2012 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Predictions
This draft is much different from the past few years. The last couple of years, the defensive line was the deep part of the draft. This draft isn't that deep at the D-line position.
This draft has the potential to have three quarterbacks in the top 5. And of course where will Andrew Luck, the most sought-after quarterback for the last couple of years, end up?
I see more offensive players being drafted in the first round than in the past. A lot of teams are in desperate need of a wide receiver, O-lineman or quarterback, and this draft class is deep at all three positions.
This draft is also very deep at linebacker and safety. There are also a good number of teams that need help in the secondary and in the front seven. This class has a lot of great versatile linebackers and also some great cover corners.
Here are my predictions for the first round of the 2012 draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (Stanford, QB)
In return, they will earn the No. 1 pick.
This year has shown the Colts that they not only need a quality backup, but they also need a quarterback for the future. There is no better quarterback than Andrew Luck—he is the best quarterback prospect coming out of college since the Colts very own Peyton Manning.
Luck has it all: he is smart, athletic, has a strong arm, and can make all the right throws with perfect touch and velocity.
2. Kansas City: Matt Barkley (USC, QB)
It's time to move on from Matt Cassel, who is proving that he is just an average quarterback that can get you a few wins here and there.
The Chiefs need to add a true franchise quarterback to their roster, and with this pick they can.
Adding Matt Barkley would be great for the Chiefs. They would get a very athletic quarterback, with a strong arm and good accuracy.
Barkley is a leader and would come into Kansas City and connect with Dwayne Bowe for multiple touchdowns. This would would be a great pick for Kansas City, as they would finally be able to move away from the Cassel project and on to a true quarterback.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Kalil (USC, OT)
The rebuilding process has already begun in Cincy. The Bengals have parted ways with both Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco.
Through the 2011 draft, they added electrifying wideout AJ Green and quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton and Green will be connecting on a lot of touchdowns in Cincinnati, but someone will need to protect Dalton's blindside.
That's where Matt Kalil will come in. This guy is very strong and athletic, and has long arms to help protect the quarterback.
This will be a great investment for the Bengals.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Landry Jones (Oklahoma, QB)
Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst just aren't the answer at the quarterback position for this team—or for any team, for that matter.
Jones will be a good fit for this team and will give Pete Carroll a true franchise quarterback.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State, WR)
The Jacksonville Jaguars haven't had a top-tier wideout in years and will need to add a true No. 1 wideout to help quarterback Blaine Gabbert out.
The Jaguars should select Justin Blackmon with this pick to give Gabbert a reliable target to throw the ball to. Blackmon is a beast! He has the ability to shred any cornerback on his way to a touchdown. He is explosive off the line of scrimmage, with solid hands.
Blackmon also has a knack for getting into the end zone.
6. Carolina Panthers: Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina, WR)
Steve Smith is getting older, and there is no other proven receiver on the roster for Cam Newton to throw the ball to.
Alshon Jeffery would give Cam Newton a great target to throw to down the field.
Jeffery will get a lot of comparisons to Megatron (Calvin Johnson). Jeffery has great deep speed for his size; he is very tall and athletic, and has the ability to go up for the ball in traffic and come down with it.
This would be a great pick for Carolina and would give Newton a reliable target.
8.. Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Martin (Stanford, OT)
The O-line in Minnesota is terrible, and if they are going to give Christian Ponder a chance, they need to be able to keep him clean and give him time to throw.
Drafting Jonathan Martin would be a great way to bulk up the line. Martin is a great pass and run blocker. Martin has great footwork and is known for keeping the pocket clean for his quarterback.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M, WR)
Jeff Fuller is a very tall and talented receiver. At 6'4", Fuller can go up in traffic and get the ball over just about everyone. Fuller also has great deep speed.
The thing that Fuller struggles with is being jammed at the line; he has a hard time fighting off of that. Fuller will need to fix that and prove that he can compete against the top corners in the NFL.
9. Denver Broncos: Jared Crick (Nebraska, DT)
Jared Crick is going to draw comparisons to last year's Wisconsin standout, JJ Watt.
The Broncos have great defensive ends, but need to upgrade their interior line. Adding Jared Crick can do that.
