NFL Draft 2012: How the Trade Deadline Has Affected the First Round
We are still a little over six months away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, but is it ever too early to think about your favorite team's first round pick?
For loyal fans of teams such as the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts who might be in the "Suck for Luck" stage of their season, the draft is looking like an escape to their current struggles.
There were a couple impact trades over the past few days that could potentially shake up the draft, and I will do my best to project how those deals have done just that.
1. Miami Dolphins: Andrew Luck, QB-Stanford
There was never a doubt that Andrew Luck would be the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.
The Dolphins seem like the team that will win the Luck sweepstakes.
Their offense is completely stagnant and with Matt Moore now starting, things can't get a whole lot worse in Miami.
Luck is everything scouts say he is and in the long run, the Dolphins will be rewarded for their poor performance this season.
2. Indianapolis Colts: Quinton Coples, DE-North Carolina
Unfortunately for the Colts, I believe they'll miss out on Andrew Luck and will be "stuck" with 4-time MVP Peyton Manning.
Quinton Coples to the Colts makes almost too much sense seeing as Robert Mathis will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and will be looking for his replacement.
Coples is a physical freak standing at 6-foot-6, and weighing 285 pounds.
He is extremely quick off the edge and is always in the backfield causing havoc, and will fit in perfectly playing across from Dwight Freeney
3. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT-USC
The St. Louis Rams pick at No. 3 is the first instance of where the trade deadline has affected.
Acquiring Brandon Lloyd from Denver has decreased the need for a play-making wide receiver for Sam Bradford.
Instead of using that pick on either Justin Blackmon or Alshon Jeffery, they'll use it to give their franchise quarterback some protection.
Matt Kalil is the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman in this year's draft class and his strength and footwork are nothing short of impressive.
Kalil is extremely versatile and could play anywhere on the Rams O-Line, but his arrival would likely shift Rodger Saffold to guard.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR- Oklahoma State
Watching the Jacksonville Jaguars on offense these days is painful.
Although they have an all-pro running back in Maurice Jones-Drew and their quarterback of the future in Blaine Gabbert, their receiving corps is just dreadful.
They are so desperate for help at receiver that they brought Mike Sims-Walker back into the fold, after being more than comfortable about releasing him in the off-season.
Justin Blackmon's production has been off the charts, already raking in 53 catches this season for 608 yards and seven touchdowns.
He has 29 touchdowns in his collegiate career and will be counted on to score at that rate for an anemic Jaguar offense.
5. Minnesota Vikings: Alshon Jeffery, WR- South Carolina
This pick seems like a no-brainer to me.
Through the first few weeks of the season it's been clear that the Vikings miss Sidney Rice and will look for a big, vertical threat to fill the void.
Jeffery fills that void and then some.
His 6-foot-4-inch, 230 pound frame is an absolute nightmare for defensive backs. He would be able to take pressure of other play-makers Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson.
6. Denver Broncos: Trent Richardson, RB- Alabama
Usually, I'm not for drafting running backs this high in the draft but I think Trent Richardson here could be the exception.
The Broncos have all sorts of needs, but John Fox would like to run the ball more because of his wavering confidence in Tim Tebow.
Knowshon Moreno hasn't exactly instilled any confidence in anyone since his arrival in Denver and I'm thinking they're ready for a change.
Richardson is a physical runner, whose speed gets overlooked at times. He is the complete package you want in a running back, and Denver won't be afraid to draft him this high.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT-Iowa
It is debatable whether or not the Arizona Cardinals have the worst offensive line in the entire NFL.
If they're not desperate for a stud offensive lineman by now, I'd be very surprised.
Riley Reiff doesn't get as much hype as some of the other top prospects in this year's class, but he is well worth picking here.
Reiff is very strong and is an absolute force, and he should be able to start at right tackle for the Cardinals in Week 1 next season.
The Cardinals gave a huge contract extension to Kevin Kolb and he won't have a chance to live up to it if he's always on his back.
8. Carolina Panthers: Michael Floyd, WR-Notre Dame
This pick may be a slight reach for Carolina.
With how well Cam Newton has performed and how often he is throwing the ball in his rookie season, the Panthers will do everything in their power to get him as many weapons as possible.
At Notre Dame this season, Michael Floyd has completely taken over games, and his draft stock has soared after it was at it's lowest following his DUI.
