2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for How the First Round Will Shape Up
Now that the NFL season is over and college All-Star games have come and gone, the 2012 NFL draft is literally right around the corner.
April can't come soon enough for draft lovers everywhere. Thankfully there are still plenty of predictions to be made and questions to be answered leading up to this year's draft.
Who will make the big trade? Will any team reach for their future franchise quarterback? Which player is bound to take the draft day tumble?
We'll answer all these questions and more as we take a look at the latest 2012 NFL mock draft with predictions on how the first round will shape up.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
As we get closer to the actual draft, we could start to hear more Robert Griffin III to the Indianapolis Colts, but it is extremely unlikely to happen.
Luck is going to be a very good professional athlete and is exactly what the Colts franchise needs right now. He'll be an instant starter and could turn into an All-Pro quarterback quite early in his career.
2. Cleveland Browns (from St. Louis Rams)
Selection: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Cleveland Browns have the draft picks to get Griffin, and as long as he can put together a quality combine and pro day effort, the Browns won't be able to pass on him.
They'll send their fourth and 22nd first-round picks to the St. Louis Rams, and they'll probably have to throw in a late-round pick to seal the deal.
However, it will definitely be worth it, as Griffin will put a hop in the Browns' step that hasn't been in a long, long time.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
The Minnesota Vikings need to add major talent across their offensive line and Kalil is the type of player that can step in from day one and instantly be effective.
Both Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson will love having Kalil on the their line. While he needs to add some bulk to his frame, once he does that he will be a Pro Bowl left tackle in the NFL.
4. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland Browns)
Selection: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Justin Blackmon would be a popular pick, but the St. Louis Rams have a huge need in their secondary and Claiborne is a special talent.
He is one of best players in this year's draft, regardless of position, and he has the skills to be a shutdown corner from the first snap of his professional career.
With wide receiver being a position where you can find solid talent in later rounds, the Rams would be wise to choose such a special player like Claiborne.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I looked really hard for a reason why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn't want to draft Trent Richardson with the fifth pick. I came up completely empty.
They just hired Greg Schiano as their head coach and Schiano absolutely loves to run the football. Richardson is the best running back prospect we've seen in a long time and he would bring a much-needed boost to Tampa Bay's offense.
6. Washington Redskins
Selection: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
This pick depends heavily on what happens during free agency, but let's assume for a moment that the Washington Redskins don't bring in a quarterback during free agency.
While Tannehill may seem like a reach, he has the tools and athletic ability to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. With the quarterback position becoming more and more important, teams like the Redskins that need one desperately will reach in trying to find their quarterback of the future.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
Coples is going to need motivation to succeed in the NFL. While it may seem hard for a franchise like the Jacksonville Jaguars to do that, I ultimately believe that they'll convince themselves that they can.
If Coples is motivated, which I fully believe he eventually will be, he has the ability to become an instant threat as a pass-rusher. He'll make his living in opponents' backfields and could have a similar impact like Aldon Smith and Von Miller were able to make in 2011.
Of course, if Coples can't get motivated, he will be an instant bust.
8. Miami Dolphins
Selection: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
With the Miami Dolphins likely switching to a 3-4 defense in 2012, Ingram is the ideal pick for them.
His versatility to play either defensive end or outside linebacker will be huge as they go through their defensive transition. Ingram plays with a great motor and can play against either the pass or the run.
Ingram would improve the overall defense of Miami and they would become a quality signal-caller away from being a playoff contender.
9. Carolina Panthers
Selection: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
There aren't many prospects in the draft that will need to be developed as much as Brockers will need to be.
However, once Brockers reaches his full potential, he could establish himself as one of the best defensive tackles in the entire league. He is a freak of an athlete and has a non-stop motor.
As he starts his career, Brockers may only be able to to stop the run, but that was the biggest issue for the Carolina Panthers in 2011 and Brockers should instantly help fix that problem.
10. Buffalo Bills
Selection: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Buffalo Bills may address their defensive line with this pick, but passing on a player like Reiff will be too hard for them. When you consider that Buffalo also needs to improve their offensive line, Reiff makes quite a bit of sense here.
Reiff is a big-bodied kid who could handle either tackle spot for the Bills. He displays quality footwork and hand placement, and he would be a big help for Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller on the ground.
