NFL Mock Draft 2012: First-Round Reaches That Will Pan out

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2012

Every year, a team takes a risk on a player in the first round of the NFL draft. Sometimes it works, and other times it blows up in that team's face. 

The 2012 NFL draft will be no different, as every team hopes they end up big winners once the first round comes to an end tonight. 

Not everyone will, though, which is the unfortunate truth. Of course, there will be a shocking pick or two that folks will think will be a bust, only to end up being one hell of a draft-day pick. 

That being said, here's my final 2012 NFL mock draft with info on each pick and a more in-depth look at the players teams will make good reaches on. 


2012 NFL Mock Draft 


1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford   

The top prospect in the draft, Luck has been highly coveted for a long time. He'll step in and instantly make the Colts a better team. 


2. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Griffin's dual-threat abilities make him very exciting to watch. He's exactly what the Redskins need right now, and he won't take long in showing everyone he is the real deal. 


3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings may trade back or draft Claiborne here, but their best bet is to give Christian Ponder the best protection possible, and Kalil has All-Pro lineman written all over him. 


4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 

Richardson is a beast on the gridiron, and he'll serve as a huge upgrade to the Cleveland offense. The Browns have to boost their offense this draft, or else one will truly wonder what in the world that organization is up to. 


5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU 

The top defender in the draft, Claiborne is going to be a Top Five pick when it's all said and done. No matter where he ends up, he'll serve as an instant upgrade to the secondary. 


6. St. Louis Rams (2-14):  Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Brockers is a massive force on the defensive front, and he'll be a warm welcome in St. Louis. 

Most have him going later, which could happen, but since the Rams have aging defensive tackles, taking the reach on Brockers would be smart. 

At 6'5", 322 pounds, Brockers has all the tools needed to anchor the defensive line in St. Louis for many years. 


7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State 

Blackmon is a risky pick for the Top 10, but the Jaguars are really desperate for playmakers, so they'll take the gamble on the receiver and hope for the best. Unfortunately, with Blaine Gabbert throwing him the ball, things won't end too well for Blackmon in Jacksonville. 


8. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina 

Jeffery get's bashed by numerous people, but he's one of the best wideouts in the draft. In five years from now, he will be thriving in the NFL, making all his critics eat their words. 

Miami could probably trade back and get Jeffery later, but reaching on him here works too. The popular pick for the Dolphins is Ryan Tannehill, but they would be better off with a guy like Jeffery who can help the team right now. 

Tannehill is a project QB, and the Dolphins need to use this first-round pick on a player who will contribute right away. Jeffery has exceptional hands and a great vertical leap. Throw the ball up, and more often than not he's going to bring it down. 

9. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina 

Coples may have had a down year this past season, but there's no denying he's immensely talented. The Panthers need to get after the QB more, and this Carolina kid will give them exactly that.  

10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame 

The Bills should think about defense here, but with Floyd still on the board, they'll go crazy over the thought of adding another threat out wide for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Don't get me wrong, it's a great pickup for the Bills, but if they're ever going to win big, they need to stockpile the talent on defense. 

11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9): David DeCastro, G, Stanford 

The Chiefs have a number of options at No. 11, but their best bet is to go the safe route with DeCastro, the top interior lineman in the draft. 

12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9): Nick Perry, DE, USC 

The ideal move for Seattle would be to trade back and upgrade the pass rush then. I think they can get Perry a few picks down from here, but if they stay put, drafting Perry at No. 12 will work. 

He's an explosive guy off the edge, and working with Pete Carroll will keep him focused and motivated to be the best he can be. 

13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina  

Ingram is one of the best defensive ends in the draft, and he'll have no issues making big plays for the Cardinals. 

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Barron is a hot prospect, but I don't think he's worthy of being a Top-10 pick. Going to the Cowboys here at No. 14 is much better. 


15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College  

Kuechly is a tackling machine who will provide the Eagles with superb depth should they pick him. There's a chance he gets picked higher since he is the top linebacker in the draft, but playmakers and pass-rushers could cause him to drop right into Philadelphia's lap. 

