2012 NFL Mock Draft: Identifying the Biggest Knock on Each First-Round Pick
In the NFL draft, no perfect players exist. Every player has flaws, and some of them are more evident than others.
Mock drafts are the basis of all draft conversation. They address team needs, player value and, more importantly, they address what everyone actually cares about: who's going where.
Sure, it's important to know who your team is drafting. But you should probably know what you're getting with that player, as well.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Biggest Flaw: Arm Strength
The Colts are taking Andrew Luck. Peyton Manning is gone, and Luck is the best quarterback to come along since Peyton Manning, who is no longer a Colt. This is an absolute no-brainer.
Luck doesn't necessarily have a weak arm, but he doesn't do a great job of using his lower body when driving the ball downfield. His velocity occasionally struggles a result, and his deep ball isn't great.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Biggest Flaw: Pocket Presence
After trading up with the Rams, the Redskins are finally adding their franchise quarterback. Robert Griffin is as dynamic of a player as there is in the draft, and the Heisman winner is a potential star.
Though he is a pass-first quarterback, Griffin is shaky in the pocket. He isn't poised, and he often seems uncomfortable when confronted with the pass rush.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Biggest Flaw: Power
The Vikings' offensive line is awful, and the team desperately needs a left tackle like Matt Kalil. Kalil is excellent in pass protection, and few linemen are better in pass protection.
However, Kalil really isn't a powerful player. He can be overpowered at the line of scrimmage, and he isn't overly effective in the run game.
4. Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Biggest Flaw: Press Coverage
Cleveland needs a cornerback to play opposite Joe Haden, and Morris Claiborne is worthy of the pick. The 5'11", 188-pounder is an excellent athlete with smooth hips, terrific ball skills and great technique.
Claiborne's press coverage is inconsistent, though. He occasionally allows wide receivers to overpower him, and he needs to add strength.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Biggest Flaw: Blocking?
LeGarrette Blount is unreliable, and Tampa Bay doesn't have any other great options. Trent Richardson is an unbelievable prospect, and based on talent alone, he is well worth a top-five pick.
It's really hard to find a weakness in Richardson's game. He's not a great blocker, though, and that is his biggest flaw. With a little bit of practice, Richardson can, however, become an excellent blocker.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Biggest Flaw: Deep-Threat Ability
The Rams offense is atrocious, and Sam Bradford desperately needs some help around him. Though he isn't A.J. Green as a prospect, Justin Blackmon is almost certain to be a top-10 pick.
Blackmon can certainly work the underneath, but he can't really stretch the field. The Oklahoma State star is just 6'1" and lacks great speed, limiting his vertical ability.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Biggest Flaw: Footwork
Jacksonville can go a ton of directions here, but they choose to add some protection for Blaine Gabbert. Riley Reiff can play right or left tackle, and he will probably be drafted in the top 11.
Though he is a good athlete, Reiff's footwork is rough. The Iowa tackle is a bit heavy-footed, and he sometimes struggles to control explosive pass-rushers.
8. Miami Dolphins: Nick Perry, DE, USC
Biggest Flaw: Natural Pass-Rush Ability
The Dolphins are switching to a 4-3 defense, and the team needs another pass-rusher opposite Cameron Wake. The 6'3", 271-pound Nick Perry is an outstanding athlete with huge upside.
Perry really isn't natural off the edge, though. He seems a bit stiff-hipped, and he isn't great at bending the corner. Perry can definitely overcome this, but it's not an ideal trait for a pass-rushing defensive end.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Biggest Flaw: Technique
Carolina has good defensive ends, but the team's tackles are awful. The 6'4", 346-pound Dontari Poe is an unbelievable athlete with through-the-roof potential.
Poe is extremely raw, though. His technique is sloppy, and he has a lot to work on. Poe wasn't overly productive at Memphis, and his technique is the reason why.
10. Buffalo Bills: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Biggest Flaw: Explosiveness
Buffalo's defense was awful in 2011, and its pass rush desperately needs help. Prior to the 2011 season, Quinton Coples was heralded as a top-five pick, but a disappointing senior season has hurt his stock.
Despite being a terrific athlete, Coples isn't an explosive pass-rusher. His first step is merely average, and Coples projects more as a left end than as a sack artist off the weak side.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Biggest Flaw: Power
Kansas City would prefer a nose tackle or offensive tackle here, but they take the best lineman available. David DeCastro is nearly a perfect guard prospect, and the Stanford product will be drafted early.
