The NFL draft may still be a couple months away, but it’s never too early to start talking predictions and to offer a Mock Draft. This took a lot of time and I will hope all NFL fans will be able to relate to this mock draft. So without further adieu, it’s time to begin the 2012 NFL (mock) draft…With the 1st pick in the 2012 NFL (mock) draft, the Indianapolis Colts select…
# 1 Pick: Andrew Luck-QB-Stanford- Colts- This is the easiest prediction I will do in any mock draft I will ever do. Andrew Luck is predicted as being the next Peyton Manning. The thing is, though, Manning is still on the roster and the Colts may move on from him if they choose to go quarterback with the #1 pick. Just take this into consideration, Cam Newton, the rookie of the year, had a scouting rating of 93 when he was coming out of college…Luck has a 99.
#2 Pick: Robert Griffin III-QB-Baylor- Seahawks (Trade) – This is obviously being clever with the 2nd pick but it’s actually a very likely scenario. The Seahawks and Tarvaris Jackson is not a long term thing by any means. Robert Griffin III still has a rating of 95 which is still higher then Cam Newton. They may have to trade basically the whole draft to do this, but it’s for a franchise quarterback and nothing is more valuable then that.
#3 Pick: Matt Kalil-OT-USC- Vikings- Matt Kalil is rated as being the top prospect besides Andrew Luck in the draft. He could be even compared to as a Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins a few years back. I always have been a believer in o-line men as being the safest pick in the draft so I expect the Vikings to start rebuilding their o-line with this pick.
#4 Pick: Justin Blackmon-WR-Oklahoma State-Browns- Many mock drafts have Justin Blackmon going #2 to the St.Louis Rams but since I have them trading with the Seahawks, I believe the farthest Blackmon will fall will be to the fourth pick of the Cleveland Browns. Colt McCoy has potential, but he cannot live up to his expectations if he does not have any weapons around him. Adding Blackmon will bring an explosive side to the Browns’ offense that has not been seen in quite some time.
#5 Pick: Morris Claiborne-CB-LSU- Buccaneers- This would be a very smart pick for the Buccaneers. Buc’s corner, Ronde Barber, is getting up there in age and Aquib Talib has been having personal issues with the organization. Claiborne is rated as the top cornerback in the draft so rebuilding their defensive backs with a quality young cornerback could go a long way towards becoming a playoff team once again.
#6 Pick: Ryan Tannehill-QB-Texas A&M- Redskins- The Redskins don’t want a quarterback…they NEED a quarterback. Rex Grossman will never be a long term solution by any means at all. I can easily see the Redskins being the team instead of the Seahawks to trade up for the #2 pick and get RG3 but I just decided to go with my gut feeling. Regardless, if Luck and RG3 are picked before the Redskins have a chance at them, then I could see them going for Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. He is projected as probably being a late 1st round or 2nd round pick but, like we saw with the Vikings last year, teams will be willing to pick quarterbacks early if they are in desperate need for a franchise quarterback.
#7 Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick-CB-Alabama- Jaguars- Honestly the Jaguars have a lot of issues that need to be cleared up. So grabbing a quality cornerback in Dre Kirkpatrick would seem to be a smart move…quite frankly, any position drafted at this spot would seem to be a smart pick.
#8 Pick: Devon Still-DT-Penn St. – Panthers-The Panthers showed last year that they are a team on the rise. They did so with a very effective offense but not a very strong defense. Being ranked 26th in stopping the run would mean that adding the best defensive linemen in the draft would be a pick that would be another building piece towards a team that seems to be bound for the playoffs very soon.
#9 Pick: Trent Richardson-RB-Alabama- Dolphins- Trent Richardson is one of my favorite players in this draft. He has power, speed, and is a winner. Oh and he also won the Heisman 2 years ago. Last year was somewhat less productive then his Heisman year but still has a lot of potential in him towards in a NFL career. The Dolphins may have Reggie Bush but I just cannot see Bush being a full-time 25 carry a game running back. I can see Trent Richardson being able to this though, and that is why I think they will choose him with this pick.
#10 Pick: Quinton Coples-DE-North Carolina- Bills- The Bills defense has been in a state of disarray the past couple of years. They tried the 4-3 defense, then converted to a 3-4, and now are going back to a 4-3. It seems like they cannot make up their mind. Since they will once again switch to a 4-3 defense, they will need another pass rusher opposite of Shaun Merriman who is expected to play defensive end this season. Quinton Coples of North Carolina would be a safe pick at this position. He is 6’6 272 and has the ability to get pressure on the quarterback. If the Bills still cannot make up their mind about a defensive philosophy and decide to return to the 3-4 then Coples would still be a good fit because he has the ability to play the 5 technique and stop the run.
