2012 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections for Every 1st-Round GM
Folks, we're so close to the 2012 NFL draft you can just taste it. Well, the same goes for every GM in the league, except these guys also have pressure to make the right selections.
So to get an idea of how the draft pans out, here's an updated projection of what every GM does in Round 1.
Highlighted players in italics.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
No surprise here. Andrew Luck remains the draft's top prospect and the Colts need a quarterback more than anything. Let the post-Peyton Manning era begin.
2. Washington Redskins (via STL): Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)
The Redskins didn't make all their offseason moves to go with another prospect at No. 2 overall. Robert Griffin III goes to our nation's capital and develops nicely under the tutelage of Mike Shanahan.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
The Vikings don't have an overly explosive offense. Well, Matt Kalil will provide improved pocket protection and Christian Ponders orchestrates a balanced offense.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)
Cleveland can go a few ways here, but Trent Richardson is the best solution. The Browns need to present a legit ground game in a division dominated by defense.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU)
One of the many weaknesses of Tampa Bay's defense is against the pass. Morris Claiborne has the ability to take away half the field and help with run support on the outside.
6. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)
The Rams simply need a playmaker on the outside. Justin Blackmon can fill the immediate No. 1 receiver role and help keep defenses off balance; thus allowing Steven Jackson to continue doing work.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)
Jacksonville can go a few ways at No. 7 overall, but Notre Dame's Michael Floyd is their best best.
Floyd finished his career at Notre Dame as arguably the best receiver in the program's history and never had a stud quarterback under center (three in four seasons). Still, Floyd snagged 100 balls for over 1,100 yards in 2011 and the Irish went 8-5.
Now despite having an upgrading receiving corps, Jacksonville still misses that true No. 1 receiver. If anything, Floyd's youth combined with size, speed and strength warrants strong consideration.
He's also a great run-blocker that will extend the running lanes for Maurice Jones-Drew, which then helps the Jaguars field a more balanced attack. In order to contend with Houston in the AFC South, presenting a multidimensional offense is crucial.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB (Texas A&M)
The big issue here is whether Matt Moore is Miami's future under center. Ryan Tannehill creates quarterback competition, along with size, mobility and arm strength. Reuniting with Mike Sherman will also help his development.
9. Carolina Panthers: Melvin Ingram, LB/DE (South Carolina)
Melvin Ingram is unbelievably versatile and can play anywhere in the front seven. Carolina's defense failed to stop the run or pass in 2011, so Ingram's addition fills multiple needs to back an explosive offense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
With an upgraded defense, the Bills need to remain balanced on offense. Riley Reiff provides excellent pass protection and can get downfield to extend Fred Jackson's running lanes.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Fletcher Cox, DT/DE (Mississippi State)
Kansas City has one missing piece to its defense, defensive tackle. Fletcher Cox provides impressive quickness to draw/beat double-teams and be a constant backfield menace. In turn, the linebackers are free to make plays all over.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)
Pete Carroll's offense is set with Matt Flynn. So, taking Luke Kuechly at No. 12 overall ensures dominance at stopping the run and intermediate passing game. The threat of play-action pass lessens, because Kuechly will allow Chris Clemons more time to apply quarterback pressure.
13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, OG (Stanford)
Fielding a multidimensional offense is all Arizona needs to contend in the NFC West. David DeCastro upgrades the interior offensive line with pocket protection, polished running lanes and the ability to pull outside for waggles, counters and bootlegs.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Quinton Coples, DE (North Carolina)
Despite the knock of inconsistency for Quinton Coples, pairing him opposite of DeMarcus Ware creates a great pass-rushing duo. Coples will develop as the pressure to immediately succeed won't be high with Ware remaining dominant.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dontari Poe, DT (Memphis)
Philadelphia needs an interior lineman that knows how to stop the run. Dontari Poe has the ability to control two gaps and at the very least, draw double-teams to free up the linebackers and defensive ends.
16. New York Jets: Nick Perry, DE (USC)
Nick Perry is a complete defender that plays well within himself. The Jets need him to apply a pass rush and shut down the perimeter ground game to take pressure off the secondary.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK): Stephon Gilmore, CB (South Carolina)
Arguably the best corner in the draft, Stephon Gilmore has the ability to also contribute at safety. Cincinnati needs talented-depth in the secondary and Gilmore's addition ensures a more suffocating coverage.
18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama)
Failing to apply consistent quarterback pressure and stop the run cost San Diego in 2011. Courtney Upshaw is not only a pass rush threat, but he reads well against the run and has the quickness to consistently make plays in the backfield.
