2012 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projected Top 5 Picks for the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 26th in New York City: With the NFL draft less than a week away, and the three-day extravaganza will kick off Thursday night. While there hasn’t been a lot of drama surrounding the top picks leading up the draft, the first round always seems to have plenty surprises. Teams picking near the top are there for a reason, and with several needs to address, there are plenty of different scenarios that could unfold.
2012 NFL Mock Draft – Predictions and Projections for the Top 5 Players to be Drafted
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The rumors that Luck has already been informed that he will be the top pick aren’t exactly a surprise. His announcement as the No. 1 pick has been several years in the making, and what better way for Indianapolis to replace Peyton Manning than with the best quarterback prospect since Manning. Luck has all the physical tools, and his ability to read defensive coverages and command a pro-style offense is incredible for a player just leaving college. The Colts will make the safe, smart pick.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
Washington needs a franchise QB, and it traded a ton of draft picks to move up and get one. There is no way this pick isn’t RGIII, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the front office for the Redskins has already turned in a card with Griffin’s name on it to the commissioner. His big game and scrambling ability make Griffin a dynamic offensive weapon, and his potential is off the charts. He will need to learn how to run a more conventional offense, but the bigger concern will be avoiding big hits and staying healthy. In terms of body type, RGIII is much more of a speedy and elusive runner like Michael Vick than a bulldozer like Cam Newton.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
I’d like to think that a team that allowed the most touchdown passes, had the fewest interceptions, and plays in a division with two opposing QBs that topped 4,600 passing yards last year would try to upgrade its secondary, but all indications are that Minnesota is going with Kalil rather than LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Granted, I understand wanting to protect QB Christian Ponder with a tackle that should be dominant for the next decade, but it seems like the Vikings are opting for the safest pick instead of addressing their biggest need.
4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
Cleveland’s pick is quickly becoming the most intriguing of the draft. The direction that the Browns decide to go in will likely dictate the rest of the first round. While Ryan Tannehill is a possibility, the more likely scenario for the former Texas A&M QB to get drafted No. 4 would be if Cleveland trades the pick. Justin Blackmon would be an instant upgrade for a horrible receiving corps, but a wide receiver can only have so much of an impact for an offense that lacks a running game and still has questions about its QB.
As a result, Richardson simply makes the most sense. He is an every-down back, and he has the combination of power and explosive speed that teams covet in a running back. More importantly, having a physical running game is a must to compete in an AFC North Division that sent three teams to the playoffs last year. It gets cold and windy in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland, and Richardson would give the Browns a workhorse back to turn to when the weather gets nasty. The bottom line is that Cleveland needs more weapons on offense, and Richardson is going to touch the ball 25-plus times a game and make an immediate impact.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
Even with Ronde Barber deciding to return, the Buccaneers still need to inject some talent and youth into the secondary. After all, defending the pass is a must when you play in a division with Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. Claiborne is the best cornerback prospect in the draft, and he is the type of player that can be left alone in man-to-man coverage because of his physical nature at the line and tackling ability in the open field. Aside from the Wonderlic test score, Claiborne is the total package and a quick fix for one of Tampa Bay’s biggest needs.