2012 NFL Mock Draft: Final Version

Nick Carlo@@carlo2612Analyst IIApril 23, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Final Version

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    The 2012 NFL Draft is just two days away and there are many questions that have yet to be answered. This year's draft class features a large number of players with immense talent. This is easily one of the deepest draft classes in recent history.

    Teams who draft smartly routinely find themselves in the playoffs. The draft is a huge part of the NFL offseason and every team has been preparing for this day for a long time.

    It will be exciting to see the draft unfold. Enjoy my first-round mock draft and feel free to voice your opinion in the comment section below.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Stanford, QB

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    Andrew Luck is going to be an Indianapolis Colt. Reports have surfaced that the Colts have informed Luck that they will select him with the No. 1 overall pick.

    Luck is the best quarterback prospect since John Elway and he projects to have quite a career. It seems as if unrealistic expectations have been placed on this kid, but the truth is that he has the potential to live up to those lofty expectations.

    Luck is one heck of a quarterback and will greatly help steer the Colts back in the right direction. Luck is an elite athlete and possesses some of the greatest intangibles around.

    This is a dynamite pick for Indianapolis.

    It's only fitting that Luck goes to a team with a horseshoe as its logo,

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Baylor, QB

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    Robert Griffin III, or RG3, would have been the No. 1 pick in any other draft in recent history. Andrew Luck is the only reason RG3 won't join the No. 1-pick club, but RG3 shouldn't be ashamed of that.

    Despite Luck being the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft, Griffin is an extremely intriguing prospect. RG3 has a rocket arm and lightning-quick speed. He is a lethal, dual-threat quarterback. 

    Griffin also has all the intangibles that a team would want in its franchise quarterback. The Heisman Trophy winner has a contagious smile and knows how to get the crowd involved in the game. He was easily the most exciting player in college football last year, and I don't expect the NFL to slow him down one bit.

    Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is drooling over RG3's abilities and can't wait to begin working with him. Shanahan is one of the best coaches of all time and has his fair share of experience with elite-level quarterbacks.

    Washington seems like a perfect fit for RG3, and I am expecting a huge season from Griffin. It will be very exciting to see RG3 grow in this league and become the dynamic player that we all expect him to be. 

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, USC, OT

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    I expect the Vikings to look to trade down come draft day. The team is debating whether to select Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne or Matt Kalil with the third-overall pick. Kalil seems like the smartest and safest choice for Minnesota, but I could easily see them opting to go with either one of the alternate options.

    The Vikings' early actions will have a big impact on how this year's draft will unfold. I am not predicting trades in this mock draft, so let's pretend that Minnesota will stand its ground at the No. 3 spot.

    I believe Kalil would be a great fit with the Vikings. He is a big-bodied offensive tackle who has all the makings of a franchise left tackle. He is strong and pairs his strength with decent speed for a player his size.

    With that said, this pick does have bust potential. I believe that Kalil will be a useful starting tackle in the NFL, but it will be hard for him to live up to the expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall pick. However, Kalil could make Minnesota look smart.

    Kalil can go a long way toward helping protect Christian Ponder. Every team could use an effective, young left tackle. The Vikings could do a lot of things with this pick, They hold the key to this draft.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, Alabama, RB

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    Things haven't exactly been going the Cleveland Browns' way recently. This past season was tough, but it did show signs of hope for the Cleveland faithful. The Browns had a respectable defense, but their offense was simply anemic. 

    Some people believe that Cleveland should select Ryan Tannehill with this pick, but I strongly disagree. Selecting Tannehill would be a mammoth reach and would hurt the Browns. Cleveland already has a starting quarterback. His name is Colt McCoy.

    McCoy hasn't had the best start to his NFL career, but can you blame him? The Browns have surrounded him with few offensive weapons. The run game was horrible last year, and the receiving corps suffered from inconsistency.

    With Peyton Hillis' move to Kansas City, the Browns are now looking for a starting running back. Trent Richardson is their guy. He is one of the best running-back prospects in a long time. He is like a bowling ball on wheels and has a knack for gaining the extra yard.

    Richardson has the potential to be an elite back in the NFL. The Browns should run to the podium to select him. Richardson could add a much-needed element to Cleveland's offense and possibly help lead the team back to the playoffs.

