2012 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Bust Odds for Every First-Round Pick
NFL free agency has really enabled us to get a better understanding of where some of the top prospects are going to go next month.
One thing that "experts" and pundits will be writing about over the course of the next couple weeks is "bust" potential. Every time draft season rolls around you get the pleasure of hearing talking heads exhibit the most profound skepticism towards certain players.
More often than not these skeptics are proved wrong.
With that being said, nothing in the draft is ever a guarantee. After all, Tim Couch was once considered the most prototypical college quarterback prospect since Drew Bledsoe. In reality, we just don't know how certain players are going to translate to the next level.
This mock draft is going to give you bust odds for every single first-round pick.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
There is no other way to look at it. Andrew Luck is the real deal. He has all the tools and abilities you look for in a franchise quarterback.
He can heave the ball 50 yards downfield on a line, drop the ball in on the intermediate routes and is consistently accurate outside of the pocket.
One thing about Luck's game that continually gets overlooked is the fact that he is one of the better athletes in the draft, as evidenced by that stunning combine performance.
Look for Luck to make an immediate impact in Indianapolis. He will be working behind an inexperienced offensive line but does have that veteran target on the outside in the form of Reggie Wayne.
Bust Odds: 500-1
2. Washington Redskins (From St. Louis Rams)
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
History tells us a story that isn't too kind to quarterbacks being selected No. 2 overall. Just take a look at Ryan Leaf and Rick Mirer for a second.
With that said, Donovan McNabb did have himself a rather fine career after he was selected at this slot behind Tim Couch in 1999.
Robert Griffin III isn't your run-of-the-mill quarterback prospect. Instead, he has all the necessary tools that you look for. His elite athleticism makes RGIII a real problem for opposing defenses as well.
If it weren't for Luck he would obviously be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The Washington Redskins get a real steal here despite the huge bounty they paid the St. Louis Rams.
Bust Odds: 350-1
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, Southern California
Normally selecting offensive tackles in the first round is the equivalent of blindly throwing darts at a board and hoping they stick.
With that said, top-10 picks at this position usually pan out. Just look at the recent history for a second.
2011: Tyron Smith
2010: Trent Williams and Russell Okung
2009: Andre Smith and Eugene Monroe
2008: Jake Long
2007: Joe Thomas and Levi Brown
While some of these haven't panned out like their teams would have hoped, most of them can be considered franchise bookends at the point.
There is no reason to believe this won't be the case with Kalil. He has all the indicators of being a dominating tackle at the next level. The former Southern California standout already has pro-ready technique, utilizing that athleticism to the best of his ability.
What I like most about Kalil is that he stays on balance at the point of contact and doesn't get too high. This is something most young tackles need to be taught early in their NFL career, which will not be the case in regards to Kalil.
Bust Odds: 300-1
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
Much like the tackle position, running back prospects taken in the top 10 usually do pan out. Considering I have Richardson as the best player to come out of college at running back since Adrian Peterson, I have to believe that his bust factor is relatively low at this point.
The Cleveland Browns need to get weapons on the offensive side of the ball. This is something I am sure their front office will concentrate on early in the draft.
With Peyton Hillis out of the mix and Montario Hardesty struggling to get acclimated to the NFL, they need to find an immediate upgrade.
Richardson should be able to come right in and account for 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns as a rookie.
Bust Odds: 400-1
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, Louisiana State
A lot of the scouting process is pure conjecture at this point. With that said, you can pretty much guarantee Claiborne is going to be a stud on the outside at the next level.
He has the ball skills to be a tremendously successful corner. More than that, the former LSU standout dominates at the point of contact, can stay with receivers down the field and has pro-ready hip fluidity in coverage.
In short, he is the entire package.
Bust Odds: 300-1
6. St. Louis Rams (From Washington Redskins)
Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
Considered the consensus No. 1 receiver in the draft just a month ago, Blackmon's stock has pretty much leveled out at this point.
He struggles getting off the line against bigger corners in the press and hasn't fully been able to add to a limited route tree. These two factors have led some, including myself, to believe he is going to struggle early in his NFL career.
Blackmon still possesses the hands and size to be an elite playmaker at the next level. He just isn't guaranteed to be a stud at this point.
That is what should worry scouts heading into next month's draft.
Bust Odds: 50-1
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Floyd has overtaken Blackmon as my No. 1 receiver in the draft. He has the big-play ability and size to be dominating immediately. You are looking at a receiver that uses every inch of his prototypical size to fend off defenders at the point of contact.
