NFL 2012 Draft: 19 First-Round Draft Picks Who Will Start in Week 1
As teams begin their OTAs this week, NFL rookies will be practicing with veterans and will have the opportunity to prove themselves in front of their new teammates and coaches.
After last month's annual NFL draft, fans are hearing more about their team's new additions from the draft and how they will do with their new team.
In this slideshow, we will visit 19 rookies who were selected in the first round and will start in Week 1 of the 2012 regular season.
Colts QB Andrew Luck, First Overall
The Indianapolis Colts made the decision to release quarterback Peyton Manning after 13 seasons. One month later, the Colts used the No. 1 pick on quarterback Andrew Luck.
After letting Manning go and using their top pick on a quarterback, you can expect Luck to start when the Colts visit the Chicago Bears.
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Second Overall
The Washington Redskins traded away three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 pick in the draft. It was obvious to everyone that the Redskins were eying Robert Griffin III.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan announced that Griffin will be the team’s starting quarterback. With fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins also taken by the Redskins, it is clear that the team does not have much more to work with at quarterback. Therefore, Griffin will get the obvious nod in Week 1.
Browns RB Trent Richardson, Third Overall
Even though Peyton Hillis missed six games last season with the Cleveland Browns, he was the team's top rusher. However, Hillis was not retained by the Browns, giving the Browns a big hole to address.
The Browns had no problems addressing that hole through the draft by taking Trent Richardson. Cleveland does not have a running back on the team worthy of starting. Therefore, you can expect Richardson to line up for the Browns for the first offensive snap against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vikings T Matt Kalil, Fourth Overall
The Minnesota Vikings found themselves a reliable left tackle in Matt Kalil with the fourth pick after trading with the Browns.
Charlie Johnson has been moved from left tackle to left guard as it appears the Vikings are confident that Kalil will be prepared to protect Christian Ponder by the time the season kicks off.
Jaguars WR Juston Blackmon
No team struggled more than the Jacksonville Jaguars in the passing game. The Jaguars finished last in the NFL with 136 passing yards per game under rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis led the team in receiving yards with 460 yards. The Jaguars need Justin Blackmon to come in and help improve their passing game with Gabbert under center.
Buccaneers S Mike Barron, Seventh Overall
Sean Jones did very little to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense in 2011. New head coach Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers decided to draft Mike Barron.
Schiano is hoping that Barron can team up with defensive backs Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber to help better the 21st ranked pass defense.
Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, Ninth Overall
Luke Kuechly was regarded as the best linebacker entering the 2012 NFL draft. The Carolina Panthers did not hesitate nor think twice when it was time for them to make the pick.
The Panthers are in desperate need for Kuechly to help the team improve in stopping the run after finishing 25th in the league.
Bills CB Stephon Gilmore, 10th Overall
Stephon Gilmore will be part of a Buffalo Bills defensive backfield that has Leodis McKelvin and Terrence McGee at cornerback.
Gilmore can come in and help the Bills get even better after finishing 19th against the pass. The Bills tied sixth in the league in total interceptions and Gilmore could help his new team dominate in takeaways by increasing that total.
Chiefs NT Dontari Poe, 11th Overall
Kelly Gregg only lasted one season as the nose tackle of the Kansas City Chiefs and the team decided to go a new direction with Dontari Poe.
Poe looks to help Kansas City's 26th ranked rush defense and create more pressure from the middle.
Cardinals WR Michael Floyd, 13th Overall
With no Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, Larry Fitzgerald has been on his own to help lift the Arizona Cardinals.
After not having an offseason due to the lockout, Kevin Kolb is taking advantage of OTAs this year with a team he is still fairly new with. Kolb likes having Michael Floyd on the team as another weapon could help the Cardinals get better in 2012.
Rams DT Michael Brockers, 14th Overall
Michael Brockers has a big opportunity ahead of him to help improve the St. Louis Rams defensive wall this year.
Brockers and his new teammate who will be lining up with, Chris Long, look to give opposing offenses problems, making them difficult to block.
Jets DE Quinton Coples, 16th Overall
The New York Jets are doing what they can to improve their defensive line as they have two young players part of their line. Muhammad Wilkerson was drafted in the first round in 2011 by the Jets. One year later, the Jets add another defensive lineman by taking Quinton Coples.
Rex Ryan is pleased to see his rush defense still finish in the top five. He would like to see Coples and Wilkerson now work together in New York to provide a strong defensive line to give opposing offenses trouble.
Bears DE Shea McClellin, 19th Overall
After Tommie Harris left the Chicago Bears last season, Henry Melton stepped up and anchored the defensive line with seven sacks.
Melton will now be joined by Shea McClellin up front. The Bears want a better defensive front and think McClellin can help the Bears improve as a defensive unit.
Patriots DE Chandler Jones, 21st Overall
Despite reaching the Super Bowl last season, the New England Patriots finished 31st in the league in total defense. The Patriots ranked 17th in stopping the run and 31st against the pass in 2011.
The Patriots are trying to rebuild their defense and are hoping Chandler Jones will make an impact. If the Patriots improve defensively and return to the Super Bowl, it is very likely that Jones had something to do in contributing to their success.
Lions T Riley Reiff, 23rd Overall
Riley Reiff brings a lot of power to an already powerful Detroit Lions passing game. Matt Stafford will be given a little bit more time with a more viable blocker from his blind side.
But the Lions value Reiff’s run-blocking ability. Reiff could pave the way for Javid Best, giving Detroit a three-dimensional offense.
Steelers G David DeCastro, 24th Overall
Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers were very shocked to find David DeCastro available when it was their turn to select.
DeCastro, who was a big reason for Luck's success in Stanford, can help the Steelers in many ways as a pass and run-blocker. With the best guard in the draft, the Steelers should improve offensively and finish in the top 10 after finishing 12th last season.
Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower, 25th Overall
As stated earlier, the Patriots are looking to everything to help rebuild their defense.
Jones will not be the only new rookie starter for the Patriots defense. Dont'a Hightower could very well beat out Rob Ninkovich for a starting spot by Week 1 of the regular season when the Patriots travel to take on the Tennessee Titans.
Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus, 26th Overall
With Mario Williams no longer with the Houston Texans, Whitney Mercilus is going to be relied on to help provide the pass rush Williams created with the Texans.
Since the Texans have few players to work with, Mercilus should not have a hard time passing Connor Barwin on the depth chart by the time the season kicks off.
Vikings S Harrison Smith, 29th Overall
The Vikings could have two first-round draft picks starting by the time the season starts this year. Kalil's chances of starting are very high on offense. But Minnesota could have a new starting safety soon in Harrison Smith.
Smith was taken late in the first round after a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. While Smith is a rookie, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier might like what he sees in him over Mistral Raymond and Jamarca Sanford. The Vikings are more than confident in this pick after giving up a second and a fourth-round pick.