Predicting the NFL Draft: 2012 Edition

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Football

One of the best draft dramas in sports, the NFL draft is a three-day affair that captures the attention of millions of fans trying to see what young talent may be coming in to their city and team. Some of the drama has been ramped up with the prospects coming into this year from the college level. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the two biggest names of the draft, but Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson are getting some great attention as well. The reality is that great coaches can find the talent outside of the first round, like the Patriots did years ago with Brady or the Redskins may have last year with Roy Helu.

I have a little competition going with my family about who will be taken in the first round, and although this is not my final official list, here is where things fall for the moment (just under 2 weeks away from the big night)…

Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck QB – Is there anyone else they could take? It is not even worth talking about the other needs of the team, but they will need to do something incredible before the season starts to draft and attract some other great talent to join the young man in Indiana. There is a small possibility that they could go with Griffin, but Irsay would be a failure if he passed up on the player that has been equated to Manning at his entry into the NFL.

Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III QB – They made the trade for a reason. RG3 represents the needed upgrade at QB that the coaches and fans have been searching for over the past decade. His dynamic style is just what the team needs to make a splash again in the NFC East. Even if there is a switch-up between the Redskins and Colts, is Luck really a consolation prize?

Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil OT – The defense could use some work, but the Cover 2 does not bode well for Claiborne as a Viking. On offense, they do not need to replace Peterson at this point, so it comes down to blocking for Ponder and the dynamic RB. Kalil provides the needed protection for Ponder to give him one more year to show he is an NFL starting QB.

Cleveland Browns – Trent Richardson RB – Colt McCoy seems to be the guy for another year in Cleveland, but only because they could not move up in the draft ahead of the Skins. Richardson gives them a needed strength at RB that has been lacking (even during Peyton Hillis’s significant year). There is a need at QB, CB and WR, but they will try to sure up a needed run game before they work on their defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne CB – With an diminishing defense, the Bucs need to make some changes quickly to compete in the NFC South. Claiborne fits the profile of their past success at CB and will be an instant starter with both retirement and legal issues plaguing the DBs. There is a chance to pick up Richardson if he drops to this point, as he is an enticing replacement for a mediocre LaGarrette Blount.

St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon WR – Though there is an injury concern, Bradford needs some targets that have been lacking in St. Louis since the losses of Holt and Bruce years ago. They need help at almost every position, but there will still be some appreciation for Steven Jackson to keep leading at RB and a focus on supporting the ailing QB. Bradford will be on the chopping block if he cannot stay healthy and produce with support.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram DE – This is another team with a lot of needs. Gabbert is not proven and will probably fade out, but the offense needs even one decent talent to complement Jones-Drew. The defense was once in a good place to compete, but they are struggling and need to be prepared to contain the QB and stop a run game in the AFC South that includes Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Ingram could provide the needed protection but the Jags could consider grabbing a WR or trading down if they think they could increase the number of picks in the draft as they continue to rebuild.

Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill QB – There is a possibility that Irsay’s Twitter talk could get this QB picked earlier (Vikings or Browns), but the Dolphins need this pick after getting embarrassed so far this off-season. With Brandon Marshall gone, they need someone who can be built up to lead the way for the future, though a replacement WR or DL/LB could happen (but probably not).

Carolina Panthers – Luke Kuechly LB – The offense is now dynamic but the defense needs some work. Though the team was able to increase their points per game, their defensive points per game stayed too high. A quicker set of players for a team that has been trying to replace their aging defense will be a focus for this upcoming draft, as well as some supporting players to complement Newton’s dynamic abilities on offense.

Buffalo Bills – Riley Rieff OT – While their defense has gotten a little attention and still needs some help, their offense is a mystery. Fitzpatrick was playing inspired football before the big deal last year, but struggled after the extended contract. With some better protection, or another WR to pair up with Stevie Johnson, the Bills could at least stay ahead of the Dolphins and possibly the Jets in the AFC East.

Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe NT – It is necessary to think about the protection on offense (which is needed) but they have some strong defensive needs as well. Poe is the necessary replacement for Kelly Gregg, who has lost his step and is contemplating retirement. Kuechly could also get pulled in if he drops to this level.

Seattle Seahawks – David DeCastro OG – It is unusual to take a guard so high but the team need to keep good protection for their new QB, Flynn. If the Chiefs pass on this top OL prospect, he could be a good fit to give more opportunity to both Flynn and Lynch to get the offense running in the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd WR – If he is left available considering the WR needs with some of the other teams, he would give a needed boost for Kevin Kolb to prove his talent. Their focus is going to be on offense in the early rounds. OL will be the other possibilities.

Dallas Cowboys – Quinton Coples DE – The Cowboys have a lot of issues in recent years with drafting the right talent. Besides Miles Austin, they have missed on a number of possibilities and need to work on defense. Coples gives them a necessary upgrade on the line and can begin to work immediately, even if he did not give himself much of a positive review during an interview about his effort. Next stop, replace Romo…

Philadelphia Eagles – Michel Brockers DT – While the “Dream Team” was not horrible on offense, their defense gave up too much last year and they are still losing players (next up is Asante Samuel). Grabbing someone for the DL is a necessity, though they could make an odd move up for Tannehill and embarrass the Dolphins yet again.

