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There will be very little drama with the Washington Redskins first round pick because there's a 99.9 percent chance they'll be taking Baylor's Robert Griffin III, according to the head coach himself, Mike Shanahan. SB Nation's Redskins blog, Hogs Haven, projects RGIII (duh) with the Redskins first round pick, and possibly a cornerback after that.
Well, it's quite obvious the Redskins are going to take Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall. I received a tip from a solid source that the Redskins are extremely high on Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward, who the Shanahans coached in the Senior Bowl this year. The Redskins don't have a 2nd round pick, but Hayward is a 3rd round projection and would fill a massive hole at the cornerback position. Right now the Redskins only have two serviceable CBs (DeAngelo and Josh Wilson), which will not fly in the heavy-passing NFL that regularly uses three receiver sets.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in an interesting spot with the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. They could have both Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne available to them and both would fill a need. SB Nation's Bucs blog, Bucs Nation, predicts the Bucs will take LSU's Morris Claiborne if he's available at No. 5.
Morris Claiborne. The Bucs need long-term stability at cornerback, he's the top ranked cornerback and one of the elite players in the draft, and he's likely to be available. The Bucs could also select Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil, if Claiborne isn't there - but the LSU cornerback is likely to be their first choice.
The St. Louis Rams traded away the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft to the Washington Redskins so they're sitting pretty with the sixth overall pick and the Redskins first round pick in the next two drafts. They're capable of doing just about anything in the NFL draft and SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times, thinks Trent Richardson has to be the pick if he's available (which he probably won't be).
For the Rams, it all depends on which players are available, since several at the top of the board would fill huge needs. If Trent Richardson is there, they will pick him. Jeff Fisher has never shied away from running backs in the first round, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been clear about the need for a run-heavy approach to get Bradford reacclimated with the game.
The Seattle Seahawks are picking 12th in the 2012 NFL draft and mock drafts have them looking at several different pass rushers. It's also possible they consider Ryan Tannehill, but he's unlikely to fall that far. SB Nation's Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, predicts the Seahawks will target one of three pass rushers.
The general consensus out there right now is that the team will likely decide between DE/LBs Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, and DE/DT Quinton Coples at No. 12, depending on who falls to that spot and what happens at picks 1-11. If Trent Richardson is there at No. 12, I could see them being very, very tempted to take him, but in all likelihood, I would wager the Hawks will take a rush specialist. Right now - it's a pretty close race between the three I mentioned above, but I'm leaning toward Alabama's Courtney Upshaw. He's got the toughness, versatility, and attitude that the team likes, and he'd be an impact player in his rookie year.
The San Francisco 49ers were in the NFC Championship game last season which means they're drafting at the end of the first round in the 2012 NFL draft. The 49ers don't have a ton of needs -- their roster is solid overall -- but many mock drafts have them targeting a receiver. SB Nation's 49ers blog, Niners Nation, predicts the 49ers will select WR Stephen Hill or G Kevin Zeitler.
Right now I tend to think WR Stephen Hill or OG Kevin Zeitler is the pick for the 49ers. Coby Fleener has been the popular pick, but with long-term needs at wide receiver and the interior of the offensive line, I think there is a strong chance they go with Hill or Zeitler. For the people convinced Coach Harbaugh wants Coby Fleener, Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have often surprised people with their decisions, which seem to go against the expected notion.
The San Diego Chargers hold the 18th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and predictions have them targeting pass rushers and defensive backs. SB Nation's Chargers blog, Bolts from the Blue, thinks they'll end up taking Mark Barron out of Alabama, if he's available.
Mark Barron, SS from Alabama. The Chargers' biggest weakness since Shawne Merriman's knee was destroyed by the Tennessee Titans has been the lack of a consistent pass-rush and/or an elite pass-rusher. Their second biggest weakness has been at SS, where they've filled the role with role players and career backups since releasing Rodney Harrison in 2003. Barron would fill that hole and form a strong backup to the defense along with Eric Weddle.
