BR 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Complete 1st-Round Predictions with Trades
FWIW it was before the Championship games & FA signings:
2012 NFL Mock Draft: Complete 1st-Round Predictions with Trades
By Matt Stein (Featured Columnist) on January 20, 2012
1. Indianapolis Colts
Selection: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
Many consider Luck to be the safest prospect in the draft. The way I see the offseason happening for the Indianapolis Colts is them trading Peyton Manning to the New York Jets for numerous draft picks.
That will give Luck the opportunity to start from the first day. He certainly has the complete skill set that you want from an NFL quarterback, and Indianapolis will be lucky to transition from one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to a prospect that looks like a future All-Pro.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams)
Selection: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
The first big trade of the 2012 NFL Draft will be the Washington Redskins trading up to get their quarterback of the future in RG3.
While the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks will likely make a play for the second pick, I think the Redskins will be the most desperate, and be willing to give up the most to land Griffin.
Griffin may no be as polished as Andrew Luck, but he is certainly ultra-talented and will thrive in the NFL. He's more athletic than Luck, which might make him a better prospect while the two are still learning the professional game.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
In a rather weak class of offensive tackles, Kalil shines above the other prospects such as Jonathan Martin, Riley Reiff and Mike Adams.
Kalil still needs to add some bulk to his frame, but that shouldn't be an issue and once he does, Kalil could become one of the top tackles in the league.
The Minnesota Vikings desperately need help along their offensive line, and Kalil will be an instant upgrade on the left side.
4. Cleveland Browns
Selection: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
There are a few options with the fourth pick for the Cleveland Browns. Running back Trent Richardson is a hot name for Cleveland with his pick.
However, if Cleveland is going to move forward with Colt McCoy, they need to get him an elite wide receiver. The best wide receiver in the 2012 draft is Blackmon.
He's a big, physical receiver with sure hands and the ability to make plays after the catch. He should step in from day one and produce at a high level.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have numerous holes to fill on their team. With so many options, Tampa Bay will simply choose the best player available, which is Claiborne from LSU.
While Tyrann Mathieu received more media attention than Claiborne, there is no doubt that Claiborne is a much better NFL prospect. He's got all the abilities you could want in a shutdown corner.
Since the futures of Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber are still up in the air, Claiborne will likely be starting at cornerback for Tampa Bay in 2012.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)
Selection: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
The St. Louis Rams desperately need to find a top target for quarterback Sam Bradford, but drafting one with the sixth pick would be a major reach.
Instead, look for the Rams to take the other top cornerback in the draft and shore up their secondary with Kirkpatrick. While he may not be quite as talented as Morris Claiborne, Kirkpatrick still has a complete skill set and should excel in the NFL.
While Kirkpatrick's recent legal trouble may drop him down some boards, I don't see how a team like St. Louis with such a huge need in the secondary could pass on him.
He'll be able to come into St. Louis and make an impact on a weak secondary right away.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
For Blaine Gabbert to have any chance at excelling in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to surround him with talent at wide receiver.
While taking Floyd with the seventh pick may seem a little risky because of character issues, he may be the most NFL-ready receiver in the entire draft. He has an NFL body with great speed, hands and the ability to make plays after the catch.
Teaming Floyd with Gabbert would be huge for Jacksonville and their long-term goals of having a legitimate franchise quarterback.
8. Miami Dolphins
Selection: Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
The Miami Dolphins could go a few different ways with this pick. They could reach for a quarterback like Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles, but that would be quite the reach.
Instead, they'll likely add some defensive power to their pass rush with Upshaw. During the BCS National Championship Game, Upshaw showed the world just how much of an impact he can have on a game. He was all over the field against LSU, and looks ready to make an immediate impact on defense for whoever drafts him.
As much as Miami would like to have a quarterback available to them here, they simply won't and Upshaw will be their pick.
9. Carolina Panthers
Selection: Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU
When Brockers declared for the NFL Draft, he instantly became the highest-rated defensive lineman prospect available.
He's got a unique blend of size, speed and strength. He's just as dangerous stopping the run as he is rushing the quarterback.
The Carolina Panthers would love to grab a wide receiver with this pick, but there simply won't be one worth taking in the top 10. However, they won't be displeased with adding a stud defensive player to their roster with Brockers.
10. Buffalo Bills
Selection: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The Buffalo Bills need help on their offensive line, and Reiff has an NFL-ready body that could start from day one.
With C.J. Spiller finally breaking out, the combination of Spiller and Fred Jackson would be deadly with a powerful blocker like Reiff on the offensive line.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Selection: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
I'm not as high on Martin as others are, as he still looks a few years away from really being a dominant force on an offensive line.
