2012 NFL Mock Draft: Video Highlights for Every 1st Round Pick
We are now less than three weeks away from the 2012 NFL draft, but that does not mean movement up and down mock drafts has stopped. There are a handful of players that a lot of experts have polarizing opinions on, and where a lot of these prospects end up going is still up in the air.
Some positions, such as defensive tackle and wide receiver, have so many carrying opinions on each prospect that almost every mock draft is unique in terms of where they land on draft day.
Here is my latest mock draft, with video highlights of each player.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
There has been rumblings that Robert Griffin III is in play for the first overall pick, but make no mistake: Andrew Luck is still the superior prospect and will be a Colt when all is said and done.
What sets Luck apart is his cognitive ability, which, in today's NFL, is becoming a more important part of the game than ever before.
Luck is as close to a franchise-changing quarterback as you can get.
After his excellent showing at the combine, he may have solidified himself as the best quarterback prospect ever. Not only is he a great "classic" pocket passer, but he actually outperformed Cam Newton at just about every drill at the combine. He even out-jumped the former Heisman Trophy winner.
The Colts should just focus all of their attention on their later picks because this is a done deal. Luck is the best prospect in the draft and perhaps the best quarterback prospect ever.
Washington Redskins (From St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Bruce Allen may have sold his soul for the rights to RGIII, but it could be well worth it.
Griffin lit up his pro day and gave way to rumors he could possibly be the first pick in the draft. He is certainly worthy of the pick, but I have a hard time believing the Colts will pass on Luck.
Griffin is actually a superior arm talent to Luck and brings an extra level of athleticism to the position. His football acumen, while not on the level of Luck's, is still very impressive.
Any way you spin it, this kid oozes of stardom, and the Redskins will not be disappointed in their trade.
Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
For all intents and purposes, because of Luck and RGIII being taken with the first two picks in the draft being a foregone conclusion, the draft really starts with the third pick.
I would not have a huge problem with the Vikings taking Morris Claiborne at this spot, but left tackle is a bigger need at this point, especially with a young quarterback at the helm.
Kalil is athletic and quick on his feet and should be able to start right away at left tackle. He does have some flaws in his game, but his huge upside in terms of natural athletic ability suggests that his best football is ahead of him.
With all of the needs Minnesota has on the offensive line, this pick is a no-brainier. Kalil will be a franchise left tackle and a bedrock on the line for the next decade.
Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Yes, I know its a "passing league" and running backs are a "dime a dozen." Trent Richardson is anything but a "dime a dozen" and will give a lot of teams a good reason to make the running game the center of their offense.
Richardson also blew up his pro day, giving any team even more of a reason to spend a top-five pick on him.
Meanwhile, the Browns have not had such an exciting player since Braylon Edwards was catching bombs from Derek Anderson. Justin Blackmon is a possibility here, but Richardson is such a superior talent that I would have a tough time passing him up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Much has been made about his abysmal Wonderlic score, but that should not deter any team from taking him with a top-five pick.
Claiborne may not have the amount of game-changing plays as his former teammate Patrick Peterson, but as a pure cover corner, Claiborne is as sound as they come.
He has the ideal size and fluidity to complement his outstanding technique to step in right away and start. The Bucs gave up a ton of big plays last year, and with Ronde Barber aging and Aqib Talib facing legal issues, they need to add a top-level corner.
Throw in the fact that he is, by far and ahead, the best player remaining on the board, and there is just no way Claiborne makes it out of the first five picks.
St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
As RGIII's stock continued to soar throughout the draft process, fewer teams were more delighted than the Rams. Griffin's immense upside bought them a pair of future first-round picks.
Trading down with the Redskins allows the Rams to still get their ideal player while collecting picks for the future.
Blackmon is not quite the prospect A.J. Green or Julio Jones were in last year’s draft, but he will be a big, physical target for Sam Bradford to throw to, which is not a luxury Bradford has been able to enjoy in his short NFL career.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Jaguars added some players in free agency (at a steep price) to bolster their receiving corps, but none of them have the kind of potential to become a true No. 1 threat.
Floyd is a Brandon Marshall type in that he is more known for his ability to separate and make tough catches than to burn defensive backs with speed.
