2012 NFL Mock Draft: An Early Look at Next Year's Top 10

Matt SmithContributor IIIJuly 18, 2011

2012 NFL Mock Draft: An Early Look at Next Year's Top 10

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal looks to pass as he rolls out of the pocket against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Stanf
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    As we all know, Andrew Luck was the favorite to go No.1 overall this year. He decided to return to school, citing his degree as a reason.

    But in 2012, many of the player, like Luck, who decided to return to school will get another opportunity to join the draft.

    The draft order will be determined using my own odds for the football season.

    Though it's hard to tell who will emerge as stars in the NFL, but we already have an early look at who will be the stars next season for the college football world.

1. Carolina Panthers: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13:  Alshon Jeffery #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks smiles after winning a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida. The Gamecocks beat the Gators 36-14.  (Photo
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Yet again, the Panthers have the No.1 pick. If they use it on a QB, which they won't, Panthers fans will be screaming for change.

    Although Justin Blackmon had the better production this season, that is in part due to the great play of quarterback Brandon Weeden and Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid offense.

    Jeffery is a big receiver who also has the necessary speed. He runs routes sharply and has dominated against several top notch cornerbacks.

    He can go up and grab the jump balls and was one of the more productive WRs this year.

2. Washington Redskins: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 03:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates after he threw a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miam
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Redskins have a horrible QB situation and holes all over the offense and defense.

    Luckily for them – no pun intended – Luck is still available at No.2.

    Even if someone offered their entire draft for Luck á la Ricky Williams, the Redskins still wouldn't budge.

    The Stanford Cardinal is called the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning and displayed pretty much everything you want in a QB coming out of college.

    Luck would be the immediate starter for a team who desperately needs some sort of QB.

3. Cleveland Browns: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 30:  Matt Barkley #7 and Ronald Johnson #83 of USC Trojans celebrate a touchdown to trail 24-29 against the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (
    Harry How/Getty Images

    By no means should anyone believe that Colt McCoy is a franchise QB. He just simply doesn't have what it takes.

    Barkley is the No.2 QB prospect heading into this season, and is primed to have a nice junior year.

    Though Ronald Johnson departs from USC, they are still one of the best recruiting colleges in the country.

    Barkley will get a new toy to play with in five star recruit George Farmer and that will only boost his numbers.

    If they deem Barkley unready, then the Browns have the option to start McCoy another year. A QB like Barkley would be too much to pass up on here.

4. Denver Broncos: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:  Quinton Coples #90 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Kenan Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The 6'6", 275 pound product from UNC is drawing comparisons to another Tar Heel. That player, Julius Peppers, is one of the best defensive ends in the NFL.

    Though Coples might need to bulk up in order to play defensive end in the NFL, he is still the best defensive player in the draft.

    Coples has a blend of speed and strength that allowed him to get to the opposing quarterback with ease.

    He recorded 10 sacks this past season and is only expected to improve on that.

5. Tennessee Titans: Brandon Jenkins, DE, FSU

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    CHESTNUT HILL, MA - OCTOBER 03:  Brandon Jenkins #49 of the Florida State Seminoles walks off the field after the game against the Boston College Eagles on October 3, 2009 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Boston College defeated Florida
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Unfortunately for the Titans, their man Quinton Coples was selected one pick earlier. So they have to settle for another DE who could fit into their 4-3 scheme.

    Originally, I was skeptical of Jenkins because of his weight. But he reportedly bulked up to around 260 pounds from his previous 234 pounds.

    Jenkins has a long frame and used it to rack up 13.5 sacks last season.

    If he gets similar results as last season, but at 25 pounds heavier, Jenkins stock could soar up to here. 

6. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

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    LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 29:  Matt Kalil #75 of the USC Trojans looks on against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 29, 2008 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  USC won 38-3.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
    Jeff Golden/Getty Images

    How good would it be for your college if you produced two Top 10 offensive lineman in consecutive drafts?

    Well that's what USC is primed to do, even if Tyron Smith was a reach at No.9.

    Kalil is truly a dominant tackle and forced Tyron Smith to the other side of the line in college.

    The Vikings need to upgrade their line, especially if they want to keep Christian Ponder healthy.

7. Seattle Seahawks: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Jerel Worthy #99 of the Michigan State Spartans moves past a block attempt by Brian Mulroe #72 of the Northwestern Wildcats with his sights set on Dan Persa #7 at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan St
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Though some feel Billy Winn is the better defensive tackle in this draft, there is no doubt in my mind that Worthy is the best.

    The Seahawks need a defensive tackle that can disrupt the middle and allow others to make big plays.

    Worthy isn't ultra-productive, but he was good enough to record 40 tackles and four sacks.

    The Seahawks have needs on both the offensive end and the defensive end but really need to bolster their front seven.

8. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

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    BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Michael Thomas #3 and Jonathan Martin #55 of the Stanford Cardinal celebrate after beating the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Ima
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Martin is one of those players that looks better because of his quarterback.

    That said, he has still done a fine job of protecting Andrew Luck, the staple of the Cardinals offense.

    The Bengals need a new lineman to protect Andy Dalton/Carson Palmer. So what do they do? Take an offensive lineman of course.

    Martin is a sound lineman who could stand to improve on his footwork among other things, but nonetheless he's a solid player.

9. Arizona Cardinals: Donte Paige-Moss, OLB/DE, UNC

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    CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 13:  Donte Paige-Moss #98 of the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Playing opposite Quinton Coples will only help his draft status and could vault him up to here with an impressive junior season.

    At 260 lbs, Paige-Moss is more suited to play outside linebacker, something the Cardinals are in need of.

    If they haven't figured out their quarterback situation by next year's draft they may wish to address that, but Ken Whisenhunt will likely bring in a QB with some sort of experience whenever the lockout gets resolved.

10. Buffalo Bills: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws the ball against the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Peters
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This may end up being a bit of a reach for Landry Jones, but the Vikings reached for Ponder at No.12, so why can't the Bills reach a little for Jones?

    Jones is going to put up ridiculous numbers. We know that.

    But when the least amount of times you've thrown the ball in a game is 29, it's expected.

    Coming out of the spread offense, the Oklahoma star may not be immediately ready for the pros.

    Bills fans may have to sit through another year of Ryan Fitzpatrick.