2012 NFL Mock Draft: Complete 32 Team 1st Round Mock Draft (with Video)
It's never too early to take a look into the future of football. A 2012 mock draft is difficult because 2011 free agency hasn't even transpired. We don't know the needs of teams this season, let alone next season.
The order is going to be difficult to determine as well. Did anyone have Carolina pegged as the worst team in the league before the season started?
Even so, this list provides a good understanding of what to expect from the best of the best in college football, as we head into the 2011 season.
To be clear, playoffs were not taken into account in the order of the draft. I simply ranked them by their expected records, which explains why the NFC West doesn't have a team making the playoffs.
These are the players you will need to know, or at least monitor during the college season. There are a lot of draft "experts" who get started on their studying of potential draftees after the season ends.
Here is a starter kit so you can watch the real thing unfold for yourselves this upcoming season.
1: Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
What? The Bengals just drafted Andy Dalton. Isn't he good? Isn't he their future franchise quarterback?
The answer is absolutely. I'm sure the Bengals fully expect Dalton to be a solid starter for them at some point. The fact of the matter is, Andrew Luck may be one of the best.
We may be talking about Peyton Manning here. He has all the tools to be great; a lazer for an arm, he comes from a pro style offense, he has the footwork, the mobility, the moxy, the size, etc.
The Bengals have their guy, but if they have a chance to get Luck, you can bet your house that Andy Dalton is going to get pushed to the side. The same goes for any other "quarterback of the future" on any roster in the league.
There are a ton of highlight tapes on Luck you are going to see over and over again. I figured I would provide you with one you might not otherwise see.
2: Buffalo Bills, Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Unlike last season, this year actually produces a top flight left tackle.
Tyron Smith went 9th overall, but he also put on a ton of good weight after the season ended and destroyed his pro day and the combine.
Smith also failed to lock up the left tackle spot on his own team in college. Matt Kalil has dominated at USC since he arrived.
He has the left tackle role down cold and may be a plug and play left tackle in Buffalo.
He's No. 75 in the video.
3: Denver Broncos, Matt Barkley, QB, USC
John Elway seems to be running the show in Denver. He can say whatever he wants about how he is advocating for Tim Tebow or how he likes Kyle Orton.
The guy wants a new QB, one that he hand selects.
The 2011 draft didn't produce a quarterback worthy of being taken by Denver. The 2012 class produces two elite quarterbacks.
While Matt Barkley is far below Andrew Luck, he is still an elite prospect.
He has the pro ready arm and the potential that seventh overall pick Jake Locker had when he came out. He also has the refinement and leadership teams sought in Andy Dalton.
There are a lot of Barkley naysayers, but with the way teams overvalue quarterbacks, don't be surprised if he goes third. A team traded up almost this high to select Mark Sanchez, remember?
Elway doesn't get the PA-12 QB he wants here, but Barkley is a great consolation prize.
4: Washington Redskins, Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
The Redskins didn't see a quarterback of their liking and traded back in 2011.
They beefed up the defensive line with Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins leading the way. They even brought in wide receiver help by selecting Leonard Hankerson.
If they are unable to draft Luck or Barkley, they need to help out the offensive side of the ball.
Mike Shanahan runs a system, I get it. That doesn't mean his system can't feature talent to try to hide the miserable QB play the Redskins may have to endure for yet another season.
Alshon Jeffery has the big "Michael Crabtree" playmaking ability. If you need a receiver to get the ball to, he's going to go up and get it.
At 6'4", 233 pounds, Jeffery has the physical presence teams crave. Two receivers went in the first six picks in the 2011 draft. Jeffery could go at least this high.
Watch the video of him destroying Dre Kirkpatrick and the No. 1 ranked Alabama Crimson tide last season.
5: Carolina Panthers, Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE
This might have Da'Quan Bowers pre-knee questions written all over it. Coples is 6'6", 255 pounds of man.
There are going to be teams who want to stand him up and make him a rush end, but it seems like if he bulks up a bit, we may be talking about the second coming of Julius Peppers.