16. New York Jets (8-8): Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama  

The Jets could go a number of different ways here, but Upshaw makes the most sense in my eyes. New York needs a guy off the edge, and choosing a champion leader like Upshaw would be a bright move. 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami  

Miller is higher on my board than others', as some don't have him being drafted in the first round at all. 

He has blazing speed, which will make it hard for NFL defenders to bring him down. He's not ready to be an every-down back, but the Bengals don't need him to be that just yet. 

Splitting carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and making an impact in the receiving game is what would be asked of Miller, and he'll easily excel in the role as a rookie while he continues to develop. 

18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa  

The Chargers will weigh their many options here, but the smart pick would be to go with the best overall player at No. 18, which is the powerful lineman Reiff. 

19. Chicago Bears (8-8): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford 

Jay Cutler can't afford to keep getting sacked and neither can the Bears, so drafting Martin for added protection would be golden. 

20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With the top-notch pass-rushers off the board, the Titans would be wise to select Gilmore to upgrade the secondary. He fits a need and happens to be the best available prospect here at No. 20. 

21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama  

Jenkins has major character concerns, which is why some teams won't be considering him at all. 

However, it's their loss because this kid can flat out play football. Off the field is a different story for him, so whichever team ends up with him needs to have someone watching out for him. 

Of course, every team should do that for every rookie. There's no denying that Jenkins is a big worry because of his past, but on the field, he's a special talent. Cincinnati has experience with troubled players, which is why I think they can afford the gamble in Round 1. 

He may not go in the first round, but every team will be sorry they passed on him when he dominates at the next level.  


22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor   

Once again, Cleveland does the right thing and drafts an offensive stud to help the team. Colt McCoy will be thrilled to hear the Browns are adding excellent playmakers. 


23. Detroit Lions (10-6): Cordy Glenn, OT/OG, Georgia                              

Cornerback is an option for the Lions here, but with Glenn falling their way, it would be in their best interest to lock him up. 


24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick slips on draft day, but I have a feeling he'll be OK with it since he'll be joining a much better overall team. Pittsburgh needs to get younger on defense, and adding youthful depth to the secondary is a huge need. 


25. Denver Broncos (8-8): Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis  

The Broncos could go several different ways with this pick, and part of me believes they'll do something shocking. Still, Denver's biggest need is at defensive tackle, and Poe is the best one up for grabs here at No. 25. 


26. Houston Texans (10-6): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

When looking at his overall game, Hill is a borderline first-round pick, but his speed is what will cause a team to reach on him. 

Hill comes from an option-attack offense where he ran deep entirely too much. Yes, Hill did become an incredibly good blocker at the collegiate level, but he needs work in other areas. 

Improving his separation and route-running skills would be a good start. Houston won't be too worried about all of this, though, because it knows in time Hill can prosper, especially learning from Andre Johnson, one of the league's best. 

In his rookie campaign, he'll help take pressure off Johnson and haul in big catches, making this gamble for the Texans pay off. 

27. New England Patriots (via NO 13-3): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin 

The Patriots' biggest need isn't on the offensive line, but Bill Belichick won't pass on the chance to stockpile the best possible talent to keep Tom Brady safe. 

28. Green Bay Packers (15-1): Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Jones is a fast rising prospect with the strength and agility to make a big name for himself in the NFL. Green Bay needs to boost it's pass rush, and getting a stud like Jones will be a smash hit for the Packers. 

29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama 

Hightower is the best available player right now, and the Ravens would be insane to pass on a guy who could be molded into the next Ray Lewis

30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State 

The 49ers upgraded their team in a major way through free agency, so now the draft will be all about stacking the depth. Cox is the best available here, and adding him to the defensive front will make this San Francisco team even more dangerous. 


31. New England Patriots (13-3): Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

The Patriots are probably going to trade this pick away, but their best bet would be to keep it and get some much-needed help on the defensive line with Mercilus. 

32. New York Giants (9-7): Chris Polk, RB, Washington  

Brandon Jacobs is gone, leaving Ahmad Bradshaw to carry the load by himself. Drafting Polk as insurance would be the wise decision for New York, especially since I think Bradshaw works best when splitting carries with someone. 




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