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

Wes StueveContributor IIIFebruary 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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


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