He's got the speed that makes him a great edge rusher and the power that allows him to play on the interior when needed.
He won't be used in that fashion at the next level, but it speaks to his versatility. I can't imagine Ron Rivera going offense twice.
He needs a 3-4 rush end and Coples may be able to stand up and be the sort of linebacker the Texans are trying to make Mario Williams.
6: Arizona Cardinals, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Larry Fitzgerald is in a contract year. At the moment, the Cardinals have no quarterback worth mentioning.
They drafted Ryan Matthews, but Fitzgerald is probably in the prime of his Hall of Fame career. Drafting a running back in the second round isn't going to be enough to keep him around.
Assuming the Cards struggle as expected, it's going to be hard to lock up the best receiver in football.
There probably won't be a QB worth selecting here, so the Cardinals will probably want to go the route they did in 2011 by selecting the best player on the board at a position of need.
Justin Blackmon hauled in at least 105 yards in every single game in 2010. He's a big play receiver who can flat out handle even the most heralded corners.
Check out his tape against Nebraska and Prince Amukamara.
7: Cleveland Browns, Donte Paige-Moss, DE/OLB, North Carolina
The Browns could certainly use some more weapons for Colt McCoy, but if two receivers are already off the board, filling another need may be a necessity.
Donte Paige-Moss is an Aldon Smith type of defensive end.
He clearly has the tools to be an edge rusher in a 4-3 scheme, but a 3-4 team could be attracted to the potential he has as a stand up rush outside linebacker.
The Browns have bigger needs, but the seventh overall pick is too early to select a right tackle and they could use a monster on the outside.
8: Seattle Seahawks, Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Jerel Worthy is a monster. He's going to be hard for interior linemen to contain, which could really help the rest of the defense.
You could make an argument for him in either scheme, but he fits perfectly in Seattle.
Worthy isn't going to blow anyone's mind statistically, but that doesn't mean he isn't making an impact. His four sacks don't really speak to the impact he made in the backfield.
Worthy wins the battle at the line of scrimmage and requires the attention of multiple offensive players on every play.
He fills a need in Seattle and can contribute immediately.
9: Tennessee Titans, Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida
Janoris Jenkins isn't even the number one rated corner in the draft, according to some.
His character issues are going to scare off a lot of teams and may cause him to be taken off some teams' boards entirely.
Tennessee is going to want to make sure they aren't getting a Pacman Jones here, but Jenkins is a great talent at cornerback and could contribute immediately.
He may have to make a Robert Quinn type of push to appeal to the better nature of teams. You can't argue with his production though.
Check out the way he eliminates Julio Jones and A.J. Green from the game.
10: Minnesota Vikings, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Vikings surprised a lot of people by selecting Christian Ponder in the 2011 draft.
They believe they have their quarterback of the future and now need to take out an insurance policy.
Jonathan Martin is sort of like Anthony Castonzo.
He may even have worse quickness and isn't as powerful upon impact, but he is going to rule the combine drills and could be the best all-around lineman in the entire class.
He needs to bulk up a bit, but he has time to do so. I couldn't find a video of Martin, so I resorted to one of the millions of Andrew Luck highlight reels. Martin is No. 55.
11: Oakland Raiders, Jaron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech
Jaron Hosley isn't as good of a true corner as Janoris Jenkins, but many teams are going to see that as a great trade off, considering the baggage Jankins come with.
He is a return man, which is going to help his draft stock and may be inevitably make him the number one corner selected in this year's draft.
The Raiders may not be able to retain Nnamdi Asomugha, who is currently a free agent. If that is indeed the case, the Raiders still have a legitimate No. 1 corner in Stanford Routt.
That being said, they need to fill the void on the other side and Hosley would be the perfect guy to do it.
12: Jacksonville Jaguars, Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
The highlight tape you see above speaks to both the strengths and shortcomings of Manti Te'o. He is a physical linebacker who makes plays all over the field.
As is typical with aggressive defenders, he has a tendency to overpursue at times, which leads to him "chasing" the ball carrier down the field.
He may be a liability in coverage as well, but his ability to bring the wood every time he impacts a ball carrier make his coverage skills almost irrelevant.
