2012 NFL Draft Projections: One Bold Prediction for Each Round
There's just over a month to go before the 2012 NFL Draft. We know just about everything we're going to about the prospects and teams and until rumors start leaking out here or there, the mocks are about as accurate as they'll ever be.
But no matter how much research you do, no matter how much you know about every team, and no matter how much you study the trade value chart, there will always be surprises in every round of the draft.
Here are my predictions for the surprises we'll see in each round this year.
Round 1: The Jaguars and Redskins Could Surprise Everyone
The toughest teams to mock in the Top 10 are the Redskins and Jaguars. The Redskins are tough because their needs are quarterback, wide receiver and right tackle.
If they don't trade up for Robert Griffin III, then there will be no quarterback worth taking at the sixth slot. Justin Blackmon, perhaps the only Top 10 talent at wide receiver, will also be gone and right tackle is not likely a position that they will spend a Top 10 pick on.
The Jaguars are difficult because Mike Smith typically doesn't take players with character concerns and, like the Redskins, they're biggest needs are wide receiver and quarterback (also defensive end and corner).
Unfortunately, the best players available at those positions—Michael Floyd, Quinton Coples and Dre Kirkpatrick—all have character issues, so Smith may not take them. He may take Melvin Ingram, but who knows?
To make a long story short, either team could take just about anyone and who they take may end up being a big shocker. If they do end up making surprise selections, then it could change the course of the rest of the draft.
Round 2: There Will Be an Early Run on Quarterbacks
With the number of teams still looking for long term solutions at quarterback (the Redskins, the Browns, the Colts, the Jets, the Bills, the Broncos, the Cardinals, the Raiders, the Dolphins and the Seahawks), and only two quarterbacks worthy of a first round selection, I wouldn't be shocked if there was a huge run on quarterbacks in the second round.
To complicate things further, multiple quarterbacks have shown flashes of greatness at one point or another.
Ryan Tannehill is a borderline first rounder after just over a year at the position.
Nick Foles threw for a ton of yards this season, is a big guy and has an even bigger arm.
Kirk Cousins was perhaps the most polished quarterback who threw at the combine.
Brandon Weeden would be a sure-fire first rounder if he was a few years younger.
Russell Wilson would be a sure-fire first rounder if he was a few inches taller.
Brock Osweiler is the tallest prospect in years and he has a big arm with tremendous upside.
All of these quarterbacks could go as early as the second round. Every team knows this, and just like last year, once one is selected, it could trigger a run at the position. I'm willing to bet that happens.
Round 3: Nearly Every Team Takes the Best Player Available
If there is a huge run on quarterbacks, then a lot of top players at other positions will be falling.
When a mid-second round prospect is available in the middle of the third round, you take him if it makes even just a little bit of sense.
This makes me think that, at least for the first half of the third round, most of the teams selecting will be ignoring their biggest needs and just taking the best player available.
Example: Your team needs a center and Michael Brewster is on the board. However, Alameda Ta'amu is also on the board. Which one do you take?*
Of course, for most teams, this is a good thing, since they'll be getting better players. But it will also put a lot of teams in a weird position, where they have a good player who fits a big need and a much better player who plays at a position that isn't a priority. Choosing between those, especially in the later part of the round, will be tough.
Either way, expect a lot of teams to ignore needs in the third round.
*You take Ta'amu.
Round 4: One Top Prospect Will Fall This Far
I'm willing to bet that, for reasons that are probably unforeseeable now, someone who I have mocked in my last two-round mock draft will fall all the way to the fourth round.
Just like Ryan Mallett was talked about as a potential 15th overall pick until the allegations of drug use dropped him into the third round, something will happen to one player we're all mocking int round one or two will fall that far.
Of course, by the time you get to the fourth round, anyone who was considered a top pick recently will be looked at by every team since he might be a steal. One of those teams will pick him, even if he doesn't make sense (just like the Patriots did with Mallett).
It happens every year. This one will be no exception (if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Janoris Jenkins, by the way).
Round 5: Someone Will Draft Randy Bullock
Kickers are usually picked up as undrafted free agents. However, since having a clutch kicker is important, it isn't unheard of for kickers to be drafted relatively high in the draft (like the Raiders crazily did with Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 draft).
This year, I think teams will be more reasonable than that. But someone will still reach about a round too high for Texas A&M's kicker Randy Bullock.
Bullock was a great kicker this year, going 29 of 33 on field goals, but he's certainly no Janikowski.
Some team, somewhere, will decide that a kicker is important enough to draft in the fifth round and they'll take him.*
*In case you were wondering, no, it's not important enough to draft in the fifth round.
Round 6: Kellen Moore Will Be Drafted
Kellen Moore is going to go late in the draft. Very late.
That said, I think some teams will see his value as a backup quarterback in the right system. Despite his short stature (six feet even) and his relatively weak arm, he was a pretty amazing quarterback in college.
In a West Coast-style system, he could end up being a pretty good backup, so long as he doesn't get hit much. At 191-pounds, he wouldn't last long against a tough pass rush.
Getting your backup quarterback in the sixth round isn't bad, so there's no reason a team that believes in him shouldn't go ahead and take him here.
Round 7: But Chris Rainey Won't Be
Chris Rainey turned in a very good 40 time at the combine—4.37 seconds. However, also consider that LaMichael James ran it in the same time and Lamar Miller ran it in only one hundredth of a second longer.
The point is this: when you weigh 180-pounds and want to be an NFL running back, you better run way faster than everyone else at the combine.
So he's undersized, he's fast, but no more so than a lot of other players and he was once arrested after he threatened his girlfriend with death. We call that "character concerns."
He's not getting drafted.