2012 NFL Draft: Predicting Statistics for Each NFL Team's First-Round Pick
The aura of the 2012 NFL draft is fading, leaving us impatiently awaiting training camp and the preseason.
In the meantime, rookie roles are becoming clearer as they sign contracts and participate in minicamps and organized team activities. What does this mean for production, particularly for first-round draft picks?
From Arizona to New York, Seattle to Miami and everywhere in between, here are my predictions for rookies drafted by teams in the first round.
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Michael Floyd, WR
Though he jostled with Justin Blackmon at the top of the receiver class, Floyd was never a big producer in college like his draftmate. Then again, he never had a good quarterback throwing him the ball.
While John Skelton and Kevin Kolb are not exactly Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, they can get the job done to a certain degree. Defenses will have to key on Fitzgerald, meaning Floyd will have some room to operate.
That gives him a solid chance to lead rookie receivers. You might think the prediction below is meager, but A.J. Green is the only notable rookie receiver to top 1,000 yards in recent years.
Prediction: 925 yards, six touchdowns
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Stephon Gilmore, CB
When your top three cornerbacks each allow a quarterback rating of 100 or greater on passes thrown their direction, you know you have a problem.
Of course, part of the problem was a general lack of a pass rush to pressure the quarterback, something the Bills have certainly remedied with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Aaron Williams also suffered an injury that hampered him throughout the season at cornerback.
One of the problematic cornerbacks, Drayton Florence, was released by the Bills, leaving Gilmore in a competition with Williams and Leodis McKelvin for a starting job. My money is on the rookie winning.
Prediction: 30 tackles, three interceptions
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Luke Kuechly, LB
The Panthers landed a tackling, award-winning machine when they drafted Kuechly in the first round. The problem is that former Pro Bowler Jon Beason is coming back from injury, putting Kuechly out of position as the weakside linebacker.
He is a future three-down linebacker for the Panthers in the middle, but being a starter anywhere will give him ample time to pile up statistics.
Prediction: 85 tackles, two sacks, seven tackles for loss (TFL), one interception
McClellin will have to play against offensive lineman with arms at some point.
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Shea McClellin, DE
The Bears are aging at defensive end with Julius Peppers, who is still playing at a high level, and Israel Idonije, who is 31 years old. Although a bit unexpected in the first round, Chicago chose to address that position by drafting Shea McClellin.
With Idonije contributing just five sacks and eight quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, the rookie from Boise State should step in and contribute right away.
Prediction: 35 tackles, seven sacks, 10 TFL, one forced fumble (FF)
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Trent Richardson, RB
The Browns did not move up one spot and pay such a steep price for the talented running back for no good reason.
With Peyton Hillis out of its hair, Cleveland's best running back was oft-injured Montario Hardesty. Richardson represents an immediate and immense upgrade at the position, instantly becoming the starter and lead back for the team.
There is no question he will put up great statistics as a result.
Prediction: 1,100 yards, 11 touchdowns; 200 receiving yards, one touchdown
Brandon Weeden, QB
As much as Cleveland has been panned for taking a 28-year-old rookie quarterback, he will be an immediate upgrade at the position. He may not have the shelf life the other quarterbacks will have in the NFL, but his maturity could give him a leg up as a rookie.
Perhaps a victim of ageism, Weeden could be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. He is in the best situation aside from Robert Griffin, with a stud running back to take the pressure off and some talented receivers and tight ends to throw to.
Prediction: 3,500 yards, 19 touchdowns, 18 interceptions
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Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
Leon Hall is coming back from an Achilles injury, giving Kirkpatrick a chance to earn a job as a starter. In reality, he will likely start as the nickel back for the Bengals.
The former Alabama cornerback's stock fell a bit during the draft with Stephon Gilmore overtaking him in the days leading up to it. He should be a solid player for the Bengals in the years to come, though.
Prediction: 20 tackles, one interception
Kevin Zeitler, OG
The Bengals needed a guard, and they got a good one in Zeitler, though it seems odd to me that they would let a guy like David DeCastro go and trade back instead.
