In the 2012 NFL draft, every team will be looking for playmakers. They may be on defense, or they may be on offense, but every team wants one.
Playmakers draw fans and, though it may be a bit redundant, make plays. No offense can function without them, and no defense will be elite in their absence.
These are the guys fans and teams alike covet on draft day. They will transform teams. And teams are willing to pay a lot for that, like the Atlanta Falcons did for Julio Jones a year ago.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
A fantastic athlete, Morris Claiborne can do everything on the field. The 6'1", 195-pounder is a shutdown cornerback, but he's athletic enough to make huge plays when given the chance.
Claiborne isn't as physically talented as his former teammate, Patrick Peterson, was a year ago, but he is a better player at this point in his career. Unlike Peterson, Claiborne has actually learned technique and knows how to play the cornerback position.
Minnesota's secondary is one of the worst in the NFL. Antoine Winfield is almost 35 years old, and Cedric Griffin has suffered multiple knee injuries in recent years.
4. Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Robert Griffin is the most exciting player in this draft. The 6'2", 210-pounder can run, he can throw deep or he can throw short. But regardless of what it is he does, it will be exciting.
Cleveland is desperate for a quarterback. Colt McCoy is terrible, and the Browns have no other options. The Cleveland offense was one of the worst in football in 2011, and it needs an exciting player like Griffin.
If Griffin isn't an option, the Browns will probably turn to Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson, but that is far from an ideal scenario.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
6. Washington Redskins: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Though he isn't as speedy as many playmaking running backs, Trent Richardson creates big plays out of thin air. The 5'11", 225-pounder may plow over two linebackers, or he may run around and past two defensive backs.
Either way, he is making plays.
Washington would probably prefer to avoid drafting a running back this early, but there are no better options. Richardson is the best player on the board, and he would give the Redskins offense a huge boost.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
8. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
9. Miami Dolphins: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
10. Buffalo Bills: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
11. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
12. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
13. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
A 6'3", 190-pound physical freak, Dre Kirkpatrick is a steal here. Kirkpatrick is capable of unbelievable interceptions, and he has a nearly unlimited ceiling at either cornerback or safety.
Though his potential is great, Kirkpatrick has some areas to work on. He has hardly played in zone coverage, and he isn't great at running down the field with wideouts.
Dallas's secondary was awful in 2011, and Terence Newman is aging. Mike Jenkins is, at best, inconsistent, and at worst, downright awful. The Cowboys' defensive struggles started in the defensive backfield.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
20. Tennessee Titans: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
At just 5'10", 190 pounds, Kendall Wright needs to be fast in order to succeed. The Baylor wideout not only possesses great speed, but outstanding quickness as well. Wright can run straight downfield or make multiple defenders miss en route to the end zone.
Wright isn't always the surest of receivers, and he won't make any outstanding catches, but he is a threat to score at any time. Regardless of what route he runs, Wright just might make something happen.
Quarterback is far from Cleveland's only issue on offense. Greg Little is the team's only good wide receiver, and Wright would be the perfect complement.
23. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
25. Denver Broncos: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
26. Houston Texans: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Mark Barron, S, Alabama
28. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
29. Baltimore Ravens: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
30. San Francisco 49ers: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
31. New York Giants: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
32. New England Patriots: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
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