After months of speculation and hours spent watching this year’s top prospects train in preparation for the NFL Combine and their individual pro days, we like to think that we have a unique perspective and valuable insights on which prospects will be drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Like most analysts, we have no inside information from NFL teams. But based on the workouts we witnessed, mock drafts by other experts and our own gut feelings, STACK staffers Zac Clark and Brandon Guarneri went pick for pick in the first-ever STACK NFL mock draft. We did not factor in trades. Instead, we simply selected the players who are, in our opinion, the best fits for each team—in order of selection.
Clark chose the odd-numbered selections, and Guarneri had the evens. Here’s the way the STACK Mock Draft shook out.
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1. (Indianapolis Colts) Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The most surefire QB to come out of college football since the man he’ will replace, Peyton Manning, Luck is an elite prospect with very little risk.
2. (Washington Redskins) Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Washington traded several picks with the St. Louis Rams to move up to the #2 spot, viewing Griffin as their franchise QB of the future.
3. (Minnesota Vikings) Matt Kalil, T, USC
Kalil has been the consensus pick at #3 for most of the pre-Draft period, and he’s this year’s best tackle prospect. After taking Christian Ponder at #12 overall last year, the Vikes have to protect him.
4. (Cleveland Browns) Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Running backs may have been devalued in recent years, but Richardson is a clear exception. He’s a workout warrior—explosive, durable and capable of blocking out of the backfield. He would be an asset to the Browns organization.
5. (Tampa Bay Bucs) Mo Claiborne, DB, LSU
Tampa might have jumped all over Richardson, but they would be plenty happy with Claiborne here. He’s an outstanding athlete who more than held his own against SEC competition, and the Bucs need all the secondary help they can get in a division with Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan shooting at them twice a year.
6. (St. Louis Rams) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams need targets for their young quarterback, Sam Bradford, and Blackmon is the best of the bunch in this year’s Draft. He’s the second wide receiver to win the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top wideout, two years in a row.
7. (Jacksonville Jaguars) Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
Hybrid DE/OLB Melvin Ingram would bring an explosive pass rush to the Jacksonville Jags' D.
Jacksonville has plenty of holes to fill, and although they could go for an offensive weapon, we have them picking the versatile Ingram
. He can play on the line, in space and, most important, in the quarterback’s face.
8. (Miami Dolphins) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A &M
The Dolphins swung and missed for Peyton Manning, then they swung and missed for Matt Flynn, so the pick is Tannehill, who has become one of this year’s hot QB prospects
9. (Carolina Panthers) Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Last year, Carolina nailed the #1 overall pick with QB Cam Newton, and they’ll get help on the defensive line with Cox. Coach Ron Rivera, an ex-defensive coordinator, needs to improve on last season’s 25th-ranked rushing defense.
10. (Buffalo Bills) Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Bills haven’t taken an offensive tackle in the first round in a decade, but Reiff will help solidify both the running game and the passing attack in Orchard Park.
11. (Kansas City Chiefs) Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Defensive-minded coach Romeo Crennel would be ecstatic to see tackling machine Luke Kuechly
still on the board at 11. Kuechly’s versatility makes him a great fit as an inside linebacker in the Chiefs’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
12. (Seattle Seahawks) Nick Perry, DE, USC
Before Pete Carroll made the jump from college football to the pros, he recruited Perry out of Detroit. The Seahawks could use help at both defensive end positions, so this one’s academic.
13. (Arizona Cardinals) David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Cards could really use a tackle, but they’ll be happy with DeCastro, one of the highest rated interior lineman in years
. He should open some holes for a rushing attack that put up barely 100 yards per game last season.
14. (Dallas Cowboys) Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Cowboys need an impact safety in the worst way, and Barron is a guy who comes from a pro system and can play the run as well as cover. He will contribute right away in Dallas.
DT Dontari Poe would add power to an already impressive Philadelphia Eagles D-line.
15. (Philadelphia Eagles) Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The exceptionally athletic Poe
will fit in great between standout defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin. No player saw his stock rise as high as Poe’s after the Combine, and he’d be a great acquisition for the Birds at 15.