Mike McGlynn and Nate Livings were not particularly good last season, leaving the door open for Zeitler to start.
Impact: Zeitler should start despite concerns about pass blocking. At the very least, he will be a powerful run blocker for BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
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Morris Claiborne, CB
Have the Cowboys had a cornerback of Claiborne's caliber since Prime Time?
Deion Sanders was on another level, but Claiborne will certainly be an upgrade over what the Cowboys had last season. He will start immediately and likely return punts.
Prediction: 35 tackles, five interceptions
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Riley Reiff, OT
The Lions seemingly hit on all cylinders offensively last season—after all, Matthew Stafford was just the fourth quarterback in history to reach the 5,000-yard mark, and it was his first injury-free season of his career. Their offensive line left something to be desired, however.
Once considered a top-10 pick, Reiff slid all the way down to the Lions, and they gladly snapped him up.
Impact: Reiff will not start at right tackle immediately, but he could see time if the offensive line continues to falter.
Green Bay Packers
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Nick Perry, DE/OLB
The Packers clearly had an agenda during the draft: improve the defense. Particularly, they needed to upgrade the defensive line. They had a solid start with Perry.
The former USC standout was a combine stud, flashing his athleticism and propelling himself up draft boards. His stock cooled in the ensuing weeks, and the Packers were able to snag him late in the first round.
He should step in and immediately start opposite Clay Matthews, taking some of the pressure off the veteran pass-rusher and doing some damage of his own in the process.
Prediction: 30 tackles, eight sacks, 10 TFL, one FF
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Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB
What do you do when you lose your best defensive player to free agency? Reload, of course.
The Texans will feel the sting of Mario Williams' departure in the short run, however, even if Mercilus proves he was not just a one-year wonder in college.
Houston has a good defense that will make Mercilus' job easier, particularly with J.J. Watt emerging as a premiere pass-rusher. With the pressure off, I expect the Illinois product to have a good rookie season.
Prediction: 45 tackles, 10 sacks, 12 TFL, one interception
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Andrew Luck, QB
Peyton Manning threw for 26 touchdowns as a rookie. He also threw 28 interceptions.
I am not expecting such a high number for Andrew Luck because I am not expecting him to lead the league in pass attempts. He could get up there, though--Sam Bradford was third in the league as a rookie with 590 attempts.
It will depend on how far behind the defense allows the Colts to get in games, as well as how slowly the Colts want to bring Luck along.
Prediction: 3,550 yards, 22 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
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Justin Blackmon, WR
It was no secret Jacksonville needed help at receiver this offseason, and Gene Smith answered that bell with a vengeance.
After signing Laurent Robinson after a breakout season, Smith made sure he got his man in Blackmon by moving up to the fifth overall spot in the draft.
So far, so good—teammates are raving about Blackmon in minicamp.
The problem with predicting Blackmon is that man under center, Blaine Gabbert. He was pretty putrid as a rookie, though there is a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg debate about why—as I mentioned, there is a reason the Jaguars were shopping for multiple receivers.
Prediction: 845 receiving yards, five touchdowns
Kansas City Chiefs
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Dontari Poe, DT
Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs needed a big man in the middle of the defensive line. Say hello to Poe.
Though his tape suggests he may have been overdrafted, the Chiefs could not resist the allure of his freakish athleticism.
Poe took the combine by storm, running an unofficial 4.87 40-yard dash at 346 pounds. If you did not already know that, just let that sink in for a moment.
Of course, even if Poe can translate his raw athleticism to the field, he will play nose tackle—not exactly a statistics-heavy position. His role will be to clog the middle to help Derrick Johnson and the other playmakers on this young and talented defense to operate.
Prediction: 20 tackles, one sack, three TFL
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Ryan Tannehill, QB
Miami's first-round quarterback is the future of the Dolphins, but is he also the present?
With incumbent Matt Moore and free-agent signee David Garrard in the fold, the Dolphins have the luxury of bringing Tannehill up slowly, even if he already knows most of the offense.