He does carry some baggage with him after several incidents with alcohol, including a DUI, but he seems to have turned his life around, as he spent his last season at Notre Dame in the seclusion of freshman dorms.
A pass-rusher such as Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples is also an option here, but I would think building the offense has to be the top priority.
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
With other teams now rumored to be interested in Tannehill, such as the Browns, picking him this high in the draft is starting to seem like less of a reach and more of a steal.
Tannehill has a ton of ability, has only one year of starting experience under his belt and makes a lot of mistakes often found in inexperienced quarterbacks. He tends to throw into tight coverage and does not have the kind of anticipation that more experienced quarterbacks have developed over time.
Tannehill could become a very good starter with a few years of development, but I am not sure if the Jeff Ireland regime has that much time to wait before everyone gets fired. This may be the right pick for the Dolphins, but not the best pick for this coaching staff and front office.
Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
It's no secret the Panthers are in desperate need for a defensive tackle after spending all of their cap room on a fullback.
Luckily for them, they are in position to land the top defensive tackle in the class in Fletcher Cox. Cox is explosive, uses his hands well and can penetrate and get into the backfield in a hurry.
Unlike some other defensive tackles prospects, such as Michael Brockers, Cox has shown that ability to rush the passer on tape.
Buffalo Bills: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
If they feel that their answer at left tackle is already on the roster, the Bills can move on to putting the last pieces on a much-improved unit on paper.
With the signing of Mark Anderson, the Bills don’t have a lot of needs on defense. However, their linebacking corps is making a scheme adjustment to a 4-3, and stopping the run was a huge issue for them last year.
Kuechly is not going to make a ton of tackles for a loss, but he is as technically sound as they come and has deceiving athleticism. He is always in the right spot and never misses on a tackle.
With all of these new additions on defense, the Bills may find themselves with one of the best units in football.
Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Staford
The Chiefs made a great move by signing Eric Winston to solidify the right tackle position. Adding one more star to what was once a slow, aging line would make the Chiefs offensive line a strength rather than a weakness.
DeCastro is about as clean as you can find as a guard prospect. Guards are usually not taken this early in the draft, but he has all of the signs of being one of the best at his position for a very long time. He has the power, intellect and technique to start immediately for just about any team in the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Coples is the most intriguing defensive player in the draft. He greatly underperformed his senior year, citing position changes and turmoil within the coaching staff as the primary reasons.
However, Coples had a good junior season at defensive tackle and returned to his junior year form at the Senior Bowl, making scouts think 2011 was an anomaly.
Coples carries a lot of risk, but his upside is too enticing to ignore at this point in the draft.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks were able to lock up Red Bryant, but he is not much of a speed rusher. Early on, Coples can come in for pass-rush situations and while opening things up for Chris Clemons on the other side.
Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Even after bringing back Levi Brown, the Cardinals still have a ton of needs on the offensive line.
Reiff is the consensus No. 2 tackle in this year's draft. He will be able to start right away at right tackle and may even push Brown to start on the left side.
Reiff does not have a ton of upside, but he is technically sound and put together a very solid senior year of film. His arms are a bit shorter than ideal, but on the right side he should be able to excel despite his not-so-elite measurables.
Dallas Cowboys: Donatri Poe, DT, Memphis
Now that the Cowboys have filled most of their holes in their secondary, they can focus on just taking the best player available, preferably on defense.
Poe has an incredible combine, but his tape fails to match what his athletic ability suggests he can do on the field. Because of that, he brings a lot of risk.
Poe would be a best fit as a five-technique in a 3-4, penetrating and getting up the field. Perhaps he can move inside and give Jay Ratliff some rest. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will also be able to kick him inside on passing situations to generate some pressure up the middle.
Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
It's not Andy Reid's style to spend a first-round pick on a safety, but based on how their safeties performed in 2011, I would make an exception. If Reid wants to survive this season, he needs a player who can contribute right away, not a player who will take time to develop.
The incumbent Kurt Coleman is better suited to a rotational role, as he was responsible for a lot of missed tackles that led to a lot of big plays. The Eagles let up a lot of big runs, but that is a real indictment on their safety play.