He catches everything thrown at him, and with a 6-foot-3-inch, 225 pound frame he runs pretty well.
He can improve his route-running a bit, but everything else about his game is NFL-ready and should rival Blackmon and Jeffery as the top receiver in the class.
9. Kansas City Chiefs: Landry Jones, QB-Oklahoma
Most people have the Kansas City Chiefs going in a defensive direction with this pick, but call me crazy, Matt Cassel just doesn't do it for me.
While this season Cassel is putting up some decent numbers, he's very inconsistent and that hasn't translated to any success this year.
Cassel still has a few years left on his current contract, so Landry Jones may not start Week 1 but he'd fall into a good spot if this pick comes to fruition.
Next season the Chiefs will have pro-bowl running back Jamaal Charles back. If Jones does happen to start right away, he won't have to carry the entire offense on his back.
10. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Barkley, QB-USC
Now I'm not as high on Matt Barkley as most people, but someone who I can guarantee loves him is Pete Carroll.
He recruited Barkley while he was still coaching at USC. I don't see why he wouldn't want to draft a potential franchise quarterback that he is very familiar with.
Personally, I don't know if he has the arm strength to make ALL the throws in the NFL.
When it comes to accuracy, he is a clear step below the likes of the two quarterbacks I have drafted ahead of him.
Barkley goes here due to Carroll and because nobody wants to see Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst on the field anytime soon.
11. Cleveland Browns: Vontaze Burfict, MLB- Arizona State
In an ideal world, the Browns would love to upgrade their offense here, but there aren't any playmakers that warrant a pick this high.
Inside linebacker is a need for Cleveland, and there are three very good ones in this draft but I have Vontaze Burfict going first.
Burfict is a very physical and consistent tackler who plays with an extreme amount of intensity.
He can run from sideline to sideline without problem to get to the ball-carrier.
A player like him is someone you need on your team when you face the Ravens and Steelers twice each year.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Manti Te'o, MLB-Notre Dame
So much for a "Dream Team" right?
Nobody made as many preseason headlines as the Philadelphia Eagles.
They invested millions on their secondary and their defensive line yet they've been highly disappointing.
I credit a lot of their defensive struggles to their awful linebackers.
Manti Te'o can't fix all of their problems by himself here, but he is as sure of a tackler as you can get and hopefully he'd go in there and actually stuff the run.
13. Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne, CB-LSU
The Cowboys defense has taken some significant strides this year with the addition of new Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.
With that being said, they still have some a lot of weaknesses in the secondary.
They need help at both corner and safety, and Morris Claiborne is the best defensive back in this class. Claiborne's coverage skills very good and he plays the ball in the air very well.
He's also pretty good in press coverage, which is vital on a defense like the Cowboys who have elite pass rushers.
14. Washington Redskins: Luke Kuechly, MLB-Boston College
As I said in a previous slide, there are three elite middle linebacker prospects in this year's draft, and Kuechly would be the third.
London Fletcher isn't getting any younger and even though he is still playing well, it may be time to bring in younger option.
Kuechly's instincts on the field might surpass the two linebackers who went ahead of him, but he goes here because he does not have great speed.
The Redskins defense has been a bit of a surprise to me this season and I expect them to make it even better in the draft.
15. Cleveland Browns (From Atlanta Falcons): Alfanso Dennard, CB-Nebraska
The Browns acquired this pick in last April's draft in the blockbuster Julio Jones deal.
Now with this pick, Cleveland faces the same problem as they faced at No. 11.
Again they can't get their offensive playmaker. On draft day it's likely the Browns either package their first rounders and move up, or trade down from this pick.
Dennard is a good man-coverage corner, and is at his best during press coverage.
He needs to work on his ball skills a bit but he's still one of the better defensive backs in this draft.
16. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Martin, OT-Stanford
If by some miracle, the NFL Draft goes exactly like mine, the pick of Jonathan Martin to the Chicago Bears might just be the steal of the draft.
Granted, the Bears did draft Gabe Carimi last season, but their line is still in shambles.
Martin is already an elite run blocker, with improving pass protection skills.
He is possibly the strongest lineman in the class and when you're 6-foot-6 and weigh about 310 pounds, you should be.
The Bears need all the help they can get on their offensive line and this could help right the ship.
