Feb 25, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw who is projected to be a top ten draft pick speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Mock Draft 2012: SB Nation St. Louis's Complete Mock Draft

Follow along as SB Nation St. Louis conducts a first-round 2012 NFL Mock Draft, day by day. "Like" our storystream to get updates delivered directly to your Facebook wall.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Do The Green Bay Packers Even Need?

Pity the 2012 NFL Mock Draft writer as he gets up to these heights in the first round. What do you get for a team that has most everything? The Green Bay Packers have a quarterback who's coming off a Peyton-Manning-in-his-prime kind of year, they're a season removed from a Super Bowl win, and they went 15-1 last year. Okay: They did finish just 19th in points allowed, which kept them a merely outstanding team instead of a transcendent one. That's made Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith a popular choice, and who am I to disagree?

The word everyone uses to describe Smith is steady. He'll be good right away, the Packers won't have to hide him anyplace, and he can step in and help out on a team that will be a disappointment if it doesn't go 15-1 again. (I mean, no pressure, Harrison Smith. I'm just saying—you fall this far in an NFL Mock Draft, and teams start to have... expectations.)

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 27 overall, New England Patriots
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No. 29 overall, Baltimore Ravens

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: New England Patriots Look To Trade One First-Rounder

As a St. Louis Rams fan I'm tempted to use the New England Patriots' No. 27 pick in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft to select, say, cholera, or just a big box filled with garbage, or a wardrobe of hooded sweatshirts. I'm doubly tempted because the Patriots seem no more interested in the pick themselves; they want desperately to trade it or No. 31 overall, though no takers have yet emerged. If the Boston Globe can be confused about their intentions so can I, right?

Nevertheless: If they don't trade this one, I like them going out on a limb and taking somebody like Stephen Hill. Their current wide receivers are getting older, but they're still effective; Hill is young, but not yet that effective. That works for me. Hill, a fast-mover in recent mock drafts and a genuine potential-number-one project, would be buried on the depth chart in the early going, but he couldn't ask for a better place to be buried.

But they'll probably trade it or something, because Bill Belichick doesn't want me to be happy.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 26 overall, Houston Texans
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No. 28 overall, Green Bay Packers

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Houston Texans Go To Linebacker Well At No. 26

The 2012 NFL Draft is undeniably deep in at least two places: Life-Changingly Great Quarterbacks, and Defensive Ends Who Might Be Linebackers. The second one poses a particular challenge for writers working on a 2012 NFL Mock Draft, even on draft day: What's to be done when a team might be interested in, say, Whitney Mercilus and Shea McClellin and Nick Perry? Answer: Guess. That's why I've got the Houston Texans taking Whitney Mercilus of Illinois—because they have to take one of those guys.

Over at SpreeGoogs they have the Texans taking Stephen Hill, which is a much stranger, potentially fascinating pick, but I'm more boring than that. SB Nation's suggested Kendall Wright might also be an option. But if they root around in the bag of potential defensive difference-makers for a while, they're likely to find something they like; let's just hope they don't accidentally grab the one who's been sitting around at the bottom too long.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 as we count down to the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 25 overall, Denver Broncos
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No. 27 overall, New England Patriots

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Denver Broncos Have Peyton Manning To Consider

I'm going out on a limb here: The Denver Broncos' NFL Draft plans were probably a little different when Tim Tebow was their starting quarterback, and not Peyton Manning. With Tebow, a 2012 NFL Mock Draft writer had to consider their Denver muse's exceedingly bizarre skill-set; with Manning, he has to consider the Broncos' suddenly narrow window for contention. I like Boise State running back Doug Martin here—he gives Manning a running back with receiving skills, unlike Willis McGahee, and he gives McGahee a cohort with which to split all those carries Tebow was taking for himself.

