Even before the 2011 season started, there was talk about the 2012 rookie draft. Now that Super Bowl XVI is over, it’s still too early to guess accurately what the picks will be. The combine hasn’t taken place yet and free agency kicks off a month from now, which will have a huge impact on who teams will draft. For example, the Dolphins won’t draft a QB because they’ll sign Matt Flynn in free agency. What we do know is the draft order, the needs of each organization, and the fun of guessing/arguing about who is going to be drafted and realizing in the end that everyone was wrong (see Cam Newton). So without further ado, here is my way too far in advance mock 2012 draft.
1st Pick, Indianapolis Colt; Andrew Luck, QB, USC:
Jim Irsay is in a PR war right now to make it look like he’s making the right decisions in cutting Peyton Manning and drafting Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck is a once in a decade talent and the Colts would be ill advised to pass on him.
2nd Pick, Cleveland Browns; Robert Griffen III, QB, Baylor:
The #2 overall pick obviously belongs to the Rams, but the Browns will trade up for this pick. RG3 would be a #1 pick in any year other than the year Andrew Luck is getting drafted. He is a hybrid of Cam Newton’s strength, Michael Vick’s speed, and Donavan McNabb’s class. For this type of talent, many teams will be attempting to trade up to where the Rams want to trade out of. Jeff Fisher already has his franchise QB in Sam Bradford, while the Browns, Redskins, and Dolphins are still looking for theirs. In the end, the Browns will trade for this pick because they have two first round picks to negotiate.
3rd Pick, Minnesota Vikings; Moris Claiborne, CB, LSU:
The Vikings take Claiborne here much like the Cardinals took Patrick Peterson last year. With an aging Antoine Winfield coming off an injury plagued season and a secondary that got burned all year, the Vikings need a corner that can make plays when the ball gets thrown his way. Don’t forget, they’re in a division where they have to play Aaron Rodgers twice a year and Jared can’t win the game by himself. Keep in mind though that they also play Calvin Johnson twice and may take Kirkpatrick from ‘Bama because of his size.
4th Pick, St. Louis Rams; Matt Kalil, OT, USC:
Obviously the Rams traded down to this spot with the Browns. This pick seems almost as much of a no brainer as the Colts picking Andrew Luck. We’re talking about the worst offensive line I’ve seen in the last decade here. Matt Kalil will bring some stability to an atrocious unit that got more quarterbacks injured than there were fans in the Bengals stadium in week 17.
5th Pick, Tampa Bay Buccanears; Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama:
The jury is still out on who the better cornerback is: Claiborne or Kirkpatrick? I think Claiborne is, which bodes well for Tampa considering their division. They have to get past the Saints and Falcons in the NFC South in hopes of getting to the playoffs and need to shut down two explosive offenses to accomplish that. Dre is a big physical corner and can play with the likes of Marques Colston and Roddy White. Ronde Barber is close to being done and Aqib Talib is running for election as Bubba’s blow up doll in the local prison, so the Bucs need a future at corner.
6th Pick, Washington Redskins; Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:
I’m not predicting this based off of need ,logic, or anything else that a normal human being might use a decision point. A normal human being would probably take Justin Blackmon here to help his horrid quarterbacks or trade his whole draft class to get RG3, but the Shanahanigans never cease. Even with Roy Helu in the backfield, Mike knows that Trent is the next Adrian Peterson. Much like Jim Irsay wants his next Peyton Manning, Shanahan has been waiting a long time for his next Terrell Davis.
7th Pick, Jacksonville Jaguars; Justin Blackmon, WR, OK State:
I know that most are predicting Blackmon to go top 5, and he is surely a top 5 talent, but it’s getting more and more obvious that you can get a Greg Jennings type talent in the second round. The Jaguars have gone too long without a premiere threat at receiver and fate will make him drop to #7. The Jags passing offense was embarrassing last year and I’m praying they get some help. The Bucs and Skins will take a long look at him too, but in the end he’s working for the mustached one.
8th Pick, Carolina Panthers; Quinton Coples, DE, UNC:
As a Charlotte native, the Panthers stay close to my heart even though they’re not my favorite team. That’s why it pains me to say that this is one of the worst defenses I’ve seen in a while. 28th in yards, 27th in points allowed, and 25th in sacks. They need to be able to generate a pass rush and get some pressure in the backfield. Coples will be the next great North Carolina native DE in a Panthers uniform since Julius Peppers.
9th Pick, Miami Dolphins; Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa:
There are debates as to whether Reiff or Kalil are the top lineman in the draft. With that kind of talent available, the Dolphins need to shore up the 3rd worst offensive line when it comes to protecting the quarterback. QB’s don’t generally get injured, because they should be cheerleading and not playing football (Exception: see Jay Cutler). They get injured because someone missed an assignment, ask Chad Henne or Sam Bradford for that matter. Joe Philbin doesn’t want to bring Matt Flynn to Miami to retire early, so he needs to protect him with a bookend tackle to play opposite Jake Long.
10th Pick, Buffalo Bills; Melvin Ingram, DE/LB, South Carolina:
The Bills were one sack away from being tied for second worst in the NFL with the Titans. Ingram is a hybrid defender that can play end in a 4-3 or LB in a 3-4 fitting perfectly into Chan Gaileys defense and the gameplan to beat Brady. If the Bills hope to win the AFC east, it goes through Brady and they need to get pressure on him to do it. Ingram will help with that.