The prediction below obviously depends on whether Tannehill becomes the starter at any point during the season. My bet is that Miami will hold off as long as possible, meaning meager statistics as a rookie.
Prediction: 550 yards, four touchdowns, three interceptions
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Matt Kalil, OT
After Rick Spielman bluffed Tom Heckert into trading up for Trent Richardson, the Vikings took one of the safer picks in the draft.
There is nothing sexy about taking an offensive lineman, but that is just what the doctor ordered for the Vikings. Charlie Johnson was not exactly a good starter for Minnesota after they cut Bryant McKinnie loose.
Impact: Kalil will step in and start immediately at left tackle. Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson will be all the better for it.
Harrison Smith, S
Tyrell Johnson left for warmer weather in Miami, and Jamarca Sanford was tied for the worst rating at safety by Pro Football Focus.
Smith was the second-rated safety in the draft class, and he was so important to the Vikings that they traded back into the first round to get him. He will immediately start.
Prediction: 60 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks
New England Patriots
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Chandler Jones, DE
Though a bit of a mystery how Jones was a second- or third-round prospect on the vast majority of scouts' and draftniks' boards, his stock rose swiftly and dramatically in the days leading up to the draft. Mike Mayock even predicted he would be the best defensive player to come out of the 2012 draft.
That bodes well for Bill Belichick and the Patriots
Andre Carter was a nice surprise for the Patriots last year, but he is 32 years old. Jones will provide a reliable pass rush for years to come.
Prediction: 35 tackles, 10 sacks, 13 TFL, two FF
Dont'a Hightower, LB
On the surface, grabbing a linebacker of Hightower's caliber seems like a win, but his lack of athleticism has some wondering what he will bring to the team that Brandon Spikes does not already.
Prediction: 60 tackles, three sacks, four TFL, one interception
New York Giants
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David Wilson, RB
What do you do if you are the defending Super Bowl champions and you lose one half of your running back committee? Draft a younger, better running back, naturally.
The difference with Wilson is that he is far more similar to Ahmad Bradshaw than to the departed Brandon Jacobs. This makes him more Bradshaw insurance than Jacobs' replacement, but that does not mean he will not be valuable to the Giants.
Perhaps the best part of all this is that Bradshaw wants to mentor Wilson, and he does not seem to mind splitting carries as a result.
Prediction: 575 yards, four touchdowns; 250 receiving yards, one touchdown
New York Jets
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Quinton Coples, DE
The Jets needed a pass-rusher, but they opted to draft Coples to play defensive end in their 3-4 scheme, though he might see some time as a rush linebacker.
Now that he has cashed in, it will be interesting to see if he can shake the perception that he lacks motivation.
Prediction: 40 tackles, four sacks, six TFL, one FF
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Fletcher Cox, DT
With big Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Derek Landri already in the fold and playing well, you might think Cox will have trouble seeing the field in 2012.
You would be wrong.
Cox is simply too talented to keep on the bench. He is a disruptive force that often gets into the backfield, making him ideal to play on passing downs. While he may see less time on the field to start the season, he will likely see an increased role as he becomes too good to ignore.
Prediction: 35 tackles, four sacks, six TFL, two FF
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David DeCastro, OG
All it took was one draft pick for the offensive line to go from woeful to wonderful in Pittsburgh.
Well, really it was two draft picks in DeCastro and Mike Adams, both steals for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger must be sleeping easier after the horrendous line he had to deal with last season.
Impact: DeCastro will come in and immediately lock down the interior playing next to Maurkice Pouncey.
San Diego Chargers
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Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB
Shaun Phillips tallied just four sacks last season playing opposite Antwan Barnes. Expect Ingram to change that.
The talented pass-rusher out of South Carolina was arguably the best pure pass-rushing prospect in the draft until Bruce Irvin snuck up from nowhere to snag that title, at least according to the Seattle Seahawks.
All the better for San Diego, though, as they get a premiere pass-rusher to pair with Barnes and make an instant impact on the defense.
