Projecting the outcome of the NFL draft is hard enough on its own. What happens when we throw in some of those inevitable trades that shock fans across the nation on draft day?
Last year it was Atlanta making a big move to snag Alabama's Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick. In 2012, there's bound to be another jaw-dropping move, especially given the new rookie salary cap and the talent at the top of the draft—you know who I'm talking about.
Whether or not these trades come to fruition, it's always a good time to predict what the masterminds of the NFL will do when the pressure is on. Here's my 2012 NFL mock draft with trades!
We're starting off with a bang.
The Redskins' quarterback play has been atrocious this season and neither Rex Grossman nor John Beck is progressing at this point. If Mike Shanahan wants to seriously compete in the NFC East, he'll have to bundle a couple of first-round picks to send to Indianapolis and draft Stanford star Andrew Luck.
Luck's a great prospect—there's no doubting that—but we need not get ahead of ourselves. Even the most intelligent rookies have a learning curve when they get to the professional level and Luck should be no exception.
He's not going to come into the league and be elite right away, but if expectations are tempered a bit and the Redskins don't put too much pressure on the young man, he could be a good one and the Redskins could have their future laid out for them.
The Vikings offensive line has given up an astounding 45 sacks in the 2011 season thus far and have a few gaps to fill. One of those holes in the line is at left tackle, where Charlie Johnson has been less than stellar.
The Vikings need to protect a potential franchise quarterback in rookie Christian Ponder. Giving him a solid front line is the first step towards doing that and Kalil would come in right away and make an impact.
Kalil is a great pass-blocker and has enough attitude in the running game to make him the most well-rounded tackle in this year's class. He's quick, sizable and experienced—a great combination for a top pick.
The Rams also need some help on the offensive line, but without Matt Kalil on the board, it will be hard for them to pass up on the most talented receiver in the draft.
Blackmon not only has soft hands and the ability to make some incredibly athletic catches, but he is also dangerous after the catch. He turns into a running back and despite lacking elite speed, he's an elusive runner who finds his way into the end zone.
Blackmon is one of the most productive college receivers in recent memory and has no glaring omissions from his skill set.
The second Stanford player off the board is tackle Jonathan Martin. Drafting a receiver here would be a reach and the offensive line is a big concern for this team.
Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has struggled to find any consistency and while he's had his shining moments, the Jaguars are far from putting him in a position to win. Putting Martin opposite tackle Eugene Monroe would go a ways towards doing that.
Martin is an excellent pass-blocker who would slow down pass-rushers that have sacked Gabbert nearly three times per game.
Here, Cleveland pulls the trigger on a player that will undoubtedly be one of the more controversial prospects heading into the draft. Just like Cam Newton last year, there are firm believers and disbelievers in Griffin III.
One thing's for sure: He's no one-trick pony. The Davey O'Brien and Heisman Memorial Trophy winner has shown rare accuracy at times—especially on his deep ball. He's also the most athletic quarterback of the class and has the arm strength to make it all work.
Cleveland could pull the trigger on Trent Richardson here, but with a rookie salary cap, this is a low-risk pick that could end up paying off with the ultimate reward.
Claiborne isn't the best fit for Tampa Bay's scheme, due to his lack of experience in the zone, but he certainly has the ability to make it work.
Ronde Barber's career has been winding down for some time now and they lack the depth to make a smooth transition with the current talent on the roster. Claiborne has the ball skills and instincts to become a playmaker in the Tampa 2, but there will be a learning curve in adjusting to this defense.
The Bucs could take a risk on Dre Kirkpatrick here if they feel he better fits their scheme. Kirkpatrick, who is the bigger hitter of the two, has excelled when playing zone defense. However, like Claiborne, his experience is limited, making the LSU product the likely pick.
The second huge trade of the draft comes when Pete Carroll moves all the way up from the 15th pick to draft the player he recruited to play at USC. The Seahawks made this move mainly to get in front of Miami, who is seeking a quarterback of the future with the ninth pick.
Seattle has been one of the more up-and-down teams this season, in large part due to their quarterback play. Tarvaris Jackson is a different man every week and the team's investment in Charlie Whitehurst has been a failure to this point.
Barkley is a low-risk pick because he is more developed than any other prospect in this class, save Andrew Luck, and he played in a pro-style offense.
There are more pressing needs for the Panthers to address, but Kirkpatrick will be the best player available on the board if he gets to the eighth pick. Carolina would like to draft a defensive tackle, but making that pick here would be a reach and there aren't many suitors for this draft pick.
Kirkpatrick is a huge talent who has tremendous potential if drafted by Carolina. There, he will be allowed to show off all of skills in a scheme diverse with man, zone and cornerback blitzes.
Kirkpatrick is also active in run support and can be relied on to make a tough tackle in the open field, something that this team has lacked throughout the season.
