2012 NFL Mock Draft: First Round Projections and Analysis

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2012

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

People can speculate all they want about why the Colts haven't officially announced Luck is the pick here, but make no mistake about it, he is their man. No doubt about it.


2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

The Redskins went ahead and traded away all their future draft picks for a reason and that was in order to land their quarterback of the future, Robert Griffin III. He could be the answer to the team's long playoff drought.


3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

There isn't a question when it comes to the best offensive tackle in this year's draft class. While it might not the prettiest pick at No. 3 overall, the Vikings are getting a potential Pro Bowl-caliber player here.


4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

It would be shocking to see the Browns not draft an offensive skill player with this pick. It looks like it will come down to Richardson or Justin Blackmon and with Peyton Hillis gone, Richardson sure seems like an ideal pick.


5. Tampa Bay Bucs: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Claiborne answered any questions there were about his speed, running a sub 4.4 40-yard dash at LSU's Pro Day last week. With Ronde Barber at the tail end of his career and Aquib Talib facing legal trouble, Claiborne seems like the perfect fit in Tampa Bay.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

The Rams traded away the No. 2 pick because they felt they could get Blackmon with this No. 6 spot. This gives Sam Bradford a legitimate No. 1 receiver to throw to for years to come.


7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

The Jaguars are in a tough spot here because they would love to add Blackmon, but chances are he will be gone by this point. Because of that, they go with an impact pass-rusher in Coples, who has a ton of upside attached to his name.


8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

This is the first poor pick of the draft, but we saw it last year with Minnesota—when you need a quarterback, you will make the reach to get one. With Mike Sherman slotted in as the Dolphins new OC, this pick is beginning to look more and more realistic.


9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

The Panthers might be tempted to take Michael Floyd here, but they have a gaping hole in the middle of that defense and Poe's size and speed combination is simply too impressive to pass up.


10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

The Bills have done a nice job at building up that defense with the addition of Mario Williams, but now it is time to add some talent to that offensive line. If Reiff is still here at this point, it would be tough to imagine the Bills passing on him.  

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

This may be a little early to draft an offensive guard, but DeCastro is not your average guard. Many scouts have described him as a once-in-a-decade type player at his position.


12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Seattle had an epic fail with the Aaron Curry experiential, but that shouldn't discourage them from going after another highly-touted linebacker out of college. Kueckly fills a need for a team that must improve on the defensive side of the ball.


13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The Cardinals have been searching for someone to line up opposite Larry Fitzgerald. Adding Floyd would give this team a dominant receiving core in the near future.


14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Northern Alabama

Jerry Jones will take a chance on a guy who he feels is the most talented player at a position of need. The Cowboys desperately need to address their secondary and Jenkins is loaded with talent. Seems like a perfect fit.


15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

This defense struggled mightily at times last season and despite a star-studded defensive backfield, it was the linebackers that failed to deliver on the football field. Adding DeMeco Ryans will help, but it won't be enough. Hightower is an ideal linebacker who looks for contact. Adding him and Ryans would allow the Eagles to go from bad to great at the linebacker position.

16. New York Jets: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

The Jets also need to upgrade at linebacker and if Upshaw is still available at this point, he would make a great addition to this Rex Ryan defense. His pass-rushing skills are comparable to a young Terrell Suggs, who Ryan coached during his time in Baltimore.  


17. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Is it really possible that three Alabama players could all get drafted in a row? The Bengals need to upgrade at cornerback and landing a talent like Kirkpatrick would be huge for this team here with the No. 17 selection. 


18. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

The Chargers have to address some holes on their offensive line and adding Martin, the best tackle available at this point, would be a great score for this team. If San Diego is going to get back to the playoffs then they have to protect their franchise quarterback, Phillips Rivers.


19. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia

The Bears drafted Gabe Carimi last year, but the team's offensive line is still far from stable. Adding Glenn would give the Bears a guy who can play multiple positions on the line and brings great size to protect Jay Cutler and pave the way for a solid rushing attack.


20. Tennessee Titans: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With the loss of Cortland Finnegan to free agency, the Titans need to address the cornerback position. Gilmore has good size and skill and could come in and compete for a starting spot from day one.


21. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

The Bengals filled their need at cornerback with that No. 17 pick, which means that they could be looking at the best player left on the board at this point. If Brockers is still available here, it would be hard to imagine Cincinnati passing on someone with that type of talent.  


22. Cleveland Browns: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Assuming the Browns go with a running back or wide receiver with that No. 4 overall pick, it is likely they go defense with this selection. Ingram is a fierce pass-rusher who has a knack for making big plays, which is something this defense hasn't had in a while.


23. Detroit Lions: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Detroit has been waiting to replace OT Jeff Backus for a long time now. With selecting Adams here, they get their next franchise offensive tackle to protect Matthew Stafford.


24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

The Steelers would love to see Dont'a Hightower or Luke Keuchly fall to them here, but that's not likely to happen. Because of that, they fill their next biggest need at the defensive tackle position. Cox has the versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive line and should vie for playing time right away on this dominant defensive unit.

25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

The Broncos made a huge splash in free agency with the signing of Peyton Manning. Now, they can focus on the defensive side of the ball and cater to their biggest need: defensive tackle. Worthy is a big tackle who has a knack for making big plays. 

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

The Texans need a receiver to complement Andre Johnson. In Wright, they get a speedster who can stretch the field and would make Matt Schaub's job much easier.


27. New England Patriots: Nick Perry, DE, USC

Perry is a dynamic playmaker who specializes in rushing the passer, which is just what the Patriots are looking for with this pick. This would make a great fit if the Pats decided to actually hold onto this pick.


28. Green Bay Packers: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

How fitting would this pick be for Green Bay? They lose Scott Wells to free agency and then add Peter Konz, the top-rated center in the draft who played his college football in the state of Wisconsin.


29. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

This may be a bit of a stretch here, but this Ravens team is in desperate need of an offensive guard. Unless Mark Baron is still available at this point, it seems like a lock that Baltimore will look at taking the best offensive guard available, which would likely be Zeitler.

  • Jerel Worthy

  • Peter Konz

  • Alshon Jeffery

  • Melvin Ingram

  • Other


30. San Francisco 49ers: Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

The 49ers locked up their passing game by signing Mario Manningham and Randy Moss this offseason. Because of that, look for San Francisco to look at taking a defensive end. If Mercilus is still here at this point, he would make a perfect fit for this team.


31. New England Patriots: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Chances are that the Patriots will probably end up trading this pick away, but if they hold onto it, don't be surprised if they go for a home run threat like Alshon Jeffery. The Patriots were at their best when they had a great group of wide receivers and Jeffery would be a fit nicely with Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker in New England. 


32. New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

The Giants parted ways with Brandon Jacobs and now there is a spot open for a back to complement Ahmad Bradshaw. Wilson seems like he has an NFL-ready game, which is exactly what the Giants are looking for at this point in the draft.


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