2012 NFL Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Predictions for Every Team
With less than three weeks until the 2012 NFL Draft, here are my initial predictions.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
This is a no-brainer despite speculation that they could go with Robert Griffin III. Luck has a better track record and is the safer choice.
The Peyton Manning era is officially over, and Luck has all the skills needed to step in and be the next great Colts quarterback. He is the most complete quarterback to come out since Manning left Tennessee.
Luck has the size, arm strength, accuracy, athleticism and intangibles needed to lead a franchise for the next 10-15 years.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)
Washington caught a break when St. Louis landed the No. 2 spot.
After trading up for the chance to draft RG3, Mike Shanahan will draft the most talented quarterback the Redskins have had since Joe Theismann. Griffin, like Luck, has all that is needed to be a franchise quarterback and will be able to handle the pressure caused by the bounty the Redskins gave up to draft him.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)
The Vikings have decided that Christian Ponder is their future, so surrounding him with talent on offense is a top priority.
Adding Blackmon will take pressure off Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson. While Matt Kalil also makes sense, it will be hard to pass up the potential of Blackmon.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)
After losing Peyton Hillis to free agency, Richardson will provide Colt McCoy and the Browns with the running attack they need.
McCoy may not be a franchise quarterback, but after Luck and Griffin, there isn't a quarterback worthy of a Top Five pick. Richardson will take some pressure off McCoy and will add another dimension to a starving offense.
Yet don't be surprised if Mike Holmgren trades down, as the Browns have several major holes to fill.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU)
Despite all the concerns surrounding the Wonderlic test score, Claiborne is the best cornerback in the draft, and the Bucs desperately need an upgrade at the position.
Claiborne has the size and speed needed to play in either man or zone. With Aqib Talib's legal issues and Ronde Barber's impending retirement, drafting Claiborne is a smart decision.
6. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
This is one of two dream scenarios for Jeff Fisher.
While he may prefer to draft Blackmon and provide Sam Bradford with a weapon to throw to, Kalil is the smart pick. Kalil can be the bookend left tackle who protects Sam Bradford for the rest of his career.
After missing on tackle Jason Smith, Kalil will provide an instant boost to the offensive line.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)
Drafting Coples will give the Jaguars a pass-rusher opposite the recently re-signed Jeremy Mincey.
There are questions about his motor, but Coples' skills are clear. This is a risky pick, but quality pass-rushers are a necessity in the pass-happy NFL. It is too early to draft a receiver for Blaine Gabbert, and the Jaguars need to bolster a pass-rush that totaled only 31 sacks in 2011.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M)
After missing out on Manning and failing to trade up for a chance at Griffin, the Dolphins are forced to draft a quarterback.
Tannehill may not be of the same caliber of Luck and Griffin, but he is athletic and accurate. Still relatively new to the position after converting from wide receiver, Tannehill won't be forced to start right way. He will also be helped by the connection to his former college coach and now Dolphins offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman.
9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT (Mississippi State)
The Panthers need to upgrade their defense that allowed more than 2,000 yards rushing last year.
Cox can provide a boost inside, taking pressure off DE Charles Johnson. The move will also make things easier on MLB Jon Beason.
While Dontari Poe made noise at the combine, Cox is the better overall prospect. Carolina could also decide to draft a pass-rusher to go along with Johnson.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
The Bills upgraded their defensive line in free agency.
Now, they must address the offensive line in the draft.
Reiff isn't in the same class as Kalil, but he can step in after the Bills lost Demetress Bell to the Eagles. The Bills need to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick's blindside if they want their offense to continue developing. Wide receiver is another top need, and they could reach for Michael Floyd.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, NT (Memphis)
Poe would be the perfect pick for the Chiefs. They lack the nose tackle needed to run their 3-4 and when in sub packages, Poe could provide a boost to their pass-rush.
While there are concerns that Poe is just a combine warrior, he has the physical tools needed to anchor the middle of their defensive line.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)
Seattle's defense is heading in the right direction under Pete Carroll, and Kuechly can be a playmaker at the middle linebacker position for the Seahawks.
Kuechly has great instincts and underrated athleticism. Carroll needs a quarterback on defense, and Kuechly has all the tools needed to be that player.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Cordy Glenn, OT (Georgia)
The Cardinals need an upgrade at right tackle, and Glenn played both inside at guard and at tackle while at Georgia. He has the size and athleticism needed to be a tackle, but is better-suited for the right side.
This would provide a boost to the Cardinals offense and would give Kevin Kolb more time in the pocket to get the ball downfield to Larry Fitzgerald.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Brockers, DT (LSU)
Dallas needs to upgrade its defensive line. Despite the need to upgrade their secondary, the Cowboys need to bolster their line.
Brockers can play the 5-technique in Rob Ryan's defense, and he will bring youth and athleticism to an aging line. Safety Mark Barron is a possibility, but Ryan's defense needs to win the battles in the trenches to be successful.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)
With Andy Reid looking to dump Asante Samuel, the Eagles will look to draft a cornerback early.
Kirkpatrick is raw, but has elite talent. He is tall and physical like current corner Nnamdi Asomugha. After struggling last year, Kirkpatrick could be an upgrade for Reid's defense in 2012.
16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, OLB (South Carolina)
The Jets need to make a major upgrade at OLB. Adding Ingram will provide speed outside and will allow Rex Ryan to run the defense the way he wants.
