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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 1-16, 1/2

Steve Shoup

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1. Indianapolis Colts– QB Andrew Luck, Stanford:        

The Colts won the ‘Suck for Luck’ sweepstakes, and will have a fairly easy decision. While having Andrew Luck next year will be redundant if Peyton comes back, I don’t see how you can pass on him. Yes, a trade back is possible, but Luck should be the pick here, as the Colts go from one Franchise QB to another.

2. St. Louis Rams– OT Matt Kalil, USC:         

Kalil will help Bradford stay on his feet more.

Sam Bradford and the Rams are struggling this season, but it has little to do with Sam Bradford. The Rams receivers are dropping balls left and right, while the offensive line has allowed Bradford to be the most pressured quarterback in the league. He’s taking far too many hits this year, which is just not acceptable if the Rams are ever to become a serious contender. Kalil could lineup from day one at LT shifting Roger Saffold over to the right side and Jason Smith to the interior.

3. Minnesota Vikings-  CB Morris Claiborne, LSU:

The Vikings could look at one of the top offensive tackles or WR Justin Blackmon (also a possible trade back spot), but could end up selecting CB Morris Claiborne. The Vikings secondary is a complete joke so adding a big time talent here would be the smart play.

4. Cleveland Browns- QB Robert Griffin, Baylor:     

With a pick now in the top 5 the Browns have to consider taking a franchise QB. Griffin has the potential to be a super star, and could be a major upgrade over Colt McCoy. McCoy is a solid starter, but he’s likely not ever going to develop into a top 10 or 15 guy.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford:

The Bucs could consider a WR or CB, and are a dark horse for Trent Richardson, but I think an offensive tackle should be their pick. Donald Penn might be a good LT, but the rest of that line is a joke. Tampa needs a bookend, and needs to make protecting Freeman a top priority.

6. Washington Redskins- OT Riley Reiff, Iowa:

With the top two quarterbacks off the board, the Redskins will have to turn to their second rated need, offensive tackle. Reiff could be an instant starter at right tackle for the Redskins and give Washington a bookend (and insurance policy) with Trent Williams.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars– WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State-:

While this has been a rough season for Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars only have themselves to blame as they put him in a bad situation with limited weapons. Drafting Blackmon will go a long way to fixing the lack of weapons and will hopefully salvage this team.

8. Carolina Panthers– DT Devon Still, Penn State:

The Panthers could look to go in a variety of directions here, but the most obvious one would be defensive tackle. Devon Still has put together a very impressive season, and their defense is lacking a force in the middle. Still should immediately help the run defense, while adding pressure up the gut against the pass.

9. Miami Dolphins- CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama:

With no quarterback on the board the Dolphins should look to address their needs at either CB or along the offensive line. Right now I think they’d go CB, but a lot will depend on who their next coach is. Also I’d consider them a dark horse contender for Trent Richardson, given his upside.

10. Buffalo Bills- OLB Quinton Coples, UNC:        

Will Bills add to their defense with Coples?

The Bills have to land some more defensive help in this draft, and finding a pass rusher is a top priority. Coples is the top pass rusher on the board, but is a guy who I could see fall to the mid-round range given his inconsistency this season. He might not be a huge impact as a rookie, but he should be able to be a solid playmaker early on.

11.  Kansas City Chiefs– MLB Luke Kuechly, Boston College:

While they have a number of needs one that makes sense here is ILB. Derrick Johnson is a stud at one position, but the Chiefs could use an impact guy at the other spot. Kuechly would be a huge addition here and really add a lot to that front 7.

12.  Seattle Seahawks RB Trent Richardson, Alabama:    

The Seahawks could lose Marshawn Lynch this offseason and will have to find his replacement early in the draft. With few teams at the top of the draft needing a running back the Seahawks could land a stud like Richardson. While overall the value of RB’s has gone down in the NFL, Richardson looks to be the exception to the rule.

13. Arizona Cardinals-OG David DeCastro, Stanford:

The Cardinals desperately need to address their offensive line in this draft, with finding a LT a top priority. Unfortunately there isn’t one here worth taking, but DeCastro is a fantastic consolation prize. He’s a day one starter at guard and should be a big help to both the running and passing games.

14. Dallas Cowboys- CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska:

The Cowboys have a couple of needs, but one of their biggest ones is their lack of talent in the defensive backfield. Dennard would go a long way to fixing that void. He’s a physical corner, who could grow into a shutdown role in the future. I think this is a smart, safe pick for the Cowboys and give them a young piece to build around.

15. Philadelphia Eagles- OLB Zach Brown, UNC:

The Eagles linebackers have been a huge disappointment this year and it needs to be made a big priority in the offseason. Drafting a guy like Brown would give them a day one starter, and should be a nice addition to that defense. Brown is pretty good in both coverage and run recognition, and while he has solid blitzing skills, it isn’t his strength. Which is good since the Eagles don’t ask their LB’s to blitz as much.

16. New York Jets- OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

The Jets definitely need to consider some potential holes on offense, but I think this pick goes to adding a premier pass rusher for the Jets. While the Jets defense creates a lot of sacks and pressure, they don’t have that one guy (at least) who needs to be accounted for on every play, and can take over a game. Upshaw might not have that immediate impact, but he could definitely develop into that, and should boost their pass rush.

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