2012 NFL Mock Draft: Top Contenders for Defensive Rookie of the Year Honors
They say defense wins championships, and since the best way to improve your team is through the draft, stockpiling skilled defenders to build a better squad is the right approach.
In the 2012 NFL draft, there are a ton of great defensive players, but only a few have what it takes to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
It may end up being that a player selected in the second round or even later wins the award, but typically its a first round player that will win it.
That being said, here's my 2012 NFL mock draft, with info on each pick and a more in-depth look at those defenders with the best shot at winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
2012 NFL Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The best prospect in the draft, the Colts have to take Luck now that Peyton Manning is gone. RG3 is an option, but Luck is a better fit in Indianapolis.
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2. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Washington's biggest need is at QB, and the Redskins certainly didn't trade up to get anything else. The Heisman Trophy winner is going to thrive in Washington.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Christian Ponder needs all the protection he can get, and Kalil will protect his backside for many, many years.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The top running back in the draft class, Richardson is sure to go to Cleveland, especially since they parted ways with Peyton Hillis.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The first defender selected in the 2012 NFL draft is going to be Claiborne, and of course he's a contender to win the Defensive ROY.
Typically, a linebacker or defensive lineman will win the award, but a cornerback can definitely take home the honor.
Claiborne has tremendous shut-down skills, and he can contribute in the return game as well. He would have shined more in that area during college if it weren't for Tyrann Mathieu.
6. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Many will have the Rams selecting a receiver here, but it's just too risky of a pick at No. 6.
Last year, that wasn't a problem at all with guys like A.J. Green and Julio Jones, but none of the wide receivers in the draft this year are even close to their level.
Brockers is a dynamic force up front, and this freak of nature will work wonders as the anchor for Jeff Fisher's defensive line.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
This is a risky pick, but the Jaguars are desperate for playmakers. Blackmon is a talented receiver, and if Blaine Gabbert is ever going to get better, he'll need more weapons around him.
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Another risky pick, but the Dolphins have a huge need for a big wide receiver after trading Brandon Marshall away.
Miami also needs a QB, but reaching on a guy like Ryan Tannehill just isn't worth it, especially when the Dolphins could just suck it up next year and get Matt Barkley.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
This Carolina kid will be thrilled to stay home and play for the Panthers. Coples is a menace on the football field, relentlessly disrupting plays in the backfield.
Coples may have had a down year this past season, but he's got the skills to terrorize opposing QBs at the next level.
The best way to win the Defensive ROY is to feast on signal callers and rack up the sack total. This is an area that Coples can thrive at next year, so keep an eye on him throughout the year.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The Bills signed Mario Williams in the offseason to help the defense, and while they may look to get a WR here, Upshaw plays with such great intensity and strength that it's just too hard to pass up on him.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Chiefs need to protect their star players, and Reiff will be a phenomenal offensive lineman for many years to come.
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12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9): Nick Perry, DE, USC
The Seahawks have to get better on defense if they're going to make a deep run, and landing Perry—an explosive player off the edge—will help Seattle in a major way.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Cardinals have plenty of options here, but getting a top-notch offensive lineman to anchor the line throughout his career is a smart move.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys must focus on upgrading the defense, and starting things off by adding Kirkpatrick to help the secondary is the right call.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Luke Kuechly is a beast on the field and is definitely a contender for Defensive ROY this coming season.
The former Boston College linebacker is a tackling machine, and that won't stop at the next level. He plays with great fire and is all over the field.
Philadelphia might look at getting an offensive lineman here, but boosting the defense with a guy like Kuechly will do wonders for the Eagles.
16. New York Jets (8-8): ): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Jets' biggest problem is on the offense, but adding a strong wide receiver like Floyd to catch touchdown after touchdown will help that issue diminish, as well keep Mark Sanchez as the starter.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The Bengals will forget about Jenkins' character concerns and focus solely on his talent, which is extremely good.
18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
San Diego has the option of helping the defensive line here, but getting a massive guy to help protect Philip Rivers is the Chargers' best bet.
19. Chicago Bears (8-8): David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Chicago has their No. 1 WR now, so the focus here will be in adding more protection for Jay Cutler.
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram thrives on getting in the backfield and breaking up plays.
This is something the Titans really need, so expect them to land Ingram if he's still on the board here.
Ingram's a powerful force on the line, but also has the ability to get after the QB. Tennessee needs a player like him, and with solid playing time, Ingram can definitely contend for the Defensive ROY.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Cincinnati may have a young offense, but it is loaded with talent. Adding Miller into that mix will only make the Bengals better.
22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Browns helped Colt McCoy out with their first pick, and now they're going to help him again by getting a deep threat in Wright.
23. Detroit Lions (10-6): Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
Cornerback is a strong possibility here, but the Lions are better off adding protection to help keep Matthew Stafford safe.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
The Steelers will think long and hard on this pick, as they have several ways to go.
After getting burned and embarrassed by the arm of Tim Tebow in the playoffs, look for Pittsburgh to add depth in the secondary.
25. Denver Broncos (8-8): Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Poe has great speed for a huge defensive tackle, and luckily for him, the Broncos biggest need is at DT.
If they don't take him, Denver's defense will be sorely mistaken.
26. Houston Texans (10-6): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Andre Johnson needs another wide receiver to help take pressure off him, and Hill is very capable of doing just that with his blazing speed.
27. New England Patriots (via NOLA 13-3): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
It's no secret the Patriots need help on defense.
However, Konz is too valuable to let slip away, and it's never a bad idea to have quality depth on the offensive line.
28. Green Bay Packers (15-1): ): Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Having another skilled defender opposite of Clay Matthews is a must for the Packers, and Brown definitely fits that mold.
29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Ravens are very likely to reach on an offensive lineman here, but Hightower has a great deal of upside.
Plus, Hightower could learn what it takes to be elite in the NFL from Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The 49ers could try to continue boosting their offense with skilled playmakers, but helping out the secondary is also a very bright move.
Barron is the top safety in the draft, and he'd be a solid fit out west.
31. New England Patriots (13-3): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
This pick is likely to be traded by Bill Belichick, but keeping it and bolstering the secondary is the best option.
32. New York Giants (9-7): Chris Polk, RB, Washington
With Brandon Jacobs off to San Francisco, the Giants could use another skilled running back to complement Ahmad Bradshaw.
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