2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting All 32 1st Round Picks
Other than Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck getting his name called first, predicting the order of the 2012 NFL Draft is no easy task.
There are teams that don't grab their most urgent need and just take the best player available, and there is always a rouge general manager or two that picks a player in a spot that simply doesn't make sense.
Once the draft begins, you can bet questions about trading the first pick will ensue.
The St. Louis Rams won't be paying attention though as they have the opportunity to send their franchise in a number of different directions by picking a wide receiver, offensive lineman or even a cornerback.
Will the player you want your favorite team to pick still be there when it's time?
1. Indianapolis Colts
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Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
With questions about the long-term health of Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts are going to draft Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.
Luck has been consistent during his time at Stanford. In 2010, Luck completed over 70 percent of his passes, had 3,338 passing yards and 33 touchdowns.
In 2011, he had 3,517 passing yards and 37 touchdowns while again completing over 70 percent of his passes.
If Manning is healthy, would the Colts be better served trading Luck for a boatload of picks? Probably, but Luck is a fantastic player.
Luck has been touted as the best quarterback coming out of college since John Elway, and even with Manning healthy, Indianapolis doesn't want to miss out on the quarterback of the future.
They could get a king's ransom if they did trade the pick though.
2. St. Louis Rams
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Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Offensive tackle Matt Kalil is as sure-fire of a pick on the offensive line as Andrew Luck is at quarterback.
He stands at a towering 6'6" and 295 pounds.
Kalil is unanimously rated the best tackle in the country by literally every mock draft and analyst, and the offensive line for the St. Louis Rams played ineffectively throughout the year.
Justin Blackmon would be a great selection for the Rams as well because they need better receivers to surround Sam Bradford with.
The Rams offensive line hasn't been healthy this season either, but Kalil has the potential to become one of the NFL's best tackles and is worth drafting second, hands down.
3. Minnesota Vikings
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Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
At 6'0", 185 pounds Morris Claiborne is the type of cornerback defensive coordinators dream about.
He has quick feet, fluid hips, can cover just about anyone and doesn't shy away from contact with his 51 tackles on the 2011-2012 season.
The Minnesota Vikings could use help on the offensive line, but unless Matt Kalil falls in their lap, Claiborne is the way to go with the team's horrid pass defense.
The Vikings finished 2011 with the 26th ranked passing defense in the NFL
4. Cleveland Browns
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Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
This pick depends on what Mike Holmgren wants to do with Peyton Hillis.
If Hillis stays on the Cleveland Browns' roster, then Trent Richardson probably won't be picked.
Robert Griffin III has a chance of landing in Cleveland as well (especially if Hillis remains with the Browns), and even if he doesn't, the Browns will make the Washington Redskins think they want Griffin so that the Redskins will trade up to get him.
The Browns are building a team for the future, and they will have no problem trading their early first-round pick for a hefty price.
But if Cleveland ends up using the fourth pick on the extraordinary combination of speed and power that Richardson has, fans will be okay with that.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers severely need a player like Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback or an upgrade on the offensive line, it would be hard to imagine a scenario where Justin Blackmon fell below the 5th pick.
Blackmon had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season for Oklahoma State.
Although I could see Tampa Bay trading its pick to someone in dire need of a wide receiver, the team needs a clear No. 1 wideout as well.
The Buccaneers have bigger issues though, and they can grab a solid wideout in a later round if someone is willing to trade picks.
6. Washington Redskins
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Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Even with the sixth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins may have to trade up to grab Robert Griffin III.
Griffin has skyrocketed up some draft boards with the news that Landry Jones and Matt Barkley are staying at their respective universities (although he was already ahead of them on some).
The Heisman winner may be the most interesting player available. He is extremely fast with a strong arm and takes care of the ball.
And he had eye-popping numbers against solid defenses. In 2011, Griffin threw for 4,293 yards with 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions while completing over 72 percent of his passes.
The Redskins haven't had much luck with quarterbacks, but Griffin could be the player to change that.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Anything that you can ask for in a wide receiver, Michael Floyd has.
Floyd is 6'3", 224 pounds with long arms, great burst and incredible hands. He has the strength to easily beat press coverage and the ability to beat any cornerback in the NFL on jump balls.
If there are concerns about Floyd's history, there shouldn't be. After losing his captain status, he earned his way back into Brian Kelly's good graces and became a captain for the final game in his career against Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have other needs, but Floyd will make Blaine Gabbert look like Aaron Rodgers, so he is worth the early pick.
8. Miami Dolphins
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Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Miami Dolphins need a strong presence at tackle to take over for some free agency losses, and let's be honest, what team doesn't what one of the most highly coveted offensive lineman in the NFL draft?
Riley Reiff is just that.
He is 6'6", 300 pounds and moves like a gazelle (a very big one). Reiff is excellent at both run and pass blocking, and the Iowa lineman can play either right or left tackle, so the Dolphins will get a ton of value out of this pick.
9. Carolina Panthers
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Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Carolina Panthers could trade downs a few picks and grab an offensive lineman like Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, a defensive lineman or a wide receiver to give Cam Newton another weapon, but if Dre Kirkpatrick is still on the board, the Alabama cornerback will probably end up in North Carolina.
Kirkpatrick might not be rated as highly as Morris Claiborne, but he is close. Kirkpatrick is bigger than Claiborne at 6'2", 192 pounds, but he is still agile enough to become an elite NFL cornerback.
He can tackle well and has great coverage skills, and if needed, he can play safety as well.
10. Buffalo Bills
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Melvin Ingram, OLB/ DE, South Carolina
Melvin Ingram played linebacker for South Carolina before switching to defensive end, and he could play wherever he is most needed in the NFL.
Ingram stand at an imposing 6'2", 276 pounds, and his versatility to play either position in whatever system Dave Wannstedt installs for the Buffalo Bills is an essential reason they should draft him so early.
Along with his adaptability to different positions, Ingram is one of the best pass-rushers in the draft, and the Bills badly need to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
11. Seattle Seahawks
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Quinton Coples, DT/DE, North Carolina
The Seattle Seahawks could use a defensive lineman with a wide array of talents. Quinton Coples is that guy.
In 12 games for North Carolina this season, Coples had 55 total tackles, 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble while constantly seeing double teams.
His 6'6", 288-pound frame gives him the luxury of using his tremendous power as a defensive end or a 3-4 defensive tackle for the Seahawks.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
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Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
It's really up in the air who will be better as an NFL offensive tackle, Jonathan Martin or Riley Reiff.
If both play nearly as well as they did in college, than the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs will be enthralled.
The 6'6", 305-pound lineman would likely take over right tackle for Barry Richardson, but he could also move to his more natural position of left tackle and shift Branden Albert back to guard.
One thing is for sure, Jamaal Charles would have a lot of fun next season with his new toy.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Luke Kuechly, ILB/OLB, Boston College
The Arizona Cardinals badly need an upgrade at offensive tackle, but with the top three players at the position already taken, the team will move to take the best player available.
The Cardinals could grab Zebrie Sanders or even Mike Adams later in the round, so if they can move down to take one of the two (and gain a pick in process), then they would be more than happy to oblige.
However, Luke Kuechly fills a need to shore up the linebacker corps for years to come. Kuechly is versatile and can play inside or outside. While he isn't an elite pass-rusher, he is going to be a consistent run-stopper, great in coverage and give 100 percent effort on every down.
And for those who think Kuechly is being drafted too high with the 13th pick, his accolades show otherwise.
14. Dallas Cowboys
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Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Dallas Cowboys would love to trade up and take Dre Kirkpatrick with the Carolina Panthers' ninth pick (or eighth depending on a coin flip with the Miami Dolphins), but with defensive end Whitney Mercilus, the team is filling an important need.
Instead of trading up, the Cowboys could probably trade down to grab Mercilus, and they are getting one of, if not the best, pass-rusher in the draft.
Mercilus led the FBS with 14 solo and four assisted sacks, and with his quickness off the edge, he is likely to keep the trend going next season in the NFL.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
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Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
This pick wouldn't make much sense if the Philadelphia Eagles decide to keep DeSean Jackson around for a few more seasons, but Alshon Jeffery is a special talent to pass up if they don't.
Jeffery is built like a tank at 6'4", 224 pounds, and he is just a shade slower than either of the two receivers selected before him (runs a 4.56 40-yard dash).
The Eagles will get help at inside linebacker if Jackson stays with the team, but Jeffery is a pretty solid consolation prize if he leaves.
