2012 NFL Mock Draft: Teams That Will Make Playoffs with Great First-Rounders

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterApril 18, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State catches a pass during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL draft is finally here to refresh the coffers of depleted teams. Those middling franchises will finally get the talent they need to make the next step towards postseason glory. 

Of course, the NFL draft is but one piece of the puzzle. The rest will be sorted out in free agency or via trade, but fresh young talent at specific positions is exactly what some of these teams need to get them over the top and into the postseason. 

With a little over a week to go, we mock out the draft and single out the teams that have the most to gain next season by drafting wisely int he first round. 

Here is what that NFL draft will look like. 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

We have known this pick for so long that it borders on being dull. Luck is the most complete quarterback on the board, and he goes first. 

2. Washington Redskins (via STL): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

I am not about to put them in the playoff, but the Redskins will be improved with a consistent star under center in the form of RG3. After a season or two, this team will be dangerous. 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL and will once again be on the outside looking in. However, they get what they need in a stout lineman for immediate help. 

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

I am not ready to buy into the Browns taking Ryan Tannehill here. The best running back around is still the pick here.   

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The Buccaneers took a huge step back last season, but they now get a more physical player to mix things up with the best receivers.  

6. St. Louis Rams (via WA): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 26: Wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State gets ready during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Oh, yeah. I am ready to re-buy into the Rams making the postseason, something we thought would happen prior to 2011.

Injuries and sophomore slump from Sam Bradford saw this team get just two wins on the season. When you start the year with injuries to your top running back and receivers, you are going to have a bad time.

They will come in healthy and with a star receiver in the making. Justin Blackmon will be the next big thing with a bounce-back year following from Bradford.  

7. Jacksonville JaguarsMelvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina 

His versatility up front will be the reason he flies off the board. His tenacity is what will make him an impact player at the next level. 

8. Miami DolphinsRyan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M  

Oh, geez. I am not ready to see this reality take place, but I fear this is exactly where the Dolphins are headed. This is a reach, no matter how you slice it.  

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State 

I love Cox and his ability to come in and deliver an immediate impact, and he comes with a tremendous motor. 

10. Buffalo BillsJonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

The Bills could also solve receiver woes, but I have them shoring up the line with a sure thing in Martin. 

11. Kansas City ChiefsLuke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Linebacker Luke Kuechly of Boston College takes part in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Chiefs get exactly what they need in Luke Kuechly, a total package player that has all the signs of having a long and fruitful career. 

I am also ready to make the Chiefs playoff bound with a step in the right direction on defense. The AFC West is always up for grabs and the Chiefs have just as good a chance going in. 

12. Seattle SeahawksQuinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Coples does have questions on his motor, but there is no way you can discount his talents and size. The call up to the NFL will be enough of a wake-up call. 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia

You can stick him pretty much anywhere on the line and consider it a win. The Cardinals will solve one of their bigger needs.   

14. Dallas CowboysDontari Poe, DT, Memphis 

I still have Dallas just a shade under our next team, but the Cowboys will certainly love the player they get in Dontari Poe. 

Yes, he is getting flack for his tape not measuring up to what we saw at the combine, but that just means he is invigorated and ready to perform. 

15. Philadelphia EaglesMark Barron, S, Alabama

OXFORD, MS - OCTOBER 15:  Defensive back Mark Barron #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide lines up against Mississippi on October 15, 2011 at Vaught- Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images)
Butch Dill/Getty Images

Philadelphia needs consistency at the safety position, and Barron is one of the best athletes left on the board.

We also have to consider the Eagles have largely the same talent we once considered dreamy. Minus the expectations, the Eagles will play to another level.  

16. New York JetsCourtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

The Jets will again have a deadly defense, but they need help at linebacker. This is a good draft to need such a thing as Upshaw comes in with grit and toughness to make a difference.  

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Wide receiver Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fight Irish runs upfield against the Florida State Seminoles in the Champs Sports Bowl December 29, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.  FSU won 18 - 14. (Photo b
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

I am keeping the Bengals in the playoffs with this genius pick that gets them the weapon they need to combine an underrated defense with a budding offense. 

Andy Dalton showed flashes of brilliance, and this pairing will be the difference for them to sneak back into the postseason for 2012. 

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

Mercilus' improvement last year is a signal he has the right maturity to make him a solid first-round pick.  

19. Chicago BearsRiley Reiff, OT, Iowa  

The Bears would love to draft some closure to the Matt Forte saga, but they will settle for help on the line, something they seem to need perennially.  

20. Tennessee TitansDre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama 

The Titans get a gift in an underrated corner that will be far better than he is given credit for. I love his physicality and instincts.  

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

The Bengals can now use some help on the other side of the ball and get the next best answer on the corner with Gilmore. 

22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

The Browns still need more, and I am convinced they will take a stab at Tannehill if he falls here. Other than that, a vertical weapon is never a bad thing. 

23. Detroit LionsDavid DeCastro, G, Stanford 

I will step out on a ledge and say the Lions are keen on keeping Matthew Stafford safe and healthy for a few more years.  

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Hightower doesn't feel an obvious need, but I would love this talent maturing on a team like the Steelers. 

25. Denver BroncosNick Perry, DE, USC

I could see them getting help on the line to guarantee safety for Peyton Manning but am not loving what's left for this pick. I say they continue to build a young and scary defense.  

26. Houston Texans: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 08:  Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates runs with the ball during their game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Jeffery is still my pick over the other qualified receivers at this point. I think he will do wonders on the other side of Andre Johnson. 

27. New England Patriots (via NO): Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

He didn't help himself at the combine, but I am still enamored with his size and physicality at the line. 

28. Green Bay Packers: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson

He is a big athletes that moves well in space and controls his huge size very well. I like him to be a star once he works some polish on his game. 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame 

He will transition into Ed Reed's role in time, because he is that gifted, physical and versatile.  

30. San Francisco 49ers: Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

I love the 49ers chances next year as they come in with a good portion of the 2011 staff, but they still need depth in the secondary. 

31. New England Patriots: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

He grabbed 53 receptions for 917 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season, and is my pick for a franchise that can groom him properly. 

32. New York Giants: Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State (Texas)

The Giants started off with a rash of inconsistent production on the line, and that can't happen in a year where every team will be gunning for them. 


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