New York Jets – Mark Barron SS – This is the part of the draft that starts to look at a potential shared transition into their projected positions, with safety being an important need for the Jets. Alabama is going to get some love with some middle of the first round picks, for the Jets being a need to back up Landry’s uncertainty with his injury problems. They could also look at WRs to replace Burress and Holmes.

Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) – Stephon Gilmore CB – With a need in the secondary, the Bengals could ignore some of the legal drama of the available CBs. Gilmore is a talented corner coming out of South Carolina, but Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins could get selected instead if the management wants to ignore the character issues.

San Diego Chargers – Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB – Defense is a need for this team that has picked up and dropped a number of greater LBs over the past decade. Their offense still needs some work as well, but Rivers can use his weapons better if he is not constantly running back to the field with a defense giving up points too quickly. Upshaw, Kirkpatrick, Gilmore or Barron are good fits to add something to the defense.

Chicago Bears – Kendall Wright WR – While Coples could fall to this spot because of a character flaw and even though the Bears would like someone opposite Peppers, Wright would be a good choice to help deepen the WR group, who will be missing Knox due to back surgery. Offensive line could be a second route to upgrade to protect Cutler.

Tennessee Titans – Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB – The Titans could go with an upgrade on the offensive line to help Johnson and Locker, but defense needs some help. The run defense upgrade that Mercilus can provide could help both in blocking and rushing the edges. Another DT would be possible, but they drafted a few guys last year.

Cincinnati Bengals – Cordy Glenn OG – With the first pick being defensive, their next pick is going to be to help out Dalton and the offense. There is a future for this team in an AFC North that is seeing a struggling Steelers franchise and an inconsistent Ravens team. Glenn could be an anchor for this team. A WR would be helpful as well.

Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta) – Jonathan Martin OT – The upgrade on offense continues with some blocking for McCoy and the new RB. Since the Bills are one of the few teams who will want to go after an OT, the Browns may get away with a strong pick later in the round. There could be a move to either grab Kendall Wright, if available, or Brandon Weeden, if they do not feel confident with McCoy.

Detroit Lions – Dre Kirkpatrick CB – Since the offense has really improved with Stafford and Megatron, they need to work on the defense to match up with the strong offenses of one of the most competitive divisions currently in the game. Kirkpatrick may fall to this spot due to character issues, though he has been found not guilty at this juncture. Janoris Jenkins would be a similar pick, but the secondary should be the focus at this spot.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Dont’a Hightower ILB – With James Farrior out of Pittsburgh, they need a matchup with Timmons. Hightower would be the next best available and the other possible choices for the Steelers would have to drop from their current spots, being taken earlier in the 1st round.

Denver Broncos – Peter Konz G/C – In need of another young lineman to help the interior for Manning’s Broncos, Konz could be that guy to serve as the new Jeff Saturday. Manning would probably want another young WR talent, but the better ones will be taken at this point and John Fox could find his standout WR somewhere in rounds 2-4.

Houston Texans – Stephen Hill WR – While the Broncos could ruin this pick, the Texans have needed someone a little better to partner with Andre Johnson, also considering the more consistent injury issues in the WR corps. He could actually be the best WR to come out of the 1st round, even taken 4th behind Blackmon, Floyd and Wright.

New England Patriots (from New Orleans) – Nick Perry DE/OLB – While their offense is strong (like the Packers), their defense was one of the worst and allowed for the collapse during the Super Bowl. The talents of Perry will be great for improving the defense for the future, particularly the pass rush.

Green Bay Packers – Shea McClellin DE/OLB – As stated above, defense is the biggest need for the Packers. The offense is fairly strong, though a better RB would be a great addition as well. David Wilson or Doug Martin could sneak up into the 1st round…maybe even LaMichael James could shoot up the draft.

Baltimore Ravens – Janoris Jenkins CB – Since Peter Konz will be taken earlier, they need to continue to upgrade their aging defense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will not last beyond this coming season, and they lost Dominique Foxworth and may lose Cary Williams. Speed and ability will be a focus.

San Francisco 49ers – Coby Fleener TE – Surprisingly, this would be the first TE taken, even after watching the duo of Hernandez and Gronkowski with their production. Vernon Davis is nowhere near the end of his production, but a complement would be great for the offensive attack, especially since they do not need to do anything to upgrade their defense. They will take a couple defensive players late to help find a couple backups.

New England Patriots – Fletcher Cox DT – Continuing to add to their defense, the line is important for stopping the run game that ranked last for yards allowed. Cox is the best DT available and would be great to allow them to compete in the playoffs again.

New York Giants – Mike Adams OT – The Giants barely made the playoffs and then won the Super Bowl. They were not perfect though, as their defense was inconsistent and they lost to the 5-11 Redskins twice. Protecting Manning will be the first focus. WR could be another spot, though they still have Cruz and Nicks.

Several teams will be forgotten in the first round, as they traded away their picks in previous years or lost them due to trades, but this is the prediction at the moment. There is a distinct possibility that some of this could change and trades could mess up the whole order, but that is the drama of the draft.

 

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