2012 NFL Predictions: Odds Each First-Rounder Becomes a Starter in 2012

Dan SnyderCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2012

2012 NFL Predictions: Odds Each First-Rounder Becomes a Starter in 2012

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    The first round of the NFL draft is a wonderful thing. 

    A spectacle full of interest and intrigue that now has a prime time slot dedicated to itself.

    But teams in the first round draft for different reasons.

    Depending on where they pick, some teams take players to make an immediate impact and play a big role in their first season. Others go for the potential talent and hope to develop their featured prospects slowly.

    Either way, most fans want to see their new toys out on the field as soon as possible. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the chances you'll be seeing your team's first-round pick in the starting lineup this season.  

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck / QB

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    This one's a no-brainer...unless you're a serious believer in Drew Stanton or Chandler Harnish. 

    But seriously, Andrew Luck was brought here to be the future of the Indianapolis Colts and with Peyton Manning running the Broncos offense, the future is now. 

    Luck has a tall task ahead of him to try and lead a much-depleted Colts team back to the playoffs in 2012, but Jim Irsay and management have a great piece to build around for the future. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 100%

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III / QB

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    Just like Luck before him, Robert Griffin III was brought into Washington to be an immediate starter. I mean, generally you don't give up three first round picks and two number twos to have a guy ride the pine. 

    Griffin is probably in a better situation than Luck to succeed right away because of the defense and offensive weapons around him. But Griffin does have the misfortune of playing in the NFC East. No easy task for even the most veteran quarterback. 

    If RGIII can get Washington to seven wins and go .500 in the division, Skins fans should consider it a big success and look to have a bright future with this kid. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 100%

3. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson / RB

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    Considering the Browns offense has been among the worst in football for the last few seasons, I'd say it's pretty easy to think Trent Richardson is going to be the go-to back in Cleveland for some time to come.

    Cleveland traded up one spot to grab Richardson and with Montario Hardesty being the only real "threat" to his touches, look for the former Alabama back to take the featured role with the Browns in 2012.

    Percent Odds to Start: 100% 

4. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil / OT

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    With a feature running back and quarterback of the future already in place, it made perfect sense for the Vikings to go out and grab the draft's best left tackle to anchor their offensive line for the next decade. 

    Matt Kalil has all the tools to be the NFL's next big left tackle and Minnesota should be psyched to have him. I'm well aware that offensive linemen don't generally get the fans' juices flowing, but it's really where the games are won. 

    Kalil will no doubt be starting from day one as the Vikings try to find some way to keep Christian Ponder upright and contend in a very tough NFC North. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 100%

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon / WR

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    Blackmon was the top receiver coming into the draft, but since being selected by the Jaguars with the fifth pick, it's been all downhill for the former Oklahoma State star. 

    In early June, the rookie receiver was busted for his second DUI since 2010. Since then, Jacksonville and Blackmon have struggled in contract negotiations and he remains the only first-rounder unsigned.

    The Jaguars aren't very deep at receiver. Outside of Laurent Robinson, the team doesn't really have another starter on the roster, so there's still a pretty good chance that by the time the 2012 season comes to a close, Blackmon will be running with the first team.

    But with all his off-the-field concerns, there still remains a chance that he doesn't.

    Percent Odds of Start: 90% 

6. Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne / CB

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    There's no doubt the Cowboys defense was a major disappointment last season and most of that had to do with their porous secondary. 

    So because of that, Jerry Jones made a bold move on draft day and flew up the board to snag the draft's top cornerback in Morris Claiborne. 

    On paper, Dallas is very deep at cornerback with newly signed Brandon Carr added to Claiborne, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. And even though it seems the team is destined to deal Jenkins, that shouldn't affect Claiborne's position on the depth chart. 

    The Cowboys clearly didn't like what they saw from their corners last season and with Mike Jenkins most likely on his way out, Claiborne should almost certainly be a starter by the time the season comes to a close. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 98%

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron / S

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    Going into the draft, the Bucs and new head coach Greg Schiano had no depth or real starting talent at the safety position. 

    So after missing an opportunity to grab Trent Richardson, Tampa traded back and took Mark Barron to shore up the position. 

    With guys like Cody Grimm, Larry Asante and Ahmad Black challenging Barron for time, the starting job should be Barron's to lose. And he'll have a great opportunity to learn from one of the game's best as the Bucs have decided to move longtime corner Ronde Barber to safety.

    Percent Odds to Start: 100% 

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill / QB

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    After months of speculation, the Dolphins finally proved everybody right by taking Ryan Tannehill eighth overall in the 2012 draft. 

    But even though Tannehill knows offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's offense better than any of the Dolphins' other QBs, he doesn't appear to be part of the starting quarterback competition

    With veterans Matt Moore and David Garrard on the roster, the Dolphins seem content letting the inexperienced Tannehill take some time to learn the NFL game, probably to the rookie's benefit. 

