Opening night for the 2012 NFL Draft is a little over 10 days away. Teams are beginning to shape their rosters with free agent signings while also conducting interviews for soon to be new hires in the league. The first two picks are virtually locks so far, with Andrew Luck expected to don a horseshoe on his helmet next year, and Robert Griffin III going to Washington.
The remaining 30 picks are up for grabs and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will go where. The practice of guessing the first round has now become a contest on some websites, with ESPN offering their contest here.
Here are my best guesses with a little more than a week before Roger Goodell takes the stage in New York.
1. Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck – Stanford
Colts fans, think Stevie Wonder, circa June 1970.
2. Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III – Baylor
Mike Shanahan relives a hit from his high school days by The Turtles. So happy together indeed.
3. Minnesota Vikings – OT Matt Kalil – USC
Things tend to get interesting once Minnesota is on the clock. Anything other than Matt Kalil or Morris Claiborne in this spot is surprising. Or, if NFL GM’s subscribe to the Jim Irsay draft theory this year, this pick will be traded to a Ryan Tannehill suitor.
4. Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson – Alabama
Cleveland needs offense and Richardson could provide them with some instantly. Richardson should be the first of many Crimson Tide players selected in the first round.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Morris Claiborne – LSU
If Tampa Bay wants to compete again in the NFC South, they need CB’s who can keep up with the aerial attacks of the other teams in their division.
6. St. Louis Rams – WR Justin Blackmon – Oklahoma St.
If Jeff Fisher truly believes Sam Bradford can become a great quarterback, he will need a potentially great receiver.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Michael Floyd – Notre Dame
Jacksonville needs more star power along with a game-changer at WR. Mike Mularkey has also been involved with taking WR’s in the first round. Last year he was part of an Atlanta staff who traded multiple picks for Julio Jones. During his first year as Buffalo Head Coach, Lee Evans was selected in the first round.
8. Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill – Texas A&M
Miami is still looking for a successor to Dan Marino. If they had only signed Drew Brees when they had a chance to do so years ago, they wouldn’t still be chasing their tails in regards to a long-term starting quarterback.
9. Carolina Panthers – DE/OLB Melvin Ingram – South Carolina
Ron Rivera needs a pass rusher after witnessing only 33 sacks in 2011 for his first year Panther unit.
10. Buffalo Bills – OT Riley Reiff – Iowa
Buffalo has a chance to add a new left-tackle and hopefully this one will not leave after only a few years to Philadelphia as Jason Peters and Demetress Bell have done.
11. Kansas City Chiefs – NT Dontari Poe – Memphis
Kansas City can keep their linebackers free with a quick plug like Poe in the middle.
12. Seattle Seahawks – LB Luke Kuechly – Boston College
Seattle is currently dealing with short-term answers with some of their linebacker questions. Kuechly should hopefully provide a long-term resolution
13. Arizona Cardinals – OL David DeCastro – Stanford
Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm looking for a pulling guard similar to what they had in Pittsburgh with Alan Faneca.
14. Dallas Cowboys – DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw – Alabama
Courtney Upshaw could learn from one of the best in the game right now, Demarcus Ware.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Fletcher Cox – Mississippi St.
Philadelphia proved they can get to the quarterback last year, but they need someone on the front line who can help stop the run.
16. New York Jets – DE Quinton Coples – North Carolina
Rex Ryan wants more heat on the opposing team’s quarterback
17. Cincinnati Bengals – S Mark Barron – Alabama
Safety help is needed with the recent release of Chris Crocker.
18. San Diego Chargers – OT Jonathan Martin – Stanford
Phillip Rivers is looking for a new friend to give him more time to throw.
19. Chicago Bears – OT Mike Adams – Ohio State
Jay Cutler needs protection so he’s not running for his life.
20. Tennessee Titans – CB Stephon Gilmore – South Carolina
The departure of Cortland Finnegan creates a void in the secondary and Gilmore can provide some relief.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – RB Lamar Miller – Miami (FL)
Miller may not be considered an every down back but they have other pieces to fill a third-down role.
22. Cleveland Browns – QB Brandon Weeden – Oklahoma St.
Offense is the theme for Cleveland this year as they need help moving the chains.
23. Detroit Lions – CB Josh Robinson – UCF
The Lions were exposed in some games last year because they didn’t have enough speedy corners to keep-up with receivers. Josh Robinson brings speed and cover skills.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Dont’a Hightower – Alabama
Fills a need for a team who last long time defensive captain, James Farrior.
25. Denver Broncos – CB Dre Kirkpatrick – Alabama
Denver added some youth with the signing of Tracy Porter, but they need more because Champ Bailey isn’t getting any younger.
26. Houston Texans – TE Coby Fleener – Stanford
Houston has surprised many this off-season with the trade of Demeco Ryans and release of Eric Winston. They will continue to surprise with the pick of Coby Fleener.
27. New England Patriots – DT Michael Brockers – LSU
New England needs someone who can disrupt on the line to go along with Vince Wilfork.
28. Green Bay Packers – OLB Vinny Curry – Marshall
Green Bay is shopping for another pass-rusher to team with Clay Matthews.
29. Baltimore Ravens – OL Cordy Glenn – Georgia
Cordy Glenn provides versatility to a line with question marks.
30. San Francisco 49ers – WR Stephen Hill – Georgia Tech
San Francisco adds speed and height to a receiving corps that disappeared in last years NFC Championship game.
31. New England Patriots – DE/OLB Nick Perry – USC
New England is lacking a pass-rusher and Perry would fit.
32. New York Giants – DT Kendall Reyes – Connecticut
The defending champs add depth to their front-four tradition of rotating down lineman.