The 2012 NFL Draft begins April 26, 2012 and will be the 77th draft in the NFL’s history.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
3. St. Louis Rams: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
4. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
5. Seattle Seahawks: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Picks 1-5 Breakdown
The common wisdom right now is that Stanford’s Andrew Luck is locked in at No. 1. The Colts need a complete overhaul but the value of Luck is too great to pass up. In recent weeks, Matt Barkley is red-hot. The Dolphins are playing well of late with Matt Moore but he simply isn’t a franchise quarterback at this stage. No cornerback has increased his draft stock this season as Morris Claiborne. He’s one of many future studs from LSU’s defense. Matt Kalil is the consensus top offensive lineman and would go a long way to protect Arizona’s investment in Kevin Kolb. Seattle needs to address its quarterback situation since Tarvares Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst are getting them nowhere. The Seahawks young defense has promise and with an improved offense, they could turn it around quickly in the NFC West.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
7. Washington Redskins: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
8. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
9. Denver Broncos: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
10. Tennessee Titans: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Picks 6-10 Breakdown
Justin Blackmon’s size and athleticism are off the charts. Jacksonville hasn’t had a playmaker at receiver in years and need a No. 1 WR to take pressure off of Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert. Alshon Jeffery is slipping slowly down the draft boards and may be a reach come April as a Top 10 selection. That said, he’s been highly productive for South Carolina and could redeem his value with a strong combine. Running backs picked among the Top 10 need to be dynamic talents and that perfectly describes Trent Richardson. The Crimson Tide product as a legitimate shot to steal away the Heisman Memorial Trophy from the aforementioned Andrew Luck.
11. Carolina Panthers: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
12. Minnesota Vikings: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
13. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
14. Kansas City Chiefs: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Picks 11-15 Breakdown
Carolina’s inability to slow down offenses has been a serious issue. A team once known for having a fierce defense has declined sharply over the years. Vontaze Burfict can fly from sideline to sideline and would compliment Jon Beason very well. The Vikings may have Percy Harvin but he is not a true No. 1 receiver. Floyd’s big frame would provide an excellent target over the middle and in between zone coverages for years to come. Excluding his red flag off-the-field concerns, Janoris Jenkins may be the best cornerback prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft. The former Florida Gators prospect could sneak into the Top 10. Kansas City’s inability to pass protect cost them Matt Cassel for the rest of the season. Martin is a solid offensive lineman who may need to prove to scouts and GMs that he can play left tackle. No player has more tackles than Boston College’s Luke Kuechly over the last couple years. He makes up for a lack of high-end athleticism with an elite football IQ.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
17. Cleveland Browns: Levy Adcock, OT, Oklahoma State
18. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
19. New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
20. Buffalo Bills: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Picks 16-20 Breakdown
The Cowboys offensive line could use an upgrade, but so could their defensive secondary. Mark Barron is one of the many great playmakers in Alabama’s tremendous defense. The Browns lukewarm offense could be taken to the next level with an improved offensive line. Levy Adcock possesses the right kind of potential to give Cleveland two All-Pro linemen. The Eagles defense may have added a heap of talented free agents this offseason but it isn’t getting the job done this season. Zach Brown would provide Philly with an athletic presence that is currently lacking at their linebacker positions. The Giants need a third-down option who can create in open space and Virginia Tech’s David Wilson may be one of the fastest backs available in the 2012 NFL Draft. Buffalo has come along way on defense, but a prime-time pass rusher like Whitney Mercilus would push them over the hump. His quickness off the edge would be a great compliment to their ball-hawking defensive secondary.
21. San Diego Chargers: Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska
22. Houston Texans: Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
23. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
24. Detroit Lions: Andrew Datko, OT, Florida State
25. Cincinnati Bengals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Picks 21-25 Breakdown
In a word, the Chargers are soft upfront on defense. Adding a high-motor player like Jared Crick would give them toughness where it counts. Houston’s defense has improved by leaps and bounds this year but a nose tackle of Alameda Ta’amu’s caliber would be a tremendous addition to their foundation. Although Chicago’s offensive line isn’t quite as bad as it was in 2010, an injection of youth and depth is necessary to keep that positive progress trending upward. Cordy Glenn can fit in at multiple spots although he is a slight reach at this position. Detroit needs to fully commit to improving along their offensive line. Protecting Matthew Stafford with a player like Andrew Datko would give them more flexibility in an already dynamic offense. Cincinnati needs to build around their great young core on offense led by Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham and A.J. Green. Riley Reiff is a brute that could take them to the next level in the AFC North.
26. New York Jets: Devon Still, DE, Penn State
27. New England Patriots: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
28. New England Patriots: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
29. San Francisco 49ers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. McDonald, S, USC
31. Baltimore Ravens: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
32. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State
Picks 26-32 Breakdown
The Jets too often rely on exotic coverages which can leave big holes open against the run. Having a dominating presence like Devon Still would provide them a run-stopping end currently lacking from their lineup. The Patriots secondary has been giving offenses yards and points all season so they may opt to focus both picks on defensive backs. With that said, that isn’t likely given their draft history. In this instance, adding Jerel Worthy and Alfonzo Dennard provides a big body in their defensive line and an intelligent cornerback who can paint receivers in coverage. Dre Kirkpatrick has anchored Alabama’s defense for years and given the way the 49ers like to play a lot of man defense, his size can matchup against any pass-catcher. T.J. McDonald would give Pittsburgh one of the best duos at safety when paired with Troy Polamalu. Dont’a Hightower’s many talents could play inside or outside linebacker in Baltimore’s tough as nails defense. A legitimate pass-rusher to pair opposite Clay Matthews would be a huge get for Green Bay. Jenkins is fast as they come at his size and could play at times with one hand in the turf.