2012 NFL Mock Draft
December kicks off NFL Mock Draft season for me. The 2012 NFL Draft order is starting to shape up, the NCAA season is winding down and juniors are testing the pro waters.
Every football fan knows an early mock draft can change on a whim. One win or loss can move your team five picks up or down the board.
My intention with this mock is to see how the draft will play out if they held it today with no trades.
My final 2011 NFL Mock Draft landed me in the 95th percentile of all draft picks on the net, and I got there by plotting out the picks early and often throughout the draft process.
Let me know what you think of the picks, the players you like or hate and follow me on Twitter.
If Andrew Luck leaves Stanford he will be the top pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has everything you look for in a franchise QB.
Clearly the Colts need help at quarterback. There is no certainty Peyton Manning will ever play again, and if he does the risk of re-injury is too high to not insure your team.
Indianapolis doesn't want another 2011 anytime soon.
I mocked this pick for the Rams last November, and it's a shame Blackmon returned to OKST because Sam Bradford could have used him this year.
If STL earns the second overall selection there is no guarantee Blackmon will come off the board before a tackle like Matt Kalil, but the Rams need help scoring points, and Blackmon is as complete as they come.
Last season scouts said Kalil was a better prospect than Tyron Smith; he was the blindside tackle at USC after all.
If that's the case, another year of improvement means Kalil should be ready to protect Christian Ponder for the next decade.
Kalil is the real deal, and everyone on offense will benefit from his arrival. Morris Claiborne or Blackmon will most likely round out the top three on Minnesota's big board.
We don't know who will be coaching the Jags next year, but we do know they will be sticking with Blaine Gabbert, and they will need help at defensive end.
Coples has come against a lot of criticism this season, which usually happens when you are the top prospect at a high-profile position.
Coples has elite size, comes hard off the edge and can disrupt the run game as well. He doesn't have the best motor in NFL history, but I don't have any concerns with his effort.
The Panthers' pass-defense hasn't been a sore spot in 2011, but Claiborne is the BPA pick they can’t pass on. He will start opposite Chris Gamble right away and allow Captain Munnerlyn to man up on quick slot receivers.
At this point in the pre-draft process we haven't identified an elite defensive tackle prospect to help Carolina stuff the run, but if the Panthers do find that guy, my guess is it's Clemson's Brandon Thompson.
The Panthers could also add depth to their ailing linebacker corps with Thomas Davis, Jon Beason and Dan Conner in question for next season.
I highly doubt Matt Barkley would fall to the sixth overall pick; there will most likely be a team like Seattle trading up over Miami if this is the draft order.
In this mock Barkley is there, though, and Miami would be a fool not to take him.
The distance between the one and two quarterback prospects is much closer than the one between two and three in my estimation.
Griffin has done more for his draft stock than any other player this season, and he may still be rising.
Cracking the top 10 would be a major coup for the Baylor Bear, with the emphasis on giant QBs in today's NFL.
Griffin is a fantastic athlete, but he is no slash prospect. While his delivery can be a tad long, the ball is very live out of his hand, and Griffin's has an arm who can make every throw.
The Cards finally have some semblance of a run game this season, and they need to continue building that piece of their offense.
Reiff has a chance to challenge Kalil as the top tackle in this year's draft. He has a great build, and everyone knows Hawkeyes can block.
Thompson is a player I like more and more every time I watch him. Much like Nick Fairley, he is a master at crowing the line of scrimmage, and with a quick get-off he controls the battle with opposing linemen.
The dream team has multiple needs in this year's draft. Their linebackers are terrible, and their scheme is questionable.
Stopping the run starts with the D-line though, which means Thompson is a prime candidate for this pick.
The consensus top back in the draft, teams may be kicking themselves for passing on Richardson down the road.
Even if Jamaal Charles returns healthy, he will only handle half the workload, and we know Thomas Jones is about done.
Richardson reminds me a lot of Marshawn Lynch with his aggressive, multi-directional running style. He is a welcomed addition for any offense.
If you've been paying attention to Seahawks football this year you know quarterback has been the main point of contention for the offense.
Jones may not be the most loved quarterback of the 2012 class, but all of the scouts have him as Top 10 prospect, even with some turmoil this season.
Seattle may make a move to get the QB they want or continue building their underrated defense, but with Jones staring them in the eye at No. 11 it looks like a good match.
I'm a supporter of Greg Little, but he looks like a piece of the Browns' offense—not the star.
After seeing the success the Bengals have had with their rookie SEC receiver—and passing on their own—you have to imagine the Browns are a little jealous.
Jeffery isn't Blackmon or Green, but he is a pretty damn good receiver in his own right who fights to win one-on-one battles downfield.
Have you seen Philip Rivers running for his life this season? Injuries to the offensive line have been the culprit, and SD needs to add depth by way of a starter to the group.
Martin is an experienced pass-protector, and while he has been protecting Luck's blindside, he has also been part of one of the best rushing attacks in college football.
Expect there to be a lot of competition at the cornerback position in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Of all the competitors, none stand taller than Kirkpatrick.
Ronde Barber is coming to the end of his career, and you can never have enough 6'3" corners on your roster.
The Bucs have built a good D-line, but their linebackers still need upgrading, and don't be surprised if they go that route with a mid-round selection.