A true technician, Reiff is a lineman that would immediately fit in with Miami. Jake Long has held the Dolphins offensive line together when healthy, but in his absence, Miami has been lost, giving up 46 sacks on the season—an astonishingly high number.
Miami won't have to worry about Reiff getting lost to injury; he's been healthy his entire collegiate career. He would play right tackle for Miami and could be a star very soon, giving the Dolphins two anchors on their offensive line. Reiff is extremely quick and would prove to be a solid pick for Miami, who missed out on its chance to draft a quarterback.
Buffalo is in dire need of a pass-rusher and Melvin Ingram presents the opportunity for them to get an athletic player who has an NFL body and can end up being a huge hit for this team as Von Miller has been in Denver.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch could be an option here with an impressive workout, but Ingram would make sense right now. Quinton Coples could be another option, but he wouldn't make the pass-rushing impact that Ingram can.
Luke Kuechly is a pure 4-3 middle linebacker who has rapidly ascending at the collegiate level. Originally undersized, Kuechly relied on his instincts to sniff out the ball and made 142 tackles as a freshman in the ACC.
As he bulked up, he became a more complete player and has dominated the college game with over 370 tackles in the past two seasons combined, making him one of the most productive college linebackers in history.
Kuechly isn't great in coverage, but that's not where the Eagles need help. They need to defend the run and the Boston College linebacker knows nothing better.
After passing up on Richardson with the fifth pick in favor of Baylor's talented quarterback, Robert Griffin III, the Browns traded up using the 22nd pick they received from Atlanta in the 2011 NFL draft to grab another skill player to complete their offense, which now lacks only a receiver.
The Alabama running back is far more talented than the 12th pick infers, but there is a lack of need for running backs atop the first round—something that benefits the Browns greatly.
Richardson is one of the best running back prospects we've seen in years with a compelling combination of speed, strength and instincts.
Immensely talented, Burfict could be a top-five pick if he could simply hone in on his abilities. He has huge bust risk, but could also be an elite player within five seasons; well worth the risk for the Cardinals.
He's a physical freak who delivers an enormous amount of force on impact and can get from point A to point B faster than you'd expect from a 250-lb monster. Can you tell that I love his potential in the NFL?
The Cards could easily go with a receiver here or look for a pass-rusher, but Burfict fits in just as well as any player left on the board.
Michael Floyd and Alshon Jeffery could be tempting options here, but Coples is far too talented to pass up here. He hasn't been very productive as a college player, but his upside warrants top-10-pick consideration.
Some have the North Carolina defensive end rated as a top-five prospect and while that seems to be a bit of a stretch to me, there's no arguing that he's a versatile guy. He could play defensive end in the 3-4 and both end and tackle in the 4-3.
The Colts are going to be urgently searching for offensive linemen this offseason, especially after giving up Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley in order to stockpile future first-round picks as well as second-day picks for the current draft.
David DeCastro has no weakness in his game. He's a complete player that I would guarantee to start for the Colts from day one. The top interior lineman of this class, the Stanford guard would certainly help preserve Peyton Manning's career.
Based off of his physically imposing nature, Floyd should be a productive NFL player. He does come along with some character concerns, but it's the Bengals, right? I'm joking, of course, as Floyd seems to have matured this season.
He's a great fit for the Bengals who have had a knack for the jump ball this season. Andy Dalton's play this season reminds me of Jake Delhomme, who relied on his athletes to get up and make the big plays when needed.
With Floyd, Dalton could have sustained success as a quarterback who lacks supreme arm strength, but knows how to put his receivers in the position to make a play.
The Chargers brought in Bob Sanders to be their physical strong safety that was great in run support and not too much of a liability in coverage. Sanders got injured, as is usual with him in recent years, and the Chargers slid from an AFC favorite to third place in their own division.
With Barron, the Bolts get a safety who is just as physical in run support, but a playmaker in coverage as well. He'd be a perfect complement to Eric Weddle, who has excellent range and instincts as well.
Jeffery is a pure possession receiver who would complement the Bears' abundance of speed at the position. He has great hands and is nearly as dominant as Calvin Johnson on the jump ball.
His lack of speed causes concern, but in the right situation, Jeffery's unique skill set can make him a big-time red-zone target and huge assistance to Jay Cutler, who often has to throw the ball up early due to poor line play.
The Giants have loads of defensive talent, but are weak on the interior defensive line, where they have been abused against the run. Chris Canty is a solid player, but Linval Joseph should not be starting.
The "G-Men" have allowed 4.5 yards per carry this season and Cox could step in and lower that number, as well as provide an interior pass rush. He plays with good technique and despite below-average size, he is tough to move.
The Cowboys don't have any dire needs that must be addressed here, but Alfonzo Dennard is a player who fits in as an immediate nickel back.