Crick has great pass-rushing ability to get to the quarterback. He is strong at the point of attack and has a quick burst of the line.
Not only can Crick sack the quarterback, but he is also very good at playing the run.
Look for Crick to make an immediate impact on this football team.
10. Cleveland Browns: Quinton Coples (UNC, DE)
The Cleveland Browns have been a horrible pass-rushing team, and they hoped they had fixed that in the 2011 draft. But now they are back and ready to pick from this years pass-rushers.
This year the Browns will select a sack artist by the name of Quinton Coples.
Coples burst on to the scene in his first year as a starter with 10 sacks. Coples will draw comparisons to former UNC defensive standout Julius Peppers.
Coples is a freak: he is athletic and can play across the line. This will give the Browns a great pass-rusher.
11. St. Louis Rams: Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama, CB)
The St. Louis Rams have been absolutely terrible in the secondary, and that's a nice way of putting it.
The Rams need to upgrade at this position, and adding Dre Kirkpatrick would be a great fit for this team.
At 6'3", Kirkpatrick is very tall for his position. Kirkpatrick is quick and can really help this team cover some of the tall and better receivers in the league.
Taking Dre Kirkpatrick with this pick will allow the Rams get rid of Al Harris and move Kirkpatrick in to the fold.
12. Miami Dolphins Trent Richardson (Alabama, RB)
Daniel Thomas has shown glimpses... small glimpses of greatness.
Adding a guy like Trent Richardson would be great for this team. Richardson is a great runner who can not only run between the tackles, but when he gets out into the open field he is a blur.
Richardson would give Miami a reliable running back.
13. Oakland Raiders: Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina, CB)
Gilmore is also proving to be a great cover corner, helping this South Carolina defense become even more dominant.
The Raiders are in desperate need of a good, quick cover corner since losing Nnamdi Asomugha. Gilmore would fit in perfectly with this team.
14. Buffalo Bills: Zach Brown (UNC, OLB)
The Bills are weak at linebacker and need to start rebuilding this position. Zach Brown is a great outside linebacker prospect.
While a little undersized for the position, he has unmatched speed at his position. Brown is great in coverage, and with his speed and burst can pretty much hawk down speedy receivers and backs from behind and save touchdowns.
15. New York Giants: Riley Reiff (Iowa, OT)
The New York Giants O-line is old and rattled, and it needs to be upgraded.
Riley Reiff is a great tackle prospect coming out of Iowa, a university that has a tendency to make great offensive lineman.
The G-men would take Reiff with this pick if they were smart. Reiff has all the tools to be a successful tackle in the NFL and would help keep Eli clean.
16. Tennessee Titans: Luke Kuechly (Boston College, ILB)
The Titans have been terrible at the linebacker position lately and will need to upgrade to compete well against the run and the pass.
Adding a guy like Luke Kuechly would be great for this football team. He is a great leader and is good at reading the offense and making a break on the ball.
This kid is a football player and a beast, and would be a great pick for the titans.
17. Washington Redskins: Morris Claiborne (LSU, CB)
Morris Claiborne is a great cover cornerback. Claiborne has been exceptional against talented teams, shutting down everyone he has come up against.
DeAngelo Hall is getting old and, in my opinion, is overrated. If not for Jay Cutler, Hall would have missed out on four picks and the Pro Bowl.
It's time to upgrade that position by adding Claiborne.
18. Arizona Cardinals: Donte Paige-Moss (UNC, DE)
Donte Paige-Moss is a freak of nature at the defensive end position.
He will give the Cardinals a great pass-rusher that has it all: speed, strength and the moves to get to the quarterback.
The Cardinals could and probably will change Moss into a outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Moss could become a DeMarcus Ware-type player.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dwight Jones (UNC, WR)
Dwight Jones has become a big surprise at the wideout position. Jones has it all: he is tall, has great down field speed, and has soft hands.
Jones catches everything thrown his way and is also a very good run blocker. Jones will give Josh Freeman another target opposite Mike Williams.
20. Detroit Lions: Brandon Jenkins (Florida State, OLB)
Brandon Jenkins would be another great piece to add to this young, talented defense in the Motor City.