17. Houston Texans: Brandon Thompson, DT-Clemson
The Houston Texans have made some well-documented changes on defense this season.
Bringing in Wade Phillips as their new defensive coordinator and moving Mario Williams to linebacker (before losing him to injury) were two huge changes made.
Everyone knows with Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson, The Texans will always find ways to score.
So what they should do here is get a force in the middle who can stuff the run.
Brandon Thompson is more of a 4-3 defensive tackle rather than a 3-4 nose tackle but he should be able to play the latter.
He's very quick for his 300-plus pound frame and while he will be brought in as a run stuffer, will also be able to get some pressure on the quarterback.
18. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw: DE/OLB- Alabama
Now the Jets are 3-3, but there isn't one aspect of their game (besides having Darrelle Revis) that is going well right now.
Even with the inconsistencies of Mark Sanchez and their running game, Rex Ryan would much rather fix his front seven than anything.
Courtney Upshaw would help a great deal as he is a guy you can line up anywhere within the front seven besides nose tackle.
He has great athleticism and maybe an even better football IQ. The Jets would likely use him as a pass rusher in their 3-4 defense, because well, you can never have enough pass rushers.
19. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB-North Alabama
Janoris Jenkins was a likely first rounder in last year's draft but he chose to stay and return to the University of Florida.
Shortly after the draft, he was arrested and dismissed from the team.
He transferred to North Alabama and if not for his character issues could have been the first corner off the board come April.
Jenkins is arguably the best cover corner in the class and he is the best when it comes to helping with the run.
Playing against weak competition this year will hurt his stock a bit, which is why he'll drop to the Bengals at 19.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland Raiders): Alameda Ta'amu, DT-Washington
Here is the other major effect the Trade Deadline has caused.
The Bengals who came away with a boatload in the Carson Palmer trade are on the clock again.
With this selection, the Bengals would love a safety, but unfortunately the safety class is once again weak.
In this case, I see the Bengals going with the "Best Player Available" approach and taking Alameda Ta'amu out of Washington.
This kid is what most of us fans would call a "load" with a 6-foot-2-inch, 330 pound frame. Ta'amu is probably more of a 3-4 nose tackle, but he can squeeze in as a 4-3 defensive tackle as well.
The Bengals defense has been stout against the run this year, so by adding Ta'amu, the rich get richer.
21. Tennessee Titans: Jerel Worthy, DT-Michigan State
When you watch a player like Jerel Worthy, it's easy to see that he is a man amongst boys.
At 6-foot-2, 310 he is a physical freak who at times can seem unblockable.
Worthy's problem is more in between the ears, as over his career he has been prone to committing hurtful penalties.
The Titans are another team that loves drafting defensive lineman and Worthy's physical mentality will fit right in with the other smashmouth players on that Titans defense.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB-Alabama
Cornerback is a clear position of need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers given the overhaul likely to occur after the season.
It seems like this is the year Ronde Barber will finally hang em up and Aqib Talib is probably spending his last season in Tampa as well.
Dre Kirkpatrick at this point is probably the best player on the board and the perfect fit for the Bucs.
Kirkpatrick stands at 6-foot-2 which is very tall for a corner, which gives him a slight edge in coverage as he will be taller than most receivers he's matched up against.
He is a bit inconsistent at times, and playing on an elite defense helps him, but his individual talent warrants this pick.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Decastro, G-Stanford
The Steelers are yet another team searching for offensive line help.
It's hard for me to believe that any other quarterback could make it through a full season with this line other than Ben Roethilsberger.
David Decastro is starting to fly up draft boards and although he is a better run blocker than pass blocker, he is a clear upgrade over what the Steelers currently have.
24. New York Giants: Dont'a Hightower, MLB- Alabama
The New York Giants more than any other team in the NFL, has had the worst luck when it comes to injuries.
Their secondary and linebacking corps have both been devastated by injuries forcing undrafted free agents and late round draft picks to get significant playing time.
The Giants current starter at middle linebacker is Greg Jones, and although has proved to be a quality backup they will look for their full-time starter for years to come.
Hightower is another versatile linebacker, who can play either inside or outside.
So if the coaching staff continues to be satisfied with Jones, Hightower can move to the outside.
25. Buffalo Bills: Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB-Florida State
The Buffalo Bills have clearly exceeded everyone's expectations this season and nobody could have possibly expected them to be picking this low.
