2012 NFL Draft: 10 Burning Questions for Draft Day
All we really know about the 2012 NFL draft is that the Indianapolis Colts will pick Andrew Luck first and the Washington Redskins will select Robert Griffin III second overall. After that, anything really could happen.
Will the Minnesota Vikings select Matt Kalil or Morris Claiborne with the third overall pick? Which teams will trade up or trade down? Those are just some of the questions I address here. As always, feel free to post your comments below.
1. What Will the Minnesota Vikings Do with the Third Overall Pick?
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For a long time, it seemed like a lock that the Minnesota Vikings would select USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the third overall pick. Then reports surfaced that the Vikings were interested in LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Then again, the Vikings could always trade down. The St. Louis Rams are extremely interested in Alabama running back Trent Richardson, and the extra draft picks they got from the Washington Redskins give them ammunition if they want to trade up to be in line to select him as the heir apparent to Steven Jackson in the running game.
Another team could trade up so as to be ahead of Cleveland in line to select Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but I think most teams understand Tannehill just isn’t worth the third overall pick. If I had to bet on this one, I would say the Vikings go Kalil, and I say it fairly confidently.
2. Where Will Ryan Tannehill Wind Up?
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Almost every single mock draft has the Miami Dolphins selecting Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick. I just don’t see it happening.
I honestly think the Dolphins like Matt Moore too much, and they did bring in David Garrard as a pretty solid backup. Tannehill is a stretch to go in the top 10 of the draft, and he’s a developmental quarterback who would be best suited sitting for several years before being thrust into the starting role.
I have all four of those teams passing on Tannehill, which means the next team likely to select him is Cleveland picking again at 22. This would be eerily similar to what happened with Brady Quinn in 2007, when the Browns held the third overall pick, took Joe Thomas and then still got their man Quinn with the 22nd pick.
I think if Tannehill is still there at 22, the Browns have to pick him. Mike Holmgren isn’t stupid. He knows Colt McCoy isn’t the answer.
3. Will Janoris Jenkins’ Character Concerns Drop Him out of the First Round?
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I actually say no to this question. I think Janoris Jenkins’ character concerns are significant and weighed accordingly, but I predict that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots will take a chance on Jenkins with one of their two first-round picks.
Jenkins is an elite cover corner, and the Patriots need all the help they can get in the secondary after surrendering over 4,700 passing yards through the air. They still managed to make the Super Bowl, but they can’t possibly repeat those defensive statistics. Belichick is the kind of coach that would take a chance on Jenkins.
4. Will Vontaze Burfict Get Drafted?
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No—especially not after failing a drug test, as he did yesterday. Vontaze Burfict’s draft stock has fallen as much as any player I can ever remember. I initially had the Philadelphia Eagles selecting the Arizona State linebacker 15th overall when I made my first mock draft several months ago; now he probably won’t go anywhere in the draft's 253 picks.
Burfict had a terrific 2010 season before tailing off in 2011. He also appeared vastly out of shape at the NFL Scouting Combine, interviewed poorly and blamed the coaching staff for his poor season. There’s really no reason for a team to waste a draft pick on such a clubhouse cancer.
5. Who Will Be the Biggest Surprise Pick of the First Round?
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I really don’t have anyone as too much of a surprise in my first round, other than Ryan Tannehill dropping to Cleveland at 22. Chandler Jones will probably go in the first 15 picks, but his stock has been rising rapidly, and most people are aware of this.
Pass-rushers normally shoot up on draft day, so it wouldn’t stun me to see a player like Nick Perry or Shea McClellin go significantly higher than expected—maybe to the Dallas Cowboys at 14 or the Philadelphia Eagles at 15.
6. Will the New England Patriots Use Both First-Round Picks?
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Bill Belichick is a smart man, and he understands that swapping first-round picks to teams desperate to move up and overpay for a good draft spot is the way to go. As a result, the New England Patriots annually seem to have anywhere from 10 to 12 draft picks, and this year’s draft finds the Patriots with both the 27th and 31st overall picks.
The Patriots need help at a handful of positions—a deep-threat wide receiver would be nice, as would a pass-rusher, a cornerback or a safety. But Belichick will probably want to address those positions in the second round, especially in such a deep draft class, so I see him swapping one of the picks with a team desperate to move up and get in a good position to draft its man.
Then again, there’s always an outside chance that the Patriots package their picks together and move up high in the draft to select a player around the top 10, like maybe Alabama safety Mark Barron.
7. Which Wide Receiver Will Go First, Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd?
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I have debated back and forth on this one for quite some time, but in my final mock draft, I have the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Justin Blackmon at No. 7 and the Arizona Cardinals taking Michael Floyd at pick 13.
Floyd is bigger and ran a faster 40, which could definitely make him go higher in the draft, but conventional wisdom has said Blackmon will be the better player all around. He was an absolute stud at Oklahoma State University, and before the Robert Griffin III trade, the St. Louis Rams were heavily linked to Blackmon with the second overall pick.
8. Will Trent Richardson Be the Only Running Back Taken in the First Round?
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Probably. This is a poor running back class outside of Trent Richardson, although it’s not as bad as last year’s class that had Mark Ingram as the only running back chosen in the top 30 of the draft.
Richardson will likely be gone within the first five picks, but I don’t see any other teams taking a running back in the first round.
For a while, the Cincinnati Bengals were mocked to select Lamar Miller with the 21st overall pick, but Miller’s stock has fallen, and the Bengals could probably get him in the second or even third round if they are still interested.
David Wilson from Virginia Tech has a chance to go to the New York Giants at 32, but I see the Giants focusing more on their offensive line or a tight end.
Running back just isn’t valued as highly in today’s NFL, and teams won’t reach for a running back.
9. Which Teams Will Try to Trade into the Top 10?
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The Philadelphia Eagles remain one of the top teams likely to trade up. Andy Reid has never been shy about doing so, and it would likely be to the seventh or ninth spot to select Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
The Buffalo Bills are said to be infatuated with Alabama safety Mark Barron. A trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars would give them Barron all but guaranteed, but I don’t see the Bills doing that with George Wilson and Jairus Byrd currently on their roster (not unless they want to run a 4-2-5 defense).
The Dallas Cowboys could trade up for a defensive lineman or cornerback, and it’s also a possibility that the St. Louis Rams will trade up three spots from sixth overall to third to be assured of Trent Richardson.
10. Which Players Will Drop the Most?
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Riley Reiff’s draft stock has slipped recently, likely because of his short arms, and I have him falling to the Chicago Bears at 19. I have Justin Blackmon going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7, although it wouldn’t surprise me to see him going outside the top 10.
Michael Floyd is another player who could drop because of possible character concerns, and Janoris Jenkins is all but a guarantee to drop out of the top 20 or 25 picks because of strong character concerns.
I also envision Ryan Tannehill dropping a la Brady Quinn of 2007, and Quinton Coples could do the same because of questions about his work ethic.