2012 NFL Mock Draft: Highlighting Biggest Risks and Safest Bets of Round 1
In our 2012 NFL mock draft, we highlight the important selections that will help shape the first round.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (via trade with St. Louis Rams)
There's a reason why the Indianapolis Colts are locking-up Andrew Luck, just as there's a reason why the Redskins moved up so aggressively to the No. 2 overall pick.
Luck and Griffin III are two elite-level quarterback prospects with tremendous upside and character. Both should be safe bets once they reach the next level.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Kalil isn't Joe Thomas or Jake Long, but he's as safe an offensive tackle as there is in this draft. Given the Vikings need at the position, Kalil is a no-brainer.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Most will tell you Patrick Peterson is the best overall prospect, but that isn't a knock on Claiborne. He's a lockdown cover corner who can add an element on special teams, too.
Throw him into a secondary with a veteran presence like Ronde Barber, and Claiborne should be among the safest defensive bets in this draft.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (via trade with Washington Redskins)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
While there is some risk involved in taking Blackmon at No. 6 overall, Tannehill is the first round's first real risk.
He was considered nothing more than a second-rounder for most of the draft season, but team boards always seem to change at the quarterback position. The Dolphins could really be in trouble if they swing and miss on this pick.
9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Kalil is the best offensive lineman in this draft, which gives him the most value. However, the title of "safest pick" belongs to DeCastro.
He's arguably the top guard prospect to come out since Steve Hutchinson. Therefore, if DeCastro becomes even close to the kind of player that Hutchinson was (and, to a degree, still is), there is no safer pick in this draft.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Kuechly was a tackling machine at Boston College, with college tape that most scouts have graded highly.
To put any worries to bed about his athleticism, Kuechly blew away the NFL Combine. Is he bust-proof?
13. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Some have fallen in love with Poe as the next coming of Haloti Ngata, but that's only because of his otherworldly combine workout.
Does the tape suggest he could be a dominant player at the NFL level? That's the risk in taking Poe in the first round. The measurables are fantastic, but there are real worries about how that translates to the NFL game.
16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
18. Cleveland Browns: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame (TRADE w/San Diego)
19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
I obviously think Coples is a risk, which is why he's dropped all the way to No. 19 overall.
His motor and consistency issues should be real worries. If you take him any higher than this, you're banking on Coples turning it on after a year in which he played on cruise control.
20. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
22. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford (trade w/Cleveland)
23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Captain of one the best defenses in college football history, Hightower brings a lot to the table. He's instinctive, versatile and a trusted leader.
Put Hightower on the Steelers' roster, and I don't see how Pittsburgh doesn't get 10 years of consistent production.
25. Denver Broncos: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
27. New England Patriots: Shea McClellin, OLB/DE, Boise State
28. Green Bay Packers: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
29. Baltimore Ravens: Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson
As a one-trick pony who relies on his speed to rush the quarterback, Branch is likely a risk at the NFL level. He may work early on as a situational rusher, but eventually he needs to be a more complete player.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
I understand that teams like the ceiling of Brockers, but is that enough to take him in the first 15-20 picks?
He may not be a guy you can count on to be much of a factor early on in his NFL career. He needs to sit, learn and develop as a rotational player first. The 49ers can give him that chance.
31. Chicago Bears: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford (trade w/New England)
32. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
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