    I fully expect Moore or Garrard to open the season as the starter, but if things head south in South Beach, don't be shocked if Tannehill gets a few starts at the end of the season. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 35%

9. Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly / LB

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    Not many players saw a rise before the draft like Luke Kuechly which forced the Panthers to take the NCAA's leading tackler at number nine. 

    Kuechly played all his football at Boston College as a middle linebacker, but will most likely be moving to the outside with Jon Beason already installed as Carolina's man in the middle. 

    The Panthers suffered a rash of injuries in 2011, including linebackers Beason and Thomas Davis who tore his ACL for the third time in his career. 

    If Davis can come back healthy, he could push Kuechly for playing time, but after being away from the game so long, that seems highly unlikely. 

    Kuechly makes the Panthers defense better right away and there's no way he's not starting by the end of the season. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 99%

10. Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore / CB

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    Like Kuechly, Stephon Gilmore also saw a major rise in his stock heading into the draft. So when the secondary-needy Bills picked 10th overall, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

    Buffalo isn't actually that needy at cornerback. In fact, in 2012, injuries may have derailed the Bills secondary more than actual lack of talent.

    With Terrence McGee and last year's second-round pick Aaron Williams returning from various injuries, the cornerback position could become quite crowded.

    Gilmore needs to pick up the defense quickly or risk being used solely in nickel and dime packages this season.

    Percent Chance of Start: 60%  

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe / NT

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    Dontari Poe was one of those guys you get in every draft. The guy who is a workout warrior but whose talents don't translate when he steps on the field. 

    Regardless, Kansas City took a chance on the big nose tackle from Memphis, hoping he can anchor their defensive front for the next decade and beyond. 

    Poe is a very raw player who needs to be coached up to be successful. But the problem is, the Chiefs don't have many other options at nose tackle. 

    Amon Gordon made two starts last season and Jerrell Powe played in only one game.

    Gordon appears to be the biggest competition for Poe and will probably open the season as the starter. But if Poe can pick up the scheme quickly, he's got a real shot to run with the first team.

    Percent Odds to Start: 55% 

12. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox / DT

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    In 2011, the Eagles saw their high hopes dashed as their defense was routinely gashed up the middle by opposing running backs. 

    So moving up in the draft to take Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox seemed like the legitimate choice. 

    The problem is Cox isn't a great player against the run, meaning Philadelphia could be starting Cullen Jenkins and Cox at tackle; neither of which guy is especially well-versed in run defense. 

    The Eagles have Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri who could make the team's defensive front a little more balanced with Cox coming in on more pass rushing downs. 

    Cox is clearly more talented than Dixon and Landri, and with Mike Patterson's health situation up in the air, it's really going to be interesting to see who Juan Castillo goes with week in and week out as his second defensive tackle starter. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 55%

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd / WR

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    The Cardinals were looking for a way to jump start their offense heading into the draft and came away with Michael Floyd to add a player across from Larry Fitzgerald

    Although the Cardinals' quarterback situation is still up in the air, they now have a potent one-two punch on the outside that can make Arizona's QB play look better than it actually is. 

    The problem is, are we even sure Floyd is a starter in Arizona? 

    During Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game, it appeared that both Andre Roberts and Early Doucet may have been ahead of Floyd on the team's depth chart. 

    According to NFL.com via Kent Somers, Roberts is the favorite to start opposite Fitzgerald for the Cards in 2012. 

    Floyd has all the ability in the world, he just has to hone it and keep himself clean off the field. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 35%

14. St. Louis Rams: Michael Brockers / DT

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    When the Rams saw Jacksonville jump ahead of them to take Justin Blackmon, the team traded down, upset they didn't land the big-play receiver they needed. 

    But they had to be pretty stoked when they saw Michael Brockers sitting on the board at pick 14. 

    Jeff Fisher has traditionally liked to build his teams from the inside out, making the offensive and defensive lines the focal points. 

    Although St. Louis signed Kendall Langford and former Eagle Trevor Laws, it looks like the team plans on building around the youth of Brockers, Chris Long and Robert Quinn.

    Percent Odds to Start: 99% 

15. Seattle Seahawks: Bruce Irvin / DE

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    The Seahawks turned a lot of heads during the draft taking pass rusher and troubled defensive end Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick when most scouts had no higher than a second round grade on him. 

    But during the course of this offseason, Irvin has apparently been turning heads in Seahawks camp. 

    Despite his play and his pass rushing talents, Irvin probably won't get the opportunity to start in Seattle this season. Chris Clemons is a clear-cut first stringer and Red Bryant will no doubt flank him on the other side.

