2012 NFL Mock Draft: A Final Look at the First Round
With the NFL draft in a few hours, I thought it would be apt to come out with a mock draft predicting where each player will be taken and which team will get them. I will not mock any trades, and therefore there may be reaches. Enjoy!
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (QB), Stanford
This pick needs no explanation. Luck is the best quarterback to enter the draft in a long time, and is the ideal cog to build around in Indy.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III (QB), Baylor
Another no-brainer, the Redskins wouldn't have given up a king's ransom to move up in the draft for anyone other than a franchise quarterback, and Griffin should be that and more in their offense.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil (OT), USC
The Vikings may be looking to trade down, but if they stay put they need to draft a blindside protector for Christian Ponder. Kalil is one of the safest players in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne (CB), LSU
Although most people think that this will be Trent Richardson, the Browns will probably look to form the best young CB tandem in the NFL to keep up with the explosive passing offenses that are now so common.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson (RB), Alabama
With Claiborne off the board, the Buccaneers will take the bell cow back that Greg Schiano wants. Richardson will be a 1,000-yard rusher from his rookie season, and has the complete game that few draft prospects have.
6. St. Louis Rams: Fletcher Cox (DT), Mississippi State
The Rams need a top WR, but they also need to get better inside on defense, and Cox is a much better prospect than any of the wide receivers this year. He can bring it as a pass-rusher and a run defender.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd (WR), Notre Dame
This is a bit of a reach, but the Jaguars need to give Blaine Gabbert a top target to let him grow as a passer next year. Floyd also has the potential to be an Andre Johnson-type mismatch outside, which Blackmon lacks.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill (QB), Texas A&M
Tannehill certainly does not deserve to be this high on talent, but the Dolphins need a QB, and Mike Sherman's history with Tannehill makes this a logical pick for a desperate franchise.
9. Carolina Panthers: Justin Blackmon (WR), OSU
The Panthers are already planning for life without Steve Smith, and Blackmon is the style of receiver who will excel catching balls from Cam Newton. Meanwhile, it give Carolina a quality tandem of ball catchers as they push for the playoffs.
10. Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore (CB), South Carolina
Gilmore has been creeping up draft boards, and his size and athleticism will cause the Bills to reach for him as they try to get a cornerback as talented as their two safeties.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro (OG), Stanford
DeCastro is a top-five player when it comes to just talent, but his position will push him down the draft. However, this pick gives Kansas City hands down the best offensive line in the NFL, and will make Jamaal Charles a nightmare to stop in 2012.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly (LB), Boston College
The Seahawks should not take Kuechly this early, but his production, athleticism and the loss of David Hawthorne in free agency will cause Pete Carroll to pull the trigger. They just have to hope that he is not as "safe" as Aaron Curry was.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Melvin Ingram (DE/LB), South Carolina
The Cardinals find the draft's best pass-rusher fall to them, and they would need no excuse to take him. They lack an elite pass-rusher in their 3-4 defense, and Ingram will cause nightmares with his versatility and athleticism.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron (S), Alabama
This is another reach in my books, but the Cowboys are infatuated with Barron, and will probably even trade up to make sure they get him to help remake their secondary.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Brockers (DT), LSU
The Eagles would have loved for Fletcher Cox or Luke Kuechly to fall here, but instead Andy Reid can take a blank slate defensive lineman to mold into a dominant player in their wide-nine scheme. His run stopping nous will be greatly appreciated by the Eagles linebackers.
16. New York Jets: Whitney Mercilus (DE/OLB), Illinois
Most people think that this will be Upshaw, but Mercilus has greater upside and athletic ability. His break-out season may remind fans of a certain Vernon Gholston, but the Jets need to take a risk while their window is still open.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn (OT/OG), Georgia
The Bengals need a good guard, and lining Glenn beside Andre Smith would make the largest right side in the NFL. He also provides insurance if Smith cannot keep improving his play at right tackle.
18. San Diego Chargers: Riley Reiff (OT), Iowa
The Chargers have plenty of needs, but Reiff is the ideal player for them to plug at right tackle. His polished technique should allow him to start right away on the troubled San Diego offensive line.
19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples (DE), UNC
Coples is a big risk, but at No. 19, his potential outweighs his flaws. If the Bears can get him playing hard, they will have the biggest and scariest tandem of defensive ends in the league.
20. Tennessee Titans: Nick Perry (DE), USC
The Titans would have loved for Coples to fall one more space, but Nick Perry could easily be a better pro. He has the freakish athleticism to be the next star sack artist, and once his game is fully developed, he will be a monster who reminds people of Jevon Kearse.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kendall Wright (WR), Baylor
With their second pick, the Bengals will get some help for Andy Dalton. Wright has the explosiveness and speed to take the top off a defense, and his presence would allow A.J. Green to mature into a top-five wide receiver.
22. Cleveland Browns: Stephen Hill (WR), Georgia Tech
The Browns will be looking for offensive playmakers throughout this draft, and the chance to take Stephen Hill is too good to pass up. While raw, he has the potential to have a Randy Moss-type rookie year if he landed elsewhere.
23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB), Alabama
The Lions need a much better secondary, and with an offensive line prospect with real upside available on Day 2, they will take their ideal cornerback in the first.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont'a Hightower (LB), Alabama
Hightower will fit in beside Lawrence Timmons as a thumping 3-4 inside linebacker. He will once again give the Steelers the most intimidating front seven in the league, and has the coverage skills to play three downs.
25. Denver Broncos: Dontari Poe (DT), Memphis
Despite his wonder workout, Poe will drop in the draft. However, the Broncos need defensive linemen, and Poe has the athleticism to be one of the best ever if he stays focused and can maximize his skills.
26. Houston Texans: Jonathan Martin (OT), Stanford
The Texans let star right tackle Eric Winston walk this offseason, so the chance to draft his replacement in this draft is perfect. Martin will probably never be a great left tackle, but as a right tackle on this offensive line, he has the skills to be great.
27. New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw (OLB), Alabama
Upshaw will fall because of his poor athletic ability, but Bill Belichick is sure to want another Nick Saban product. Upshaw could play inside and outside linebacker for the Patriots, and provide them with a solid pass-rusher and staunch run-defender.
28. Green Bay Packers: Shea McClellin (OLB), Boise State
The Packers' goal in this draft is to get another pass-rusher to go opposite Clay Matthews, and McClellin has the all-around game to excel as the team's second best outside rusher. This pick will help reinvigorate the Packers' elite defense.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz (OG/C), Wisconsin
Matt Birk is getting long in the tooth, so taking Peter Konz is perfect. He can play guard early in his career to fill the spot that Ben Grubbs used to, and then become the center when Birk calls it quits. He may never be truly elite, but is a guaranteed solid player.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler (OG), Wisconsin
Back-to-back first-rounders on the offensive line shows why Montee Ball was so dominant last season for the Badgers. Zeitler does not have great range, but will excel in a power-blocking offense like the 49ers'. Look for him to fill the right-guard spot during his rookie season.
31. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins (CB), North Alabama
The Patriots had leaky coverage all last season, and also have the sort of locker room to absorb troubled kids like Jenkins. If he gets his head straight, he will be the best cornerback from this draft without a doubt.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener (TE), Stanford
The Giants have a ramshackle offensive line, but also are going to be without a solid tight end for next season. Fleener is a top receiver who would capitalize on the attention that Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz draw, but he also has the technique to hold his own as a blocker.
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