NFL Mock Draft 2012: First-Round Projections for All Teams

Wes StueveContributor IIIJanuary 12, 2012

NFL Mock Draft 2012: First-Round Projections for All Teams

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    The Andrew Luck sweepstakes are all but settled, but the rest of the 2012 NFL draft is up for grabs. 

    So here's another mock draft to definitively settle every debate and announce how each pick will turn out (that was sarcasm, if you didn't pick up on it). 

    Each and every one of these projections could easily be wrong. In fact, most of them probably are. 

    However, these picks still provide excellent food for debate and offer one possibility of how the draft could fall.

    At this point, that's about as good as you're going to get.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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    At this point, it's difficult to imagine the Colts not drafting Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick.

    Luck has all the abilities to succeed Peyton Manning as Indianapolis's franchise quarterback. 

    At 6'4", 235 pounds, Luck is an impressive athlete with perfect size. The Stanford star has a strong arm, great accuracy and unbelievable intelligence. Even in college, Luck was running the team's offense at the line of scrimmage, much like Manning has for years.

    Last year, Luck was the guaranteed No. 1 pick if he entered the draft. He chose not to, and a year later, he's an even better prospect. It's not an exaggeration to call Luck the best prospect to enter the draft in more than a decade.

    If the Colts don't select Luck, they will trade the pick away.

    There really is no other option here.

2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

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    Yes, the Rams already have a lot invested along the offensive line, but the unit is still terrible.

    The new rookie pay system limits how much money Matt Kalil would make, so St. Louis can afford to use a high pick here.

    The 6'7", 295-pound Kalil is a superb athlete with great length. Kalil is nearly flawless technically and is easily the best left-tackle prospect since Jake Long.

    On the other hand, Kalil needs to gain some weight and isn't an elite run blocker. There aren't many safer picks, though, and the Rams finally find their franchise left tackle.

    St. Louis could also select a cornerback in Morris Claiborne or address their wide receiver need by taking Justin Blackmon.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

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    The Vikings have one of the NFL's worst secondaries, and the team's two best cornerbacks are aging.

    Antoine Winfield is almost 35 years old, and Cedric Griffin may never recover from his recent knee injuries.

    Though he isn't quite the prospect former teammate Patrick Peterson was a year ago, Morris Claiborne may be the better cornerback. Peterson relied on his physical abilities, but Claiborne has mastered his craft.

    Claiborne is still a great athlete, though. The LSU star weighs in at 6'1", 190 pounds and can run with almost any wideout. Claiborne also possesses superb ball skills and jumping ability.

    If Matt Kalil is available, the Vikings would almost certainly draft him.

    Minnesota also needs wide receivers, and Justin Blackmon's stock appears to be on the rise.

4. Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

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    Colt McCoy looked decent as a rookie, but his 2011 season was a disaster.

    Cleveland needs talent on offense, but they will not win until they upgrade at the quarterback position.

    Robert Griffin is far from a once-in-a-decade prospect; however, he's a legitimate top-five pick. Griffin weighs in at just 6'2", 220 pounds, so he has to compensate with his athletic ability. Fortunately, RG3 is a superb athlete and can outrun defensive backs, let alone defensive linemen.

    Griffin isn't really a runner, though. The Heisman winner possesses a strong arm and excellent accuracy but lacks great running ability in the open field. Griffin is known for his sound decision-making and excellent accuracy.

    It's possible the Browns will sign Matt Flynn in free agency, so they could look to add offensive talent by selecting Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

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    Though LeGarrette Blount has been decent, he has been hurt and can't carry the Tampa Bay offense.

    If the Buccaneers wish to regain their prior explosiveness, they need to add a star like Trent Richardson.

    A power back with great speed, Trent Richardson is the best running back since Adrian Peterson, and he may be even better. Richardson is nearly impossible to tackle one-on-one, and he possesses good agility as well.

    Unlike the typical power back, Richardson can also catch. The Alabama star has been featured out of the backfield and is a complete player. As crazy as it sounds, Richardson has literally zero flaws. He's the No. 2 player in this draft.

    Dre Kirkpatrick would be a great fit at cornerback too. 

6. Washington Redskins: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

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    This is a terrible situation for Washington.

    There isn't a quarterback worth the pick, so they have to settle for the next best option. The Redskins have plenty of wideouts, but they lack a star and need a No. 1 weapon.

    Justin Blackmon isn't very tall or fast, so he lacks elite upside. However, the Oklahoma State star possesses great hands, route-running ability and will not bust.