However, he definitely has the potential to develop into a great player, and the Kansas City Chiefs absolutely need to add some talent on their line to help protect Matt Cassel and open holes for Jamaal Charles.
Martin may not be able to do that right away, but in a few years he should be a solid starting tackle for Kansas City.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Selection: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
The Seattle Seahawks will make the first big surprise selection of the 2012 NFL Draft when they reach for Tannehill.
Much like the Minnesota Vikings did last year with Christian Ponder, Seattle will panic that they'll lose a chance at a quarterback and pull the trigger.
Tannehill is a player that could drastically improve his stock with pre-draft workouts. He's certainly got the potential to be a starter in the NFL, but he will definitely need time to get there.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Selection: David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
The Arizona Cardinals would love one of the top offensive tackle prospects to fall to them at the 13th pick, but that won't be happening.
Instead, Arizona will likely draft the top guard in the country in DeCastro, one of the highest overall rated prospects, regardless of position, in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has an NFL body and is as good of a run blocker as he is in pass protection.
Arizona desperately needs help on their line, and DeCastro will be ready to help right away.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Selection: Melvin Ingram, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, South Carolina
Even with one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware on their roster, the Dallas Cowboys still need to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
That's where a player like Ingram and his elite athletic ability would be a perfect fit for Dallas. Ingram will likely transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, and a 3-4 defense would be ideal for that transition.
With Ware and Ingram pressuring quarterbacks, Dallas would be a scary team in 2012.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Selection: Luke Kuechly, Middle Linebacker, Boston College
The biggest issue that the Philadelphia Eagles had in 2011 was inconsistent play at the linebacker position.
While Kuechly may not have as high of a ceiling as a guy like Vontaze Burfict, he's easily the safest linebacker prospect in the draft. He has great instincts and always seems to be around the football.
What Philadelphia needs most right now is a linebacker that can come in and produce, and Kuechly will be able to do that for them.
16. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)
Selection: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
Okay, this is where it gets a little crazy.
I'm expecting the Indianapolis Colts to trade Peyton Manning to the New York Jets for a bunch of picks, including their first-round pick of the 2012 draft.
With that pick, the Colts will draft Richardson, who is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. While most people think Richardson will be gone in the first 10 picks, those same people thought Mark Ingram was going to be gone much earlier than he really went.
The big problem is that the NFL has become a passing league and franchise running backs like Richardson can't make a team successful on their own. Just look at Adrian Peterson.
With that said, the Colts certainly won't be complaining when Richardson falls to them with the 16th pick and they get the best running back they've had since Edgerrin James.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders)
Selection: Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
The Cincinnati Bengals were really hoping that Trent Richardson would fall to them at the 17th pick, but their consolation prize is the second-best running back in the draft in Miller.
Miller has all the tools to be a successful running back in the NFL. Not only does he have good vision and a quick first step, he can also block and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Cincinnati will likely groom Miller to take over for Cedric Benson, which could happen sooner than later.
18. San Diego Chargers
Selection: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
It's possible that Adams will fall out of the first round due to his off-field issues at Ohio State, but the truth is that Adams is way too talented for the San Diego Chargers to pass on him.
San Diego is one of the many teams that have issues on their offensive line, and Adams is a big-bodied player that can move defensive players off the line of scrimmage.
In a somewhat weak class of tackle prospects, Adams' stock will rise on draft day and he'll land in San Diego.
19. Chicago Bears
Selection: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor
The Chicago Bears have needed a top wide receiver for years, and they'll finally get their man in Wright.
Wright reminds many of a young Steve Smith because they have similar size and speed. While that comparison may be a little gracious towards Wright, there is no doubt that he is an extremely talented receiver.
He's got sure hands and he can make plays after the catch. You'd expect his size to limit him across the middle of the field, but he's a strong receiver who can take a hit.
He'll become an instant deep-ball threat for Jay Cutler, and he would give the Bears something they haven't had in years: a true No. 1 receiver prospect.
20. Tennessee Titans
Selection: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
The Tennessee Titans will have a few options with the 20th pick. They could address their defense, but ultimately, I believe they'll upgrade their offensive line by drafting Konz.
Konz is the top-rated center in this year's draft. Coming from the Wisconsin Badgers, Konz will be an instant plus in Tennessee's run game.
With Chris Johnson struggling last year, Konz should be able to come in and open up holes for the speedy running back.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
With their second pick in the first round, the Cincinnati Bengals will address their secondary and draft Gilmore from South Carolina.
When the Bengals lost Johnathan Joseph to free agency last year, their secondary took a major hit. Gilmore has the ball skills and is physical enough to make an impact from the start.
