NFL Mock Draft 2012: Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon, Robert Griffin III Among Tops Projected Picks
By Wes Bunting, National Football Post
1. Indianapolis Colts: Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Even with the Peyton Manning decision looming, Luck is still the best prospect on the board at a position the Colts have future questions at.
2. St. Louis Rams: Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon
It’s very possible the Rams will at look at USC OT Matt Kalil here. However, they have invested a ton of money on the offensive line in recent years and getting a big-play receiver for quarterback Sam Bradford and then looking to fix the offensive line later on might be a better play.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Southern Cal OT Matt Kalil
Quarterback Christian Ponder has shown flashes in year one, but he needs to stay healthy. Therefore, bringing in the top offensive tackle prospect in the draft who has a chance to mature into a Pro Bowl-caliber lineman seems like an easy selection at three.
4. Cleveland Browns: Baylor QB Robert Griffin III
The Browns need to upgrade the quarterback position and RG3 has the kind of talent, confidence and overall work ethic to make good on his elite upside.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LSU CB Morris Claiborne
Tampa Bay has done a great job over the past two drafts improving the overall talent along its defensive line. Therefore, adding a playmaking corner who can capitalize on all the future pressure is a must for this defense to take that next step.
6. Washington Redskins: Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick
With no quarterbacks on the board worthy of the number six overall selection, look for the Redskins to take one of the best prospects on the board at a key need and try to trade back into the later portions of round one for the quarterback they desire.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery
Coming off his big bowl game performance against Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard, Jeffery now has some momentum going his way and could begin to really ascend up draft boards. He’s a long kid with sneaky speed down the field and knows how to go get the football. And he has the talent to instantly improve the Jags' receiving corps.
8. Carolina Panthers: Penn State DT Devon Still
The Panthers need a big body inside who can anchor on contact, push the pocket and find the football. Still isn’t a dynamic pass rusher and there are some other linemen on the board with more talent. But he has the size to fend off blocks inside and in my mind is one of the safer defensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft.
9. Miami Dolphins: Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw
Much like the Redskins, with no quarterback on the board worthy of a top ten pick, the Dolphins could be forced to address a need elsewhere. With OLB Jason Taylor retiring, Miami is going to be in need of pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake and Upshaw’s power would be a nice complement.
10. Buffalo Bills: Iowa OT Riley Reiff
Reiff is an athletic tackle with good range off the edge, natural change of direction skills and has the ability to sit into his stance on contact. He needs to get stronger and fill out a bit more. However, this former tight end recruit has the type of athleticism and demeanor to mature into the kind of blind side protector the Bills are looking for.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Stanford OT Jonathan Martin
Martin not only adds talent to the Chiefs offensive line, but he allows them to move LT Branden Albert to either right tackle or left guard.
12. Seattle Seahawks: North Carolina DL Quinton Coples
The Seahawks have a real unique blend of athletes on the defensive side of the ball and because of that it makes me think Coples would be able to fit right in and fill a number of roles at both DT and DE. Plus, Pete Carroll seems like the kind of coach that could get the most out of Coples’s talent.
13. Arizona Cardinals: South Carolina OLB/DE Melvin Ingram
Ingram has the ability to play with his hand on the ground or rush off the edge from a two-point stance. He’s a sudden pass rusher with natural change of direction skills, long arms and could offer some talent and versatility to the Cardinals defense on third down.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Stanford: OG David DeCastro
The idea of drafting an athlete like DeCastro and potentially playing him next to 2011 first-round pick Tyron Smith at left tackle has to sound mighty intriguing.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly
A tackling machine with good size, natural instincts and knowledge to fend off blocks and find the football. Is the kind of talent the Eagles need inside to improve their struggling linebacking corps.
16. New York Jets: Alabama RB Trent Richardson
If the Jets are going to be successful, they have to get back to their ground and pound ways. And the idea of Trent Richardson and Shonn Greene as their one-two punch might be too good to pass up.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard
Dennard offers the Bengals the ability to be physical and play press on the outside, as well as potentially kick inside to the nickel in third down situations. He’s a good value here and should instantly be able to make an impact in their secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers: Southern Cal DE/OLB Nick Perry
3-4 teams are always looking for talented pass rushers and Perry has the skill set to be an impact guy. He’s an explosive athlete with a good first step and sneaky power to his game. He’s a bit linear, but from a two-point stance he could mature into a real terror.
19. Chicago Bears: Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
Floyd has some character concerns and isn’t the most dynamic of athletes. However, he’s a guy capable of running the entire route tree, beating press coverage on the outside and going up to get the football. An ideal fit for Chicago.
20. Tennessee Titans: Baylor WR Kendall Wright
Wright is one of the only top-tier receiver prospects in the class with legit straight-line speed, as he has the ability to not only take the top off the defense, but run away from corners on deep crossing routes. The Titans could play him both inside and out and would give whoever is playing quarterback there next year one of the top receiving cores in the league.
21. Denver Broncos: Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy
Adding a thick, powerful, penetrating type defensive tackle who can create havoc and stop plays before they start is just what the Broncos need inside. Worthy has some question marks about his motor, but if he can play with more consistency he has the talent to be one of the best to come out of the class.
22. Cincinnati Bengals: Miami RB Lamar Miller
With RB Cedric Benson closing in on 30-years old, it’s time to look for some fresher legs that will be able to help him carry the load.
23. New York Giants: Stanford TE Coby Fleener
As if this offense needs another weapon on it. However, Fleener has the ability to be that every down type “on the line Y” who can create down the field, And at 6-6, 245-pounds has the size to mature into a very capable blocker.
24. Houston Texans: Alabama SS Mark Barron
Barron has the ability to be another versatile piece in Wade Phillips defense. He can play inside the box and act as an extra linebacker, he can read and react quickly in the deep half and has shown improved balance/foot quickness this year in man vs. the tight end. He’s one of the few starters likely to come out of this year’s safety class.
25. Cleveland Browns: Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu
Sanu is as talented as any receiver in this year’s draft. He’s got great leaping ability, impressive balance/foot quickness for his size and can go get the football. He’s still learning his trade but the upside is there for this guy to mature into a very capable starting “X” at the next level.
26. Detroit Lions: Ohio State OT Mike Adams
As long as quarterback Matthew Stafford is healthy the offense is going to score points. Therefore, bringing in an athlete capable of protecting his blind side is becoming a major need in Detroit.
27. Baltimore Ravens: Memphis DL Dontari Poe
The Ravens do a great job grooming young, talented defensive lineman who might be a bit raw, but have the talent to win in their 34 front. Poe might need some time, but long term could mature into one of the steals of the draft.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Iowa State OL Kelechi Osemele
He’s the type of big, coordinated offensive lineman the Steelers like with the anchor strength to hold the point of attack and the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the next level.
29. New England Patriots: Clemson DT Brandon Thompson
Thompson is a potential three down lineman at the next level who can play both the nose and three technique inside for the Patriots in their 43 front.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Nebraska DE Jared Crick
Crick is the type of tough, hard working lineman that head coach Jim Harbaugh wants on his team. He’s 6-4, 290 and has the length to fend off blocks as a five-technique and has a great role model in Justin Smith to learn from.
31. New England Patriots: Wisconsin OL Peter Konz
Konz is the type of safe, NFL ready type first round pick the Patriots love. He’s got the ability to play both center and guard at the next level and gives New England some options inside.
32. Green Bay Packers: West Virginia OLB Bruce Irvin
Irvin played out of position during his time at West Virginia. However, he’s got an explosive first step, can change directions as a pass rusher and could be the one guy who flies up draft boards this post-season.
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