2012 NFL Mock Draft: Players Who Will Peak as Rookies

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IApril 16, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama gets ready to run the 40-yard dash during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Every NFL draft has a few players that come out of the gate strong and build big hopes for a long and successful career, only to have those hopes fade to black as their rookie year turned out to be their best season. 

There will be players in this draft that fall into that dubious category. At least they will have a strong season to hang their helmets on. 

In my full mock draft below, the players who will peak as rookies get some extra attention. 


Langford's 2012 NFL Mock Draft


1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford


Andrew Luck will not be one of those players. He is going to go on to have a fantastic career. 


2.  Washington Redskins via St. Louis: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Griffin has already energized the Redskins fanbase, and they haven't even drafted him yet. 


3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Kalil is an athletic and strong lineman. He is the prototypical LT.


4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Richardson is a legit every-down back that will improve the Browns offense in multiple areas. 


5. Tampa Bay BuccaneersMorris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Claiborne is a shutdown corner in waiting. The Bucs could definitely use that—along with a host of other things. 

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Justin Blackmon #81 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys catches a 67-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against Chase Thomas #44 of the Stanford Cardina during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

6. St. Louis Rams via Washington: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

The Rams must add a receiving threat. They will jump at the chance to draft Blackmon. 


7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

Coples is the kind of pass-rusher that the Jaguars have sorely lacked. 


8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Miami struck out when trying to add a QB in free agency. The Dolphins will turn to the draft to fill this glaring need. 


9. Carolina Panthers: Devon Still, DT, Penn State 

The Panthers must get tougher in the middle of their defense. Still is a nice start. 


10. Buffalo Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick is an experienced and fundamentally sound corner. He has great size at 6'2" and 186 pounds. This is a big part of the reason why he is effective at jamming receivers at the line. 

Kirkpatrick excels in zone coverage. He is more than NFL ready when it comes to zone coverage, which will lead to him pulling in six to eight picks as a rookie—and that will be as good as it gets for Kirkpatrick. 

He lacks elite speed, and this will not improve as he ages. Especially given the character concerns that have arisen with Kirkpatrick. 

He does not appear to be the kind of guy that is going to work at getting better. NFL teams will learn to avoid his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. 


11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford 

The Chiefs need an infusion of youth on their offensive line, and a dominant run-blocker like DeCastro is a nice start. 


12. Seattle Seahawks: Dontari Poe, DTMemphis

Poe is an athletic freak. He is a monster of a man that can move. The Seahawks will not let that talent slide past them.  

13. Arizona Cardinals: Johnathan Martin, T, Stanford

The Cardinals can use the elite toughness and run blocking that Martin will bring to their offensive line. 

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies scrambles with the ball as Luke Kuechly #40 of the Boston College Eagles defends on September 25, 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty
Elsa/Getty Images


14. Dallas Cowboys: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Kuechly is a tackling machine. The Cowboys could use that consistency. 


15. Philadelphia EaglesRiley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Philadelphia has to improve its pass protection. Reiff will be an instant upgrade. 

16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

The Jets will be thrilled to draft the athleticism and speed that Ingram brings. 

17. Cincinnati Bengals via Oakland: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

The Bengals need to add a young RB to their stable of offensive talent.  


CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Whitney Mercilus #85 of the Illinois Fighting Illini rushes against Jack Mewhort #74 of the Ohio State Buckeyes at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jona
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

18. San Diego Chargers: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois 

The Chargers must add some muscle up front. Mercilus definitely offers that. 

19. Chicago Bears: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Chicago must upgrade at center, and Konz is an upgrade. 


20. Tennessee Titans: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Barron is a perfect fit for the safety-starved Titans. 


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins is a gifted man-to-man corner. This will lead to the Bengals looking past his character issues. 


22. Cleveland Browns via Atlanta: Zach Brown, OLB, UNC

The Browns' promising defense can use Brown's all-around linebacking skill set. 

23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn, OGGeorgia

Glenn will give the Lions the bruising lineman they need. 


24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The Steelers have to upgrade their offensive line. Adams is a bit of a gamble, but he has big potential. 

25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

The Broncos are dangerously thin at defensive tackle. Cox is an explosive prospect and a nice fit. 

26. Houston Texans: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Floyd has all the tools to be a No. 1 receiver. He has the size, hands and route-running.

He will come in as a rookie to a Texans team that has a clear No. 1 receiver in Andre Johnson. That means that defenses won't be able to focus on Floyd. He will toast that loose coverage for big catches and stats. 

However, he will not be able to duplicate that success.

The reason that Floyd will be on the board this long is due to his character issues—including multiple infractions involving alcohol. 

He is not going to have the focus it takes to improve, and his issues will derail his career. 


27. New England Patriots via New Orleans: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Patriots need to resist the temptation to trade their picks and use them on defensive talent. 


28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

The Packers must add another pass-rusher to their crumbling defense. 


29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

This is the perfect fit for the Ravens. Hightower is a versatile linebacker with a nose for the ball. 

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 02: Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes a catch during the Capitol One Bowl against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Florida Citrus Bowl on January 2, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


30. San Francisco 49ers: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

The 49ers will continue to bolster their receiving corp with their first pick in the draft. 


31. New England Patriots: Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

New England must again turn to the defensive side of the ball with this pick. 


32. New York Giants: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The Giants will take a defensive lineman. This can't be a surprise to anyone.