2012 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Top Playmakers After Senior Bowl

Wes StueveContributor IIIJanuary 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Louisiana State University Tigers during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 3: Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

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

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 03:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears looks to pass during a game against the Texas Longhorns at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

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

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a 34 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against Morris Claiborne #17 of the Louisiana State University Tigers during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 08:  Dre Kirkpatrick #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26:  Kendall Wright #1 of the Baylor Bears runs the ball against Cornelius Douglas #2 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Cowboys Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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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