One of the holes they do have is they need some help with the pass rush.
Brandon Jenkins is a pure pass rusher, who will likely transition to one of their outside linebacker positions.
He is a bit one-dimensional at this point as he isn't a great defender against the run.
That is an area of his game he'll obviously needs to improve if he wants to be a full-time starter in the NFL, but he can come in and get some sacks early in his career.
26. New England Patriots (From New Orleans Saints): Ronnell Lewis, OLB- Oklahoma
It wouldn't be the NFL Draft unless the New England Patriots took another team's first round pick.
The Patriots received this pick after they traded their original first round pick to the Saints so they can select Mark Ingram.
The Patriots made high-profile trades prior to the season, acquiring former pro bowlers Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, but failed to address their biggest need for a pass rushing linebacker.
Ronnell Lewis has good size for a 3-4 outside linebacker and has enough speed to get to the passer on a consistent basis.
He does have some character concerns. He was almost ruled academically ineligible for the season but Bill Belicheck isn't afraid of any of that so expect the Pats to look hard at Lewis.
27. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Broyles, WR-Oklahoma
It seems like an inevitability that the Chargers will be picking between 25-30, due to their lack of success in the playoffs, so this seems as good of a time as any.
Vincent Jackson is set to become a free agent after the season ends and I'm guessing he doesn't return.
A potential replacement for Jackson if he does leave, is the sure-handed Ryan Broyles.
He has his hands going for him, and is a crisp route-runner but he does lack ideal size and speed to become a true No. 1 threat on the outside.
If Jackson does return, I can still see them draft Broyles and put him in the slot, where he'll be most successful
28. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB-South Carolina
There aren't many things the Lions aren't doing right this year, but something they could look for in next year's draft is help in the secondary.
Chris Houston has played well for Detroit this season, but they don't have that potential No. 1 corner.
Stephon Gilmore could fit that bill. He's another corner with above average size at 6-foot-1.
His coverage skills are very underrated.
He is very good at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and he can also help in the return game, as he returns punts for the Gamecocks as well.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Cordy Glenn, G-Georgia
The Baltimore Ravens probably more than any other team in the league, loves to play smashmouth and hit you in the mouth.
Their offense is centered around Ray Rice, who has no trouble finding holes to run through on his own, but the addition of Cordy Glenn would make things even easier for him.
Glenn is absolutely huge, especially for an interior lineman. He's a whopping 6-foot-5, and weighs close to 350 pounds.
By pure mass alone, Glenn pushes defensive lineman around.
When he puts everything together and learns how to play in the NFL, he could be a starter in Baltimore for many years.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jared Crick, DE/DT-Nebraska
The San Francisco 49ers were another team that seemed to have a lot of holes to fill, but Jim Harbaugh has gotten the most of his players and proven that isn't the case.
One thing the Niners could do is get someone to help fill the void left by Aubrayo Franklin on the defensive line.
Jared Crick is one of the top prospects in this class but his stock has gone down after a recent injury that has sidelined him for the season.
Crick is big enough that they can choose to put him at nose tackle, yet athletic enough that they can also choose to place him as the other 3-4 end across from Justin Smith.
31. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, SS-Alabama
Here we are with the Patriots again, and this time they'll use this pick to upgrade their secondary.
Mark Barron is more of a prototypical strong safety, so drafting him would likely move Patrick Chung to a full-time free safety.
Barron does not have top-of-the-line speed but he plays the ball well in the air, and is capable of delivering some powerful hits.
His coverage skills do need to improve, but he'll be one of the better run-stopping safeties in the league early in his career until he covers better.
32. Green Bay Packers: Lamar Miller, RB-Miami
After watching the Packers play this season, it almost seems unfair that they get to pick in the first round.
They have talent all over the field and don't really have a glaring hole to fill.
The biggest need that I can see with Green Bay is that they could use more explosiveness out of their running game.
Lamar Miller is proving to be the second best running back in the class behind Trent Richardson, and would provide that explosiveness out of the backfield.
He has elite speed and is currently averaging about six yards per carry this year at Miami.
He's not a great receiver out of the backfield, but good enough to stay on the field in passing situations.
Thank you all for reading, feel free to share your opinions and point out my mistakes and any changes you would make to my mock draft.