2012 NFL Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Predictions with Rookie Stat Projections
The 2012 NFL draft is barely a month away and everyone is beginning to wonder what type of production we might expect from this year's rookie class.
Will Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III be able to match Cam Newton's historic rookie season? Will Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd have an A.J. Green-type impact in 2012?
All these questions and more will be answered as our latest installment of a 2012 NFL mock draft involves rookie stat projections along with our full first-round predictions.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Stat Projections: 3,259 yards, 24 TDs, 22 INTs, 4 Rushing TDs
There is no doubt that Luck is going to be an extremely talented quarterback in the NFL. However, there is a huge reason to doubt the talent around him right now.
Luck could endure a Peyton Manning-like rookie season that saw the Indianapolis Colts finish with a 3-13 record. I do think Luck will win more games than Manning, but he won't have as good of stats.
Look for Luck to be a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams)
Selection: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Stat Projections: 3,140 Passing Yards, 21 TDs, 16 INTs, 503 Rushing Yards, 7 Rushing TDs
There isn't a better playmaker in this year's draft at quarterback than Griffin. What makes him such a phenomenal prospect though is the fact that he doesn't use his elite athleticism to get outside the pocket and run with the ball.
What that shows it that Griffin is confident in his ability to make plays with his arm, which is exactly what you want from a franchise quarterback. The Washington Redskins have done a great job at surrounding Griffin with talent, which will pay off immediately in his rookie season.
He'll likely battle Andrew Luck all year for Rookie of the Year honors.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started
The Minnesota Vikings have a desperate need to improve their offensive line, and Kalil is the most-ready prospect available to them.
He may struggle at first, but Kalil has all the tools to be an All-Pro player in the NFL. He'll start every game as a rookie, and barring any injuries, he'll continue to start and dominate for a long, long time.
4. Cleveland Browns
Selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Stat Projections: 249 Carries, 1,095 Rushing Yards, 23 Receptions, 225 Receiving Yards, 12 Total TDs
With the Cleveland Browns losing Peyton Hills in free agency, drafting the best running back prospect in years makes complete sense.
Richardson will be the starter from day one, but the Browns will be tentative to give all the carries to him right out of the gate. Look for Richardson to have a mediocre first half of the season, but have an incredible second half of the season.
If the Browns can add some pieces around Richardson, they could be a playoff-caliber team in a year or two.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Stat Projections: 59 Tackles, 4 Interceptions, 2 Sacks
Even though Claiborne isn't quite the playmaker that former teammate Patrick Peterson was coming out of LSU, he is definitely a better overall cornerback.
He has all the skills to become a top corner in the NFL, and it is really only a matter of time before that happens. Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have big question marks in their secondary due to the age of Ronde Barber and the mental stability of Aqib Talib, Claiborne will likely see plenty of playing time early in his career.
No team has improved as much through free agency as Tampa Bay, and adding a cornerback like Claiborne will make them all the more dangerous.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)
Selection: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Stat Projections: 67 Receptions, 938 Yards, 8 TDs
The St. Louis Rams definitely need a legit No. 1 receiver for Sam Bradford, and Blackmon is the ideal choice here.
He'll be able to come in from day one and give Bradford a solid target on all levels of the field. Even though Bradford had a down year in 2011, he is an extremely impressive player who should be able to form an instant bond with Blackmon.
While he may not have as big of an impact as A.J. Green, Blackmon should become quite the player early in his career.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Stat Projections: 58 Receptions, 986 Yards, 6 TDs
The only reason that Floyd will have worse overall statistics than Justin Blackmon is because of the overall ability of his quarterback.
Blaine Gabbert had a rough transition into the NFL in 2011, but he also suffered from the lack of a true receiving threat. Floyd should be able to instantly fix that for the Jacksonville Jaguars as he is as NFL-ready as any prospect in the draft.
Look for Floyd to instantly become Gabbert's top target and put together an impressive rookie season.
8. Miami Dolphins
Selection: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Stat Projections: 6 Starts, 1,186 Yards, 9 TDs, 11 INTs, 2 Rushing Touchdowns
There is a minuscule chance that Tannehill will start the season as the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback. However, with the team's struggles near the end of the season, the Dolphins will see what Tannehill is made of.
