Heisman Hopeful Trent Richardson of Alabama
As the college season comes to a conclusion, mock drafts begin to become more prevalent.
As exciting as NFL rookies have been this year, one can only imagine the impact the class of 2012 will have with a lockout-free offseason.
The ability to learn the playbook and participate in OTAs and rookie mini-camps cannot be underestimated.
Here is a full first-round mock draft taking into consideration the performances of the previous week. Enjoy.
#1 Pick Andrew Luck
Provided he stays healthy for the remaining games of the season, Andrew Luck will definitely be the first overall pick of the 2012 draft.
The Colts are horrendous. This year, more than ever, highlights how bad the Colts are without Peyton Manning.
Like it or not, the Colts have to take Luck. It is a win-win situation. He either gets a chance to succeed in the NFL or learn from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Carolina has not been successful this year. However, the Panthers have talent.
The most notable skill positions players include Cam Newton and the resurgent Steve Smith. If Cam Newton continues to develop, he could be scary good.
Every franchise quarterback needs a reliable tackle, and Matt Kalil is the answer. Matt's brother, Ryan, is already a stud at center on the Panthers' offensive line.
Two Kalils is a solid option for Carolina to improve their run and pass protection.
The Vikings have two of the best players in the NFL at any position in Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. However, they are an awful team and need help at many positions.
While Christian Ponder has shown promise (why did the Vikings even bother with Donovan McNabb?), the Vikings could go many directions with a high draft pick. Justin Blackmon would be a great choice. He has the size and skill to immediately help any NFL team.
Before this year, Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery were a toss-up for the first wide receiver to be taken in the 2012 draft. This season, Blackmon has outplayed Jeffery and will be rewarded by being the first wide receiver selected.
Andrew Luck is not the only Pac-12 quarterback who is prepared to lead an NFL team. If Andrew Luck left last year, Barkley could very well be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Barkley has improved in many facets of the game and would be a great fit for the Redskins.
John Beck and Rex Grossman simply will not cut it for Washington.
Although he lacks prototypical NFL size (6' 2''), he is ready, and Washington is ready to take him.
Some mock drafts have St. Louis picking the second-best wide receiver in the draft class, Alshon Jeffrey, of South Carolina.
Jeffrey and recently-acquired Brandon Lloyd would make a solid wide receiver duo. However, the Rams should look to take one of the most solid defensive players available. Every team could use a shutdown corner, and that will be available in LSU's Claiborne.
Tyrann Mathieu may be the flashier player, but Claiborne is a better pure corner and arguably the best in college football.
If anything was more evident from last year's draft, it is the premium NFL teams are willing to place on signal-callers. This mock draft has three quarterbacks taken in the first six picks, but for good reason.
Luck and Barkley have been the central focus of sports media, but it is important not to forget Landry Jones.
Although Matt Moore has been surprisingly serviceable, the Dolphins need a new quarterback.
The Oklahoma junior has ideal NFL size at 6' 4" and 229 lbs. and has filled up the box score. He has thrown for 92 touchdowns to date.
If he can reduce the number of turnovers, NFL teams would love to groom Jones into their franchise quarterback.
It is hard to believe the Cardinals were minutes away from winning the Super Bowl a few years ago. Obviously, Kurt Warner's retirement hurt their playoff chances, but important members of the 2008 team remain.
Larry Fitzgerald is still a dominant wide receiver, Adrian Wilson is still an imposing figure at safety, and Darnell Dockett has made the Pro Bowl the past three years.
The Cardinals need help on the offensive line. If Kevin Kolb is to develop into the player the Arizona front office envisioned, he will need time, which Johnathan Martin can provide.
At 6'6" and 304 lbs., Martin has great size and athleticism to anchor an offensive line for years.
Jacksonville needs help at many positions. Simply put, they are not a very good team.
I feel bad for great players, like Maurice Jones-Drew, who are on bad teams with a weak fan base.
Jacksonville needs help at wide receiver because Mike Thomas is not a true No. 1 option. Unfortunately, Blackmon and Jeffrey will likely be taken before the Jaguars have their first-round pick.
Jerel Worthy would be a great fit for many teams. He has the size and the nastiness to become an elite run-stuffer.
Jacksonville fans miss the days of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, and hopefully, Worthy can fill that void.
Seattle took Texas Longhorn safety Earl Thomas as the 14th overall pick, and it has clearly paid dividends.
Kirkpatrick is a more risky pick. He is freakishly tall for a corner, standing at 6'3", which is a great asset considering the height of the best NFL receivers.
The reason Kirkpatrick is a gamble is because of the way he plays. He is confident in his ability to make highlight plays, which can be a problem. Kirkpatrick reminds me of Antonio Cromartie, which could be a good or a bad thing.