The Broncos are one of the strangest teams in football right now. We don't know much of anything about them, but we know a lot about their component parts, and they seem likely to be contenders. Somehow. Because of all that uncertainty, it's hard to feel confident about any mock draft pick, but this one makes sense to me at the moment.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 all the way to No. 32 today. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 24 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
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No. 26 overall, Houston Texans

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Pittsburgh Steelers Pluck Dont'a Hightower

Sometimes it's easy to forget that the Pittsburgh Steelers draft players; typically—even when I'm in the middle of writing a 2012 NFL Mock Draft—I just assume that everyone on the team is a hard-nosed, exceedingly professional veteran between the ages of 28 and 31 who has been playing in Pittsburgh for five to eight years. I suppose they have to come from somewhere, though, and with the No. 24 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft we have them selecting Dont'a Hightower of Alabama.

That's been a common connection for a few months now—ever since the Steelers released James Farrior—and nothing, even Hightower's slowly sliding draft stock, seems to be standing in its way at the moment. Hightower can stick around for a few years, turn 28, and then I can forget about the Steelers having ever drafted anybody again. Perfect, at least for me.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 23 overall, Detroit Lions
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No. 25 overall, Denver Broncos

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Detroit Lions Snag Stephon Gilmore In Final Predictions

The Detroit Lions' surprise renaissance in 2011 was one of football's best stories, and it came almost entirely thanks to their offense. So if, as in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft, they manage to grab South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore all the way down at No. 23—well, odds would be good we'll have another great story out of Detroit in 2012. Last year the Lions allowed 3831 yards and 26 touchdowns on defense; this year they'll have to do better.

Gilmore, a balanced cornerback with a lot of upside, has gone much earlier than this in a lot of recent mock drafts, but we had Dre Kirkpatrick going to the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving Gilmore free to fall another five spots. He might not be able to neutralize those 90 points the Lions gave up in their first two games of the year 2012 by himself, but he'll make Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees a little more uncomfortable than they were back then.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is counting down from No. 1 to 32 on NFL Draft day. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 21 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 24 overall, Pittsburgh Steelers

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Cleveland Browns Help Colt McCoy (Or Ryan Tannehill) With Second Pick

Related: Even more mock drafts.

The Cleveland Browns' first pick of the first round is the one that's gotten all the 2012 NFL Mock Draft heat—the moment they failed to snare Robert Griffin III with it, Ryan Tannehill's ascent began—but their second pick, at No. 22 overall, will tell us a lot about what they'll look like in the future. We sent Trent Richardson their way with the first pick of our own mock draft; with No. 22 overall, we think they'll take wide receiver Kendall Wright.

He's been called a system product in the past—on this very website—but with Richardson taking the focus off Colt McCoy on offense they could go for a steady receiver who can improve on the receivers he was throwing to last year. Only Greg Little and Josh Cribbs caught more than 40 passes for the Browns last season, and nobody had more than four touchdowns. Between Richardson and Wright, Colt McCoy won't be able to get a reprieve from being Wally Pipped by a Tannehill type next year.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 as we rapidly approach the first round of the real NFL Draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 21 overall, Cincinnati Bengals
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No. 23 overall, Detroit Lions

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Cincinnati Bengals Upgrade Offensive Line

Unlike most teams with a rookie quarterback and an offensive lineman being taken in their 2012 NFL Mock Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't have any problems protecting their star-of-the-future last season. Andy Dalton was sacked 24 times in 16 games, and on just four percent of his drops back. He wasn't really a bastion of future potential or a guy sunk by his team—he was just a perfectly average quarterback who was well-protected and happened to be a true rookie getting his first NFL snaps ever. Okay, but: Bobbie Williams is a free agent after starting 14 of the Bengals' games at guard. Cordy Glenn—the best future guard in the draft not named David DeCastro—is still available, and with their second pick of the night the Bengals have no reason not to take him. At least, not in this 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

And so the Bengals—who grabbed Dre Kirkpatrick earlier to make other quarterbacks' lives more difficult—will allow Andy Dalton to continue to be strikingly, confusingly average while remaining upright extremely often. Sam Bradford is going to be so jealous.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 today, seeing as it's 2012 NFL Real Draft day. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 20 overall, Tennessee Titans
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 22 overall, Cleveland Browns

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Tennessee Titans Get Fletcher Cox By Draft Uncertainty Principle

This is the one thing that is certain about any 2012 NFL Mock Draft—because it's certain in any scenario you might run of the 2012 NFL Draft: Some player is going to fall nearly out of the Top 20 after being mocked in the Top 10 all year, and there's going to be no easily discernible reason for it. Last year it was Prince Amukamara, who ended up at No. 19; in our mock draft it's none other than Fletcher Cox, who visits the Tennessee Titans with good fortune at No. 20 overall.

