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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Day 1 Edition

Brian Spurlock-USA Today

1983 was the year of the quarterback.  Nearly 30 years later, a Stanford Cardinal quarterback is destined to be drafted by the Indianapolis Colts once again.  This time, the Colts will keep the Stanford quarterback rather than trading him on draft day. Similar to the 1983 NFL Draft, I also have six quarterbacks going in the first round of this especially insane 2012 NFL Mock Draft Finale.

LSU Tigers cornerback Morris Claiborne led the Tigers to a 13-0 regular season start before losing the BCS Title game to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Claiborne has been consistent over the last two seasons and can be a lockdown man-coverage cornerback in the NFL.

Claiborne has been consistent, dominating his pro day. Adding Claiborne would really help out a team that is looking for that core component piece on secondary.

Pro Football Talk has this cool “craigslist” of draft prospects that attended individual workouts for all 32 NFL teams. It lists players that teams have been conducting individual workouts with for all 32 NFL teams. I am going to make some bold, gutsy picks in the final mock draft just for fun and pure speculation, ending my final mock draft with a huge bang.

If you exclude free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft, this will be the fifth and final mock draft. I wanted to take individual workouts into account while addressing critical team needs, draft day sliders, reaches and blockbuster trades, and put them all into one epic first round.

Feel free to check out the 2012 Rant Sports Mock Draft. It features in-depth coverage from other top writers about who their teams should take.

1. Indianapolis: Luck, Quarterback, Stanford, Junior Redshirt

The Colts are going to take Stanford phenom Luck.  This is a formality at this point.  You began to hear about how good Luck was as early as Oct. 2010. Now it’s at the point where you’re tired of hearing about it if you have never seen Luck play.

2. Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor Bears, Junior Redshirt

The Redskins would not have given up so many first-round picks unless they were going to take an immediate starter at quarterback. Baylor candidate Griffin III defeats incumbent Rex Grossman in the real election that decides who will be the field general in the Nation’s Capital.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU, Junior

The Vikings will take Claiborne here because they do not like the other corners after Claiborne, including Dre Kirkpatrick. The other reason adding Claiborne helps is because the Vikings can move Antoine Winfield to a boundary cornerback role while having Chris Cook, Chris Carr, and Zachary Bowman duel for the nickel job during training camp.

Minnesota does like Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff and Mike Adams at offensive tackle.  The Vikings are not fans of Jonathan Martin.  Minnesota would probably take Adams in the first round.

Besides Justin Blackmon, Minnesota likes Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill, Nick Toon and Brian Quick at wide receiver.  However, the Vikings will take a cornerback with this pick.

4. Cleveland Browns: Kalil, Right Tackle, USC Trojans, Junior Redshirt

There are three players Cleveland probably loves: Kalil, Trent Richardson, and Ryan Tannehill. I think Cleveland likes Brandon Weeden better than Blackmon, his former teammate, because Blackmon has cussed throughout the draft process.

This narrows the pick down to Kalil and Richardson. Cleveland takes the best player available, which is Kalil, and makes him a bookend to Joe Thomas. If any NFL team took a right tackle in the top five and paid him left tackle money, I think we can all agree that team would be Cleveland.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Richardson, Running Back, Alabama, Junior

Tampa Bay loves Richardson.  If Richardson is there at no. 5 and Claiborne is gone, then Mark Dominick will get fined for “draft gate” by rushing up to the draft podium like Sonic the Hedgehog for doing an imitation of Richardson.

With Richardson, Tampa Bay has a run-first offense that they can use to open up the passing game for Josh Freeman.

6. St. Louis (from Washington): Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Junior Redshirt

The Rams love Blackmon. Blackmon should be the pick for the Rams if he’s not off the board at no. 6, even though I see a secondary receiver in the mold of Braylon Edwards, at best.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (from Jacksonville Jaguars): Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M Aggies, Senior Redshirt

The Eagles addressed most of their needs in free agency and sort of have the luxury of going with the best player available. I think the Eagles should try to groom a quarterback for the future when Michael Vick leaves. Coach Andy Reid loves lowballing teams with crappy trade offers. Reid offers Jacksonville the 15th pick, the 46th pick, and the 200th overall pick, a sixth-round pick from the New England Patriots for the seventh overall pick. The Jaguars seventh pick is worth 1,500 points on the trade value chart.  The 15th and 46th picks are worth 1,490 points.  The 200th pick is worth around 10 points on the trade value chart. Since the deal adds up on the trade value chart, the Eagles move up to select Tannehill.