    A fantastic Rose Bowl performance has Blackmon's stock on the rise, and he could easily be gone by now. Blackmon has questions regarding his upside, but his production cannot be denied, and many love him as a prospect.

    In an ideal world, the Redskins are able to acquire Robert Griffin III. They would have to trade up to do so, and the team will probably try to.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

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    We have officially entered the weakest part of the draft. After the top six players are gone, there is not a player worth a top-10 draft pick. With this in mind, the Jaguars address a huge need and add a high-upside player.

    Alshon Jeffery's draft stock seemed to be falling for a while, but he's back on the rise. The 6'3", 235-pounder has fantastic catching ability and could be an elite player in the NFL.

    However, Jeffery is not fast and may struggle to separate at the next level. There are also concerns about Jeffery's weight and work ethic, and many fear he could be the next Mike Williams.

    Jacksonville's secondary could use some work, so Dre Kirkpatrick could easily be the pick here.

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

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    The Dolphins have a talented team, but they are being held back by their quarterback play.

    Overall, Miami simply needs to add talent on offense. Here, Ryan Tannehill is the best way to accomplish that.

    On the field, Tannehill is not worthy of such a high pick. However, Tannehill is a fantastic athlete with excellent arm strength and huge potential. For a team with such a huge need at quarterback, Tannehill is a viable option in the first round.

    At this point, Tannehill's biggest flaw is his poor decision making, but this is not unexpected from a former wide receiver. Tannehill is incredibly raw and needs to sit on the bench for a year, but he will test well at the combine and could develop into a great player.

    Miami could use help along the offensive line, so Riley Reiff and David DeCastro are both options

9. Carolina Panthers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

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    As can be seen in any Carolina game, the Panthers need to improve on defense. One of the team's biggest weaknesses is its secondary, and Chris Gamble may be the team's only solid defensive back.

    At 6'3", 192 pounds, Kirkpatrick possesses outstanding length and athletic ability. Kirkpatrick is excellent in zone coverage but occasionally struggles in man coverage, which has led some to speculation about a future at safety.

    Most, however, feel that Kirkpatrick can stay at cornerback, and he has incredible upside. In all likelihood, Kirkpatrick will not be ready to start at the beginning of 2012. Kirkpatrick would still contribute immediately, though.

    The Panthers need to add interior defensive linemen as well, and though he would be a bit of a reach here, Dontari Poe would make sense.

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

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    Stevie Johnson may be leaving in free agency, and the Bills don't have much behind him at wide receiver.

    Buffalo's offense fell off as the 2011 season went on, and the team needs to add more talent around Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Because of his off-the-field and injury issues, Michael Floyd is a risky prospect. However, his size, athleticism, body control and catching ability give him a big upside.

    Floyd has been incredibly productive when on the field, and he's talented enough to be selected in this range. In fact, Floyd has more potential than Justin Blackmon.

    Buffalo's offensive line is still weak, so either Riley Reiff or David DeCastro could be selected here.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

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    In 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs were rumored to be interested in drafting former Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga with the No. 5 pick. The Chiefs did not draft Bulaga, but offensive tackle remains a need, and now, a different Hawkeyes lineman is available.

    A former tight end, Riley Reiff is an excellent athlete and projects as a solid player in the NFL. At 6'6", 305 pounds, Reiff isn't particularly big, but he has the frame to add weight.

    There are some concerns about whether Reiff can play left tackle; however, he could play on the right side in Kansas City. The Chiefs have a solid left tackle in Branden Albert, and they are looking for a right tackle, not a blind-side protector.

    Kansas City could easily opt for Dontari Poe here, as well.

    Ryan Tannehill could be a fit if available, as well.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

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    Other than quarterback, Seattle's biggest need is its pass rush.

    The Seahawks have a well above-average run defense, but the team simply can't get after the quarterback.

    Though he isn't an elite rusher off the edge, Melvin Ingram will provide value in a variety of ways. In Pete Carroll's weird defensive scheme, versatility is key. 

    A 6'2", 275-pounder, Ingram isn't especially speedy and could struggle in coverage, but he can rush the passer and defend the run. Though Ingram will never be an elite rusher, he would dramatically improve Seattle's pass-rush.

    Luke Kuechly would be a great value here, as well, and he would provide a significant upgrade at linebacker.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

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    It's no secret that the Cardinals' offensive line is brutal and needs to be addressed before the 2012 season begins. Arizona needs help at virtually every offensive line position, and they just need to do something at this point.