Jenkins can play defensive end, but with Detroit he will probably end up playing outside linebacker.
Jenkins has great hands and long arms, and a great burst of speed off the edge. He is very good at defending the run or setting the edge against the run.
21. Dallas Cowboys: Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska, CB)
Terrance Newman is injury prone and has nothing left in the tank, and Mike Jenkins is overrated as a cover corner, so it's time to upgrade.
The 'Boys need to bring in the man who was overshadowed by Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard. Dennard is a great cover corner with shut-down credentials.
This is the best cornerback left on the board, so the 'Boys should take a shot at him.
22. Houston Texans: Cliff Harris (Oregon, CB/KR/PR)
The Houston Texans still need help in the secondary and could use Cliff Harris as there nickle back and also put him in on kick returns and punt returns.
The kid is a straight speedster and can keep up with some of the quicker receivers in the league. He could really add another dimension to Wade Phillips' defense.
23. Cleveland Browns from Atlanta Falcons: Jerel Worthy (Michigan State, DT)
The Falcons need help in the interior of the defensive line.
The ideal pick would be Jerel Worthy. The guy is big and quick for his size. Worthy is very good against the run and would really help bulk up this line for Atlanta.
24. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd (Notre Dame, WR)
Michael Floyd has off-field issues that will scare some teams away, but when you turn on the film and watch him play, he is a great wide-receiver prospect.
Floyd has speed and strength. Floyd also has a great leaping ability and can go up and over corners and get the ball.
The Bears are in need of a reliable receiver for Jay Cutler, and Floyd could be the guy.
25. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw (Alabama, LB)
Courtney Upshaw is versatile.
He can rush the passer off the edge, get down and play defensive end or stand up and play the "Mike" linebacker.
Upshaw would be a great fit for for Rex Ryan's defense. This would give Rex a guy whom he could play anywhere and get production from.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ray-Ray Armstrong (Miami, S)
Troy Polamalu is getting old and showing signs of slowing down. Now is the time to draft his replacement and get a little younger in the secondary.
Ray-Ray Armstrong is built like a linebacker but moves like a cornerback. Armstrong is a great deep coverage safety and is able to flip his hips and be aggressive attacking the ball.
Armstrong will be a great fit for the Steelers, a safety for the future.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dont'a Hightower (Alabama, LB)
The Saints have been terrible against the run this year and have already allowed running backs to run wild. The Saints need to upgrade at the linebacker position.
Hightower would give them a great linebacker that can either play inside or outside. Hightower is great against the run and should help upgrade the Saints' defense.
28. San Diego Chargers: Chase Minnifield (Virginia, CB)
29. Philadelphia Eagles: Bruce Irvin (West Virginia, LB)
The Eagles are small and weak at the linebacker position and have proved so far that it's their only weakness. Teams have been able to run up the middle on this team because of the weak play at linebacker.
Irvin has great size and speed for the position. He is a great pass-rusher and is also great against the run.
Irvin just needs to learn to play coverage better and bulk up just a little bit.
30. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Miller (Miami, RB)
Ricky Williams is bound to retire soon, and when that happens Ray Rice will need a backup. Lamar Miller would be a great pickup for this team, assuming he falls this far.
Miller is a great runner and good receiver out of the backfield, and he can run back kicks. He is very explosive off the line and is patient at letting his blocks develop.
Miller is an ideal running back and would be a great pick for the Ravens.
31. Green Bay Packers: Cordy Glenn (Georgia, OG)
Aaron Rodgers is still taking too many hits in the pocket and is scrambling for his life on just about every play.
It's time to upgrade the Packers interior line, and Cordy Glenn would do the job for them. He is a not only good at protecting the quarterback but is also very athletic and can get to the second level quickly to help with the run game.
32. New England Patriots: David DeCastro (Stanford, OG)
The Patriots are not done fixing the line. They drafted Nate Solder last year, and he proved to be a great player. Now it's time to add to the aging interior line by drafting David DeCastro.
This guy has kept Andrew Luck upright for years and is very good setting up the run. DeCastro will be a great pick for the Patriots offensive line.
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