The Titans, I think, have no reason to object: Cox is the best DT prospect in football, and he's gone as high as No. 6 in 2012 NFL Mock Draft gossip back when Justin Blackmon's stock was at an all-time low. He's an outstanding pass-rusher, and his speed at the combine—he ran a 4.79—surprised all the teams who were already considering him in the Top 10.

So why did he fall? Because it's the NFL Draft, and somebody has to do it. Sorry, Fletcher; you're welcome, Titans.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 right here on draft day. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 19 overall, Chicago Bears
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No. 21 overall, Cincinnati Bengals

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Chicago Bears Get Defensive Help With Michael Brockers

The Chicago Bears, for much of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft season, were wedded to Michael Floyd. That never quite worked out—Floyd moved up too far, and after signing Brandon Marshall the Bears didn't seem quite motivated enough to get inserted into any wild mock draft trades to keep him. Since then it's been defense, defense, defense—and no defensive star has been connected more often than LSU DT Michael Brockers.

Michael Brockers is a bit of a risk—he's really got one year to his name suggesting he'll be a future defensive difference-maker—but with the Bears' vaunted defense falling back to the pack in 2011 and its stars aging—Julius Peppers is 32, Brian Urlacher 34—he has a chance to be part of an inevitable renaissance.

This hasn't been their 2012 NFL Mock Draft pick forever, but it has been their reputation forever—and that's worth taking into account when it comes time to replace a fast-mover like Michael Floyd.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 18 overall, San Diego Chargers
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No. 20 overall, Tennessee Titans

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Multiple Pass Rushers Await San Diego Chargers

At No. 18 in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft, the San Diego Chargers find themselves in need of a pass rusher—and most of the pass rushers, surprisingly, still available. The SB Nation mock draft has them selecting rapidly rising linebacker Shea McClellin, but I see them going with Alabama's versatile Courtney Upshaw, who began the mock draft season higher up on most boards than this.

If he's still available at 18th overall, I just can't see the Chargers passing; he's the right combination of best-player-available and drafting for need. And he could be quite a bargain for the Chargers, who would get the mountainous Upshaw at a slight discount—thanks to his poor workout season—and fill a need at the same time. Last year's Chargers had just one player—Antwan Barnes—with more than four sacks. Upshaw, who had 9.5 for Alabama last year, is a very good bet to top that in 2012.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is headed all the way from No. 1 to 32 leading up to Thursday's actual 2012 NFL Draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 17 overall, Cincinnati Bengals (from Raiders)
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No. 4 overall, Cleveland Browns

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: The Cincinnati Bengals Have Cornerbacks To Judge

The Cincinnati Bengals need a cornerback, and by the time the first of their two first-round picks in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft come around—this one is from the Oakland Raiders, for Carson Palmer—they'll have their pick of any one of them not named Morris Claiborne. That leaves Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore as their most likely picks, and although Gilmore's draft momentum has sent him flying up mock draft boards on the last days of draft season we predict the Bengals will go ahead and take the guy they're more comfortable with: Dre Kirkpatrick, who already has possible off-the-field problems.

Kirkpatrick's combine wasn't perfect, but he's an enormous cornerback with a wide base of physical talents who's shown a lot of potential in his time in Alabama. Taking him over Gilmore could be a huge mistake, but in situations like this I usually imagine there's a reason one player was ranked ahead of the other for 11 of the last 12 months...

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 16 overall, New York Jets
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No. 18 overall, San Diego Chargers

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: What Do You Get For A Jets Team That Already Has Tim Tebow?

What do you get, in a 2012 NFL Mock Draft, for the team that already has Tim Tebow? Oh, wait—it's Mark Barron? That was easy enough, I guess. The New York Jets have LaRon Landry on board, now, but Landry's health is going to be a question mark for a while yet, and Barron's the best player available at his position—he'd be just like signing another NFL-ready safety... with vague injury questions.

