*This article was originally published on April 19, 2012, and since the first round of the draft is over, I will list the actual outcome with my analysis on the picks.*
I am an avid football fan. I grew up watching the Chiefs, and I still have the Brett Favre jersey from 4th grade in my closet. There’s a book full of football cards, the majority of which are Chiefs players. I love football season, but I hate when it ends. Thankfully, every April provides me with renewed enthusiasm, as the NFL Draft takes place.
Last year, I decided to do my own mock draft, which you can find here. I was mostly right, predicting what position the teams would draft. I realized that the better the team is, the harder it is to pick which player they will take. Hopefully, I can do better this time around. Without further ado…here are my picks for the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft, which you can watch on ESPN next Thursday.
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
This pick is a no brainer. Andrew Luck is by far one of the best QB talent to come to the league in years. With Peyton gone, they need a QB to start immediately. Luck could be their star QB for the next decade. He has a strong arm, good accuracy, mobility, and can read the field very well.
Their pick: Andrew Luck. No brainer. Luck is a strong passer in the pocket, but has mobility. The best part? He can start IMMEDIATELY.
- Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
There is no way they do not draft RGIII. After that INSANE deal they made with the Rams, they have to. They have a serious need at QB, as their starters last year looked like a couple of kids playing Pee Wee football. I’m still not sold on RGIII as a great QB, as I don’t know if he can transition to a more pro style offense.
Their pick: RGIII. This also was no surprise. RGIII brings a solid skill set becoming of a Heisman winner, but I’m still not sure if he’s worth what the Redskins gave up. He has the potential to play like Cam Newton, or even top that, but I need to see more before I declare him the next coming of Michael Vick.
- Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
This pick is also a given. They have arguably the best RB in the league, so giving him another blocker is ideal. He’s got good size, and is strong. He also seems to have a little bit of speed to him, for a linemen, anyway.
Their pick: Vikings trade with Cleveland, who drafts Trent Richardson. I had them doing that, but not trading up. The only reason they did that was to guarantee no one else could take him. He instantly gives their offense a boost, being skilled in both the run and pass game.
- Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
In all honesty, I think this pick will get traded, and someone will use it to get Ryan Tannehill. If that doesn’t happen, then the Browns NEED to draft a RB. Peyton Hillis is gone, and none of the other guys really stood out last season. Richardson is the best RB to come out to the draft since Adrian Peterson. Richardson can make smooth cuts, has good size, and can break tackles. He could be a workhorse by the end of the 1st season.
Their pick: Vikings take OT Matt Kalil. He is the best left tackle in the draft, and they need someone to protect Christian Ponder’s blind side. Great pick.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
I don’t want to be rude, but Tampa, you need this guy. Your secondary is TERRIBLE. The best player in your secondary is Ronde Barber, and he is 37 years old. You need help.
Their pick: Jacksonville trades with Tampa Bay, and uses this pick to take WR Justin Blackmon. Blackmon is a great WR with a lot of room to grow. Jacksonville has a terrible receiving corp. This is a great fit, and may actually make Blaine Gabbert look better. Blackmon, to me, looks like he could potentially be the next great slot WR, but it will be interesting to see how they use him.
- St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams are not as bad as they seem. They have a great young QB, a star RB, and a decent offensive line. What’s missing from that picture? Oh, someone for the QB to throw to! If they can just buy Bradford a WR corp this draft, it will be a vast improvement. They need to leave the first round with either Blackmon or Richardson in hand.
Their pick: They trade picks with Dallas, who drafts CB Morris Claiborne. Claiborne is a beast, and the addition of him and former Chief Brandon Carr instantly upgrades this secondary. Claiborne is a future number one corner, and is a ball hawk who will frustrate QBs for the next decade.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
They need more of a pass rush. Jeremy Mincey looks good, and with a strong complement of Ingram, that should help.
Their pick: Tampa Bay now has this pick, thanks to a Jacksonville trade. They use it on safety Mark Barron, the best safety prospect in the draft. He’s big and quick, and could be used similar to Troy Polamalu. But first, he needs to become better in pass coverage.
- Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Hi, Miami. It’s Ben. Look, I know you guys can play…but you need a new QB. You didn’t get Peyton, you didn’t get Flynn…you got…Garrard. Yeah. Draft Tannehill NOW before your fans burn down the stadium.
Their pick: They take Tannehill, finally getting a starting QB. He has great mobility and a good arm, and if they get him some receivers he should do well. This is definitely a reach, but at the same time, they need something. If they give him time to develop, they could have their next franchise QB.