Jacksonville needs a defender who can define who they are as a defense. Te'o gives them an identity and hulking presence in the middle of the field.
13: Miami Dolphins, Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College
Luke Kuechly is all over the field. Tackles are a misleading and highly unofficial stat, but the number of tackles to which Kuechly has a hand in could approach 200 next season.
He's constantly around the ball and has the instincts to dissect plays. He is a sure tackler and has solid speed. He is a downhill linebacker and a playmaker who can make a huge impact at the next level.
The Dolphins are in desperate need of a quarterback, but their 2011 draft suggests they may be gearing up for an aggressive free agency period.
If they bring in a veteran quarterback, it's almost a given that they are going to pursue the defensive side of the ball.
The Dolphins have been missing Zach Thomas since he left. Kuechly could come in and round out a promising Dolphins linebacker core.
14: Detroit Lions, Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
I really hate to use a high school highlight tape, but it speaks to just how athletic Stephon Gilmore is and what he can do once he has the ball in his hands.
He may want to spend another year in school, but shouldn't slip past the first round if he decides to come out in 2012. He's 6'1" and should produce solid numbers when he runs at the combine.
The Lions passed on Prince Amukamara in 2011.
Many analysts questioned the Nick Fairley pick, but Fairley was the best player on the board and gives them possibly the best tandem of defensive tackles in the league.
Fans won't be griping when they see Fairley on the field. By bringing in Gilmore, they fill a need and the resurrection of the Lions is one step closer to completion.
15: San Francisco 49ers, Marcus Forston, DT, Miami
Marcus Forston could be the defensive tackle the San Francisco 49ers are looking for to anchor their 3-4.
They are in desperate need of a corner as well, but if Aubrayo Franklin leaves, there isn't a free agent out there who can really fill the void.
Forston is 6'3" and in the 300-pound club. His surprising agility and quickness combined with his inability to be moved makes him perfect for either scheme.
He is great against the run and will make life easier for the promising linebacker core San Francisco has assembled.
16: St. Louis Rams, Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A & M
The Rams are in desperate need of a wide receiver. Jeff Fuller isn't exactly elite talent in this year's class, but he certainly could develop into the number one wide receiver in St. Louis.
Fuller is a huge 6'4" target. He can go up and go get the ball when he needs to and knows what to do with it once the ball is in his hands.
Sam Bradford is as promising a young talent as there is in the league. The offensive line is solid, but the Rams need to start bringing in weapons to help him get to his full potential.
17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Dre Kirkpatrick needs this year to develop and prove to scouts that he can be an elite NFL corner.
The 2012 class presents a lot of promising corner talent and Kirkpatrick could get lost in the wash.
Kirkpatrick has struggled somewhat against top end talent at times. Teams are going to fall in love with his potential. He's a physical corner and his 6'3" build is rare for a corner with his sort of talent.
The Bucs need a corner to be the beneficiary of their now stellar defensive line.
Kirkpatrick could be a top-10 pick in the draft, but he may find himself with the same fate as Jimmy Smith.
18: Chicago Bears, Vontaze Burfict, MLB, Arizona State
Vontaze Burfict has a screw loose, in a good way. It gets him in trouble at times and comes with personal fouls and his character is going to come into question.
He has done a better job of avoiding conflict after the whistle though, even when teams try to provoke him.
Burfict is an outstanding athlete and the hardest hitter in the entire class. Upon impact, nobody punishes ball carriers like Burfict. He can blitz and play sideline to sideline.
Bush league tactics like the one in the video? Sometimes. Fearless hitter with a relentless pursuit of the ball? All the time.
The perfect place for him to land is in Chicago. He can play in a veteran linebacker corp on a seasoned defense.
The stability in the locker room and presence of Brian Urlacher would help him harness his potential and maximize the benefits of his ferocious playing style.
19: Dallas Cowboys, Ray Ray Armstrong, S, Miami
It's hard not to see Ed Reed when you look at Ray Ray Armstrong in his Miami uniform. He is a big hitter and has great ball skills.
