2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting the First Round on Thursday, April 26th in New York City: It is officially the week of the 2012 NFL draft, and mock drafts are soon to be replaced by the real deal. With just a couple of days remaining before Indianapolis goes on the clock, here is a complete projection of Thursday night’s first round.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
Replacing Peyton Manning with the best QB prospect since Manning is a no-brainer for a rebuilding Indianapolis franchise.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
Washington traded away a ton of draft picks in the hopes that RGIII becomes the franchise quarterback the team has been missing for years.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
The Vikings are fully committed to Christian Ponder at QB, and Kalil will protect his blind side for the next decade.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
Cleveland needs a ton of help on offense, and Richardson is a workhorse back that will step in and become the new centerpiece.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
Ronde Barber can’t play forever, and Claiborne has all the tools needed to become a shutdown corner in the NFL.
6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
The addition of Blackmon will provide QB Sam Bradford with an explosive weapon capable of making big plays down the field.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
This team needs a ton of help on offense, and adding DeCastro up front is the first step in correcting the problem.
8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
He is a bit of a project, but Miami seems convinced that he can be a franchise QB. After missing out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn in the offseason, the Dolphins need someone under center.
9. Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
A nose tackle with a proven history of making plays in the backfield is just what the doctor ordered for Carolina’s porous run defense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mark Barron, Safety, Alabama
The Bills have been committed to improving their defense, and with is all-around ability from the safety position, Barron could be the final piece to the puzzle.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College
For a defense that gave up more than 130 yards per game on the ground last season, adding one of the best tackling linebackers in college football history is a no-brainer.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina
Ingram’s pass rushing prowess and ability to play defensive end and outside linebacker make him an ideal fit for Seattle’s 4-3 defense.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Teaming Floyd with Larry Fitzgerald should give the Cardinals’ offense the firepower it has been lacking since Anquan Boldin left town.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Cordy Glenn, Offensive Guard, Georgia
Despite Jerry Jones’ love of flashy skill position players, Dallas plays it smart two years in a row and strengthens its offensive line in the first round.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama
Philadelphia needs a big, physical presence in the middle of its defense, and Hightower is the interior force the Eagles have been missing.
16. New York Jets: Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
I’m betting Rex Ryan is plenty confident that he can harness Poe’s potential and bolster a New York run defense that was gashed last season.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
Cincinnati missed cornerback Johnathan Joseph last season, but Gilmore is a quick fix for the Bengals’ secondary.
18. San Diego Chargers: Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
At some point, his upside outweighs his effort issues, especially for a San Diego defense that managed just 32.0 sacks last year.
19. Chicago Bears: Mike Adams, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Jay Cutler got hammered on a regular basis last year, and Adams’ mean streak on the field will be a perfect fit in Chicago.
20. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
Konz stands alone as the highest-rated center in the draft, and his addition to the middle of the Tennessee offensive line should help jumpstart Chris Johnson and the running game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Zeitler, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
Bobbie Williams is on his last leg, and Zeitler is an immediate upgrade for an up-and-coming Cincinnati team.
22. Cleveland Browns: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Joe Thomas is a pillar at left tackle, and Reiff should come in and do the same for the right side of an offensive line that will likely be blocking for Trent Richardson next year.
23. Detroit Lions, Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
Matt Flynn’s six-touchdown game was one of several ugly performances for the Detroit secondary last season.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
The Steelers couldn’t get the ground game going last season, but adding a big, strong tackle like Martin to the offensive line should help create some running lanes.
25. Denver Broncos: Nick Perry, Defensive End, USC
Denver should be playing from ahead a lot more often with Peyton Manning at the helm, and Perry should have plenty of chances to utilize his pass rushing skills.
26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech
The combine phenom should blossom as a deep threat for Houston with Andre Johnson drawing constant double teams.
27. New England Patriots: Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
Upshaw will be the versatile playmaker New England’s defense has been missing the last few seasons.
28. Green Bay Packers: Michael Brockers, Defensive End, LSU
Improving the Packers’ defense starts with improving the pass rush and bulking up the front line, and Brockers does both.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
There’s nothing wrong with adding an NFL-ready pass rusher to an already stout defensive unit.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, LSU
Randle’s height will make him an immediate red zone threat, and his blocking ability will make him a perfect fit for San Francisco’s run-heavy offense.
31. New England Patriots: Jared Crick, Defensive End, Nebraska
Assuming this pick isn’t traded, adding an athletic pass rusher will continue the Patriot’s defensive overhaul.
32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford
The Giants can use a tight end and Fleeny is dynamic having run a 4.4 40 at the combine and posting impressive numbers(34 catches for 667 yards and 10 TDs) as a senior catching passes from Luck.