Let's make things clear: Trent Richardson is a beast. He is incredibly strong, yet displays great speed and shift moves. Check out the attached video for evidence.
Running backs are not usually taken in the Top 10 largely because of their short career spans.
A talent like Richardson only comes along once every few years. There has not been a player this dynamic since Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden.
Obviously, the relationship between the Browns and Peyton Hillis is tenuous due to this disappointing season. Richardson and Colt McCoy would form a great young backfield for years to come.
This may be a surprising pick. Many mock drafts have Coples going in the Top 8.
His talent is undeniable, and Coples has huge upside, but teams in the Top 10 will likely take quarterbacks and wide receivers.
This is also a surprising pick because Tampa has a crowded defensive line. However, teams with deep defensive lines do well—just look at the NY Giants. Putting pressure on the quarterback is incredibly important in this pass-heavy league.
Coples could develop into a Pro Bowl player.
6'4", 222 lbs. and a strong arm. This sounds like a typical NFL quarterback and something the Chiefs need.
Tannehill flies under the radar due to the surplus of elite quarterbacks in his draft class, but the Texas A&M signal-caller is no slouch.
He is not a finished product and needs to throw less interceptions (28 TDs vs. 14 INTs). However, Tannehill has the talent to become a solid quarterback if he learns from Matt Cassel.
Buffalo made a big mistake by paying Ryan Fitzpatrick so much money. He has not performed well since the extension.
Another problem with Buffalo is there is always talk that they are going to leave town, as Buffalo is not the ideal sports city.
Teams like the Bills need recognizable stars, which Robert Griffin III could become. He is not as polished as quarterbacks like Luck, but he is electric and has proved his passing every year.
Every year, the Chargers are loaded with talent, and every season, they seem to self-implode and disappoint their fans.
When watching this team, it is apparent the Charges lack energy. Burfict's energy would be infectious.
If he can control the reckless abandon he plays with, Burfict could be a star. This is a big "if," but the Chargers are not getting any better, so this is a risk worth taking.
Chris Johnson could very well be the most disappointing player in the NFL this year. After a long holdout, Johnson has not shown the skills he exhibited when he ran for over 2,000 yards.
It is hard to believe at one point there was an argument who was better—Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson.
Unfortunately for the Titans, they spent millions on Johnson. The organization has to accept this financial burden and might as well try to help Johnson return to old form.
DeCastro, at 6'5" and 310 lbs., is a safe pick to become a reliable interior lineman.
To the surprise of many fans, there is a serious chance Philly will land within the Top 20, despite the numerous big-name acquisitions that took place this summer.
The obvious weakness in the Eagles' defense is the linebacker corps.
More significantly, this team lacks the "it" factor that teams need to win. It is very difficult to be successful with egotistic players like DeSean Jackson ruining the locker room dynamic.
Kuechley may not deliver as many bone-crushing hits as Arizona State's Burfict, but he also does not make as many bone-headed plays.
Kuechley is a tackling machine and can anchor a defense immediately.
For any other team, a player with questionable character issues like Janoris Jenkins would be a major turnoff.
However, Cincinnati is not like most teams, and the quintessential Bengal move is to take a player who had to play at University of North Alabama this year (a Division II school) after multiple drug problems at Florida.
The Bengals have a great nucleus on the offensive front. Dalton to A.J. Green will be a formidable combo for years to come.
Jenkins is a ball-hawk who would help the secondary if he can stay away from trouble.
Rex Ryan loves putting pressure on the quarterback, but the team could use help. Rookie Muhammad Wilkerson has played well, but the Jets could use a 3-4 linebacker edge-rusher.
Upshaw fills this hole perfectly.
If New York wants to consistently compete with Tom Brady and the Patriots, they will need to put consistent pressure on New England's star signal-caller.
The Jets could also take an interior lineman with this pick, as their running game has been underwhelming.
The Giants love drafting defensive lineman and for good reason: They normally are successful at rushing the quarterback.
However, they are in desperate need of an inside linebacker. Current linebacker Johnathan Goff tore his ACL and is a free agent next season.
With ideal size for a middle linebacker (6' 2" and 255 lbs.), Te'o has been a stud at Notre Dame since his true freshman year.
The Lions are the new bad guys of the NFL. However, they have been successful when their aggression is controlled.
Matt Stafford has displayed why he was a No. 1 overall pick this year.
The Lions are an exciting and fast team, but should continue to find ways to protect their quarterback.
Reiff is a safe pick that would pay dividends instantly.
Joe Haden was a great pick, and Alfonzo Dennard could become another wise selection.
Some argue Dennard is a better prospect than his teammate from last year, Prince Amukamara.