    Irvin will still get his shot on pass rushing downs and could end up being this year's Aldon Smith. But that doesn't mean he's going to be running with the first team in 2012.

    Percent Odds to Start: 1% 

16. New York Jets: Quinton Coples / DE

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    Last year, the Jets scored big in the first round with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. They tried to recreate that magic this year by grabbing former UNC Tar Heel Quinton Coples. 

    The Jets really could have used a pass rusher to complement a great secondary, but decided instead to shore up their defensive front. 

    Coples will have a hard time cracking the starting lineup with Mike Devito projected ahead of him on the team's depth chart, but should figure into the rotation and should be a big piece of the team's future. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 20%

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick / CB

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    When the team lost Jonathan Joseph to free agency, cornerback play fell off some in Cincinnati. To make matters worse, Leon Hall tore his Achilles tendon last season and it's uncertain when he'll be able to return to action. 

    The Bengals used their first of two first-rounders on Dre Kirkpatrick to solidify the cornerback position, only to lose him to a knee injury that will hold him out of most of training camp

    That lost time is going to be a huge speed bump in Kirkpatrick's development time as he'll be battling veteran Nate Clements for the starting job all season long. 

    Clements will most certainly open the season as the starter, but if he struggles or looks slow, Kirkpatrick could seize the moment and earn a spot across from Hall. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 35%

18. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Ingram / LB

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    "Short arms" forced Melvin Ingram down the board, but his pass rush skills forced the Chargers to make a move on the former Gamecock. 

    The problem for Melvin Ingram this year is that San Diego is now very deep at the outside linebacker position. They signed Jarret Johnson away from the Ravens and still have Shaun Phillips, Larry English and Antwan Barnes to go along with Ingram. 

    Phillips and Johnson look almost certain to be the starters to open the year and barring any injury (which has been common for Phillips) they should remain entrenched with the first team. 

    Ingram might be the player of the future in San Diego and could replace Johnson on pass-rushing downs, but it's highly unlikely he'll be a starter this season. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 5%

19. Chicago Bears: Shea McClellin / DE

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    During the draft, Chicago made an attempt to bring some youth to their defense by adding former Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin. 

    The Bears have Julius Peppers sharpied in as the starter at right defensive end for the next five years at least, but across from him it's a bit of a toss-up. 

    Israel Idonije figures to be the starter on the left side going into the season as he has 13 sacks in his two seasons as a starter, but McClellin can push him for his job.

    McClellin will most certainly be in the team's rotation, but to get the starting job is a bit of a stretch. He'll most likely have to settle for being a situational and rotational player this season.

    Percent Odds to Start: 15% 

20. Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright / WR

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    Just a few weeks ago, I would've told you that there was no way Kendall Wright started a game this season for the Titans unless they suffered a serious injury. 

    But after Kenny Britt had yet another run-in with the law, Wright's chances to see the field have skyrocketed.

    The team still has Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins and Damian Williams in the mix but Wright has more talent than all of them.

    It's all going to come down to how long Britt is suspended and how quickly Wright can pick up the offense. I'd put my money on the team starting the season with Washington and Hawkins as the starters, but Wright could work his way into the lineup.

    Percent Odds to Start: 25% 

21. New England Patriots: Chandler Jones / DE

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    Chandler Jones is another guy whose Combine numbers don't match the production you saw on the field at Syracuse. 

    But with the Patriots defense being among the league's worst in 2011 and losing both their starting defensive ends to free agency. Jones became a clear target for the Pats. 

    Jones' athleticism and versatility brings a lot to a Patriots defense that likes to switch back and forth between 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. He's probably already the best defensive lineman on the team in terms of getting to the quarterback. 

    Barring major setbacks, Jones should open the season as a starter in New England and he should finish it as well. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 99%

22. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden / QB

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    It's funny to think that a 28-year-old guy can be a team's quarterback of the future. 

    But that's exactly what happened when the Browns drafted Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick in 2012. 

    Weeden has already pretty much been declared the starter in Cleveland considering there's not much time for him to spend learning and developing. 

    Even with Colt McCoy still on the team and a new ownership group in place, Weeden projects to be the team's starter for the long haul and it's highly doubtful that anyone will unseat him this year. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 99%

23. Detroit Lions: Riley Reiff / OT

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    Lions management had to be shocked to see the draft's second best tackle sitting on the board when they picked at 23 and they wasted no time in scooping him up. 

    But just because they got a steal with Reiff doesn't mean he's destined for the starting lineup right away. 

    Detroit seems pretty content with long-time left tackle Jeff Backus entrenched in his position for at least one more season and Gosder Cherilus looks to get the early nod on the right side. 

    Reiff could probably beat out Cherilus for the right tackle position, but it's uncertain if the Lions want to move him there just for one season. 

