2012 NFL Mock Draft: 4 Bold Predictions, Pre-Scouting Combine
With the NFL combine looming, players are eager to continue proving their potential value to NFL teams.
Some have done enough in their college careers to solidify their draft standing, while still others have done serious work in college football all star games like the Senior Bowl.
However, it isn't until NFL scouts can get the measurables they need from the draft to make final decisions on prospects.
Ahead of that fateful day, here are some bold early predictions for the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
The Redskins Will Overpay for Robert Griffin III
The smart money still says that St. Louis is a major target for trade at the No. 2 draft pick in April's draft. The Rams will likely have several suitors, but none may be as aggressive as the Washington Redskins.
That scenario will net huge gains for the Rams in the way of Washington's sixth overall pick and potentially two later picks in 2012, but the question is whether Washington needs to give up that much.
St. Louis certainly has eyes for WR Justin Blackmon, who fills the greatest void in the Rams offense, but if it is willing to trade out it knows there is a possibility that he may no longer be there.
The truth is that St. Louis would be equally as happy, and improved, by adding players like Riley Reiff (T), Morris Claiborne (CB) or even Trent Richardson (RB).
Washington will get overly anxious and try to outbid other teams and sweeten the pot in an attempt to offset the risk of losing out on Blackmon, which is what St. Louis will use as leverage to perfection.
Quinton Coples Is a Top-Five Pick
This year's version of Von Miller will come in the form of Quinton Coples out of North Carolina.
The breakout star of the Senior Bowl will continue his meteoric rise through the first round of the NFL draft and find a home with the Cleveland Browns at the No. 4 overall pick.
Mike Holmgren and company have seen the impact that a player like Miller had on a previously marginal team in Denver, and they will bet that he can be the same kind of building block for the Browns.
Trent Richardson Will Be a Patriot
Is there anything that could have kept Wes Welker from dropping that pass, which caused Tom Brady to invent "Bradying," which in turn prompted Gisele Bundchen to lash out?
We may never know the answer, but suffice it to say that New England might have avoided such a fate with a more productive running game. That, along with the desire to extend Brady's career in New England, will motivate New England to unload its two first-round picks to the welcome arms of Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It's a calculated risk for New England, which is in need of upgrading on defense, but clearly the most important factor to prolonged success is a healthy, happy Tom Brady.
The Crimson Tide Will Rule the First Round
When the names come off the board in the first round of the NFL draft, it will make everyone wonder how anybody could have picked against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship.
Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw, Dont'a Hightower and Mark Barron could all go in the first round, and if you add in Janoris Jenkins from North Alabama, the six of them will make Alabama the "Sweet Home" of college football talent.
Full First-Round Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (from St. Louis Rams)
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OG, USC
4. Cleveland Browns: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
5. New England Patriots: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (from Tampa Bay)
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (from Washington)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
8. Carolina Panthers: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
9. Miami Dolphins: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford
12. Seattle Seahawks: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
14. Dallas Cowboys: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
16. New York Jets: Nick Perry, DE, USC
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama (from Oakland Raiders)
18. San Diego Chargers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
19. Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
20. Tennessee Titans: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
22. Cleveland Browns: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (from Atlanta Falcons)
23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
25. Denver Broncos: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis (from New England)
28. Green Bay Packers: Zerbie Sanders, OT, Florida State
29. Baltimore Ravens: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama (from New England)
32. New York Giants: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina