2012 NFL Mock Draft: Full First-Round Predictions with Bust Potential

James TateAnalyst IIIJanuary 13, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Full First-Round Predictions with Bust Potential

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    The word "bust" is a dirty word this time of year.  The last thing any NFL team wants to think about is taking a player in the first round who ends up with that label, but the fact is there are plenty of first-round picks each year who do not pan out.

    Click through to see a full first-round mock with the bust potential for each pick.

1. Indianapolis Colts

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    Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

    This is the only pick in this draft that is easy to project.  The Colts are clearly in a time of transition, and it only makes sense that they would take the best quarterback prospect to come out of college in a decade.

    There is always a chance that a team could come to Indianapolis with a deal that they cannot refuse for the first pick, but it would likely take two first-round picks and two second-round picks.  It is unlikely that any team would be willing to mortgage the future like that.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

2. St. Louis Rams

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    Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

    The Rams have a lot of needs, but there is no more important need than getting Sam Bradford some weapons on the outside.  Blackmon would be an immediate upgrade for the Rams and an impact player from day one.

    The other reason St. Louis will go with Blackmon is because they need to energize their fanbase.  While Matt Kalil might be the safer and better pick, an offensive tackle is not selling tickets.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

3. Minnesota Vikings

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    Matt Kalil, OT, USC

    The Vikings would like to have Justin Blackmon because they need weapons on the outside, but they will be thrilled to get Kalil with this pick.  He looks like a guy that they will be able to pencil into their starting line-up for the next decade.

    Kalil would also really help in the development of Christian Ponder.  While weapons are the most important thing for the development of a young quarterback, the second thing on that list is protection. 

    Obviously, the most important piece of pass protection is the left tackle.  That is what makes Kalil so valuable in today's pass-happy league.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

4. Cleveland Browns

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    Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

    The Browns seem to be committed to Colt McCoy as their quarterback.  That means they need to get some weapons around him.  They do just that by adding Trent Richardson to the fold.

    The running-back position has been undervalued in the NFL today, but Richardson is the rare guy who can do it all.  He has the power to run over people, the speed to run away from people, good hands out of the backfield and good pass-protection skills.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

    The Buccaneers were terrible on defense in 2011.  The best strategy for them in this draft would be to take the best defensive player available in this draft in the first two rounds.

    Claiborne is that guy with this pick.  He was a vital part of the LSU defense that was dominant for most of the season.  He will step in and fill the void that Aquib Talib will leave when the Buccaneers part ways with him this offseason.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

6. Washington Redskins

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    Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

    The Redskins desperately need a quarterback.  The only question with this pick is if Robert Griffin will still be on the board at #6.  A lot will depend on his work at the combine and his pro day, but right now, it looks like the Redskins will have to trade up if they want to get him.

    RG3 will be a dynamic player if he gets the opportunity to learn under Mike Shanahan.  There are some things that Shanahan is not very good at, but he can really develop quarterbacks.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

    The Jaguars hired an offensive-minded head coach to pair with their young quarterback.  You can bet that Mike Mularkey knows that his success is directly tied to the success of Blaine Gabbert.  

    There are plenty of people who doubt if Gabbert can be a successful NFL quarterback, but the one thing everyone agrees on is that Gabbert cannot succeed with his current "weapons."

    That is why Jeffery makes the most sense here for the Jaguars.  Jeffery is the second-best receiver in this draft.  He is an immediate upgrade over every receiver currently in Jacksonville.

    While Jeffery's ceiling is high, there is also the chance that he could be a bust.  That is the only thing that would keep him from being the pick here.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

8. Carolina Panthers

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    Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

    The Panthers are set on offense.  They just need to upgrade their defense to be a contender.  In today's NFL, it starts with being able to stop the pass.  

    Kirkpatrick is just a hair behind Claiborne as being the best corner in this draft.  The Panthers should take the best defensive player available with their first two picks.  Kirkpatrick is that guy here.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

9. Miami Dolphins

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    Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

    Reiff is the best player available here.  He is a guy that is going to be the anchor of an offensive line for years to come.

