NFL Draft 2012: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Prospects

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2012

NFL Draft 2012: Predicting Landing Spots for Top Prospects

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    The NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and now that the season has come to an end, teams can begin forming their draft boards in preparation for the big day. 

    Of course, we have yet to see the results of the NFL Scouting Combine and each team's Individual Pro Days, which will be starting as soon as next week. However, NFL scouts across the country still have a good idea of who might go where in the NFL Draft.

    Scouts INC. recently released their Top 32 list, which ranks the top 32 players in this year's NFL Draft.

    Let's give that list a look and predict where the top 10 NFL prospects will call home in 2012. 

1. Andrew Luck

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    Last year at this time, we debated back-and-forth over which prospect would become the first pick up the upcoming NFL Draft.

    This year, it seems like it's a no-brainer, as many had expected would be the case.

    Andrew Luck is a once-in-a-generation quarterback that the Colts simply can't pass up. It has been said that he is the most polished prospect coming out of college since John Elway, and that right there speaks volumes to just how talented and special this kid really is.

    Add in all the drama that is going on with Peyton Manning about his injury concerns and the likelihood that he is not going to be in Indianapolis next season, and this all should come together perfectly come draft time.

    Andrew Luck to the Colts with the No. 1 pick. Book it. Moving on.

    Prediction: No. 1 overall to the Indianapolis Colts

2. Matt Kalil

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    Matt Kalil is not only one of the best players in this year's 2012 NFL Draft class, but he is one of the safest. Plug this big, athletic lineman in at left tackle and you have yourself a guy that is going to succeed at a high level at that position for a long time.

    With that said, there are plenty of team's that would want this guy, but there is no way he should fall past the first three picks of the NFL Draft.

    St. Louis is sitting there at No. 2, and despite there failed attempts at drafting offensive linemen high in the past, this will be an intriguing option for Jeff Fisher and Co.

    Personally, I fully expect the Rams to trade the pick for a team that is looking to grab Robert Griffin III with that No. 2 pick, which in return means that Kalil will fall right in the lap of Minnesota at No. 3.

    The Vikings are in need of a top-notch left tackle and they get there guy here with Kalil.

    Prediction: No. 3 overall to the Minnesota Vikings

3. Robert Griffin III

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    Robert Griffin III might not be as much of a "sure thing" as Andrew Luck, but then again, neither was Cam Newton—and look how that turned out.

    Griffin brings a new element and style of play that seems to be working in this day and age in the NFL: a quarterback that has the ability to both throw and run. He is an athletic freak, with the arm of an elite passer and then legs of an elite scrambler. 

    The way it stands right now, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Rams or Vikings select a quarterback because they both invested high draft picks on young quarterbacks who are still maturing at the next level.

    You could see Cleveland pull the trigger on Griffin with that No. 4 pick, but they have so many other needs they need to fill.

    With that said, I see Griffin being a part of a draft day trade where one team trades up to that No. 2 spot to grab the former Heisman Trophy winner.

    Who will that team be?

    Prediction: No. 2 overall (pending trade) Washington Redskins

4. Quinton Coples

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    Quinton Coples is one of the most interesting prospects in this years draft, and one who will see his stock rise and fall throughout this entire process leading up to draft day.

    What we know about Coples is that he is a fierce pass rusher who should be able to fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme at the next level.

    However, he also has a rep for taking off plays and not giving a 100 percent effort at all times. 

    Realistically, I think Coples will be a first round selection, but he could go anywhere—as early as Miami at No. 8, or as late as the final pick in the first round to New England.

    It seems like he would fit in nicely, though, right around that 12-13 range, perhaps with the Seattle Seahawks—who need help at the rush end position after ranking near the bottom of the NFL in sacks last season.

    Prediction: No. 12 overall to Seattle

5. Trent Richardson

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    Who was the last running back to come into the NFL with the ideal size, speed, health and resume that Trent Richardson has?

