NFL Draft 2012
January 3, 2012 by staff
NFL Draft 2012, With the 2011 season over, the NFL now knows the selection order for the 2012 Draft’s first 20 picks. Forget who those picks will be; there’s still the question of which team will hold the picks when commissioner Roger Goodell opens the proceedings on April 28.
Trades will reorder the order, and it’s a good bet several of the top picks will be swapped.
For now, here is the selection order of the top 20 picks, determined by the regular season. The rest of the draft order will be set as teams are eliminated in the playoffs.
Who will be No. 1? It might not take a lucky guess to figure out which player gets the initial call. But there are four months of speculations, trials and surprises before we get to that point.
Included below are the projected selections by Sporting News draft expert Russ Lande. (* – denotes underclassman; ** – Coin toss at NFL Scouting Combine will determine order)
1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Andrew Luck*, QB, Stanford. The real question: Will Luck get to learn under Peyton Manning for a season or two, or will he take over the team as a rookie because Manning is no longer there?
2. St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Matt Kalil*, OT, Southern Cal. The Rams will most likely trade this pick to a team that wants Robert Griffin III. If they keep the pick, they will grab Kalil to shore up their offensive line and get blindside protection for Sam Bradford.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
Jonathan Martin*, OT, Stanford. Martin is not an aggressive blocker, but he is a top athlete with the feet and technique to protect Christian Ponder’s blind side for the next decade.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Robert Griffin III*, QB, Baylor. The Browns might have to trade up to get Griffin, but there is little doubt they want to find their quarterback of the future. Griffin will be the most athletically gifted quarterback to enter the NFL since Michael Vick-and he also has great touch on his deep throws.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Riley Reiff*, OT, Iowa. Josh Freeman struggled with inconsistency. For him to improve, the offensive line must do a better job. Reiff flashes greatness, though he doesn’t play at a high level consistently.
6. Washington Redskins (5-11)
Devon Still, DT, Penn State. The Redskins have many holes and would love to get a quarterback, but they’re not drafting high enough to have a shot at Luck or Griffin. Still can be productive playing end in the Redskins’ 3-4 scheme.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Dre Kirkpatrick*, CB, Alabama. Top corner Rashean Mathis is 31, missed the final seven games with a torn ACL and can become a free agent. Cornerbacks with Kirkpatrick’s size of 6-3, elite athleticism and ball skills are hard to find.
8t. Carolina Panthers (6-10) **
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina. Cam Newton was incredible as a rookie and made the offense dangerous. However, their defense was terrible. Coples could start opposite Charles Johnson and give the Panthers two high-end pass rushers.
8t. Miami Dolphins (6-10) **
Justin Blackmon*, WR, Oklahoma State. No matter who’s starting at quarterback, the team needs offensive weapons. Blackmon is an elite talent who can pull coverage away from Brandon Marshall.
If he leaves Oklahoma State early, wide receiver Justin Blackmon could be a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. (AP Photo)
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Donte Paige-Moss*, DE/OLB, North Carolina. The Bills would love to get an offensive tackle, but at this spot, the elite ones will be gone. Paige-Moss can play the rush linebacker position in the 3-4 defense and be an explosive edge pass rusher.
11t. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) **
Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina. Brown can get after the quarterback and would draw attention from Tamba Hali, the Chiefs’ only consistent pass rusher. Brown would fit at outside linebacker opposite Hali in the 3-4 scheme.
11t. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) **
Morris Claiborne*, CB, LSU. They get solid play from rookie Richard Sherman and former CFL player Brandon Browner, but they can’t pass up Claiborne. He is a good athlete with playmaking ability who would be the final piece in an excellent young secondary.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. After Early Doucet’s struggles, the team knows must find a weapon opposite Larry Fitzgerald for Kevin Kolb or John Skelton to be productive.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Brandon Thompson, DL, Clemson. The defense struggled because linemen couldn’t get off blocks and make plays. Thompson has the strength to anchor and can free himself and make tackles, plus he fits their 3-4 scheme.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
David DeCastro*, G, Stanford. Even after they took a guard in 2011′s first round, their offensive line had issues. DeCastro can start at guard or center as a rookie and upgrade their blocking.
16. New York Jets (8-8)
Trent Richardson*, RB, Alabama. Shonn Greene has not proved he can carry the load, and a strong rushing attack is vital for Mark Sanchez to develop. Richardson can slide to this spot because so many teams have more pressing needs than running back.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders) (8-8)
Mark Barron, S, Alabama. The Bengals have been hunting for an impact safety for years. Barron is the aggressive, hard hitter they have been seeking.
18. San Diego Chargers (8-8)
Nick Perry*, DE, Southern Cal. Their defense couldn’t make impact plays or create turnovers after Shawne Merriman’s decline. Perry can provide the edge pass rush that the is needed.
19. Chicago Bears (8-8)
Peter Konz*, C, Wisconsin. Jay Cutler took a beating. Konz is smart and versatile and should be able to start at either center or guard as a rookie.
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. The Titans have a lot of young talent in their front seven, but they must upgrade their secondary. Dennard is a sound, instinctive cornerback with excellent ball skills, which should enable him to quickly become a starter.
Picks 21-32 will be determined by when playoff teams lose. Note: The Browns hold the Atlanta Falcons’ first-round pick. The New England Patriots hold the New Orleans Saints’ first-round pick.
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