The 6'5", 316-pounder is incredibly quick, but he doesn't dominate at the point of attack. DeCastro isn't weak there by any means. He just isn't dominant.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Biggest Flaw: Decision-Making
Seattle has tried fixing their quarterback problems with Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson, but they need to step in and draft someone. Some might think Ryan Tannehill is a reach here, but he might even be gone.
The 6'4", 221-pounder is physically talented, but he makes many poor decisions. Tannehill threw way too many interceptions, and he needs to do a better job of avoiding costly throws.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
Biggest Flaw: Quickness
The Cardinals' offensive line is awful, as nearly everyone knows, and the team needs to spend several high draft picks on the unit. At 6'6", 345 pounds, Cordy Glenn is a terrific athlete with massive size.
It's debatable whether Glenn can play tackle, though, and he may have to move inside to guard. The Georgia product will never be great in pass protection, and only his run-blocking ability makes him a legitimate pick here.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
Biggest Flaw: Explosiveness
Marcus Spears has continued to disappoint, and the Cowboys need more defensive linemen around Jay Ratliff. At 6'5", 322 pounds, Michael Brockers has perfect size for the five-tech position.
A terrific athlete, Brockers is strong at the point of attack, but he doesn't have great burst and struggles as a pass-rusher. The LSU star still has great potential, though.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Biggest Flaw: Strength
Philadelphia's run defense is suspect, and Fletcher Cox is the type of penetrating defensive line coach Jim Washburn loves. The 6'4", 298-pounder is a dynamic lineman with game-changing ability.
Cox can certainly make plays in the backfield, but he isn't great at holding ground against the run. Opposing offensive lineman can drive Cox back, and he needs to do a better job of maintaining gap integrity.
16. New York Jets: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Biggest Flaw: Staying on the Field
The Jets are letting Plaxico Burress walk in free agency, and the team needs someone to play alongside Santonio Holmes. If it were based only on on-field ability, Michael Floyd would be long gone by now.
However, Floyd has had off-the-field issues, and he has also dealt with injuries. The Notre Dame star is risky for these reasons, and they could seriously sidetrack his career.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Biggest Flaw: Zone Coverage
Cincinnati lost Jonathan Joseph a year ago, and Leon Hall is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. Dre Kirkpatrick should probably be gone by now, but he falls partially due to off-the-field issues.
Kirkpatrick's off-the-field problems are minor, but his lack of experience in zone coverage is a bigger concern. At Alabama, Kirkpatrick rarely played in zone and will need to develop his technique.
18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Biggest Flaw: Pass-Rushing Ability
After Shaun Phillips disappointed in 2011, the Chargers need another outside linebacker more than ever. At 6'2", 272 pounds, Courtney Upshaw is a big but experienced linebacker.
Though he can definitely play the run, Upshaw is bland as a pass-rusher. He isn't explosive and lacks much in the way of pass-rush moves, limiting his effectiveness off the edge.
19. Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Biggest Flaw: Work Ethic/Weight
Roy Williams didn't work out for the Bears, and the team is once again left without a legitimate wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery was seen as a top-five pick before 2011, and only issues surrounding his weight have dropped him down.
For much of the season, Jeffery looked overweight and slow. At the combine, he weighed 216 pounds, though, so his stock could soon be on the rise. Regardless, Jeffery's work ethic makes him an extremely risky pick and potential bust.
20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Biggest Flaw: Pass-Rush Moves
Chicago has Julius Peppers on one side, but Israel Idonije is probably gone, and he isn't that great anyway. After racking up 16 sacks in 2011, Whitney Mercilus saw his stock rise, and he is now solidified as a first-round pick.
Mercilus is a decent athlete, but he has no pass-rush moves to speak of. The Illinois defensive end needs to find a way to get around offensive tackles in the NFL because his current repertoire won't get the job done.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Biggest Flaw: Size
A.J. Green looks like a future (or current) superstar, but Jerome Simpson is in trouble and may be gone. Kendall Wright is a dynamic speedster who can do more than distract attention away from Green.
Wright has upside, but his size is a bit of an issue. The Baylor wideout is just 5'10", and this has caused many to speculate he is only a slot receiver in the NFL.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Biggest Flaw: Rawness
Even if Greg Little reaches his full potential, the Browns need at least one more starting-caliber wide receiver. Stephen Hill sort of came out of nowhere, but he has serious potential and will probably be a first-round pick.
