2012 1st Round NFL Mock Draft: The Future Starts Here

Keaton Wolfe@@keatonwolfeContributor IIIApril 23, 2012

The 2012 NFL Draft is about to be here, and this is when and where teams build their teams for the future in hopes of reaching the ultimate goal. Winning the Super Bowl and that Lombardi Trophy.

This year's draft class has a lot of talent overall, but there aren't a lot of elite NFL prospects in this years draft.

Here is my 2012 NFL Mock Draft. 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck QB, Stanford
Obvious choice for the Colts who start their rebuilding process with a QB who raised the expectations for the Stanford football program and will eventually lead the Colts to many playoff berths. 

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III QB, Baylor
The Redskins traded up specifically for RG3 and he should excel in Mike Shanahan's offensive system, and hopefully will bring the Redskins to the top of the NFC East in a few years.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil OT, USC
The Vikings draft their left tackle to protect QB Christian Ponder's blindside. Kalil is a dominant left tackle in pass protection but still needs work in run blocking. I would select CB Morris Claiborne as the other NFC North teams have excellent QB's and WR's.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson RB, Alabama
Richardson would give, whoever is QB for the Browns next year, less pressure to do it all. Peyton Hillis left for Kansas City but he was really just average. Richardson is a three down back that will move the chains.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne CB, LSU
Ronde Barber is 37 years old, and is a nickel corner at this point in his career. The Bucs did sign CB Eric Wright to a big contract from Detroit and CB Aqib Talib is a good starting caliber CB, but Wright is more suited for the nickel package and Talib gets in trouble with the law constantly. Claiborne is an excellent cover corner who can shut down half the field.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon WR, Oklahoma State
Some people are down on Blackmon because he doesn't have the height (6'1'') or elite jumping ability to be an elite WR supposedly, but just look at the tape. He made plays time and time again despite having coverages focused on him and being double-teamed. Blackmon is worth a Top 10 selection and will provide Rams QB Sam Bradford someone to throw to.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram DE, South Carolina
Ingram is a high motor player who makes plays all over the field and should have an impact right away for the Jaguars' pass rush. He definitely reminds me of a young Dwight Freeney with his stature and style of play.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill QB, Texas A&M
Tannehill is an overrated QB coming out of Texas A&M who is not worthy of a Top 20 pick unless the Dolphins really think he is going to be special and finally stop Dolphins fans from begging Dan Marino to come out of retirement. Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman would work with Tannehill's development as he was the head coach at Texas A&M.

9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox DT, Mississippi State
Cox gives the Panthers an inside presence along the defensive line who can disrupt plays in the opponents backfield. I wouldn't rule out WR Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame being the selection though, giving QB Cam Newton another weapon.

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd WR, Notre Dame
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gets a weapon to throw to besides WR Stevie Johnson. Floyd produced for Notre Dame's offense in 2011 catching 100 passes from below average college quarterbacks.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro OG, Stanford 
DeCastro would be an immediate upgrade for the Chiefs at guard, and should create big running lanes for the Chiefs young talented running backs. 

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly ILB, Boston College
Kuechly is a beast with Top 10 talent that will become the leader of the Seahawks defense for years to come, after ILB David Hawthorne left for the New Orleans Saints.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff OT, Iowa
The Cardinals would love for WR Michael Floyd to fall to them, but he doesn't, so they solidify a tackle spot with Reiff who will start right away and protect QB Kevin Kolb from getting injured again.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron S, Alabama
Barron is a hard hitting safety with range that the Cowboys haven't had since former Cowboy Roy Williams.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Quinton Coples DE, North Carolina
The Eagles draft a big DE to get after the quarterback and line him up as a DT in pass situations mimicking what their rival, the New York Giants do with their defensive ends.

16. New York Jets: Whitney Mercilus OLB, Illinois
Mercilus can have an Aldon Smith type impact his rookie season with the Jets, in Rex Ryan's defensive system. Mercilus was outstanding in his only season starting at Illinois, getting 16 sacks and forcing eight fumbles.

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore CB, South Carolina
The Bengals have signed some middle of the road cornerbacks and still need a No. 1 cornerback as CB Leon Hall likely won't be ready to play in the 2012 season. Gilmore can fill in and will only get better because he has good upside.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cordy Glenn OG, Georgia
There are a variety of ways the Chargers can go here with cornerback or outside linebacker help, but I think they go with offensive line. Kris Dielman retired and Glenn would be the replacement.

19. Chicago Bears: Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick excels in zone coverage and will be a great fit in Chicago's Cover 2 defensive scheme, and the Bears can only hope he can slow down the NFC North's wide receivers.

20. Tennessee Titans: Dontari Poe DT, Memphis
Poe originally had his stock around the third round, but it jumped into the Top 10 after an amazing combine, but falls a little in the first to the Titans who hope that he is the missing piece to their defensive line.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Courtney Upshaw DE, Alabama
The Bengals have a good defensive line but could upgrade their pass rush, and Upshaw should be able to produce sacks as the relentless player he is.

22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill WR, Georgia Tech
The Browns need a big tall receiver who can stretch the field. Hill is still raw and has the potential to be a Top 10 wide receiver in the NFL. Hill and Richardson will improve the Browns' offense immediately and help whoever the QB is.

23. Detroit Lions: Janoris Jenkins CB, North Alabama
The Lions won't hesitate to select Jenkins if he is available, despite his past marijuana usage. The Lions need cornerbacks badly and Jenkins is a sound tackler with great coverage skills and is a Top 15 talent.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower ILB, Alabama
Hightower is a physically imposing ILB at 265 pounds who runs like a deer. Just the kind of player that Pittsburgh loves.

25. Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers DT, LSU
Brockers falls to the Broncos and they gladly take him hoping he can dominate the NFL's best interior offensive lineman.

26. Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin OT, Stanford
Martin's fall ends at No. 26 to the Texans. He will replace Chiefs OT Eric Winston who was surprisingly cut by the Texans in a salary cap move.

27. New England Patriots: Nick Perry OLB, USC
The Patriots could use an outside pass rusher, and Perry could excel at that spot in the 3-4 with the athleticism he has.

28. Green Bay Packers: Chandler Jones OLB, Syracuse
Jones would be a bit of a project switching positions to a 3-4 outside linebacker, but has the capability and upside to fit well in the Packers defense with Packers OLB Clay Matthews opposite of him.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Andre Branch OLB, Clemson
Branch would likely start right away filling in for Chargers OLB Jarett Johnson who left in free agency, and would be the third 3-4 OLB picked in a row.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener TE, Stanford
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh should know Fleener well, as he coached him at Stanford, and the pick would create an offense that QB Alex Smith better flourish in.

31. New England Patriots: Harrison Smith S, Notre Dame
The Patriots lack talent in safety play and Smith is a tough hard hitting safety who will provide the Patriots with an upgrade in the secondary.

32. New York Giants: Alshon Jeffery WR, South Carolina
The Giants select Jeffery over WR Kendall Wright who surprisingly doesn't get picked in the 1st Round. Jeffery will allow Giant WR Victor Cruz to keep doing damage in the slot and giving a big target for QB Eli Manning and the defending Super Bowl champions.


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