The Cowboys need a safety in a major way. Assuming the team performs better under Jason Garrett and avoids a 6-10 record this season, they don't have many glaring needs, especially offensively.
Bringing in the best safety in the draft is the way to go for Dallas here. Armstrong can help out in the run, but it doesn't take away from his abilities as a DB.
20: San Diego Chargers, Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
It looks like Da'Quan Bowers puts on a different number at times, when the 2010 Clemson Tigers take the field.
Andre Branch is a relentless pass rusher who could play in a 3-4 or a 4-3. He delivers a big blow on impact (as seen in the video). Teams will be intrigued by his athleticism and potential to be a 3-4 outside linebacker.
One such team is San Diego. Greg Manusky has had trouble finding an outside linebacker to fit in his 3-4 schemes.
He takes over for Ron Rivera and will not want to see a decline in production. Shawn Phillips and Branch would be a scary tandem.
21: Kansas City Chiefs, Kelechi Osemele, RT, Iowa State
Kelechi Osemele is going to be an interesting prospect to watch next season. We could see his stock rise all the way to this point next season.
He started at left tackle for Iowa State, but looks a lot more like a right tackle or interior lineman.
Teams are beginning to value elite guards more and more in recent drafts. Don't be surprised to see a team take a stab at Osemele in the mid to late first round.
Kansas City is heavily invested in the offensive side of the football. They may want to address the defensive side of the ball, but holes are going to start coming to the surface on the offensive line.
There is no sense in not protecting the assets KC has spent so many picks and so much money on.
If they see Osemele as a plug and play right tackle, they shouldn't hesitate to bring him in.
22: Houston Texans, Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
Wade Phillips has to be elated. Mario Williams, J.J. Watt, Demeco Ryans and Brian Cushing are all in the front seven.
Amobi Okoye simply doesn't have what it takes to lock down the nose tackle spot in a 3-4.
While the team could elect to reach and fill that role, there is also a spot on the defensive line that Mario Williams leaves by making the move to linebacker.
Jared Crick is going to soar up draft boards this season. He is a five technique prototype who can help against both the run and the pass. Nebraska has been a defensive talent factory for the past few years.
Just as Prince Amukamara and Ndamukong Suh were big draft stories, expect Crick to turn heads this season.
The addition of Crick could give the Texans the best, young front seven in the entire league.
23: New York Giants, Michael Brewster, C, Ohio State
The Giants went with the sexy cornerback pick in the 2011 draft, ignoring the interior line needs.
They have a rapidly aging offensive line and can't afford to let them expire without finding replacements—not with their type of offense at least.
Michael Brewster is a plug and play center. He has a great head on his shoulders and incredible leadership capabilities (check out this interview).
He's been starting since his freshman year at Ohio State. He would be a great addition here.
24: Philadelphia Eagles, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I've read reports that LeSean McCoy is the No. 1 back in the NFL. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with that notion.
McCoy is a change of pace for the offense. Michael Vick keeps teams honest with his legs and the Eagles utilize the screen game to make defenses back off the pass.
He's a solid running back, without a doubt, but teams are willing to give him rushing yards.
Trent Richardson is the most talented back this year. He would open up a realm of possibilities for the Eagles' offense. They have the shifty dynamic back in McCoy. Richardson could come in and be a true feature back.
There are going to be times when the high octane offense is brought to a screeching halt next season. When that happens, they need a guy like Richardson to come in and bring another guy in the box.
He opens up the whole offense and makes Philly even more dangerous.
25: New York Jets, Brandon Lindsey, DE/OLB, Pittsburgh
Brandon Lindsey is a double digit sack guy who could excel in the Rex Ryan defense.
The Jets went with Muhammed Wilkerson in the 2011 draft, so it only makes sense that they will try to address the OLB need in the 2012 draft.
Vernon Gholston will be forever attached to any outside linebacker brought in by the Jets. That's sort of a good thing if the Jets bring in Lyndsey. If he comes in and gets one sack, he's already an improvement.
Lindsey is a sack artist and the Jets need a pass rusher who can make an impact.
