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Side-by-side NFL mock drafts: Final 2012 first-round selections

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Here are National Football Post's and Shutdown Corner's final mock projections going into the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.


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1. Indianapolis Colts

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Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

The biggest non-surprise since, well, ever. Luck gets credit for his football smarts and pro-readiness, but his mobility is underrated, and could help him develop into a Steve Young-level player over time.

2. Washington Redskins
(from St. Louis)

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Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Ditto.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

RGIII is the toughest pro comparison I've had in a long time, because I believe he could become the type of quarterback we've never seen before. Start with: If the young Randall Cunningham had Aaron Rodgers' deep accuracy …

3. Minnesota Vikings

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Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings go for the priority of the position and opt for offensive tackle over cornerback.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC

There are more and more dings on Kalil's tape as we get closer to the draft, and I understand a lot of them, but the Vikings have got to solidify their blindside protection, especially now that Steve Hutchinson has left the building. Kalil is a good workout program away from being elite in all phases.

4. Cleveland Browns

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Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

One of the safest selections in this year's draft and could play at a Pro Bowl-caliber level from Day 1.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Ryan Tannehill may be tempting here, but remember that when Browns team president Mike Holmgren took the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005, it was in an offense with a dominant left tackle, a mistake-proof quarterback, and a running back from Alabama (Shaun Alexander) who wrapped up NFL MVP honors. Richardson may be the missing piece for the Browns to hit the next (if not Super Bowl) level.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Is there really another option here? Claiborne has the talent to mature into one of the league's top cover men.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Greg Schiano's playbooks don't generally go beyond the year 1945, which would seem to make Richardson the natural fit, and I think they'd take him at five if he's there. But in a division where you're facing Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton twice a season, the man who many see as the best cornerback in this draft makes a lot of sense, too.

6. St. Louis Rams
(from Washington)

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Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Putting weapons around QB Sam Bradford is a must going forward, as they need to give their top investment every chance to be successful.

Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State

Yes, the Rams desperately need receivers, but this class is deep enough to reach down and grab pass-catchers later in the process. What Jeff Fisher is going to want is a defensive lineman he can move in with Chris Long and Robert Quinn to wreak havoc on enemy quarterbacks. Cox's primary attribute is his versatility – he can play all over the formation at a high level.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

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Stephon Gilmore, CB, S. Carolina

Gilmore has seen his stock rise in recent weeks and now looks like a top-ten selection.

Stephon Gilmore, CB, S. Carolina

There are those who believe that Gilmore is better than Claiborne. I'm one of them, and according to some rumors, Jags GM Gene Smith may be in that group, as well. Blaine Gabbert needs more talent around him, but it would be hard to pass on a cover corner of Gilmore's ability if the Jags can't trade down.

8. Miami Dolphins

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Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Miami seems like the ideal landing spot for Tannehill at this time. The question is, does anyone move up ahead of them in order to secure the Texas A&M signal caller?

Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina

Yes, the 'Phins need a quarterback, but they also need elite edge rushers who can move around the front. With the release of Philip Merling, that need is even more pronounced. Ingram is the most versatile player in this entire draft class, and he'll give the Dolphins' defense a switch kick in the playbook.

9. Carolina Panthers

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Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

With a big need at defensive tackle, look for the Panthers to take the best interior lineman according to most in the draft.

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Now that the Panthers have their franchise quarterback, the next block in the building has to be that run-stopping defensive tackle. Ron Rivera would do well to reach back to his days with the Bears and Chargers, when his fronts were defined by the big man in the middle. Brockers has some technique issues to deal with, but he's got the size and muscle to hold the point and make the Panthers' defense more dynamic.

10. Buffalo Bills

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Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

The Bills are said not to be interested in an offensive tackle in Round 1 if it's not Matt Kalil. Therefore, with Gilmore gone, Barron or Luke Kuechly looks like the pick.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

The Bills are switching to a 4-3 defense, which makes sense when you have the most impressive front four from a talent perspective in the NFL. In a system and with a team like that, Kuechly can do precisely what he did at BC – get rangy, make plays all over the field, and not worry about beating up running backs at the line.

11. Kansas City Chiefs

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Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College

Memphis DT Dontari Poe is a possibility here, but the Chiefs could opt for the safer pick.

