With the 2012 NFL draft Thursday, April 26, the excitement over which teams will get which star prospects has the NFL world ready to explode. This is the best part of the offseason.
Players italicized will be good players during their careers, but they will be busts in their first year at the NFL level.
1. Indianapolis Colts—Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Luck is the No. 1 pick. In a world of uncertainty, this much is certain.
2. Washington Redskins (via trade with St. Louis Rams)—Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Washington Redskins traded up to get Baylor Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, but the revival of the team will begin with a rough first season.
There is no offensive lie in Washington and the weapons are mediocre at best. Add in Mike Shanahan’s ego and the Redskins’ reclamation project will be the biggest bust.
As good as Griffin is, he doesn’t have enough translatable talent to save a franchise like Andrew Luck. The mess the duo of Griffin and Shanahan make in Washington this year will define their careers.
3. Minnesota Vikings—Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
Taking a franchise left tackle to protect a young QB like Christian Ponder for the next ten seasons should never be a question. If Minnesota passes on Kalil, they’re fools.
4. Cleveland Browns—Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Who Will Be the Better Pro?
With Peyton Hillis out of the picture, Trent Richardson could be the ultimate weapon for the Browns.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Ronde Barber has been one of the best in the league for a long time, but Morris Claiborne will take the throne in Tampa Bay.
6. St. Louis Rams (via WAS)—Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams need to find a real weapon for Sam Bradford, and Justin Blackmon is too good to let slide past No. 6.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars—Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
With the Jaguars turning towards a long-term rebuilding process, a raw player like Michael Brockers is the perfect way to start the effort.
8. Miami Dolphins—Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
After missing out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn during the free agency period, the Miami Dolphins have forced their hand in the draft; they must take Ryan Tannehill far too early.
Every team in the NFL is onto the Dolphins' game, so trading back will not be easy. The Dolphins are better off folding their hand and just taking Tannehill with hopes that he will grow into a star in the future.
With no real weapons or protection, the young QB will be constantly in trouble. Tannehill will be better in his second season, if he makes it that far.
9. Carolina Panthers—Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Panthers' need for a legitimate pass rusher is greater than any character concerns that come with Quinton Coples.
10. Buffalo Bills—Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
While the Bills' offensive line was solid last season, adding a tackle with as much potential as Riley Reiff is a great move for the future.
11. Kansas City Chiefs—David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Kansas City’s need to protect their assets means taking a guard as talented as David DeCastro is absolutely essential.
12. Seattle Seahawks—Nick Perry, OLB, Southern California
The Seattle Seahawks need a pass rusher, and the Seahawks will find a stud in USC alum Nick Perry.
13. Arizona Cardinals—Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Stewart Bradley is not the answer at middle linebacker for Arizona, but they could grab Boston College star Luke Kuechly and fix their problem.
14. Dallas Cowboys—Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
The Dallas Cowboys taking Cordy Glenn will give the running backs and QB no more excuses. It’s put up or shut up for the Cowboys.
15. Philadelphia Eagles—Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina
While Melvin Ingram won’t be an instant impact with the Eagles because of their depth, Philadelphia will not be able to pass on Ingram if he falls this far.
16. New York Jets— Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
With the need for a serious weapon on the defensive line, a kid with as much raw talent as Dontari Poe will be putty in Rex Ryan’s hands.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK)—Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
As good as A.J. Green is on one side, the Bengals have to buy him some room by drafting another speedster for the other side of the field.
18. San Diego Chargers—Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stephon Gilmore is the safest pick for San Diego at No. 18, and he will be a star for the Chargers sooner rather than later.
19. Chicago Bears—Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Jay Cutler hasn’t had a tight end to use as a safety valve for too long. Drafting Coby Fleener is a great move for Chicago.
With question marks out of college and the jump to a new level, Notre Dame star wide receiver Michael Floyd will not be a star in the NFL right away.
Add in the fact that he will have to earn his spot on the depth chart with Tennessee and the transition from Matt Hasselbeck to Jake Locker, and Floyd won’t be a threat as a big-time receiver for at least a season.
Once Locker and Floyd star working together as starters, though, they could be one of the best tandems in the NFL. It will just take time.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—Lamar Miller, RB, Miami-FL
The Bengals passed on re-signing Cedric Benson, so drafting a star like Lamar Miller is a no-brainer.
22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL)—Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
As good as Joe Haden is on the one side, the Browns need a complement to help their porous secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick is that perfect weapon.
23. Detroit Lions—Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
With Matthew Stafford proving his worthwhile healthy, the Lions must focus on protecting him by drafting Ohio State star Mike Adams.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers—Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
With the Pittsburgh Steelers starting to look old on defense, this draft needs to be about adding depth and future starters on what could potentially be an injury plagued unit.
25. Denver Broncos—Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
With John Fox determined to install his 4-3 defense, the process will be rushed by the addition of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. It will make the transition even easier.
26. Houston Texans—Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Injuries last season set the Texans back, but adding dept at wide receiver by drafting a guy like Stephen Hill in case something like that goes down again is an easy choice.
27. New England Patriots (via NO)—Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson
The beginning of the new pass-rush emphasis in New England will start with Clemson outside linebacker Andre Branch.
28. Green Bay Packers—Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois
With a compliment needed for Clay Matthews, Whitney Mercilus will be the man to attack the other end of the opponents offensive line for Green Bay.
29. Baltimore Ravens—Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Veteran Ray Lewis is approaching the end of his career, and his job will be to teach Dont’a Hightower how to play the position before he calls it quits.
30. San Francisco 49ers—Peter Konz, OG, Wisconsin
With the biggest need coming through the middle of their offensive line, the 49ers will find the perfect star in versatile center/guard Peter Konz.
31. New England Patriots—Kendall Reyes, DE, Connecticut
With a need for a legitimate 3-4 defensive end, the Patriots will further add to their pass rush with UConn star Kendall Reyes.
32. New York Giants—Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
A lack of Mario Manningham to compliment Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz will force New York to reach a bit and snag Alshon Jeffery with the final pick of the first round.
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