As we move on to Week 16, the playoff picture is becoming a bit clearer. Now, these remaining two weeks of the season are all about jockeying for postseason position and contention.
But for those who are not in the playoff mix, the NFL Draft is their next biggest event. Talents such as Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon, and Morris Claiborne are hitting the market, awaiting to see where they'll take their first professional snap.
Since it's never too early for a mock, here's my Week 16 edition mock for the 2012 NFL Draft's first round.
Andrew Luck going No.1 overall is a clear no-brainer. The ability and intelligence are there, and it looks as if he's the next big thing coming into the NFL.
Indianapolis, however, will be in perhaps the stickiest situation in the game's history. If they take Luck, which they will, what happens to the quarterback they have now?
Maybe you've heard of him—Peyton Manning?
Will the Colts draft Luck and start him immediately?
Will they take Luck only to place him under the wing of Manning for a handful of the season?
Or will Indy just cut ties with their long-time quarterback to make way for what looks like the second version of Manning?
There are many questions surrounding that potential scenario, but there are none when it comes to drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick in 2012.
If it wasn't for Andrew Luck, USC's Matt Kalil would be the best prospect in the 2012 draft.
The younger brother of Carolina's Ryan Kalil, Matt is another sure-fire offensive lineman that'll keep his quarterback off the turf.
Luckily for Minnesota, if they remain second in the draft order, Kalil be available for the No. 2 selection.
Through 12 games, the Vikings offensive line has allowed the fourth most sacks in the NFL. Drafting Matt Kalil would help protect the young Christian Ponder and provide some space for Adrian Peterson.
The St. Louis Rams have needs in every position besides the quarterback. Perhaps, the running backs spots. Seeing as how Justin Blackmon would be the best available player at this point, the Rams should go with the Oklahoma State Cowboy.
Blackmon is the top wide receiver prospect in the draft. He would give Sam Bradford a legitimate target to hit in the end zone. He has the size, the speed, and the hands to become an elite receiver in the NFL.
With the fourth pick in the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars can take a number of routes. They could go with a new quarterback in Robert Griffin or Matt Barkley, or perhaps take a big time defensive prospect in Morris Claiborne or Quinton Coples.
The smartest pick, however, would be South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery. The Gamecocks wideout is a sensible pick for a few reasons. For one, the Jaguars shouldn't dump off Blaine Gabbert for another quarterback this quickly.
If I were in the front office at Jacksonville, I'd allow Blaine Gabbert to continue his growth. He isn't the worst rookie quarterback we've ever seen, and does appear to have some tools to be a legitimate starter.
In order to move along Gabbert's growth, the Jags could nab Jeffery here.
Alshon Jeffery would not only give Gabbert a legitimate target, but would give the franchise its biggest wide receiver prospect in years.
Jeffery has great size, soft hands, and good speed. If not for Justin Blackmon, Jeffery would easily be the draft's top wideout.
Alabama's Richardson is far and above the best running back prospect in this group, and would fit in Cleveland quite nicely.
Peyton Hillis may not be a permanent fix there after all of the drama he has gone through this season. Plus, Colt McCoy does need some offensive help in order to reach the next level. Richardson would be a great option for McCoy to hand the ball off to.
As Ronde Barber gets older, the Bucs may be in the market for a new cornerback. If so, they could go with Morris Claiborne. The LSU corner is easily the best prospect on the board at this point.
At 6'0" and 185 pounds, Claiborne has been one of college football's best cornerbacks over the last two seasons. In fact, he may be the best defensive player coming out in 2012.
He has good hands, exceptional speed, and the ability to be an elite cover corner in the NFL.
In my first mock, I had Washington taking Matt Barkley with the fifth pick. Barkley is a great prospect, and would fit nicely into Mike Shanahan's system.
However, the newly crowned Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, does have a bit more upside than the USC quarterback. Griffin can run extremely well. He has ridiculous accuracy on his deep throws. The 2011 Heisman winner had phenomenal numbers. He was certainly college football's best player this season.
After seeing Carolina taking a risk that paid off huge dividends with Cam Newton, perhaps the Redskins take a calculated chance of their own on a quarterback with multiple tools.
With Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, and Alshon Jeffery off the board, the Carolina Panthers have a very easy selection in Quinton Coples.
