2012 NFL Draft: Which Team Will Have Top Pick, Will Andrew Luck Go No. 1?
With no 2011 season to look forward to at the moment, why not get even more speculative and look ahead to the 2012 NFL Draft?
We all are crazy here, and since the 2012 NFL Draft does not even exist yet on paper, it only makes sense to start breaking it down in May 2011. I know, crazy.
Anyway, assuming there is a 2011 season, it is fair game to speculate who will do well and who will flop. I am going to speculate on the Top 10 teams in the draft, so this will be depressing to an extent for the fans of those teams.
The questions are the usual ones. Who is No. 1? Will they take Andrew Luck? Will Andrew Luck still be the top-rated quarterback come next spring?
I will give my opinion and "answer" the first two questions, but the third question only will be answered by playing the 2011 NCAA season.
1. Miami Dolphins Select Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
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The Miami Dolphins are going into the 2011 season with a new offensive coordinator whose track record includes two seasons of not being able to score in Cleveland.
In Miami, his best quarterback option at the moment is Chad Henne. This is a recipe for disaster, and I would be surprised if the Dolphins won more than two games this year.
The Dolphins have too much rebuilding to do, and they are not making intelligent decisions. In a division with the Patriots and Jets, the Dolphins will quickly find themselves out of any playoff contention and could be lucky to beat the Bills.
The Dolphins will then select Andrew Luck and Dolphins will hope they get a new offensive coordinator.
Trust me when I say Brian Daboll is one of the most incompetent coordinators in the game today.
2. Carolina Panthers Select Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina
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The Carolina Panthers have great hopes for Cam Newton, but Newton does not have the support system he needs to succeed in Carolina, and the team does not have the patience to keep him on the sidelines while he learns the pro game.
As a result, I am predicting a disastrous first year that will put the Panthers back in the Top Five. The team will not give up on Newton after one year, but they will get him some help.
Enter Alshon Jefferey, the current top-ranked wide receiver, although this pick easily could be Michael Floyd or Justin Blackmon.
3. Washington Redskins Select Matt Barkley, QB USC
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Mike Shanahan actually set the organization back at least two, maybe three, years by trading for and then benching Donovan McNabb.
Shanahan may trade for another quarterback or go with Rex Grossman or John Beck. Either way, it will be a one-year solution.
Matt Barkley is the pick, and the Redskins finally get around to doing something they should have done two years ago: draft a franchise quarterback.
4. Arizona Cardinals Select Matt Kalil, OT USC
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The Arizona Cardinals did not draft a quarterback in this year's draft because they will go after another quarterback in his prime once the league year starts.
Unless it is a disaster, and Jon Skelton shows no improvement, then there is no reason to draft a quarterback in 2012.
However, the Cardinals will continue to rebuild their offensive line, and Matt Kalil is the consensus best prospect.
So that is two USC players off the board in the first five picks.
5. Cincinnati Bengals Select Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Alabama
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The Cincinnati Bengals will continue to flounder in the AFC North because of bad front office management and bad coaching.
Even if the talent does start to show promise, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers still are too dominant for the Bengals to make much noise.
Andy Dalton may have some success, but I just do not see Sam Bradford-type rookie year success coming.
So the Bengals turn to their defense with the first pick and take Dre Kirkpatrick.
6. Oakland Raiders Select Cliff Harris CB/PR Oregon
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The Oakland Raiders will select the fastest man in the draft; there is no other reason to think otherwise.
Cliff Harris is pretty fast and will fill a need, so we will put him here.
Jason Campbell is not the answer in Oakland, and Hue Jackson will struggle in his first season. However, the Raiders will be hesitant to draft another first-round quarterback and will see who is available in the second round.
7. Buffalo Bills Select Ryan Lindley, QB San Diego State
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The Buffalo Bills lost out on the quarterback sweepstakes in 2011, so they will re-enter the derby in 2012 with Ryan Lindley.
The Bills still will be stuck looking up at the Jets and the Patriots, but they will be better than the Dolphins, so there is a ray of light, Bills fans!!
8. Minnesota Vikings Select Quinton Coples, DE/DT North Carolina
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The Minnesota Vikings will be set on offense with Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson. The defense will be the unit in need of the first-round attention in 2012.
Quinton Coples would be a great addition to the line and be able to serve multiple roles to keep opposing offenses on their toes.
9. Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State
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The Cleveland Browns made a lot of good additions in this year's draft, and we still have not seen what they will do once the league year starts with free agency and trades.
On offense, they have Colt McCoy, Peyton Hillis and not much else. The Browns did draft Greg Little in the second round, but even if Little is everything they want him to be, they will need to give him a partner on the other side of the field.
That will come in the form of Justin Blackmon, and McCoy will have two reliable receivers to throw to.
10. San Francisco 49ers Select Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State
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Taking a cue from the Detroit Lions draft playbook, the 49ers decide to get a big defensive tackle to go with the big, fast guys they took in the 2011 NFL Draft like Aldon Smith.
The 49ers will struggle a little bit in 2011 as they make a transition under a new coach, but 2012 should be a real battle between the 49ers and the Rams for control of the NFC West.