The Eagles decide to get a quarterback for the future in case Vick does not step up.  Vick would be the immediate starter due to his salary.  When Vick gets injured, Tannehill gets his chance to claim the starting quarterback job.

8. Miami Dolphins: Brock Osweiler, Quarterback, Arizona State Sun Devils, Junior

I like Osweiler a lot more than Tannehill.

Besides Tannehill, Miami is also very high on Osweiler at quarterback.  Sometimes teams reach for quarterbacks, that’s the nature of the NFL Draft whether you like it or not.  Miami’s new regime may panic and take Osweiler in round 1 if their primary quarterback option, Tannehill, is off the board. 2012′s quarterback draft class is much stronger than 2011′s quarterback draft class.  That class had four quarterbacks go in the top 12; this class could have someone go in the top 10 if a team moves up for Tannehill.

Miami needs a developmental quarterback behind Matt Moore and David Garrard for one or two seasons because the supporting cast is not in place. Miami lacks a right tackle, two main wide receivers, and a secondary tight end.

Miami needs to be patient and let Osweiler learn the playbook while building their team around him before throwing him into the fire.

As Miami reaches for Osweiler, die-hard Dolphins fan Daniel Tosh expresses his feelings about the pick by chucking a medicine ball at an HDTV on draft night in an epic web redemption.

9. Carolina Panthers: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina Gamecocks, Junior

The Panthers have a huge, glaring need at cornerback. Chris Gamble would be much better as a boundary cornerback while Captain Munneryln would be inserted into a nickel role.

Carolina visited the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Baylor pro days. Both Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright are promising. Carolina likes Gilmore more because of his upside in a weak cornerback class.

I think Gilmore could actually end up having more long term potential than LSU’s Morris Claiborne. If the speculation about the Bills liking Gilmore is true, then Carolina should strongly consider Gilmore with the no. 9 pick.

10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Adams, Left Tackle, Ohio State Buckeyes, Senior

The Bills have reached for players in years past during the NFL Draft. After giving Bills fans so much false hope with promising free agent signings, Bills GM Buddy Nix decides to reach for Adams at no. 10 overall, knowing he’s royally robbing loyal Bills fans of their taxpayer dollars.

11. New England (from Kansas City Chiefs): Melvin Ingram, Right End, South Carolina, Senior Redshirt

Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli were colleagues in Cleveland and New England. New England loves Ingram. The Patriots decide to deal the 27th and 31st overall picks to Kansas City to move up to no. 11.

Besides Tannehill, the Chiefs like quarterback Kirk Cousins as a developmental project. Cousins makes a lot of sense because he has the intangibles; plus, you can keep him on the bench until Matt Cassel’s contract runs out in 2014.

Ingram can play anywhere on a 4-3 defensive line and can play anywhere at linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.  Ingram is a 6-foot-2, 276-pound versatile player.  As long as New England is running the 4-3 scheme, Ingram can be the face of their pass-rushing defense.

Ingram is also an effective run stuffer. I sort of feel like Belichick robbed Pioli of his dignity with this blockbuster trade.  Instead of trading down, New England opts to trade up for the top pass rusher according to most in the 2012 NFL Draft.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, Right End, North Carolina Tar Heels, Senior

Pete Carroll has a man-crush on Coples as an NFL prospect; Coples is not falling past Seattle. I think Coples could be a steal for Seattle at no. 12.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame, Senior

The Cardinals tend to ignore need and take the best player available on their draft board.  Larry Fitzgerald wants Floyd on the Cardinals.  I also believe Floyd will be the top player on their board if he is available.  Arizona adds Floyd to create a deadly wide receiver tandem that can get open quickly, even with shaky left-tackle play. I see flashes of a younger Tim Brown with Floyd.  Floyd can become the most complete wide receiver in this draft if he stays out of trouble off the field.

14. Minnesota (from Dallas Cowboys): Reiff, Left Tackle, Iowa Hawkeyes, Junior Redshirt

The Cowboys brought in Michael Brockers for a workout. Despite what the Cowboys front office thinks, I believe Jerry Jones prefers the NFL Combine super-freak nose tackle Dontari Poe from the Memphis Tigers over LSU nose tackle Brockers.