- Carolina Panthers: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Panthers went for Cam Newton last year. This year, they focus on defense. Cox has been moving up the draft boards, but it would not surprise me if they went for a CB.
Their pick: They take LB Luke Kuechly. By adding him to their weak interior, they bolster themselves against offenses, and now have a strong LB corp. He looks strong in coverage, so that should be quite nice for them.
- Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Reiff has actually been moving down the boards a bit, but I still like him. He’s a strong guy, and they need to address their LT since Bell is gone. Their other choice will be a WR.
Their pick: They draft CB Stephon Gilmore, who is one of the top cover corners. Buffalo means to build a big and nasty defense, and they are off to a great start.
- Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The next two picks will be interchangeable. Whomever KC takes, Seattle will draft the other. KC has a need for 3 positions this draft: offensive line, defensive tackle, and inside linebacker. DeCastro is by far one of the best guard talents I have seen in a few years. With him, Branden Albert, Hudson, Winston, and Asamoah, they could have one of the strongest O-lines to take the field since the days of Weigmann, Waters, and Shields.
Their pick: They draft NT Dontari Poe. I initially hated this pick, but it does fill a HUGE GAP in their defense. If anyone can coach this kid to his true potential, it is Romeo Crennel. If he buys in to the plan, then he could fill the same role as Vince Wilfork does for the Patriots.
- Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Kuechly is a very smart linebacker. He has the skills, and he plays smart. I don’t think he has the potential to be a bruiser, but in the right situation, he could develop into a Mayo-esque player, and lead the NFL in tackles.
Their pick: They trade with Philadelphia, who uses this pick to take DT Fletcher Cox. Cox is a great pass rusher, and will provide great depth for the Eagles. He’s quick, and able to use that to get to the QB. If he can do well against the run, he will be a staple in that defense for years.
- Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
That’s right. A complement for Larry Fitzgerald. That’s scary. But don’t be surprised when they switch it up and take O-line.
Their pick: Correct! Combining him with Fitzgerald, and he has arguably the greatest tutor out there. He also has REALLY GOOD blocking technique, and will fight for the ball.
- Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, SS, AlabamaDallas, you are terrible at the safety position. Fix it. In all seriousness, Barron is a good addition to any team.
Their pick: They traded up to get Barron, so St. Louis uses this pick to take DT Michael Brockers. This should help improve their line, and he is ready to start immediately. They were terrible against the run, so I think this makes sense.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina
Why, you ask? Because I honestly can’t think of anything else they need to upgrade.
Their pick: Seattle takes this pick and uses it on LB Bruce Irvin. Irvin is a great pass rusher, but that’s his one trick. Irvin probably would’ve been available for them in the next round, so I think they jumped the gun on this guy.
- New York Jets: Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
Jets need more of a pass rush, and Jones excels at chasing down QBs. They might make a move for a safety, though. Maybe they could try Tebow on defense…
Their pick: They take DE Quinton Coples. Got the position right, but wrong name…I was so close!
- Cincinnati Bengals: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
The Bengals have big holes at the CB position, and Gilmore has been flying up the draft boards. Either him or Kirkpatrick will end up in Cincy. They also have a crush on Courtney Upshaw, so they may take him. Either way, they will draft a CB in the first, as they have another pick coming.
Their pick: They use this pick on Kirkpatrick. Good move. He has great size and a lot of fight in him. He’s not afraid to get physical.
- San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
San Diego needs help on defense, specifically on the pass rush. Upshaw is an immediate upgrade over whoever they have now.
Their pick: San Diego takes OLB Melvin Ingram. As a Chiefs fan, this makes me nervous. He is quick and strong, and is arguably one of the best pass rushers in the draft.
- Chicago Bears: Kendall Wright, WR/KR, Baylor
The Bears need weapons for Cutler, and Knox might not be able to take the field after that injury. Not sure just how much of the KR they’ll need, though.
Their pick: Chicago takes DE Shea McClellin. As a compliment to Peppers, I predict an improvement on the pass rush. Not a bad move, but probably available in the next round. I really thought McClellin was more of a OLB in a 3-4 than a 4-3 DE, but we’ll see what Chicago has in store.
- Tennessee Titans: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Someone has to take him, and Poe and Wimbley could be a dangerous duo. He has fallen quite a bit, because his game tape STINKS. I honestly believe that Brockers is the better of the two.
Their pick: WR Kendall Wright. He should fit in next to Kenny Britt next season as the slot receiver. Locker will love using his speed. That offense is going to have a lot of speed to it now.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
If they didn’t take a CB, or Upshaw is available, they go here. If not, they upgrade their line.