Floyd already has multiple pro-ready route capabilities and doesn't struggle getting off the line like some of the other top-tier receivers in the draft.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be getting someone that can pay immediate dividends for Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne, whoever is sitting under center come opening day 2012.
Bust Odds: 60-1
8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
There is no doubt in my mind Tannehill has the talent to succeed in the National Football League. That really isn't at issue right now.
My primary concern is that he is going much higher than most scouts have him projected. For example, our own Matt Miller has the Texas A&M product No. 59 on his big board.
I am a little more kind, putting Tannehill at 34.
Either way, the Dolphins are not getting any value by selecting him in the top 10. With that said, Jeff Ireland and Co. have put them in a position of no return. You are not a franchise capable of making noise in the postseason without a halfway-capable signal-caller. Right now the Dolphins just don't have that.
Tannehill has the largest bust factor of any player in this mock draft. He hasn't been playing quarterback too long, lacks refinement in his game and struggles with other measurements necessary to be a successful quarterback.
He is going to be a definite project moving forward.
Bust Odds: 2-1
9. Carolina Panthers
Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
Watching game film that was provided to me by a scout over the weekend, I came to a the following conclusion about Poe.
He has a chance to be one of the most dominating defensive tackles in the entire National Football League. You are looking at an individual that can take on double-teams with ease, consistently throwing blockers to the side in the process.
Poe is going to be huge when it comes to being able to open up outside pass-rush lanes for outside linebackers in the 3-4 defense. He isn't scheme specific, either. The former Memphis standout can play gap-control defense in the 4-3 as well.
One of the strongest prospects that I have ever seen, and that says a lot.
The Carolina Panthers get someone that will definitely help their poor run defense. He will also make their defensive ends that much stronger going downhill at the quarterback. Couldn't ask for a better fit in my opinion.
Bust Odds: 25-1
10. Buffalo Bills
Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
While he doesn't have the upside of other tackles prospects, Reiff is already as fundamentally sound as they come.
He will not struggle with technique early and wont be caught flat-footed or playing too high on the outside. You are looking at a prospect that has the capability to be one of the best pass protecting offensive tackles in the game moving forward.
The Buffalo Bills helped their defense a great deal in free agency by signing Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, so they really don't have to feel rushed in addressing that side of the field in the draft.
This enables the Bills to get the best player available at a position of need.
Bust Odds: 75-1
11. Kansas City Chiefs
David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
Probably the surest thing of any prospect in this draft, DeCastro is going to be an absolute stud in the NFL. He can maul with the best of them, pull to the outside on a whim and has above-average athleticism for someone his size.
There isn't one major weakness to his game. You are looking at a guard that will be a perennial Pro Bowl performer starting in his rookie season.
I don't really need to say too much more. Do I?
Bust Odds: 500-1
12. Seattle Seahawks
Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Linebacker, South Carolina
Immediately after the 2011 college football season, I was one of the first "experts" to come out and say Ingram has the ability to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. This has since been the overriding theme of a lot of sites around the Internet.
While I am a bit worried about his measurements, Ingram does have the tools to be a dominating pass-rusher at the next level.
He possesses a deadly first step and has surprising strength for someone his size. It is the wingspan that does tend to worry me about Ingram's ability to play standing up. He does tend to struggle getting to the outside against more athletic tackles, which could be an issue moving forward.
Bust Odds: 25-1
13. Arizona Cardinals
Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
It is hard to make an argument against Martin's production at Stanford. After all, he was tasked to protect the blind side of Andrew Luck for the last three seasons. In doing so, Martin succeeded a great deal.
His pedestrian combine performance really worried me. The former All-American struggled with technique in the position specific drills, consistently playing with his pads too high. This is going to get him in trouble against the bull rush at the next level.
This is also why I have Martin with the highest bust potential of any tackle in this mock draft.
With that said, technique can always be fixed. To say that the Cardinals need a pass-protecting offensive tackle would be an understatement. Levi Brown has struggled a great deal with this in his first few seasons in the NFL.
With all due respect to recently signed Adam Snyder, he isn't the answer either.
Bust Odds: 10-1
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dre' Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
Definitely translates better to the free safety position in the pro's. Kirkpatrick possesses extremely stiff hip movement on the outside, which leads to him getting turned around a great deal.
You are looking at a talented player that needs to be coached up a great deal in order to tap into that potential.
The Dallas Cowboys will draft the former Alabama star to play corner, but could use him at safety if things don't work out. Either way, they do get someone at a need position in Kirkpatrick.
Bust Odds: 6-1
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
The only major concern that scouts have in regards to Hightower is his injury history. This is one of the primary reasons he has such a high bust potential moving forward.