#11 Pick: Riley Rieff-OT-Iowa- Chiefs- The Chiefs could actually have been a playoff team last year but with so many injuries including Jamal Charles and their quarterbacks in Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton. A big reason for some of these injuries could be put on the offensive line. Although they were ranked #14 in total offensive line play, they were ranked 28th in average yards per rush. They were also ranked in the middle of the pack when it came to quarterback hits. Although they have Brandon Albert of the left side, they have no body on the right side so with the #11 pick in the 2012 mock draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Riley Rieff from Iowa.
#12 Pick: David DeCastro-OG-Stanford- Rams (Trade) – Since the Rams traded down in this draft, the Rams end up with the #12 pick in the draft instead of the #2 pick. At this position, I would think drafting David DeCastro of Stanford would be a solid pick. He is arguably the best offensive guard in the draft. When we look at the interior line of the Rams, we see them being age 31, 32, and 31. Their tackles are much younger so they can look elsewhere in the 1st round but with such an aging interior line, it would be logical to draft DeCastro at this pick.
#13 Pick: Jonathan Martin-OT-Stanford- Cardinals- The Cardinals really are not as bad as to what their record was last year. They have a solid defense and a good running back in Beanie Wells. Not to mention they also have arguably the best receiver in the game in Larry Fitzgerald. Not entirely sure if Kevin Kolb is their future so I do expect the Cardinals to draft a quarterback…but not in the 1st round. With having three quarterbacks already gone in the 1st round, it is pretty easy to say that their best bet is to wait a round or two and get a quarterback like Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weedon or Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler. I would think the position in need of a more immediate impact would be the offensive line, particularly the tackles. Drafting Jonathan Martin of Stanford would be a nice pick-up for a team that has been struggling in its protection.
#14 Pick: Alfonzo Dennard-CB-Nebraska- Cowboys- The Cowboys last year had some issues on defense. Sure they got the sacks from DeMarcus Ware but defending the pass as a defensive whole was an issue. They were ranked 23rd in defending the pass last season and are in need of another playmaking defensive back. This is why the Cowboys will draft Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska. He is an all-around cornerback that seems to be NFL ready immediately. This would be a huge asset to a team in desperate need of another defensive back.
#15 Pick: Luke Kuechly-ILB-Boston College- Eagles- The so-called ‘dream team’ of last year was truly a disappointment. Their management went out and signed all the best free agents last year because they had the money to do so. Let alone, they did not really take into consideration their biggest need…linebackers. They just went with what they had and it really costed this team from making the playoffs. So, to me, this is a no brainer and a linebacker of some sort should be chosen with this pick. At pick #15, I would think the Eagles would take a good look at Luke Kuchely of Boston College who is considered to some as being the best interior linebacker in the draft. This would be one huge step to becoming a playoff team once again.
#16 Pick: Kendall Wright-WR-Baylor- Jets- Plaxico Burress did pretty well for the Jets last year. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Jets will decide to part ways with veteran receiver. This would leave the Jets with Santonio Holmes and…umm yea I don’t know. So if they want Mark Sanchez to upgrade his game instead of a major downgrade last year, they will need to add some sort of big time receiver now.
#17 Pick: Janoris Jenkins-CB-North Alabama- Bengals- Cornerback is not necessarily the most vital need for the Cincinnati Bengals. But as we look back on the Bengals history, we tend to see a trend. They will take chances of so-called ‘bad influential’ players like Pacman Jones, TO, and Ochocinco just to name a few. So Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama would be a perfect example of these types of players and I would not be surprised to see the Bengals picking this player well
#18 Pick: Courtney Upshaw-OLB-Alabama- Chargers- The Chargers defensively, struggled extremely on defense. There is not a real pin point problem to their defense but if I had to choose a player that I would think would fit perfectly into their scheme, it would be Courtney Upshaw of Alabama. Coming from a school built by defense, Upshaw made a name for himself as being one of the top defensive players in the country. He would make an immediate impact for the Chargers.
#19 Pick: Michael Floyd-WR-Notre Dame- Bears- Everybody who watches football would be able to tell you the biggest problem for the Bears for many years now. They have no receiving threat. Yet they for some reason keep trying to build from within but eventually you have to cave in and go and get a big time receiver. No, Roy Williams does not count. So getting Michael Floyd from Notre Dame with the 19th pick could become a steal in the draft. Floyd in many mock drafts is predicted as being the #2 receiver behind Justin Blackmon. He has the size and strength to be what the Bears always dreamed of with Roy Williams.
#20 Pick: Mark Barron-S-Alabama- Titans- the Titans defense last year was not all that bad. There is a chance this year, though, that they will lose Courtland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, and many other players on defense to free agency. If this is the case, the Titans will surely need to draft a defensive player early in order to try and at least preserve what was actually a pretty adequate Titans defense last year. Drafting Mark Barron out of Alabama would help replace Michael Griffin if they were to lose him to free agency. He has the ability to stop the run and has nice hands for the ball.