They'll quickly learn that he has quite a ways to go, but there will definitely be flashes of brilliance during his time of the field. He'll be hurt by the loss of Brandon Marshall and will struggle to find a receiver who he is consistently comfortable with.
By the end of the season, the Dolphins will have seen enough to feel confident that Tannehill is their guy for the future.
9. Carolina Panthers
Selection: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
Stat Projections: 41 Tackles, 9 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
As arguably the best natural pass-rusher in the NFL draft, Coples will team with Charles Johnson to form a difficult defensive line to defend.
Coples is an elite athlete with major questions about his drive and desire on the field. However, if a team can motivate him, he has all the tools to be a dominant player in this league.
Joining a young team like the Carolina Panthers—who have a bright future—would be a perfect fit for Coples.
10. Buffalo Bills
Selection: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started
Reiff may not start the season at left tackle for the Buffalo Bills, but he will certainly be starting somewhere along the offensive line for the team.
With their defensive line receiving a huge boost with the signing of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills can now focus on their offensive line. This was a major area of concern during the 2011 season and needs to be improved instantly.
A player like Reiff, who can make an impact in both the pass and run game, would be a great draft pick as the Bills continue to move in the right direction.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Selection: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Stat Projections: 31 Tackles, 2 Sacks
Drafting a player like Poe this early in the draft is all about upside. He may not make much of an impact in 2012, but for the Kansas City Chiefs, they are drafting him with forward thinking.
There isn't a bigger freak of nature available this year as Poe has ridiculous athleticism for a player his size. The problem, and the reason he'll make such a small impact this year, is that he is very, very raw.
Throwing Poe in at nose tackle will give the Chiefs a young and talented defensive line to build around.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Selection: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started, Pro Bowl
Now that the Seattle Seahawks have their franchise quarterback in Matt Flynn, they can begin building around him.
The first order of business is to protect their new quarterback. DeCastro is the best offensive guard prospect who has come out of college in years. He's as NFL-ready as they come, and will instantly be one of the best at his position.
Look for DeCastro to find his way to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Selection: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started
The Arizona Cardinals are another team that have needs across their whole offensive line. Even though they re-signed tackle Levi Brown, they still have issues at right tackle.
While the plan will be to have Martin ultimately start at left tackle, he'll likely start his career on the right side of the offensive line. He's still developing as a player and he still needs to add weight to his frame.
However, once that happens, Martin has as much upside as any other offensive lineman in the draft.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Selection: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Stat Projections: 27 Tackles, 3 Sacks
Much like Dontari Poe, the main reason the Dallas Cowboys are drafting Brockers is because of his ridiculous upside.
Since Dallas improved their secondary with Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool, they can focus on improving their defensive line for the future. While Brockers is still an extremely raw prospect, he could have an instant impact against the run. He'll likely be used as a situational player early in his rookie season.
Once Brockers figures out the pro game, he'll make the Cowboys' defense even scarier than it is now.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Selection: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Stat Projections: 53 Receptions, 848 Yards, 7 TDs
Trading for DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans gave the Philadelphia Eagles the inside linebacker they so desperately missed last year. Now they can focus on other areas of their team through the draft.
Without many holes on their roster, the Eagles will look to make their offensive even more explosive with a player like Wright. What Wright brings to the field is the ability to make an impact as a receiver on all levels of the field. He'd team extremely well with players like Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.
Giving Michael Vick another weapon will make Philadelphia an early Super Bowl favorite.
16. New York Jets
Selection: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Stat Projections: 43 Tackles, 9 Sacks, 1 Interception
The New York Jets have needs at wide receiver and running back, but taking them this early in the draft would be a major reach.
That is why they'll likely go defense with their first pick, and Ingram's versatility will make him an ideal fit for Rex Ryan's defense. The Jets will be able to move Ingram all around the defense, and that ability should make him rather valuable in this defense.