The 6'6", 275 pound defensive lineman has racked up 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss in his 2011 campaign. He has great size, good speed, and is the draft's top pass-rushing talent.
Coples is extremely versatile and would allow Carolina, whose defensive line is a huge concern, to slot him as an end or tackle.
The last defensive end the Panthers took out of North Carolina worked out pretty well. Are you familiar with a man named Julius Peppers?
Miami Dolphins fans, your prayers may finally be answered. If Matt Barkley were to drop to Miami at this point in the draft, you may not see a faster selection.
Miami needs a franchise quarterback. Their current guy, Matt Moore, has been playing considerably well. Moore, however, is not the long-term answer for this franchise.
Barkley is easily one of this year's draft's best prospects. He has great mechanics and is very football savvy. In 2011, he threw 39 touchdowns to just seven interceptions with over 3,500 yards.
With Griffin off the board here, Barkley is a hell of a consolation prize for the Dolphins.
Through 14 games this season, the Buffalo Bills rank dead last in sacks. They have had some trouble getting to the quarterback, and could use one of the draft's best pass rushers.
Courtney Upshaw, the linebacker from Alabama, would give them an immediate boost.
Upshaw has tremendous versatility in terms of positioning on defense. He has good speed, good strength and is very quick off the ball.
Upshaw recorded 8.5 sacks this year. He could help Buffalo get to those quarterbacks.
Philly's linebacker core has been nothing short of terrible. This problem has been plaguing their defense, and needs to be addressed. So if Luke Kuechly of Boston College is still there for the Eagles, expect them to jump on him.
He is a sound tackler, displays good mobility and is a very intelligent player. Kuechly also has good size, and always seems to be in the middle of every play.
With Todd Haley now out as Kansas City's head coach, the Chiefs will be looking to regroup in some big spots. Luckily for them, Landry Jones could be available when their turn comes around in 2012.
Matt Cassel is not reliable. Tyler Palko obviously isn't the guy. So the quarterback spot will need to be addressed.
Jones, who is in his in junior season as a Sooner, is easily the fourth best quarterback in this considerably deep class. Landry threw for over 4,000 yards with 28 touchdowns this past season. He has shown he is worthy of a first-round pick.
Jones' strengths include his accuracy, arm power and footwork. But he does need to work on his elongated throwing motion.
Whether the Tennessee Titans' offensive line was really to blame for Chris Johnson's slow start, it does need some upgrading. In fact, head coach Mike Munchak has already called out the line this season.
David DeCastro is the draft's top guard at the moment, and could be a nice pickup for the Titans.
If the Arizona Cardinals believes Kevin Kolb is their guy, they need to give him some help. Whether it be another target to sit opposite Larry Fitzgerald or a big lineman, the Cards have to build around Kolb.
Since Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery are off the board, the next logical choice would be Iowa's Riley Reiff.
Reiff has certainly emerged as one of college football's best players as a result of his impressive 2011 season. He's 6'6", 300 pounds. He has been praised for his great fundamentals. Reiff has great footwork, bends very well, and has already played in a pro-style offense.
With the top four quarterbacks off the board, Seattle can opt for Notre Dame's Michael Floyd in this spot.
Floyd has done nothing but dazzle during his collegiate year. In his four seasons at Notre Dame, Floyd has never failed to put up at least 700 yards receiving and catching at least seven touchdowns. Floyd raked in a bulky 95 passes in 2011, eight of them in the end zone.
He is an NFL-ready talent, and can provide another dimension to the Seattle offense.
Stanford's Jonathan Martin would fill a need for the struggling San Diego Chargers.
San Diego's offensive line hasn't been exactly great in 2011. Add that to the continuous injury woes they've been dealing with on the line and you have a sensible pick in Martin.
He does know a thing or two about protecting big-time quarterbacks.
Cincinnati does need some help in their secondary, so they can use their first pick on Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.
At 6'2", Kirkpatrick is a considerably tall cornerback. He has great speed and has a knack for making big plays. Although he needs to bulk up for the NFL, Kirkpatrick is a nice grab for the Bengals at No. 17.
In order to provide Jay Cutler with some much-needed protection, the Bears could go with Cordy Glenn.
Glenn is just huge, standing at 6'5" and 348 pounds. He is relatively nimble for a man his size, and is very good at opening up holes for the run game.