Buffalo started last year as a surprise team and they showed everyone that they are only a few pieces away from contending. Reiff needs to be one of those pieces.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Selection: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
There are very few people who see Adams going this high in the draft, but when you look at the potential that he has, it becomes easier to see him going to a team like the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City needs to address their awful offensive line. Adams has the body size, athleticism and pure strength to become an instant factor in the ground game.
With Jamaal Charles returning from injury, you can bet that the Chiefs will be looking to do the majority of their damage offensively on the ground. Adams is a perfect fit for them.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Selection: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Of all the mid-first-round picks, I think Seattle would be the most likely to trade to a team looking to move up in the draft. However, they'll keep this pick for now and address a defensive need.
Perry will be able to lineup opposite Chris Clemons to give the Seahawks one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. While Perry is still raw at his craft, he shows an exceptional motor and has plenty of power and finesse moves to get after the quarterback.
With no franchise quarterback worth taking here, the Seahawks would do good to add one of the top players in the draft.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Selection: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is starting to get old and it's time for them to start looking for replacements.
As the top guard prospect we've seen in years, DeCastro could fight for a Pro Bowl spot his first year in the league. He can protect the quarterback, but he can also get out in open space and block down the field in the ground game.
He's an elite talent and too good to pass up at this spot for the Cardinals.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Selection: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Even though Kirkpatrick had some trouble with the law earlier in the year, he's simply too good for the Dallas Cowboys to pass on him. This is especially true when you realize that secondary is by far the biggest need that Dallas has heading into 2012.
Before being arrested for marijuana possession, Kirkpatrick appeared to be a top-10 selection. He has good ball skills, the ability to play man or zone coverage and is a polished player.
Dallas hasn't had problems drafting "character issue" players before, and Kirkpatrick will be able to start from day one for them.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Selection: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Kuechly may be the safest pick in the entire first round of this year's draft.
He isn't overly athletic, but he does a great job at finding the ball and making a play. He's a mature kid who doesn't try to do too much on the field.
He'd be an excellent addition to a troubled defensive unit for the Philadelphia Eagles.
16. New York Jets
Selection: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon is the one player that could really drop come draft day. He doesn't have that Larry Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson elite status, but he is the top receiver in the draft.
If Sanchez can't produce with Blackmon and Holmes, he may be a lost cause.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders)
Selection: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
When the Cincinnati Bengals lost Johnathan Joseph in the 2011 offseason, it was a big hit for their defense.
With their first of two first-round picks, they'll look to regain their secondary by drafting Jenkins. While Jenkins has had some off-field issues, he appears to have righted his ship and looks ready to make an immediate impact on defense.
Adding Jenkins to an already young defense will make Cincinnati a favorite to win the AFC North.
18. San Diego Chargers
Selection: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The San Diego Chargers will look hard at Stanford's Jonathan Martin to beef up their offensive line, but will ultimately decide to take Upshaw.
What Upshaw will give San Diego at outside linebacker is a style of play along with production similar to when Shawne Merriman was a rookie. He is that explosive of a player, but without the drama.
San Diego has needs across the board and drafting Upshaw in the first round will begin addressing the biggest ones.
19. Chicago Bears
Selection: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler have been waiting to get a receiver like Floyd on their roster.
He's arguably the most polished and NFL-ready receiver in the draft. He'll step in as the No. 1 receiver for Chicago instantly and he could end up as one of the best offensive players in the draft.
If Cutler and Floyd can get going together, the Bears could be a scary team in 2012.
20. Tennessee Titans
Selection: Peter Konz, OL, Wisconsin
The Tennessee Titans have a glaring need on their interior line and Konz could fill a number of positions for them.
To start, Konz might be better suited to play guard before switching over to center. He's an intelligent player who is fantastic out in space.
Hopefully Konz can make an impact and get Chris Johnson back on his game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
With the Cincinnati Bengals likely moving on from Cedric Benson, drafting a running back is a big need for them.
Miller is my second favorite back in the draft because he has an all-around game. He is a powerful runner who has the speed to get to the edge. He can also block and is a threat as a receiver.
His lack of experience is a minor issue, but his overall skill set is a nice fit for the Bengals.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Cleveland Browns from Atlanta Falcons)
Selection: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With their second pick from their trade with the Cleveland Browns, the St. Louis Rams will again pass on drafting a wide receiver.