David DeCastro, G, Stanford

The Chiefs picked up Eric Winston from the Texans, and DeCastro would solidify the right side of the offensive line for the next decade or so. Guards aren't usually drafted this high, but most guards aren't DeCastro, either.

12. Seattle Seahawks

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Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

Jones is a name who is flying up draft boards now and with Kuechly off the board, Jones makes a lot of sense.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

The Seahawks are still looking for their next franchise quarterback, and it's far from a sure thing that it will be Matt Flynn. Flynn has a three-year deal that is basically a two-year deal with a voidable third. Tannehill is everything the Seahawks want in a quarterback right now: athletic, versatile, has the arm to make all the throws, and he can develop over time.

13. Arizona Cardinals

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Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The Cardinals were at their best with a pair of big-time receivers on the outside. Floyd could make wideout Larry Fitzgerald a very happy man.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

The Cards have an aggressive, underrated defense and a half-decent offensive line. This year, they have to figure out once and for all if Kevin Kolb is their franchise quarterback, and that's tough to do when you've got Larry Fitzgerald and the Pips. Blackmon has some elements of Fitzgerald's play in his body control, and he'll give Kolb that all-important second target.

14. Dallas Cowboys

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David DeCastro, G, Stanford

With Barron off the board, from what we are hearing, DeCastro is the No. 2 guy in line on the Dallas draft board.

Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

This is the pick everyone expects, and it makes a great deal of sense. The Cowboys' secondary has been a hot mess for a while, and with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan running all kinds of fronts, there's more of a demand that the back four stay in place. Barron isn't Eric Berry or Earl Thomas, but he's good enough at coverage to play single-high safety, and he's safe enough everywhere else to upgrade Dallas' pass defense.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

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Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Chandler Jones is a name we are hearing in connection with the Eagles, but if he's gone they might look at a similar type prospect.

Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

The Eagles run a lot of 4-3 defense, and Upshaw is projected as a target of many hybrid teams, However, Upshaw has the potential to be a good pass-rusher off the edge, and back up into a SAM linebacker role, as well. The Eagles are always looking to upgrade their pass rush, and given the team's issues at the linebacker position in recent years, adding Upshaw to DeMeco Ryans could be a double dip of improvement.

16. New York Jets

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Melvin Ingram, OLB/DE, South Carolina

Ingram adds the ability to play all over the Jets front seven and rush the passer from a number of spots.

Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis

As Mike Mayock recently said, Poe is an elite talent and an average football player. But there are things to like about Poe's game tape – as embryonic as his skill set is – and who better to take a risk on a big guy than Rex Ryan? Poe won't provide the pass rush the Jets need, but the Jets also need hole-pluggers in different formations. Rex had Haloti Ngata in Baltimore, and while there's no way anyone with a brain would compare Poe to Ngata at this point, I could see Rex looking later for the edge rusher and gambling on Poe's potential.

17. Cincinnati Bengals
(from Oakland)

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Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

Hearing there aren't a ton of teams out there that think Upshaw is a first-round talent, but the Bengals are one of them.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The Bengals understood that the best way to make your rookie quarterback look better is by pairing him with an elite rookie receiver. Having that out of the way with the Andy Dalton and A.J. Green picks in 2011, don't be surprised if the Bengals go back to the well and grab Floyd, who would present opposing defenses with a lot of option anxiety and make Green even more uncoverable.

18. San Diego Chargers

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Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Brockers could end up being the steal of the draft.

Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State

The Chargers' front seven has gone from tight to light in the last few years, especially in the pass rush (Shaun Phillips aside.) McClellin, who many believe has Clay Matthews-level upside, would be a great fit for a Chargers team running multiple fronts. McClellin can play the edge as an end, but he might be an even better outside linebacker.

19. Chicago Bears

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Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

All indications point to the Bears adding a pass rusher. Size/speed is a big sticking point in the Chicago draft room and Mercilus is an intriguing combination of the two.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Former line coach and current offensive coordinator Mike Tice loves tough guys, and even though the Bears have Gabe Carimi on the roster, don't be surprised if Tice and new GM Phil Emery see Reiff's spit-and-polish style and see him as a natural fit. May be better on the right side in the NFL, but it's not out of the question to take a right tackle in the first round anymore.

20. Tennessee Titans

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Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

He can play ILB on run downs, stand up and rush the pass from a two-point stance on third down or play as a wide nine guy, making him an ideal fit in Tennessee.

