2012 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Players Guaranteed to Succeed

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2011

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates their 42-14 win over the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While many teams are enamored by the thought of landing a prospect with huge upside, nothing is better than a polished product who is guaranteed to succeed.

This notion that there is no such thing as a sure thing is complete malarkey. Grading prospects isn't an exact science and no player is immune to being dealt bumps in the road, but there are plug-and-play players in every class who are guaranteed to excel.

Here are three can't miss prospects and their potential landing places.


Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Pick: No. 1

Potential Landing Place: Indianapolis Colts 

Andrew Luck could be the most polished quarterback prospect in history. He's got the size, the uncanny understanding of the game, intelligence, mobility, quick delivery, astounding accuracy and a grossly underrated arm.

Stanford's physical offense utilized the tight ends frequently and Luck didn't always have an opportunity to show off his cannon.

Obviously, Peyton Manning's health is going to be a factor in how the Colts approach their quarterback situation. However, even though Indy is by far the most decimated team in the league, they can build around Luck in the manner they did around Manning.


Matt Kalil, LT, USC

Pick: No. 3

Potential Landing Place: Minnesota Vikings

We haven't seen a prospect like Matt Kalil come out of the draft since Jake Long. He's got the huge size and quick feet that make him flawless in pass protection.

He didn't allow a sack in 2011 and he's got the brute strength to blow defenders off the line. He's a rare plug-and-play left tackle and the reason why Tyron Smith stayed on the right side of the line during his days as a Trojan.

The Vikings have elite pieces on both sides of the ball. While they also have serious holes that are dragging them down to this spot, they have the best back in the league in Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder has shown the potential to be great.

Kalil would start from day one and be a staple in the Vikings offense for years to come.


Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Pick: No. 7

Potential Landing Place: Cleveland Browns

It's rare that you see a running back warrant Top-10 selection. After all, running backs aren't hard to find and nearly every team in the league has a decent back that they can trust.

That being said, Trent Richardson is worthy of the high pick. He's the most complete back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson and it's hard to remember a back that possessed his raw strength.

Richardson is a physical back, who can run a defender over or make him look foolish by throwing a lethal move on him. With Peyton Hillis getting bounced out of Cleveland, the Browns would be able to upgrade the position immediately and give themselves a huge lift in the always physical AFC North.


*Draft order determined by combination of current record and projected finish.

Mock Draft by Wes O'Donnell

No.  Team (Record) Player, Pos.
1. Indianapolis Colts (0-13) Andrew Luck, QB
2. St. Louis Rams (2-11) Justin Blackmon, WR
3. Minnesota Vikings (2-11) Matt Kalil, OT
4. Miami Dolphins (4-9) Matt Barkley, QB
5. Carolina Panthers (4-9) Morris Claiborne, CB
6. Buffalo Bills (5-8) Robert Griffin III, QB
7. Cleveland Browns (4-9)
Trent Richardson, RB
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) Michael Floyd, WR
9. Washington Redskins (4-9) Landry Jones, QB
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
Quinton Coples, DE
11. Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) Alshon Jeffery, WR
12. Kansas City Chiefs (5-8) Riley Reiff, OT
13. Seattle Seahawks (6-7)
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
14. San Diego Chargers (6-7)
Alfonzo Dennard, CB
15. Arizona Cardinals (6-7)
Jonathan Martin, OT
16. Tennessee Titans (7-6) Vontaze Burfict, LB
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK) (7-6) Lamar Miller, RB
18. Chicago Bears (7-6)
Peter Konz, C
19. Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
Devon Still, DT
20. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) Janoris Jenkins, CB
21. Detroit Lions (8-5) Luke Kuechly, LB
22. New York Jets (8-5) David DeCastro, OG
23. Denver Broncos (8-5) Brandon Thompson, DT
24. Cleveland Browns (via ATL) (8-5) Jarvis Jones, LB
25. Houston Texans (10-3) Mark Barron, S
26. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) Dont'a Hightower, LB
27. New York Giants (7-6) Zach Brown, LB
28. New England (via NO 10-3) Chase Minnifield, CB
29. Baltimore Ravens (10-3) Courtney Upshaw, DE
30. San Francisco 49ers (10-3) Kendall Wright, WR
31. New England Patriots (10-3) Mohamed Sanu, WR
32. Green Bay Packers (13-0) Cordy Glenn, OG


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