Prediction: 40 tackles, 11 sacks, 15 TFL, one interception
San Francisco 49ers
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A.J. Jenkins, WR
In one of the draft's more shocking selections, the 49ers took Jenkins, a perceived third- or fourth-round talent, with the 31st overall pick in the draft. He was taken ahead of touted receivers Stephen Hill, Alshon Jeffery, and Rueben Randle.
They feel strongly about the Illinois product, it seems, so who am I to argue?
The problem with his production as a rookie is that he has stiff competition for playing time at the position. The 49ers signed serviceable Randy Moss and Mario Manningham as free agents, and they have incumbents Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams on the roster.
Jenkins' best shot will come playing in the slot and beating Williams out for a job. Alternatively, injuries to injury-prone Mario Manningham or Michael Crabtree could press him into service.
As it stands, however, San Francisco might be content with letting Jenkins develop slowly while they ride the Randy Moss train as far as it will go.
Prediction: 400 yards, two touchdowns
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Bruce Irvin, DE
Speaking of shocking draft picks, the Seahawks take the cake with the selection of Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall draft pick. Whispers that Irvin was being viewed as a first-round draft pick surfaced on draft day, but they all said a team at the end of the first round was looking to take him.
The Seahawks did not want to take that chance, apparently.
Irvin represents a great pass-rushing talent, but not much else. Until he provides some support against the run, he will probably rotate in on passing downs.
Prediction: 35 tackles, eight sacks, 10 TFL, one FF
St. Louis Rams
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Michael Brockers, DT
The Rams get the Shrewd Draft of the Year award, trading down multiple times and gaining immense value in return, all the while making solid draft picks.
Brockers was the first of those good picks.
Filling a big position of need, the Rams took the best defensive tackle available after Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox were snatched up before them. While it might sting that those guys were selected just ahead of them, they might have liked each one almost equally enough to be content with what they got.
At any rate, Brockers should be inserted into the rotation immediately along the defensive line, which suddenly looks like a strong unit.
Prediction: 30 tackles, two sacks, three TFL, one FF
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Mark Barron, S
Incumbent safeties Tanard Jackson and Sean Jones were pretty bad for the Buccaneers last season—they were ranked first and fifth in missed tackles last season respectively—so it should come as no surprise that they opted to take talented Mark Barron with their initial first-round pick.
Barron is terrific in the box, making him ideal for the strong safety position. He will need to work on his coverage skills, though.
With Jackson gone and Jones still looking for employment, it is a safe bet Barron will be a starter with the Buccaneers. He should have an immediate impact in that role.
Prediction: 75 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, four TFL
Doug Martin, RB
How badly did the Buccaneers want Martin? They made sure to snag him by trading back into the first round and hopping the New York Giants, who wound up taking David Wilson.
Greg Schiano's propensity to run the ball will be a boon to Martin and fellow running back LeGarrette Blount, who should bounce back now that Raheem Morris' doghouse has been removed.
Prediction: 900 yards, five touchdowns; 350 receiving yards, two touchdowns
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Kendall Wright, WR
Although he is a talented receiver, Wright represents a bit of a head-scratcher for the Titans. Receiver was not seen as a position of need—at least not one to address in the first round—with Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Damien Williams already there.
Wright could see time in the slot right away, however, and he certainly has the talent to perform. Having never gotten a playbook until the Titans gave him one could put him behind the eight ball, however. It will be interesting to see how the Titans use him as a rookie.
Prediction: 450 yards, two touchdowns
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Robert Griffin III, QB
Forget the expectations Washington, D.C. is placing on this young man's shoulders, the fantasy community's anticipation is absurdly high after the monster performance Cam Newton put on last season.
While Griffin certainly has the potential to emulate Newton's fantastic rookie season, it would be an incredible feat—what Newton did was rare.
His rushing abilities are largely fueling those comparisons. While he will do some damage on the ground, Griffin is no 6'5", 248-pound monster at quarterback. He will not be Washington's goal-line back like Newton was for much of last season.
Just because he will not approach Newton's rookie numbers does not mean he will have a bad season, however.
Prediction: 3,700 yards, 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions; 450 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns