2012 NFL Mock Draft: Full First-Round Predictions
The 2012 NFL draft is all about who will land the first pick and the rights to Andrew Luck. Luck is by far the top available player. He is considered a can't-miss prospect with tremendous upside. The hype on Luck is so rabid that a slogan has been created: "Suck for Luck."
Luck is not the only talented player in the 2012 NFL draft. He is joined by a few other top-level quarterbacks, such as Landry Jones and Matt Barkley. Both of these quarterbacks are more raw than Luck but possess a lot of potential.
This draft also features a trio of excellent middle linebackers, a position that has been recently weak. Vontaze Burfict, Manti Te'o and Luke Kuechly should all be selected in the first round. Burfict and Te'o have a chance to develop into true defensive forces.
At this point in the season, the draft order is anything but certain. However, I have used Bleacher Report's Matt Miller's power rankings. These are not normal power rankings, as they also project the teams' final records. There might not be a better place to get a projected draft order.
No. 1 Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The Indianapolis Colts currently hold the inside track at landing the first overall pick. This football team is playing absolutely terrible football. The issues are on both sides of the ball, but a lot of the struggles are due to the injury to Peyton Manning.
Curtis Painter has played very inconsistent football, unable to take advantage of the surrounding offensive weapons. At this point, the Colts need to figure out if Peyton Manning will return to full health. If they feel he will be able to return, then they may look to trade out of this spot.
However, even if Manning returns fully healthy, selecting Stanford's Andrew Luck might be the best direction. Luck is considered the best prospect in this draft, and the top player to come around in many years. Adding Luck to this roster would give the Colts a great option to transition to after Manning retires.
The selection of Luck would be more about the future than adding immediate help.
No. 2 Miami Dolphins: Landry Jones, Quarterback, Oklahoma
At this point, it is hard to say that Oklahoma's Landry Jones is completely worthy of the second overall pick. Jones has a ton of talent, but still needs to work on becoming more consistent. NFL teams are going to immediately notice Jones' arm strength. He does a great job of throwing from the ground up and generating a lot of zip.
While Jones has good physical skills, he has a tendency to misread a defense; this results in forced passes and turnovers. Jones has a bright future, but will need time to adjust to the pro-style offense.
The Miami Dolphins are in a tough situation, as they desperately need to add a quarterback. They would love to add Luck, but they need the first overall pick to get him. It is possible for the Dolphins to move down a little and still add a quarterback in the draft.
No. 3 St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
The St. Louis Rams need to find a way to add some talent around their franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford. This St. Louis team has a lot of needs on both sides of the football. However, they have an opportunity to add a big-time playmaker.
Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon is the top-rated wide receiver in this draft class. He has a good combination of size and speed, which allows him to make plays all over the field. His ability to stretch the field would really open up the Rams offense.
No. 4 Seattle Seahawks: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
The Seattle Seahawks are in need of talent, which gives them the opportunity to select the best player available. However, they could really use an upgrade to the quarterback position. At this point, there isn't a quarterback prospect worthy of the fourth overall pick.
Seattle's secondary might be this team's weakest unit, with most of the issues at cornerback. They are currently starting Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. LSU's Morris Claiborne would be an immediate upgrade at the position.
Claiborne is a true playmaker, who has a knack for finding the football. He uses his quick burst and instincts to click and close on the ball. His ability to close helps him create turnovers and collect pass breakups.
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
At this point in the draft process, USC's Matt Kalil looks like a lock to be a top-five selection. He is the top offensive line prospect in this draft class. His ability to protect the passer and open running lanes will allow him to make an instant impact.
The Arizona Cardinals paid a high price tag to bring in Kevin Kolb to be their franchise quarterback. However, the start of his Cardinals career has not gone as planned. Kolb is struggling to play consistent football, resulting in a 2-6 start to th season.
A lot of the Cardinals' issues start with the offensive line. Adding Kalil to the mix would provide Kolb with more time to find an open target.
