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NFL Mock Drafts

Chad Reuter
By
NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst

Turning the calendar to December means the 2012 NFL Draft is less than five months away.

Many of the prospects listed on this mock draft won't even play in the month of December, or will have at least three weeks off to finish off exams and spend time with their family, because their team is in one of the bowl games scheduled to be played in January.

But don't forget about those early bowls. Pitt, Boise State and North Carolina all had somewhat disappointing seasons but expect to be in mid-December matchups where their potential first-round prospects can show their stuff to scouts for the last time in a meaningful college game.

And some lesser-known prospects also get their time to shine in these so-called "warm up" games. Louisiana-Lafayette, who has already accepted an invitation to the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, has two draftable players in tight end Ladarius Green and cornerback Dwight Bentley. The tall, lean Green has the ability to stretch defenses and Bentley proved his playmaking ability intercepting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden twice in the opener.

So whether it's the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl -- the game in Boise formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl -- or the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, scouts won't take off the weeks leading up to Christmas just because those games aren't considered to be in the so-called first tier.

NFL Mock Draft - 12/15/2011
Round 1
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: The winless Colts now have a stranglehold on the No. 1 pick. Even if Peyton Manning can return in 2012, his multiple neck surgeries can't give the Colts much confidence he'll stay on the field more than a couple of seasons. This means bringing in Luck to replace the future Hall of Famer seems a prudent move.
2. St. Louis Rams
Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California: If the Rams are not interested in keeping struggling former No. 2 pick Jason Smith around, or think he or Rodger Saffold could move to guard, then Kalil will fortify the offensive line.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: The inconsistency of Minnesota's cornerbacks, along with the arrest of Chris Cook and age of Antoine Winfield, may have the Vikings looking for more talent to keep up with the Jones' (or more accurately, the Rodgers', as in Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers).
4. Carolina Panthers
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa: Reiff is tailor-made to slide into the right tackle slot if the team wants to move on from injury-prone former first-round pick Jeff Otah, who has only played 29 games in four years and is in a contract year in 2012.
5. Washington Redskins
Matt Barkley, QB, Southern California: Head coach Mike Shanahan could find his quarterback of the future in Barkley if the Redskins' season continues to go south -- and if the reliable, experience pro-style quarterback decides to leave USC rather than sticking around for a run at a national title in 2012.
6. Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Colt McCoy should not shoulder the entire blame for the Browns' loss in Pittsburgh Thursday night, but his two interceptions were bad decisions that team President (and former quarterback coach) Mike Holmgren can't stand. Only concerns about RGIII's frame/durability will prevent him from going this high -- or even higher.
7. Miami Dolphins
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: The firing of head coach Tony Sparano could mean a change in defensive scheme, and a coordinator planning more four-man fronts will need a strong-side pass rusher.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Blaine Gabbert may have an easier time throwing from the pocket if he had a star receiver on the outside who he can trust -- and whom may occupy safeties to open up opportunities for Mike Thomas and Marcedes Lewis.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina: Starter Geno Hayes may not return if he gets to free agency, and Brown's slim build is not a problem for the Bucs' defense. Looks like a perfect fit.
10. Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: Martin isn't as athletic as the tackles going ahead of him in this draft, but should be a solid starter for years to come at either left or right tackle.
11. Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: DeSean Jackson's issues may result in his leaving Philly sooner than later, and Jeremy Maclin has not been the consistent playmaker the team needs.
12. Buffalo Bills
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: The Bills are last in the league in sacks, so bringing aboard a strong yet high-motor pass rusher like Upshaw may be their top priority.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: The Cardinals face losing their best defensive lineman in Calais Campbell in free agency, and Still has the athleticism to play the five-technique position in Arizona's 3-4 scheme.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Despite some of the poor second halves he and his Aggies teammates suffered through this season, Tannehill's upside is very intriguing. He has only started for the Aggies for one season yet has shown the ability to zip the ball throughout the field and make plays with his feet when plays break down.
15. San Diego Chargers
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: Teaming Kirkpatrick with Quentin Jammer outside would allow the Chargers to have excellent depth at a crucial position.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College: The ultra-productive Kuechly could replace either of the team's free agent linebackers, Keith Brooking and Bradie James, to combine with Sean Lee to give the Cowboys a very instinctive duo inside.
17. Tennessee Titans
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford: NFL Hall of Fame lineman and current Titans coach Mike Munchak will certainly appreciate the ability of DeCastro to take over for free agent right guard Jake Scott.
18. Cincinnati Bengals
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: Although Richardson is a better prospect than former teammate Mark Ingram, it's still possible he could fall a bit further than most expect given the devaluation of the running back position. With Cedric Benson still scheduled to be a free agent, the Bengals would love for this to be the case.
19. Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: If Mike Martz thinks Roy Williams is a good fit in his offense, then Jeffery's probably on his wish list as well.
20. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska: With free agency set to decimate the Bengals' secondary, look for the team to replace whomever leaves for less orange pastures.
21. NY Jets
Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: Hightower has the size and length Rex Ryan likes a the position, assuming he's not sold on Buffalo cast-off Aaron Maybin and injured free agent Bryan Thomas is no longer in the team's plans.
22. NY Giants
Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson: The Giants like to focus on their front four in the first round, and Thompson's athleticism and hustle may be too tempting for the team to ignore.
23. Denver Broncos
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State: Head Coach John Fox and team Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway may not select a quarterback here, instead trading up in the second or down out of this spot for Nick Foles or Brandon Weeden. Since they addressed the linebacker spot in the first round with the selection of Von Miller last year, an upgrade at defensive tackle may be in order.
24. Detroit Lions
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: Detroit may allow veteran Jeff Backus to retire or sign as a free agent elsewhere after the season. Even if he comes back, the team may decide to upgrade at right tackle.
25. Houston Texans
Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: The nation's top center suffered an ankle injury during Wisconsin's win over Minnesota on Nov. 12, but he was expected to be back for the Big Ten Championship Game.
26. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois: The Browns need another defensive end with the strength to play the run and quickness to rush the passer from the strong side.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers
Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia: The Steelers seem to have trouble keeping their offensive lineman healthy, and love wide tackles with great length and toughness like Glenn, who can play guard or tackle in their scheme.
28. New England Patriots (from New Orleans)
Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia: The Patriots are constantly looking to improve the depth of their secondary, so the son of former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Frank Minnifield -- who was coached by Belichick for two years in Cleveland.
29. Baltimore Ravens
Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa State: Though Osemele still needs to prove to scouts he can handle NFL-caliber quickness off the edge, the Ravens should like his toughness and strong hands whether he takes over for free agent Ben Grubbs at left guard or Bryant McKinnie at left tackle.
30. San Francisco 49ers
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn and Braylon Edwards are scheduled to be free agents after the season -- the team will need playmakers at the position.
31. New England Patriots
Brandon Lindsey, OLB, Pittsburgh: Lindsey's toughness and agility would make him a nice fit in the Patriots' scheme, and his versatility to play end in a four-man line or standing up as a linebacker should endear him to Bill Belichick.
32. Green Bay Packers
Billy Winn, DE, Boise State: The Packers have little depth at the five-technique position, so adding an athletic big man like Winn would be a godsend.

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