“With the first selection, in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford University.” One day away from the 2012 NFL draft, that is the only statement which we are guaranteed to hear from commissioner Roger Goodell as he announces the draft picks.
1. Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The Colts need to begin the rebuilding process towards another Super Bowl all over again. Getting the best quarterback prospect of the past 20 years is the only possible selection, or should I say was the only possible selection.
2. Washington Redskins select Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
The Redskins didn't trade up for Ryan Tannehill. Griffin is an outstanding athlete but much more importantly, a more than accomplished passer. He should be a major addition for the Redskins' offense both in the running and passing game. The Skins have no chance to compete in the NFC East without quality quarterback play.
3. Minnesota Vikings select Matt Kalil, Tackle, USC
With Christian Ponder, Percy Harvin, Kyle Rudolph, Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, the Vikings have a strong offensive base in place already. Adding a quality left tackle prospect to help their quarterback will allow them to focus all their future high draft picks on defense. The Vikings are some distance away from being a playoff team.
4. Cleveland Browns select Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State University
The Browns need receivers. The Browns need running backs. The Browns need a quarterback. The Browns need defensive additions. The Browns need an awful lot. With a second pick in the first round, they pass on Richardson in the hopes that they can pick another quality running back later on. It's a passing league and Colt McCoy needs weapons; Greg Little and Justin Blackmon would be threats together outside.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
The Buccaneers have Ronde Barber coming back for one more year, but just one more year, while Aqib Talib is not the most reliable character off the field. Claiborne is the Buccaneers' type of cornerback because he possesses good ball skills. He may not shut down players like a Darrelle Revis, but quarterbacks will think twice about throwing towards his side of the field once he adjusts to the professional game.
6. St. Louis Rams select Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
Despite the fact that Trent Richardson is available and Quintin Mikell is on the roster, the Rams jump on Barron. Barron is a game-changer with outstanding intelligence and leadership. The Rams need an improvement over Craig Dahl at safety. While trading Steven Jackson is a tough move even if logical, he is too big a leader in the locker room while his contract makes it difficult for another team to incorporate his presence under the cap.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars select Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina
Receivers to help Blaine Gabbert are available, and while the idea of pairing Richardson in the backfield with Maurice Jones-Drew simply sounds overbearing, the Jaguars instead go for the pass-rusher who they have so desperately needed over the past few years. Ingram needs some coaching to stack up against the run, but Aldon Smith proved the value of drafting pass-rushers early last year.
8. Miami Dolphins select Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
This is somewhat of an outside pick as you won't see many people mocking Poe to the Dolphins. The Dolphins are looking to run a hybrid defense next year, and Poe is the perfect player to add to that front seven because of his physical versatility.
Moving Poe around the defensive front could be a staple of the Dolphins' defense for years—that is presuming that he can have a Haloti Ngata-like impact on the field. They did re-sign Paul Soliai, but he isn't as dynamic as Poe projects to be.
Significantly, if the Dolphins want to compete with the Patriots, Poe provides that all important ability to push the pocket and take advantage of Tom Brady's weaknesses. It was notable last year that the Phins couldn't get near Brady inside of Cameron Wake.
9. Carolina Panthers select Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
The Panthers need to bulk up the defensive line in anticipation of returning a fully healthy linebacking corps next season. With Cox inside, Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy outside, playing in front of Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and James Anderson, the Panthers front seven would be one of the more talented groups in the league.
10. Buffalo Bills select Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Despite the fact that Michael Floyd may actually be the better receiver, Wright's Santonio Holmes-like qualities make him a perfect fit in the Bills' offense. They could potentially add to the defense here but the best defensive line in football playing in front of an opportunistic secondary should allow them to improve the firepower on the opposite side. In Chan Gailey's offense, Wright should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays especially playing across from Steve Johnson.
11. Kansas City Chiefs select Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
The Chiefs must be tempted to pair Richardson with Jamaal Charles even though they added Peyton Hillis already this offseason. However they instead add another dynamic linebacker to their roster. Kuechly, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston could be one of the most productive groups in the NFL next year.
12. San Diego Chargers select Riley Reiff, Tackle, Iowa
With the Cardinals waiting to take him, the Chargers trade up to guarantee themselves an opportunity to draft Reiff. The value of an offensive line was found out in San Diego last year as Philip Rivers' struggled severely without protection early in the year. Rivers could be an early MVP candidate with Jared Gaither and Reiff as his tackles. Even without Vincent Jackson.
13. New York Jets select Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
The jets trade up with the Arizona Cardinals from 16th overall.
The Jets are spooked by the trade that went before and are worried a team will jump ahead of them for Richardson. In the end Mike Tannenbaum makes a great pick for his team. Mark Sanchez' life just got a lot easier. Especially with the news coming out this week that Tim Tebow will be playing some special teams.
14. Dallas Cowboys select Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
The Cowboys need a strong secondary with Rob Ryan as their defensive coordinator. The group was the team's biggest problem last year but with Brandon Carr and Gilmore on the roster now, the Cowboys could turn a weakness into a strength.
15. Philadelphia Eagles select Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The Eagles have a lot of things, a big receiver is not one of them however. Bringing Floyd in adds a new dimension to the offense as they hope that the talent on defense will perform with a year together on the field. With Floyd, along with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, not to mention Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy, it would be very hard to blitz a Jason Peters less Michael Vick without him finding a matchup he likes.