Adding a player like Ingram will make New York's defense even more dominant. Hopefully it will be enough to overcome the deficiencies on offense.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders)
Selection: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Stat Projections: 64 Tackles, 3 Interceptions, 3 Sacks
It's possible that Kirkpatrick could be drafted earlier and make the move to free safety, but being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals will allow him to remain at cornerback.
Since the Bengals lost Johnathan Joseph last year during free agency, their secondary has struggled to replace him. Kirkpatrick is a physical cornerback with a body that is ready for the NFL.
He may not be a shutdown cornerback right away, but Kirkpatrick will give the Bengals a much needed upgrade in their secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers
Selection: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Stat Projections: 117 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 2 Interceptions, 1 Defensive TD
The first thing to know about Kuechly is that he is a tackling machine. With the athleticism that he showed at the combine, he should be able to translate that skill successfully in the NFL.
The other thing to know about Kuechly is that he is always around the ball and always make plays. His instincts are simply as elite as they come.
The San Diego Chargers will be giddy that Kuechly dropped this far as he'll be the leader of their defense for years to come. He'll also be the leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
19. Chicago Bears
Selection: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started
Trading for Brandon Marshall filled the Chicago Bears' biggest need, which was finding Jay Cutler a true No. 1 receiver. Now they can focus on their second-biggest need—protecting Cutler.
Even though Adams has been somewhat of a disappointment after a strong Senior Bowl, he's still worth a first-round pick. His strength is a big question mark, but his overall technique and frame will make him a valuable player as a right tackle.
Teaming Adams with Gabe Carimi will give the Bears two talented and young offensive tackles to build around.
20. Tennessee Titans
Selection: Peter Konz, OC, Wisconsin
Stat Projections: 16 Starts
The Tennessee Titans could look to replace Cortland Finnegan with this pick, but I believe they'll continue to improve their offensive line and draft a cornerback later in the draft.
Konz is the best center in this year's draft. He's also athletic and strong enough to play numerous positions across the interior offensive line. He'll likely find his way to the Pro Bowl early in his career.
Chris Johnson will be very thankful that the Titans have made this pick.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Stat Projections: 189 Carries, 784 Rushing Yards, 17 Receptions, 138 Receiving Yards, 8 Total TDs
With their second pick in the first round, the Cincinnati Bengals will look to replace Cedric Benson. Even though they recently signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis, they'll still look for a true featured back. Miller is the second-best running back in this year's draft, as he is a complete running back who lacks very little in his game.
His inexperience is a little worrisome, but the Bengals will likely bring him along slowly to get him used to the pro game. Miller should be able to make an impact on the offense, and teaming him with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green is a fantastic move by the Bengals.
With Miller, Cincinnati will be looking to make a deep playoff run in 2012.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons)
Selection: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Stat Projections: 46 Receptions, 763 Yards, 4 TDs
After adding Trent Richardson with their first pick in this round, the Cleveland Browns will continue to boost their offense by drafting Hill.
This may be a reach, but the Browns are desperate to add elite playmakers, and Hill has as much upside as any receiver available. He needs to improve his route running ability, but should be able to be a vertical threat instantly in the league.
If Hill pans out to be a legit No. 1 receiver, the Browns could surprise some people in 2012.
23. Detroit Lions
Selection: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Stat Projections: 42 Tackles, 6 Interceptions
If it wasn't for some character issues surrounding Jenkins, he would likely be drafted much higher than this. However, the Detroit Lions will be thankful when a top cornerback basically falls in their lap.
The secondary has been Detroit's biggest need for a few years now. Jenkins has the talent to start immediately and his ball skills will make him a valuable player for the Lions.
As long as he can stay out of trouble, Jenkins should be make quite the impact in his rookie season.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Selection: Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia
Stat Projections: 12 Games Started
Even though Glenn is a talented prospect, his lack of a specific position on the offensive line will hurt his draft stock a little. He'd excel as an offensive guard, but teams will try to put him in as offensive tackle.
This is what the Pittsburgh Steelers will do with Glenn, which is why he likely won't begin the year as a starter. However, since the Steelers have issues all over the line, Glenn should be able to find his way onto the field within the first four games.