Barron is a terrific run player that can make plays in the backfield, shooting up the field like a cannon. He could use some work in man coverage, but he would be the perfect man to resume the role former Eagle great Brian Dawkins played.
New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
It is no secret the Jets want to get faster and more athletic on defense, and adding an athletic freak like Ingram will allow them to do that.
Ingram has enough athletic ability to play in any scheme at a lot of different positions. He can be a 4-3 end, 3-4 outside linebacker, or even a 4-3 SAM linebacker. He is explosive and has a terrific motor.
He can sometimes get too high to flush himself out of plays, but there is a ton of upside that goes along with him. The Jets, who have been looking for a rush linebacker since they whiffed on Vernon Gholston in 2008, will be ecstatic to land him this late in the first round.
Cinncinatti Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Dre Kirkpatrick may be the slightly more talented player, but Gilmore is a better fit for what the Bengals want to do on defense.
Gilmore excels in man coverage, the Mike Zimmer loves to keep his corners on islands, which he was able to do with a healthy Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph on the roster. When Hall went down with an injury in 2011, the Bengals defense took a significant dip.
With another lock-down corner on the roster, the Bengals defense can revert to its early 2011 form in which it was regarded as one of the top units in the NFL.
San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia
The Chargers can go in a lot of different directions, but with Glenn on the board, adding him to a depleted line provides the best value.
The Chargers had protection issues throughout last year, and only got worse with injuries. With their best guard in Kris Dielman officially retiring, they will need to find a high-level replacement.
Glenn played tackle at Georgia, but struggled at the position against some of the top pass-rushers during the Senior Bowl. A move to guard would probably be more suitable for his skill set.
Chicago Bears: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bears have to be thrilled to see Kirkpatrick still on the board this late in the draft. Not only is Kirkpatrick and incredibly talented corner, but his skill set is a perfect match for how the Bears play defense.
Kirkpatrick is at his best in press and zone coverage, which makes him an ideal candidate to play in a Cover 2-dominant defense. As good as he is in those areas, he still has the ability to play in just about any scheme.
As the Bears continue to use a more versatile style of defense and move away from their strict Cover 2 roots, Kirkpatrick's versatility and upside give the Bears an excellent value at this point in the draft.
Tennessee Titans: Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
The Titans were able to get a consolation prize in Kamerion Wimbley, but they need to continue to bolster their pass rush to make up for several other losses they suffered on the defensive side of the ball.
Upshaw played outside linebacker at Alabama, but his skill set and size are more suitable to put his hand in the dirt and play as a base end in a 4-3 defense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Wright had a lousy combine but made up for it with a solid performance at his pro day that confirmed the game-breaking speed he showed on film.
Detractors will say Wright was a beneficiary of RGIII, but I tend to think it was the other way around. Wright has rare explosiveness and top-end speed that will translate well at the next level.
With Andre Caldwell leaving via free agency and Jerome Simpson dealing with drug charges, the Bengals find themselves in a bit of a hole at the receiver position.
Cleveland Browns: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Browns' defense played much better than expected in 2011, but due to their offensive ineptitude, they wore down as the year went on, particularly against the run.
Brockers can stand in immediately and play the run as well as anyone, but he has yet to produce as a pass-rusher. However, many coaches and scouts believe that with some coaching, Brockers can unleash his full potential and become a well-rounded player that can play the run and pass.
Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
With a player of Martin's caliber still on the board, the Lions need to start thinking about their long-term future rather than finding an immediate impact player.
Jeff Backus is coming back, but he is a declining player with a limited number of years left. Having Martin learn under a seasoned veteran like Backus is an ideal situation for the team and player.
Martin is a very talented kid, but he has some holes in his game that he can tweak before becoming the starter at left tackle.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
After losing several key defensive players over the past month, the Steelers need to add an impact player through the draft. Luckily for them, a player of Hightower's caliber is still on the board.
The Steelers have a pedigree of taking the best player available, regardless of need. In this case, the best player available also matches up well with their need at inside linebacker.
James Farrior is no longer on the team, and Lawrence Timmons was forced to play out of position due to injuries to their outside linebackers.
