The 2012 mock first round draft yesterday focused on team needs, but today we look at the top 10 and how the first round could shake out if teams were slaves to the other dominant school of thought for the best player available.
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Value, need, no matter your approach to the 2012 draft, Luck is No. 1 off the NFL board.
2. Cleveland Browns (draft day trade from St. Louis) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor – Griffin is the second most valuable player on the board, and the Browns are the trade partner that can give the Rams the most value for the pick, because they have picks four, 22 and 37 in this year’s draft.
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC – Kalil might not be quite the prospect that Jake Long and Joe Thomas were coming out, but he’s close, and easily the No. 3 value on the board.
4. St. Louis Rams (draft day trade from Cleveland) – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU – Claiborne is one of three or four near “sure things” after the top three, but his position has the most value.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Here is where the concept of “value” gets a bit tricky. If positional value weighs more than prospect quality, Richardson is not fifth. Running back is a fungible position and starters are found in the second round every year. Still, Richardson is the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson, so his absolute value across draft classes seems to dictate that he is fifth in a “value-based” mock draft.
6. Washington Redskins – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford – Like Richardson, DeCastro is the best prospect at his position in years, so even though it is a low value position, the rarity of a prospect with a floor as high as DeCastro makes him the No. 6 pick.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina – Ingram might not be the best pure pass rusher in the draft, but he provides the best combination of pass rush punch and all-around versatility.
8. Miami Dolphins – Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College – Kuechly looks like a better prospect than Rolando McClain, and closer to the A.J. Hawk/Patrick Willis level when evaluating him across draft classes. You could easily put him fifth in terms of value and I wouldn’t argue.
9. Carolina Panthers – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – Cox’s combine wasn’t as eye-popping as Dontari Poe’s, but it showed that he is worthy of a top 10 overall ranking in this class, placing Cox ahead of Poe sticks with the theme of high floor ahead of high ceiling on the value board.
10. Buffalo Bills – Quinton Coples, DE, UNC – Coples senior tape may raise questions, but defensive linemen with his physical tools and natural pass rush ability are too rare to fall any farther on a value board.