2012 NFL Mock Draft: Pro Comparisons and Potential for Every First Round Pick
It is finally NFL Draft Season. Of course the actual season is the best thing about the NFL, but the draft has become a close second.
You will see a dramatic shift in mock drafts after the combine at the end of this month. You will then see another shift when teams start signing free agents.
Click through for a full first-round mock draft that also features an NFL comparison for every player selected.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Pro Comparison: Peyton Manning
It is obviously too soon to say that Andrew Luck will be Peyton Manning, but it is easy to draw the comparison. Both players came out of college as "can't miss" prospects, and both guys have a command of the field when they are out there.
How lucky are the Colts that the one time in the last decade they have been terrible they get rewarded with the "next Peyton Manning?"
2. Washington Redskins (From St. Louis Rams)
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Pro Comparison: Sam Bradford
It is becoming pretty much a given that someone is going to trade up with the Rams to get the #2 pick and draft RG3. The Redskins seem very likely because of the friendship between Jeff Fisher and Mike Shanahan.
Griffin draws the comparison to Bradford because they have a similar build (Bradford is two inches taller but weight is almost identical), and both were prolific passers in wide open Big 12 offenses.
Both guys have pretty high ceilings in the NFL.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Pro Comparison: Jake Long
Kalil is going to be a franchise left tackle from day one. That is why he draws the comparison to Jake Long here.
For the Vikings it is all about developing Christian Ponder. They will probably give Justin Blackmon some thought here, but ultimately will not be able to pass on a potential All-Pro left tackle.
4. Cleveland Browns
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Pro comparison: Dez Bryant
The Browns need to give Colt McCoy a weapon. They would do that with the addition of Blackmon here.
Blackmon draws the comparison to Bryant not only because they are both Oklahoma State guys, but because they are similar in stature. Blackmon seems to have a better head on his shoulders, so he will probably end up being the better of the two in the NFL.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Pro Comparison: Jonathan Joseph
The Buccaneers need to go defense heavy in free agency and in the draft.
They will not be able to add a shut down corner in free agency. It is a good thing for them that they will be in position to draft the first defensive player taken.
Claiborne has the potential to be one of the best corners in the league. He is not going to be Darrelle Revis (Who is?) but he can be ever bit as good as Joseph. Adding him to the Buccaneers defense will make them dramatically better from day one.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Pro Comparison: Jamaal Anderson
Coples is just a guy that has bust written all over him. Teams are going to fall in love with him because of his combine numbers, but the lack of on the field production in 2010 is a concern.
Anderson was another guy that shot up draft boards a few years ago. He has all of the athleticism in the world but cannot make plays against NFL tackles. Coples looks to be the same type of guy.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Pro Comparison: Marques Colston
The Jaguars are desperate for a playmaker on offense. Blaine Gabbert might be less scared in the pocket if he had someone on the outside that could actually make a play.
Floyd is very similar to Colston in build. Floyd would be very happy to match the numbers that Colston has put up in his five seasons in the league.
8. Carolina Panthers
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Pro Comparison: Brandon Browner
Kirkpatrick's stock took a hit a few weeks ago because of his arrest, but you will see him start to rise back up boards now that the charges have been dropped.
He is not the type of corner that you can just put out on an island, but he is easily the most physical corner in this draft. He will be really good in a zone scheme.
9. Miami Dolphins
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Pro Comparison: Joe Thomas
Reiff's stock is going to continue to climb as this process continues. Do not be surprised to see him as a top five pick when the draft actually happens. He is an elite-level tackle.
He will not be as good as early as Thomas was, but he does have that type of upside. The Dolphins would be thrilled to get him with the ninth pick. It is not often that you can get a guy with this talent outside of the top five.
10. Buffalo Bills
Courtney Upshaw, DE/LB, Alabama
Pro Comparison: Lamarr Woodley
Upshaw is a rare guy that can be good in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. He mainly played outside linebacker in the 3-4 at Alabama. He is not great in coverage, but he can get after the passer.
He would also be a dominant defensive end in a 4-3. His strength and quickness will give him an advantage over a lot of offensive tackles. Adding Upshaw would make the Bills better from the day he steps on the field.
11. Seattle Seahawks
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Pro Comparison: Dwight Freeney
Ingram is going to be another guy that goes earlier than most people expect. People are going to leave the combine really impressed with how athletic he is. Look for him to put up a strong 40 time.
That 40 time is what draws the comparison to Freeney. Ingram might not put up the sack numbers that Freeney has in his career, but he will be close. He will also hold up better against the run than Freeney does.
12. Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Pro comparison: Michael Roos
The Chiefs have some big holes on that offensive line. They are not going to be able to come away with one of the top two tackles in the draft, but Martin is not that far behind those two guys.
He knows what it takes to protect a big-time quarterback. The pressure will be nothing new to him.
He draws the comparison to Roos because both guys are really smart players who were a bit underrated coming out of college.
13. Arizona Cardinals
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Pro Comparison: Logan Mankins
DeCastro is easily the #1 guard in this draft, but 13th overall is still too high to draft a guard. The difference between DeCastro and, say, Cordy Glenn is not that big, but the Cardinals are desperate for a fix on their offensive line and will pull the trigger here.
DeCastro will be a very good player. Look for him to be one of the more well-known guards in the league by the time he has been around for a couple of years.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Pro Comparison: Chris Houston
Jenkins might be the best corner in this draft. There is a chance that he will get picked ahead of Dre Kirkpatrick if he can convince teams that his troubles are behind him.