Hightower showed us what an elite athlete he is. He has a chance to be the best inside linebacker in this draft—if he can play with a high motor all of the time.
Adding a talent like Hightower while moving Timmons back to his more natural position will make a huge impact on a Steeler defense that desperately needs to get younger.
Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Losing Tim Tebow will certainly upset plenty of Tebowmanics. but losing Brodrick Bunkley will prove to be the more costly loss. Bunkley was one of the best two-down run-stoppers in football last season, and replacing him will be quite a daunting task.
However, being able to get Devon Still can make the concerns about the defensive tackle situation in Denver go away. Still is a bit inconsistent in terms of production, but he has to potential to be a very good player.
As good as Bunkley was against the run, he was almost useless on third downs in passing situations. Still can a least provide some kind of production in an area that Denver has been lacking.
Houston Texans: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
After enjoying a full season of having the most dominant offensive line in football, cutting Eric Winston will almost certainly derail any possibility of that happening in 2012 unless the Texans find a quality replacement.
Adams struggles against some of the top-level pass-rushers, but as a right tackle in the Texans' zone-blocking scheme he has a chance to excel.
Picking this late in the first round, Houston would be thrilled to land a player that was once projected to go in the top 10 picks of the draft.
New England Patriots: Nick Perry, DE, USC
As of now, the Patriots are set to go into next season without their best two pass-rushers from last year. For a team that struggled against the pass as much as they did, losing almost the entirety of their average pass-rush will only make things worse.
Perry is a talented player with lot of upside, but his is very inconsistent on tape. However, when he does flash his ability, he looks like he could possibly wind up being the best pass-rusher in the draft.
Only his high bust potential will have him fall to the Patriots this late in the first round, but with their dire need for a pass-rusher with the free agency pool just about dry, they are almost forced to roll the dice on Perry.
Green Bay Packers: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illonis
During their Super Bowl run in 2010, the Packers rode their elite defense to make up for devastating injuries to the offensive side. However, the unit took a nosedive in 2011 and gave up more yards than any other unit in football.
Finding a presence opposite Clay Matthews would help the Packers from giving up so many big plays that led to the abrupt end of their season.
Mercilus was a bit of a one-year wonder, as he went from a virtual non-factor to leading the nation in sacks in just one year. He tends to flush himself out of plays, but he flashes a considerable amount of natural talent.
If the Packers are able to harness his raw ability, they may have found their answer at outside linebacker opposite Matthews.
Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
After failing to re-sign Ben Grubbs and missing out on Evan Mathis in free agency, the Ravens have a serious issue on their hands in terms of shoring up the interior of their offensive line.
With Matt Birk coming back for at least one more year, Konz can step in at guard to try an compensate for the loss of Grubbs, and when Birk decides to retire, he can resume the role of center.
San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The 49ers appear to be dead set on acquiring as many offensive weapons as possible.
Fleener was by far the most explosive weapon on Stanford's offense and has a rare blend of speed and explosion that will give them a pair of tight ends that will be impossible for any defense to match up against.
There is also the obvious connection between Fleener and his former head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and you can bet Harbaugh would love to add Fleener to his professional team.
New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama
As evidenced by the incredible amount of passing yardage given up by the Patriots defense during the regular season, shoring up the secondary remains to be a top priority for this offseason.
Jenkins is on the same talent level as the other top corners in this class, but his character concerns will cause him to fall into the bottom of the first round.
If they are to move Devin McCourty to free safety, it will leave one of the corner spots wide open. If nothing else, Kyle Arrington can be moved into a reserve role for added depth.
If Jenkins is going to succeed, working under the supervision of Bill Belichick will give him the best chance. If he does not buy into the system, Belichick will have no problem shipping him out.
New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Now that Brandon Jacobs is in San Francisco, the Giants find themselves with an open spot at the running back position.
Wilson has all of the physical tools to be a special back at the next level, but he has some trouble finding his holes and picking up blocks. He is also known to put the ball on the ground.
Still, with some proper coaching and some time to ease into a complementary role next to Ahmad Bradshaw, Wilson can provide the Giants with a ton of talent to form one of the best running back tandems in football.