2012 NFL Mock Draft: Best Available Picks for Every First-Round Team
We're inching closer to the 2012 NFL draft on April 26, and by this time teams have gotten a good look at the prospects, from the college football season to the NFL combine to the pro days.
Each team is looking to score a touchdown with their first-round picks. Some will, some won't, and some may trade out of the first round entirely.
Here's a look at how I see each team drafting as we get down to the wire.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Labeled a once-in-a-generation prospect, Andrew Luck is the perfect prospect to succeed Peyton Manning. He has all the tools to be a superstar.
2. Washington Redskins (via STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Robert Griffin III is almost as much a lock at No. 2 overall as Luck is at No. 1. Beyond his ability to run the football, Griffin showed remarkable arm strength, accuracy and pocket poise at Baylor.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Matt Kalil is a legit top-three pick and has the ability to become an instant starter at tackle, giving young quarterback Christian Ponder more time in the pocket.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
There are questions whether the Browns will grab fast-rising Ryan Tannehill here, but it's hard to pass up a prospect like Trent Richardson, who has all the tools to be a superstar in the NFL.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Forget Morris Claiborne's Wonderlic Test. He's the top cornerback in the class, hands-down, and he fills a need for the Bucs, with Ronde Barber aging and Aqib Talib unreliable.
6. St. Louis Rams (via WA): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon, the top receiver in the class, is a strong receiver with great leaping ability, and he showed at Oklahoma State that he can be very dangerous after the catch. The Rams need a star receiver for Sam Bradford.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
The Jags could take Quinton Coples here, but his character concerns don't make him a Top-10 pick in my opinion. Melvin Ingram is one of the elite pass-rushers in the draft and he fills a need.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
The Dolphins missed out on the sweepstakes for every top free agent quarterback, so they are in desperate need of upgrading here. Tannehill is a fringe first-rounder, but the Dolphins' glaring need at QB boosts him to No. 8 overall.
9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Panthers need help in the middle of the defense and Dontari Poe, with his size, strength and surprising speed at the NFL combine, has tons of potential.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
After signing Mario Williams, the Bills have their star pass-rusher. Adding the second-best offensive lineman in the draft in Riley Reiff would bolster the pass protection.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
The Chiefs have a chance here to bolster the inside linebacking corps with Luke Kuechly. He has great instincts, range and tackling ability, and his NFL combine was impressive. A potential star in the making.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Seahawks, after addressing quarterback with Matt Flynn, should look at improving the pass rush in 2012. Quinton Coples carries questions about his consistency and desire, but his combination of size and strength as a defensive end is hard to pass up.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is a possibility here, but his combine performance slid him down draft boards. Michael Floyd, with his strength, hands and leaping ability, has the chance to be something special in the NFL and would look great lined up opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
The Cowboys have been looking for a do-it-all safety for years now, and Mark Barron fits the description. He has great strength and explosiveness, and he flies to the ball.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Bolstering the interior of the defensive line would help the Eagles forget about a disappointing 2011. Michael Brockers was not impressive at the combine, but he was a dominant force for LSU and he has tons of potential with his combination of size, strength and athleticism.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The Jets need to find an outside pass-rusher so Rex Ryan doesn't have to blitz all the time. Adding Courtney Upshaw, who has great explosiveness and speed, would take less pressure off the secondary and help make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK): David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Adding a solid guard here would do wonders for Andy Dalton's development. David DeCastro is the third-best offensive lineman in the draft. He's physically dominant, has impressive feet and lateral agility, and has the fierce temperament to match. He could be an instant starter for the Bengals.
18. San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
The Chargers have been looking for a top pass-rusher for years now, and Whitney Mercilus has the explosiveness and mentality to be a game-changer at the next level.
19. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Jonathan Martin has slipped down draft boards, but he's still a legit first-rounder given his play on the field for Stanford throughout the years. The Bears need help protecting Jay Cutler, as always, and Martin would be an upgrade.
20. Tennessee Titans: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stephon Gilmore has risen up draft boards lately, but he was a legit first-rounder even before his showing at the combine. He's quick, displays good technique and leaping ability, will crash on the run and even works as a return man.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Dre Kirkpatrick has good size and strength, and he's a terror against the run, but his character concerns, combined with his injury history, have slid him down draft boards a bit. Nonetheless, he could be a solid No. 2 opposite Leon Hall in Cincy.
22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
If the Browns grabbed Richardson and Kendall Wright, that would help Colt McCoy tremendously. Both players have a chance of being immediate impact players, with Wright showing DeSean Jackson-like athleticism and explosiveness at Baylor.
23. Detroit Lions: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Nick Perry is lightning-quick and has great explosiveness. He's one of the premier pass-rushers in the draft, and he would be a solid addition to the Lions' emerging defense.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
The Steelers need to start thinking about their inside linebacker of the future, and Dont'a Hightower is the physical, strong force in the middle they would love. He has the ability to set the tone in a football game.
25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
The Broncos need to find a stopper in the middle, and Jerel Worthy has the ability to be that stopper. Worthy is not a finished product, and he needs to be more consistent, but he has the size and quickness to engulf ball-carriers.
26. Houston Texans: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
The Texans need a threat opposite Andre Johnson. Mohamed Sanu is an option here, but Rueben Randle has more potential with his length, fluidity and speed.
27. New England Patriots (via NO): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Patriots need to start thinking about finding their next center of the future who can protect Tom Brady. Peter Konz is a great fit, primarily because of his intelligence and poise, but he also has the size, strength and demeanor to be a legit first-rounder.
28. Green Bay Packers: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Finding another pass-rusher beyond Clay Matthews on the outside would do the Packers well. Andre Branch has ideal size, length, athleticism and burst to translate to the next level.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia
The Ravens are in need of an upgrade at guard, and Cordy Glenn would be a steal here. Glenn is a powerful, jarring blocker who is light on his feet, and his ideal position in the NFL is guard.
Is Stephen Hill a legit first-round pick?
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Stephen Hill has skyrocketed up draft boards after his electric 40-yard dash time of 4.31 seconds. He needs to bulk up and get stronger and refine his route-running, but his measurables are outstanding and he's an aggressive athlete.
31. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Chandler Jones is long, rangy and plays hard with great instincts. He needs to add more to his frame, but he has the athleticism and motor to be an impact player in the NFL.
32. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Mike Adams has dropped considerably due to character concerns and an unimpressive combine performance, but he has the frame, length and athleticism to be a solid starter in the NFL. The Giants need to protect Eli Manning better.
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