2012 NFL Mock Draft with trades

BY JOHN HUFFSTETLER, Feedcrossing.com syndication 

Every year I make tons of mock drafts only to find out on draft day that it was primarily a large waste of time. These things are just too difficult to predict. There’s always a couple picks (exhibit A, Aldon Smith) that come out of nowhere and usually we see 5-7 trades in the first round alone. I’d say it’s more likely that someone would correctly pick every game in the NCAA tournament three years in a row before someone correctly picked the first round of one NFL draft.

That said, mock drafts are still great because you can make bets with friends, learn about the top prospects, see which teams are in good or bad positions, and narrow down those four or five guys that your team is probably targeting.

So here’s a (hopefully) interesting look at the first round of the draft that begins this Thursday night.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Photo by: Michael Li / Flickr

1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – I don’t think I need to say too much about this one. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen and will be one of the next faces of the NFL.

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – This is another no-brainer. Perfect fit for Shanahan’s scheme and brings the star power that this franchise desperately needs.

3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC – I think that the Vikings front office will be torn between Kalil and Morris Claiborne. Claiborne is the better prospect in my book, but I think at the end of the day the Vikings will have to take Kalil to help out both Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson. This team is rebuilding, and a franchise left tackle is a must.

4. Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – I think that the Browns will be intrigued by both Claiborne and Justin Blackmon, but this team needs playmakers more than another shutdown corner and it’s a deep receiver class. The running back position is becoming less and less important in today’s NFL, but Richardson is an elite talent who should have eight Pro Bowl caliber years in him. To me, the Browns have to take him.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – Bucs fans are probably praying for Richardson to slip past the Browns, as he could make them one of the scariest offenses in the NFL, but Claiborne is still a great pick. Aqib Talib is talented but unreliable and Ronde Barber is on his last legs. Claiborne projects as a true shutdown corner at the next level.

6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – TRADED to the Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Miami has to take Tannehill. This franchise is in desperate need of a legitimate quarterback, and Tannehill can be that guy if he’s handled correctly. That’s a big if, and sixth overall is a lofty pick for guy who can’t step in and play right away, but if the Dolphins believe he can be their guy one or two years down the road than it’s undoubtedly worth it. Miami already has the guy who developed Tannehill in offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, so I can really see this working. They just have to go about it the way that Tennessee did with Jake Locker, not the way Jacksonville did it with Blaine Gabbert. For St. Louis, this trade makes sense because they need a big time playmaker for Sam Bradford, and two are currently still available.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State – The Jaguars could use help along the defensive line and in the secondary, but they also need to give Gabbert every chance to succeed, and he can’t do that with no one to throw to. Justin Blackmon doesn’t have elite physical tools, but he’s a big time gamer with good intangibles. I think this is a perfect fit for Jacksonville.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd should be a top draft pick this year. Photo by: Meon Tommy / Flickr

8. St. Louis Rams (from Miami) – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – Right now Sam Bradford is playing chess with checkers pieces. He wants to play quarterback like Tom Brady. He wants to beat you by recognizing the match ups and carving you up with his deadly accuracy. The problem is you can’t play that way if you don’t have anyone the defense is afraid of. Floyd brings that presence. He has elite physical tools and to me looks a lot like Larry Fitzgerald coming out of Pittsburgh.

9. Carolina Panthers – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – This one’s a no brainer to me. Cox is an elite 4-3 defensive tackle prospect and is exactly what the Panthers defense was missing last season.

10. Buffalo Bills – TRADED to the Philadelphia Eagles – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – The Eagles traditionally shy away from the boom or bust prospects in favor of high motor, high character guys, but GM Howie Roseman said something last week that to me was very telling. He said that the addition of former Texans team captain DeMeco Ryans would allow them more flexibility in the character and hustle department, as Ryans is a passionate leader who demands 100% effort from his players. This opens the door for a guy like Poe, who could be Jim Washburn’s new Albert Haynesworth in the Eagles wide nine technique. For the Bills, this allows them to grab more picks and offensive line help at a more reasonable draft spot.

11. Kansas City Chiefs – David DeCastro, G, Stanford – I could really see the Chiefs making a play for Ryan Tannehill, but in this scenario the Dolphins trade up to guarantee they get their guy. If that’s the case, I think DeCastro is a perfect fit for Kansas City. He would complete an extremely formidable offensive line and would allow them to get back to running the football with a healthy Jamaal Charles.

12. Seattle Seahawks – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College – Defensive end is a huge need, but I can’t see Pete Carroll passing on Kuechly. He’s seen what a dominant linebacker can do for a team in his USC years, and Kuechly is the best player available.

13. Arizona Cardinals – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – The Cardinals have to do everything they can to give Kevin Kolb a chance to be their guy, and the top priority should be giving him a competent offensive line. Reiff would step in right away at right tackle, which is their biggest position of need.