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

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    Claiborne has quietly put together an impressive college resume. While he may not receive the same hype as Patrick Peterson did last season, Claiborne is in the same league as an NFL prospect.

    Claiborne has the potential to be a shutdown NFL corner, and the Buccaneers have a glaring need at that spot. Ronde Barber isn't getting any younger, and Aqib Talib can't seem to stay out of trouble.

    Claiborne may not be the sexiest pick, but he would fill a gaping hole in the Bucs' secondary.  

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

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    Justin Blackmon is arguably the draft's best wide-receiver prospect. He is not the quickest or most explosive, but he makes up for that with his superb receiving skills.

    Blackmon runs very crisp routes and routinely showcases his strong ability to go after the ball while it is in the air.

    The Rams are in desperate need of a true go-to receiver for Sam Bradford. Bradford has lacked weapons in his time with St. Louis, but drafting Blackmon would completely change that.

    Blackmon is a great player and an even better person. Picking him would be ideal for the Rams franchise.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, WR

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    Michael Floyd is rocketing up draft boards. He has top-notch talent and is an all-around receiver. He has great height, hands and size. His skill-set gives him a great chance to become one of the top possession receivers in the game.

    The Jaguars franchise has struggled lately, but selecting Floyd will set the team in the right direction. The team used its first-round draft pick last year to select Blaine Gabbert, who struggled mightily last season.

    The Jags are hoping that a guy like Floyd can help get Gabbert back on track.

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

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    I am not a big fan of this pick, but this is what I believe the Miami Dolphins will do. Tannehill has only been a starting college quarterback for a year and a half.

    He was a star quarterback in high school, but was moved to wide receiver in his early days at Texas A&M. The Aggies eventually wised up, though, and gave him a chance to showcase his quarterback skills, and Tannehill ran with the opportunity. He is a dynamic athlete. He proved that when he was a wide receiver.

    Tannehill also has great size for a quarterback. He is 6'4", 221 pounds.

    Despite all that,, I believe that selecting him here would be a huge reach for Miami. There are better options available, but Miami has put itself into a pretty deep hole at the quarterback position.

    Missed opportunities have put Miami in a tough position, almost forcing the Dolphins to select Tannehill. He has a high ceiling, but a lot of work will need to be done.

    It is almost certain that Tannehill will need to sit for a few seasons before he even gets a chance to make the Dolphins looks smart. This pick will be very interesting.

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

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    Fletcher Cox is another player whose value has been rocketing up. One of his biggest assets is his versatility. Cox can play just about anywhere on the line and generate an effective blitz. He has a decent body for a defensive lineman, and his speed and power combo is very exciting.

    Carolina had a much improved 2011 season, but the Panthers' play on the defensive line left something to be desired. Cox is a perfect fit with the Panthers and would slot in nicely with the rest of Carolina's talented young players.

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, Iowa, OT

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    The Bills shored up their pass rush with the blockbuster signing of Mario Williams. They can now focus their attention on the offensive line. The offensive tackle positions were a weakness for Buffalo last season, and the O-line could surely use some help.

    Riley Reiff is an extremely talented tackle. He is also very durable and big at 6'6" and 313 pounds. He is a very good pass protector and might greatly help Buffalo.

    The Bills invested a lot in Ryan Fitzpatrick last offseason, and Reiff could help Fitzpatrick stay healthy and on the field.

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

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    Kansas City relies heavily on its run game. Quarterback Matt Cassel isn't greatly talented, but he can help lead this team to the playoffs with a good run game. One of the main reasons why the Chiefs struggled last year was the injury to running back Jamaal Charles. 

    Charles will be back and healthy for next season. His load will also be lightened because of the Peyton Hillis signing.

    The Chiefs don't have too many glaring weaknesses, but they would be smart to address their offensive line. A strong offensive line could enable the Chiefs to fully utilize their offense. Selecting DeCastro would be a nice move.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, Boston College, ILB

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    Despite not being an elite athlete, Luke Kuechly is regarded as the draft's best middle linebacker. He makes up for his average athleticism with his sure tackling and high football IQ.

    Kuechly would most likely have an immediate impact in Seattle and would really help the Seahawks defense.

