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NFL’s Top Draft Picks In 2012 – What To Expect

By Andrew Kahn
morris claiborne NFLs Top Draft Picks In 2012   What To Expect

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

6. Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Playing on a defense with so much talent, as Claiborne did at LSU, can make it tough to assess individuals. But Cowboys assistant director of player personnel, Tom Ciskowski, said Claiborne’s skills were evident. “When they blitzed, he was on an island. He was challenged and he did well.” That has carried over to preseason practice, where Claiborne has proved to be very coachable. “He doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” Ciskowski said. “If he continues to progress, I expect him to start.”

mark barron NFLs Top Draft Picks In 2012   What To Expect

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

7. Mark Barron, SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After Barron signed with the Bucs, new head coach, Greg Schiano, said he spoke with him on the phone and Barron asked if he could have a playbook. Schiano’s response: “You’re going to be down here tomorrow, Mark. We’ll get you a playbook [then], I promise you.” Both Schiano and general manager, Mark Dominik, praised Barron’s work ethic, which should help the safety learn new schemes and get on the field as soon as possible. “We drafted this guy to come in here and be our safety for a long time, god willing, and I’m excited,” Schiano said. Expect to see him on the field on opening day.

ryan tannehill NFLs Top Draft Picks In 2012   What To Expect

Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

8. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Here’s a list of quarterbacks who have started at least five games for the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season: Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Matt Moore. It’s unfair to put the weight of a franchise on a guy who played wide receiver in college until halfway through his junior season at Texas A&M. But with veterans David Garrard and Matt Moore still on the roster, it’s unlikely Tannehill will see too much playing time this season.

luke kuechly NFLs Top Draft Picks In 2012   What To Expect

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

9. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers drafted Kuechly partly because they love his versatility. “He’s so smart and athletic that you can use him in a lot of different roles,” general manager Marty Hurney said after the draft. Kuechly’s production at Boston College was impressive; he had 23 tackles in a game last year. Carolina expects him to make an immediate impact regardless of which linebacker position he plays.

stephon gilmore1 NFLs Top Draft Picks In 2012   What To Expect

Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images

10. Stephen Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills

George Catavolos, Buffalo’s secondary coach, said he expects Gilmore to be the Week 1 starter because of his size, speed and athleticism. “He’s been progressing nicely in camp. He’s handled the information. He’s cut down his mental errors. His technique is getting better.” Going against Tom Brady and the Patriots twice a year will force Gilmore to grow up fast.

See all 32 first round picks.

Visit the NFL Kickoff section at CBS Local.

Andrew Kahn is a contributor to CBS Local who has written for “ESPN the Magazine” and “The Wall Street Journal.” He writes about the NFL and other sports at Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn.


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