2012 NFL Mock Draft: Complete Guide to Each Team Winning the Draft
As the NFL draft has grown from a one-day affair at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Philadelphia in 1936 to a three-day media circus at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, it has become a "game" of sorts all its own, complete with winners, losers and play-by-play commentary.
With that in mind, here's a look at how each team in the National Football League might look at the first round this April in an effort to be crowned one of the winners of the 2012 NFL draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Regardless of Colts owner Jim Irsay's assertion that the first overall pick is still "up in the air," it would be a huge upset if any player besides Luck is the first player chosen on April 26.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: The Redskins gave up three first-round picks and a second-round selection to acquire the Heisman Trophy winner, so Robert Griffin is going to be under an enormous amount of pressure from day one in the nation's capital.
However, after a 2011 season that saw the 6'2", 223-pound signal-caller gain nearly 5,000 yards through the air and on the ground, Griffin certainly appears to have the talent to rise to the occasion, although it seems that Donovan McNabb may not agree.
"I don't think it's a great fit. [...] If this doesn't work this year, we don't see a splash like a Cam Newton splash, this could be it."
Bitter much Donovan?
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC: The Vikings allowed the fifth most sacks in the NFL last year, and if Minnesota is going to keep quarterback Christian Ponder from developing PTSD, they need an upgrade on Charlie Johnson at left tackle.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Richardson appears to be recovering well from sports hernia surgery given his showing at Alabama's second pro day Thursday, and the fact that Browns head coach Pat Shurmur was in attendance could be telling.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: With Ronde Barber's tank running on fumes and Aqib Talib spending more time in courtrooms than weight rooms, it makes sense for the Bucs to bolster their secondary by adding the draft's best cornerback prospect.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: If Blackmon makes it to sixth overall, the Rams will almost certainly consider themselves winners given the king's ransom they received from the Redskins for the second overall pick and the fact that the player they likely targeted all along still fell into their laps.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: The Jaguars pass rush was 25th in the National Football League last year, and the All-American Gamecocks standout would make an excellent bookend for Jeremy Mincey on the defensive line.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Tannehill reportedly looked very impressive at his pro day on Thursday, and given the Dolphins' futile offseason search for a franchise quarterback, there's next to no chance he makes it past the eighth pick.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: The Carolina defense was among the worst in the NFL against the run in 2011, so upgrading the interior of the defensive line is a priority that the Panthers need to address early in the 2012 draft.
Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe is a 346-pound monster of a young man, and Poe's draft stock has skyrocketed since he was one of the standouts of the NFL scouting combine, as The Daily Helmsman's David Caffey relayed at the time.
At 6-foot-4 and 346 pounds, Poe impressed NFL scouts with his size and his combine-leading 44 bench-press reps. His 40-yard dash time of 4.98 also turned heads, coming in faster than 2010’s No. 2 overall pick DT Ndamukong Suh’s combine time of 5.03.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: Starter Demetrius Bell is a free agent who may well not return to Buffalo given his visits to other teams, so the Bills may find themselves searching for his replacement in this year's draft.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: Starting nose tackle Kelly Gregg is a 35-year-old free agent who is contemplating retirement, but the 322-pound Brockers would plug the Chiefs' hole at the position and then some.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: The Seahawks could use a complement to Chris Clemons on the defensive front, and the 6'6", 281-pound Coples possesses the size to kick inside to tackle in passing situations, much like Justin Tuck does with the New York Giants.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: The Cardinals need to improve at both the guard and tackle positions, and the Arizona coaching staff reportedly prefers DeCastro to former Stanford teammate Jonathan Martin.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: There has been speculation that Dallas head coach Jason Garrett's presence at Alabama's pro day is a harbinger of the Cowboys selecting a Crimson Tide defender, and Dallas has a glaring need at cornerback.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: The trade that brought linebacker DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia addresses at least some of the Eagles' problems in the middle of their defense, but the Eagles could still use an upgrade at defensive tackle next to Cullen Jenkins.
Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was a third team All-American after tallying 56 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble for the Bulldogs in 2011, and the 6'4", 298-pounder would be a fine playmate for Jenkins inside, an assessment shared by Bob Rang of CBS Sports.
