2012 Final Mock Draft - 1st Round
Last Updated: April 26, 2012 Mock Draft: Picks 1-16 - Picks 17-32 - Round 2 - Round 3 - Rounds 4-7
1. Indianapolis Colts
Stanford University
With Peyton Manning gone to the Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts are set to hand the keys to their franchise to a new signal caller for the first time since Manning was drafted in 1998. Had Luck declared following his redshirt sophomore season at Stanford, he would have been the top overall selection over Cameron Newton. It was never any secret that following the 2011 season Luck would be the first player off the board and the Colts have recently informed the quarterback he'll be the selection when they're officially on the clock Thursday evening. Luck is the real deal and should start from day one for the Colts, and the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up should have Indianapolis contending again in the AFC South within the near future.
Also Considered: none
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis)
Baylor University
There hasn't been a single player who has made greater strides this year than RG3. There was never any question that Griffin would be the second player drafted, and the Redskins made an aggressive trade offer for the right to draft his services. No price is too high for a franchise quarterback, however, and Washington's quarterback play last season was atrocious, whether it be Rex Grossman or John Beck under center. The fact that Mike Shanahan thought he could win anything with either of them is nothing short of laughable. Griffin will have to get comfortable under center, as he works mostly from the shotgun, but is a smart kid and hard worker, so this shouldn't be a long-term issue. Griffin has a high ceiling and Shanahan is known to take a player based on perceived potential.
Also Considered: none
3. Minnesota Vikings
Louisiana State University
Heading into the draft, most people were under the impression Matt Kalil would be the pick here for the Vikings. They allowed more sacks than any other team in the league last year and with last year's first-round selection Christian Ponder under center, it might be smart for Minnesota to protect their investment. However, Claiborne is a supremely talented cover corner who has the potential to be a perennial Pro-Bowler and shutdown corner from year one. The Vikings do not have a strong secondary, and with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler in the division, Claiborne is a real possibility. There has been a lot of speculation leading up to the draft that Minnesota may look to move out of this pick for the right price, but it seems more likely it will stand pat and greatly strengthen its secondary by selecting Claiborne.
Also Considered: Justin Blackmon (WR-Oklahoma State), Matt Kalil (OT-USC)
4. Cleveland Browns
University of Alabama
This is one of the tougher picks in the first round to project and what the Browns decide will have a domino effect on the rest of the top ten picks. Peyton Hillis is gone to the Kansas City Chiefs and Montario Hardesty has a history of injury problems. The Browns need a new weapon on offense and Richardson looks to be the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson with his combination of size, speed, strength and ankle breaking moves. A playmaker like Richardson should open the passing game for Colt McCoy and make life easier on everyone in Cleveland. Unlike most running backs, he is worth a selection in the top ten but if the Browns wanted to go in a different direction they could take Texas A&M; quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Also Considered: Ryan Tannehill (QB-Texas A&M;), Justin Blackmon (WR-Oklahoma State), Matt Kalil (OT-USC)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
University of Southern Cal
The Bucs have some immediate needs more pressing than offensive tackle, but Kalil is the best value here and would continue to strengthen a line already bolstered by the signing of guard Carl Nicks. Tampa has used several picks to shore up its front seven on defense in recent years, and this would be a good time to continue building in the trenches with the addition of a franchise left tackle. Kalil is the most NFL-ready tackle in this year's draft class, and presents a great opportunity for the Bucs to select the best player available. Josh Freeman needs some help up front in order to get back to producing like he did in 2010. Barring a team deciding to trade into the top four to select Kalil, this is an easy selection for the Bucs.
Also Considered: Luke Kuechly (LB-Boston College)
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
Mississippi State University
Many people believe Justin Blackmon could be the selection here for St. Louis -- and for good reason. Sam Bradford hasn't had a lot to throw to in his couple years with the Rams. Fletcher Cox is the top defensive tackle in this year's draft, however, and his ability to penetrate and get into the backfield makes him a particularly dominant and disruptive force up the middle. With Chris Long and Robert Quinn book-ending the defensive line, it's time for the Rams to anchor it down. Cox has been gaining steam and looks to be a sure-fire top ten selection on Thursday. The value is there, and although it's not the sexiest pick, it may prove to be the smartest pick for the Rams.
