2012 NFL Mock Draft: Best and Worst-Case Scenario for Every First-Round Pick
With the clock closing in on the NFL Draft, many teams are coming up with their final decisions on who they'll go after.
Though many of the picks have reached somewhat of a consensus, there's still a little bit of room for last-minute shuffling among the top picks.
While every team hopes its pick can be an immediate contributor and laws of average would suggest that, some of them may be just average or on the lower end of the bell curve.
Here are the best and worst-case scenarios for each potential first-round draft pick.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
Best-Case Scenario: Andrew Luck lives up to expectations as the best quarterback prospect, and reminds fans of Peyton Manning. He doesn't even have to do it immediately: Manning went 3-13 and led the league in interceptions in his first pro season.
Worst-Case Scenario: Given the amount of praise and high-quality tape on Luck, this would be the most baffling draft bust in NFL history. In this scenario, 2011 will serve as the tip of a disappointment iceberg comparable only to the one that sunk the Titanic.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)
Best-Case Scenario: The Washington Redskins have their most exciting quarterback talent in about a decade, justifying the tremendous cost of acquiring him.
Worst-Case Scenario: As suggested by Donovan McNabb, Griffin is misused to disastrous effect. As the team loses, personality quirks like his penchant for colorful socks start to annoy fans and become a distraction. His linemen call him out in the media based on his choice of glasses.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT (University of Southern California)
Best-Case Scenario: The Minnesota Vikings have an offensive line starter they can plug in right away and have for the next 10 years.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Vikings walk away from a talented top end of a draft with little to show for it. Given the high cost the Washington Redskins gave the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick, Vikings fans will wonder if they could have garnered a similar deal.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)
Best-Case Scenario: Peyton who? Running back Trent Richardson becomes a legitimate star for a team that could definitely use a little bit of energy.
Worst-Case Scenario: Richardson becomes a star but decides to leave town in order to play with friends and have a better shot at the title. Who knows what kind of cap space the Miami Dolphins will have a few years down the road?
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU)
Best-Case Scenario: Cornerback Morris Claiborne brings youth to a secondary that could desperately use it (not to mention some depth with the likely loss of Aqib Talib).
Worst-Case Scenario: Ronde Barber, now 37 years old, is never allowed to retire. Even at 40 or older, he'll still play 16 games and come away with a few interceptions for his trouble.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma St.)
Best-Case Scenario: St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has at least one weapon for the 2012 season, after the likely exodus of one of his top weapons (Brandon Lloyd is out).
Worst-Case Scenario: With limited speed and questions about his concentration in finishing catches, maybe Bradford shouldn't count his receptions before they're caught (it makes sense if you read it like the dangers of placing all of one's eggs in a single basket).
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)
Best-Case Scenario: The Jaguars find in Quinton Coples a legitimate pass-rusher capable of double-digit sacks in a season. For a team that needs stars badly, a dangerous pass-rusher would be a nice start.
Worst-Case Scenario: Like everybody in Jacksonville when it comes to the Jaguars, Coples gets bored. His numbers will reflect the disinterest.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M)
Best-Case Scenario: Without breaking the bank, the Miami Dolphins score their franchise quarterback of the future. While there are some holes in the offensive depth chart (particularly at wide receiver), Tannehill is a push in the right direction.
Worst-Case Scenario: Accuracy problems limit his effectiveness, and his tenure at quarterback lasts about as long as the novelty of the home run sign for the Miami Marlins.
9. Carolina Panthers: Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina)
Best-Case Scenario: Melvin Ingram joins Cam Newton as Panthers' first-round picks who provide an immediate impact on the field. Ingram makes all draft experts who claimed his arms were too short look silly.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Panthers, needing plenty of help in 2012 and beyond due to a tight salary cap situation, get little help from Ingram. He is the butt of T-Rex jokes forever.
10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)
Best-Case Scenario: For a team that could use some depth behind the solid wide receiver Stevie Johnson, the Buffalo Bills get immediate playing time out of Michael Floyd. Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to the form he displayed in the first half of the 2011 season.
Worst-Case Scenario: Floyd fails to get much action in his rookie year but generates controversy in following in Johnson's footsteps, blaming God for dropping an important pass during a game. He is immediately prohibited from the campus of his alma mater, Notre Dame.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG (Stanford)
Best-Case Scenario: The Kansas City Chiefs would probably like to get Jamaal Charles and the running game going in 2012, and guard David DeCastro is solid in blocking in the running game.
Worst-Case Scenario: DeCastro gets beat too often on passing plays, exacerbating injury woes for quarterback Matt Cassel. He's out of town before the end of his rookie contract.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama)
Best-Case Scenario: A scary-looking defense gets even scarier as it adds another smart, aggressive player to the unit. He may not get a huge percentage of playing time immediately, but he'll grow into a solid producer within the Seattle Seahawks.