Barron's universally recognized as a hard hitter, he's got good size, and he's active in pass coverage. He's not a backup quarterback who looks great in trick offenses, leads inexplicable comebacks, and draws buckets of unearned vitriol and praise everywhere he goes, but the Jets got that covered in the offseason.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 15 overall, Philadelphia Eagles
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No. 17 overall, Cincinnati Bengals (from Raiders)

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Could Ryan Tannehill Finally Go To Philadelphia Eagles?

Word on the 2012 NFL Mock Draft rumor mill is that the Philadelphia Eagles could trade up, as far as No. 4, to draft Ryan Tannehill. The SB Nation St. Louis NFL Mock Draft has been... suffice it to say, more than a little skeptical of Tannehill's value, as well as his draft stock, to date, which means that the draft's Other Other quarterback has fallen all the way to their natural position of No. 15. With that, and Mike Vick's proneness to injury, in mind, we have Tannehill's mock-draft-day-dive finally ending here.

Tannehill is not Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III—he's a project, and the team that drafts him will need a year or so to develop him, on the outside. The Eagles don't want him to play right away—their best-case scenario would be Tannehill not taking snap one in 2012. And if he does, Tannehill's legs are useful enough that the playbook won't need to be rewritten for him.

At No. 15, I like this pick. At No. 4—well, let's hope for their sake that they don't make that mistake.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 14 overall, Dallas Cowboys
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No. 16 overall, New York Jets

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: With Dallas Cowboys And Dontari Poe, Why Mess With Consensus?

It's easy, when making a mock draft, to feel a need to fight consensus—to say, "Everyone may think the Indianapolis Colts want Andrew Luck, but I know better." In our treatment of Ryan Tannehill, still in free fall, we are—admittedly—doing just that. But sometimes there's just no need to mess with consensus. With that in mind, we're picking Dontari Poe to go to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 14.

Wait—there's some weird smokescreen thing where the Cowboys may or may not be interested in Poe after all? Crap—well, that's what you get for doing this sort of thing ahead of time.

In all seriousness, this is both why it's hard to pay attention to so much draft chatter and why you shouldn't necessarily do it. That the Cowboys are avoiding Poe can be both evidence he will be selected and evidence he won't should be just enough evidence to get you skeptical whenever a sportswriter claims to know what lurks in the hearts of men, or even Jerry Jones.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 13 overall, Arizona Cardinals
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No. 15 overall, Philadelphia Eagles

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Melvin Ingram The Arizona Cardinals' Best Player Available

The Arizona Cardinals are known specifically for not drafting according to team need, which makes the No. 13 pick in the 2012 NFL Mock Draft either very easy or very difficult. They'd like an offensive lineman for the vaguely embattled Kevin Kolb, but with Matt Kalil, Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro, and Riley Reiff all off the board in this scenario they're out of luck, unless they reach a few picks for a Cordy Glenn. That leaves the best player available, and for the second year in a row at No. 13 it's a dominant pass rusher—South Carolina's Melvin Ingram.

Ingram would have to make a lot of adjustments with the Cardinals, but on sheer talent and technique he's already showing up periodically in Sam Bradford's nightmares. Depending on what you think of the Cardinals' draft strategy, this is either the worst-case scenario or the best for the erstwhile Gridbirds.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 12 overall, Seattle Seahawks
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No. 14 overall, Dallas Cowboys

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Seattle Seahawks Could Upgrade Defense With Best Player Available At No. 12

The Seattle Seahawks, the St. Louis Rams' rivals in futility over the last few years in the NFC West, are in that awkward position in the 2012 NFL Mock Draft process where certainty recedes and the biggest names are mostly off the board already. 7-9 last year, they aren't going to reshape their team with this pick, but they also don't need to. Luckily for them, there's some great defensive talent still on the board in this offense-heavy mock draft. We think they'll go with Luke Kuechly, Boston College's workout warrior linebacker.

