In our Path to the Pros video series, we profiled dozens of rookies-to-be, and several became first-round Draft picks. Now that the 2012 NFL Draft is over, STACK’s Zac Clark and Brandon Guarneri break down where they went and what you can expect from them in the pros.
Trent Richardson, RB — 3rd overall, Cleveland Browns (via trade)
The Browns didn’t hesitate to trade up a spot to get their franchise running back. Several experts think he is the most pro-ready prospect of this class, and he’ll be the focal point on offense for Cleveland.
Ryan Tannehill, QB
Former Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill will be reunited with his college coach in Miami.
— 8th overall, Miami Dolphins
went to Miami, as many thought he would. His college coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, is on the Dolphins staff, and Miami hopes that will accelerate his development.
Luke Kuechly, LB
— 9th overall, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers had more pressing needs, but Kuechly was just too talented to pass up
, and Carolina will find a place for him in their front seven. The decorated linebacker won the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski Awards on his way to becoming the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Dontari Poe, DT
— 11th overall, Kansas City Chiefs
The potential is there for Poe on the Chiefs’ defensive line. He may not make an immediate impact, but if he’s able to develop, a guy that big and athletic could solidify the defensive front
for years to come.
Michael Floyd, WR
— 13th overall, Arizona Cardinals
Superstar wideout Larry Fitzgerald was vocal about his team’s need for another weapon on the outside, and, boy, did he get one. The 6’3″, 220-pound Floyd brings big-play capability
, and he will surely benefit from the extra attention Fitzgerald receives from opposing secondary units.
Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE
— 17th overall, San Diego Chargers
San Diego got a gift when Ingram slid down to 17th in the Draft. Ingram brings an explosive pass rush and versatility
to a Chargers defense that certainly needs the help.
David DeCastro, OG
— 24th overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
An ideal situation for both prospect and team. Plugging DeCastro into Pittsburgh’s offensive line gives him the opportunity to play for a winner. DeCastro was considered the best guard
in the Draft.
Nick Perry is a powerful pass rusher who will take pressure off Clay Matthews in Green Bay.
Dont’a Hightower, LB
— 25th overall, New England Patriots
Sounds like a Belichick pick. The heart and soul of the Alabama Crimson Tide defense
, Hightower should step right into a New England defense that gave up a ton of yards last season. He’s a hard-hitter who is smart, instinctive and physical.
Whitney Mercilus, DE
— 26th overall, Houston Texans
We had this one in our “Official 2012 STACK Mock Draft
” (one of the few beyond the first two QB picks), because it made so much sense. Mario Williams signed with Buffalo, and Houston needed a dynamic pass rusher to join its defensive line rotation. Wade Phillips should find a way to maximize Mercilus’ pass rushing ability
Nick Perry, DE
— 28th overall, Green Bay Packers
The Pack struggled to get to the QB last year, and they viewed Perry as an ideal bookend for Clay Matthews. With Perry, Green Bay will look to improve on their lackluster sack total from last season. (Watch exclusive video of Perry and other top defensive linemen preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft).
Photos: Glen Johnson //Darryl Oumi