No. 6 Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
Things in Minnesota are not going very well this season. The Vikings are suffering through a poor season, while also dealing with the uncertain future of playing in Minnesota. However, one of the bright spots has been the play of rookie Christian Ponder.
Ponder has shown that he has what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL. Minnesota now needs to surround their quarterback with talent. The Vikings' offensive line situation isn't conducive to the development of a young quarterback, especially at left tackle.
Stanford's Jonathan Martin is currently my second-rated left tackle prospect in this draft class. Martin has a very bright future in the NFL. His ability to reach the edge and protect the passer is something every NFL team covets. Martin needs to improve his run blocking, but will be able step in and protect Ponder from day one.
No. 7 Washington Redskins: Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
USC's Matt Barkley is making a quick rise up the draft board. He has done a good job this season finding a way to improve his already-high draft stock. Often times, players with Barkley's experience struggle to find ways to continually impress scouts.
However, Barkley has improved his accuracy, while showing an excellent feel for the game of football. His combination of skills and instincts will help with his transition to the NFL.
The Washington Redskins really need to find their quarterback of the future, as neither John Beck or Rex Grossman have locked down the job. Barkley would be an option to come in and start from day one.
No. 8 Denver Broncos: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
The Denver Broncos could go in many different directions, including quarterback and defensive line. However, John Fox's preference to feature a strong running game could really impact the decision-making process. At this point, neither Knowshon Moreno nor Willis McGahee have shown that they are the long-term answer at the position.
Alabama's Trent Richardson would be the perfect running back to fit the running style John Fox likes to feature. Richardson is a tough runner who also possesses breakaway speed. He is an excellent all-around back, who can remain on the field in passing downs.
Denver might have more immediate pressing needs, but it's hard to pass on a player of Richardson's talent.
No. 9 Cleveland Browns: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
The NFL places a high premium on players who are capable of creating a pass rush. Any team who runs a 4-3 system is particularly searching for a defensive end with speed off the edge. The Cleveland Browns are currently making the adjustment from a 3-4 system to a 4-3 scheme. They could use some help at the defensive end spot.
North Carolina's Quinton Coples is my top-rated defensive lineman in this draft class. He has the size and quickness needed to effectively play defensive end. His ability to fire off the ball and create pressure is what will make him an attractive prospect.
Adding Coples to a defensive line that features promising rookies Jabaal Sheard and Phil Taylor would help Cleveland speed up their defensive transition.
No. 10 Jacksonville Jaguars: Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery has seen his draft stock fall in recent months. He isn't making as many explosive plays as we are used to seeing. Jeffery has no doubt been effected by the inconsistent quarterback play at South Carolina, but he still isn't meeting expectations.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be putting an emphasis on providing Blaine Gabbert with plenty of weapons. There is no better gift for a young quarterback than a tall receiver who can go out and get the football. Jeffery's size and leaping ability allow him to make plays on otherwise-uncatchable balls.
Jeffery and the Jaguars would be a good match, and would help take this offense to the next level. His presence wouldn't only help out Gabbert, but will open up more running room for Maurice Jones-Drew.
No. 11 Carolina Panthers: Brandon Thompson, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
The Carolina Panthers have several good pieces in place on the offensive side of the ball. Cam Newton and Company just need time to develop and grow. Another big-time wide receiving threat is something the Panthers could target, but at this point there isn't a prospect worthy of this spot.
Clemson's Brandon Thompson would be a good addition to the Panthers defensive line. He would provide the Panthers with a combination of good run and pass defense. Thompson excels at engaging the offensive line and creating a push on the pocket.
Thompson's presence would help the entire defense; it would pull some double-teams away from Charles Johnson and allow the linebacker to cleanly flow to the ball.
No. 12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
The biggest offseason issue facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is deciding the future of former first-round pick Gerald McCoy. McCoy was suppose to be a disruptive force in the middle of the defense. However, injuries and a lack of production have really put his future in question. At this point, McCoy is dangerously close to being labeled as a bust.
