There’s no offseason in the National Football League. It’s a year-round, 24/7, news-making machine. With Peyton Manning signed (Broncos), Tim Tebow traded (Jets), and free agency cooling off, we can finally shift our focus to the 2012 NFL Draft. It’s one of our favorite times of the year. From the first pick to the last, football fans from all over gather to see who their favorite teams will select. A star player and a good draft can make or break a team’s future outlook. Here’s our take on how the top 10 picks will unfold. Tune in next week from April 26-28 on NFL Network for full coverage starting Thursday 8 p.m. ET.
#1. Indianapolis Colts | Andrew Luck | QB, Stanford
No surprise here. The first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft will be Andrew Luck. Peyton Manning’s shoes will be hard to fill in Indy but Andrew has the talent, the smarts, and the work ethic to take it to the next level. And with a little bit of luck, you never know.
#2. Washington Redskins | Robert Griffin III | QB, Baylor
Redskins gave up a whole lot of picks to the Rams to get RG3. From the looks of things, he’s worth the gamble. The Heisman winner is already meeting with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to learn Washington’s offense.
#3. Minnesota Vikings | Matt Kalil | OT, USC
Morris Claiborne from LSU is also a likely candidate here but we think Minnesota will end up taking the best tackle in the draft to protect their quarterback Christian Ponder, selected 12th overall in last year’s draft.
#4. Cleveland Browns | Trent Richardson | RB, Alabama
There are talks that the Browns might draft Ryan Tannehill, which many experts consider a reach this early in the draft. The safer bet will be to draft the best running back available in Trent Richardson.
#5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Morris Claiborne | CB, LSU
The Bucs could use a stud running back but we don’t see Trent Richardson falling past Cleveland. They’ll go with Morris Claiborne, the outstanding defensive back from LSU.
#6. St. Louis Rams | Justin Blackmon | WR, Oklahoma State
The Rams traded down with the Redskins and will have plenty of picks to help their third-year quarterback Sam Bradford out on offense. Matt Kalil will be ideal but wideout Justin Blackmon will be just as nice.
#7. Jacksonville Jaguars | Fletcher Cox | DT, Mississippi State
They would love to draft Justin Blackmon here if he’s available. If not, the defensive line is where they’ll need help the most. Fletcher Cox is moving up the draft board as the top defensive tackle prospect. He’s a solid pick here at the 7th spot.
#8. Miami Dolphins | Ryan Tannehill | QB, Texas A&M
After missing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, and Alex Smith this offseason, the Dolphins are desperate for a quarterback. Miami could really use a receiver like Michael Floyd but all indications point to Tannehill being the pick here.
#9. Carolina Panthers | Melvin Ingram | DE, South Carolina
With Aaron Kampman struggling, the Jaguars need to find another defensive end to pair up with the emerging Jeremy Mincey. Ingram is a solid pass-rusher and versatile enough to step into coverage.
#10. Buffalo Bills | Riley Reiff | OT, Iowa
The sexy pick here will be Michael Floyd, the dynamic playmaker from Notre Dame. However, the Bills’ most pressing need is at left tackle and that’s where Riley Reiff comes in.
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