Once he begins to start, its unlikely that he'll give up the position.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Denver Broncos)
Selection: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stat Projections: 27 Tackles, 2 Interceptions, 1 Sack
This is where the draft gets a little interesting. The Denver Broncos need to find an elite receiver for Peyton Manning and will gladly give up their first pick of the 2012 draft to get Mike Wallace.
That move will give the Pittsburgh Steelers back-to-back picks, and with this pick, they'll address their secondary. Gilmore is a huge cornerback who displays the ability to locate the ball in the air and turn and run with players.
He's still developing as a player, so he isn't likely to start as a rookie, but should still see plenty of playing time early in his career.
26. Houston Texans
Selection: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Stat Projections: 86 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 Interception, 1 Defensive TD
The Houston Texans could look for a receiver with this pick, but Hightower will be too good to pass up, especially with the team trading away DeMeco Ryans.
Hightower is a rather complete inside linebacker who can make an impact in every aspect of the game as a rookie. He's able to stop the run, he displays some natural pass-rushing ability and can even drop back into coverage.
While the loss of Mario Williams will still hurt Houston's defense greatly, adding a player like Hightower will give them a new leader on the field.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)
Selection: Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State
Stat Projections: 41 Tackles, 3 Sacks
Cox was another "workout warrior" during the combine, and the New England Patriots will hope that he'll eventually replace Mark Anderson, who they lost during free agency.
While Cox still needs to develop his game, his upside is tremendous. He's an elite athlete who could play numerous positions for the Patriots along their defensive line. His ability to get after the quarterback is what will ultimately dictate New England drafting him.
There simply isn't a better team at building through the draft than the Patriots, and they'll strike gold again with their pick of Cox.
28. Green Bay Packers
Selection: Nick Perry, OLB, USC
Stat Projections: 46 Tackles, 10 Sacks
No team will be as ecstatic about a player falling to them than the Green Bay Packers will be about Perry.
Green Bay has to find a player to compliment Clay Matthews in the worst way, and Perry will be that player. In fact, Perry reminds me quite a bit of a rookie Matthews. He isn't a polished outside linebacker, but all the Packers will need him to do is rush the quarterback.
As long as he can do that, he'll be exactly what the Packers need to improve their defense in 2012.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Selection: Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State
Stat Projections: 16 Games Started
You may not know much about Silatolu because he is a small-school prospect, but this kid can already dominate, and he still has tons of room to improve.
The Baltimore Ravens will be looking for a replacement of Ben Grubbs, and with a pick this late in the first round, they'll look for the player with the most upside. However, Silatolu is talented enough to start for the Ravens from day one.
This pick will turn out to be one of the best picks in the entire first round.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Stat Projections: 23 Tackles, 2 Interceptions
With the signing of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, the San Francisco 49ers no longer need to address wide receiver with their first pick of the draft.
They could look at an offensive lineman here, but I believe that they'll look for a cornerback to team with Carlos Rogers. A player like Boykin has upside to go along with quite a bit of talent already. He's also a threat with the ball in his hands.
He plays much bigger than he looks, and should add more physicality to an already physical defense.
31. New England Patriots
Selection: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Stat Projections: 73 Tackles, 2 Interceptions, 2 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble
With their second pick in the first round, look for the New England Patriots to improve their secondary. Barron is this year's top safety prospect and will instantly start for the Patriots.
He'll greatly improve New England's run defense, but could leave the Patriots wishing for a little more in pass protection. However, Barron has some instincts to work with and could develop into a ball-hawking safety.
Barron is another solid pick by New England, who solidify themselves as the team to beat in 2012 through the draft once again.
32. New York Giants
Selection: Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State
Stat Projections: 0 Starts
The New York Giants already boast one of the more complete lineups in the league, so in the first round, they'll likely look for the player with the most upside.
Osemele is a physically imposing player, but needs some major work with his overall technique and footwork. However, with proper coaching, Osemele could turn into a Pro Bowl-type guard with some time.
This is a smart pick by the Giants who are simply looking at the best player available with the last pick in the first round.