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

With Cortland Finnegan off to St. Louis, the Titans need a physical DB who can play the run as well as deal with the back half of coverage. Kirkpatrick is a very good man corner, and he's expert enough in blitzes and run fits to be the Titans' kind of player.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

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Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Bengals could be in position to package this pick in an attempt to move up, but with need at corner, the falling Kirkpatrick makes sense here.

Quinton Coples, DL, North Carolina

The Bengals love to take shots on high-risk athletes with questions about on or off-field elements, and Coples fits the bill. He's got ridiculous size and speed, but the game tape doesn't always show that. Marvin Lewis could count on defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer coaching Coples up and turning that raw potential into production.

22. Cleveland Browns
(from Atlanta)

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Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

Weeden to the Browns makes sense. However, it could be here or at the end of Round 1 if they want to trade back in.

Chandler Jones, OT, Georgia

With five picks in the top 100, the Browns are in a spot to avoid specific needs and go BPA more than anyone else. They hit big on Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard last year, and if they added Jones to that front, dealing with Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton twice this year might be a bit less of a chore.

23. Detroit Lions

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Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Reiff has a chance of falling on draft day.

Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

The Lions really need help in the secondary, but the run game is also an issue, especially with recent injuries to their backs. The Millen-era Lions struck out with big man Gosder Cherilus, but Glenn is more of a pure move for his size, and he could play right guard or right tackle.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

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Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Despite some off the field concerns, Adams has the kind of talent to start early in his NFL career.

Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Pittsburgh already has Lawrence Timmons inside, but it's easy to also see Timmons as James Harrison's eventual replacement. What the Steelers need is an interior thumper in the James Farrior mold, and Hightower fits the bill.

25. Denver Broncos

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Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis

There are some major questions about Poe's game, but the guy is a talent and he could go as high as 11 to the Chiefs.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

With Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil on the roster, the Broncos have no trouble when it comes to outside pressure. But they need better run support and a tackle who crashes the guards inside. Worthy was a constant pain for offensive linemen, and he can hold the point as well as shoot gaps.

26. Houston Texans

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Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

When speaking with one NFL official, he said there is no way Hill falls outside of the first round.

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

I almost put Baylor's Kendall Wright here because I'd love to see Wright's deep speed in Houston's power offense. But as much as Gary Kubiak loves to put his tight ends and interior receivers in different formations, it will be tough for him to resist Fleener's versatility and red-zone production.

27. New England Patriots
(from New Orleans)

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Andre Branch, DE, Clemson

Branch offers New England the ability to rush from either a two- or three-point stance and gives them a lot of versatility on third down.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins has red flags all over the place but the Patriots have a bigger red flag: it's called their pass defense. Jenkins is worth the risk.

28. Green Bay Packers

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Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia

Irvin is a hot name because of his ability to fly off the edge and force quarterback to step up in the pocket.

Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois

The Packers need two things in their front seven: run support, and a dance partner in the pass rush for Clay Matthews. Mercilus is versatile enough to provide both.

29. Baltimore Ravens

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Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

Hightower could go a lot higher than this, but if he's there at 29 he makes a lot sense for the Ravens.

Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State

With power running at a premium in Baltimore, and Ben Grubbs gone to New Orleans, the Ravens take everyone's favorite small-school sleeper to fill the gap.

30. San Francisco 49ers

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Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

Hearing that if no one falls to the Niners, Zeitler is their "safety pick."

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

In Jim Harbaugh's second year with the Niners, expect the offense to become a bit more explosive. Now that everyone's on the same page, it's time to get the ball downfield, and few can do it better than RGIII's favorite target at Baylor. Randy Moss is a maybe. Kendall Wright is a definite.

31. New England Patriots

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Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut

This pick very well could be traded, but if not we hear New England does have some interest in Reyes at some point.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Harbaugh's old team sees its fourth draftable player go in the first round, as Martin is tasked to replace the retired Matt Light – or Nate Solder if Solder heads over from the right side.

32. New York Giants

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Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia

The Giants are known for ignoring all needs and simply taking the best player available.

Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi

The Giants are slowly re-tooling what used to be the game's best offensive line, and Massie would be a great fit for a team that loves fundamentally sound mashers with a nasty streak. Massie is an underrated right tackle prospect who played well against the NCAA's best defenses.

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