2012 NFL Mock Draft: Skill Position Stars Who Are Rising

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IApril 24, 2012

The footsteps of a few skill position players can be heard creeping up the draft board. For various reasons, these guys' stock is seemingly on the rise despite the fact that the college season is ancient history. 

Time will tell if these players prove to be worthy of this growing buzz, but in the meantime they are about to cash in on it in the NFL draft. 

The players who fit this bill are highlighted below in my full first-round mock draft. 


Langford's 2012 NFL Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

The Colts can't fool us. We all know Luck will be the first pick. 


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

Perhaps this draft should just start at No. 3 because there is zero suspense involved with the first two picks. 


3. Minnesota VikingsMatt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings have a tough call at No. 3, but they will not be able to pass on this franchise LT. 

4. Cleveland BrownsTrent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Why Richardson's Stock is Rising

Richardson's stock has always been high. He has been firmly planted in the top 10 in almost all mocks and in the top five in most. 

Richardson solidified that with a great showing at his pro day, and now his value is rising not so much as to when he will be drafted, but what teams may trade in order to draft him.

Richardson offers something that no other back in this draft does, and that is a complete and well-rounded game. He is has the tools to dominate on every down and in every situation. 

This makes him extremely valuable to teams in need of an every down back—like the Browns, or others like the Jets and Bengals. Don't be surprised to see a big trade here. 


5. Tampa Bay BuccaneersMorris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Claiborne is as pro ready a corner prospect as you'll ever find, and more pro ready than most already on the Bucs roster. 


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

Blackmon is an overrated prospect, but there are plenty of teams out there that disagree, and the Rams will prove to be one of them. 


7. Jacksonville JaguarsQuinton Coples, DE, UNC

Coples will give the Jaguars' anemic pass rush a much-needed boost. 

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

Why Tannehill's Stock is Rising

At the end of the season, Tannehill was seldom portrayed as a first-round pick. Now he is essentially a top-10 lock.

Tannehill has been held back by an underwhelming college record and the fact that he spent just two college seasons as QB.

However, his talent and potential are beginning to win people over. He has good size and arm strength with solid accuracy. He is also a good athlete. 

Tannehill is not going to last beyond the QB-needy Dolphins pick, and he may not even last that long. 


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

The Panthers are thin and lacking talent at DT. They need to address that in the draft. 

10. Buffalo Bills: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Buffalo will look past Kirkpatrick's character concerns in order to fill their unavoidable need in the secondary.


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

DeCastro is a bulldozing interior lineman who will be elite in the run game. 


12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

Seattle's promising defense is an elite pass-rusher away from being dominant. 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Johnathan Martin, T, Stanford

Martin will add toughness and run blocking to the Cardinals' offensive line. 


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

The Dallas defense will benefit greatly from Kuechly's instincts and consistency. 


15. Philadelphia EaglesRiley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Philadelphia must make upgrading its offensive line a priority. 


16. New York JetsDontari Poe, DTMemphis

Poe has shocking athleticism for a man his size. He will be able to play end in the Jets 3-4. 

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

Cincinnati needs to find an every down back in this draft to help young QB Andy Dalton continue to grow. 


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

Mercilus is making a steady climb up draft boards, and his fierce athleticism will be a nice addition to the Chargers. 

19. Chicago Bears: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

The Bears are in a perfect position to grab the best center in this draft. They would be fools to not take advantage of that. 

20. Tennessee Titans: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Titans will be ecstatic if Barron is still on the board when they make their pick. 


21. Cincinnati BengalsJanoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins is a risky pick because of off-the-field issues, but not because of talent. 

22. Cleveland Browns via Atlanta: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

Why Weeden's Stock is Rising

Brandon Weeden is exceptionally old to be in the draft. He will be turning 29 not long after the season starts. 

This is the first thing about Weeden that grabs your attention. For the most part, it has left him to fly in under-the-radar for this draft. 

However, once you get past his age, a solid QB prospect emerges. He is a good-sized QB with a strong and accurate arm. He is clearly the fourth best QB prospect in this draft, and with the other three slated to go early, Weeden is going to be a valuable commodity as the first round rolls on. 

And while his age will hold him back, teams are realizing that it is not a deal-breaker. He can still come in and contribute five to eight seasons of solid QB play. 

23. Detroit Lions: Cordy Glenn, OGGeorgia

Glenn is the exact kind of bulldozing lineman the Lions need to get their running game going. 


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

Pittsburgh has failed to address its offensive line issues in past drafts. They cannot make that mistake again. 

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

The Broncos have to upgrade their thin defensive tackle position somehow. The first round seems to be the perfect spot. 

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

Floyd has crept up in many mock drafts, and his buzz is growing. In the end, his character concerns will hold him back. 


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

The Patriots need to identify the best defensive player on the board and draft him. 

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

Green Bay needs to boost its pass rush. That is Perry's specialty. 

29. Baltimore RavensDont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

The physical and fierce Hightower was born to be a Raven. 


30. San Francisco 49ersAlshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

The 49ers strategy to improve their WR corp appears to be catching lightning in a bottle. They will prove that again with this pick. 

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

See pick No. 27 and reapply logic here. 


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

The Giants will ensure their defensive line stays deep and talented. 


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