    Historically, Mike Adams has been an underachiever, but he was excellent in 2011 after returning from a suspension. The 6'8", 320-pounder is a fantastic athlete with superb size.

    After Matt Kalil, Adams has the most upside of any offensive tackle in the draft. Adams could definitely continue to underachieve as a pro, so he is not without risk.

    Though he plays guard, David DeCastro is probably a better value at this point. 

14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

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    Tyron Smith and Doug Free look to be Dallas's bookend tackles, but the team needs to improve at the interior positions. The Cowboys have some serious talent on offense, and with a great offensive line, they could dominate.

    A junior guard, David DeCastro is the best interior-line prospect to come along in years, and could even be a top-10 selection. At 6'5", 310 pounds, DeCastro has perfect size and is a phenomenal athlete.

    DeCastro is capable of power-blocking or pulling and picking up linebackers in space. Few offensive linemen are more versatile, and DeCastro is elite in literally every aspect of the game.

    Dallas could look to add a defensive end like Quinton Coples, Devon Still or Fletcher Cox here.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

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    Though the Eagles have historically ignored linebacker, they desperately need to add someone. Philadelphia's defense was putrid, and their only huge weakness is at linebacker.

    Luke Kuechly isn't a fantastic athlete, but he has superb instincts and racks up tackles. Though he is just 6'3", 235 pounds, Kuechly does a nice job of disengaging from blocks and making plays in the backfield.

    Kuechly may never be an elite linebacker, but he will be a well-above-average player. The winner of the Bronko Nagursky Trophy, Kuechly has been incredibly productive and has an extremely high floor.

    It looks like DeSean Jackson may be leaving in free agency, so the Eagles could try to find his replacement here.

16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

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    The Jets are known for their defense, but they really don't have a good pass rush. Bart Scott is likely gone after this year, and New York needs to add linebackers—inside or outside.

    At 6'2", 265 pounds, Courtney Upshaw has the size to play inside or outside linebacker. Upshaw isn't a great threat off the edge; however, he's great against the run and can play in coverage too.

    Upshaw already has experience playing linebacker, so he isn't as risky as most 3-4 outside linebacker prospects. Versatility is crucial in Rex Ryan's defense, and Upshaw can move around much like Bart Scott did.

    A wide receiver would make a ton of sense for New York, and you shouldn't rule out a right tackle either.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

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    The Bengals don't really need a wide receiver, but another dynamic weapon opposite A.J. Green wouldn't hurt either.

    Cincinnati is trying to build an offense around Andy Dalton, so the team needs as much talent as it can get.

    Kendall Wright is a fast, quick wideout with huge playmaking ability. Though he weighs in at just 5'10", 190 pounds, Wright has great upside and could develop into a Jeremy Maclin-esque player.

    Wright is a fantastic fit opposite of Green and could immediately play from the slot. It's not likely that Wright will ever be an elite player, but he can be a No. 1 wide receiver.

    There's no reason why Wright shouldn't develop into at least a solid weapon.

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

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    Shaun Phillips didn't produce at a high level in 2011 and struggled with injury, but he's still a good player. However, San Diego's other outside linebacker needs to be upgraded.

    Like most 3-4 outside linebackers, Nick Perry is an undersized defensive end. The 6'3", 250-pounder is quick and explosive but needs to develop more pass-rush moves.

    At times, Perry is a complete non-factor against the run. The USC end needs to improve his technique and add muscle to shred blocks.

    A right tackle would make sense for the Chargers, and a defensive linemen is possible too.

19. Chicago Bears: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

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    Julius Peppers is still a great player, but the Bears need help at the other end position.

    Israel Idonje hasn't played well, and Chicago doesn't have much potential behind him either.

    At 6'6", 285 pounds, Quinton Coples is a great athlete. Physically, Coples is comparable to Peppers and is a fantastic athlete.

    However, Coples hasn't played up to his talent level. The North Carolina star is inconsistent, and though he excels against the run, he lacks the burst to dominate as a pass-rusher.

    Above all else, the Bars need to add offensive linemen. However, there simply isn't a good value available along the offensive line.

20. Tennessee Titans: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

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    Tennessee's biggest weakness isn't along the defensive line; however, the team simply can't pass up on Poe here. The Titans have plenty of defensive linemen, but they have not had an elite interior linemen since Albert Haynesworth left.