16. (New York Jets) Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama
Rex Ryan needs to get the swagger back on defense if the Jets are to regain the form that sent them to two straight AFC championship games. Upshaw could provide power and run support from the DE position. He’s a hard-nosed player
who would look great in green.
17. (Cincinnati Bengals) Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Bengals hit big on their early picks from last season, as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton both exceeded expectations. If they have a chance to add the multi-dimensional Floyd
, they’d be wise to consider it. Taking pressure off Green and the Red Rifle would set the offense up even better for years to come.
18. (San Diego Chargers) Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Chargers haven’t had a physical and dominant defense for years. Hightower could change that. The Bolts’ recent top picks on defense still need to prove themselves, and Hightower is a two-time National Champion and leader of the best defense in the country
19. (Chicago Bears) Stephon Gilmore, DB, South Carolina
Lacking a clear-cut lockdown corner, the Bears must upgrade their secondary. They ranked near the bottom of the league in pass defense, giving up 254 passing yards per game. Gilmore’s tape showed that he could compete with top receivers in the SEC, and he’s been steadily rising on boards over the last few months.
20. (Tennessee Titans) Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
The Titans needs an impact pass rusher, and Brockers could become that guy. He’s a redshirt sophomore, so he may need time to develop, but Mike Munchak’s staff would probably jump at the chance to tap Brockers’ potential.
21. (Cincinnati Bengals) Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The off-the-field issues of an elite talent haven’t scared the Bengals in the past, and this year will be no exception if Jenkins is still available at 21. The opportunity to draft arguably the best cover corner in this year’s class
would be too much to pass up.
22. (Cleveland Browns) Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
The Browns need playmakers in the worst way; and at 6’4″, 215 pounds, Stephen Hill could be the speedy wideout who finally catches on in Cleveland.
23. (Detroit Lions) Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
Franchise quarterback Matt Stafford
had a breakout year last season, but he has struggled with injuries. Adams would help protect Stafford and preserve his long-term health.
24. (Pittsburgh Steelers) Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Doug Martin could meet the Pittsburgh Steelers' need for a feature back in 2012 and beyond.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall is out with a torn ACL, so Pittsburgh could pick up the hard-hitting Martin, who looks and sounds like a franchise running back.
25. (Denver Broncos) Dre Kirkpatrick, DB, Alabama
The Broncos would be lucky to see Kirkpatrick available this late in the first round. Champ Bailey has played at a high level for a lot of years, but he can’t play forever, and the 6’2″ Kirkpatrick has ideal pro size at the position.
26. (Houston Texans) Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Mario Williams signed with the Bills, creating the need for another pass rusher in the Texans’ young D-line rotation. Mercilus’s outstanding production in 2011 (16 sacks) shot him into first round territory.
27. (New England Patriots) Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Questions about work ethic contribute to Coples’ dramatic slide to the end of the first round; but if anyone can max out his ability, it’s Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
28. (Green Bay Packers) Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
The Packers are set at nearly every position, but they could use more pop on the outside of their pass rush. Thanks to good production at Boise State, McClellin was a fast riser in this year’s class, and he would fit in great next to B.J. Raji.
29. (Baltimore Ravens) Cordy Glenn, OG/OT, Georgia
The Ravens lack depth at offensive guard, and Glenn can play multiple positions. The monstrous Glenn (6’5″, 345 pounds) is agile enough to pull and gets upfield with ease.
30. (San Francisco 49ers) Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
The ‘Niners are deep at linebacker, but they could use some help on the defensive line. Curry’s name has been tossed around as a first-round talent. At 6’4″, 260+ pounds, he can play the run and the pass.
31. (New England Patriots) Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Konz will be the Pats’ franchise center for the next eight to 12 years. He’s got a high football IQ, making him an ideal Belichick pick, and Wisconsin linemen, on average, are the biggest in the country. Must be the cheese.
32. (New York Giants) David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Wilson racked up more than 1,700 yards rushing for the Hokies last season, making him ACC Player of the Year. With the departure of Brandon Jacobs, the Giants could use another back to compliment Ahmad Bradshaw.
Photos: University of South Carolina Athletics Media Relations // Jason Wise // Boise State Sports Information