The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the wild cards in the 2012 NFL draft as Andy Reid and Co. often make surprising decisions around draft time. The Eagles are picking 15th this year and seemed primed to pick a defensive player. Absent a trade up, SB Nation's Bleeding Green Nation predicts the Eagles will take Fletcher Cox if he falls.
Given Andy Reid's penchant for taking lineman high and considering how good the DT class is (by the way, Reid has drafted more first round defensive tackles than any other position), I think they'll look hard at that position. If Fletcher Cox is there at No. 15, he could certainly be the guy.
The Oakland Raiders do not have a pick in the 2012 NFL draft until the third round due to trades in previous years so they won't be mentioned much in the first night of the draft.
SB Nation's Silver And Black Pride takes their best guess at what the Raiders will do.
The Raiders don't have a pick until their third round compensatory selection (pick No. 95). No other team in the draft has their first pick later than the Raiders. General manager Reggie McKenzie said the team will not be picking based on need but rather "best player available". I don't completely believe that. I believe it will be best player at one of the need positions. But they won't limit themselves to the best player at their highest need so it is difficult to predict that late in the draft. Add to it that we are dealing with an entire new front office and coaching staff implementing a new system and we have no tendencies to base our predictions. Al Davis was much easier: speed, speed, and more speed.
The New England Patriots hold two first round picks in the 2012 NFL draft -- No. 27 and No. 31. Many people think it's a sure thing that they'll trade at least one of those picks, as Bill Belichick trades more than most team executives. A trade is the prediction SB Nation's Patriots blog, Pats Pulpit, makes.
I believe that the Patriots will either move up or out in the first round. Having two first round picks is a luxury, and I see more depth from 40-60 than I do near the end of the first round. Therefore, I see one of two scenarios. First, I think the team could use one of their first round picks, targeting a front seven player such as Clemson's Andre Branch, then trading out of the other 1st round spot. Or, I could see the team packaging one of the first round picks and moving up to the 15-20 area and getting a player such as Alabama's Courtney Upshaw or LSU's Michael Brockers. Or, you know, Bill Belichick could surprise us all and actually use both first round picks.
The New Orleans Saints don't have a first round pick in the 2012 NFL draft due to a draft day trade back in the 2011 NFL draft. They don't have a second round pick due to the bounty scandal, which means they're not picking until day two of the NFL draft.
SB Nation's Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles, says, because of that, it's nearly impossible to predict who the Saints first pick will be.
The Saints are in the unique position of not having a draft pick until the third round. That being the case, I think it's nearly impossible and a bit silly to think I can predict who the team will take that late. But I will say I think the Saints will probably attempt to target a cornerback, or at least a defensive back.
The Miami Dolphins hold the 8th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and by far the player most often connected to them is Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill. He's expected to be the third quarterback off the board behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
SB Nation's Dolphins blog, The Phinsider, predicts the Dolphins will indeed take Tannehill.
I think the Dolphins can't afford to pass on him. They need a quarterback. It's either draft Tannehill, who knows offensive coordinator Mike Sherman's offense since Sherman was the head coach for Tannehill at Texas A&M, and have him sit for a year, or don't draft a quarterback, and wait until next year. Either way, the Dolphins aren't getting a rookie to be the starter this year.
Tannehill has a ton of upside. Some people worry because he is shooting up the draft boards, which could be seen as reaction to a down quarterback class, and to some degree, they may be right. But, if the Dolphins like him at pick eight, then I don't think it's really reach of they take the guy they want.
The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the 7th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and they've made it known that the pick is for sale. The Jaguars want to trade down and they may have an opportunity to if someone is looking to leap the Dolphins and take Ryan Tannehill.
SB Nation's Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country, predicts the Jags will
I believe the Jacksonville Jaguars will try as hard as they can to move down in the first round of the NFL Draft, but if the team is stuck at No. 7 I think they wind up picking either the best offensive tackle on the board or the best cornerback on the board.
That offensive tackle could Matt Kalil, the top offensive tackle in the draft, if he falls to the 7th pick.