With that said, the Alabama product has passed every medical test conducted since the end of the 2010 season and he looks fully healthy.
The young linebacker would provide Philadelphia with the sure tackler it is desperately missing on the defensive side of the ball. He can go sideline to sideline closing off the edge for running backs and has tremendous coverage ability between the hashes.
Bust Odds: 20-1
16. New York Jets
Nick Perry, Defensive End/Linebacker, Southern California
In no way do I project Perry to be able to handle outside linebacker duties at the next level. While I might be in the minority here, I just don't see him possessing that natural ability to drop back into coverage.
If that is the case some might think it odd that I have the New York Jets selecting Perry. There is a simple explanation for this. Most scouts think he can make the transition to the outside linebacker position.
I do believe the former USC standout has a tremendous ability to get to the quarterback and can be successful in the right scheme. However, there does remain a relatively high bust potential when it comes to Perry.
Bust Odds: 5-1
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland Raiders)
Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
If a running back is given a first-round grade you expect him to be an immediate contributor at the next level. This is the position that Lamar Miller finds himself in.
In fact, I have him as a top 20 player on my most current big board.
This is a player that has all the tools you look for in a running back. He possess a strong initial burst and electric second gear, which are two things that I look for in running back prospects. You either have it or you don't.
What makes Miller so much more dangerous is the fact that he is hard to bring down on initial contact, consistently breaking arm tackles between the hashes.
The Cincinnati Bengals would be getting a player that can immediately contribute with a 1,000-yard season in a rotation with BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Bust Odds: 30-1
18. San Diego Chargers
Courtney Upshaw, Defensive End/Linebacker, Alabama
While there are tremendous concerns in regards to his ability in coverage, Upshaw has all the skills you look for in a dominating pass-rusher.
He already has the hand-slap and bull-rush techniques down after playing in a pro-style defense at Alabama. Upshaw also possesses above-average athleticism and tackling ability.
Bust Odds: 25-1
19. Chicago Bears
Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
The talented defensive end has all the measurements you look for in a 4-3 player. He can stop the run, fill the gap, get to the quarterback and plays with a nasty streak a majority of the time.
My primary issues in regards to Coples are consistency and lack of a pass-rushing repertoire. He has a great amount of upside, but is still a major risk in the first round.
At this point I do not have a first-round grade attached to the North Carolina product. With that being said, some team will definitely take a chance on him.
The Chicago Bears are in the market for a defensive end in their 4-3 scheme. Look for them to go in this direction after trading for Brandon Marshall.
Bust Odds: 5-1
20. Tennessee Titans
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
My second-ranked corner in the draft, Gilmore has everything you look for in a cover guy. He remains consistently strong in man coverage on the outside and doesn't struggle playing press close to the line.
I really love his technique at the early stage of his career as well. You are looking at a player that has that fluid him movement and on-ball skills that scouts drool over.
Expect Gilmore to go earlier than most people expect because of this. The Tennessee Titans are obviously going to look in this direction after losing Cortland Finnegan to the St. Louis Rams in free agency.
Bust Odds: 25-1
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Kendell Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
I am pretty happy that the talk of Wright being a product of Robert Griffin III has pretty much been quieted as of late. He was one of the primary reasons RGIII was an outstanding quarterback at Baylor.
The Cincinnati Bengals would get a player in Wright that has the capability of dominating in the slot, acting as a great complement to A.J. Green in the passing game.
Bust Odds: 20-1
22. Cleveland Browns (From Atlanta Falcons)
Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Yet another player I have not assigned a first-round grade to. Jeffery consistently struggles catching the ball cleanly, has a limited route tree and struggles to get off the line in press coverage.
Why will he go in the first round? It is really simple. The natural talent and build that you look for in a receiver prospect is there.
It is just up to Jeffery to refine his game in order to make an impact at the next level. The Cleveland Browns address another need position on the offensive side of the ball with this pick. At the very least Jeffery should provide that red-zone threat on the outside that Colt McCoy has been missing.
Bust Odds: 6-1
23. Detroit Lions
Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
The only reason Jenkins falls this much in the draft is because of character issues. He has all the measurements—outside of height—that you look for in a shutdown corner.
Jenkins is at his best in press coverage and consistently throws receivers off their routes early in the play. He tracks the ball well in the air, reads quarterbacks well and has great technique.
He has a relatively high bust potential because of these character concerns. If Jenkins gets it together off the field he would be an absolute steal for the Detroit Lions here.
Bust Odds: 10-1
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
By far one of the most impressive prospects during the entire scouting process. At first site Glenn appeared destined for a second-round grade. He just didn't look all that remarkable watching generic tape.
