Have you heard the latest 2012 NFL Draft rumors? Neither have we, but we have scoured the sizable resources at our disposal and have checked in with writers in nearly every NFL city and are ready to take you into the future and see who each NFL team will draft tonight.
This draft focuses only on the 1st round and doesn't take into account any trades that haven't been announced by 3pm ET on draft day.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: The easiest #1 pick choice possibly in the history of the NFL Draft. Not much needs to be said here to explain the pick. Luck the best prospect since his predecessor in Indy and is one guy we would bet money on to win a Super Bowl and appear in 10+ Pro Bowls (if they still exist?).
2. Washington Redskins via St. Louis Rams
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: The Redskins traded up from #6 slot to ensure that they would land Griffin. The Browns and Dolphins were also interested in trading into this slot, but the 'Skins moved quicker and offered WAY too good of a deal for any team to turn down. Expect Griffin to start from day 1 for Mike Shanahan's Redskins. Griffin’s successful collegiate style will have to be altered dramatically for mere long-term survival. The pass rush and pressure provided by the NFC East will make the Big 12 playing days seem like a walk in the park. The Skins gave up a boatload to get this Phenom, and the hope is he’ll be at least ¾’s of Cam Newton. The style must change, or Michael Vick-like injuries loom.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil, OT, USC: While Kalil is not considered as talented of a prospect as Joe Thomas or Jake Long, he is the best lineman available in this draft. Kalil fills a huge need for the Vikings, who struggled with the mediocre performance of LT Charlie Johnson in 2011. While some ESPN guru's have called for the Vikings to take LSU CB Morris Claiborne, we don't see it happening. Behind QB and DE, LT is the most important position to fill and expect the Vikings to fill that need here.
4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: The Cleveland Browns have their share of concerns, but have the draft working for them as they go into the 1st round with 2 picks in the first round alone. They possess the number 4 pick and the 22nd pick as well. With the 4th pick in the draft I suspect them to address their offense. Colt McCoy is a good player, but may not be a long-term solution at Quarterback, and Peyton Hillis is gone for good and I don’t think Hardesty and Brandon Jackson will make a good starter for them, so running back is a great option at number four. They will take a look at Justin Blackmon at WR if he is still on the board, which he should be.
Richardson has been called the best RB since Adrian Peterson and that type of talent is too much for the Browns to pass up. In a division focused on toughness and running the football in cold weather, the Browns need to give Colt McCoy a productive running game if they expect him to be successful.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: Wonderlic score be damned. Clairborne is a freak of nature and is seen as a potential lock down corner in the mold of Champ Bailey. The CB position is a dire need for the Bucs, especially when facing the vaunted passing attacks of the NFC North for the foreseeable future. The Bucs had the 21st rated pass defense in 2011 and will address the need to upgrade the secondary here.
6. St. Louis Rams
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd has boasted that Blackmon is the 2nd best WR to come out in the draft in the last decade behind Lions superstar Calvin Johnson.
The Rams come off a pathetic 2-14 season in search for something to click on offense. St. Louis is happy with their current quarterback situation in Sam Bradford, as shown in their trade of the number 2 overall pick (giving away RG3) to the Washington Redskins. Yet, the Rams desperately need to surround Bradford with playmakers. Considering their overall lack of offensive depth, the Rams need to select elite WR Justin Blackmon to help out their struggling QB. Blackmon is a big, strong, and physical WR who will greatly help the Rams offensive woes.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: This is seen as a slight reach, given that some teams have a higher grade on other defensive players, speifically Melvin Ingram and Fletcher Cox. Gilmore has the size to move to safety long term but is field ready for 2012 to start at CB for the Jags. At 6ft, 190lbs, Gilmore is seen as a bigger corner and would give the Jags some much needed physical prowess in the back 7.
8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: No one following the draft thinks that Tannehill is the 8th best player in the draft, that is certain. What he is though is a high-upside face of the franchise pick for a Dolphins team that has been looking for a capable trigger man since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season.
Tannehill is the choice of Miami owner Stephen Ross and will be expected to compete for playing time right away. We are calling it here, Tannehill will be a bust and never start a playoff game for the Dolphins.
9. Carolina Panthers
Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State: Getting a player like Cox at #9 is a great value for the Panthers. Had he not been suspended for half the 2011 season, Cox would have been considered at top 5 draft pick.
His ability to clog the middle on running plays while also possessing the ability to pursue the QB is a rare attribute for someone his size. Cox performed very well at the NFL Combine to solidify himself as a top ten pick.
