2012 NFL Mock Draft
It's never too early to start a Mock :: Courtesy of Getty Images
Updated April 26th — Seriously, I’m done now.
1. Indianapolis — Andrew Luck ( 6’4 / 235 / QB / Stanford ) — Don’t buy any of the whispers hinting towards the Colts opting for Robert Griffin III instead of Andrew Luck. As the most highly-touted quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck is the perfect fit in Indianapolis.
2. Washington (via St. Louis) — Robert Griffin III ( 6’2 / 220 / QB / Baylor ) — Everyone can stop talking about how the Redskins gave up too much in order to move up. Just as every draft trade in any sport is a risk, so is this one. If it doesn’t work out, then sure, it hurts. But franchise-changing moves are not made with hesitation and/or lack of confidence.
3. Minnesota — Matt Kalil ( 6’7 / 300 / OT / Southern California ) — The Vikings traded up last season to nab their quarterback of the future and this season they should focus on finding him a blindside blocker. Matt Kalil is the best tackle in this draft and he offers size, strength and athleticism to anchor the offensive line.
4. Cleveland — Trent Richardson ( 5’11 / 220 / RB / Alabama ) — After having Justin Blackmon locked in to this No. 4 spot for more than two months, my final version has the Browns unable to pass on their obsession with Trent Richardson. The dropoff after Richardson is far greater than the dropoff following Justin Blackmon in a deep wide receiver class. This is a wise and valuable pick.
5. Tampa Bay – Morris Claiborne ( 6’0 / 178 / CB / LSU ) — The Bucs would have loved to see Trent Richardson fall in their laps to add even more explosiveness to their offense, but Cleveland doesn’t allow that. Despite being (by far) the best cover corner in this class, Morris Claiborne appears to be forgotten at times. This is a pick that will pay dividends for Tampa Bay
6. St. Louis — Justin Blackmon ( 6’1 / 208 / WR / Oklahoma State ) — Jeff Fisher and the Rams can make out like fat cats in this draft after trading down four spots and still landing (arguably) the highest player on their board. Although I’m not sold on Blackmon being the best receiver in this draft, he’s a solid weapon for quarterback Sam Bradford.
7. Jacksonville — Stephon Gilmore ( 6’1 / 189 / CB / South Carolina ) — Originally I had the Jaguars trading back and still landing Stephon Gilmore at No. 16, but his stock is rising entirely too fast. He has good size for the position, great ball skills and he’s effective in the return game.
8. Miami — Ryan Tannehill ( 6’4 / 225 / QB / Texas A&M ) — Although I hate being on-board with a majority of other draftniks, this pick makes too much sense for the Dolphins. I don’t think Tannehill is valuable this early in the draft, but it’s a necessary move for the franchise. Not to mention, when Tannehill wins his first Super Bowl four years from now, I’ll eat my words with a smile.
9. Carolina – Michael Floyd ( 6’3 / 228 / WR / Notre Dame ) — The popular pick for the Panthers at this point has them going defense — and that makes a lot of sense. However, with the way Cam Newton played last season, I wonder if the Carolina front office is thinking about a physical wide receiver like Michael Floyd teaming up with veteran burner Steve Smith. Floyd is arguably the top receiver in this draft and he’d be a growing partner in the Cam Newton tandem.
10. Buffalo — Riley Reiff ( 6’6 / 300 / OT / Iowa ) — Another team here at No. 10 that could get creative with their pick — the Buffalo Bills have the opportunity to shake things up. Given their need at such a crucial position and the value placed in a left tackle, Riley Reiff makes perfect sense.
11. Kansas City — Luke Kuechly ( 6’3 / 240 / LB / Boston College ) — This makes too much sense for Scott Pioli and the Chiefs at No. 11. Drafting Stanford guard David DeCastro also makes a lot of sense here, but Kuechly is a Pioli-type guy that should play for the next ten years.
12. Seattle — Quinton Coples ( 6’5 / 281 / DE / North Carolina ) — It seems like Coples’ roller coaster stock is somewhat on the rise again after teams have seen him workout in person. Believing that the Seahawks look to address their pass-rush in the first round, Quinton Coples has a very high ceiling if he can keep his head on straight and take well to good coaching.
13. Arizona – Cordy Glenn ( 6’5 / 348 / OL / Georgia ) — Despite being a part of an offensive line that allowed 54 sacks last year, the Cardinals chose to re-sign LT Levi Brown. The team also added free agent RG Adam Snyder, but the line still needs help to protect the overpaid Kevin Kolb. Glenn is a versatile lineman that can play four positions along the offensive front and he’s a starting right tackle (at the very least) at the next level.
14. Dallas — Mark Barron ( 6’1 / 213 / S / Alabama ) — Dre Kirkpatrick has been a pretty consistent prediction for me at No. 14, but all fingers point to his teammate Mark Barron as the man atop Jerry Jones’ list. The Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a huge deal and perhaps they think enough of opposite corner Mike Jenkins to make a move on another secondary position.
15. Philadelphia — Fletcher Cox ( 6’4 / 295 / DL / Mississippi State ) — After stealing DeMeco Ryans to fill the team’s hole at linebacker, Andy Reid could afford to continue revamping the defense and grabbing a sizeable and athletic defensive lineman like Cox. Reid likes to have a strong rotation in the trenches and Cox is a starter.
16. New York Jets — Melvin Ingram ( 6’1 / 276 / DEF / South Carolina ) — I’ve thought the Jets to be pretty intrigued by Melvin Ingram for quite a while. Ingram is a versatile athlete with a natural feel for the game, regardless of position. The Jets score their guy here after Ingram’s slight fall stemming from pesky measurement concerns.
