2012 NFL Mock Draft: Studs Guaranteed to Bust in Rookie Season

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIFebruary 28, 2012

BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Logan Thomas #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is tackled by defensive end Quinton Coples #90 of the North Carolina Tar Heels at Lane Stadium on November 17, 2011 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

While there are always Tom Brady's who excel after being picked late, we're focusing on the other side of the fence today. 

Let's take a look at the whole first round, with special attention to those players that will disappoint in their rookie campaigns.

Rookie busts in italics.


1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

A new era is here in Indianapolis. Luck is ready to go right now and as we saw in the combine, he has fantastic athleticism. Luck is still the top pick, and that won't change between now and then.

2. Washington Redskins (via trade with St. Louis Rams), Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor*

It is becoming clear that the Redskins will need to trade up to get Griffin, but they can't leave this draft without the Heisman Trophy winner. The Redskins need to shape their future at the quarterback position. 

3. Minnesota Vikings, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

While they could go with a lineman, the Vikings need to put a threat on the field that will take defensive attention away from Percy Harvin. If they have that, the offense can take steps towards credibility. 

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4. Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Memo to the Browns: Resist the temptation to trade up for RG3. Keep both first rounders and build some offensive talent around the quarterback. Then, if Colt McCoy is not the quarterback, find him next year. Start that quest with Richardson, who is hands down the best back in the country. 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris Claiborne, CB LSU

Points wise, this was the worst defense in the NFL in 2011. They need to improve that immediately, which means the best corner in the draft must go to Tampa.


6. St. Louis Rams (via trade with Washington Redskins), Matt Kalil, OT, USC*

The Rams have the franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford; they just need to protect him. They can't trade that No. 2 pick if it takes them out of position to get Kalil.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars, Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The character issues are there, but Jenkins is hands down the top corner in the draft, other than Claiborne. Jacksonville's secondary is awful; they need to gamble on the talented Jenkins. 

8. San Diego Chargers (via trade with Miami Dolphins), David DeCastro, G, Stanford*

The Chargers lacked some depth on the line in 2011 and need to improve that if they are going to contend in 2012. DeCastro was a stellar lineman at Stanford and the Chargers must trade up to get him. The Dolphins can afford to wait it out.

9. Carolina Panthers, Devon Still, DT, Penn St.

Still has what it takes to be a dominant inside presence, drawing double teams and opening up space for a returning Jon Beason. That would make the Panthers' defense a force and would put Carolina in position to make a run at the playoffs in 2012. 

10. Buffalo Bills, Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Let me be clear about one thing: I like Coples and I believe he'll have a strong career. Still, his rookie season will be filled with struggles.

No defense sacked the quarterback fewer times than the Bills' a season ago. While they need to address that in the draft with Coples, he'll be on the wrong end of a lot of double teams. 

Speed rushers have good rookie years when they don't have to worry about double teams. A great example of that is Aldon Smith. Coples won't have that and his skills won't really show until Buffalo brings in some additional talent. That will have to wait a year. 

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

Despite their high pick, this is a team with very few needs. They did allow too many sacks a season ago and that will need to change. The Chiefs need to keep this pick and draft a player to stabilize the line.

12. Seattle Seahawks, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

What a combine this guy had. He showed off some tremendous athletic ability, which, given his size, is amazing. The NFC West features some power offenses, and a tackle like Poe will immediately make that defense a force. 

13. Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

If the Cardinals are ever going to see what kind of quarterback Kevin Kolb is, they're going to have to protect him. Andrew Luck was the nation's best quarterback over the last two years and Martin protected him. Arizona has to give him the chance to do that with Kolb. 

14. Dallas Cowboys, Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Yes, they have other needs, but nothing is more pressing than corner. Kirkpatrick has his issues, but he has the physical tools to be an excellent corner in the NFL. Without a corner, they might as well get used to guys like Victor Cruz burning them deep. 

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

Kuechly had a fantastic combine and we know that he can tackle like nobody's business. He would give the Eagles a man in the middle that they didn't have last year, which is a must. 

16. New York Jets, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

As it seems Plaxico Burress has one foot out the door, the Jets will need to replace his red-zone presence. Floyd has that size, but also the explosiveness needed to make some big plays. 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders), Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Put the physical freak that is A.J. Green on the other side of the speedster Wright and you have a scary passing attack. 

18. Miami Dolphins (via trade with San Diego Chargers), Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M*

The Dolphins can use the depth. According to Walters Football, they could trade the eighth pick for the 18th and San Diego's second rounder and still possibly have some room to add another. 

I like that trade, and Tannehill's athleticism is great. Miami will unquestionably need an athletic quarterback to make some plays, which is why Tannehill is such a strong fit. 

19. Chicago Bears, Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

Aldon Smith is a good comparison here, as Upshaw would be going to a good defensive team that can put Upshaw in at the right spots. 

20. Tennessee Titans, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With the likely departure of Cortland Finnegan, the Titans will need to look for secondary help. Unfortunately, I am not seeing that from Gilmore. Not this year. 

Gilmore will have an okay career, but his rookie year will be a tough one. The South Carolina star would have been better off staying in college for one more year. 

21. Cincinnati Bengals, Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

I have done a lot of mocks which have had several changes, but this pick has been consistent. The Bengals need to replace Cedric Benson, and Miller is a great athlete. 

22. Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta Falcons), Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

An impressive combine is all Glenn needed to solidify himself in this position, and he had one. The Browns need to address the lack of a running back earlier in the draft; now they need to find the guy to open those holes.

23. Detroit Lions, Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

The Lions need a linebacker, but that player won't be available to them here. That means that they will need to draft help in the secondary. Dennard is hit-or-miss but his first year will not be a good one. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers, Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

Hightower is similar to his college teammate Upshaw. He will be best served in a spot role, especially early in the year. The Steelers don't need a lot of help, but would do well to make the defense younger, setting themselves up for beyond 2012.

25. Denver Broncos, Mark Barron, S, Alabama

You might as well replace Brian Dawkins with the 2012 version of him. This guy is an absolute truck in the secondary and can play the pass well. He will make this defense much better.  

26. Houston Texans, Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

His draft stock has plummeted, but Jeffery is still a first-rounder. The Texans need a playmaker to put opposite Andre Johnson, and Jeffery is that player. 


27. New England Patriots (via New Orleans Saints), Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma

Much like Dennard, Fleming is a project pick that will be thrown into heavy action. That is going to be problematic, but the Patriots have no choice but to draft a corner. 

28. Green Bay Packers, Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Unless the Packers find a real pass-rusher, they're going to keep taking hits on the defensive side of the ball. Ingram is a solid rusher and the quick passes he'll cause will make the Green Bay secondary better. 

29. Baltimore Ravens, Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Win and win nasty. That has been Baltimore's style for a long time and will continue to be. Konz is ready to be an impact player in the NFL, which is precisely what the aging Ravens need. 

30. San Francisco 49ers, Mohamed Sanu, WR Rutgers

The 49ers need a reliable over-the-middle receiver, and Sanu is that guy. That will make the offense much more stable, as Michael Crabtree is better on the edges in short to middle range. 

31. New England Patriots, Zach Brown, OLB North Carolina

While I am not wild about Fleming next year, I like Brown a lot. The Patriots are going to need to find ways to get men to opposing quarterbacks, and Brown is a fine all-purpose linebacker. He will make the defense better.

32. New York Giants, Jayron Hosley, CB, Virginia Tech

While the Giants are the Super Bowl champions, they do need some work in the secondary. But with injured players returning, Hosley will be in more of a spot role, playing when a good matchup will be there. 

*Speculated trade that has not happened yet.