2012 NFL Mock Draft: Bust Potential for Every 1st-Round Pick

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Bust Potential for Every 1st-Round Pick
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Every year in the NFL, teams spend months pouring over game film and evaluating prospects. When the big day finally arrives, no possibility scares front offices more than selecting a first-rounder who turns out to be more dud than stud in the pros. 

There are examples that give credence to this concern. In the past three years alone, the first round of the draft has produced such luminaries as linebacker Aaron Maybin (who was cut by the Buffalo Bills before resurrecting his career with the New York Jets), Rolando McClain of the Oakland Raiders and quarterback Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars, none of whom have exactly set the football world on fire.

With that in mind, here's an updated look at how I think the first round of the NFL draft could shake out on April 26, focusing on the chance that each team will look back on their pick and grumble a bunch of words I can't type here. 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: After three years starting in a pro-style offense and with the apparent ability to make all the throws accurately, Luck certainly appears to be NFL-ready, but his biggest hindrance in the early going may be the lack of talent around him.

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Griffin's bust potential is magnified by factors that aren't even in his control. The Heisman Trophy winner not only has to play well, but he'll be forever compared to the players obtained with the picks used to acquire him.  

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC: After an outstanding combine and a junior season in which he didn't allow a sack, Kalil certainly looks the part of an elite left tackle. While Kalil may not be Joe Thomas, he isn't far off.  

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Richardson is a special talent, but the last running back taken in the top five (Oakland's Darren MacFadden in 2008) undercores the durability risks inherent in drafting a ball-carrier this high.

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, LSU: The Buccaneers badly need help in the defensive backfield, and the Thorpe Award winner certainly seems capable of stepping into a starting role immediately.  

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Blackmon was wildly productive in college, but questions about his big-play ability leave one to wonder whether he's more Calvin Johnson or Michael Crabtree.

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: Ingram was one of the stars of the combine, but the 264-pounder's relatively small frame and short arms raise some doubts as to whether he might struggle with his hand down in the pros.  

Bust potential: 20 percent

 

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: The Dolphins are seemingly out of the Robert Griffin sweepstakes, and if Miami also fails to sign either Matt Flynn or Peyton Manning in free agency, they'll likely reach for Tannehill, which is a risky proposition given his limited collegiate resume.  

Bust potential: 50 percent

 

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: The Panthers have a need at defensive tackle, and Cox is shooting up draft boards after an outstanding showing at the combine. That being said, workout warriors have been known to fizzle on the gridiron the past.  

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

10. Buffalo Bills: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Much like his senior season in Chapel Hill, Coples was something of a letdown at the combine, and questions about his work ethic and motor have to give some scouts pause. 

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: The Cardinal standout seems more than ready to take his game to the next level. Martin would likely start on the Chiefs offensive line from day one.

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

12. Seattle Seahawks: David Decastro, OG, Stanford: Decastro is one of the best offensive guard prospects to come along in several seasons, and the two-time consensus All-American may be the safest pick in the entire first round.  

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: Arizona needs to get better production from their outside linebackers, but the All-American struggled somewhat at the combine and may have much more difficulty getting after signal-callers in the NFL than he did in the SEC.  

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Jerry Jones has never been shy about selecting players with character issues, but this could well turn out to be a case where the talent just isn't worth the headaches.

Bust potential: 50 percent

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: After dispelling doubts about his athleticism with an excellent combine, the Butkus Award winner would be a great fit with the Eagles. Kuechly should rack up tackles in the NFL for years to come.

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

16. New York Jets: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois: New York needs to bolster their pass-rush, but the 2011 NCAA sack leader's single year of big production may give some Jets fans Vernon Ghloston flashbacks.  

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami: Starter Cedric Benson is almost certainly headed out of Cincinnati, and while the Bengals have a definite need in the backfield, there are questions as to whether Miller can handle a feature back's workload in the NFL.  

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

18. San Diego Chargers: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis: Antonio Garay is an excellent player, but is also a free agent, and the Chargers have been known to have something of a revolving door at the position. After tearing up the combine, Poe may well convince the Chargers that it's time to give it another spin.  

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: The Bears' desperate need at wideout makes this choice a no-brainer. Although wide receivers are always a bit risky, this pick should work out as long as Floyd can put his troubled past behind him.

Bust potential: 20 percent

 

20. Tennessee Titans: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC: Perry showed off a 271-pound frame and impressive strength at the combine that likely convinced at least some teams that he's capable of playing end in the NFL. The Titans have done a lot of swinging and missing on the defensive line in the draft recently, and that trend could continue this year. 

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: Some questions still remain about Kirkpatrick's agility and character after looking stiff in drills and struggling in interviews at the combine, but the Bengals need at cornerback will keep him from falling any farther than this in the draft.  

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: The Browns badly need offensive playmakers, but the right side of the offensive line is also an area of need, making Reiff a solid pick at this point even if the team moves him to guard.

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: The Lions may have bigger needs as a team, but the offensive line could also use a boost, and the beef-eating Bulldog has all the tools to be a mauling run blocker in the NFL. 

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: James Farrior's release increases Pittsburgh's need for inside linebacker help, and unless Hightower proves to be absolutely awful in coverage, the All-American should be a fine pick here.  

Bust potential: 20 percent

 

25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: The interior of the defensive line was a sore spot for the Broncos last season, but a poor performance by Brockers has sent his draft stock tumbling and left some scouts scratching their heads.  

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Assuming that Wright looks more like the player that caught over 100 passes a year ago and less like the player that ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the combine, the Texans would likely leap at the chance to draft a receiver to complement superstar Andre Johnson.

Bust potential: 20 percent

 

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints): Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: The Patriots are in dire need of help in the secondary, and that need, coupled with Gilmore's 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine, may blind the Patriots to Gilmore's rather raw technique.  

Bust potential: 30 percent

 

28. Green Bay Packers: Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma: The Packers' issues in pass defense last year were due in large part to their lack of a pass-rush. As a result, Lewis could sneak into the back of the first round after a solid combine even though he never recorded more than 5.5 sacks in a season at Oklahoma.

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Starter Matt Birk may hang them up, and Konz is the consensus top center in this year's draft. This is one of those picks that makes so much sense that it probably won't happen.  

Bust potential: 10 percent

 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: As badly as the San Francisco 49ers need a wide receiver, it's not hard at all to see them take a flier on the combine's top performer at the position. There is certainly a measure of risk involved taking a player that had all of 29 catches last year.

Bust potential: 40 percent

 

31. New England Patriots: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson: Defensive ends Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter and Mark Anderson are all set to hit free agency, and after a good showing at the combine, the versatile Branch could appeal to the Patriots as a way to upgrade their pass rush.

Bust potential: 20 percent

 

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Fleener has the potential to be an outstanding tight end in the National Football League. The impossibly high bar set by the likes of Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints may get Fleener labeled a "bust" by some even if his numbers are decent.

Bust potential: 40 percent

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