Feb 26, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck stretches during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
How will the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft shake out on Thursday night?
I feel like I'm cheating a little bit. I had the opportunity on Wednesday morning to talk to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who I am required to call a guru. The man knows the draft arguably better than anyone else. On Wednesday night, I had the chance to talk to some of the players as well as NFL Films legend Greg Cosell. I don't know about the predictive value of my last 2012 NFL mock draft, but I am confident that it's at least a well-informed stab at how things will shake out on Thursday night.
1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
I used to wonder why Luck was so quiet, in terms of how much press he got. He speaks very candidly about filling some big shoes. "How do you replace a legend like Peyton," Luck said. It's clear he's at least up to the task, but why seek out the additional pressure?
Related Video: Andrew Luck Scouting Report
2. Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III, Baylor, QB
The only question here is what kind of socks RG3 will wear on stage.
Related Video: Robert Griffin III Scouting Report
3. Minnesota Vikings, Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Vikings will probably roll with Matt Kalil, who was very clear in his belief that he's a long-term player. There is a real sense out there that Claiborne could be the pick, given who they play against four times a year.
Related Video: Morris Claiborne Scouting Report
4. Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The silly world of constant speculation has devalued Blackmon's stock, only because he is not as high of an upside guy as last year's receivers in the draft. Whatever. He is still a good player. Cleveland is sticking with Colt McCoy this year, and Blackmon is a good pick for that offense.
Related Video: Justin Blackmon Scouting Report
5. New York Jets (via trade with Tampa Bay), Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
This is the hot rumor right now, that most people are buying as a very real possibility. He would certainly help Mark Sanchez, who is not a good quarterback. And what about the "devaluation" of the position? Cosell noted that phenomenon in the basement of the Waldorf, calling it a "philosophical abstraction." In his eyes, Richardson is a "special player" and will be a top pick in the draft.
Related Video: Trent Richardson Scouting Report
6. St. Louis Rams, Matt Kalil, OT, USC
If this is how the first five picks shake out, the Rams would be best advised to take Kalil. Will they? I don't know. Fisher has never picked an offensive lineman in the first round of he draft.
Related Video: Matt Kalil Scouting Report
7. Jacksonville Jaguars, Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram looks like a car dressed in street clothes, skin layered over a shaped bit of steel. The Jags would really like to trade down, but adding another pass rusher would benefit them.
Related Video: Melvin Ingram Scouting Report
8. Miami Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
I'm just not sure anyone is going to move up for Tannehill, at least not into the first five picks. He makes sense for Miami who can let him learn the ropes for a year or so.
Related Video: Ryan Tannehill Scouting Report
9. Carolina Panthers, Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Cox is the best defensive lineman in the draft. He plays inside, outside and helps a Carolina defensive line that struggled to stop many things coming through the middle.
Related Video: Fletcher Cox Scouting Report
10. Buffalo Bills, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Buffalo made a huge upgrade to its defense when it signed Mario Williams. Kuechly completes the picture nicely by giving Buffalo a solid wall behind the pass rushers.
Related Video: Luke Kuechly Scouting Report
11. Kansas City Chiefs, Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Full disclosure, I had dinner with Joel Thorman, our NFL editor and the head honcho at Arrowhead Pride. He sees the Chiefs drafting Barron to play with Eric Berry, who could roam the backfield. It would give them one of the best secondaries in the league.
Related Video: Mark Barron Scouting Report
12. Seattle Seahawks, Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
"A business." That's how Coples defined himself in the larger world of the NFL. Mayock said that he would not draft Coples in the first round, too many question marks between the tape and his explosion at the Senior Bowl. Seattle could take a chance, hoping that playing him on the outside of an already strong defensive line could work.
Related Video: Quinton Coples Scouting Report
13. Arizona Cardinals, David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
There's some late buzz about DeCastro playing right tackle. Maybe. Guards are pretty damn important too. Either way, the Cardinals could use him anywhere on their line.
Related Video: David DeCastro Scouting Report
14. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
Dallas is a candidate to move up with Barron in their sights. In this scenario they settle for Brockers, a mountain of a man loaded with talent needing some refining.
