2012 NFL Mock Draft – Projected Top 5 Picks to be Drafted at the Top of the 2012 NFL Draft: The NFL season and college football season is in the books, so it is time to start turning attention to the draft. After all, the NFL draft has become one of the most anticipated events in American sports. Not surprisingly, predicting the draft has become an equally popular endeavor. Projections will change hundreds of times between now and April as combines are held, information is leaked and general managers tip their hands. However, team need always plays a major role in the draft order, and the regular season already revealed that for most franchises.

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2012 NFL Mock Draft – Predictions and Projections for the Top 5 Players to be Drafted

1.      Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford 

For the biggest no-brainer pick in recent memory, there sure is a lot is a lot of debate about this pick. Of course, most of it involves whether or not to keep Peyton Manning, but whatever decision Indianapolis makes about its current QB, Luck is going to be there future signal caller. He has more than enough arm strength to make all the necessary throws, he is deadly accurate, and he is experienced running a pro-style offense. Luck was flawless in the red zone last season, and he has been changing plays and managing a complex offense since stepping foot at Stanford. He is pretty much the total package for a player at his position, and there is no downside to drafting him. Worst case scenario, he has to watch and learn from one of the greatest QBs in NFL history for a year or two.

2.      St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC

For the time being, I am going to assume that the draft order stays the same. That being said, this pick is almost certainly going to be traded because there are plenty of teams falling over themselves to draft Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, but with former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford already on the roster, the Rams are not one of those teams. Trading down will allow St. Louis to stockpile picks to build around Bradford, but pretending they stay put, Kalil is the obvious pick. He would instantly become the anchor of the offensive line, helping keep Bradford upright and healthy. Not to mention the fact he could make some holes for the perennial underrated Steven Jackson to run through. The Rams can draft Kalil and pencil in elite platy at the tackle position for the next decade.

3.      Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU

To call the Minnesota secondary an embarrassment would be kind. The Vikings surrendered more than 250 passing yards per game to opponents, and the numbers only get worse. They allowed an NFL-high 34 touchdown passes and recorded a league-low eight interceptions. In short, they need some serious help. Claiborne is a physical, shutdown corner and is the best player at his position in this year’s draft. Granted, the Vikings have plenty of other needs as well, but their porous secondary is the most glaring. Claiborne is the first step in remedying the issue.

4.      Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State

With a pair of first-round picks to work with, many experts have pointed to Cleveland as a potential destination for RG3. However, Mike Holmgren is all about building teams through the draft, and keeping both picks allows Cleveland to address more needs. Plus, Colt McCoy wasn’t awful in his first full year as starter, and he had absolutely no help on offense. Blackmon would give him his first legitimate weapon at receiver, and his big play ability would allow the Browns to throw the ball more than seven yards down the field at a time. Blackmon is probably the best prospect at his position since Calvin Johnson, and he will add a much-needed dimension to an offense that managed just 13.6 points per game last season.

5.      Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama

Tampa Bay has a lot of needs, but I am betting the Ronde Barber calls it quits this offseason, forcing the team to draft his replacement. The fact that fellow corner Aqib Talib is dealing with potentially serious legal issues makes drafting Barber’s replacement the top priority. Kirkpatrick can do it all from the cornerback position. He can play man-to-man coverage, he is a reliable tackler, and he can rush the passer. His ability to be both a reliable cover corner and a playmaker will be too much for the Buccaneers to pass up, especially with so many question marks at the position.