#21 Pick: Peter Konz-C-Wisconsin- Bengals-The o-line for the Bengals has been looking for an upgrade for quite some time now and adding Peter Konz out of Wisconsin would be a very smart decision.
#22 Pick: David Wilson-RB-Virginia Tech- Browns-This is where the #2 running back in the draft, David Wilson of Virginia Tech, comes off the board. Peyton Hillis had a very disappointing year for the Cleveland Browns and if anybody in that organization thinks Hillis is the long term answer at running back, I would be astonished.
#23 Pick: Stephon Gilmore-CB-South Carolina- Lions-If anybody watched a Lions game last year; anybody could tell you their big issue. Poor defensive back play. So to fix this, or at least help it, they will draft Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina with their 1st pick in the draft. He may not be the total answer to their problems but he will definitely help provide much needed depth at the cornerback position.
#24 Pick: Cody Glenn-OT-Georgia- Steelers-The Steelers always seem to have a dissipated line by the end of the year due to injuries. Maybe drafting Cody Glenn of Georgia would be a perfect pick for them then. Glenn has the ability to move from tackle to guard when needed. His versatility could prove vital towards maintaining a solid o-line in Pittsburgh.
#25 Pick: Jerel Worthy-DT-Michigan State- Broncos-Last year’s transition to a 4-3 defense made the need for defensive tackles more vital. As of right now, they have two solid tackles in Kevin Vickers and Brodrick Bunkley but they do not have much depth beyond that. Also, Buckley is now an unrestricted free agent and probably will opt to sign elsewhere. That’s why they will draft Jerel Worthy with the 25th pick out of Michigan State.
#26 Pick: Mohamed Sanu-WR-Stanford- Texans- When you think of the Texans, you think of their high powered offensive attack. The thing is though, all they have as a receiver is Andre Johnson. Yes, Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL still but he struggled with injuries last year and he actually is getting up their age. So adding Mohamed Sanu out of Stanford will be an insurance pick for a team that could need a receiver very soon.
#27 Pick: Michael Brockers-DT-LSU- Patriots- After giving up on Haynesworth, the Patriots really did not have spectacular defensive tackle play and they really suffered from this. Maybe adding Michael Brockers out of LSU, could improve their rush defense and start to build upon a defense who really was not existent last season.
#28 Pick: Andre Branch-DE-Clemson- Packers- The Packers need to get someone else besides Clay Matthews to be able to rush the quarterback. Although Matthews is great and all, he cannot do much when being double teamed on every snap. That’s why drafting Andre Branch from Clemson would be a perfect fit for the opposite side of Matthews. The guy was a sack machine in college and, although he struggled against the run, with his size and athleticism he would be able to continue to improve on his game and become better against the run.
#29 Pick: Dont’a Hightower-ILB-Alabama- Ravens- Yes, the defense of the Ravens is their strong suit but if they would like to continue with their consistent dominance of the defensive side then they will need to begin to build upon the next wave of Raven defensive players. One that is going to need a replacement very soon is Ray Lewis who is still playing his game at a high level but at age 36, the end has to be near. So drafting Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama would be a good pick if they would like to extend upon their defensive dominance.
#30 Pick: Alshon Jeffery-WR-South Carolina- 49ers- Last year the 49ers proved everybody wrong by playing football just like the days of Montana and Young. Well, maybe not all the way to that extent, but they still played very solid football for a team that was not expected to do much at all. Their defense is set but their offense is about average. Alex Smith played well by not turning the ball over and always giving his team a chance to win the game. But if they could add another receiving threat besides Vernon Davis then this offense could become just that much better and their team as a whole. Alshon Jeffery has a lot of potential out of South Carolina and could be one of those players who are a total bust or an immediate superstar. We will just have to wait and find out.
#31 Pick: Zach Brown-OLB-North Carolina- Patriots-The Pats defense last year was not good at all. They were so bad that they didn’t even know if they were playing a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense so they did a mixture of both throughout the season. It seems as if they will be going towards the 4-3 defense so adding a player who is actually projected to go higher in Zach Brown of North Carolina could help in their transition.
#32 Pick: Coby Fleener-TE-Stanford- Giants- Despite winning the superbowl, there is still some work to be done to the Giants if they would like to continue their winning ways. One thing they really missed last year was production from the tight end position. They lost Kevin Boss to the Oakland Raiders who was their big time threat for a while. Adding Coby Fleener out of Stanford, who is projected as being the top tight end in the draft, could be that that little piece to make the Giants become even more lethal next year.
So there we have it. The 1st round has come to a conclusion. I hope I gave some useful insight to each and every team out there. I realize that this is probably way too early to even predict the first five picks of the draft but this is a very sad part of the year for football fans. There’s no free agency, no games, and basically no news at all surrounding football. This is why I did the first full round of the draft now, so fans of all teams can at least get some hope as to what their team may try to accomplish in the coming off-season.