17. Cincinnati (via Oakland) – Dre Kirkpatrick ( 6’2 / 186 / CB / Alabama ) — Nate Clements is an aging corner in Cincy and the defense could use help in their secondary right away. Kirkpatrick has watched his stock slip a bit, but he’s a very passionate football player with size that causes fits for most receivers.
18. San Diego — Courtney Upshaw ( 6’2 / 263 / DEF / Alabama ) — The anticipated slip of Courtney Upshaw allows for the Chargers to strike gold in the first round. I believe Upshaw to be a very natural football player that will become a success at the next level. Unfortunately for him, pre-draft measureables drop him down the board about ten spots. The Chargers need a pass-rush and Upshaw will give it to them.
19. Chicago — Jonathan Martin ( 6’6 / 305 / OT / Stanford ) — Chicago could look at Kendall Wright at this point, but Brandon Marshall should be enough until later in the draft. Not to mention, the Bears allowed 49 sacks last season and they have to do something for the sake of Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Jonathan Martin is more of a natural fit at right tackle, but he’ll be well-coached in Chicago and could eventually make the leap.
20. Tennessee — Kendall Wright ( 5’10 / 190 / WR / Baylor ) – Adding an explosive wide receiver for young quarterback Jake Locker is more than valuable at this point and the Titans get a very well-balanced YAC receiver in Kendall Wright. He can get behind secondaries and he has a feel for the gridiron with the ball in his hands.
21. Cincinnati – David DeCastro ( 6’5 / 312 / OG / Stanford ) — This is an unfortunate slip for one of the best guard prospects we’ve seen since Steve Hutchinson, but it works out great for the Bengals. The Bengals need help along the offensive line, most notably at guard, and DeCastro fits the bill for a fast-rising offense.
22. Cleveland (via ATL) — Stephen Hill ( 6’4 / 215 / WR / Georgia Tech ) — The Browns take care of business here with the selection of Stephen Hill. As a result of their plan to surround Colt McCoy with weapons, they absolutely do so after landing both their running back and receiver of the future. Hill is still a raw receiver in terms of route-running and technique, but he is one of only a few receivers in this draft that have undoubted potential as a No. 1 in the NFL.
23. Detroit — Whitney Mercilus ( 6’5 / 260 / DE / Illinois ) — Drafting a cornerback would be a solid investment for the Lions at this point, but a guy like Janoris Jenkins remains outside of my first round for issues off the field. The team’s current starters at DE come with questions, as Vanden Bosch is set to turn 34 and Cliff Avril is on the brink of some contract quarles. Mercilus is a speedy blitzer off the end that could mesh well with Suh’s presence in the middle.
24. Pittsburgh – Amini Silatolu ( 6’4 / 311 / OG / Midwestern State ) – Before failing his drug test, I thought Mike Adams was a good fit here. Instead, the Steelers will stick with the offensive line and go along the interior. Solid pickup.
25. Denver — Devon Still ( 6’5 / 311 / DL / Penn State ) – After losing an effective plug like Brodrick Bunkley, the Broncos will need to address the defensive line. Devon Still is an athletic load on the defensive line that comes from a pedigree of football talent.
26. Houston — Harrison Smith ( 6’2 / 213 / FS / Notre Dame ) — As the defense in Houston continues to improve, the team can find great value late in the first round by selecting arguably the best safety in this entire draft class. Harrison Smith is a sure tackler in the open field with superb size and deceiving athleticism. He’d be a smash hit in Houston.
27. New England (via New Orleans) — Michael Brockers ( 6’6 / 306 / DL / LSU ) — A very raw talent that (I believe) has gone a little overrated up to this point, Brockers has a ton of potential given the right scheme and coaching. New England will likely look to address the defense in the first round and Brockers carries some value based off what he could become.
28. Green Bay — Zach Brown ( 6’2 / 230 / LB / North Carolina ) — Given all that has been said about Zach Brown, I still think he’s drafted in the first round. As an athletic and instinctive linebacker, Brown would fit well in the Packers’ scheme and they could line him up in different looks.
29. Baltimore — Dont’a Hightower ( 6’2 / 268 / LB / Alabama ) — I’ve had Peter Konz mocked to the Ravens since November, but I don’t think there’s any question that Hightower is atop Ozzie Newsome’s big board. The Ravens are destined to find a replacement for Ray Lewis and Hightower carries the attitude/culture that Baltimore preaches. Lewis isn’t done by any means, but that gives Hightower the opportunity to learn from the best until the torch is eventually passed.
30. San Francisco — Kevin Zeitler ( 6’4 / 314 / OL / Wisconsin ) — After losing Adam Snyder to free agency, the 49er’s could look to address the hole at right guard by adding a huge and athletic prospect like Kevin Zeitler. And while some are critical of former first-rounder Anthony Davis at the right tackle spot, a guy like Zeitler could help the entire right side of the line.
31. New England — Nick Perry ( 6’3 / 271 / DEF / Southern Cal ) — As one of my more confident predictions for draft night, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Belichick and the Patriots trade one of their two first-rounders. However, for the sake of this mock, I’m giving them Nick Perry. He’s a pass-rusher that Belichick would like and he’d be thrown into a great system in Foxboro. My gut tells me that New England makes a move for Quinton Coples. Some how. Some way.
32. New York Giants — David Wilson ( 5’11 / 200 / RB / Virginia Tech ) — The Giants could go a completely different route with a guy like Jerel Worthy or Coby Fleener, but I think the best player available (considering the team’s offseason moves) would be David Wilson. He has the tools to develop into a three-down back and his big-play ability will be an attractive trait for the front office.