Then came the combine. Glenn completely dominated in the position specific drills, showing elite athleticism for someone that size.
There is no reason to believe Glenn cannot cut it at tackle in the NFL. This is precisely why I have the Pittsburgh Steelers going in that direction.
Ultimately they might move him in side because Glenn projects to be utterly dominating between the trenches. One of the surest picks outside of the top five.
Bust Odds: 100-1
25. Denver Broncos
Fletcher Cox, Defensive Line, Mississippi State
Physically gifted and utterly dominating, Cox is a player that can line up on the outside in obvious passing downs and move inside in base defense.
This is something scouts really take a long look at throughout the draft process. Is he a five technique, two gap? These are questions that really wont relate to Cox moving forward. He can play every position along the defensive line.
Expect an immediate impact if the Denver Broncos decide to go in this direction.
Bust Odds: 35-1
26. Houston Texans
Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
The one thing that worries me about Hill is a lack of game tape on him. This is because of Paul Johnson's run-orientated offense at Tech.
This also means that Hill has an extremely limited route tree.
Other than that you are looking at one of the highest ceiling players in the entire 2012 NFL draft. Hill doesn't seem to struggle getting off the line against press, can break it deep and catches the ball naturally.
The Houston Texans are definitely looking at upgrading opposite Andre Johnson in the passing game. Hill might struggle early, but could be a really nice complementary player moving forward.
With that said, he still does have a relatively high bust potential.
Bust Odds: 10-1
27. New England Patriots
Michael Brockers, Defensive Line, Louisiana State
Many people expected the talented prospect to have a field day at the combine, but it just never happened. Instead, Brockers struggled a great deal in nearly every aspect.
His 40-yard dash was horrendous, coming in at over 5.30. Brockers also struggled in the vertical leap and three-cone drills.
We already knew he had the pure strength to be a dominating player at the next level. Brockers just needed to show that he was ready for the NFL.
This didn't happen at the combine.
The New England Patriots still get tremendous value at a need position with this pick. He should be able to work well with Vince Wilfork and progress in terms of fundamentals.
Bust Odds: 10-1
28. Green Bay Packers
Vinny Curry, Linebacker, Marshall
At this point I project Curry to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. While he did play with his hands down at the line in college, Curry has the ability to be a dominating pass-rusher from the middle four.
The Green Bay Packers struggled a great deal in pass defense last season. This was a direct result of their inconsistent pass rush outside of Clay Matthews.
Curry would be a perfect fit.
Bust Odds: 20-1
29. Baltimore Ravens
Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
I have been hovering between Bobby Wagner and Kuechly here. Both bring something different to the game and possess tremendous upside.
The decision here will be all about scheme and NFL readiness. In that you have to come to the conclusion that the Baltimore Ravens will select Kuechly.
He should learn a great deal from Ray Lewis and be prepared to take over when the future Hall of Fame linebacker retires his cleats.
Bust Odds: 20-1
30. San Francisco 49ers
Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
While the comparisons to Ray Rice might be getting old, this is exactly the type of player I envision Doug Martin to be. His potential is as high as any offensive prospect in the entire draft.
Martin is a running back that possesses a rare combination of power and speed. He can get to the outside in a heartbeat, hits his second gear before defenders can adjust and will break arm tackles consistently.
The San Francisco 49ers don't "need" a running back, but that really doesn't matter. The only hole on this team is at the guard position. There is absolutely no value going in that direction with this pick.
Instead, San Francisco has the ability to take the best player on their board. Considering I have Martin as a top 20 guy right now, he represents that value.
Bust Odds: 50-1
31. New England Patriots
Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
Teams do not select safeties in the first round unless there is a near certainty he will be able to pay immediate dividends.
This is the case with Mark Barron. While he might struggle with technique in terms of coverage early, Barron will play stout defense in the box against the run. Eventually Barron will be able to make the transition to a more coverage-orientated safety. This is going to take some seasoning and the right type of coaching.
The New England Patriots desperately need to add a couple corners in the draft. I just don't see value in them going there with this pick. Instead, you can expect the Patriots to get more value at that position in the second round.
It isn't like the safety position is an area of strength, either.
Bust Odds: 40-1
32. New York Giants
Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
The consensus No. 1 tight end in the draft, Fleener has the looks of a tight end that can become a standout early. He can stretch the field between the hashes and possesses some of the softest hands that I have seen.
More than that, Fleener has all the measurements you look for in a tight end. He has a rare combination of size and speed that brings up memories of some of the best threats at this position in the NFL.
Bust Odds: 50-1