2012 NFL Mock Draft: Assessing Top Team Needs After 2012 Season

Wes StueveContributor IIIFebruary 5, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal gestures at the line against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Every NFL general manager likes to talk about how his team will take the best player available, but that rarely happens. Need is always a factor, and it's often the deciding issue for a selection.

Now, each and every team has needs. Obviously, some needs outweigh others, though, and these are the ones that get prioritized.

Some of these picks may not match up very well with needs, but as you'll see, many of them do.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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

3. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

 

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

This is always a controversial projection. Cleveland has huge needs at wide receiver and running back, but their need at quarterback is much more important.

Colt McCoy is an awful quarterback, and the Browns need to upgrade at the most important position in all of sports. The golden rule of the NFL draft is if you don't have a quarterback, take one.

Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson or Morris Claiborne would address needs, but quarterback is easily the more important position.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

6. Washington Redskins: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

 

8. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 19: Barry Brunetti #11 of the Ole Miss Rebels scrambles with the ball against Michael Brockers #90 of the LSU Tigers on November 19, 2011 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

The Panthers need to upgrade at a few positions, notably wide receiver, cornerback and defensive tackle. Carolina would love for Justin Blackmon or Morris Claiborne to fall here, but that simply isn't going to happen.

Though Michael Brockers isn't exactly a steal here, he isn't a terrible reach either. Carolina's defensive ends are solid, but the team's defensive tackles are all types of awful.

If Carolina decides cornerback is the more immediate need, the team could opt for Dre Kirkpatrick. This pick will almost certainly be decided by the team's current roster, not the value of prospects.

 

9. Miami Dolphins: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

12. Kansas City Chiefs: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

12. Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Quarterback Barrett Trotter #14 of the Auburn Tigers throws a pass while under pressure from defensive lineman Fletcher Cox #94 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first quarter on September 10, 2011 at Jordan-Hare Stadium
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Philadelphia is loaded with talent, but the team has plenty of needs. The Eagles are likely losing DeSean Jackson in free agency, and they need help at defensive tackle and linebacker. 

Cullen Jenkins is a star along the interior line, but the other tackle spot isn't so solid. The Eagles linebackers are worse than their tackles, but they have a history of not drafting linebackers early.

Fletcher Cox is a quick, explosive player with excellent penetration ability. The Mississippi State star could be an immediate impact player in the middle of the Philadelphia defense.

 

16. New York Jets: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): Mark Barron, S, Alabama

18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

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

20. Tennessee Titans: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: 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

Cincinnati doesn't have many glaring needs. Cedric Benson is a free agent and needs replaced, and Andre Caldwell is probably gone as well. Jonathan Joseph's absence still needs to be filled too.

After already drafting Mark Barron, safety is no longer an issue. In the end, the Bengals opt for the best player available—Kendall Wright.

Wright is an explosive wideout with fantastic speed. He weighs in at just 5'10", 190 pounds, but like Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, he can still play on the outside. 

 

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Nick Perry, DE, USC

 

23. Detroit Lions: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies scrambles with the ball as Luke Kuechly #40 of the Boston College Eagles defends on September 25, 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty
Elsa/Getty Images

Detroit has a few big needs, most of which aren't new. For years, the Lions have needed offensive line help, and the team's cornerback and linebacker play isn't great either.

Ideally, general manager Martin Mayhew would add a franchise left tackle or shutdown cornerback here. But Mayhew has shown time and time again he will not reach for need. 

So, the Lions address a need by adding a great value in Luke Kuechly. The Boston College linebacker is smart and instinctive. He should be long gone by now.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

25. Denver Broncos: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

26. Houston Texans: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Devon Still, DT, Penn State

 

28. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

As their 2011 record indicates, the Packers don't have too many needs. However, the team could use a linebacker opposite Clay Matthews, and their defensive end situation is far from perfect.

On offense, Green Bay's only real need is at running back, but there isn't a good value there. So Ted Thompson turns to the defensive side of the ball, which needs more work anyway.

A defensive end/outside linebacker/defensive tackle, Melvin Ingram is ridiculously versatile. The 6'2", 275-pounder is bigger than the typical outside linebacker, but nevertheless, he is capable of playing in coverage.

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

30. San Francisco 49ers: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

31. New York Giants: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

32. New England Patriots: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin