2012 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers and Others Look to Get Younger

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2012

Building a championship team through the draft is the best way to become one of the elites through the NFL, and when a team as a whole starts getting up there in age, management has to start drafting extremely well to salvage the future. 

Such is the case for a number of teams in the 2012 NFL draft.

Whether their big time stars are getting older or they just have a large group of veterans, getting young is the key to future success. 

That being said, here's my 2012 NFL mock draft with info on each pick and an in-depth look at those over-the-hill teams in dire need of getting younger. 


2012 NFL Mock Draft 


1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford   

The Colts definitely have to get younger come draft weekend. In addition to needing a franchise QB, which better be Luck, the best overall prospect, Indianapolis needs to upgrade its defense in a major way.  


2. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

The Redskins' biggest need is at QB, and they're going to get a fantastic one here at No. 2 in RG3. John Beck and Rex Grossman aren't going to cut it, so landing the Heisman Trophy winner to take over is Washington's best option. 


3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings need to do a better job of protecting their young QB, and Kalil will step in an perform at a high level right away. Almost all the offensive linemen in Minnesota have been in the league for five or more years. 


4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 

The Browns have to boost their offense on draft weekend, because if they don't, they're not going to get anywhere in the tough AFC North. Drafting Richardson to help take pressure of Colt McCoy is a brilliant move that Cleveland better make sure happens. 


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU 

Morris Claiborne has immense talent, and he'll be able to contribute to the Bucs' secondary instantly. 


6. St. Louis Rams (2-14):  Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Both the starting defensive tackles in St. Louis have been in the NFL for 10 or more years. The Rams need youth, and Brockers is the top defensive tackle in the draft. 

He's a safer pick here than a risky WR, as Brockers will anchor the defensive line in St. Louis for many years to come. 


7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State 

Blaine Gabbert needs to be surrounded by playmakers, so even though this is gamble pick, taking a WR in the Top 10, it's worth it because the Jaguars are in dire need of a better offense. 


8. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina 

Jeffery is a beast on the field and a great pick for a team that has no true No. 1 WR right now. Miami also needs a QB, but if you thought reaching for a WR here was bad, the Dolphins would really be reaching on a guy like Ryan Tannehill at No. 8. 

9. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina 

This Carolina kid has the tools to thrive at the next level, and luckily for him, he plays in a position the Panthers need help at. 

10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama 

If the Bills are ever going to win in their division any time soon, their defense has to be top-notch. Landing Upshaw here for extra depth will significantly help Buffalo moving forward. 

11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Reiff is a phenomenal prospect on the offensive line, and the Chiefs will love adding extra depth up front. 

12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9): Nick Perry, DE, USC 

Perry excels are getting into the backfield and disrupting plays. The Seahawks have a need for a player like him, and being from USC definitely helps his chances of landing at No. 12.  

13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford 

Martin is a superbly talented offensive lineman that will help create a ton of holes for the Cardinals skilled running backs.  

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick had some trouble with the law at the end of the season, which hurt his draft stock a bit. However, he's got great talent and would be a solid fit in Dallas. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College  

The Eagles have plenty of options here, but focusing on the defense is the right call. Boosting the depth at linebacker by adding a tackling machine like Kuechly would do wonders for the Eagles. 

16. New York Jets (8-8): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame 

Floyd has character concerns, and joining the media frenzy in New York would be intense for the young stud, but that's nothing some veterans can't help him with. He's a stellar talent that will bring in lots of touchdowns for the Jets should they choose him. 


17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Another player with character concerns, Jenkins is trying to be better, but his past run-ins with the law could hinder him come draft day. I think the Bengals will look past the off-the-field problems and pay more attention to his skills on the field. 

18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Defensive tackle is a strong possibility here, but they would be reaching on one here. Adams is the better prospect at No. 18, and he'll do a fine job of keeping Philip Rivers safe. 

19. Chicago Bears (8-8): David DeCastro, G, Stanford 

DeCastro is the best interior lineman in the draft, which is a big plus for the Bears because they desperately need to keep Jay Cutler from getting sacked so much. 

20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Ingram is an explosive player that thrives on getting after opposing QBs, which is an area of need for the Titans. 

21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

With Cedric Benson most likely off to a different team, the Bengals need a new running back. They did sign BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but adding Miller to the mix will make them much stronger and much faster. 


22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor 

The Browns do the right thing once again here by selecting Wright, a downfield threat that will greatly help the development of Colt McCoy. 

23. Detroit Lions (10-6): Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia             

Cornerback is a strong possibility for Detroit here, but I think the Lions are better off upgrading the offense line and bringing in more depth with Glenn. 


24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Ike Taylor sure isn't getting any younger. Pittsburgh's entire defense needs some more youth, as well as areas of the offense. 

After the Steelers' secondary was burned by Tim Tebow in the playoffs, it's no secret that adding depth was crucial for this offseason. Getting a guy like Dennard will give the Steelers some much-deed youth. 

Look for Pittsburgh to try and hit a home run with every draft pick this year. 

25. Denver Broncos (8-8): Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis  

Another aging team, the Broncos must be smart about this draft. They added some key veterans in free agency, but getting younger come draft day is very important for Denver. 

First things first, the Broncos have to go with a defensive tackle in the first round. It's their biggest need at the moment, along with getting younger in the secondary.

Champ Bailey doesn't have a lot of years left in the tank, so don't be surprised if the Broncos pick a corner here, although a DT would serve them best at No. 25. Poe is a dynamic force up front, and he'll provide Denver not only with youth, but also lots of strength and speed for a player as big as him.  


26. Houston Texans (10-6): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Hill's blazing speed makes him very dangerous at the next level, but since he comes from an option offense, he also knows how to block well too. 

This make Hill a sexy pick, even if his route running isn't fantastic by any means. He'll serve as a great deep threat to help take some pressure off Andre Johnson. 


27. New England Patriots (via NOLA 13-3): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin 

With two first round picks this year once again, it's safe to assume the Patriots will trade at least one of them. 

I think they're better off using both to add extra youth to their aging team, but everybody knows Bill Belichick loves to stockpile draft picks. 

Defense needs to be the Patriots primary focus, but with Konz still on the board, Belichick won't pass up on the chance to help his offensive line get younger. 


28. Green Bay Packers (15-1): ): Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina 

The Packers need a guy to play opposite of Clay Matthews, and Brown would be a great fit for that job. 

29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama 

The Ravens' defense continues to get up there in age. 

Baltimore is one of the defensive powerhouses of the NFL, but in a few years, the Ravens could be toast if they don't draft well. 

Getting a guy like Hightower to step in and learn from and eventually replace Ray Lewis is very important. The Ravens also need youth on the offensive line, so don't be surprised if they reach for a lineman here at No. 29. 


30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Mark Barron, S, Alabama 

The 49ers did a great job of improving the offense in free agency, so during the draft they can add pieces for the future. In the first round, though, San Francisco can still find a player that will contribute a great deal on the defense, and Barron would be a solid addition. 


31. New England Patriots (13-3): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

This pick could very well be traded come draft day, but should they keep it, the Patriots would be wise top upgrade their secondary depth with a guy like Gilmore. 

32. New York Giants (9-7):  Chris Polk, RB, Washington   

With Brandon Jacobs off to the 49ers, the Giants need another back to platoon with Ahmad Bradshaw, and Polk is the top guy available here.  


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