2012 NFL Mock Draft | Updated First Round Analysis
The 2012 NFL Draft is just a little over two weeks away, which means NFL Draft news and rumors will pop up out of nowhere uncontrollably, and we’ll have to adjust out mocks to keep up with it.
I’m well aware that more than a couple of teams could be in serious play for Ryan Tannehill. The Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis Rams could all trade out of their current sports. Traditional draft-day traders Green Bay and New England could opt to trade down, and the Jaguars and Bills are just two of the many teams that could possibly shock us all with their 2012 first-round pick.
However, as things stand, the first six picks look to be fairly decided, with several following them being arguably predictable. Or so we all think. Here’s my take with NFLSoup.com’s latest 2012 NFL Draft mock:
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Robert Griffin III wouldn’t even entertain the idea of visiting with the Colts, as he knows just like everyone else that they have no real intentions of drafting him. Luck is the top pick in this draft, as he should be. Done deal.
Other option: Robert Griffin III
2. Washington Redskins (Trade w/Rams) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
While Luck should be the top pick, it’s not like the Redskins are getting some cheap consolation prize. RG3 is an exceptional pocket passer who also happens to have a strong arm and elite athleticism. He’s not quite as polished as Luck, but he very well might be better down the road. Regardless, Mike Shanahan and co. get their man at number two after going all “Mike Ditka” in a trade for this draft pick.
Other option: None
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC
I’m still weary of the Vikings trading down, as there are a slew of tackles that can be had a little bit later in the first. Still, Minnesota needs a stud tackle to protect the mobile Christian Ponder going forward, and they realistically won’t find a better one than Kalil in quite some time.
Other option: Trade down
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
If we’re being logical, it’s down to Richardson and Ryan Tannehill. I am liking Tannehill more and more through scouting and reading up on him, but I still think he’s a reach (and a gamble) at four. The Browns lost Peyton Hillis, and they don’t have an impact runner (or offensive play-maker) on their team. They can’t pass on a talent like Richardson and feel good about it.
Other option: Ryan Tannehill, Justin Blackmon
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Clairborne might seem to be as dumb as a brick after scoring a 4 on his Wonderlic test (out of 50), but those tests aren’t always as damning as they appear. Besides, Claiborne is undoubtedly the best corner in this draft, and Tampa Bay could undoubtedly use his remarkable talent. If Richardson is here, they’ll have something to think about. If not, Claiborne is the right (and only) pick.
Other option: Trent Richardson
6. St. Louis Rams (Trade w/Redskins) - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
In regards to the chatter about the Rams trading down again, I hear, but I’m not listening. You can make a case for Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd here, but that’s just draft stock talk. Blackmon is still the best overall wide receiver talent in this draft, and the Rams would be crazy to draft anyone else with the sixth overall selection.
Other option: Michael Floyd, Trade down
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Jacksonville needs more help with their pass-rush, per usual. I’m listening to arguments about Melvin Ingram belonging here, but they’re both talented pass-rushers and I can’t convince myself to push Coples out of this spot just yet. He’s got some issues up in his head, but talent-wise, he’s as can’t miss as it gets.
Other option: Michael Floyd, Melvin Ingram
8. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
If the Browns don’t take Tannehill (and I don’t think they will), it’s Miami or bust. There have been whispers about the Chiefs being interested, but I don’t think they get to trade up, and the Dolphins are ahead of them. Ultimately, Tannehill gets reunited with Mike Sherman and everything makes sense with the world again.
Other option: Trade up
9. Carolina Panthers - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Carolina got eaten up against the run last year, so their first objective has to be to get a big guy to plug the middle of their defensive line. Brockers can absolutely do that, and then some.
Other option: Luke Kuechly, Dontari Poe
10. Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Unless the Bills shock us all and trade up for Ryan Tannehill or draft a stud wide receiver here, they’ll hang tight and grab the second best offensive tackle in this year’s crop. Reiff is a beast who could start immediately, and would give a major boost to a still suspect pass-protecting o-line.
Other option: Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd
A lot of people have Poe in Carolina or free-falling. I have neither. The Chiefs could easily beef up their offensive line, but they still could use a mammoth in the middle of their defense to snuff the run. Poe doesn’t wow you on tape, but his size and strength project to a run-stopper at the next level.
Other option: Courtney Upshaw, David DeCastro, Trade up
12. Seattle Seahawks - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
I’ve had Kuechly landing in Philly for forever, but I am starting to get the feeling someone snags him in the top 10, or he goes to Seattle. The Seahawks are hurting in the pass-rush, but they also now have no one to man the middle of their defense with David Hawthorne gone to New Orleans. With Kuechly, now they do.
Other option: Melvin Ingram
13. Arizona Cardinals - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
The Cardinals could go after a receiver or some pass-rush help, but DeCastro is an elite guard prospect who is also pretty versatile. He’ll help improve the rush offense and also help give Kevin Kolb better protection in the pocket.
Other option: Melvin Ingram, Michael Floyd
14. Dallas Cowboys - Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Dallas could go in a number of directions with this pick, but ultimately they’ll be content with landing one of the most athletic and versatile pass-rushing specialists in the draft. Ingram’s rising stock could easily have him going in the top-10, but he makes a lot of sense with the Cowboys if he slides down to this pick.
Other option: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cordy Glenn
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Philly would like to address a defensive need in the first round, but they can’t really afford to with Jason Peters going down with an achilles injury. With Peters almost certainly lost for 2011 and his future in doubt, the Eagles have to think big, rather than bank on a cheap stop-gap to get the job done. Martin is no slouch in this year’s crop, so Philly lucks out by landing him here.