16. New York Jets
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Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The stock of Courtney Upshaw is on the rise after a dominating performance by the Alabama defense in the BCS National Championship and winning Defensive MVP of the game. Upshaw is 6'2", 265 pounds, and he has the size, speed and strength to play at linebacker or defensive end for the New York Jets.
An added bonus is that Upshaw is a dominant pass-rusher.
He had 52 total tackles, 9.5 sacks and an interception this season with Alabama. The Jets could use his pass-rush skills, but Rex Ryan will take advantage of Upshaw's aggressiveness and move him around between linebacker and defensive end as well.
The Jets need to grab a wide receiver, but the defensive-minded Ryan won't pass on Upshaw.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
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David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Cincinnati Bengals might have to trade up to get him, but David DeCastro would fit in well on the Bengals offensive line.
DeCastro is 6'5, 312 pounds, and there won't be many interior lineman able to bull rush the stout guard.
Right guard Bobbie Williams might leave in free agency, and DeCastro would start over left guard Nate Livings if Williams stays.
The Bengals already have a good defense, so the offense will be the sole focus of their first few picks.
DeCastro's quickness will be an asset in protecting Andy Dalton, and his superior run blocking skills will benefit the running attack as well. DeCastro could be a fantastic pickup for Cincinnati.
18. San Diego Chargers
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Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
The San Diego Chargers were tied with the Cleveland Browns at 23rd in the NFL for sacks this season, so the team needs help in the pass-rush category.
Nick Perry could be the answer to the Chargers' woes.
Like some of the other prospects, Perry's speed and power at 6'3", 250 pounds give him the ability to play either defensive end or linebacker.
Perry had a breakout year this season and finished with 55 total tackles, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, and he would be a much-needed addition to the Chargers' roster.
19. Chicago Bears
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Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Chicago Bears need to give Jay Cutler a legitimate No. 1 receiving threat, and while his talent may be underestimated because of his size, Kendall Wright is a great choice for the Bears.
Wright is only 5'10", 190 pounds, but he is the fastest wideout projected to be taken in the first round with a 4.42 40-yard dash time.
The Heisman Trophy went to Robert Griffin III, but he would acknowledge that a piece of the award belonged to Wright.
Wright had 108 receptions for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged an eye-popping 127.92 yards per game.
20. Tennessee Titans
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Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Vontaze Burfict has the ability to become an enforcer at the next level, and selecting him would solve two major problems for the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans ranked 31st in sacks this season and 24th overall in rushing defense.
Burfict is about as versatile as a 6'3", 250-pound player gets. He has solid coverage skills, he excels at rushing the passer and he has the speed, power and footwork to play either outside or inside linebacker.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
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Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
When Cedric Benson was playing and the offensive line was blocking, he showed signs of and having burst and field vision, but they were few and far between.
Benson is going to be 30 years old in December, and a 27-year-old Bernard Scott isn't the long-term answer either.
After snagging a stud offensive lineman with an earlier pick, the Cincinnati Bengals are likely to grab Miami sensation Lamar Miller with the 21st pick.
Miller is 5'11", 212 pounds with blazing 4.42 40-yard dash speed and has just what the Bengals need.
Miller is big enough to grind out tough AFC North matchups, and he is agile enough to break one to the outside for a long run.
With his talent, the young runner could make a name for himself in the NFL as early as next season.
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Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Grabbing Zebrie Sanders with the 22nd pick might not be a bad idea, but Mike Adams has the bigger upside.
Adams is incredibly quick at 6'6", 320 pounds, and he is solid at pass protection and run blocking.
Again, the Browns love to trade their picks, so don't be surprised if this pick gets traded for a hefty price, but Adams will jump right in to protect whoever the Browns quarterback is next season and open up some running lanes while he is there.
23. Detroit Lions
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Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Alfonzo Dennard is only 5'10", but he is one of the strongest cornerbacks in the draft at a stout 205 pounds.
The Detroit Lions secondary ended the season being exposed in two straight games. One was against Drew Brees, so that can be excused, but the other was against backup Matt Flynn.
The Lions had the 22nd ranked passing defense, and Dennard's coverage skills and leaping ability would be an instant improvement.
Dennard really does everything well. His compact frame makes him a great tackler, he is good in both zone and man-to-man and can make big plays on the ball.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
It wasn't just Maurkice Pouncey's absence at center that let the Denver Broncos' pass-rush have a field day against Ben Roethlisberger; there are some issues that need to be addressed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are short on guards, and Cordy Glenn will have an immediate impact.