I feel that Tampa is going to give McCoy a little more time. This will have an impact on their draft strategy, likely making cornerback the biggest need. Tampa has some uncertainty at the cornerback position, where Ronde Barber and Aquib Talib are the current starters. Barber is at the end of his career and Talib is a major off-the-field concern.
Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick would provide some depth and is also another starting option. At some point, Ronde Barber will retire and leave a void at cornerback. Kirkpatrick would be a good long-term replacement for Barber.
No. 13 Cincinnati Bengals (from OAK): Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
There is a realistic possibility that North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins could fall out of the first round. He has had several off-the-field issues, resulting in his dismissal from Florida. Teams are going to need to evaluate Jenkins and decide if he is worth the risk.
Without the character concerns, Jenkins could have found himself fighting to be a top-10 selection. He has that type of talent and instincts. I have compared him to Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel, because of his ability to read a quarterback and break on the ball.
Cincinnati doesn't have a lot of needs, but they could look to find a long-term replacement for the recently departed Jonathan Joseph. Nate Clements has done a good job filling in, but he is a better fit in a reserve role.
No. 14 Kansas City Chiefs: Manti Te'o, Linebacker, Notre Dame
The Kansas City Chiefs could go in a few directions with this pick. I could see them adding help along the offensive line, or at any number of defensive spots. However, I feel they are in the position to go with the best player available.
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is an excellent football player, who will make an instant impact in the NFL. He is versatile enough to play in any defensive system. Te'o possesses a good combination of size and quickness, allowing to make plays all over the field.
Adding Te'o would give the Chiefs one of the best linebacking units in the NFL. He would line up next to Derrick Johnson, who is having a rebound season.
No. 15 Tennessee Titans: Vontaze Burfict, Linebacker, Arizona State
The middle linebacker position is not a major need for the Tennessee Titans. However, Barrett Ruud could find more success if he was rotated to the outside. His limited size and bulk makes it difficult for Ruud to hold up at the line of scrimmage.
Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict has the ideal size and quickness needed to play middle linebacker in the NFL. Burfict is a nasty defender who is always looking to inflict some pain. He does an excellent job attacking the line and stuffing the run.
At this point, Burfict is the best player available and would be able to make an immediate impact.
No. 16 Philadelphia Eagles: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Philadelphia Eagles will likely look to improve either their offensive line or linebacking corps in the next draft. At this point, Iowa's Riley Reiff is the best remaining prospect at either position. Reiff is a fast-rising prospect and the No. 3-rated offensive tackle in this draft.
Reiff has a good combination of size and quickness, which allows him to protect the passer and open running lanes. Adding Reiff would help the Eagles on a few different fronts. It would provide them with a long-term answer at the right tackle position, where Todd Herremans is currently starting. Herremans' natural position is guard, but he has played well in a pinch.
Adding Reiff would also give the Eagles a good option to replace Jason Peters, in case of an injury. Peters' career in Philadelphia has been plagued by injuries.
No. 17 Dallas Cowboys: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard has seen his draft stock drop a little, but that was because he missed time with an injury. Dennard's play has really picked up since he returned to the lineup and full strength. He is a physical corner who likes to play at the line of scrimmage.
Dennard does a great job reading the quarterback's eyes and breaking on the football. He has the skills to fit any defensive scheme.
The Dallas Cowboys really need to add some help at the cornerback position. The tandem of Terrence Newman and Mike Jenkins has not been playing at a very high level. Adding Dennard would provide depth, and a long-term replacement for either Newman or Jenkins.
No. 18 Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw, Linebacker, Alabama
Alabama's Courtney Upshaw is going to be a very highly sought-after prospect come April. He has a ton of versatility, which will allow him to play in any defensive system. Upshaw has a rare combination of both size and quickness. This allows him to hold up at the line and also cover sideline to sideline.
Upshaw would be a perfect fit in the Buffalo Bills' 3-4 defensive system. He would play the outside linebacker position, where he will be asked to rush the passer and set the edge. Buffalo desperately needs to find someone to provide an edge rush.