An inside linebacker is a huge need for the New York Giants, and North Carolina's Zach Brown would provide some stability for Coughlin's (or not Coughlin's) defense next season.
Brown can come in and immediately help the Giants. Brown is a sound athlete that has the speed and ability to get to opposing ball carriers.
With their second first-round pick, the Bengals could look to Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict for some more help on defense.
Although the Bengals' defense has been quite impressive this year, it may be hard for Marvin Lewis to pass up on Burfict at this spot. He does need work in man-to-man coverage, but he carries the agility to break off blockers and get to the ball.
The New York Jets must upgrade their pass rush as well as their run defense in order to solidify their spot amongst the league's best defenses.
Rex Ryan's crew currently ranks 14th against the run. Much lower than their top-10 positioning from the previous two seasons. They also need a legitimate threat to rush the quarterback, so Ryan doesn't have to use the blitz so much.
No defensive end in college football was better in 2011 than Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus racked a gaudy 14.5 sacks in 2011. He has slated his name into the thick of the first round.
With their second first-rounder, the Browns can be looking for some defensive aid after taking Trent Richardson earlier in the draft. Brandon Jenkins of Florida State has had a great 2011 season. He could give Cleveland some help in their pass rush.
Jenkins has great size, is a good athlete, and can play on the defensive line or move to outside linebacker in the pros.
Detroit boasts two huge needs in its offensive line and in its secondary. Since Alfonzo Dennard is a better prospect than any remaining lineman, look for Detroit to go with the Cornhusker.
Dennard has excellent speed, good athleticism, and displays great instincts. He does, however need to improve on his reaction on coverage. As well as his footwork, he needs to make better breaks on the ball.
He does need some work, but has the tools to be a great corner in the NFL.
I'm mocking Wisconsin's Peter Konz to the Houston Texans even though their line has been quite good. They rank ninth in pass protection this season, allowing just 26 sacks through 14 games.
The problem, however, is the expiring contract of the team's current center, Chris Myers. If Myers, who has been one of the best centers in the league, doesn't re-sign, Konz could be the pick here.
If Myers does re-sign, Houston can find another spot on the line for Konz.
There is no question Janoris Jenkins would be a higher selection if not for his off-field issues.
There is also no question that the Dallas Cowboys need to upgrade their vulnerable secondary after missing out on Nnamdi Asomugha last year.
So would Jerry Jones have a problem picking a player with attitude questions? Hell no! Jones has already shown us he'll take any player if he thinks it'll help his team win.
Jenkins is a gifted athlete and would help the Cowboys clamp down on opposing passing games.
All the Denver Broncos seem to do is run. They do it with Tim Tebow, Willis McGahee, and just about any other player that has two legs.
Anyway, drafting Alabama's Barrett Jones would solidify the line to help force the running game into opposing defenses.
Ben Roethlisberger is tough, but the human body can only take so much. Including this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line has been amongst the very worst. They gave up the second most sacks in 2009, the eighth most in 2010, and the seventh most through 14 games in 2011.
Kelechi Osemele of Iowa State would be a good pick for Pittsburgh here. He has tremendous size, plenty of strength, and plays extremely physical football.
Since the San Francisco 49ers seem to have a legitimate quarterback in Alex Smith, they'll need to give him more protection. San Francisco has given up the ninth most sacks this seasons, and could use Mike Adams to keep Smith off the ground.
Adams will also be appreciated by Frank Gore and the rest of the run-heavy offense in San Francisco.
Sorry to say it, but Ray Lewis won't be around forever. So it's time for Baltimore to start auditions for the next big linebacker.
Alabama's Dont'a Hightower could very well be that guy for the Ravens. Hightower has great size, speed, and is very effective against the run.
New England's pass defense has been nothing short of atrocious in 2011. They rank dead last in the NFL.
Devon Still, who would be the best available talent here, could provide some pass rush help to keep teams from getting off big passing plays.
The Patriots, however, may look to pick up a corner later in the draft.
Time for New England to pick up a cornerback to improve that terrible secondary.
Virginia's Chase Minnifield would be the next best available corner in the draft. He has nice speed, hits hard and has a knack for getting to the ball.
The Green Bay Packers' pass defense certainly could use some help. They may look to Vinny Curry for it.
At 6'4" and 263 lb, Curry is a very good pass rusher. He can put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks and give Green Bay someone to play across from Clay Matthews.