The 2012 NFL Draft kicks off tonight with the 1st round live on ESPN. For anyone who is a fan of the NFL (pretty much everyone), this is a huge night. We all get to see who might be the next future star for our team, or who might be the next bust. As a Lions fan, I have suffered through my fair share of draft busts over the years. It's still pretty incredible to think that from 2002 through 2008, the Lions had a 1st round pick every year that was inside the top 20, and yet only hit a homerun on ONE of those picks: 2007 - Calvin Johnson. Everyone loves a good laugh, right? Check this out:
2002: #3 overall pick - QB Joey Harrington. BUST
2003: #2 overall pick - WR Charles Rogers. BUST
2004: #7 overall pick - WR Roy Williams. Solid pick - had his best years with Detroit.
2004: #30 overall pick - RB Kevin Jones. Solid pick - again, best years with Detroit.
2005: #10 overall pick - WR Mike Williams. BUST
2006: #9 overall pick - LB Ernie Simms. DECENT pick - but #9 is high for an average LB.
2007: #2 overall pick - WR Calvin Johnson. AWESOME pick. However, he just "won" the contest to become the cover player for Madden this year, which means he'll tear his ACL in training camp.
2008: #17 overall pick - OL Gosder Cherilus. WHO? Exactly. In all fairness, he did start 15 games last year.
So while the draft is certainly exciting, as you can see from the rundown above, having a high 1st round pick does NOT mean you are going to get a stud that will instantly (or ever) make your team better.
Below is MY 2012 NFL Mock Draft based on what I've read from the NFL "experts" and also what I know about each team, their needs and where they are picking in the 1st round. It's only a 1-round mock, because mocking more than the 1st round is just flat out impossible. Also, I expect their to be a lot of trades in the 1st round this year. However, those are hard to predict, so I'll just note where I think a team MIGHT trade.
Check back on the blog later tonight, around 8pm to be exact, because I'll be LIVE blogging the 1st round along with my buddy, Colin Donlevy. You can be sure there few insightful comments, and lots and lots of arguing.
1. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford.
Easiest pick on the board. The Colts have publicly stated they will draft Luck, so no real surprises here. Although, I can't help but to think how cool it would be if they threw everyone a curve ball and took RGIII.
2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor.
Actually, this pick might be easier. Washington traded the farm to move up to the #2 spot this year, and it wasn't to draft Devon Still (DC!!!!!).
3. Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC.
The Vikings will either take Kalil, or Morris Claiborne here and I'm going Kalil, who will protect young QB Christian Ponder for years to come. Rumor has it they are trying to move down in the draft. If they can do it, it would be smart because they have needs at OL, CB and WR, and moving down could allow them to get some picks and still get one of Claiborne, Kalil or Justin Blackmon.
4. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama.
If I'm Cleveland, I rush to the podium to make this pick. Richardson is a stud, and Cleveland badly needs star power on offense. This could be a GREAT draft for the Browns, with 2 1st round picks and an early 2nd.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU.
Another no-brainer here as the Bucs need help in coverage, and Claiborne is the top cover CB in the draft. If Claiborne is already off the board, then I'd burn up the phones to try and move down.
6. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.
St. Louis makes out like bandits in the trade with Washington. They were not going to take a QB at #2, because they have faith in Sam Bradford. And they still get the highest rated WR, one who most think will be a true #1 in the NFL. WR is the Rams biggest need, as Bradford has never had a true #1 WR to throw to.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina.
I think the Jags will do everything in their power to move off this pick. They have a lot of needs, but cannot get great value by picking 7th. If they are stuck, I think they'll take Gilmore. He's been flying up draft boards lately and is probably the 2nd best CB in the draft. However, I like Mel Kiper's prediction of the Eagles trading up here to grab DT Fletcher Cox.
8. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannenhill, QB, Texas A&M.
Some say this is too high for Tannenhill, others say the Dolphins will have to trade up to get him. I just don't see anyone else leap frogging them to pick a QB who was a WR for his first 2 years at A&M and is a bit of a project. But he fits well with the Dolphins, and was coached by new Dolphins OC Mike Sherman while at A&M.
9. Carolina Panthers - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.
Obviously if the Eagles trade up and get Cox at #7, the Panthers can't take him here. But if he's available, I think he's too good to pass up for them. They could also reach a bit for Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College or Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Both would also be good picks.
10. Buffalo Bills - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame.
Many early mocks had the Bills taking an OT. But the Bills made a splash in the offseason by signing Mario Williams, and I think they need to continue that here by taking an exciting WR in Floyd. He will team with Stevie Johnson to form a nice 1-2 punch for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and will help the Bills keep pace with the high scoring offense of the Patriots.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa.
Boring pick, but the Chiefs need an LT and Reiff projects to be a good one. The Big Ten always cranks out top notch O-lineman.
12. Seattle Seahawks - Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina.
Quick: when was the last time 2 players from South Carolina went in the top 12 of the NFL draft? Yeah...I have no clue either. The Seahawks need a pass rusher, and Ingram might be the best one in the draft. I could also see the Seahawks trading down, as there is not a ton of value at this spot for them.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College.
