NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: A general view of the draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
The 2012 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night. We've decided to submit our final mock draft, then, featuring the Minnesota Vikings still taking Matt Kalil.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to SB Nation Minnesota's coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft. While a good deal of our coverage is going to focus on the Minnesota Vikings, we're going to start things off with our final mock draft before tonight's festivities kick off at Radio City Music Hall. So, without any further ado, let's take a look at who we think is going to do what in tonight's first round. Keep in mind, in the actual draft some of this will likely be thrown off by trades, but we're not projecting any of those here.
2) Washington Redskins (from St. Louis Rams) - Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor - Same goes for this pick. These first two picks have been set in stone for two months.
3) Minnesota Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC - This is where the fun starts. A lot of people are mocking something different, but Kalil has made the most sense for the Vikings for a long time, and I'm going to stick with it.
4) Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama - Probably the safest pick in this draft, and with an unsettled quarterback situation, the Browns could use someone like Richardson to help Colt McCoy. . .or, you know, whoever.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU - His low Wonderlic score not withstanding, Claiborne is one of the premiere athletes in this draft, and would be an immediate difference maker for the Bucs.
6) St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) - Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State - The first minor curveball of the draft, the Rams decide that the receiver class is deep enough that they can use one of their second rounders on the position instead of this pick.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - While the Rams have the luxury of passing on the draft's best wide receiver, the Jaguars do not. If Blaine Gabbert is going to develop, he needs targets.
8) Miami Dolphins - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M - If Tannehill doesn't go here, he could have a massive slide. However, the Dolphins need a quarterback, and won't hesitate to take Tannehill's raw talent here.
9) Carolina Panthers - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame - Steve Smith is getting up in years, and while the Panthers have some talent at the wide receiver spots, none of them are more talented than this Minneapolis product.
10) Buffalo Bills - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa - The Bills have issues on the offensive line, and after investing heavily in Ryan Fitzpatrick, they need someone to protect his blindside.
11) Kansas City Chiefs - David DeCastro, G, Stanford - The Chiefs have problems on the offensive line as well, and DeCastro might be the most talented offensive lineman in this class. . .not named Matt Kalil, of course. If Tannehill manages to fall this far, the Chiefs could very easily grab him.
12) Seattle Seahawks - Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - Coples has gone from being a sure-fire top-5 pick to being one of the wild cards of the first round. The Seahawks need pass rush help, and if they can keep Coples motivated, nobody provides more on that front than he does.
13) Arizona Cardinals - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford - It seems like the Cardinals have had offensive line issues forever, and Martin would go a long way towards fixing that. They could look for a defensive end here, too.
14) Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama - Barron has been moving up the draft boards a lot over the past couple of weeks, and would fill the Cowboys' biggest need.
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College - Philadelphia's defensive line is talented, and their secondary is talented. Their linebackers are a mess, however, and Kuechly is the draft's best at the position.
16) New York Jets - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - Rex Ryan loves the big names, and the names. . .and players. . .don't get any bigger than the mountain from Memphis.
17) Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders) - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU - Brockers is immensely talented, and was the lynchpin of one of college football's best defenses in 2011. He would give Cincinnati some much needed beef up front.
18) San Diego Chargers - Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama - Upshaw isn't an elite athlete or anything, but he is a very good pass rusher and has ability against the run as well.
19) Chicago Bears - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford - Fleener can't block a lick, but neither could the last tight end they took this high (Greg Olsen). With the acquisition of Brandon Marshall, Fleener can live in the middle of the field for the Bears.
20) Tennessee Titans - Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina - This is a huge steal for the Titans in this scenario, but the Titans get their guy to attempt to replace Cortland Finnegan.
21) Cincinnati Bengals - Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia - The Bengals need to keep Andy Dalton protected, and Glenn has the size and versatility to play either inside or outside, though he's probably best suited on the interior.
22) Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons) - Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - Hill is definitely a raw project at receiver, but he has skills you can't teach. . .such as being 6'5" and running a sub-4.4 second 40-yard dash.
23) Detroit Lions - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama - The secondary is the weakest link on one of the league's fastest-rising teams, and Kirkpatrick has the size and skills to make an immediate impact.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers - Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin - Zeitler is the latest in a long line of hard-nosed offensive linemen. . .the Steelers have a bit of a history of taking guys like that.
25) Denver Broncos - Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL) - With the newly acquired Peyton Manning and some promising targets, the Broncos need someone to carry the mail on offense.
26) Houston Texans - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - The Texans grab RGIII's favorite target in the hopes that he can take some heat off of Andre Johnson.
27) New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints) - Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois - Count the Patriots among the many teams in need of pass rush help, and Mercilus would be a great value here.
28) Green Bay Packers - Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin - After losing Scott Wells in free agency, the Packers need someone to caddy for Jeff Saturday for a season or two, and the hometown guy is the best available.
29) Baltimore Ravens - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama - Ray Lewis is going to have to fade away eventually, and Hightower has just the skills. . .and the attitude. . .to be his replacement.
30) San Francisco 49ers - Bobbie Massie, OT, Mississippi - No guards are worth this spot in this scenario, but Massie might be able to fill that role.
31) New England Patriots - Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame - Every level of the Patriots' defense is pretty bad, but Smith would give them a decent injection of talent into the back seven.
32) New York Giants - Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson - The Giants lost a couple of tight ends to serious injuries in the Super Bowl, and they need someone that can contribute at the position.