    My bet is that Reiff plays a year behind Backus and fills in if there's an injury at either tackle position. But if Backus or Cherilus show signs of struggle, Reiff could jump in and take over.  

    Percent Odds to Start: 50%

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: David DeCastro / OG

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    It's pretty rare that fans get excited over the drafting of an offensive guard.

    But when that player has been compared to future Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson and you've gone through about five years of awful offensive line play, you've got something to get excited about.

    Pittsburgh may have gotten the steal of the draft by taking David DeCastro 24th overall. DeCastro is an instant upgrade over any player the Steelers have put at guard since Alan Faneca left the team.

    There's no doubt DeCastro opens the season as the starter in the Steel City and, barring any major setback, his style of play should help him fit right in with his Steelers teammates.

    Percent Odds to Start: 100% 

25. New England Patriots: Dont'a Hightower / LB

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    Same story pretty much as Chandler Jones, although New England already had a pretty good linebacking corps with Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Rob Ninkovich. 

    Like Jones, Hightower's scheme versatility allows the Patriots to draw up a lot of plays to utilize his talents. In the base 4-3 sets, Hightower will line up at the SAM linebacker position, allowing Ninkovich to move up to defensive end. 

    It'd be hard for me to think a player with Hightower's skill set and leadership qualities wouldn't be starting for the Patriots, whose defense lacked a lot of firepower in 2011. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 90%

26. Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus / OLB

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    After losing Mario Williams to free agency, the Texans got Wade Philips a new toy off the edge in former Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus. 

    Although Williams only played part of the season last year due to injury, Houston's defense thrived and young linebackers Conner Barwin and Brooks Reed stepped up to the challenge. 

    Mercilus probably won't be the starter coming into the season but will be a great addition to the linebacker rotation. Barwin and Reed will most likely get the first string reps, keeping Mercilus just as a rotational player for now. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 15%

27. Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Zeitler / OG

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    After passing on David DeCastro and trading down, the Bengals still end up with a starting-caliber offensive guard in Wisconsin's Kevin Zeiter. 

    Zeitler adds to a very under-the-radar offensive line that features Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith anchoring the outsides and newly added Travelle Wharton penciled in at left guard. 

    Zeitler's stiffest competition will come from second year player Clint Boling, who shouldn't really pose too much of a threat. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 100%

28. Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry / LB

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    Green Bay saw how easily teams focused on Clay Mathews in 2011 and really neutralized the Packers pass rush. 

    So in response to that, the Pack drafted Nick Perry to give them a healthy one-two punch on the outside of their defense. 

    Perry figures to be the starter right away as incumbent Erik Walden was average at best last season. I would doubt there's anyone on Green Bay's roster right now to challenge Perry for the starting spot. 

    Only thing that can stand in his way is himself. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 95%

29. Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Smith / S

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    The Vikings traded back into the bottom of the first round to score hard-hitting safety Harrison Smith to add to their struggling defensive secondary. 

    Smith plays the game like a linebacker, but struggles a lot in coverage. 

    His only real competition at the strong safety position is Jamarca Sanford and, even with the issues in coverage, should be able to handle himself. 

    Smith should enter the season as the starter in Minnesota, but his coverage concerns could keep him on the sidelines. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 85%

30. San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Jenkins / WR

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    San Francisco surprised plenty of people with their play last season, but surprised a whole lot more with their first-round draft pick, selecting A.J. Jenkins 30th overall. 

    This was such a shock because the 49ers had already signed Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to add to Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams. 

    Jenkins was also reportedly struggling early at camp, despite head coach Jim Harbaugh's efforts to defend him.

    I really can't see a situation where Jenkins sees the field this season with so many other receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. There's virtually no chance he starts a game in 2012.

    Percent Chance to Start: 0.5% 

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin / RB

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    The Bucs traded back into the first round to select a running back that reminded head coach Greg Schiano of Ray Rice, whom he coached at Rutgers. 

    Doug Martin is a good runner who has great hands and can be used as a three-down back with some seasoning. 

    His biggest competition, obviously, is LeGarrette Blount who is more of a power runner. 

    It'll be interesting to see how Schiano and the Bucs handle the running back situation this year, but I'm leaning more toward the team starting the rookie in the backfield...just slightly. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 55%

32. New York Giants: David Wilson / RB

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    The World Champions rounded out the first round solidifying their backfield with Virginia Tech back David Wilson. 

    Wilson, like Martin before him, is a multi-tool back who could bring a receiving game to the Giants backfield. 

    But with Ahmad Bradshaw still around in New York, it's highly unlikely Wilson cracks the starting lineup. He'll see a lot of time, as Bradshaw still probably doesn't have it in him to be a feature back, but Wilson won't be the starter this year. 

    Percent Odds to Start: 5%