need to upgrade. Still would be a perfect fit.

 

22. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The Bengals may draft Jenkins with the 17th pick, but if they opt for Wilson, they'll snag the cornerback here.

 

23. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

Tony Pashos is one of the worst right tackles in the league. The Browns would be smart to upgrade that position immediately.

 

24. Detroit Lions: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

The Lions could use an upgrade over Dominic Raiola. Konz is the best center available.

 

25. New York Giants: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Lamar Miller #6 of the Miami Hurricanes rushes during a game  against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Running back isn't the Giants' biggest need, but Ahmad Bradshaw isn't a premier back and Brandon Jacobs is getting awfully expensive.

Miller would be a cheap and effective addition for New York.

 

26. Houston Texans: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

The Texans could use a No. 2 receiver to draw attention away from Andre Johnson, but I doubt they'll reach for one here.

Look for them to upgrade their D-line by picking up Cox.

 

27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The Steelers don't have any glaring needs, so they'll likely take the best defender available. Dennard fits that bill and would be a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh secondary.

 

28. San Francisco 49ers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia

Jarvis Jones was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football, racking up 13.5 sacks and 70 tackles. He would be a good fit in San Fran.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Dont'a Hightower #30 of the Alabama Crimson Tide calls the defense against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Ravens should be looking for the successor to Ray Lewis' thrown in the middle. The hard-hitting Hightower would be the perfect apprentice.

 

30. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The Patriots have plenty of options with their two late picks, but I expect them to beef up their offensive line. Adding the 6'3", 310-pound Worthy would do just that.

 

31. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

A versatile defensive end/outside linebacker, Mercilus would be a perfect fit in Bill Belichick's defense.

 

32. Green Bay Packers: Kevin Reddick, OLB, North Carolina

The Packers could use some more production opposite of Clay Matthews. Reddick, who made 71 tackles in his junior season, would be a great pick up.

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