The Houston Texans are picking the 26th in the 2012 NFL draft and it's hard to pinpoint exactly who they'll take because so many things can (and will) happen in the 25 picks before them. SB Nation's Texans blog, Battle Red Blog, has a number of predictions on the Texans first round pick, but admits they're not completely sure who it'll be.
I honestly have no clue. There are so many things that can happen before the 26th pick. I do, however, think the following players are candidates if they're still available when the Texans go on the clock: Kendall Wright, Whitney Mercilus, Nick Perry, and/or Reuben Randle. As long as it's not Amobi Okoye, I won't freak out too much.
The Green Bay Packers went 15-1 during the regular season which means they're drafting at the end of the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. The Packers have been connected to pass rushers to pair opposite Clay Matthews and SB Nation's Packers blog, Acme Packing Company, predicts they'll take Andre Branch with their first round pick.
Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson: Branch fills the team's need for a pass rushing threat opposite Clay Matthews. He's likely to still be available at No. 28 overall and he's looked more ready to play standing up than another popular choice for the Packers at this spot, Nick Perry.
The Detroit Lions are heading into the 2012 NFL draft with surprisingly few needs. The Lions are a young team with lots of solid starters across the board. One area the Lions could improve is at cornerback, which is why SB Nation's Lions blog, Pride of Detroit, predicts the Lions select a cornerback in the first round of Thursday's draft.
The Lions can be tough to get a read on because they abide by the best player available motto. As we saw last year when they picked Nick Fairley, they will go with adding talent to already strong positions rather than reaching to fill a need. Even so, this year seems like the time to draft a cornerback in the first round. There is a lot of talent at cornerback, and it's expected that at least one of Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins and Stephon Gilmore will be available when they go on the clock with the 23rd overall pick. Any of the three players would serve as big upgrade to the Lions' pass defense.
The Dallas Cowboys are often connected to Memphis DT Dontari Poe and Alabama S Mark Barron in 2012 NFL draft rumors. SB Nation's Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys, thinks the Cowboys will ultimately pick Poe.
Blogging The Boys explains the prediction:
I think Dallas will go with Memphis NT Dontari Poe, as the reports emerged this week. Dallas is always horrible at hiding their draft plans, although they have thrown some smoke screens in the past. Adding the uber-athletic Poe, who will command double-teams, to Jay Ratliff and Sean Lissemore means DeMarcus Ware will get a lot of tight end action for 2012 and could be in search of another 20 sack season. Poe's measurables are without question, we just haven't seen it translate into dominance on tape. This means that Dallas is taking a flyer that Rob Ryan, Brian Baker and Leon Lett can get out of him what Memphis coaches couldn't (I'd agree). 6'4", 346 lbs and runs faster than linebackers and tight ends while out bench pressing his entire d-line group at the combine. Can't teach that. I might think that there are better picks out there, but this is the direction I think Dallas is leaning.
The Denver Broncos are usually connected to defensive players, like defensive tackles, in the 2012 NFL draft. SB Nation's Broncos blog, Mile High Report, has a bit of a wild card for their prediction -- Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill. With Peyton Manning in the fold, this could make sense.
Mile High Report explains the prediction:
I really don't know a single guy to predict for the Broncos in the first round, seeing as there are so many different options. Since I can't settle on a defensive tackle that will be available and presents great value, I'll go with a wildcard selection that has been thrown around: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech. The Broncos have two young, good receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, and their biggest acquisition was obviously Peyton Manning. Surrounding him with elite talent should be priority number one, since this is a deep defensive tackle draft as well, and the Broncos really need to be more worried about putting a lot of points on the board than stopping the run, since that is the name of the game. Hill would give the Broncos a ton of offensive firepower and allow Manning to work his magic with some elite talent.
The Cleveland Browns are in an interesting position in the 2012 NFL draft because they hold two first round picks -- No. 4 and 22. They can do a lot of things with those picks but most have them eyeing Trent Richardson, Ryan Tannehill or Justin Blackmon with the fourth overall pick. SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, predicts Blackmon and a right tackle with their second first round pick.