15. Philadelphia Eagles, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
If Kuechly is still on the board, Philly should take him. In this trip, he is not available, but a really good cornerback is. Asante Samuel is gone. DRC may be gone after this season, his last under contract. Gilmore now looks like the second-best corner in the draft.
Related Video: Stephon Gilmore Scouting Report
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via trade with New York Jets), Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
No Morris Claiborne, but a trade a down gives them a very good corner to replace Aqib Talib, who could be in jail or traded, and Ronde Barber, who has been working at safety in his twilight years.
Related Video: Dre Kirkpatrick Scouting Report
17. Cincinnati Bengals, Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Having a second receiver of Floyd's ilk could make the Bengals offense an embarrassment of riches. No more three-point games with the Steelers and Ravens; this pick could give Cincy the chance to put things away well before the fourth quarter rolls around.
18. San Diego Chargers, Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mercilus' one-year wonder status has many questioning whether or not he can make it in the NFL. The raw talent is there. Can the Chargers find a way to extract it?
19. Chicago Bears, Nick Perry, DE, USC
The Bears could go several directions here. Going with a pass rusher in the first round, something that would help considerably in the NFC North, is a smart move. Speaking of moves, Perry has them.
20. Tennessee Titans, Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
At Wednesday night's NFLPA event, Poe talked candidly about his fit, and his appreciation, for playing in a 4-3 defense. He can move up and down the line, and crash through to quarterbacks, who he enjoys harassing in the same inexplicable way your dog barks at the mailman every day.
21. Cincinnati Bengals, Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
Glenn could sneak up higher than this if teams really go on a run for linemen. He's a natural fit at guard, but he also has the makings of a left tackle. Either way, Cincinnati can use him to replace the inconsistent Nate Livings, who is now Dallas' problem.
Related Video: Cordy Glenn Scouting Report
22. Cleveland Browns, Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
By doubling down on Colt McCoy for another year, the Browns have to draft a running back. Martin can play all three downs and keep them in close games within the division.
23. Detroit Lions, Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
This is a good spot for Reiff, who can learn the ropes and step in for an aging Jeff Backus. He might beat out Gosder Cherilus in August.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers, Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Kuechly and Hightower rank well above the other linebackers in the draft, non-pass rusher category. He has some ability as a pass rusher, and will fit nicely on the strong side there.
25. Denver Broncos, Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Peyton Manning had Dallas Clark for all those years in Indianapolis. He'll be making the pick for Denver this year. Adding a seam stretching tight end like Fleener gives the Denver offense another dimension. Joel Dressen cannot do what Fleener does as a receiver.
26. Houston Texans, Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Houston adds another big man to Andre Johnson's other side. Hill may not have the route savvy of other receivers, but he can catch a fade and a jump ball just fine.
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans), Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
This week marks the first time McClellin has been to New York City, leaving is hometown of about 1,000 residents He might want to get used to the city, considering he could play here and add to the indignities the Patriots heap upon the Jets each season.
28. Green Bay Packers, Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan State
I've said it before, Green Bay's defensive line needs help, help against the run, help in getting to the passer. Worthy is not high on the list of technocrats banging out mock drafts six days a week, but he has the raw ability to make a difference in the trenches.
29. Baltimore Ravens, Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
I'm taking Zeitler over Konz because he fills an immediate need for a team that lost Ben Grubbs. Zeitler may be the best run blocker in the draft, a ready-made starter from day one.
30. San Francisco 49ers, Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State
The 49ers did not address a need on the inside of their line in free agency, as many expected them to do. Word on the street is the Silatolu is getting strong consideration from the 49ers, who may have to reach just to assure themselves of a day-one starter.
31. New England Patriots, Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
A late entrant that Mayock has turned the world onto, the Patriots are not afraid of reaching for a pick, or at least what some may consider a reach. Belichick will probably trade, one direction or another, but he has to add a safety.
32. New York Giants, Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Giants were fine with some temporary answers on their offensive line last season; that's why Jerry Reese is picking this spot. Martin fills a big need, and matches well with their draft spot.
Related Video: Jonathan Martin Scouting Report