10. Buffalo Bills
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College: The Bills need an athletic lineback, especially if they want to compete with the VERY athletic TE's that other teams in the AFC East have on their roster. Luke is a tackling machine, registering over 180 tackles the past two seasons.
People who have paid attention to him over his collegiate career compare him to Clay Matthews Jr. and believe he will be an instant star for whatever team takes him. The Bills need help on D and Kuechly makes a great addition.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: The Chiefs have enough offensive weapons with Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Dexter McCluster to make a realistic playoff run in the AFC West.
They could go defensive here if LB Luke Kuechly from BC is still on the board, but with a chance to solidify their interior offensive line, they should take DeCastro. Possibly one of the safest picks in the draft, the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder is an experienced starter who was a Second-Team All-American in 2010 and a First-Team All-American this past season. The Cardinal averaged 214 rush yards per game with DeCastro laying the ground work at right guard in 2010. He will likely be an All-Pro player early on in his career.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina: – After a 7-9 season the Seattle Seahawks showed signs of brilliance throughout their season. Yet, their overall lack of defensive depth was a major downside to their promising season. Quinton Coples would be a huge addition to the Seahawks measly defense. Coples is a massive DE who would bring excellent pass rushing ability to a team that desperately needs his skills. This would be addition to a rising Seahawks squad.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Considering Kevin Kolb is the likely starting QB for the Cardinals in the fall, the Cardinals desperately need to bring in more weapons to surround Kolb and help make him a better player. Michael Floyd is one of the most hardworking and competitive WR’s in college football last year, putting up great numbers at Notre Dame. Floyd would be a great asset to add alongside Larry Fitzgerald, helping strengthen the weak Arizona receiving corps.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama: A 3 year starter for Alabama, including 2 BCS Championships, make Barrron an incredibly intriguing value a #14 for the Cowboys. Landing the best safety in the draft is something that the Cowboys aren't going to be able to pass up. While some are calling for the 'Boys to draft for defensive line, we see Barron as a more likely need. This is a case of drafting the best player available.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: This year's combine warrior, Poe is a massive human being who wowed scouts with size, strength and speed at the 2012 NFL Combine. The Eagles have needs across the defensive line and will take a flyer on a high upside, low production player in Poe.
Playing for Memphis in Conference USA, Poe was incredibly ineffective in college. This pick is based purely on potential.
16. New York Jets
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: Rumors are swirling that the Jets are trying to trade into the #3 slot to take RB Trent Richardson. Until that happens, our call is that they draft Ingram at 16, 8-10 spots lower than he was projected a week ago. Ingram is seen as one of the most athletic players in this years draft.
The reason for the drop is the increased perception that Ingram is a "tweener" that will be undersized on the line and have to play a DE/LB hybrid position.
17. Cincinnati Bengals
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: The Bengals are in a spot to take some great players here, but they have to pick smart. They have good cornerbacks currently, but we believe they will take Kirkpatrick in an effort to get younger ins the secondary. They have guys like, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Nate Clements, but they are all over 30, with the exception of Jones, who is 28.
Kirkpatrick has played in an NFL defense under Nick Saban and will be ready to pick up complicated protection schemes under Marvin Lewis right away.
18. San Diego Chargers
Whitney Mercilus, OLB/DE, Illinois: San Diego is in desperate need of a pass rush, as they struggled to rush the passer and stop the run in 2011. Mercilus was the most productive pass rusher in college football in 2011. He led the nation with 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles, and also had 57 tackles and 22.5 tackles for a loss. He showcased his quickness and strength at the NFL combine, running the 40 in 4.63 seconds and attraction some serious attention from NFL scouts. Against Ohio State's Mike Adams, a likely first round draft pick, he beat Adams for 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
The Chargers also could shore up their offensive line after the departure of Marcus McNeill by selecting OT Riley Reiff from Iowa with this pick.
19. Chicago Bears
Nick Perry, DE, USC: Perry is a midwest native, heading to USC after attending high school in Detroit, and is a physically imposing specimen. Perry compares very well with Pittsburgh LB Lamarr Woodley, who also played DE in college.
Perry will likely rush the passer fro a hybrid role his first year or two in the league but will end up in an outside LB role.
20. Tennessee Titans
Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse: Jones helps the Titans with an area of high need: pass rush. Their are plenty of rumors that the Titans will try and trade up, being high on Alabama S Mark Barron and would take him if he fell here for some reason.
If Barron is taken earlier as expected, he Jones will be the pick here. No safety grades high enough to take here and Jones is the best value for need.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama: Sticking with the Alabama theme, Marvin Lewis will select a pair of Crimson Tide teammates in the 1st round. The Bengals have graded Upshaw as a top 12 pick and will be ecstatic if he is here for the taking at #21.