Cox didn't earn nearly the media attention for his spectacular combine workout as Memphis' Dontari Poe. But unlike the Tigers star, the strength (30 repetitions of 225 pounds) and athleticism (4.79 seconds in the 40-yard dash) Cox showed in Indianapolis consistently shows up on tape.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: Upshaw didn't exactly shine at either the NFL combine or Alabama's pro day, but there is still plenty of game film that demonstrates Upshaw's propensity for chasing down opposing quarterbacks.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: The Cincinnati Bengals desperately need an upgrade on the inside of their offensive line, and the 345-pound Bulldogs beefeater would be an excellent addition up front.
18. San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois: Mercilus had half as many sacks in 13 games last year as the Chargers had as a team in 16 games, so the Chargers should look to upgrade their pass rush by choosing the NCAA's sack king from 2011.
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: The addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall via a trade with the Miami Dolphins mollified some of the team's need at wideout, but pairing him with Floyd would improve the Chicago aerial attack by leaps and bounds.
20. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Head coach Mike Munchak has stated that the Titans won't take an interior lineman in the first round, but the fact remains that Eugene Amato was the weak link along the Tennessee offensive line in 2011 and Konz is the best center prospect in this year's draft class.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Cincinnati Bengals: Rey Maualuga has been a disappointment at middle linebacker so far for the Bengals, so Cincinnati may be better off kicking Maualuga back to the strong side and bringing in someone else to man the middle in the Queen City.
Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly won the Lomabrdi and Butkus awards after leading college football in tackles in 2011, and the 6'3", 242-pound All-American appears to have erased questions about his athleticism with a strong showing at the combine and Boston College's pro day, as reported by Jeff Howe of NESN.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly put on a show during Boston College's pro day, running through a series of positional drills in front of 27 NFL teams. The linebacker already dazzled scouts at the combine and solidified his status as a first-rounder—and likely a top-15 pick—so he didn't compete in any of the timed drills.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: The Cleveland Browns need offensive playmakers as badly as any team in the National Football League, and no player has done more to bolster his draft stock over the past couple of months than the 6'4" Hill, who was one of the stars of the NFL scouting combine last month.
23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: The Lions had a need in the secondary even before Eric Wright departed in free agency, and if Detroit is going to keep up with the Packers in the NFC North, then they badly need to improve at cornerback.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: After a decade of manning the middle, the Steelers released veteran linebacker James Farrior earlier this month, and the hard-nosed Hightower's extensive experience in the 3-4 defense would make him a more than adequate replacement.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State: The middle of the Broncos defensive line was the weak spot of the Denver defense last season, and the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year would provide an significant upgrade in the middle of the Broncos defense.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: The Texans could definitely use a wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson, and the Baylor speedster is a Texas native who could excel in that role after a ridiculously productive senior season in Waco.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints): Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC: With free agency taking a toll on the Patriots defensive line, the team needs to improve their pass rush. Perry is a versatile player who has demonstrated the strength to play defensive end in a 4-3 defense, and has the quickness to kick outside to linebacker in the 3-4.
28. Green Bay Packers: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson: The Packers defense ranked dead last in the National Football League a season ago, and their inability to get to the quarterback with any consistency was a large contributor to their defensive deficiencies.
Clemson defensive end/outside linebacker Andre Branch racked up 9.5 sacks en route to being named a third team All-American in 2011, and Russ Lande of The Sporting News came away from Clemson's pro day very impressed with what he saw from the 6'4", 259-pounder.
Throughout his workout Branch’s outstanding lower body flexibility, agility and long speed showed up. For a player who played primarily defensive end at Clemson, Branch did a good job in his pass drops and displayed good ball skills catching the ball.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Anquan Boldin was a shell of his former self last season in Baltimore, and the 6'3", 216-pound Jeffery may have boosted his stock back into the first round with an outstanding outing at South Carolina's pro day.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: An excellent pro-day has moved Fleener to the top spot among this year's crop of tight ends, and his old college coach could look to pair Fleener and Vernon Davis to create the sorts of headaches for opposing defenses that the Patriots do with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
31. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: The Patriots secondary was torn apart by opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis last year, and although Jenkins' checkered past makes him a risky pick, it's a risk worth taking for the Pats given their dire need at the cornerback position.
32. New York Giants: Amini Silatolu, OT/OG, Midwestern State: Guard David Diehl and tackle Kareem McKenzie are both on the wrong side of 30, showing their age and grading out poorly last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and the big man from the small school has the versatility to provide depth at both spots as he learns the ropes in the National Football League.
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