Minnesota loves three offensive tackles: Kalil, Reiff, and Adams. Thanks to Buffalo reaching for Adams at no. 10, Rick Spielman saves face by prematurely dealing a 2013 first-round pick and a 2012 third-round pick to the Cowboys after passing on Kalil for Claiborne. Minnesota can take a wide receiver like Jeffery, Hill, Toon, or Quick in the second round to finalize their last main need at wide receiver.

The 2013 NFL Draft is stacked at nose tackle with three first rounders: Ohio State’s Jonathan Hankins, Georgia Bulldogs’ Kwame Geathers, and Utah Utes’ Star Lotuleilei. Odds are Dallas can take one of these players with two 2013 first-round picks.

The other plus to Dallas getting this 2013 first-round pick is they can end up with a quarterback like Tennessee Volunteers’ Tyler Bray, Arkansas Razorbacks’ Tyler Wilson, Kansas State Wildcats’ Collin Klein,who I believe becomes next year’s Blaine Gabbert, USC’s Matt Barkley, or Georgia’s Aaron Murray.

15. Jacksonville (from Philadelphia): Wright, Wide Receiver, Baylor, Senior

The Jaguars brought in Lee Evans as a short-term plan to be Gabbert’s primary target. Jacksonville also signed Laurent Robinson to a 5-year deal.  Neither Evans nor Robinson satisfy Jacksonville fans as a long term no. 1 target. Evans was Mike Mularkey’s first-round draft choice back in 2004 when he was head coach of the Bills.

Wright could be used as a Mike Wallace type of deep threat for Gabbert in Jacksonville.

16. New York Jets: Bruce Irvin, Linebacker, West Virginia Mountaineers, Senior

As a junior in 2010, Irvin led the Big East with 14 sacks. Irvin was also fourth in the Big East with 14 tackles for a loss that season.

In 2011, Irvin had a bit of a senior slump; he only had 8.5 sacks. Irvin holds the same name as the kickboxing fighter Bruce Irvin from the video game fighter series Tekken.

In years, past the Jets have drafted players who dominated at the NFL Combine. Mark Sanchez, their 2009 first-round pick, Kyle Wilson a 2010 first-round pick, and Muhammed Wilkerson all had eye popping combines.

Irvin ran a 4.43 40-time in the 40-yard-dash.  I was a huge fan of Irvin’s before the season started. Draft experts knocked Irvin for poor production in the regular season. The fact that Irvin was a high school dropout and wasarrested for destrution of property after his March pro day also has to raise some glaring concerns.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes some teams view West Virginia’s Irvin as a top pass rusher in the entire draft. I have been one of Irvin’s biggest supporters before the off-the-field concerns. I am buying this completely. When viewing the Jets list of players they had individual workouts with, one player that had a plus-sign by his name was West Virginia pass rusher Irvin. Rex Ryan loves finding first-round talent at the NFL Scouting Combine.  Do not be remotely surprised if the Jets opt to shock many by selecting Irvin while passing on Syracuse Orange pass rusher Chandler Jones with the 16th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Courtney Upshaw, Right End, Alabama, Senior

The Bengals got this pick thanks to Oakland trading it for Carson Palmer. One team that is very high on Upshaw is the Bengals. Cincinnati could add a pass rusher like Upshaw, hoping he becomes a double-digit sack artist. Unfortunately, Upshaw is better suited for the 3-4 scheme. In the 3-4, Upshaw can play on the inside or the outside at linebacker.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers (from San Diego Chargers): Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College Eagles, Junior

Kuechly has Bill Romanowski’s tackling instincts and Tedy Bruschi’s mental intangibles. That is everything you’re looking for when evaluating a 3-4 middle linebacker; Kuechly is the complete package at 3-4 middle linebacker. Chicago is picking at no. 19 and would consider Kuechly if Pittsburgh did not move up.

The Steelers 24th overall pick, their third rounder, and four seventh-round picks are worth 899 points on the trade value chat. This pick is worth 900 points. Having the 24th pick, a second-round pick, two third-round picks, and some additional seventh-round picks for trade ammunition allows you to move up or down for a certain player you want if you are San Diego.

San Diego has drafted Craig “Buster” Davis, Antoine Cason, Larry English, Ryan Mathews and Corey Liuget the past few seasons. From 2007-2009, this team had the luxury of adding the best players available.  Now, the Chargers have to be responsible and draft by need. That will not happen as long as AJ Smith and Norv Turner are running the showin San Diego.