With Lamar Miller and Gilmore as first-round picks, the Bengals' future will be even brighter in 2012.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons)
Selection: Chris Polk, Running Back, Washington
The Cleveland Browns passed on Trent Richardson with the fourth overall pick, but won't pass on a running back again this late in the draft.
Some like Polk more than Lamar Miller from Miami, but I'm not one of them. Miller is a more complete back, while Polk is a more physical runner who has trouble breaking away because his lack of elite speed.
However, the Browns won't be disappointed to grab Polk who'll likely replace the ultra-disappointing Peyton Hillis.
23. Detroit Lions
Selection: Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
The Detroit Lions improved their secondary play during the 2011 season, but it still has a long way to go to be considered one of the better units in the league.
That's why they'll look at Dennard with their first-round pick. Dennard will need some time to improve his technique, but once he develops, he'll be one of the top cornerbacks to come out of the draft.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Selection: Devon Still, Defensive Tackle, Penn State
Casey Hampton is getting old, and there really isn't anyone on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster to replace him.
Still is one of the highest-rated defensive prospects in the draft. He's got the size and power to instantly be disruptive in the run game. However, he'll need to improve at rushing the quarterback.
He does have some past baggage, but with the defensive leadership in Pittsburgh, he'll be absolutely fine.
25. Denver Broncos
Selection: Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
Poe is a player that could possibly skyrocket up draft boards as we get closer to April.
He's an extremely raw player, but his athletic ability for a man of his size is unbelievable. His ceiling is so high that in a few years he might be the best defensive player taken in the draft.
The Denver Broncos have a talented and young defense, and adding a player like Poe will only improve the unit.
26. Houston Texans
Selection: Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
There are two things I see happening with Jeffery before the draft. He'll either prove that he is worth a top-10 pick by displaying elite speed and separation skills, or he'll be a boom-or-bust type player that will be a risky first-round pick.
I'm going with the latter of the two in this mock draft. Jeffery has the potential to be great, but he could also end up as a complete flop.
With the Houston Texans in desperate need of a receiver opposite Andre Johnson, they'll be willing to take a chance with Jeffery.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints)
Selection: Brandon Thompson, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
The New England Patriots were really hoping that the New Orleans Saints had a bad 2011 season thanks to this first-round pick they got in last year's draft.
However, they won't be too disappointed when Thompson falls to them this late in the draft. He might not be able to contribute right away at rushing the passer, but he's a big body who will definitely help slow down the run game.
This is the first step for New England as they begin rebuilding their defense.
28. Green Bay Packers
Selection: Nick Perry, Outside Linebacker, USC
Perry is another prospect that could shoot up draft boards with impressive pre-draft workouts.
Right now, Perry is a talented pass-rusher, but that is about it. He has some work to do to become more of a complete player, but for a team that desperately needs a pass-rusher off the edge like the Green Bay Packers do, he's a perfect fit.
29. New York Giants
Selection: Vontaze Burfict, Middle Linebacker, New York Giants
There isn't a bigger boom-or-bust prospect in this year's draft than Burfict. In fact, before the college season started, he was widely considered one of the top two or three prospects in the entire country.
His up-and-down play during the 2011 college season has dropped his stock quite a bit. He's an extremely intense player with great instincts. However, he sometimes lets his anger get the best of him, which causes him to overplay, miss tackles and get unnecessary penalties called on him.
The New York Giants need some help at middle linebacker, and they'll be willing to try and calm Burfict down and make him the prospect that he's fully capable of becoming.
30. Baltimore Ravens
Selection: Kelechi Osemele, Offensive Guard, Iowa State
With Ben Grubbs hitting the free-agency market for the Baltimore Ravens, they'll look to draft a replacement for him just in case they can't re-sign him.
Behind David DeCastro, Osemele might be the next best offensive guard prospect in the draft. He's got the ideal body for his position, and his natural strength allows him to dominate defensive linemen.
He has some character and injury concerns, but he shouldn't fall out of the first round.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Dwight Jones, Wide Receiver, North Carolina
There isn't a team in more need of a wide receiver than the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, the top four receivers will be off the board by this point.
However, Jones is an interesting prospect who would fit well with the 49ers. He's 6'4", so he has great size, but he's also extremely quick and has great hands.
He'll take some time to develop as a route-runner, but once he does, he could be a scary, scary prospect.
32. New England Patriots
Selection: Quinton Coples, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
No player has fallen as far down mock drafts as Coples has this year.
Coples is an extremely unique talent, but the lack of effort has really turned people off. He's one of those players that could literally be as good as he wants to be.
With the right coaching with the New England Patriots, he could turn into a phenomenal player.