Trio of quarterbacks makes the top 10; plenty of surprises throughout Round 1
Andrew Luck*, QB, Stanford
Luck is a once-in-a-generation quarterback prospect, and Colts legend Peyton Manning will be 36 next season and is coming off multiple neck surgeries. Given the financial implications, it looks like the smart decision is to draft Luck and part ways with Manning.
St. Louis Rams
Matt Kalil*, OT, USC
The Rams need to better protect the investment they made in 2010 No. 1 overall pick QB Sam Bradford, and current LOT Jason Smith has not lived up to expectations as the No. 2 overall pick in 2009. Given Kalil's size and athleticism, he is ready to step in right now and take over at left tackle.
Morris Claiborne*, CB, LSU
Claiborne is the premier cover corner in the 2012 class, and the Vikings rank 30th in the NFL in pass defense (260 ypg). He has size, fluid hips, good top-end speed and outstanding body control, and he excels at locating and attacking the ball over his shoulder.
Trent Richardson*, RB, Alabama
Richardson is a more complete back than former Crimson Tide teammate Mark Ingram, the No. 28 pick to New Orleans in 2011. Richardson has a rare combination of size, speed, power, agility, burst and versatility, and is the rare exception to the don't-take-an-RB-in-the-top-10 rule.
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The Jaguars have a pressing need at defensive end, and while Coples is not a speed rusher, his blend of size, power and quickness allows him to be a productive pass-rusher (17.5 sacks the last two seasons) and disruptive against the run.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dre Kirkpatrick*, CB, Alabama
Ronde Barber is aging and Aqib Talib's future is up in the air, so Kirkpatrick makes sense. He flashes good instincts in off-man coverage, is physical in run support and has great size. Kirkpatrick is not elite in man-to-man coverage, but he's made huge strides in the last two seasons.
Robert Griffin III*, QB, Baylor
Finding a quarterback is a must for the Redskins, and this will be an interesting call if Griffin and USC's Matt Barkley are still on the board. Barkley would make sense, but it might be hard for Washington coach Mike Shanahan to pass on a dynamic athlete like Griffin.
Matt Barkley*, QB, USC
Another team with an obvious need at quarterback, the Dolphins would be wise to take a young talent they can build their offense around for years to come.
Justin Blackmon*, WR, Oklahoma State
I'm not a fan of taking wideouts in the top 10 unless they are in the elite category -- think Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green -- and Blackmon is not in that class. However, the Panthers will be searching for weapons to put around QB Cam Newton, and Blackmon is clearly the top receiver on the board. He has outstanding body control to make all kinds of catches, and it will be interesting to see whether the Panthers make the move.
Riley Reiff*, OT, Iowa
The Bills have had a pressing need at left tackle for years, and haven't drafted one since they missed on Mike Williams at No. 4 overall in 2002. Reiff isn't a finished product but has good natural feet for his size, and he projects as a very good starting left tackle if developed properly. And despite the money Buffalo recently committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick, I think a quarterback would have to be in play here, as well. But the Bills wouldn't be likely to take Oklahoma's Landry Jones at this point.
Luke Kuechly*, ILB, Boston College
The Andy Reid regime in Philadelphia has not used a first-round pick on a linebacker in 13 years, but this might be the time. Kuechly is perhaps the most productive linebacker in the nation, using elite instincts and anticipation to mask a lack of ideal athletic ability.
Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Barry Richardson will be a free agent after this season and Branden Albert might be a better fit at guard, so Martin would be a good fit here. The Chiefs need to solidify their offensive line, and Martin projects as a very good right tackle given his run-blocking prowess.
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Offensive tackle is a bigger need, but there is a big drop-off in talent after the top three tackles on the board. Upshaw is a good fit for the Cardinals' system given his size, strength and ability to set the edge against the run, and his finishing power as a pass-rusher.
Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Three of the Titans' top nine tacklers are from the 2011 draft -- LBs Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy and DT Jurrell Casey -- but Tennessee is still looking for reinforcements on that side of the ball. Given Branch's quickness, motor and strength, he is a perfect fit at right DE opposite former first-round pick Derrick Morgan. Tennessee also has a huge need at wide receiver, and this would be a good time to draft a young playmaker if Blackmon were to fall.
San Diego Chargers
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
There is not an offensive tackle available who could fill the Chargers' huge need, and Barron is the best player available at their other need positions (SS, NT, WR, ILB). He is physical in run support, can play the point in deep coverage, and would team with Eric Weddle to give San Diego one of the premier safety duos in the league.
Landry Jones*, QB, Oklahoma
The Seahawks have a clear need at quarterback, and while Jones' stock has dropped a bit and he may return to school, he still has first-round tools. He did not play well down the stretch, but his supporting cast is partly to blame. If Jones can regain his confidence, his natural ability is impressive.
