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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Our First Round Projection

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The 2012 NFL Draft takes place April 26-28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Fans from all 32 teams are eagerly awaiting the annual event to see their squad add some new and exciting talent. Here’s our prediction for the first round from the pages of Athlon Sports Monthly.

1. Indianapolis Colts —Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Heir to Peyton Manning is safest quarterback prospect since John Elway.

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2. Washington Redskins — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Heisman Trophy-winning RG3 a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s offense.

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3. Minnesota Vikings — Matt Kalil, T, USC
Latest blindside bodyguard from Troy is most talented since Tony Boselli.

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4. Cleveland Browns — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
T-Town’s finest opens floodgates for Crimson Tidal wave in first round.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Bayou Bengal corner/returner follows in Patrick Peterson’s top-5 footsteps.

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6. St. Louis Rams — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Jeff Fisher trades down from No. 2, still gets new toy for Sam Bradford.

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7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Schematically versatile hybrid end/backer is disruptive wherever he plays.

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8. Miami Dolphins — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Former receiver reunites with old A&M coach, Miami OC Mike Sherman.

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9. Carolina Panthers — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Poor man’s Julius Peppers comes at cheaper price than fellow Tar Heel.

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10. Buffalo Bills — Riley Reiff, T, Iowa
After shoring up D-line in free agency, Buffalo turns to O-line in draft.

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11. Kansas City Chiefs — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Ex-Patriots Scott Pioli, Romeo Crennel hope Poe is next Vince Wilfork.

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12. Seattle Seahawks — Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Sideline-to-sideline tackling machine flies from coast-to-coast after draft.

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13. Arizona Cardinals — David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Traditionally too early for a guard, but DeCastro is a once-a-decade talent.

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14. Dallas Cowboys — Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Draft’s top safety unable to work out due to hernia; game tape says it all.

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15. Philadelphia Eagles — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Draft-eligible sophomore has raw tools to play inside or outside at next level.

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16. New York Jets — Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Edge-rushing sledgehammer perfect for Rex Ryan’s attacking 3-4 defense.

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17. Cincinnati Bengals — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Lanky cover man excels in zone coverage, may eventually move to safety.

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18. San Diego Chargers — Nick Perry, DE, USC
Showed flashes for Trojans, but Bolts hope best is yet to come.

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19. Chicago Bears — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Golden Dome’d red zone threat a nice complement to Brandon Marshall.

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20. Tennessee Titans — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Nation’s leader in sacks (16), forced fumbles (9) brings hits to Music City.

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21. Cincinnati Bengals — Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
A.J. Green’s former teammate is a mauler inside, with feet to kick outside.

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22. Cleveland Browns — Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford
Andrew Luck’s left tackle on The Farm will play on right side by the lake.

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23. Detroit Lions — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Any young corner will benefit from having Suh, Avril and Co. up front.

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24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Happy Valley’s lone bright spot has Steel Curtain-caliber 3-4 end skills.

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25. Denver Broncos — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Peyton Manning may disagree, but Denver needs best player available on D-line.

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26. Houston Texans — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
RG3’s go-to guy takes electric playmaking ability from Waco to Houston.

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27. New England Patriots — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Talented problem child transfer from Florida has most volatile draft stock.

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28. Green Bay Packers — Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Rangy end has athleticism, frame to play outside linebacker for Packers.

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29. Baltimore Ravens — Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Ray Lewis will be 37 years old this season. Lieutenant Hightower is 22.

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30. San Francisco 49ers — Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Jim Harbaugh’s former Cardinal playmaker stays in Bay Area with 49ers.

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31. New England Patriots — Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Tom Brady’s “Boston TE Party” needs a speedy, deep threat like Hill.

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32. New York Giants — Mike Adams, T, Ohio State
With few glaring needs, champs replace Kareem McKenzie on right side.

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2012 NFL Draft First-Round Primer
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