16. Arizona Cardinals select Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
If Ray Horton is anything like Dick LeBeau, his cornerbacks won't be allowed to hide in run support. Kirkpatrick is the best tackling cornerback in the draft. With Kirkpatrick coming in, on paper the Cardinals have one of the most talented starting units on defense in the NFL. Now, about that quarterback position...
17. Cincinnati Bengals select David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
The Bengals can't turn DeCastro down at this stage of the draft. They will be delighted to take the much celebrated prospect at this stage. Jacob Bell and Travelle Wharton may be there, but for a team looking to run a balanced offense, the Bengals can't turn away from DeCastro who could potentially play some center in Cincinnati.
18. Seattle Seahawks select Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
The Seahawks could take Dont'a Hightower, however they instead are too attracted by the physical skills of Quinton Coples. Chris Clemons isn't exactly young while Jason Jones was brought in to play defensive tackle. The Seahawks use Clemons in a very dynamic role asking him to do a lot with his athleticism, and Coples would be able to fit that role and arrives as Clemons' successor. You can never have too many pass-rushers.
19. Chicago Bears select Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
Michael Lombardi believes that Chandler Jones is the best pass-rusher in this class, that's good enough for me. The Bears are delighted to have a youthful end to play with Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije.
20. Tennessee Titans select Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
They need defense, but the very best defensive options are gone. Instead, the Titans decide to further build their offense around Jake Locker. Jeffrey, Nate Washington and Kenny Britt are all big receivers who excel at getting down the field. With Chris Johnson plausibly returning to form, the Titans offense is set for the next few years.
21. Cincinnati Bengals select Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
Ideally the Bengals would bring in a cornerback to start across from Leon Hall, however they desperately need a receiver who can play outside for Jordan Shipley to move inside returning from injury. The Bengals' receivers would mimic the Giants' of last year with Hill as he and AJ Green provide matchup problems outside a la Nicks and Manningham, while Shipley tries to dominate the extra space afforded to him in the slot.
22. Cleveland Browns select Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
The Browns passed on Richardson earlier and won't take Tannehill at this point. Instead they finally put enough weapons around Colt McCoy to realistically evaluate him as a starting quarterback. With Martin in the backfield, the Browns would have a dual-threat to add to Blackmon's presence outside. There is somewhat of an arms race going on in the AFC North, and the Browns can't be left behind.
23. Detroit Lions select Cordy Glenn, Guard, Georgia
Matt Stafford showed last year what he can do, now the Lions must do everything possible to keep him upright and improve the running game. Glenn is a versatile lineman who could start as a rookie and potentially be a left tackle in the future. His adjustment will determine if he starts as a right tackle or guard as a rookie.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers select Dont'a Hightower, Inside Linebacker, Alabama.
The Steelers can take Hightower, and much like they have with all their other recent rookie defenders, sit him for a year behind Larry Foote. Once Hightower completely understands the scheme, he and Lawrence Timmons could challenge Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman for the most athletic linebacker pairing in the league. It doesn't hurt to have LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison outside either with Jason Worilds and Chris Carter in waiting.
25. Denver Broncos select Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
26. New England Patriots select Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
The Patriots trade up from 31st overall with the Houston Texans.
Bill Belichick doesn't like the way this draft is falling for his team, so he aggressively moves up ahead of the Packers, 49ers and Ravens to guarantee himself the opportunity to take two talented pass-rushers left on the board. Upshaw suffered a slide in this situation but will likely be delighted to land in New England to try and re-ignite a dominant 3-4 defense under Bill Belichick. He will get some help also...
27. New England Patriots select Shea McClellin, Outside Linebacker, Boise State
The Patriots lost Mark Anderson to the Bills, but will be more than happy with these two talented rookies coming in as pass-rushing outside backers. Both are intelligent all around football players who will be valuable assets to the Patriots' defense. With Vince Wilfork at nose tackle, Jonathan Fanene and Brandond Deaderick at defensive end, Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo at inside linebacker, the Patriots' front seven suddenly looks like a strong unit. Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham simply won't cut it any longer.
28. Green Bay Packers select Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
The Packers have been searching for quite some time now for a bookend to Clay Matthews. Ted Thompson hopes that Mercilus will be able to finally fill that void.
29. Baltimore Ravens select Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU
The Ravens defensive front has taken a bit of a beating this offseason. They desperately need depth on the defensive line, so Brockers becomes the obvious choice.
30. San Francisco 49ers select Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Wisconsin
The 49ers will be relying on their running game again next year with Peyton Manning plying his trade in Denver with the Broncos. Replacing Adam Snyder is a must to pave the way for Frank Gore and co.
31. Houston Texans select Jonathan Martin, Tackle, Stanford
With Eric Winston moving on, the Texans pick up Jonathan Martin to instantly compete for the starting right tackle job. The Texans could go a lot of different ways here.
32. New York Giants select Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
Could the Giants be any happier with Fleener falling into their laps? Who knows how the injured duo of Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard will do if/when they return to the team.
Cian is an NFL writer for Guardian US Sport, fantasy writer for Fantasy Football Life, and covers the Patriots for Irishcentral and the Steelers for Steelersdepot. You can follow him on twitter at @Cianaf