Loyal Chargers fans rocking the lightning bolt headgear realize how incompetent this current front office regime in San Diego really is.  Just listen to Ron Burgundy and stay classy San Diego.

19. Chicago Bears: Jones, Left End, Syracuse, Junior Redshirt

Chicago hopes to add a pass rusher for depth behind Isreal Idonije at 4-3 left end.  Jones is one of the top pass rushers available on most experts draft boards. While I have Jones graded out as a second-round prospect, most believe he’s a lock to be a top-20 pick at this point. One player Chicago liked in their individual workout phase was Jones.

20. Tennessee Titans: Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Junior

The Titans had one of the leagues weaker pass rushing units. Cox recoded five sacks at Mississippi State and constantly pressured quarterbacks.

21. Cincinnati: Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU, Sophomore Redshirt

The Patriots signed Jonathan Fanene, a defensive tackle who registered 6.5 sacks with the Bengals last season. Cincinnati takes Brockers here as a depth player hoping to boost the defensive line with the 21st pick.

22. Cleveland (from Atlanta Falcons): Weeden, Quarterback, Oklahoma State, Senior Redshirt

Cleveland considers Weeden a first-round talent.  Thanks to their Julio Jones trade with Atlanta, Cleveland lands an immediate NFL starter with Brett Favre’s ability and Chris Weinke’s age with Brandon Weeden at no. 22 overall.

Weeden defeated Luck in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.  Weeden’s 72.3 completion percentage bests Luck’s 71.3 completion percentage. I was never really high on Blackmon and he cussed on some local Cleveland radio station which may incline the Browns front office to believe that Weeden is the superior front

Weeden is there at no. 22. Cleveland already has Thomas at left tackle and I gave them Kalil at no. 4 in this mock to shake things up; Thomas is left tackle with Kalil at right tackle. Weeden will have all the time in the world to throw. Adding Weeden and Kalil to the Cleveland’s offense makes them the second-best team.

23. Detroit LionsAmini Silatolu, Left Guard, Midwestern State Mustangs, Senior Redshirt

The Lions could take anyone at no. 23, but I keep hearing the idea of Detroit taking a guard at no. 23.  I think the Lions may surprise many here and go with a small school prospect as a wild card pick.

If the Lions are planning on using a run-blocking scheme again in 2012, then they have to get a guard that can run block. Silatolu has a nasty streak and violent hands. Silatolu’s run blocking footwork shows very nimble feet when lining up to run block to knock a defender back.

24. Dallas (from San Diego via Pittsburgh ): Poe, Nose Tackle, Memphis, Junior

Jerry Jones is like a fantasy football owner. He covets a certain player and cannot understand the reality that die-hard Cowboys fans want to witness a winner now with Tony Romo nearing the end of his career. Poe is still available at no. 24 and the Denver Broncos, a team needing a starter at defensive tackle, pick next at no. 25. Dallas ends up taking Poe, but may regret it.

In return, San Diego would obtain the 2013 first round-round pick that Dallas got from the Vikings. Dallas is doing San Diego a favor by keeping Poe from going to a division rival which is why San Diego is not requesting more picks than the 24th pick.

25. Denver: Mohammed Sanu, Wide Receiver, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Junior

The one receiver outside of Floyd who may be a more complete receiver than anyone when their career is said and done is Sanu. Sanu has everything you look for in a wide receiver. Sanu has the hands, route running, jumping, size, blocking ability, speed, agility, and converts yards after the catch. Sanu is the kind of receiver that Peyton Manning will yearn for next to Demaryius Thomas.

26. Houston Texans: Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, LSU, Junior

Houston adds Randle to give the Texans a wide receiver across from Andre Johnson who could provide red-zone ability.

27. Kansas City (from New England via New Orleans Saints): Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State Spartans, Senior Redshirt

I think Pioli realizes that the Chiefs need a long term answer at quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

That answer is not Cassel. The problem is Cassel’s contract runs through 2014. Cousins has a great work ethic, but is a project in the making and needs one year as a third-string quarterback and one year as a backup. Cousins gets that opportunity in Kansas City.

The Chiefs have wide receivers like Dwyane Bowe, Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin, a 2011 first-round pick. Kansas City would have offensive tackles Branden Albert and Eric Winston. A two tight end set featuring Tony Moaeki coming off a season-ending injury; plus, free agent signee Kevin Boss as a no. 2 tight end makes the Chiefs one of the leagues most formidable offenses if they can find a quarterback to lead that offense.