Their pick: They trade with New England, who uses it to draft DE Chandler Jones, who is an upgrade to that thing Bellicheck called a defense last year. He will probably play DE in the 4-3, and OLB in the 3-4. He is good against the run, and has a big frame. He may be exactly what they need.
- Cleveland Browns: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
If they’re going to take Richardson, nothing complements better than offensive line.
Their pick: QB Brandon Weeden. He’s ready to start, but is 28 years old. I don’t think he should have gone in the first round, and I’m not sure how much of an upgrade he is over Colt McCoy. I honestly believe this pick should have been used on offensive line or WR.
- Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Lions are set on the defensive line, now it’s time to bolster the secondary, and build the nastiest scrapping defense to take the field in years.
Their pick: They take OT Riley Reiff to add protection for Matt Stafford. He is solid in pass blocking, and great in run blocking. He’s tough, but I think a year or two on the sidelines would improve his potential by far.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
I truly wish the Chiefs would take this guy…but, here, have him, Pittsburgh. He could fill Farrior’s spot.
Their pick: They select OG David DeCastro. Man, he fell far from where I had him going. He is a great prospect, and should beef up that line for years to come. He also can play center if anything happens to Pouncey. This was a steal.
- Denver Broncos: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Broncos have NOBODY for their NT. So naturally, they take Brockers, who was also on my KC wishlist. I hate you, Denver. Hate.
Their pick: They trade with New England, who drafts Hightower. The Pats mean business on defense this year, and they officially have a stellar LB corp. Hightower is aggressive and can get to the ball, no matter where it is. He’s a smart player, quick, and BIG. I don’t want him to blitz me, ever.
- Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
If you get a great WR, then the opposing team has to cover them. Thus, either they bring in help to cover Andre Johnson and give up the pass rush, or they cover him with one man, which is stupid. Win-win.
Their pick: OLB Whitney Mercilus. They have players at this position, so this is just a case of taking the best talent possible. Rather than reaching for a WR, I think they made the right move.
- New England Patriots: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
Look, Belicheck! A pass rush! It’s within your grasp! Go, go, go! They need a lot of help on defense, and LB is the only real strong part.
Their pick: This is now Cincinnati’s pick, and they use it on OG Kevin Zeitler. I’m confused, as Cordy Glenn is still on the board. It may be a bit of a reach, but it does help their offense quite a bit. He needs work in the pass blocking area, but is a solid bet on run blocking.
- Green Bay Packers: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
They need help opposite of Clay Matthews. Instant fix.
Their pick: OLB Nick Perry. This is a solid pick, and he will flourish in that environment. He will need some time to develop, and will probably only be in on situational pass rushing schemes at first.
- Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
According to Peter King, they aren’t interested. Well, Mr. King, I say they should be. If they don’t go for him they take a WR.
Their pick: Minnesota trades with Baltimore to take safety Harrison Smith. Maybe not the best value, but it addresses a need for the Vikings. Instant upgrade to their secondary, but still not the best move, in my opinion.
- San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
I think everyone in the league is going to try the Patriots two TE scheme, and Fleener and Davis is just scary.
Their pick: WR A.J. Jenkins. I’m confused, because there are better options available, and he isn’t a top WR. He could surprise, though. Still, I say it’s a questionable move. He’s fast, but is small. He isn’t a fighter.
- New England Patriots: Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame
Yes! Belicheck, I give you a secondary, too! I can fix this defense, ladies and gentlemen. I can rebuild it, and make it better, stronger, and faster.
Their pick: New England trades to Denver, who trades to Tampa Bay. They take RB Doug Martin. Martin is quick, and can provide a great compliment to Blount. This guy can do it all: make the cuts, run, break tackles, and see the field. He one day may take the starting job from Blount.
- New York Giants: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Giants lost a tackle, and Eli needs protection. Martin fits the scheme. That being said, a WR could come into play, as Mario Manningham is no longer with the team.
Their pick: RB David Wilson. He can do it all. Between him and Ahmad Bradshaw, expect them to run the ball with more enthusiasm. A solid one-two punch. He does lack the vision to see the gaps every time, but that can improve with time.
I believe that there will be two trades this year in the first round, one involving Cleveland’s 4th and the other might be the Patriot’s 31st. Belicheck loves more draft picks.
Hopefully, I did a bit better than last time. Remember, the draft is Thursday, April 26th at 8 p.m., Eastern time. It should be aired on ESPN, but you can track it on espn.com or nfl.com. I hope you sports fans enjoyed this, and let me know your picks. Last and not least, go Chiefs!