They'll still have Matt Flynn to worry about at quarterback, but there's some consolation at this point in the first round: at least other quarterbacks in the NFC West will have Luke Kuechly to worry about.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 11 overall, Kansas City Chiefs
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No. 13 overall, Arizona Cardinals

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Kansas City Chiefs Upgrade Offensive Line At No. 11

It's always good, in the midst of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft wilderness, to come upon a pick that just makes sense. The Kansas City Chiefs selecting David DeCastro at No. 11 is just that pick. The Chiefs have to stabilize an offense that spiraled toward the bottom of the league in 2011, and DeCastro is one of the best interior lineman prospects in years. Their center, the erstwhile Pro Bowl selection Casey Wiegmann, is 38 years old.

The Chiefs could go for an available defensive player, like Luke Kuechly or Dontari Poe, but why mess with perfection? Just look at this pick, kind of nod your head and say, "Yeah, that's about right," and move on to the more controversial sections of the first round, where the St. Louis Rams have Trent Richardson and Justin Blackmon fighting for a belt suspended high over the squared circle.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is an ongoing look at picks No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. Read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream, or follow along here by using the navigation links below.

Last: No. 10 overall, Buffalo Bills
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No. 12 overall, Seattle Seahawks

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: The Top 10, At A Glance

We're through the first 10 picks of the SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft, and things have definitely taken shape—so far it looks like Ryan Tannehill is the biggest mock draft loser, while Jonathan Martin, who went to the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, is the biggest winner, moving back into the spot he occupied before the NFL Combine. Michael Floyd also goes higher than some expect, as the Dolphins skip the Tannehill sweepstakes in exchange for a wide receiver for their next quarterback of the future, whomever that turns out to be.

Here's a look at the full draft. Click any name for a full draft analysis.

  1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck
  2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III
  3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil
  4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne
  6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Riley Reiff
  8. Miami Dolphins: Michael Floyd
  9. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples
  10. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Martin

To take a look at the entire draft so far, and to follow along all the way to draft day, visit our 2012 NFL Mock Draft or like it on Facebook. We'll be updating every day on the way to the actual 2012 NFL Draft.

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Buffalo Bills Have Ryan Fitzpatrick's Contract To Consider

The Buffalo Bills have a strange variation of the problem the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars have already dealt with: Whatever they do in a 2012 NFL Mock Draft is really a referendum on their quarterback. In this case it isn't a talented rookie, it's Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose big contract has already come under fire after his hot start cooled off in 2011. In this particular mock draft, they have further problems—the players they're most often connected to, Michae Floyd and Riley Reiff, are already gone.

With Mario Williams in the fold their last excuse to draft a defensive player is wiped out, and with Floyd and Reiff out they're in trouble. Just as Ryan Tannehill seems likely to fall from his current overheated mock-drafting perch, I think Jonathan Martin's stock is likely to go up in the weeks before the draft. Martin was the top o-line prospect behind Matt Kalil until a poor combine performance set him back. As the combine recedes from memory, a team like the Bills might decide to take him ahead of a fast riser like David DeCastro.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will move from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. Follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft analysis in our mock draft recap storystream.

Last: No. 9 overall, Carolina Panthers
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No. 11 overall, Kansas City Chiefs

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Carolina Panthers Select Defensive End With Ninth Pick

The Carolina Panthers have been connected to just about every defensive star in one 2012 NFL Mock Draft or another, and for good reason; Cam Newton's offense was outstanding last year, finishing fifth in the league in points, but their defense was awful, allowing 7.6 net yards per pass attempt—last in football—and finishing 25th in yards per carry against. Both on the ground and through the air teams had no trouble cutting through for first downs. With that in mind, they'll be selecting Quinton Coples with the No. 9 pick in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

Coples has moved all over the draft board—I've seen him everywhere from No. 6 to No. 12—but after reading this great piece from Cat Scratch Reader on Melvin Ingram's fundamental inability to fit into the Panthers' defense I was convinced he made sense for the Panthers, who have the luxury, for what it's worth, of being able to upgrade wherever they want on defense, and in whatever scheme. That is, I think, the only luxury that comes from being really terrible on defense.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will be posting entries from No. 1 all the way to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis stream.