    Men of Dontari Poe's size aren't supposed to move like he does.

    The 6'5", 350-pounder is an incredible athlete with enormous potential. Poe could legitimately become the next Haloti Ngata, and he can play in any defensive scheme.

    Poe has not yet played up to his talent level though. However, Poe's upside is too great to ignore here, and he could actually be a top-10 pick.

    The Titans really need to upgrade along the interior offensive line, and Peter Konz would be a great fit.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

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    This pick almost seems like too much of a stereotype, but it makes sense on many levels.

    The Bengals obviously have a history of drafting "troubled" players, and Janoris Jenkins certainly fits that bill.

    After losing Jonathan Joseph in free agency to the Houston Texans, Cincinnati has a glaring hole at cornerback. Leon Hall is an excellent player, but he recently tore his Achilles tendon and is just one of two cornerbacks.

    Jenkins was a great player at Florida prior to being kicked off the team for multiple off-the-field problems. Now at North Alabama, Jenkins has continued to excel and is definitely a first-round value on the field.

    With Cedric Benson likely gone, the Bengals also need help at running back, and Lamar Miller is a good value here.

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

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    With Peyton Hillis certainly leaving in free agency, the Browns need to add talent at running back.

    Montario Hardesty has struggled with injuries and cannot be relied on to carry the load.

    Because of his speed and receiving ability, Lamar Miller has drawn comparisons to LeSean McCoy. Miller has good size at 5'11", 212 pounds and possesses significant upside. In theory, Miller should become a player who never has to come off the field.

    Miller isn't a power back, but his shiftiness and speed makes up for it. The Miami star can outrun most defensive backs and has great burst through the hole. Miller truly can take over and dominate a game.

    Cleveland would love to add a wide receiver here, as well, and a defensive end would also make sense.

23. Detroit Lions: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

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    Detroit's loss to the Saints further illuminated just how bad the Lions' secondary is.

    Eric Wright will probably not be a Lion next year, and the team doesn't have any other starting-caliber cornerbacks.

    Prior to the 2011 season, Alfonzo Dennard was widely considered a top-15 pick. After missing some games with injury, however, Dennard's stock took a tumble and is just now recovering.

    The 5'10", 205-pounder has a bit of an unusual build, but he can play any type of coverage. Dennard is at his best in press and is excellent against the run.

    The Lions also need help at linebacker, so Zach Brown would fill a need while being an excellent value pick.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

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    In the past, the Steelers have chosen to not address immediate needs, but instead, aging positions.

    Pittsburgh has drafted only one immediate starter in the past three years, and two of those picks have been along the defensive line.

    James Farrior was once an excellent player, but at 36 years old, he's over the hill. 

    Burfict is a legitimate top-10 talent, but he racks up even more personal fouls than Ndamukong Suh does.

    At 6'3", 255 pounds, Burfict is a thumper with outstanding athletic ability and could develop into a star next to Lawrence Timmons. The Arizona State star is famous for his ferocious hits and playmaking ability. 

    The Steelers really need help along the offensive line, so Jonathan Martin or Brandon Washington could be the pick here.

25. Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

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    It was obvious entering the season that Denver would have a weak defensive tackle unit.

    Brodrick Bunkley is good, but the Broncos still need another starter and more depth. Bunkley is also a free agent.

    At 6'4", 295 pounds, Fletcher Cox isn't much smaller than Bunkley is, but the two are incredibly different players. While Bunkley is a limited run-stopper, Cox is a pass-rushing demon with huge upside.

    Right now, Cox is still raw. However, he could develop into a dynamic penetrating 3-technique. In the NFL, Cox could take over games with his huge playmaking ability.

    Because Denver wants to improve its rushing attack, a running back like Lamar Miller would be a great fit.

26. New York Giants: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

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    Kareem McKenzie appears to be done in New York, and William Beatty is a bust.

    The Giants don't have one solid tackle, let alone two, so they really need to address the offensive line.

    At 6'5", 310 pounds, Jonathan Martin has the build of a left tackle. Martin is far from a star offensive-line prospect, but he's a legitimate first-round pick.

    Martin is a refined player with great technique, but he may not be athletic enough to play on the left side. Andrew Luck's left tackle is only a decent athlete, and he isn't overly powerful either. Though Martin doesn't have much upside, he's still a solid player.

    Vontaze Burfict would add another dynamic talent to New York's defense, and the team may be running low on cornerbacks.