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

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    Glenn is an interesting offensive-line option in this year's draft. He was a tackle in college, but it is a foregone conclusion that he will be moved to the inside once he comes to the NFL. That is not necessarily a bad thing, though. 

    Glenn might not have the speed to go up against the NFL's elite pass-rushers, but he has the size and strength to put a halt to any bull-rush attack. Glenn is a huge dude who is very powerful.

    Glenn has the potential to be something special in this league, and I believe that he will be a safe pick no matter what.

    Arizona needs to keep Kevin Kolb standing due to its big investment in him, and Glenn should help do just that.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, Alabama, S

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    The Cowboys secondary has been lacking in recent seasons. Barron is the top safety in the draft, but he plays more like a linebacker. He was a starter for three years on the nation's best defense, so he would arrive with plenty of quality experience.

    Barron seems like a safe pick. He will not become a superstar, but he could certainly help the Cowboys defense and possibly help lead Dallas back to the playoffs.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe, Memphis, NT

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    Poe is another interesting player. His draft stock rocketed up about a month ago, but the hype surrounding him has calmed down a bit. Questions surrounding his motivation and work ethic have surfaced. 

    Poe might fall a bit in this draft, but the Eagles won't be afraid to take him. Philadelphia likes to concentrate on talent, and talent only. The Eagles defense was a huge weakness last season, and Poe could possibly help the defense a lot.

    He has the potential and size to cause havoc on the offensive line, but he also has bust potential.

    As a high-risk, high-reward pick, Poe represents the kind of gamble the Eagles seem inclined to take.

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

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    The Jets would be ecstatic if Melvin Ingram was available at this spot. New York has been keeping a close eye on him and like the way he plays the game. Ingram is extremely versatile and can help patch up a few of the Jets' holes.

    He lacks elite size, but makes up for that with his agility and swift moves. Ingram is also pretty good at finding his way to the quarterback. He is a great pass-rusher who can help get the Jets defense back to an elite level. This has the potential to be a great pick for the New York Jets.

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

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    The Bengals need to replace Johnathan Joseph. They would be elated if Gilmore is available at this spot. They would take him in a heartbeat.

    Gilmore is a great athlete with the size for the position and would look nice lining up opposite Leon Hall. Gilmore and Hall would allow the Bengals defense to be a lot more aggressive.

18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, OLB

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    The Chargers defense was horrendous last year, ranking  29th in the league. Their defense is in need of a good pass-rusher. Upshaw could slot in at linebacker in the Chargers' 3-4 defense. He would help San Diego get back on track.

19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE

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    Quinton Coples falls in the draft due to many character issues surrounding him. He is known to be immature and takes plays off. Despite that, he is a premier athlete at his position. His combination of speed and power is admirable.

    The Bears defense is getting old, as Julius Peppers isn't getting any younger. Peppers is one of the game's best defensive ends, and he would act as the perfect mentor for Coples. This pick could turn out to be an absolute steal for Chicago. 

    If Coples performs even to a fraction of his potential, this could be one of the biggest steals of the entire draft. Bears fans should be very happy if this does, indeed, happen.

20. Tennessee Titans: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB

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    Tennessee's secondary wasn't good at all last year. It ranked in the bottom of the league in interceptions and didn't manage to get any real production from its secondary players. Kirkpatrick didn't have the best combine, but he did great in the interview process.

    Kirkpatrick could help solidify the Titans secondary. He was a very effective cornerback with Alabama. With that said, Kirkpatrick might have to eventually move to one of the safety positions. He would still greatly help Tennessee.

    This could turn out to be a nice little selection for the already talented Titans.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Chandler Jones, Syracuse, DE

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    Chandler Jones' draft stock is on a steady rise. He has ideal size to be an effective defensive end. He is 6'5", 265 pounds and can dominate offensive lineman. Jones could get a little stronger, but he absolutely has a great frame.

    Jones might need a couple of seasons to adjust his game, but he could turn out to be a fairly good player in the NFL. The Bengals should take a good look at Jones come draft time.

22. Cleveland Browns: Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina, WR

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    This move might surprise some people, but I could see Cleveland doing this. Jeffery's draft stock has been fluctuating. He has been a top wide receiver one day and a bum the next. One thing is for certain: Jeffery has talent.