Last: No. 8 overall, Miami Dolphins
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No. 10 overall, Buffalo Bills

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Miami Dolphins Dodge Ryan Tannehill Bullet

The average 2012 NFL Mock Draft offers the Miami Dolphins two particular offensive prospects to overdraft, and the most popular one of late has been Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback pushed toward the Top 10 by the inexorable force of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck being so great and so likely to go at 1 and 2. Earlier in our mock draft we had the Cleveland Browns dodging the bullet, and here, as well, we think the Tannehill momentum will slide ahead of the draft. With that in mind, we have the Dolphins making the other potential offensive prospect overdraft: Welcome Michael Floyd.

Floyd is one of the stranger figures in the first round—he could go anywhere from No. 6 overall, if the St. Louis Rams get pipped on Justin Blackmon, to No. 19, when the Chicago Bears are unlikely to let him go. The Dolphins will still need a quarterback soon—Matt Moore and Chad Henne were each competent last year, but they seem fond of neither one—but with Brandon Marshall gone they're going to need somebody to throw to. Floyd's it.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will be working from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream—or you could read additional mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 7 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 9 overall, Carolina Panthers

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Jacksonville Jaguars Should Protect Blaine Gabbert With Riley Reiff

The Jacksonville Jaguars picked Blaine Gabbert last season, and any 2012 NFL Mock Draft begins and ends its deliberation of the squad with that fact. Unfortunately for them, the St. Louis Rams have Justin Blackmon. Some select Michael Floyd, assuming the Jaguars will make the same mistake twice in a row and overdraft the second-best player at the position they want; that makes a lot of sense, but I've decided to go slightly iconoclastic and select Riley Reiff for them at No 7 overall.

Reiff might be a slight reach here, but most mocks have him going around the Top 10, and Gabbert was sacked 40 times in his 14 starts last season. However satisfied they were with Gabbert's performance, the current administration is stuck with him, and they're not in a position to Jimmy Clausen him. It's not as flashy as Floyd, but it could work. Reiff will keep him on his feet; Gabbert will have to do the rest himself.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will move from No. 1 to pick 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along here, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 6 overall, St. Louis Rams (from Redskins)
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No. 8 overall, Miami Dolphins

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Justin Blackmon, St. Louis Rams A Perfect, Plausible Match

For everyone but the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, vested with the power to change the course of history, this part of the 2012 NFL Mock Draft is nearly inevitable: The St. Louis Rams nearly always select Justin Blackmon, and Sam Bradford must nearly always be very happy, at least for that moment. Our mock draft will be no different.

It's simple: The Rams just haven't had a really good wide receiver for Sam Bradford since he was drafted. Danny Amendola has nothing but good hands, and Brandon Lloyd was just a ship passing in the night, and mostly getting passed at by A.J. Feeley. Getting Bradford a true downfield threat and a dangerous possession receiver might not be the difference-maker, but there's little else to try.

It all comes down to Trent Richardson and Morris Claiborne: If the Browns and the Buccaneers move as planned, Blackmon's all St. Louis's and the Edward Jones Dome will be a-rockin'. If either team surprises, the Rams could end up with leftovers again.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 5 overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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No. 7 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris Claiborne Meant To Be

One of the fascinating things, to me, about the NFL is that football teams' oft-overstereotyped "personalities" tend to outlive the personnel, on and off the field, that set them into motion. It's been a long time since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were first envisioned as a defense-first squad, and most of that vaunted defense and the people who instituted it are long gone. And here we are, assuming anyway that they'll select Morris Claiborne with the No. 5 pick in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

It makes perfect sense, even outside the stereotypical Buccaneers game plan: Ronde Barber is old, and Aqib Talib is in some very significant legal hot water. And with the Cleveland Browns more likely to go on the offensive—with Trent Richardson or Ryan Tannehill or some other reach—Claiborne is likely to be on the board. And lord knows no team is going to care particularly about his excruciatingly low Wonderlic score.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will roll on from No. 1 to No. 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along pick-by-pick at our draft storystream below, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 4 overall, Cleveland Browns
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 6 overall, St. Louis Rams

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Cleveland Browns Choose Trent Richardson, For Some Reason

No team has caused more problems in the first picks of the average 2012 NFL Mock Draft than the Cleveland Browns, who've seemed directionless ever since the St. Louis Rams decided on the Washington Redskins' package for the Robert Griffin III spot instead of their own offer. Since then they've been connected with all three canonical second-tier players—Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne—as well as Ryan Tannehill, this year's wild-card quarterback.