New York Giants
Vontaze Burfict*, ILB, Arizona State
Current starting MLB Chase Blackburn is a free agent after this season, and while I'm not sure Burfict has the discipline and character the Giants would be looking for in the quarterback of their defense, he is double-stuffed with raw ability. He has impressive size, is a thumper against the run and shows good range in underneath coverage.
Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
David DeCastro*, G, Stanford
DeCastro isn't a sexy pick, but he is by far the best interior lineman in the 2012 class and is ready to be an NFL starter right now. Both current Bengals starters -- Bobbie Williams and Nate Livings -- are set to become free agents, and DeCastro is the best player available at a need position.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Bears haven't take a receiver in the first round since David Terrell in 2001, and I understand their hesitation to draft wideouts so high. However, they must find weapons for QB Jay Cutler, and Roy Williams clearly doesn't make the cut. Floyd seems to have put off-field issues behind him, and his size and ability to play the deep ball make him an attractive option.
Fletcher Cox*, DT, Mississippi State
Dallas doesn't have a specific pressing need, but it could upgrade at safety, cornerback and outside linebacker, and free agency could create holes at guard and inside linebacker. However, Cox has come on this season and is an underrated player with the versatility to play end in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
The Bengals' marginal depth at cornerback was exposed when starter Leon Hall went down for the season, and while Dennard has size limitations and might be a reach at this point, he's a fluid athlete with good instincts and mental toughness.
New York Jets
Alshon Jeffery*, WR, South Carolina
The Jets could be staring at a host of needs -- SS, DE, WR, NT, OLB -- on draft day, but Jeffery makes sense here if the team decides not to bring back Plaxico Burress. There are questions about Jeffery's quickness and ability to separate, but his ball skills down the field are simply too good to ignore.
Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Tim Tebow is not yet locked in as the Broncos' long-term starting quarterback, but assuming Tebow does hold on to the job, Denver would do well to continue building on defense to complement a low-risk offensive philosophy. Still could help do that with his ability to disrupt plays and cause havoc in the middle.
Cleveland Browns (from ATL)
Kevin Redd*ck*, OLB, North Carolina
Redd*ck is tough and instinctive, and he has the overall physical tools to offer an upgrade on the weak side in defensive coordinator d*ck Jauron's 4-3 scheme.
David Wilson*, RB, Virginia Tech
Spending another high pick on a running back would be a tough pill to swallow, but Jahvid Best has proved he's not durable enough to be a workhorse back. Wilson is a burner with toughness and improved inside running skills, and he could provide big-play potential.
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
Sanders isn't a massive mauler, but he is a perfect fit for the Texans because of his versatility -- he played both tackle spots at FSU and could move inside to guard if necessary -- and his experience in a zone-blocking scheme with the Seminoles.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
The Ravens have several offensive linemen headed toward free agency, plus other issues still to be sorted out on defense. Adams is quick and long enough to ride pass-rushers past the pocket, and he has the ability to get into position and wall off defenders in the running game.
Jarvis Jones*, OLB, Georgia
Jones might be headed back to school and outside linebacker is not a big need for the Steelers, but at this point they could afford to use a luxury pick on a player with the skill set to possibly become the team's next great pass-rusher.
New England Patriots (from N.O.)
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram's versatility makes him a perfect fit for the Patriots. He can play end or outside linebacker and also has experience rushing the passer from the inside. As a senior, Ingram emerged as a big-time playmaker (8.5 sacks, 13.5 TFL, 2 INT).
San Francisco 49ers
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The 49ers need to continue adding weapons on offense, and Wright is an explosive athlete who can stretch the field vertically, create after the catch and contribute in the return game.
New England Patriots
Johnthan Banks*, CB, Mississippi State
Banks is flying under the radar and could very well return to school, but he has the size and fluidity to help a New England pass defense that ranks dead last in the NFL (297 ypg) and has had trouble finding long-term secondary help in the draft.
Green Bay Packers
Ronnell Lewis*, OLB, Oklahoma
Clay Matthews is the team's only legitimate edge-rushing threat, and he needs some help. Lewis might be better off returning for his senior season to continue his development. But if he enters the draft, he flashes the kind of explosiveness that could help take some pressure off Matthews.
2012 NFL Mock Draft - Quarterbacks rule in Todd McShay's initial first-round projection - ESPN (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft2012/story/_/page/McShayMock1.0/2012-nfl-mock-draft-quarterbacks-rule-todd-mcshay-initial-first-round-projection)
(View full article @ BX below)
[NFL] Todd McShay's 1st NFL Mock Draft 2012 (http://slumz.boxden.com/f16/todd-mcshays-1st-nfl-mock-draft-2012-a-1672868/)