Glenn is massive at 6'5", 348 pounds, and adding him to the offensive line would be like switching a player out for a brick wall.
Glenn is surprisingly athletic, too. He is a great pass blocker, but he can also open holes up for running backs and head downfield to cause havoc at the second level.
25. Denver Broncos
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Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Devon Still is simply a beast and one of the best defensive tackles in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Still is a 6'4", 310-pound behemoth, but even at his massive size, he could be used out on the edge during short yardage and goal line plays (in a 4-3).
The Broncos ranked 23rd against the run this season, and bringing Still in would be a great way to plug up running lanes.
26. New York Giants
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Kelechi Osemele, OG/OT, Iowa State
The Giants need some help along the offensive line, and Kelechi Osemele out of Iowa State seems like the best fit.
Osemele played right tackle and left guard during his time at Iowa State, and he would bring versatility to the offensive front.
Osemele, at 6'5", 347 pounds, projects as a guard because of his size, but the big man can still do a lot.
CBSSports.com notes Osemele's limited range as a run blocker and lack of a downfield attack, but they also praise his ability to open holes and how he is ready quickly after the snap.
27. Houston Texans
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
It was announced recently that Mohamed Sanu would leave Rutgers to enter the NFL Draft, and his name instantly became at the top of team's draft boards.
Sanu has the perfect balance of talent to be a threat opposite Andre Johnson. The Rutgers wideout isn't a burner, but he used his 6'2", 215-pound body to easily break press coverage. He has great hands, can run after the catch and is an effective blocker.
Sanu had 115 receptions for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns on the year.
Watch out for the Houston Texans to air the ball out even more next season with two fantastic receivers and Matt Schaub back.
28. New England Patriots
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Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
With the New Orleans Saints pick, the New England Patriots will look to improve their defensive line.
Dontario Poe, at 6'5", 350 pounds, will either play alongside Vince Wilfork in the 4-3 or become his heir apparent.
The New England Patriots were just mediocre against the run this season (although they will spend quite a few picks improving their pass defense as well), and the combination of Poe and Wilfork will shut down the gut for opposing rushers.
29. Baltimore Ravens
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Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
This pick will make Joe Flacco elated.
Zebrie Sanders, the 6'5", 305-pound Florida State product, has the potential to come in and challenge both Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie for their tackle positions.
Sanders is a better pass blocker than he is a run blocker, but he has continued to improve at both throughout his college career. He does have solid speed though, and his ability to run out and block for screens will make him pretty popular with Ray Rice.
30. San Francisco 49ers
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Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
First things first, Carlos Rogers needs to be re-signed, but after that, the San Francisco 49ers will grab a lockdown cornerback to go opposite Rodgers and add depth to the position.
The 49ers need a wideout, but there are a number of solid wide receivers who will fall to the second round or later like Dwight Jones and Nick Toon.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is a great snag for the end of the first round.
Jenkins is fast. At 5'10", 182 pounds he runs a 4.46 40-yard dash.
He is great in coverage, too. CBSSports.com states that he has "rare anticipatory skills," solid coverage in man-to-man and zone, good in run support and aggressive after the ball.
The 49ers defense is already top-notch, but Jenkins will make it that much better.
31. New England Patriots
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Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
The New England Patriots would be getting great value with Zach Brown late in the first round.
He is a explosive player with a lot of raw talent. I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots traded this pick to build up their secondary, but Brown is a steal at the 31st pick.
He had a fantastic senior year at North Carolina. He finished the season with 105 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.
The Patriots love getting a great deal, and with everything Brown can do, they would be getting one.
32. Green Bay Packers
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Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Green Bay Packers will spend the last pick in the first round to improve their pass rush and bring some depth to their defensive line.
The Packers need to do something about their last-ranked pass defense, but the team rarely trails and teams have to throw against them often to get back in the game (which can skew statistics). However, Green Bay will address the secondary in a later round when better value is available.
Andre Branch will help improve the pass rush that is ranked 27th in sacks (four-way tie).
Branch went off in 2011 for 10.5 sacks, and playing either outside linebacker or a nickle defensive end, he will be able to take some of the blocking focus off of Clay Matthews.