Worst-Case Scenario: His enthusiasm and skill are overshadowed by below-par size, and he fails to get enough playing time to justify the high draft placement.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
Best-Case Scenario: The Arizona Cardinals fill one of their biggest weaknesses offensively with one of the best lineman talents this class can offer.
Worst-Case Scenario: Either quarterback Kevin Kolb or John Skelton will get playing time as the fellow quarterback comes out of the game with an injury following another big hit.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dontari Poe, DT (Memphis)
Best-Case Scenario: Dontari Poe can save the rear end of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan through his pass-rushing abilities. Getting to the quarterback quickly, he'll prevent the team's hum-drum secondary from being exposed too much.
Worst-Case Scenario: Everything is bigger in Texas, so any failings or rookie growing pains are likely to come with an extra amount of drama and controversy.
If he fails, draft experts will likely dissect his time playing at Memphis, which may not have provided the right training opportunities to succeed.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)
Best-Case Scenario: Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is the last piece of a defense that just needed some help in its middle sections.
Paired with the newly-acquired DeMeco Ryans, the two put up huge numbers while ending the over-pursual issues that hit the team's inexperienced linebacker crew last season.
Worst-Case Scenario: Kuechly's numbers at Boston College were wildly inflated due to mostly inferior competition and teammates, while Ryans fails to make the adjustment to Philadelphia's 4-3 defense.
The linebacker corps is again cited as one of the reasons the Eagles are going to miss the playoffs.
16. New York Jets: Mark Barron, S (Alabama)
Best-Case Scenario: It may not fill their most critical needs, but the New York Jets' addition of safety Mark Barron is an easy infusion of talent and youth in their secondary.
You really can't go wrong on that end. Barron brings consistency and versatility to a defense that desperately wants it.
Worst-Case Scenario: Barron's skills and development get pushed to the side amongst the conversation about the erratic direction of the team's future.
Barron plays fine at the Meadowlands but sets his deal up to be out of town as soon as possible.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders): Cordy Glenn, G/T (Georgia)
Best-Case Scenario: Cordy Glenn's experience and versatility with multiple positions make him a critical starter and replacement within the offensive line.
The Bengals, with more confidence in their line than ever before, begin to try more exotic play schemes that take advantage of their additional time and their talent at the skill positions.
Worst-Case Scenario: Glenn struggles to adjust to the pace of the game, and as a result is limited to playing in the interior line positions. He doesn't work on his technique and finds himself frequently beaten on the snap.
18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB (University of Southern California)
Best-Case Scenario: Nick Perry's versatility will make him an immediate hit among coaches with the San Diego Chargers, as they find themselves with an opportunity to experiment with the excellent athlete at multiple positions.
Sliding between positions, he still is able to come up with a few sacks and maybe even an interception in his rookie year.
Worst-Case Scenario: Forced to play outside linebacker only, Perry struggles to build up opportunities to pressure the quarterback. His numbers are underwhelming, and he struggles to deal with growing chants from fans calling him a bust.
Injury issues with his knees begin to crawl back into the picture as well.
19. Chicago Bears: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)
Best-Case Scenario: It doesn't fulfill an immediate need, but fans of the Chicago Bears understand that when a team can grab a player as talented as cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick at the No. 19 position, it's a big win.
Building off his high draft selection, Kirkpatrick slowly develops into a regular contributor in a defense with a long reputation of developing stars and Pro Bowlers.
Worst-Case Scenario: Kirkpatrick fails to break out from behind the incumbents of the position, despite in some instances pedestrian numbers from those ahead of him. His tendency to gamble on balls makes him a target of frustration for fans who hate to see him give up the long pass play to opponents.
He also doesn't learn from a recent arrest for marijuana possession, and his love of smoking exceeds his love for the game, prompting multiple suspensions.
20. Tennessee Titans: Fletcher Cox, DT (Mississippi St.)
Best-Case Scenario: Learning how to stay at home against the run, Fletcher Cox becomes an immediate presence on the defensive line of the Tennessee Titans.
His rushing style may not work immediately, but his size and persistence make him a tough defender to block. For a team that could use some signs of life defensively, this could be a very positive step.
Worst-Case Scenario: Opponents quickly learn that Cox's repertoire of moves is very limited, and offensive lineman find ways to slow him down dramatically. Not to say he can't learn a new trick or two, but it does mean his development could be delayed slightly.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)
Best-Case Scenario: Another speedy weapon to pair with breakout star A.J. Green? Yes, please!
Worst-Case Scenario: Is anybody sure how well Wright can do when not in an offense pairing him up with likely second overall pick Robert Griffin III?