Other option: Dre Kirkpatrick, Trade up
16. New York Jets - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
New York could add some youth to an aging defense, but that defense isn’t any good without an improved offense. We’ve seen it play out that way for three straight seasons. Mark Sanchez and/or Tim Tebow need a weapon to play with outside of Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, and Floyd could make an impact right away.
Other option: Kendall Wright, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron
17. Cincinnati Bengals (From Raiders) - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Cincy needs help in the secondary after injuries and inconsistency hurt them last season. Kirkpatrick is arguably the second best corner in the draft, so he’s a pretty easy pick.
Other option: Janoris Jenkins, David Wilson, Cordy Glenn
18. San Diego Chargers - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
San Diego would have liked to see Jonathan Martin make it down this far, but he’s gone, so they’ll wait until the second round to go after offensive line help. Instead, they beef up their pass-rush with the versatile Courtney Upshaw, who shouldn’t even be here.
Other option: Zach Brown, Whitney Mercilus, Mike Adams
19. Chicago Bears - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Chicago landed Brandon Marshall, but they can’t stop there. Jay Cutler is clearly a borderline elite quarterback, and he needs real weapons to maximize his potential. Insert the play-making Wright, and the Bears’ offense just got a lot more explosive.
Other option: Stephen Hill, Cordy Glenn, Mike Adams
20. Tennessee Titans - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
The Titans need help stopping the run and they’ve reportedly been high on Cox for some time. They could reach for a corner replacement with Cortland Finnegan gone, but getting a big man in the middle is a more glaring need right now and Cox is a beast.
Other option: Devon Still, Janoris Jenkins
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
I’ve been thinking running back for the Bengals at this spot for the longest time, but I’ve finally conceded that it’s very likely that selection will come in the next few rounds. Cincinnati still has offensive line issues, so they can’t pass on a talent like Glenn, who has been on the rise ever since a stellar combine showing.
Other option: David Wilson, Trade down
22. Cleveland Browns (From Falcons) - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Hill is pretty raw, but he brings amazing size and speed to the table. If he falls this far and the Browns are smart enough to snatch him up, they’ll be getting a big-play talent who could end up being a star.
Other option: Trade up, Trade down
23. Detroit Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Jenkins has had major problems off the field, but he is still an elite talent. I can’t see him falling much further than Detroit, and the need for corner help is definitely there for the Lions. Jenkins just makes too much sense here.
Other option: Zach Brown, Doug Martin
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
I keep seeing Ta’amu falling into the second round in other mocks, and I don’t get it. He’s an absolute beast and the Steelers need an injection of youth and talent on their defensive line. This match was made in heaven.
Other option: Peter Konz, Donta’ Hightower
25. Denver Broncos - Devon Still, DT, Penn State
I know Denver would like to get Peyton Manning a shiny new toy right away in the first round, but at this point they’d probably be reaching. Instead, they’ll play it smart and beef up their run defense with the massive Still.
Other option: Mohamed Sanu, Reuben Randle
26. Houston Texans – Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Mario Williams is gone, and the Texans need another pass-rushing talent to rotate in when Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin are tired (or hurt). Receiver or offensive line can be addressed, too, but both are arguable reaches at this point, where Brown is a first-round talent.
Other option: Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus, Mike Adams
27. New England Patriots (From Saints) - Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
I’m not entirely sold that Barron falls this far. He is the best safety in this draft, after all. Still, the need for safety isn’t that crucial for most teams in the first round. That, or they have a greater need. New England could get a crack at him in their second go-around in the first round if they don’t trade this pick.
Other option: Nick Perry, Peter Konz
28. Green Bay Packers - Nick Perry, DE, USC
I’ve had Perry stuck at the Patriots for a while, but I’m starting to think he could drop at least one more spot, where Green Bay will nab him immediately. Perry is a very versatile pass-rusher who has the size, strength, and athleticism to fill the need of a second beast on the edge, opposite of Clay Matthews. Green Bay could get their future center or address corner here, but landing Perry could be the finishing touch on an already solid pass-rush.
Other option: Peter Konz, Stephen Gillmore
29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
If the Packers don’t take him, the Ravens will. Baltimore has a lot of work to do in regards to it’s future on the defensive side of the ball, but center is just as pressing with Matt Birk likely done after 2012. Konz is a special talent who could be entrenched in Baltimore’s offensive line for the next decade following Birk’s retirement.
Other option: Donta’ Hightower, Vontaze Burfict
30. San Francisco 49ers - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the Colts trade back into the first round to land Fleener, just to give their new golden child (Luck) a familiar toy to play with. It’s unlikely though, and if it doesn’t happen, look for the 49ers to semi-copy what the Patriots have done with two-tight end formations. Seriously, just imagine what Vernon Davis and Fleener could do together. Along with Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree. Yikes.
Other option: Mohamed Sanu, Trade down/up
31. New England Patriots - Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Mercilus has some fast-rising stock, so I think he’ll sneak somewhere into the first round. He could even go a little bit higher, but I like him to land somewhere he’ll be needed right away. The Patriots lost Mark Anderson (Bills) and Andre Carter is still reportedly walking with a limp. Mercilus could see major action right away.
Other option: Kevin Zeitler, Trade down
32. New York Giants – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
I’ve been seeing Martin creep up in a lot of mocks, and I’m buying into it. Brandon Jacobs is gone, Ahmad Bradshaw is always hurt, and there isn’t much else to talk about in the Giants’ back-field. If they want to keep their offense balances, they’ll need another back to toss in the mix. Martin figures to be one of the more complete backs in the draft, so he’s as good a pick as any to end the first round with.
Other option: Lamar Miller, David Wulson, Mohamed Sanu, Trade up
Fell Out: David Wilson, Mohamed Sanu, Mike Adams