2012 NFL Mock Draft | Pre-Free Agency
The 2012 NFL Draft is inching closer and closer to us with March starting and just April being in the way.
But there is a lot of excitement left before April 26th comes around, including the NFL free agency period set to begin on March 13th.
Many big names like Arian Foster, Wes Welker, and Dwayne Bowe have either been re-signed or franchise tagged, but there are still plenty of free agents that are capable of helping out teams in 2012.
Getting back to the draft, here is out 2012 NFL Mock Draft | Pre-Free Agency Edition:
Note – The Washington Redskins trade the #6 overall pick, #39 overall pick, 2013 first and 2014 first for Rams #2 overall in 2012.
Note – The Dallas Cowboys trade pick #14 overall, 2012 3rd round pick, and 2013 first rounder for Browns #4 overall in 2012.
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Despite the exceptional interviewing of Robert Griffin III, and his talents, the Colts will still go with Luck.
Luck will be a great quarterback and this is still a great fit.
2. Washington Redskins (Trade) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The trade of the decade, and maybe even century happened after Washington sent three first round picks and a second to the Rams for pick #2 overall.
The Redskins will grab RGIII as he fits their system perfectly and has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro quarterback.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Quick! Who did the Vikings draft in 2011 first round?
Answer: Christian Ponder.
Protect him with one of the best left tackle prospects in recent years.
4. Dallas Cowboys (Trade) (From Cleveland) – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Cowboys are terribly desperate for a corner with the ineffectiveness of veteran Terrance Newman, and Orlando Scandrick.
Mike Jenkins is a #2 corner at the most, and they need a top tier corner to go up against the likes of Eli Manning, Michael Vick and now RGIII.
They pay a hefty price to nab Claiborne, but they rob the Buccaneers of him.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Even though they lost the bidding war for Morris Claiborne, the Buccaneers still can get an elite player at a safer position.
LeGarrette Blount is a solid short yardage back, but he’s not an every down player and doesn’t have the exceptional ability that Richardson does.
Richardson is the best running back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson and can do it all.
6. St. Louis Rams – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Many will believe that Justin Blackmon should be the pick here, but despite Floyd’s DUI issues in the past, he’s the better overall receiver.
Floyd has sub 4.45 speed with a huge frame at 6’3 220+ to support it. He can stretch the field, and can make catches all over and is just the type of physical receiver with speed that Sam Bradford needs.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
This isn’t much of a surprise pick here as the Jaguars need a pass rusher and a presence at right defensive end that can make quarterbacks fear their defense.
Lining Coples next to Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu could prove to be a death with for the opposition, especially in the run game.
Coples is pretty much maxed out from a physical perspective, but he still has a high ceiling and can learn much more as a pass rusher.
8. Miami Dolphins - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The ideal pick for the Dolphins isn’t a second interior lineman in the first round, but it’s needed and David DeCastro is an exceptional guard.
DeCastro would start immediately in place of Vernon Carey, while letting Carey move outside to force Marc Colombo out at right tackle.
9. Carolina Panthers – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Panthers need help on the interior defensive line. Last season the rush defense in Carolina was atrocius, and they need a big man that can stuff the run.
Brockers offers up some penetration ability, but most importantly he will eat space and close gaps, while letting the talented young defensive ends in Carolina get in the back field for sacks.
10. Buffalo Bills – Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Even with the switch back to a 4-3 defense, Upshaw fits the mold of an exceptional pass rusher on the edge.
He showed at the Senior Bowl that he’s capable of rushing successfully with his hand in the dirt.
If the Bills don’t improve their pass rush then they will never be able to get consistent production from their talented secondary that looks worse than it actually is.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Chiefs needs to replace Branden Albert on the left side. Not that Albert is a bad tackle, but he’s a much better fit at right tackle.
Replacing Barry Richardson is the main idea here with Albert moving over.
Reiff has potential to be an elite pass protector, while offering a decent ability in the run game.
12. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
This is a no-brainer for the Seahawks who need to replace Tarvaris Jackson, who after one year with the team, has already proven to be barely mediocre.
They could still use Jackson for one season while grooming Tannehill, but Tanny has the raw ability to succeed in this league and be a top notch quarterback.
There are weapons in Seattle.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Cardinals need to replace Levi Brown in a hurry, and the offensive tackles at the top of this class all show elite potential.
Adams is a huge tackle just over 6’7, and has long arms.
He’s not an elite pass protector, but he’s still great with a top notch ceiling, while also having potential to be a mauler.
If the left side doesn’t work out for him, he’s an All-Pro right tackle at the worst.
Some will see this as a reach for the Browns, but they really could use a developmental pass rush project.
Branch has great athletic ability, fantastic first step, and has the speed to get around most tackles.
The issue will be developing an inside pass rush and more moves. Once that happens, he could be elite.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I don’t think I’ll change this pick all off-season. The Eagles need a true stud at MLB that can tackle and play sideline to sideline.
That’s Kuechly for sure. Kuechly’s instincts, fundamental tackling ability, and overall intangibles make him a very intriguing prospect in the middle of a 4-3 defense.
16. New York Jets – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Jets really could use a go-to receiver, and while I’m not confident that Justin Blackmon is that guy, I do think he can be a very good pro.