Both Alshon Jeffery and Kendall Wright could fit here, but the Rams have issues on their offensive line and protecting Sam Bradford needs to be their top priority.
Martin has elite talent and could develop into a top-tier offensive tackle.
23. Detroit Lions
Selection: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia
This draft pick is sure to surprise some people, but the Detroit Lions have some serious age issues on their offensive line.
While they could look for a cornerback, the reason I like Glenn in Detroit is because of his versatility. He can fill a number of positions across the line because of his strength and quickness.
Look for the Lions to draft a cornerback or two, but wait until the later rounds to do so.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Selection: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Still had some difficulty in his senior season with taking plays off. That is definitely something to worry about for an NFL team, but the Pittsburgh Steelers may have the best environment for him to thrive in.
When he gives 100 percent effort, Still is the best defensive tackle in the class. He has a big, thick frame and can plug up holes in the ground game or get after the quarterback as a pass-rusher.
He could definitely thrive in the environment Pittsburgh has to offer.
25. Denver Broncos
Selection: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
With an already young and talented defense, the Denver Broncos will look to add even more depth to their unit.
Poe is an interesting prospect because he is still an extremely raw prospect. However, he has elite athleticism for a player of his size and proper coaching could turn him into quite the player.
Teaming Poe with defensive-minded John Fox would be a fantastic move for Denver.
26. Houston Texans
Selection: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Houston Texans have been looking for a receiver to team with Andre Johnson for years. They'll finally find their man in Wright.
Even though Wright is a little undersized, he has good hands, speed and can make plays all over the field. He'll be the perfect complement player to Andre Johnson.
If you thought that the Texans offense was potent before, just wait till Wright steps on the field for them.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)
Selection: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Expect the New England Patriots to draft for their secondary heavily in the early rounds of the draft. It was easily the weakest point of their team in 2011, and to make another run at the Super Bowl they will need to improve that unit.
Gilmore has shown flashes of brilliance while with South Carolina and now he just needs to put it all together. His versatility will be a big bonus for the Patriots as they attempt to shuffle guys around to find the perfect fit.
28. Green Bay Packers
Selection: Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State
Cox played defensive tackle for Mississippi State, but will be asked to move to defensive end for the Green Bay Packers. While outside linebacker may be a bigger need, the Packers would have to reach for a player with this pick.
However, with Cox, the Packers get a high-motor player who can put pressure on the quarterback from the get-go. He'll add depth to a position greatly lacking on Green Bay's roster.
If one of the big-name outside linebackers fall to this pick, look for Green Bay to go with them. If none are available, Cox is a great consolation prize.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Selection: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State
Burfict has been quickly dropping down draft boards recently, but I believe the Baltimore Ravens will see a young Ray Lewis, which is too good to pass up on.
With Lewis aging, the Ravens need another aggressive inside linebacker to eventually fill his void. Burfict looks like a perfect fit due to his ferocious style of play.
He'll be able to learn to control his temper in Baltimore and could turn into a quality player for them.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
With Michael Crabtree beginning to come into his own and Vernon Davis having a breakout performance in the playoffs, the San Francisco 49ers are rather close to having an offense that is as dominant as their defense.
Jeffery is a player whose stock could skyrocket closer to the draft, but right now, San Francisco will be glad to grab him this late in the first round. While Jeffery struggles to separate off the line of scrimmage, he does possess quality hands and the ability to go up and get the ball.
Adding a weapon like Jeffery will make the 49ers are early Super Bowl favorite.
31. New England Patriots
Selection: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The New England Patriots will continue to work on their secondary with their second pick in the first round.
This time the pick is Barron, who is a hard-hitting safety. Barron shows nice range in pursuit to the football and he is another player who may be able to come in and play a few different positions for the Patriots.
With Barron and Stephon Gilmore, New England will have a revamped secondary that will cause teams to fear throwing the ball against them.
32. New York Giants
Selection: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Picking Charles this late in the round is the most logical choice for the New York Giants.
They'll possibly lose their starting and backup tight end to injuries for 2012, and Charles is the top tight end prospect in the draft and a real threat in the passing game. He has great athleticism for a player his size and is in the Aaron Hernandez mold for a tight end.
Teaming him with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham seems rather unfair to the other 31 teams in the league.