Jenkins and Houston have very similar skill sets, but the ceiling for Jenkins is much higher.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Pro Comparison: James Laurinaitis
Kuechly is one of the more overrated players in this draft, but he will go early because there really are not that many good inside linebacker options.
It's not that he is not a good player, but his numbers from college seem to be a little bit inflated.
He fits an immediate need for the Eagles, as they were terrible at inside linebacker in 2011.
16. New York Jets
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Pro Comparison: LaRon Landry
There was some tough news on Barron earlier this week with the fact that he is going to be out until July or August because of a double sports hernia.
That does not change the fact that he is clearly the best safety in this draft. He will still be a top 20 pick.
Barron is like LaRon Landry but better in coverage.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders)
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Pro Comparison: Adrian Peterson
Richardson is going to be an All-Pro running back. He only falls this far because of how undervalued the running back position has become. He will be a huge upgrade over Cedric Benson.
Do not be surprised when he is in the conversation as the best running back in the league in three years.
18. San Diego Chargers
Nick Perry, DE/LB, USC
Pro Comparison: Bradie James
Perry is one of those guys that could go either 3-4 linebacker or 4-3 defensive end. He will obviously be playing linebacker with the Chargers.
San Diego had trouble getting after the quarterback last season. Adding Perry would help with that problem, and he is athletic enough to do everything they will ask of him there.
19. Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Pro Comparison: Mike Williams (Seattle)
Jeffery is a guy that will be interesting to watch in this draft. His 40 time will tell you a lot about where he will get drafted.
Jeffery and Williams are the natural comparison because they are both receivers who look to be a little bit overweight at times. Williams could have been really good if he could have kept his weight down. The same can be said for Jeffery.
20. Tennessee Titans
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Pro Comparison: Percy Harvin
The Titans need a receiver that can stretch the field. That is exactly what they would get in Wright.
Tennessee's offense has the potential to be really good next season if Kenny Britt can return to 100%. Wright would be able to have a big season if he were able to line up opposite of Britt.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Pro Comparison: Jeff Saturday
Konz is the only center in this draft that is worthy of a first-round pick. The Bengals would have to be thrilled to walk away from the first-round with Konz and Richardson. That would give them a lethal offense.
It will take Konz a while to get to the same level as Saturday, but he has that type of potential.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons)
Michael Brockers, DL, LSU
Pro Comparison: Ndamukong Suh
Brockers is one of the most underrated players in this draft. He would be a huge upgrade on the Browns defensive line. This is not necessarily a need for them, but he has too much talent to leave on the board right here.
He will not be as good as Suh was right away because he is raw, but in time that is his ceiling.
23. Detroit Lions
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Pro Comparison: Cortland Finnegan
The Lions need to upgrade their secondary. Dennard is the best cornerback left on the board at this part. He is not one of the top corners in this draft, but that does not mean that he will not have a very good career.
He draws the comparison to Finnegan because they are similar in size, and Dennard showed some of the Finnegan attitude in the Bowl Game.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Pro Comparison: Michael Oher
The Steelers are constantly looking for offensive line help. They will finally be able to cross off one of their tackle spots when they add Mike Adams.
Adams does not grade out as one of the best tackles in this draft, and he may end up playing right tackle in the NFL, but he will be a solid player for a lot of years.
25. Denver Broncos
Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Pro comparison: Tommy Kelly
The Broncos are going to do everything they can to make their defense the best in the league this offseason because they know they will not be scoring many points.
Still is a wild card in this draft. He could go in the top 10, but he could also fall all the way to No. 25. He would come in and compete in the Broncos defensive tackle rotation right away.
26. Houston Texans
Mohamed Sanu, WR,
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Pro comparison: Joe Haden
Stephon Gilmore is going to be a really good NFL corner. He is not as highly touted as the top guys in this draft, but he has done really well against the best competition in the nation.
If there was one thing Bill Belichick learned from this year, it was that he needs to sure up his secondary. The days of being able to play a receiver at corner against slot receivers is over. Gilmore is a starter from day one.
28. Green Bay Packers
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Pro comparison: Marcell Dareus
Cox is not going to be as good as Dareus, but they have similar skill sets. Cox would be a great pick for the Packers here because he can get after the quarterback. That is something Green Bay needs if they are going to make another serious run next season.
There are going to be days where the offense is not prolific. The Packers need to sure up their defense to the point where they can still win football games without scoring 30+ points.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Pro Comparison: Takeo Spikes
Hightower would be a steal here for the Ravens. He will end up being one of the best players in this entire draft. His combine numbers will not be that good, but he is a gamer.
Hightower would have the opportunity to learn behind Ray Lewis for a couple of years. That is not something he really needs, but it will only help him.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Pro Comparison: Michael Crabtree
The 49ers need a playmaker on the outside. They would love to see Alshon Jeffery fall to this pick. Since he did not, they pull the trigger on Mohamed Sanu.
Sanu is built a lot like Crabtree, but is a little bit faster. He is more of a deep threat than Crabtree, and that is what San Francisco is looking for with this pick.
31. New England Patriots
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
Pro Comparison: Shonn Greene
Polk will be an interesting guy to watch on draft day. There is a good chance he will slip into the second-round, but the Patriots need some help in their backfield. He makes a lot of sense with the 31st pick.
Of course New England will probably trade this pick to someone for three picks next year because that is what they always seem to do.
32. New York Giants
Zach Brown, LB, UNC
Pro comparison: Paris Lenon
The Giants will have the luxury of taking the best player available. They will also be looking for a linebacker, and that would be thrilled to get a guy with the talent of Zach Brown with this pick.
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