Cousins has a great work ethic and Manning-like intangibles. Cousins is a project quarterback with the potential to surpass Cassel on most NFL depth charts. I don’t see an elite quarterback, but I do see a great backup if you surround him with a weak supporting cast of misfits. With the Chiefs supporting cast in place, I could see Cousins becoming an immediate impact player if he gets any starting time in 2012.

28. Seattle (from Green Bay Packers): Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama ,Junior Redshirt

One player that Carroll loves besides pass rusher Coples is Hightower. I think he finds a way to repay the Packers at no. 28 overall here after signing their former backup Matt Flynn.

The Ravens will be eying Hightower at no. 29 overall, but Seattle could give up a 2013 first-round pick to Green Bay in order to steal Hightower. Hightower would sit behind veteran middle linebacker free agent pickup Barrett Rudd for a year so he could learn how to adjust from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense in Seattle.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Junior

The Ravens have the luxury of taking the best available player for depth with 22 players capable of starting when healthy.  Ozzie Newsome has placed a huge emphasis on obtaining a wide receiver with size. Hill is 6 feet 4 inches, 215 pounds and can catch the football while running excellent routes. Hill makes a lot of sense for Baltimore at the end of round 1.

30. San Francisco 49ers: David DeCastro, Right Guard, Stanford, Junior Redshirt

Jim Harbaugh used to coach at Stanford.  The 49ers biggest need is at right guard.  Ironically enough, DeCastro played right guard on Stanford last season.

This is a great situation for DeCastro as he plays right guard on an offensive line with Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, and Anthony Davis.

31. Indianapolis (from Kansas City via New England): Jonathan Martin, Right Tackle, Stanford, Junior Redshirt

The Falcons have drawn a huge interest in giving up a 2013 first-round pick to move up for Stanford left tackle Martin. Atlanta sees Martin as the next Bob Whitfield. Whitfield was a former Stanford all-pro left tackle that the Falcons drafted in the top 10 overall a very good while back. Whitfield was left tackle on that Super Bowl XXXIII Falcons team with Chris Chandler and Jamaal Anderson. The Falcons cannot afford to fork over future first-round picks in consecutive years.

What Indianapolis should do is give up a 2012 fourth-round pick and a 2013 second-round pick, which is probably worth around 500 points on the current trade value chart assuming your going to pick in the top eight overall next season. It’s probable if you do not get Andrew Luck immediate help.

You have Anthony Costanzo, a 2011 first-round pick from Boston College at left tackle. Matt McGlynn can be a decent starter at left guard. Samson Satelle is extremely underrated at center; plus, he’s 10 years younger than Jeff Saturday and just as effective. Ben Ijalana was a 2011 second-round pick expected to be a right tackle before making the move inside to right guard. The Colts current projected starter at right tackle is Winston Justice, who was horrible in Philadelphia.

Martin was Luck’s left tackle in college. In Indianapolis, Martin can play a right tackle role that many actually project Martin to be a better fit at in the next level. I see Martin as a bookend tackle who can play either side.

Some people are being way too subjective about Martin though because he’s had some bad tape, skipped the NFL Combine, and really left a poor impression at Stanford’s pro day.  I think Luck would much rather have Martin starting over Justice at right tackle as a rookie if you’re asking Luck, the million dollar investment stepping in for Manning in Indianapolis who should be starting in Indianapolis at that right tackle spot across form Costanzo.

I had Martin graded higher than Kalil back in May before I jumped on the Kalil bandwagon midseason, which is why I am remaining objective about Martin’s ability to start at offensive tackle on either side at the next level.

32. New York Giants: Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford, Senior Redshirt

The Giants will want a tight end across from free agent Martellus Bennett with tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckam injured from the playoffs. Stanford tight end Fleener will have the fastest transition to the NFL among the 2012 tight end prospects. Clemson Tigers’ Dwyane Allen is the one tight end from this draft that I see developing into a potential Pro Bowl candidate. There really is no surefire primary immediate impact tight end.

You’re sort of stuck with the choice of taking Fleener, the NFL-ready no. 2 tight end, or the project tight end who can develop into a potential no. 1 Pro Bowl caliber target.  I think its safe to say that Fleener has the edge over Allen at the moment.

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