Dallas could possibly look for a defensive end here or look to trade down, but Dennard has enough talent to make him worth this pick. He's a tough, hard-working player who could be a very good player on this defense.
The Jets are in need of another pass-rusher and have a weakness at outside linebacker with Garrett McIntyre. Upshaw would be an upgrade as a three-down player who not only gets after the quarterback, but is stout against the run and touted as a devout team player.
Upshaw is one of the most underrated prospects of this draft. If the Jets are in position to take him here, they should have no second thoughts about pulling the trigger. We're talking about a low first-round pick who is almost flawless in his game.
The former Florida cornerback an All-SEC player, Jenkins played for North Alabama this season after being kicked off of the Florida team for off-field issues.
Jenkins remains a great talent though who could fill the void left by Johnathan Joseph. Nate Clements won't be around for much longer and Adam Jones hasn't been spectacular. Opposite Leon Hall, Jenkins could form another tandem nearly as feared as the Joseph-Hall tandem of the past.
Devon Still has been a bona fide beast for Penn State this season and is completely unblockable at times. The team could really use a cornerback, but the top talent is off the board by now and Still is a great fit as a 3-4 nose tackle.
This is a weak defensive tackle class so the Broncos will need to pick up a replacement for Jamal Williams early. Maybe one of the only linemen in this class that can break through an NFL double-team.
The Chiefs seem to have found an immediate answer with Kyle Orton at quarterback, but he's not the type of player that leads a sub-par team to the playoffs and the AFC Championship; he simply isn't talented enough to do so with the amount of money that the Chiefs will spend on surrounding talent.
Landry Jones is a great talent whose stock has fallen after poor production in his senior season. He's still a very accurate quarterback with plenty of arm strength, but is a bit sloppy with his footwork and extremely inconsistent. He won't start day one, but given time, could be the Chiefs' long-term answer.
The Lions are another team that has no specific needs that must be addressed so they take the best player available. Zach Brown is an extremely athletic linebacker who puts pressure on the quarterback and has great range in run support.
The Lions could trade down here, but with the talent level evening out, there's little motivation for other teams to trade up. If the Lions want to address their need for a safety, they'll have to trade up.
The Texans have very few needs, but adding more explosive weapons to the offense is never a bad decision. Kendall Wright is the most explosive receiver in the class and has serviceable hands to go with his speed.
With Wright, Houston would have a very dynamic offense. They already have one of the best running games in the NFL, but with Andre Johnson drawing double-team attention, a speedster like Wright could find room to do what he does best.
Hightower is an instinctive player that could become great under the tutelage of Ray Lewis in Baltimore. He's a thick-bodied inside backer who lacks quickness, but possesses plenty of power.
The Ravens have an aging defense and are eventually going to have to inject some youth. If Hightower turns out to be a hit, they could very well be on their way to another decade of injecting fear into opponents on an every-down basis.
If you haven't heard about Pittsburgh's offensive line struggles yet, you've been living under a rock for the past few years. The Steelers have given up 40 sacks this season and for those who fault quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, realize that for every sack that he creates, he escapes another.
Sanders fits in well because he can play any position on the offensive line, save center. His versatility will make him additionally valuable to the Steelers, who have holes to fill all over their offensive line.
Jarvis Jones is a high-potential player that Bill Belichick would love to have on his team. Jones is one of the best pass-rushers in the nation and could be developed into an absolute beast in the NFL.
New England hasn't gotten much of a pass rush from their linebackers this season and with Jones, that would change. He'd make this defense much more dynamic, even if he started out as a third-down specialist.
The 49ers need to add more weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is there, and it's very good. However, the offense is behind due to lack of effectiveness through the air.
Nick Toon is a possession receiver who is being severely overlooked. He's one of the better route-runners in this class and is a player with no character concerns—a godsend in the era of diva receivers. Toon would fight his way up quickly on a depth chart that lacks depth.
Carolina already addressed the cornerback position with the eighth pick, but trade back into the first round to pick up a run-stuffing defensive tackle in Brandon Thompson.
No one trades down more than New England and by making this trade, they likely receive the Panthers' second-round pick and a 2012 and 2013 mid-round pick.
With Thompson, the Panthers finally have a three-down defensive tackle who is second to only Devon Still in terms of power at the position in this class. The Clemson lineman is very disruptive and is as good of a pass-rusher as Carolina currently has on the interior line.
Miller is a balanced running back that would make a bigger impact in Green Bay than possibly anywhere else. The Packers would love to have the versatile running back from Miami as a receiving threat and explosive runner.
It became apparent against Kansas City that the Packers need to put more trust into their running game and that starts with putting a player at the position that can create plays on his own. Miller is that type of player and he's young enough to progress into a great back for this team.