27. Houston Texans: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU

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    Andre Johnson is one of the game's elite wide receivers, but the Texans need a weapon opposite him. With Johnson often injured, Houston is regularly forced to rely on its secondary targets more than the team would like to.

    The 6'3", 208-pound Rueben Randle offers a dynamic weapon opposite of Johnson. Though Randle isn't a burner by any means, he's able to create separation and uses his size well on deep routes.

    Randle excels downfield and possesses great hands. However, he can also gain yards after the catch. The LSU wideout needs to work on his route-running ability, but he's a potential No. 1 wide receiver.

    The Texans don't have many other huge needs, so if the choose not to target a wide receiver, they will probably draft the best player available, which would probably be a defensive linemen like Devon Still. 

28. New England Patriots: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

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    With Dan Koppen returning from an injury and entering free agency, the Patriots seem likely to target a center early in the draft.

    New England's offensive line has still been above-average in Koppen's absence, but the team probably still wishes to improve.

    The 6'5", 315-pound Peter Konz is the rare underclassmen center to enter the draft. Konz is a great athlete who can excel as a run or pass-blocker.

    Though Konz has dealt with some ankle injuries, he's not a reach at the end of the first round. In fact, the Wisconsin center could easily be gone by this point.

    New England also desperately needs to add help on defense, and they could draft a lineman or defensive back.

29. San Francisco 49ers: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

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    San Francisco has one of the NFL's best run defenses, and the team's front seven has been phenomenal. However, outside of Carlos Rogers—a free agent—the 49ers' defensive backs have struggled.

    Though he's not a playmaker, Stephon Gilmore is solid in almost every aspect. The 6'1" 195-pounder can play in zone or man coverage.

    Gilmore is talented, but he's inconsistent. In some games, Gilmore will completely shut down the competition. In others, he will be the offense's whipping boy and will surrender multiple catches for big yardage.

    With Michael Crabree not developing into an elite player and Braylon Edwards failing, the 49ers could use help at wide receiver, and Mohamed Sanu is a good value here.

30. New England Patriots (from New Orleans): Devon Still, DT, Penn State

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    A few years ago, the Patriots had an outstanding defensive line with Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork all dominating. Now, New England has just one solid lineman in Wilfork and needs to upgrade at the other positions.

    Bill Belichick is still experimenting with different defensive schemes, and Devon Still can play in a 4-3 or 3-4. At 6'5", 310 pounds, Still has the size Belichick looks for in his defensive linemen.

    Still is an excellent athlete who has underachieved in the past. However, Still broke out somewhat in 2011 and flashed his talent. The Penn State lineman is still raw, but he has the potential to dominate in the NFL.

    New England desperately needs to add a pass-rusher, and Vinny Curry fits Belichick's profile.

    A defensive back like Mark Barron or Stephon Gilmore would also fit.

31. Baltimore Ravens: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

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    Of every team in the NFL, the Ravens may actually have the least needs.

    That's not to say Baltimore is the best team, but general manager Ozzie Newsome can afford to draft the best player available, as he has in the past.

    In this case, Zach Brown is the best player on the board. At just 6'2", 230 pounds, Brown is an unusual fit in Baltimore's 3-4 scheme, but he could excel at inside linebacker nonetheless. With Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody in front of him, Brown would face less blockers than most linebackers do.

    Brown is an exceptional athlete with incredible speed. Most of Baltimore's inside linebackers are thumpers, and Brown would be a terrific fit, roaming in coverage and giving chase.

    With Ben Grubbs possibly leaving in free agency, the Ravens could look to add a guard in Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler or Miami's Brandon Washington.

    Offensive tackle, wide receiver or pass-rusher are among Baltimore's "weaknesses."

32. Green Bay Packers: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia

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    It has become more and more obvious that Green Bay needs a pass-rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Matthews is a legitimate star, but no one has stepped up at the other outside linebacker spot.

    Bruce Irvin is primarily talked about as a 3-4 outside linebacker and for good reason. The West Virginia defensive end weighs in at just 6'3", 245 pounds and is an explosive pass-rusher.

    Though Irvin struggles against the run, he could become a legitimate threat off the edge. With his excellent athletic ability, Irvin should be able to drop back into coverage as well. Dom Capers' scheme requires versatility, and Irvin fits the bill.

    Defensive end is another need for Green Bay, so Brandon Thompson would make sense. A cornerback would fit as well. It's also important to remember that general manager Ted Thompson tends to draft the best player available.