The Cardinals could go in a lot of directions. If Floyd is here, they could pair him with Fitzgerald for the foreseeable future and really help out Kevin Kolb. But Kuechly is the best pure LB in this draft, and he can do it all - he's a tackling machine and he's big and fast enough to drop into coverage and stick with the stud TEs of the NFL.
14. Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama.
I think this is a no-brainer if Barron is still around. ESPN's Adam Schefter thinks he'll be gone (eat sh*t Schefter). I saw an earlier mock that had the Patriots trading their 2 1st rounders to move up to Seattle's spot and grab Barron. Watch for something like that.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis.
The Eagles would love to get their hands on Cox (hmm, that didn't sound right) or Kuechly, but if they can't, Poe isn't a bad consolation prize. Poe was the workout wonder of the combine, greatly improving his draft stock even though his stats from college were weak. But the Eagles need help up the middle on D and Poe is HUGE.
16. New York Jets - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina.
Coples was a top 10 pick as recently as a couple months ago, but there are some questions about his motor. I think Rex Ryan can fix those problems, as he seems to be a good motivator. Coples is the type of player who could thrive in Ryan's system.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) - David DeCastro, G, Stanford.
The Bengals will be thrilled if DeCastro is still on the board. They have a huge need at guard and some say DeCastro is the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson. Hutch is the same guy who made a fat, slow Shaun Alexander the best RB in football for a few years.
18. San Diego Chargers - Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse.
The Chargers need pass-rushers, and Jones is a stud in that department. Jones is long and athletic - traits that a DE needs to be a top-end pass-rusher.
19. Chicago Bears - Cordy Glenn, G/T, Georgia.
O-line is the Bears biggest need, and Glenn is good value here. If both Glenn and Reiff are gone, I could see the Bears going with a pass-rusher to put opposite of Peppers. But here, they'll take Glenn and work on giving Cutler more time to find his new, shiny, wife-beating weapon, Brandon Marshall.
20. Tennessee Titans - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama.
This pains me, because I'd love for him to fall to the Lions. But after the Titans lost CB Cortland Finnegan in the offseason, I think this fills a glaring hole. Easy pick.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama.
Ok, this is a pure gut call here. No one else has Jenkins this high, but I've heard rumors he's moving up, and I think the Bengals have a huge need a CB. Jenkins might be the best pure cover CB in the draft, but character concerns (aka he's a pot-head) have caused him to drop. The Bengals like to take risks (see: Pacman Jones) and I could see them pulling the trigger here.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech.
Combine Richardson and Hill, and the Browns have greatly improved the offensive weapons around QB Colt McCoy. If the Browns aren't getting a difference maker at QB in this draft, might as well try to surround your current QB with great weapons. Plus, I still see the Browns grabbing QB Brandon Weeden either in the 2nd round, or by trading back into the late 1st.
23. Detroit Lions - Jonthan Martin, OT, Stanford.
The Lions would be crazy not to pick a CB or OT here. These have been their biggest needs dating back to alst year's draft, when they decided to go "best available" instead of filling needs. It worked out just fine, since they made the playoffs. But now is the time to solidfy both the O-line and defensive backfield and win a playoff game or three.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama.
This seems to be a consensus pick if Hightower is still around. The Steelers love big LBs, and they like their young players to play a backup role early and learn from the veterans. Perfect fit here.
25. Denver Broncos - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU.
Another easy pick if he's on the board. The Broncos love him, and he fills a big need as a disruptive defensive tackle.
26. Houston Texans - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois.
The Texans lost Mario Williams, and Mercilus would help fill that void. He's a stud pass-rusher and I've seen him go as high as the top 15 in other mocks. So great value here.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama.
We all know the Patriots love to trade down and stockpile picks. But I think it's about time they get some young, difference-makers on defense. Upshaw fits a huge need for the Pats and will immediately help their poor pass-rush (seems to be the buzz word this year, doesn't it?).
28. Green Bay Packers - Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise St.
The Packers had the worst pass-rush in the NFL last year and McClellin will immediately help remedy that. He has been a fast riser on draft boards and if the Patriots don't take him, I think the Packers will.
29. Baltimore Ravens - Peter Konz, OC, Wisconsin.
Konz fills a need but is a boring pick. I could see the Ravens going with a WR here like Kendall Wright from Baylore. But Konz is a safe pick who should step in right away and help solidify the OL. If Hightower falls here, he could also be the pick to succeed Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin.
Fills a huge need - not much else to say here. Though I could see them taking a luxury pick like a WR, or possibly Coby Fleener, the TE from Stanford.
31. New England Patriots - Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame.
Again I'd be shocked if the Pats make both of their 1st round picks, but if they do, Smith fills a need and is a riser on draft boards. The Patriots top two needs are D-line and DBs, so they fill both of those here with their two 1st round picks.
32. New York Giants - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford.
The Giants have good depth at most key positions. They could beef up the O-line here, but I think Fleener is a top 20 talent in this draft who will fall simply because of the position he plays. He could be in the Gronkowski/Graham mold of pass-catching TEs sooner rather than later.
Enjoy the draft and check back later for the live-draft blog!