    Maybe Adrian Peterson....maybe?

    RIchardson has everything that an NFL caliber running back needs to be successful at the next level, which is why he should be a top-10 pick in this draft.

    Assuming the Cleveland Browns don't trade that No. 4 selection, it is awfully hard to imagine a scenario where they wouldn't jump at taking Richardson with that pick. Peyton Hillis fell off the map last year and the depth at running back is as much of a joke as the team in general.

    Adding a player like Richardson adds an instant star to an organization that is in desperate need of just that.

    Prediction: No. 4 overall to the Cleveland Browns

6. Morris Claiborne

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    When it comes to the best cover corners in this year's draft class, LSU's Morris Claiborne tops the list without any ifs, ands or buts.

    Claiborne has an NFL-ready body and NFL-ready skill, going up against and shutting down some of the top receivers in college football over the past two seasons.

    I would be shocked to see the Tampa Bay Bucs pass up Claiborne, assuming he is still available with the No. 5 pick overall.

    Aqib Talib could be going to jail and Ronde Barber is likely to retire soon, which means that Claiborne would be a perfect fit into the defensive system in Tampa Bay. 

    Prediction: No. 5 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

7. Michael Brockers

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    Michael Brockers shocked a few people when he announced that he was leaving school early to enter the NFL Draft. Still, make no mistake about it: this big interior defensive lineman is ready to make the jump and play with the big boys.

    Brockers was the anchor on a top-notch defensive line for the Tigers this season. Playing against SEC competition and dominating at that level should leave no doubt that Brockers has what it takes to be successful in the NFL.

    There are plenty of teams in this draft that could use help on their defensive line. 

    I don't see Brockers going as a top-5 pick, but maybe to a team like Miami or Carolina in that No. 8-9 range.

    Prediction: No. 9 overall to the Carolina Panthers

8. Riley Reiff

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    You can always count for at least one Big Ten school producing a top-notch offensive lineman in the NFL Draft, right?

    This year is no different, and that lineman is Iowa's 6'6", 300 pound offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

    Reiff has great size and the ability to play both tackle positions, which makes him an intriguing prospect for those teams in need of help at either offensive tackle positions.

    Reiff's status will be all over the board as the draft gets closer, but it's tough to imagine him falling out of the top-15 picks.

    If Miami does pass up on Brockers, they will almost certainly go offense and select Reiff to be their right tackle of the future, opposite Jake Long.

    Prediction: No. 8 overall to the Miami Dolphins

9. Melvin Ingram

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    After his outstanding showing during Senior Bowl week, it is likely that Marvin Ingram not only solidified himself as a first round pick, but possibly even a top-15 selection.

    Ingram is a fierce, pass rushing defensive end with great size at 6'2", 275 pounds. He went up against steep competition playing in the SEC and dominated opposing offensive tackles with his quick moves to get to opposing quarterbacks.

    Having a dominant pass rusher is a truly valuable asset in the NFL today, which became obvious during the New York Giants playoff run, and the defense that led them to a Super Bowl title.

    Look for Ingram to fall somewhere in the middle of the first round, possibly to Buffalo at that No. 10 pick if they want to take a big risk, big reward approach.

    Prediction: No. 10 overall to the Buffalo Bills 

10. Courtney Upshaw

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    Scouts Inc. obviously loves defensive and offensive lineman.

    But with Courtney Upshaw, what's not to love?

    Upshaw helped anchor a dominant Alabama defense this season and has the versatility to play both defensive end and outside linebacker at the NFL level, which coaches love to see in a player.

    Look for Upshaw to land somewhere in the middle of the draft, to a team that is need of a pass rusher to create havoc on opposing quarterbacks. That means that New York (Jets), Cincinnati and Tennessee could all be realistic possibilities here.

    After losing Jason Babin to free agency last year, the Titans could sure use a dominant pass rusher comming off that defensive end.

    Prediction: No. 20 overall to Tennessee