19. Chicago Bears: Whitney Mercilus, DE (Illinois)
Chicago must get younger in the front seven and enhance its pass rush. Whitney Mercilus has excellent potential and gives the Bears a distinct advantage in a pass-happy division.
20. Tennessee Titans: Dont’a Hightower, LB (Alabama)
Allowing almost 130 rushing yards per game in 2011, the Titans have no shot to compete in the AFC South without a run-stuff like Dont'a Hightower.
Against dual-threat backs like MJD and Arian Foster, Hightower's fast play between the tackles will give Tennessee a chance. He reads the run quite well and has the wherewithal to sink deep in coverage.
Hightower recorded 85 tackles and four sacks last season, so he also presents an inside pass rush to help the secondary.
Lest we forget, but the Titans recorded just 28 sacks a year ago (ranked No. 31) and still had the No. 14 ranked pass defense. With a run defender and occasional blitzer in the middle, Tennessee's defense has top 10 potential.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Brockers, DT (LSU)
Michael Brockers is a solid run--stuffer that can consistently plug two-gaps. With Gilmore enhancing the secondary, Brockers' addition allows the 'backers to make more plays by scraping over to the outside.
22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)
Put Dre Kirkpatrick opposite of Joe Haden in the secondary and the Browns' defense is nearly complete. Not to mention, but Kirkpatrick's ability to support against the run is arguably his best attribute.
23. Detroit Lions: Mark Barron, Safety (Alabama)
The Lions were weak against the run and pass last season. Therefore, getting Mark Barron at No. 23 addresses multiple needs. Barron is always around the ball and he's a sure tackler that won't allow yards after the catch.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)
Although the Steelers went 12-4 and made the postseason, the overtime Wild Card loss to Denver was quite the disappointing ending.
Well, the most obvious of reasons is Ben Roethlisberger's pass protection. Including the playoffs, the Pittsburgh offensive line allowed 47 total sacks (31 against postseason opponents).
So, sprucing up the protection with Stanford's Jonathan Martin is the best of solutions. Martin is an aware blocker of the blitzes and defensive line stunts, and can isolate anyone one-on-one.
Anchoring a line that allowed just 23 sacks of Andrew Luck from 2009 through 2011, Martin will be welcomed in the Steel City. After all; Big Ben needs all the pocket protection he can get from AFC North defenses.
25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT (Michigan State)
Denver failed to defend well against the run in 2011. Jerel Worthy is a run-stopping specialist that can also get quarterback pressure. Supported by talent around him, Worthy completes the Broncos' defense.
26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)
Adding one more playmaker to the offense will take Houston to another level. Kendall Wright has the ability to stretch defense and is the perfect complement to Andre Johnson.
27. New England Patriots (via NO): Shea McClellin, DE (Boise State)
Shea McClellin is an impressive pass-rusher that through development can sink into coverage when needed and improve against the run. The Patriots need to get younger along the defensive line anyway, and McCellin possesses solid potential.
28. Green Bay Packers: Vinny Curry, DE (Marshall)
Green Bay had the league's worst defense and one of its worst pass rushes in 2011. Putting Vinny Curry opposite of Clay Matthews addresses many weaknesses and the Packers remain Super Bowl contenders.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Cordy Glenn, OG/OT (Georgia)
A more versatile lineman than given credit for, Cordy Glenn can contribute at guard or tackle for the Ravens. With the offense still revolving around Ray Rice, Glenn will provide decent protection and impressive running lanes on the interior.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Hill, WR (Georgia Tech)
Considering that Randy Moss is 35 years old, selecting Stephen Hill to replace as the deep threat will happen sooner than later. The 49ers need a potential long-term No. 1 receiver and Hill has the size, speed and leaping ability to do so.
31. New England Patriots: Lavonte David, LB (Nebraska)
Easily one of the faster players at his position, Lavonte David can do a lot for Bill Belichick in New England.
For one, David is a fast player that specializes in coverage. Coming in at 6'1", 233 pounds, David possesses the lateral quickness to shield off slot receivers, tight ends and take on running backs one-on-one
The man can play inside or outside linebacker, apply a solid pass rush and give Belichick the option of including the Tampa 2 coverage. In 2011, David recorded 133 tackles, 5.5 sacks and forced three fumbles, so his reliability in the front seven is proven.
Perhaps even more interesting though, is that if David were to lose 7-10 pounds he could contribute at safety. With his field awareness skill set, Lavonte would simply fill another need for Belichick's defense.
32. New York Giants: Doug Martin, RB (Boise State)
Doug Martin is a complete ball-carrier that also provides reliable pass protection. With Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield, Martin help the Giants keep their two-back system behind Eli Manning.
John Rozum on Twitter.
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