22. Cleveland Browns
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Wide Receiver is their next rebuilding spot. Joshua Cribbs is a great receiver, but his heart lies with special teams. Mohamed Massaquoi is a good, but not great receiver, so they will take the best receiver left on the board, which will be Wright out of Baylor. Wright has a great chance to make an impact of their offense right away. He has elite speed, despite running a 4.61 at the combine. He ran a 4.46, and a 4.43 respectfully at Baylor’s Pro Day. He has more experience than some receivers, since he stayed at Baylor his full term. He will be a great pick for Cleveland.
23. Detroit Lions
Cordy Glenn, G/OT, Georgia: This is a seemingly unanimous pick across all mock drafts. The Lions need help along the O-line and Glenn can play either guard position or right tackle. Glenn is the best player available and the Lions see a ten year QB/WR tandem in Stafford and Johnson that they must build around. Glenn makes most sense for the Lions at #23.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: The Steelers have some small gaps to fill since long time veterans were released this off-season. However, the Steelers always believe in taking the best player available and making him a great player for years to come. Hightower would be a ready made contributor to the Steelers and its hard to see him not being the top player on their board at #24.
The Steelers have a long history of drafting from great college programs and filling in the player wherever their talents call for.
25. Denver Broncos
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: The Broncos sorely need a DT after Brodrick Bunkley signed with the Saints last month. Brockers is all about potential, as many around the league view him as a raw talent that can be shaped into a great player. Brockers was a disruptive force in 2011 on a very talented LSU defensive line, totaling 54 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
With the addition of Peyton Manning, the Broncos are in an interesting situation this year and in the near future. The pressure to win and win quickly will be ever-present, so the Broncos may trade this pick in return for multiple picks a little later in the draft in order to shore up more of their roster holes. John Elway is in love with Oklahoma St. QB Brandon Weeden, and may figure out a way to trade picks and draft a future Peyton Manning understudy.
26. Houston Texans
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Andrew Luck's top target at Stanford will be a welcome addition to the high powered Texans offense. With a QB, WR and RB playing at Pro Bowl levels, the Texas will make their offense incredibly difficult to scheme for with the athletic Fleener adding a new wrinkle.
27. New England Patriots
Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State: McClellin is seen as a smart, educated player that is always in the right place to make a play. The Pats will take him here to shore up a weak LB corps and address their inability to rush the QB from the outside. Shea fits both roles well. He is a player that was originally graded as a mid-2nd round player, but has quickly shot up draft boards.
28. Green Bay Packers
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: Reiff will fall to the Packers at 28, who will be forced to take him, even though their most pressing needs aren't on the O line.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: The Baltimore Ravens will select Peter Konz, Center, out of Wisconsin. Konz is another big offensive lineman at 6’5 and 314. He is considered the top prospect at center in the upcoming draft and the Ravens can’t pass him up. He will adapt quickly to Baltimore’s hardcore offensive style. The offensive smash mouth system of the Ravens closely resembles the style that Konz is used to from Wisconsin.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: The 49ers were probably the most surprising team in the NFL last year, finishing an impressive 13-3 campaign with a loss to the Super Bowl winning champion New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. Fortunately, the 49ers return most of their weapons on both sides of the ball for the 2013 season, so they have some room for a gamble. Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill is a great wide receiver who would only make the 49ers offense that much more potent. Also, with the recent addition of Randy Moss, Hill’s presence will make for some fun offensive competition to watch for in the fall.
31. New England Patriots
Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame: If the Patrios draft anyone on the offensive side of the ball here, people will question Belicheck's sanity. Defense wins championships and the Pats are primed to make another run at the Super Bowl and this pick of Smith gives them a great tackling safety who is ready to start from day 1.
32. New York Giants
Vinny Curry , DE/OLB, Marshall: Add Marshall’s Menace, Vinny Curry to the mix, and once again, the Giants will have a defensive line rotation unmatched in the NFL. This one-man wrecking crew will be the perfect complement to the likes of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
With Osi Umenyiora in a constant state of unhappiness and uneasiness, Curry will park it next to Chris Canty, and the Giants will be off and rushing, defending their Super Bowl title. When guys like this are added to the mix, it will make the Redskins cut the RGIII learning curve even shorter. There are very few teams in the NFL that always seem to get the NFL Draft right, and of the elite few, the New York Giants have a corner on the defensive front seven market. If you can pressure the opposition QB, you always have a chance to add hardware to the trophy case.
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