Also Considered: Justin Blackmon (WR-Oklahoma State)
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
University of South Carolina
Jacksonville's pass defense wasn't too bad last season and the Jags already have Rashean Mathis on the roster, but this is the modern NFL. If a team can't defend the pass, it can't win. Jacksonville has been linked to Gilmore in a big way. He is a strong, physical corner who will be asked to cover the likes of Andre Johnson in the AFC South. Not every team has Gilmore rated this highly, but Jacksonville is high on him and will look to take an early flyer on him in hopes of securing another lockdown corner opposite Mathis. This will also be a highly sought-after selection considering Miami seems to be enamored with Ryan Tannehill, but is there a team with interest in Tannehill and enough ammunition to jump ahead of the Dolphins?
Also Considered: Justin Blackmon (WR-Oklahoma State), Melvin Ingram (DE-South Carolina)
8. Miami Dolphins
Texas A&M; University
The Dolphins struck out with free agent quarterback Matt Flynn and still need to fill their void at quarterback. Tannehill almost makes too much sense. He's a great fit in Miami's offense and his college coach, Mike Sherman, was just hired as the offensive coordinator in Miami. New head coach Joe Philibin has been credited with getting the most out of Aaron Rodgers from his time in Green Bay and he can try to work the same type of magic with the toolsy Tannehill. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, this pick is far from a lock; remember, the Dolphins passed on Brady Quinn in favor of Ted Ginn Jr. in 2007. They may also look at adding an edge rusher here, but the prospect of landing Tannehill is too good to pass up.
Also Considered: Justin Blackmon (WR-Oklahoma St.), Melvin Ingram (DE-South Carolina), Quinton Coples (DE-UNC)
9. Carolina Panthers
Boston College
The Panthers already have Jon Beason in the middle of their 4-3 defense but he missed last season with an Achilles injury and Kuechly would make an excellent weakside linebacker in the scheme. He is a top-10 talent who amassed a ton of tackles in his three years at Boston College, setting the ACC career tackles record. Carolina has some holes to fill, and may seriously consider selecting defensive end Quinton Coples with this pick as well. The Panthers need defense in a bad way, and with their offense on the rise, this pick makes a lot of sense. Morris Claiborne and Stephon Gilmore are already off the board at number nine, and there isn't really a cornerback with enough value here on which to take a chance. Kuechly can be an immediate starter and impact player for a defense in need of just that.
Also Considered: Michael Floyd (WR-Notre Dame), Quinton Coples (DE-North Carolina), Dontari Poe (DT-Memphis)
10. Buffalo Bills
Oklahoma State University
The Rams passed on Blackmon in favor of Fletcher Cox, but he won't slip any further than this. The Bills invested a significant amount of money in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and they will look to surround him with more offensive weapons despite its defense struggling mightily in the second half last season. Blackmon is the best receiver in this year's class. He has big-play ability and will take a lot of pressure off Stevie Johnson. The Bills could also look to add an offensive lineman with this selection, but Riley Reiff isn't as good a value here and wide receiver is one of their more pressing needs at this point.
Also Considered: Riley Reiff (OT-Iowa), David DeCastro (OG-Stanford), Mark Barron (S-Alabama)
11. Kansas City Chiefs
Stanford University
The Chiefs have shown in recent years that they like to build in the trenches with their early picks and this year is no different. Even after investing picks on interior offensive linemen in Jon Asamoah and Rodney Hudson in the past two seasons, David DeCastro is an instant starter at left guard in place of Ryan Lilja. Rodney Hudson will inherit the starting spot at center if Casey Wiegmann retires. With running back Jamaal Charles set to return after tearing his ACL in Week 2 this season the Chiefs would have the physicality needed up front to push for a playoff berth in the weak AFC West. There have been four interior offensive linemen drafted in the Top 21 in the last three years (Mack, Iupati and the Pouncey twins) but it wouldn't be a surprise if DeCastro goes higher than any of them.