No. 19 Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, Offensive Line, Georgia
The Chicago Bears have more holes than their record might suggest. Each year, Chicago finds a way to plug their gaps with serviceable players. However, it is time for them to start addressing some of their major needs.
Arguably, the biggest need is help along the offensive line. Chicago needs to add either a left tackle or an offensive guard. Ideally, they can find a player capable of playing a few different different spots on the offensive line.
Georgia's Cordy Glenn would be an excellent addition to the Bears offensive line. Glenn possesses a combination of good size and quickness. He appears to be an ideal fit at guard or right tackle. However, he doesn't have the foot speed needed to play left tackle.
No. 20 Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
Stanford's David DeCastro is one of the top offensive line prospects eligible for the 2012 NFL draft. He is the type of prospect who will be able to step in and contribute right away. DeCastro uses his strength and leverage to both protect the passer and open running lanes.
DeCastro would be able to step in and replace the aging Bobby Williams, who appears at the end of his career. Early this season, the Bengals were without Williams (suspension) and their offense felt the effects. Cincinnati knows the importance of having a strong offensive line.
No. 21 New York Jets: Ronnell Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis has made a big move up draft boards, and is currently the premier pass-rushing outside linebacker. All teams who run the 3-4 defensive system will likely consider adding Lewis to the mix.
Lewis has an explosive first step, which allows him to attack the edge and create pressure. He is still developing as a player, but Lewis has a ton of potential. Lewis would be an excellent fit for the New York Jets, who are searching for another edge-rusher.
The Jets and Rex Ryan would love to add someone capable of creating some pressure off the edge. Ryan is the type of defensive mind, who would get the most out of a player like Lewis.
No. 22 San Diego Chargers: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
On paper the San Diego Chargers have a good-looking wide receiving corps. However, this unit has not been able to remain healthy or find consistent production. Malcolm Floyd has been in and out of the lineup due to a string of injuries.
Floyd has not been the only major target out of the lineup, as Vincent Jackson has also missed some time. However, Jackson has also has struggled to play consistent football. There are games where he puts up great numbers, and others where he completely disappears.
Jackson still doesn't have a long-term deal, and with this inconsistency appears unlikely to get the franchise tag again. This would make adding a wide receiver a smart move, and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd is the top remaining wideout.
Floyd fits the mold of a Chargers receiver, possessing good size and knowing how to use his body to gain position. Adding Floyd would allow the Chargers to move on from Jackson, and save some money in the long run.
No. 23 New England Patriots: Devon Still, Defensive Line, Penn State
Penn State's Devon Still is making a strong push up the draft board. He has a chance to end the season as the top-rated defensive tackle on my board. Still is an extremely disruptive player, who always seems to be making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Still is a versatile player who could fit at either the 3-technique or 5-technique. Ideally, he would be asked to use his quickness to penetrate. However, he is more than capable of playing two-gap football.
The New England Patriots love players who are capable of playing multiple positions. Still would allow the Patriots to continue to play both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes.
No. 24 Detroit Lions: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Ohio State's Mike Adams is going to be a name to know come April. He is a highly athletic offensive tackle, who does a nice job protecting the passer and opening running lanes. Adams has flown under the radar because of his five-game suspension.
Adams was one of several Ohio State players who were mixed up with selling football-related goods. If teams can overlook this mistake, Adams could really surge up draft boards.
The Detroit Lions need to find a long-term replacement for the aging Jeff Backus. Backus is a solid player but is on the back end of his career. Adams would be able to step in and help protect the blind side of Matthew Stafford.
No. 25 Cleveland Browns (from ATL): Zack Brown, Linebacker, North Carolina
The Cleveland Browns have enough holes that they can focus on going for the best player available. Ideally, they would like to add an offensive playmaker. However, there isn't a player that would represent good value at those positions.