    The Dolphins are a team that will explore moving up to get RG3, but odds are they will ultimately decide that it is not worth the cost.  That means they take Reiff and shore up their offensive line.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

10. Buffalo Bills

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    Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

    The Bills need a lot of help on defense.  They can find some of that help by drafting Upshaw here.  He had an excellent game in the BCS National Championship game that solidified him as a top 15 pick.

    Buffalo is pretty set on offense, so they will be looking for a player who can step in and help them from day one on offense.  Upshaw is just that guy.

    While Upshaw was dominant in his final game, there are some questions about him being able to drop into coverage at the NFL level.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

11. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

    The Chiefs would love to see Reiff fall to this spot, but that is not going to happen.  That means they will have to settle for the best offensive tackle left on the board.  Martin is that guy.

    Kansas City will need to try everything they can to re-sign Dwayne Bowe; if they are able to do that, they will have a very good offense.  

    They need a guy they can count on to protect Matt Cassel.  Martin would be an excellent pick for them here.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

12. Seattle Seahawks

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    Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

    The Seahawks had a pretty good defense in 2011, but you can never have too many pass rushers.

    Coples is going to draw a lot of attention because he will put up excellent numbers at the combine.  He is a good fit for the Seattle defense.

    Seattle is another team that would love to make a run at RG3 because he is clearly an upgrade over anything they have, but they would have to give up entirely too much to move up and draft him.

    The biggest concern about Coples is that his production was down in 2011.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High


13. Arizona Cardinals

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    David DeCastro, G, Stanford

    The Cardinals are set at the skill positions.  Now they just need to add some guys who can protect Kevin Kolb.

    The 13th pick in the draft would seem too high to take a guard, but DeCastro has proven his worth over the last two years while blocking for Andrew Luck.  He will be a starter from day one in Arizona and will instantly upgrade their offensive line.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

14. Dallas Cowboys

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    Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

    Dallas is desperate for a cornerback.  They would love for Dre Kirkpatrick to fall to this spot, but he will not, so they will have to settle for Dennard.

    The good news is that Dennard might actually be a better cover corner than Kirkpatrick.  The bad news is that he is a bit undersized and will not hold up very well against the run.  

    He might also have some problems holding up against the big receivers in today's NFL.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

15. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

    The Eagles struggled against the run in 2011.  They need to add a physical linebacker to help with that problem.  Hightower is that guy.

    Most people expect Luke Kuechly to be the first linebacker off the board, but teams will fall in love with Hightower after watching his film.  

    He is much more prepared to step in and play right away than Kuechly is.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

16. New York Jets

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    Mark Barron, S, Alabama

    The first round of this draft is going to see a lot of Alabama defensive players drafted.

    The New York Jets are desperate for a physical presence in their secondary.  Barron will bring just that.

    The Jets are also desperate for some leadership in the locker room.  Barron was a leader on the best defense in the country this past season.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

17. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

    There is a chance that Floyd is the best receiver in this draft.  He will fall to 17 because of the off-the-field concerns teams are going to have about him.

    This is a pass-happy league.  You can never have enough weapons.  Selecting Floyd will give the Bengals one of the best young receiving duos in the NFL.

    Outside of quarterback, receiver is one of the hardest positions to project.  Taking a receiver in the first round is always a risk, but Floyd will pay off.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

18. San Diego Chargers

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    Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

    This is a slam-dunk pick for the Chargers.  Kuechly is projected to go much higher than this on most boards but will fall because he just is not as good as Dont'a Hightower.

    He is an excellent fit for a Chargers' defense that needs to upgrade after a disappointing 2011 season. They will plug him in as a starter from the moment he steps on the field.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

19. Chicago Bears

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    Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

    Adams is a solid pick for the Bears here because Jay Cutler needs protection.  He has gotten killed behind the terrible offensive line Chicago has run out there for years.  That changes once Adams is added to the fold.

    Adams is a safe pick here because he can be a starter somewhere on the offensive line, even if he fails as a tackle.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

20. Tennessee Titans

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    Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

    The Titans are a pass rusher away from being a really good defense.  Adding Branch will give them that guy they need to put them over the top.