For all that, I think this has to be Richardson. Tannehill would be too transparently an attempt to sate a fanbase furious about the RG3 rumors falling through, and a reach besides; Justin Blackmon would be too much a vote of confidence in Colt McCoy, and too little to energize a fanbase. Richardson won't make the Browns contenders—running backs just aren't valuable enough to do that, as everyone who watched Steven Jackson play for the Rams over the last decade can attest—but he will put up big numbers as a rookie and convince Browns fans that the future is just a quarterback away.

Which will be true—especially if that quarterback isn't Ryan Tannehill. Trading down is also an option for the Browns, if they're willing to accept they've been outmaneuvered thus far.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 3 overall, Minnesota Vikings
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 5 overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Minnesota Vikings Get Matt Kalil-Shaped Consolation Prize

The Minnesota Vikings are, at least theoretically, the first wild card of any 2012 NFL Mock Draft. The Indianapolis Colts are pretty much set on Andrew Luck, and the Washington Redskins would be foolish to trade all their picks for anybody but Robert Griffin III. And the Vikings are duly making noises about other players—Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, any of the players who are in that nebulous second tier. But let's be serious: They have to take Matt Kalil, don't they?

They're all in on Christian Ponder, and Matt Kalil is the best offensive line prospect in years. Shouldn't that be enough? The St. Louis Rams were going to take him at No. 2, but when the Robert Griffin III trade happened the Vikings were spared the awkward conversation they were about to have with Ponder. Unless some rock-solid rumors come out in the days leading up to the draft, or there's a gas leak in the war room, this'll be Kalil.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft is moving from No. 1 to 32 in the days leading up the 2012 NFL Actual Draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 2 overall, Washington Redskins (from Rams)
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 4 overall, Cleveland Browns

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Washington Redskins Traded Up For A Reason: RG3

The Washington Redskins traded all those future choices to St. Louis Rams for this pick for a reason, and it wasn't to dither. They wanted Robert Griffin III as their franchise quarterback, and now they've got him. Probably boring for the average 2012 NFL Mock Draft reader, but definitely a better choice than going all-in on Rex Grossman.

It's hard to tell whether Griffin has been helped or hurt by coming in the same draft as Andrew Luck, the Best Prospect Since Ever. He's a great prospect in his own right, and probably would have gone first in most other drafts, but the Suck for Luck campaigns conducted across the NFL also meant that the press was too preoccupied with their golden boy to do the usual routine and look for shortcomings to magnify.

Regardless: He's a massive and immediate upgrade for the Redskins, and given the price they paid for him, he'd better be. You can argue with their grasp on opportunity cost, but it's hard to argue with his credentials.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will go from 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

Last: No. 1 overall, Indianapolis Colts
SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 3 overall, Minnesota Vikings

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NFL Mock Draft 2012: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts A Near-Lock

This isn't going to be one of those 2012 NFL Mock Drafts. I don't want to make things too obvious throughout, but I'm not going to pretend that there's any plausible reason to suggest that the Indianapolis Colts might take Robert Griffin III—late of the St. Louis Rams, kind of—instead of Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. You don't dump Peyton Manning to take a quarterback. You dump Peyton Manning to take the quarterback.

And Andrew Luck, whatever happens, is the quarterback prospect. He's got Sam Bradford's intangibles, he can outjump Cam Newton, he went to Stanford—after being forecast No. 1 already in 2011—and he's got perfect physical tools. RG3 is a great quarterback prospect, but there's a reason the Rams were able to trade him away without a second thought: He's not a transcendent quarterback prospect. Luck, through two years of increasingly heavy scouting, has been that guy.

SB Nation St. Louis's 2012 NFL Mock Draft will go from 1 to 32 in the days leading up the real draft. You can follow along at our draft storystream, or read more mock draft recaps in our mock draft analysis storystream.

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SB Nation St. Louis 2012 NFL Mock Draft
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No. 2 overall, Washington Redskins (from Rams)

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