SB Nation's Dawgs By Nature writes:
The Browns currently hold the No. 4 and No. 22 picks in the first round. My prediction is that the team will try to go with a wide receiver and a right tackle. If that is the case, then the most likely combination is one that includes wide receiver Justin Blackmon and right tackle Mike Adams. These picks would address the team's two biggest needs on offense and would allow the front office to take some risks on some more finesse players throughout the rest of the draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals are often connected to cornerbacks in the 2012 NFL draft which is why it's no surprise that SB Nation's Bengals blog, Cincy Jungle, predicts the Bengals to select either Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina or Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama.
SB Nation's Cincy Jungle writes:
Generally speaking we're looking at either at Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina or Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for cornerback and David DeCastro at guard - if he's not there then possibly Cordy Glenn.
The Bengals have two first round picks so this is a very realistic look at what they could at No. 17 and 21. They could even more up, or down, in the draft.
The Carolina Panthers hold the ninth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and most mock drafts have them taking a defensive lineman. That's what SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, is thinking with the ninth pick as we.. CSC writes that a defensive end or a defensive tackle is the most likely pick.
I'll be very surprised if the Panthers don't take a DE or a DT. The only other option would be if somehow WR Justin Blackmon slipped to #9 or possibly CB Morris Claiborne. Short of those two I'm thinking DE Quinton Coples if the Jaguars pass on him or a DT like Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers. WR Michael Floyd is a long shot. I think LB Luke Kuechly is the type of impact player Rivera would love at LB. There's not much things harder to predict than what the Panthers will do in the 1st round; unless they have the No. 1 overall as they did last draft.
The Buffalo Bills are picking 10th in the 2012 NFL draft and they can go in a bunch of different directions, including linebacker, offensive line or receiver. SB Nation's Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, opts for the latter of the three and predicts the Bills will select Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd.
You could ask your grandmother this same question and be just as likely to get the correct answer. This is not a draft class that's particularly top-heavy on talent, and the Bills are in a spot where they're likely going to want to trade down, if possible, to maximize value. If they're stuck at No. 10 overall, right now, the most likely option seems to be Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, but there are at least a dozen guys that would make sense for the team.
The Baltimore Ravens are one of the best NFL teams on an annual basis because they always draft well. You could make an argument that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens are the best drafting team over the last decade. With that, SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, expects the Ravens to go BPA -- best player available.
I fully expect Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome to look for the BPA (Best Player Available) even if that means trading up or down to get him. If they stay where they are, I would expect them to go offensive line and more specifically, someone to fill the left guard slot. However, in Baltimore we say, "In Oz WE Trust," so whatever he does will work for us fans.
Center Peter Konz has been discussed and he would make sense at the end of the first round. A guard could also be a possibility, depending on who's on the board.
The Arizona Cardinals are picking 13th in the 2012 NFL mock draft and they can go a number of directions, depending on who falls to them. SB Nation's Cardinals blog, Revenge of the Birds, has them looking at the offensive line, only if Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd isn't there.
Revenge of the Birds' prediction for the Cardinals:
I think the Cardinals go with Michael Floyd if he falls that far. If not, it will be one of the offensive linemen -- Jonathan Martin, Riley Reiff, Cordy Glenn or David DeCastro.
Teaming Floyd with Larry Fitzgerald could potentially make the Cardinals one of the more dangerous offenses in the NFL.
The Minnesota Vikings hold the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and mock drafts have consistently linked them to Matt Kalil, the top offensive tackle in the draft. Lately, other NFL draft rumors have been connecting them with Morris Claiborne, cornerback out of LSU.
The official pre-draft prediction from SB Nation's Vikings blog, Daily Norseman, is Kalil.
The Vikings have been linked to Matt Kalil for what seems like forever, and with good reason. He fits one of the Vikings' main positions of need, and in my opinion he's the best non-quarterback in this year's draft. The team may also be considering Morris Claiborne or Justin Blackmon at this spot, but the drop-off between Kalil and the next best offensive tackle is much larger than the drop between Claiborne and the next best corner or Blackmon and the next best receiver. The corner and receiver groups in this draft are deeper than the tackle group, and that's why Kalil makes the most sense to me at #3.
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