At over 200 lbs., Dennard will provide solid tackling from the outside in the physical AFC North.
Haden and Dennard could become a feared cornerback tandem for years to come.
Jay Cutler is one of the most criticized players in the NFL. Other players and the media question his toughness and gun-slinging tendencies.
However, before the freak injury he sustained to his thumb, Cutler led his Bears to a 7-3 record. Jay Cutler always had the tools to succeed and, when he has time, is close to an elite quarterback.
Chicago would benefit from taking an interior lineman like Glenn, who would help Matt Forte continue his dominance on the ground and protect Cutler from future injuries.
A.J. Green is going to be an elite No. 1 option. So far, he has 745 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Bengals have a solid young tight end in Jermaine Gresham as well.
Sanu, who has been a star at Rutgers this year (109 receptions, 1,144 yards, seven touchdowns), has NFL size and would be another great receiver for Andy Dalton.
It has been a tough year for the Texans.
Andre Johnson had a bad hamstring injury and was out for several weeks. Newly converted linebacker Mario Williams tore his pectoral muscle. Matt Schaub is out for the year.
To make things worse for next year, Mario Williams and Arian Foster are free agents. Many teams will throw a lot of money to acquire Williams.
If the Texans can no longer afford Williams, Mercilus would be a smart pick. He has ideal size (6'4" and 265 lbs.) for a 3-4 edge-rusher and has shown impressive production this year with 14.5 sacks.
If Tim Tebow keeps winning, the Broncos will have a late first-round draft pick.
John Elway and John Fox clearly are skeptical of Tebow's ability, but the upper-echelon quarterbacks will be taken by this point in the draft. Since they most likely will not take a quarterback, Denver could make more improvements on their already strong defense.
Champ Bailey is still a solid corner, but he is reaching the twilight of his career.
Minnifield's father, Frank, was a four-time Pro Bowler in the 1980s. Chase could continue this family tradition and would benefit greatly from the tutelage of Bailey.
The Cowboys struck gold in taking DeMarco Murray, who appears to be on his way to a successful NFL career.
Dallas is strong at many positions; they have a great wide receiver corps and solid linebackers. They could use help in the secondary, which McDonald can provide.
McDonald plays with an impressive physicality and will likely receive his fair share of fines in the NFL, but every team needs an enforcer in the secondary.
Ray Lewis is eventually going to leave the NFL. Hightower would be a great successor to Lewis and would learn how to play the game from him.
The anchor of Alabama's strong defense, Hightower could fit in well playing next to Lewis. This would form an impressive linebacker unit with Terrell Suggs.
The Ravens use this pick to keep getting better on defense. What a scary thought.
Jim Harbaugh has done wonders for the 49ers.
San Francisco already has an elite defense and notable weapons on offense such as Vernon Davis and Frank Gore.
Michael Crabtree has shown promise, but he lacks the ideal size of an elite wide receiver. Ted Ginn Jr. is an exciting player, but too small to be a consistent threat. At 6'3" and 220 lbs., Toon has prototypical No. 1 receiver size.
Adding the Wisconsin senior to the team would further Alex Smith's revival as a legitimate starting NFL quarterback.
This would be a perfect late first round pick.
When people think Memphis sports, they tend to think basketball. However, the football team has a gem not many have heard of at defensive tackle.
Dontari Poe has ideal run-stuffing interior-lineman size, standing at 6' 5" and weighing 350 lbs.
Pittsburgh consistently makes smart draft decisions, and this would be another one. Poe could fit in well and eventually take over for the aging Casey Hampton.
A strong young lineman, combined with the established defensive stars, makes the Steelers even better.
Here is another Alabama player in this mock draft, which is a testament to how loaded the Crimson Tide are—especially on defense.
The Patriots need help at secondary. Although their defense has shown signs of improvement, the secondary can still be picked on by elite quarterbacks.
To get back to championship form, Mark Barron could be a huge help. Barron is an experienced stud at safety with great size, but also a solid football IQ.
He's ready for the NFL, and any team would benefit from taking Alabama's star safety.
Another area where the Patriots need help on defense is in the sack department. Besides Jerrod Mayo, there really is not an intimidating presence in the middle of the field.
Ingram could convert to outside linebacker and also play on the defensive line.
Ingram has great instincts for the ball, as seen in his impressive numbers this year (8.5 sacks, 12 TFL).
New England fans would love a young hybrid edge-rusher.
Aaron Rodgers has solidified his spot as the best signal-caller in the NFL. The wide receiver and tight end corps is very deep.
One area where the Packers could add depth is at running back. Ryan Grant is injury-prone, and James Starks could use help.
Lamar Miller has had an impressive year at Miami and could help a star-studded offense become even better.