Top-tier edge-rushers don't often slip in the draft, which means the Bills and Upshaw may be surprised to connect at pick 15.
The Bills struck out on Aaron Maybin a few years back, but Upshaw is a complete football player—not a specialist.
Buffalo could use help on both sides of the ball, and with their commitment to winning now, expect them to go BPA.
Interior offensive linemen are starting to get the respect they deserve in the draft, which means Konz should be the next first-round center.
An extremely active player, Konz routinely makes multiple blocks on zone plays and is great on pulls as well. He is currently battling some injuries, though.
Tennessee's coach is a lineman, and they have made a commitment to Chris Johnson, so they need to do everything they can to help him.
Ground and pound is looking a lot like end-around play actions these days. New York wants to control the football game, which means they need to establish the run early and often.
DeCastro is the best guard in football. He is explosive out of his stance in on situations, and few right guards have pulled left better.
The Giants can be a bit unpredictable in the draft. They will go for BPA and depth over reaching for needs every time.
The one thing we do know is that they are attracted to size, and Floyd will give Eli Manning the 6'5" threat he has been missing since Plax shot himself.
Denver football seems to be evolving every week, but you can expect John Fox to stay committed to blue collar football.
Currently, Hightower carries a second-day grade from scouts, but size, experience and Nick Saban go a long way in the eyes of NFL franchises.
A defensive tackle or corner would make sense here as well.
We know the Lions will go BPA—what we don't know is who will be on the board when they're up and how the prospects will shake down the next four months.
Listed at 5'10", Dennard's size isn't ideal for a first-round CB, but his film walks the walk.
The Lions shut down the Nebraska pipeline on Prince Amukamura last draft, but scouts have said the real prize of the blackshirt backfield is Dennard.
Linebackers are also bountiful at this point in the mock.
Chase's father Frank was a 1980s NFL All-Decade corner for the Browns, making this pick a bit of a homer for Cleveland fans.
Not an unwarranted pick though.
Minnifield is a six-footer who plays the game with ease. He is comfortable sticking with receivers off the line, and his ball skills are unquestioned.
The Bengals are the home of second chances, and they've done a great job of acquiring talent because of their willingness to forgive and forget.
Jenkins could have been a first-round pick last year before being dismissed from Florida. A season at UNA may not impress scouts, but Jenkins' commitment to turning the corner will melt hearts in Cincy.
Once again the Bears are on the clock, and they still need to keep Jay Cutler off his back.
Glenn projects to slide over from tackle to guard where his 350-pound build will help him battle Suh and Kevin Williams.
If Chicago brings Matt Forte back they will want to make sure they can block for him as well.
With the recent injuries, Houston could be looking at one of the remaining Big 12 QBs at this point, but I expect the Texans to continue building their D.
Ta'amu is a scheme versatile DT. He isn't a blob nose tackle some have made him out to be, but rather a disruptive penetrator with the motor to chase plays from behind.
At Washington he faced a lot of double and triple-teams, but the Texans have the talent off the edge to let Ta'amu win one-on-one.
As previously mentioned, the Bengals do a great job of drafting the talent that falls in their hands. Te'o is a three-down backer with the size to stuff the run in the AFC North.
There are several talented backers still on the board, and with two first-round picks I anticipate the Bengals exiting the round with one.
Aside from adding Rob Ryan the Cowboys haven't done much to help their defensive backfield in recent years.
Mark Barron will give Ryan a dynamic defender who can play anywhere on the field. In the box he is a willing tackler, he can man-up on a slot receiver and is effective lining up in a deep zone.
Pittsburgh would be the perfect landing place for Brown, who is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft.
On film you can see his freakish athletic ability, but his read and react leave something to be desired.
In Pittsburgh, Brown could be used situationally at first, blitzing inside and out.
Still is one of the real question marks entering draft season. Some swear Still is the top tackle prospect, while others see someone who excels in college because of elite size but doesn't have the ethic or emotion to win in the NFL.
Jim Harbaugh is able to see in players what few others can, which means Still might be his guy.
The Niners have been great on defense this season, but size and depth on the defensive line is always welcome.
Once again the Pats have multiple first-round picks and nobody expects them to sit still. If they were to pick where slotted, Kuechly would give them one of the most productive linebackers in college football history.
Inside linebacker isn't a major need, but the Pats like to use many different position groups, and Kuechly is terrific in pass coverage.
We haven't seen the Pats go after many edge-rushers recently, which may be why they have struggled to shut down the pass the past few years.
Irvin lives for third down. Due to increased attention he hasn't racked up the sacks he did a year ago, but it isn't due to a lack of effort.
He is a high-energy, rangy end with an exceptional speed rush around the corner.
Red flags on and off the field have Burfict free-falling down big boards.
There are two teams that won't be afraid of the Sun Devil, though—and if the Bengals don't take him the Ravens will.
It's almost time for Ray Lewis to pass over the reins of the Ravens' defense, and Burfict is a worth recipient. With The U as well as fellow ASU alum Suggs on the team, I would expect the cheap shot penalties to cease.
The Packers have the luxury of doing whatever they want with their first-round pick, which will result in a blend of need and BPA.
Mercilus has an elite DE frame that can get above 280 with a few months of hard work. He isn't a flashy pass-rusher, but his motor doesn't stop running, which will put him in position to clean up the mess Clay Matthews makes.