    His size, speed and strength should project him as a no-doubt first-round prospect, but that is not the case. Work ethic issues have arisen, but many scouts seems to be paying no mind to those concerns.

    Jeffery is an easy athlete to fall in love with, and the Browns are in desperate need of a dynamite receiver. Jeffery would pair greatly with Greg Little and continue to transform the Browns offense.

23. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin, Stanford, OT

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    Jonathan Martin falls a bit due to team needs. Martin did a great job protecting Andrew Luck and he projects as a decent tackle prospect. He won't blow anybody away, but he could fit in nicely Detroit.

    Martin could begin protecting Matthew Stafford from the day he walks on the Lions facilities. This could be a safe move for Detroit, but that doesn't mean it will be a bad pick.

    This is a pretty good value pick for the Detroit Lions.

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

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    The Steelers would be very excited if they got the chance to draft Dont'a Hightower. He is a near-perfect fit with Pittsburgh. He is a polished linebacker who will inject some youth into the Steelers' aging defense.

25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, LSU, DT

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    Michael Brockers' draft value has dropped a little due to his rawness. He declared for the draft after his sophomore season at LSU.

    Brockers has elite size at 6'5", 322 pounds. He is also a premier athlete with a lot of versatility. His massive frame allows him to handle double teams and wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage.

    Brockers is also known to sniff out plays and use his power to rip through O-lines. He might need a little more seasoning, but there is no denying that he has a great chance to become an elite player in this league.

    The Broncos would look really smart if they made this happen.

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, Baylor, WR

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    Houston has one of the game's best wide receivers in Andre Johnson, but he needs some help. Johnson is always double-teamed due to the Texans' lack of depth at wide receiver. Wright could help ease the load on Johnson.

    Wright is a quick receiver who put together a poor showing at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. He underwhelmed many NFL scouts, but he later redeemed himself at Baylor's pro day.

    If Wright is on the board, it is almost guaranteed that Houston will nab him.

27. New England Patriots: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois, DE

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    Mercilus exploded on the scene last season. He had a quiet start to his career, but put up fantastic numbers with Illinois last season. Some teams may pass up on Mercilus because last season might have seemed to be a fluke, but some teams will be intrigued by this kid.

    He has nice size and a knack for forcing fumbles. He won the Hendricks Award last season as the nation's best defensive lineman, and it looks as if he will earn himself a nice payday.

    The Patriots pass rush could use a bit of help, and Mercilus can provide that. He has bust potential, but it is easy to fall in love with this guy.

    The Patriots might be a team that can't pass up on this guy. 

28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin, Boise State, OLB

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    You know you're doing something right when you are getting compared to Clay Matthews. McCellin has been doing just that. McClellin is a great linebacker who would fit perfectly in Green Bay.

    He would be a nice fit across from Matthews. Together, they could wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, Wisconsin, C

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    Ravens center Matt Birk isn't getting any younger despite his newly signed contract. Peter Konz is the top center prospect in this year's draft, and he might find himself playing guard for a couple of years before taking over at center for Baltimore.

    It is hard to find a talented center in this league, so Baltimore might be intrigued by Konz.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech, WR

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    The 49ers are a very good team, but they could use some help at wide receiver despite the free-agent signing of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss. Moss is old, and Manningham isn't an elite receiver.

    Stephen Hill lit it up at the combine this year.

31. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama, CB

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    Janoris Jenkins is an interesting player, to say the least. The former Florida standout found his way to North Alabama due to a slew of problems. But he is an elite cornerback.

    If he gets his act together, he would definitely make an impact in the NFL. It is time that Jenkins matures and makes the most of his talents.

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, Stanford, TE

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    Giants fans might disagree with this pick due to the free-agent signing of tight end Martellus Bennett. The truth is that Bennett isn't the Giants' answer at tight end. The Giants have lacked a play-making tight end since Jeremy Shockey, but Coby Fleener could change that.

    His 6'6", 247-pound frame is elite, and he knows how to use it. He would complement Bennett and give the Giants a nice pair of tight ends. Eli Manning would be a big fan of this selection.