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)
Best-Case Scenario: Quarterback Colt McCoy has a new best friend in offensive tackle Jonathan Martin as the Cleveland Browns finally realize it's tough to be successful as a quarterback when you have constant pressure in your face when you attempt to pass.
Worst-Case Scenario: Martin's underpowered blocking may be abused in the early going, so Browns fans have to hope he can add some more strength to his frame in order to protect their lead passer.
23. Detroit Lions: Mike Adams, OT (Ohio State)
Best-Case Scenario: Quarterback Matthew Stafford gets additional protection and time as the Detroit Lions invest in tackle Mike Adams.
In bringing in Adams, they get a player with phenomenal size and quickness, who should be able to start immediately.
As if the Detroit Lions offense could not get any more dangerous.
Worst-Case Scenario: Adams' low number of bench presses during the combine mean there's a good chance he needs to add some more muscle to his frame in time for the season. If he can do that, there's no question he can be a regular contributor. If he can't, that is a bad sign for both Adams and the Lions for drafting him at that point.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devon Still, DT (Penn State)
Best-Case Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers need youth, and they're going to get it in a nice way with defensive tackle Devon Still.
He may not put up big sack numbers, but he'll create matchup issues for offensive lineman and be a huge body in the middle, limiting running lanes for opposing backs.
Worst-Case Scenario: Still's previous injuries, which include an ACL tear, begin to surface again and take him off of the field. There's a lot to be said about Still's skills, but he has to be healthy enough and on the field in order to use them.
25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT (LSU)
Best-Case Scenario: Defensive tackle Michael Brockers could be a big piece to the defensive puzzle for the Denver Broncos, as his potential is through the roof.
He has excellent physical measurables, strength and tackling skills. He could bring a lot of trouble to opposing offenses in the AFC West.
It may not be necessary all the time, but Brockers is versatile enough to shift between 3-4 and 4-3 sets, something that the Broncos have moved between in the last year.
Worst-Case Scenario: While he has a lot of upside, the Broncos will also have to make sure that Brockers improves his pass-rushing skills (he only had two sacks in his final season at LSU) and refines some of his technique, which can reportedly slide away in pressure moments.
He could be great, but at the very same time he may not have what it takes at all.
26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR (Georgia Tech)
Best-Case Scenario: An all-out aerial bombing will commence on the field for the Houston Texans, as opponents double-teaming immediate starting wide receiver Andre Johnson will now find themselves short-sided when Stephen Hill goes cruising on the opposite side.
Worst Case Scenario: Hill's limited college playing time in a pro-style offense is questioned, and the pundits feed like sharks on numbers indicating he had about two or three receptions per game in his senior season at Georgia Tech (which runs the non-passer friendly triple-option offense).
Despite the golden opportunity to build up yards and points, Hill's efforts will be passed over.
27. New England Patriots (from Saints): Dont'a Hightower, ILB (Alabama)
Best-Case Scenario: Amazed that Dont'a Hightower fell all the way down to the No. 27 pick, the New England Patriots rework a few defensive schemes to keep Hightower on the field.
Worst-Case Scenario: Unable to adjust to an unchanged Patriots' 4-3 scheme, Hightower finds himself out of New England in less than two seasons.
28. Green Bay Packers: Vinny Curry, DE (Marshall)
Best-Case Scenario: The Green Bay Packers continue their push to go from "very good" to "unstoppable force in nature" as they land another starter and potential pass-rusher in defensive end Vinny Curry.
Given the improved quarterback play through the division (even in Minnesota), allowing them less time to operate would be beneficial.
Worst-Case Scenario: The pick is a flop, and Green Bay misses out on a shot to frustrate opponents defensively. Somehow, Christian Ponder can be in the same conversation as quarterback Aaron Rodgers in terms of competitiveness.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C (Wisconsin)
Best-Case Scenario: The Baltimore Ravens find their likely replacement for franchise center Matt Birk.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Ravens find a passable lineman who can shift to a few different positions on the line.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Rueben Randle, WR (LSU)
Best-Case Scenario: The San Francisco 49ers add on to what could be the most improved wide receiver corps in the league (assuming the team gets production out of Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham or Kyle Williams).
Worst-Case Scenario: Isn't this about the same part of the draft when the 49ers picked up Rashaun Woods in 2004?
31. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois)
Best-Case Scenario: Whitney Mercilus provides more youth for a defensive line that could need some speed and youth.
Worst-Case Scenario: More questions for Bill Belichick about his drafting methods. Many critics will wonder why he didn't trade this pick for more picks later in the draft or next year.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE (Stanford)
Best-Case Scenario: The New York Giants replace their current injured tight end duo with Coby Fleener, who has enough talent to stretch most defenses and take advantage of linebacker coverages.
Worst-Case Scenario: The Giants don't get full value out of what can be a trouble spot for finding talent. Not a big deal.