Despite their success as a defense, they don't have anyone on roster who is adept at getting to the quarterback.
26: Baltimore Ravens, Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Ohio State
Don't discount Sergio Kindle. He could still be a big-time contributor when he returns to the Ravens.
Even so, they have an aging defense and could use a defensive end/outside linebacker type to compliment Terrell Suggs.
Upshaw is 260 pounds, which makes him the ultimate tweener. He has a knack for making his way into the backfield and constantly makes his presence felt behind the line of scrimmage.
If Upshaw can render a double-digit sack year at Alabama this season, he's should go at least this high.
27: New England Patriots (From N.O.), T.J. McDonald, S, USC
I have no idea what the Patriots are going to do. I could just leave this slide at that and be done with it, but I guess I will give it a shot, at least.
The Pats brought in the enigma that is Ras-I Dowling. Belichick doesn't have bad drafts typically, so I'm assuming they knew exactly what they were getting in Dowling.
He has a huge upside, as did their first pick Nate Solder, and he should fit nicely as the No. 2 corner.
Assuming he doesn't go to safety, the Patriots could use a safety. Brandon Meriweather went to the "U' and is handling shooting accusations at the moment, which seems to be some sort of right of passage amongst elite defenders coming out of Miami.
Even if he is acquitted, T.J. McDonald would be an asset in New England.
I'm sure they will either trade this pick or select someone completely under the radar, but McDonald fills a need and would be my best guess at this point.
28: Cleveland Browns (From AtL), Mike Adams, RT, Ohio State
Mike Adams looks a lot more like a left tackle than a right tackle, but he is also the best overall tackle on the board at this point.
Joe Thomas has the left tackle spot locked down and the Browns already took a pass rusher in this mock.
There aren't any receivers who would really make sense here, so the Browns should see nothing wrong with taking Adams.
He's got the frame and length to pass block like a left tackle on the right side.
He could stand to improve his run blocking, especially for a right tackle, but Cleveland gets by with their run game even with a void on the other side.
He's No. 75 in the video.
29: Indianapolis Colts, Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Alfonzo Dennard was grossly overlooked because of the Prince Amukamara hype in Nebraska.
He and Jared Crick both have a great chance to go in the first round.
He isn't going to be the first corner taken, but his stock is right about where Amukamara's was when Amukamara was entering his senior season.
The Colts are in the process of building a real team. Peyton Manning has helped to disguise their flaws, but once the Manning era ends they don't want to be back on the bottom of the league.
They went after a left tackle in their last draft. It's time to go get that lockdown corner.
30: Pittsburgh Steelers, Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina
The Steelers need a guy to be the next Casey Hampton in a few short years, preferably one who can jump into the rotation immediately when the big fella needs a break.
Tydreke Powell is 6'3" 310 pounds and could fit into their 3-4 scheme.
Dick Lebeau will be a better judge of whether or not he fits into their scheme than I am, but there is a chance they have what they are looking for in Powell.
Hopefully he doesn't bring this dance with him.
31: New England Patriots, Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Mohamed Sanu is one of the more versatile players to come out of the draft.
Rutgers uses him in a number of different ways, but teams are going to probably pass on him because he doesn't jump off the tape and he doesn't produce huge stats.
That's exactly what the Patriots look for in their draft picks, so it seems like they may be a natural fit.
I'm sure Belichick is going to trade this pick out for a first-rounder in the 2013 draft, but assuming he doesn't, Sanu seems like the most logical pick.
32: Green Bay Packers, Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Ted Thompson is the best GM in the league. Period. The man strikes gold with just about every pick he makes.
He makes very few big moves in free agency and has been able to build his team predominately through the draft.
The Packers are running out of needs in a hurry, which is a good thing. Charles Woodson isn't in their future at corner and Sam Shields seems like the perfect Nickel corner.
Cliff Harris has the ball skills and instincts to be a No. 1 corner in the NFL. There are seven or so corners who could potentially go in the first round.
Some of them will naturally fall out of relevance, while others could go in the top ten. It's going to be a storyline worth following throughout the year.
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