Also Considered: Riley Reiff (OT-Iowa), Dontari Poe (DT-Memphis), Mark Barron (S-Alabama)
12. Seattle Seahawks
Syracuse University
Although the Seahawks were a pretty good defense statistically last season, they could stand to improve their pass rush after recording only 33 sacks in 2011. Chris Clemons has been very good over the last two seasons, but they need a pass rusher on the other side. Jones is a great fit within the Seattle defense and it should be noted that NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock declared the day before the draft that Jones is his pick to end up being the best defensive player from this draft. He has good power and pop at the point of attack, and is an extremely effective bull rusher when he can get inside. This isn't a sexy pick for the Seahawks, who probably hoped they could make a move for Ryan Tannehill, but Seattle is a team on the rise. Jones will make an immediate impact and strengthen a defense likely to be even better in 2012.
Also Considered: Michael Floyd (WR-Notre Dame), Melvin Ingram (DE-South Carolina), Nick Perry (DE-USC)
13. Arizona Cardinals
University of Iowa
The offensive line should have been addressed in both the 2010 and 2011 drafts for Arizona; in fact, the Cardinals haven't drafted an offensive lineman before the fifth round since 2007. The Cardinals did not have a single offensive lineman rank in the top third at their position according to Pro Football Focus. Arizona desperately needs offensive line help and it's hard to imagine them passing on a player with this type of upside. If Reiff falls to them at number 13, the Cardinals have no reason to not select him. Arizona's defense was very good in the second half last year and have a number of good skill position players. With a considerable drop-off at the position after Reiff, the Cardinals would be smart to snag the quality tackle and shore up a bad offensive line.
Also Considered: Michael Floyd (WR-Notre Dame), Dontari Poe (DT-Memphis)
14. Dallas Cowboys
University of Alabama
Prior to signing cornerback Brandon Carr the Cowboys did not have a single standout player in their secondary. However, even after signing Carr the Cowboys still need help at the safety position, especially considering the quarterbacks in their division are Michael Vick, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin. In a weak safety class, Barron is the only safety that should receive first round consideration and the Cowboys would do well to grab him now as there's a big drop-off at the position once he comes off the board. Dallas also has needs along their offensive line, but the depth on the interior line in this draft is solid so they can fill that need later.
Also Considered: Michael Brockers (DE-LSU), Dontari Poe (DT-Memphis)
15. Philadelphia Eagles
University of Memphis
The Dream Team has been anything but and if they want to redeem themselves they'll have to figure out how to stop the run. Poe has a very intriguing combination of size, athleticism and power. He has a lot of upside and is just scratching the surface of his potential. His physical skill set is impressive and he has a lot of promise so it wouldn't be a surprise if he came off the board in the first half of round one. The only thing holding him back from going higher was that he was very inconsistent in college and never dominated his competition at Memphis, but physically he's a top ten talent.
Also Considered: Quinton Coples (DE-North Carolina), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB-Alabama)
16. New York Jets
University of South Carolina
The Jets need a linebacker that can rush the passer and cause a mess in the backfield for opposing offenses. They need to find a cornerstone to put alongside their stellar defensive backfield, and Ingram fits the bill. He is the most consistent pass rusher in this draft class and has the versatility to line up in several positions, which will mesh well with Rex Ryan's creative defensive play calling. The Jets are rumored to have a lot of interest in Trent Richardson, but they may not have the ammunition to move up in front of Cleveland to select him. They will most likely play it safe and fill an immediate need at the outside linebacker position.
Also Considered: Doug Martin (RB-Boise State), Michael Floyd (WR-Notre Dame)
Mock Draft: Picks 1-16 - Picks 17-32 - Round 2 - Round 3 - Rounds 4-7
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