That would leave several spots on the defense where they can look to upgrade. North Carolina's Zack Brown would be a great addition to this defense. He possesses excellent quickness, which allows him to cover a ton of yards. His ability to make plays all over the field is something that every defensive coordinator covets.
No. 26 New England Patriots (from NO): Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
The New England Patriots need to utilize their early draft picks to upgrade their struggling defense. This unit is what could keeps the Patriots from winning another Super Bowl. New England's defense has problems at several different positions, but could use help at linebacker.
Boston College's Luke Kuechly is an extremely instinctual linebacker, who quickly identifies the developing play. He possesses just enough quickness to cover sideline to sideline. However, it's his instincts and feel for the game that allows him to be effective.
No. 27 Houston Texans: Jeff Fuller, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller has seen his draft stock drop a little, but I still feel he has a bright future in the NFL. He is the complete package, possessing both good size and speed. Fuller is the type of player who uses his body to gain position and make the play.
The Houston Texans need to find another wide receiving threat to put opposite of Andre Johnson. They also need someone who is capable of stepping in when Johnson is out with an injury. This is the second straight season where Johnson has missed time due to an injury.
Fuller has the ability to step in and make an instant impact.
No. 28 Pittsburgh Steelers: Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
The Pittsburgh Steelers' sustained success comes from their ability to play good defense. Pittsburgh strives to the best defense in the NFL, and have done so by continuing to find talent. They have continued to bring in young talent that steps in and replaces their aging stars.
Alabama's Mark Barron would be a great addition to the back end of the Steelers defense. He would be able to sit behind Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark as he learns the ins and outs of the NFL game. Barron would then replace Ryan Clark when he starts to show his age.
No. 29 New York Giants: Kevin Zeitler, Guard, Wisconsin
The New York Giants have been playing some really good football. They have found consistency on both sides of the ball, but they still have some areas of need. New York could benefit from adding some help along the offensive line.
Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler is a physical and athletic offensive lineman, who would be a great fit at guard. He has the ability to step in and contribute from day one. Zeitler's ability as a run-blocker would fit the Giants' offensive game plan.
New York is well-aware of the importance of a strong offensive line. During their Super Bowl run, the offensive line was a major factor in their success.
No. 30 San Francisco 49ers: Jayron Hosley, Cornerback, Virgina Tech
The San Francisco 49ers are finding success thanks to ball control and good defense. New coach Jim Harbaugh has done a good job getting the most out of his players. However, he is also running a very basic attack that counts on mistake-free football.
Thanks to their success, I feel that San Francisco will continue to add talent on the defensive side of the ball. At this point, Virgina Tech's Jayron Hosley would make perfect sense for this defense. The cornerback spot is an area that could use an upgrade.
Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are playing well, but neither is a true game-changer.
No. 31 Baltimore Ravens: Zebrie Sanders, Offensive Tackle, Florida State
The Baltimore Ravens' addition of Bryant McKinnie tells me that they don't feel that comfortable with Michael Oher at left tackle. McKinnie was released by the Minnesota Vikings prior to the season, due to his inability to meet weight requirements.
McKinnie doesn't have many more seasons left, and if Oher is the left tackle of the future, Baltimore needs to address the position. Florida State's Zebrie Sanders is an athletic offensive tackle, who excels at protecting the passer.
Sanders is not only a good pass-protector, but is also capable run-blocker.
No. 32 Green Bay Packers: Kendall Reyes, Defensive Line, Connecticut
The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers have started the season right where they left off. At this point, they look poised to make another strong Super Bowl run. However,the one area that is a cause for concern is on the defensive side of the ball.
Green Bay's defense is surrendering a lot yardage and points, not playing at the same level as last season. One of the areas of need is along the defensive line, where they are struggling to replace Cullen Jenkins.
Connecticut's Kendall Reyes is the ideal player to come in and help along the defensive line. Reyes plays with great leverage, helping him hold at the point of attack and occupy blockers. He also has a good burst off he ball, which allows him to penetrate and create pressure.
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