Before the mock draft begins, a quick word.
The 2012 draft is, in some ways, unlike any we’ve seen in quite some time. Two franchise-defining picks will be made at No. 1 and No. 2, with the Colts and Redskins all but certain to take quarterbacks there.
Everyone has heard about these players’ skill sets, so let me frame these picks in a different way. After Indianapolis selects Andrew Luck and Washington takes Robert Griffin III, this draft will be looked at in one of two ways.
The first way is this: Five years from now, everyone will be talking about the colossal mistakes these teams made to mortgage the present (in the case of the Colts and Peyton Manning) or the future (in the case of the Redskins and the draft picks they traded to move up to No. 2).
The second way is this: 10 years from now, the Colts and Redskins will be lauded for their risky decisions to alter the course of their franchises and select a QB with a first-round pick. They’ll be perennial playoff contenders at this point, and very likely will have won a Super Bowl or two.
That’s what these picks mean.
The second section of the draft is picks 3-22, or “The Murky Middle.” This is “The Murky Middle” because these picks are largely up in the air, with trade possibilities looming left and right (think Minnesota at No. 3, Jacksonville at No. 7 and the New York Jets at No. 16).
Alabama safety Mark Barron might be the most coveted prospect in the middle of the draft, with every team from No. 9 through No. 20 interested in him. It would not be surprising to see Dallas (14), Philadelphia (15) or the Jets (16) attempt to trade up to draft Barron. Don’t rule out Cincinnati (two first-round picks, Nos. 17 and 21) either.
Finally, the last section of the draft is “The Rich Get Richer,” or picks 23-32. The 2012 draft class has a lot of talent at the end of the first round, especially at the line of scrimmage. (This mock draft has seven linemen, offensive or defensive, in the final 10 picks of the first round.)
Plenty of pass rushers are available at the end of the first round, and as the New York Giants, the defending Super Bowl champions, have proved, you can never have enough pass rushers.
Now, on to the mock draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
2. Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
3. Minnesota Vikings – OL Matt Kalil, USC
4. Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DB Morris Claiborne, LSU
6. St. Louis Rams – WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma St.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – OL Riley Reiff, Iowa
8. Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
9. Carolina Panthers – DT Dontari Poe, Memphis
10. Buffalo Bills – WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
11. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
12. Seattle Seahawks – DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
13. Arizona Cardinals – OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford
14. Dallas Cowboys – S Mark Barron, Alabama
15. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi St.
16. New York Jets – DE Quentin Coples, North Carolina
17. Cincinnati Bengals – DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers – DB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
19. Chicago Bears – OL David DeCastro, Stanford
20. Tennessee Titans – DB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
21. Cincinnati Bengals – OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia
22. Cleveland Browns – WR Kendall Wright, Baylor
23. Detroit Lions – OT Mike Adams, Ohio St.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – DL Michael Brockers, LSU
25. Denver Broncos – DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan St.
26. Houston Texans – WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
27. New England Patriots – DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
28. Green Bay Packers – DL Chandler Jones, Syracuse
29. Baltimore Ravens – DE Nick Perry, USC
30. San Francisco 49ers – DB Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
31. New England Patriots – DT Devon Still, Penn St.
32. New York Giants – TE Coby Fleener, Stanford
If you were the Colts, would you take Luck or Griffin? And who do you think is going to be a late round steal? Let us know in the comments!