The extension of Mark Sanchez suggests that the Jets will do their best to give him an opportunity to succeed, including drafting him weapons.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Raiders) – Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Bobbie Williams isn’t a guarantee to return, and will be 36 years old in September.
It’s time to get an upgrade and create a youth movement at the guard position and throw Glenn in the mix.
Glenn would immediately improve the run game with his big, physical mauling ability, while also providing insurance in case an injury comes to one of the tackles, thanks to his versatility.
18. San Diego Chargers – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Despite Jared Gaither’s signing during the season and solid play, the Chargers need to think long term for the position.
Marcus McNeill’s injury issues could force him to retire, or at least limit him severely, and I don’t see him playing on the left side any time soon.
Martin has Top 20 talent, and is a solid pass protector with good athleticism.
The Bears need to find some help at receiver. They have an injury prone receiver in Earl Bennett that is no more than a #2 at best if healthy, and then a down field speedster in Johnny Knox.
The big arm of Jay Cutler has the ability to get the ball down field, vertically, and the fast, big framed Hill is that receiver that could be elite in this league.
At 6’5, and running a sub 4.40 forty yard dash, it’s hard to pass up on this kid.
Defensive line help is important for the Titans who lack any sort of pass rush.
Fletcher Cox is a versatile defensive lineman with Warren Sapp-like quickness inside.
Cox could become a top tier pass rushing defensive tackle if utilized properly.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
It’s no secret that losing Jonathan Joseph in 2011 hurt.
Despite his one off-field incident with marijuana, Kirkpatrick is not believed to be a criminal, and he’s just the kind of physical corner that the Bengals could use in the AFC North.
He has #1 corner potential, but would excel opposite of a healthy Leon Hall after Week 6.
I’ve had trouble placing Wright in my mocks due to receivers rising and falling, but he makes his appearance back in round one.
The Browns need to get a quarterback, but the first round doesn’t do them any favors, especially after losing out on RGIII.
But getting the talented Kendall Wright to pair up with Greg Little would be huge for whatever quarterback starts in 2012.
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Despite his criminal history, Jenkins has elite corner ability.
He can be a play maker, and is just the type of defender that the Lions need to replace Eric Wright with.
Outside of one minor incident, he didn’t get in trouble while at North Alabama which is somewhat encouraging.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
The Steelers should start looking for the future nose tackle of the team with Casey Hampton aging, and backup Chris Hoke retiring.
Ta’amu would still have two or three years to grasp the position before filling in as an every down contributor, but it’s a worthy investment near the end of the first round.
He needs work on keeping his pad level down, maintaining leverage, and trying to hold the point of attack, rather than just trying to run through lineman.
25. Denver Broncos – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Broncos really need help in the secondary, and getting a physical corner with big hitting ability and speed is a great step.
A young corner learning under exceptional veteran Champ Bailey is an ideal situation, and while Gilmore is a bit raw in pure coverage, he has great upside.
The need for nose tackles in this draft has risen big time, and the Texans opt to go with Dontari Poe who’s huge frame is hard to pass up.
Shaun Cody is adequate as of this moment, but a true run stuffer and space eater like Poe could really free up linebackers and solidify the front seven.
Poe could go much higher if scouts feel that he has more to offer, but bigger tackles tend to fall a bit more.
27. New England Patriots (From Saints) - Nick Perry, DE, USC
A pass rusher would really benefit the Patriots who has a defense that finished second to last in 2011.
Nick Perry fits both a 3-4 OLB role as well as 4-3 RDE, and will excel with the Patriots defensive system.
An athletic pass rusher who could go much higher, Perry would be a steal at 27.
28. Green Bay Packers - Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Since losing Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles, the Packers have had a void at 3-4 defensive end.
Enter Devon Still who has space eater written all over him. Still will be asked to eat up blocks to free up the linebackers, much like Jenkins did.
Getting a guy like Still on the defensive line could really get the Packers back at the top of the pass rushing list.
29. Baltimore Ravens – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
It’s not the sexy pick, but it’s a smart pick that would benefit the Ravens in the long run.
Veteran Matt Birk is going into his 14th year, and grabbing his replacement to ensure the integrity of the exceptional interior line for the Ravens is crucial for both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.
Konz is a smart center with a bit of a mean streak in the run game, that also does well in mirroring his defenders in pass protection.
30. San Francisco 49ers – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Michael Crabtree has proven that he’s no better than a #2 receiver in the NFL, and that’s still being generous.
Sanu is a talented receiver with sure hands and excellent intangibles that can stretch the field, but will do the most damage in the short-intermediate game.
He has red zone ability, and is fast enough to stretch the field.
31. New England Patriots – Reuben Randle, WR, LSU
Getting offensive targets for Tom Brady isn’t always necessary when you have… Tom Brady.
But the Patriots could really use a long target who can make plays in the middle of the field as a wide receiver and not just a tight end.
Not to mention, Randle can block a bit, and while he’s not the fastest player, he can still get down the field.
Charles has the speed and athletic ability to make a big impact for the Giants and Eli Manning.
His DUI recently could find himself out of the first round, but as of now, this is one of the smartest picks for the Giants to make.