Calvin Pace has been a solid player, but age is getting the better of him. Ingram lacks ideal size for an OLB in a 3-4 defense, but he can rotate with Pace and Aaron Maybin at OLB and develop into a full-time starter.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)
The Bengals need to fill the void that was left when Johnathan Joseph signed with the Texans last season.
Drafting Gilmore would fill that void.
Pairing the talented Gilmore with Leon Hall would give the Bengals a great tandem at corner. Gilmore has the size and elite speed needed to be a ball-hawk in the secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois)
The Chargers have been in need of a pass-rusher since Shawne Merriman left. They have spent first-round picks on OLBs, but haven't gotten the results they hoped for.
Mercilus is versatile and talented, and he can step in right away to provide a boost to the Chargers defense.
19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)
This would be a dream come true for Jay Cutler.
After acquiring former teammate Brandon Marshall, adding Floyd would solidify the Bears' biggest weakness over the past several seasons. Floyd is a top talent and will drop due to concerns about his durability. He has elite speed and playmaking ability and will be a red-zone threat for Cutler.
20. Tennessee Titans: Josh Robinson, CB (Central Florida)
Robinson is on the rise, and his 4.3 speed and return ability make him a perfect fit to replace the departed Cortland Finnegan.
While scouts may praise Janoris Jenkins, Robinson doesn't have the baggage concerns. Robinson isn't the physical player that Finnegan is, but he is a good cover corner with solid instincts.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Mark Barron, S (Alabama)
The Bengals addressed their need at corner with their first pick. With their second selection, Barron would pair with Reggie Nelson to give Cincinnati a safety pairing that will cause fits for opposing quarterbacks.
There are concerns about the hernia injury, but Barron's skills are unquestioned, and he would be a steal for the Bengals at No. 21.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)
After upgrading at running back, the Browns draft Martin to bookend Joe Thomas and solidify the offensive line.
Wide receiver is another priority, but the Browns can't pass on Martin, who is a Top 15 talent in this draft. Martin and Thomas will provide Colt McCoy with the protection he needs to run the West Coast offense.
23. Detroit Lions: Peter Konz, C (Wisconsin)
While this isn't a need going into 2012, Konz is the best center in the draft and can learn for a year before he becomes a full-time starter in 2013. He isn't the elite talent that the Pouncey brothers were coming into previous drafts, but Konz had an excellent career at Wisconsin. He has the physical and mental tools needed to be a great NFL center.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, LB (Alabama)
Hightower had a great pro day and boasts an excellent resume from his time under Nick Saban. He would be an upgrade over the aging James Farrior and would form a scary MLB combination with Lawrence Timmons.
Hightower has shown the pass-rush ability and versatility needed to succeed in Dick LeBeau's Steeler defense.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT (Penn State)
Peyton Manning may want the Broncos to draft an offensive player in the first round, but the fact is they desperately need a defensive tackle.
Manning has shown he can make average receivers look great, but the defense needs to improve. Still adds youth and strength to the middle, taking pressure off Elvis Dumervil. Besides being solid against the run, Still can pressure the quarterback from the inside.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)
Wright, who played nearby at Baylor, will improve the Texans receiving corps.
Wright doesn't have elite top-end speed, but he showed at his pro day that he has the ability to get downfield and make plays. With Matt Schaub returning from injury, the addition of Wright will provide another weapon to an already potent offense.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB (Alabama)
The Patriots finally draft a pass-rusher in the first round by selecting Alabama's Courtney Upshaw.
The ability to play in Nick Saban's complex defensive scheme and the connection Belichick has with Saban makes this an easy decision for the Patriots.
Upshaw is a prototypical tweener, but provides versatility and the pass-rush skills needed to excel in the Patriots' 3-4 defense.
28. Green Bay Packers: Jerel Worthy, DE/DT (Michigan State)
The Packers defense is loaded with talent, but they need help on the defensive line.
Worthy will occupy blockers, freeing up opportunities for Clay Matthews and other playmakers. Worthy has the speed and quickness needed to shoot the gap, while also possessing the strength to push the pocket, which makes him a great addition to the Packers defense.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Zeitler, OG (Wisconsin)
The Ravens lost Ben Grubbs to free agency and need to find a replacement.
Zeitler is a powerful run-blocker and will open holes for Ray Rice. He is good in pass protection, as he locks in on defenders, prevents them from disengaging and gets to the quarterback.
Zeitler won't be as good as Grubbs, but he will step in and be a good interior lineman.
30. San Francisco: Coby Fleener, TE (Stanford)
Adding Fleener gives Alex Smith an additional weapon on offense. The connection with head coach Jim Harbaugh will also make his transition to the NFL a lot easier.
Fleener will allow the 49ers to move Vernon Davis around and take advantage of his unique talents. An above-average blocker, Fleener will provide extra support for Frank Gore and second-year back Kendall Hunter.
31. New England: Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama)
Jenkins will scare off a lot of teams due to character concerns, but the Patriots have shown the ability to take on players like him in the past.
Jenkins is as talented as any corner in the draft, and he has the speed and quickness to keep up with even the fastest wide receivers. Although a little undersized, he did show the ability to defend taller receivers while at North Alabama and at the Senior Bowl.
32. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT (Ohio State)
If Adams slides all the way to the Giants, they will run to the podium to hand in their selection.
Adams would be an instant upgrade at either tackle. He can slide in and protect Eli Manning's blindside right away. While Adams may be better suited to play right tackle, until the Giants find a suitable candidate, he will be more than serviceable.