With 6'4", 215-pound size and 4.3 speed, Hill is an unbelievable athlete, but he has struggled with drops. Also, Hill ran only a few routes in Georgia Tech's offense, and he needs time to develop as a route-runner.
23. Detroit Lions: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston Colle
Biggest Flaw: Aggressiveness
With Stephen Tulloch likely leaving in free agency and the Detroit linebacker corps already struggling, the Lions have to make this pick. Luke Kuechly is a terrific value here, and he is an immediate starter.
Kuechly possesses incredible instincts and above-average athleticism, but he isn't a dynamic player. The Boston College linebacker seems to lack the acute aggressiveness to make huge plays, and this will keep him from becoming elite.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Biggest Flaw: Work Ethic
Pittsburgh's offensive line is weak, and Marcus Gilbert really doesn't seem like a great left tackle option. Mike Adams, on the other hand, has the ability to not only play left tackle, but to dominate there.
Obviously there's a catch. Adams underachieved for much of his career, and the Ohio State product disappointed at the combine. Adams has often looked lazy, and his poor workouts suggest this to be the case.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Biggest Flaw: Consistency
If Denver manages to keep Brodrick Bunkley, the team will probably still be looking for another defensive tackle. Devon Still could go much earlier than this, and he has the ability to become a huge steal.
The 6'5", 303-pounder was a highly-prized recruit, and he shows glimpses of dominance. However, Still will struggle immensely in some games. It's hard to say whether Still will be a stud or a dud. There probably isn't much in between.
26. Houston Texans: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Biggest Flaw: Character
Houston doesn't have many needs, and there's a saying in the NFL (or there should be), that if you don't know what position to draft, take a cornerback. Janoris Jenkins is a legitimate top-15 talent, and he could be drafted as high as No. 14.
So there's obviously a reason Jenkins fell this far. He has been arrested multiple times and was kicked off Florida's team. The team that picks Jenkins is taking a huge risk, and Houston is one of the few teams with the luxury to do so.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Biggest Flaw: Technique
The Patriots played a wide receiver—Julian Edelman—at cornerback for much of the season. That's how bad New England's secondary is.
Stephon Gilmore is certainly talented, but his technique is rough, and, as a result, he is inconsistent. With time, Gilmore can develop into a great player. He needs some work, though.
28. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina
Biggest Flaw: Pass-Rushing Ability
Green Bay's defense struggled in 2011, and the team lacks a pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Melvin Ingram was born to play in Dom Capers's defense, and he is a terrific value.
At 6'2", 263 pounds, Ingram can play defensive end, defensive tackle or outside linebacker. This versatility is great, but Ingram isn't anything special at getting to the quarterback. He will pick up a few sacks in the NFL, but don't expect double digits.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Biggest Flaw: Quickness
Matt Birk is gone, and even if he weren't, Baltimore would probably look to upgrade. Peter Konz is a center, but he could play guard if the Ravens wanted him to in Ben Grubbs's potential absence.
Konz is powerful at the point of attack, and is a great run-blocker. However, he is only average at getting to the second level, and he can be beaten in pass protection.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
Biggest Flaw: Quickness
If Adam Snyder is replaced, San Francisco could have an elite offensive line. Kelechi Osemele could possibly play right tackle, but he is better suited at guard.
The 6'6", 333-pounder is incredibly powerful, and only his quickness holds him back. Osemele will sometimes struggle to block downfield, and he won't be great in pass protection either.
31. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Biggest Flaw: Run Defense
For years, New England fans have been crying for a pass-rusher. Chandler Jones is the rare prospect with the length Bill Belichick requires in his defensive ends.
A terrific athlete, Jones can develop into a dominant sack artist. First, his technique will need to improve. Jones's pad level is often way too high, and this really hurts his run defense.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Biggest Flaw: Blocking
New York doesn't have anything special at tight end, and the Giants are losing their slot receiver in Mario Manningham. Coby Fleener can play tight end, but he would also play out of the slot.
At 6'6", 247 pounds, Fleener is a great athlete and receiver, but he isn't much of a blocker. Though Fleener isn't awful at blocking, it will never be a strength of his, and he will probably see a lot of time split out as a result.