14. Dallas Cowboys – Melvin Ingram, DE, USC – Many experts seem convinced that the Cowboys are locked into taking Alabama safety Mark Barron, and while safety is an area of need I think getting another pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware is just as important. Ingram could become an elite pass rusher at the next level, and could severely help them chase down Eli Manning, Michael Vick, and Robert Griffin III over the next couple of years.

15. Buffalo Bills (from Philadelphia) – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford – Left tackle became the biggest area of need for the Bills after losing Demetress Bell in free agency, and Martin is a guy that could step in and man the position from day one.
16. New York Jets – Quinton Coples, DE, UNC – The Jets desperately need some pass rush, and they never shy away from the sexy pick. Coples has some character concerns but is a tremendous talent and could be a huge steal for the Jets here.

17. Cincinnati Bengals – Stephon Gilmore, CB, USC – The Bengals really felt the absence of Jonathan Joseph last year, and Gilmore is a top notch prospect that could help fill the void. Gilmore’s a better prospect than this draft slot, but I just don’t see corner as a huge need in the top half of the draft this year, and couldn’t find a team willing to trade up. Gilmore’s a steal for the Bengals here.

18. San Diego Chargers – TRADED to the New England Patriots – Mark Barron, S, Alabama – At some point, the Patriots need to stop trading back and collecting picks and start using those picks to trade up for impact players. Mark Barron is exactly what the Patriots defense needs, and would allow Devin McCourtey to focus on just being a shutdown corner.

19. Chicago Bears – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse – The Bears could use some help along the offensive line, but another capable edge rusher opposite Julius Peppers would make this defense terrifying.

20. Tennessee Titans – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois – The Titans had virtually no pass rush last year. They need to find an edge rusher in the first two rounds and Mercilus is good value here.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – This is a luxury pick, and while the Bengals could use some help along the defensive line, I can’t see them passing on Wright here. He gives them an elite receiving corps and could help prevent a sophomore slump from Andy Dalton.

22. Cleveland Browns – TRADED to the Denver Broncos – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU – Brockers is very talented but I see him falling into the twenties because of character concerns and his lack of elite pass rushing ability from the inside. He’s a perfect fit for Denver, though, and could step in and start right away to replace Broderick Bunkley, who left for the Saints in free agency.

23. Detroit Lions – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – The Lions have needed corner help for what seems like a decade, and they get great value here. Kirkpatrick is a big, physical corner who can disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and would allow the Lions’ elite defensive line more time to get to the quarterback.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama – This is an absolutely perfect fit, as Hightower could step in from day one and start at a huge position of need for the Steelers.

25. Cleveland Browns (from Denver) – Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech – This is why I can’t see the Browns taking Justin Blackmon. They can take Richardson, and allow another receiver from this extremely deep class to fall to them with their next pick.

26. Houston Texans – Rueben Randle, WR, LSU – The Texans don’t have many needs, and another threat opposite Andre Johnson could do wonders for their offense. Randle’s a speedy downfield threat who would perfectly fit that mold as the Texans chase a championship.

27. San Diego Chargers (from New England) – Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia – The Chargers need help at right tackle, and Glenn could step in right away and play. Glenn is a monster of a tackle at 6’5″, 345 pounds, and could help keep Phillip Rivers upright as well as open up holes for the emerging Ryan Matthews.

28. Green Bay Packers – Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama – Clay Matthews had a disappointing year last year due to a regression along the Packers defensive line as well as a lack of pass rush presence opposite him. Upshaw could step in right away and help out with the second part of that problem. In case you weren’t counting, that’s four Alabama defenseman already off the board. That team was incredible.

29. Baltimore Ravens – TRADED to the Cleveland Browns – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State – And so completes the sexiest draft in NFL history. The Browns completely revamp their offense with Richardson, Hill, and now Weeden. If this guy was turning 24 in September instead of 29, he’d be in the top ten ahead of Tannehill. I love Weeden and I love this fit, as he could come in and run the show right away with two new fancy weapons to play with.

Michigan State's Jerel Worthy is one of the top defensive tackles in this year's NFL Draft. Photo by: Matt Radick / Flickr

30. San Fransisco 49ers – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State – The 49ers don’t have many needs, and this guy will be under-drafted because of this great defensive tackle class. In other words, he’s very “worthy” of this pick. Justin Smith is getting older, and Worthy would just add another solid piece to this scary defense.

31. New England Patriots – Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State – I could see the Patriots trading down to make up for their trade up earlier, but they need pass rush help and I could see Belichick falling in love with McClellin. He’s a high motor guy who gives it all on every snap, and could immediately improve the Pats at linebacker.

32. New York Giants – Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State – Adams has been downgraded because of character concerns, but he’s extremely talented and the Giants might feel as if their veteran locker room could keep him focused. They need help at tackle and Adams could be plugged immediately into their lineup.

Be sure to check out other great articles at 11on11 Sports.

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