    Tennessee also needs to add depth at wide receiver, but there is not a receiver left worthy of this pick.

    Defensive end is one of the toughest positions to evaluate in any draft, so you have to think that Branch has a pretty high potential of flaming out.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

21. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

    The Bengals have the luxury of picking the best player available with their second pick in this first round.

    There is no doubt that Burficit is that guy here.  He will come in and make the Bengals' defense better from day one.

    The potential for Burficit here is really high because most people expect him to be gone long before the 21st pick in the draft.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

22. Detroit Lions

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    Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

    The Lions have a young offense that is going to be one of the best in the league for years to come.  They need to get better on defense if they are going to be a legitimate contender in the NFC.

    Adding Jenkins here addresses their biggest need on that side of the ball.  He would be a much higher pick than this had he not had his problems at Florida.  

    Jim Schwartz likes guys who play with an edge, so Jenkins will fit right in on his defense.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

23. Cleveland Browns

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    Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

    If Colt McCoy is going to be a good NFL quarterback, he needs some weapons.  Adding a guy like Wright would give the Browns' offense a dimension they did not have in 2011.  

    The Browns would have to be thrilled to come away from the first round of this draft with two offensive playmakers who are ready to step in and play right away.

    Wright is a little undersized as an NFL receiver, so that makes the odds that he will be a bust a little bit higher, but he will be successful if he puts in the work when it comes to running routes.

    BUST POTENTIAL: High

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

    It seems like the Steelers are always looking for help on their offensive line.  Konz is a versatile guy that can play any spot on the interior of the offensive line.

    Since Konz hails from Wisconsin, it is hard to see him not developing into a really good player in the NFL.  Pittsburgh gets excellent value by selecting Konz with this pick.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

25. Denver Broncos

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    Devon Still, DT, Penn State

    It only makes sense for the Broncos to load up on defense.  They need to keep their opponents under 17 points a game to give Tim Tebow a chance to win games.

    Still is considered by most to be the best defensive tackle in this draft.  The Broncos would be thrilled to snag him with the 25th pick.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low

26. New York Giants

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    Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

    Jones is the best player available at this point in the draft, and the Giants need help on defense.  He may not start from day one, but he will be in the mix.

    Jones was a playmaker in college.  Their is no reason to expect anything different out of him at the NFL level.  Those guys are not that easy to find late in the first round.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

27. Houston Texans

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    Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

    The Texans pride themselves on running the football and playing defense.  They have two really good running backs who need the horses in front of them to open holes.

    Sanders comes from a zone blocking system at Florida State.  That means the learning curve will not be very steep for him with Houston.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

28. San Francisco 49ers

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    Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

    The 49ers had a really nice run in 2011.  A solid draft class in 2012 might be enough to make them a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2012.

    Minnifield is the first cog in that draft class.  He will immediately upgrade a passing defense that was ranked 16th in the league last season.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

29. Baltimore Ravens

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    Ronnell Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens

    The Ravens defense was really good in 2011, but they are aging.  They need to restock with young talent in the middle of that defense.

    That process starts with drafting Lewis in the first round.  He will push for a starting spot from day one, and he is an excellent value with the 29th pick in the draft.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

30. Green Bay Packers

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    Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

    The Packers have more talent than any other team in the league on offense.  That means they will be looking to add defense with their first pick in the draft.

    Their biggest hole on defense is the pass rush.  Curry will upgrade that from the minute he steps on the field in 2012.  He makes an elite team even better.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

31. New England Patriots

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    Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

    The Patriots, like the Packers, have all the talent in the world on offense.  They will be looking for a dynamic defensive player with this pick.

    That is exactly what Brown will be for them.  He will be an outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense and will be a contributor from the first day he enters camp.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Moderate

32. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)

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    Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia

    Glenn is the type of player the Patriots love.  He can play guard or tackle at the NFL level because of his size and agility.

    Protecting Tom Brady is the most important thing for the Patriots.  Glenn adds a new dimension to that offensive line.  He can be a mauler in the run game and an excellent pass blocker.

    BUST POTENTIAL: Low