This time of year the NFL headlines are usually dominated by draft talk. In 2012, however, the NFL Draft has fallen to fourth in the order of importance of NFL stories behind Tebow, Bounty Programs, and Manning. So, in case anyone has forgotten the 2012 NFL Draft will take place on April 26-28 in New York City. This is a big day for football fans and fantasy football fans alike. Recently, rookies have been making a big impact in fantasy leagues (Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, etc.) and this year should be no exception. In order to help you prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft and subsequently, for the upcoming fantasy football season, here are the teams with the first 20 picks and my prediction for who they will take.

1.     Indianapolis ColtsAndrew Luck (QB, Stanford) – A lot of people have been talking about Griffin possibly passing Luck as the number 1 pick because of his athleticism. What most people seem to be forgetting is at the Combine, Luck posted essentially the same 40, broad jump, and vertical lead as Cam Newton. Luck could be a top-15 fantasy quarterback next season. Other Possibilities:  None
2.     Washington RedskinsRobert Griffin (QB, Baylor) – The Washington Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to the Rams for the second pick in this year’s draft. They did this specifically to get Robert Griffin. Most experts agree that Griffin is a franchise quarterback with the skills to turn the Redskins into a playoff-caliber team within the next five years. He will not have a fantasy impact like Cam Newton did, but he could be a reliable QB2.  Other Possibilities:  None
3.     Minnesota Vikings:  Matt Kalil (OT, USC) – Offensive lineman are not exciting draft picks, but they are the second most important position behind quarterback. Kalil is easily the best offensive lineman in the draft this year and he could be the best offensive lineman in the past four years. The only reason he will fall to the third pick is because the Redskins desperately need a quarterback at pick 2. The Vikings need protection for Christian Ponder, so they will not let Kalil pass them by. Other Possibilities:  None
4.     Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama) – While cornerback Morris Claiborne is the higher ranked talent, the Browns are desperate to improve their offense. They may go quarterback if Ryan Tannehill shows in workouts that he would be a future star, but Richardson is the safer choice for a team that cannot afford anymore set-backs. Other Possibilities:  Ryan Tannehill (QB), Morris Claiborne (CB)
5.     Tampa Bay BuccaneersMorris Claiborne (CB, LSU) – Claiborne is the top defensive back in the draft this year and should make an immediate impact in the NFL. Claiborne’s Wonderlic Test score was leaked recently, showing that he scored 4 out of 50. This ties him for the lowest score in NFL Draft history, but it probably will not scare away prospective teams. Tampa just hired LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper to be their defensive backs coach and they could be losing Aqib Talib and Rhonde Barber, making this pick a no-brainer (no pun intended). Other Possibilities:  Trent Richardson (RB)
6.     St. Louis Rams:  Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State) – The Rams lost Brandon Lloyd to the New England Patriots this off-season so they are in need of a game-changing wide-out. Blackmon is not nearly as tall as Lloyd (he is 6’1”), but he has the speed, arm length, and wing span to be a dominate receiver in the NFL. If Sam Bradford is able to take a step forward next season, Blackmon would have a chance to be next year’s Julio Jones if taken by the Rams. Other Possibilities:  Trent Richardson (RB), Morris Claiborne (CB)
7.     Jacksonville JaguarsMelvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina) – The Jaguars were decent against the run last season, but they could not consistently get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Blaine Gabbert may have a future as a starter in this league, but there may not be an offensive tackle or receiver available at this pick to help him enough to justify passing on the top defensive player left on the board. Ingram has the speed and agility to be a top-tier pass rusher in the NFL. Other Possibilities:  Michael Floyd (WR), Justin Blackmon (WR)
8.     Miami DolphinsRyan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M) – It seems that no established NFL quarterback wants to play in Miami. Tannehill is not really a top-10 talent, but he should do as well in the NFL as Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. The Dolphins would be pleased with this, and a young QB could be a big boost for the fan base early on in the season. Other Possibilities:  Melvin Ingram (DE), Riley Reiff (OT)
9.     Carolina PanthersDontari Poe (DT, Memphis) – Poe is an amazing athlete, but he was inconsistent in game situations. Carolina likes athletic defensive lineman, however, and may give Poe a shot. Other Possibilities:  Luke Kuechly (LB), Michael Floyd (WR)
10.  Buffalo Bills:  Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa) – The Bills have paid a lot of money to Ryan Fitzpatrick and they will be looking to protect their investment. They shored up their defense with Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, so offensive tackle just makes sense. Other Possibilities:  Michael Floyd (WR), Luke Kuechly (LB)
11.  Kansas City Chiefs:  David DeCastro (G, Stanford) – Guards do not usually get drafted very high, but experts agree that DeCastro is a once-every-10-years type of talent. The Chiefs need the interior blocking help and they do not get much better than DeCastro. Other Possibilities:  Luke Kuechly (LB), Dontari Poe (DT)
12.  Seattle SeahawksLuke Kuechly (LB, North Carolina) – After losing David Hawthorne, the Seahawks have a big hole at linebacker. Kuechly is a NFL ready talent. Other Possibilities:  Quinton Coples (DE), Riley Reiff (OT)
13.  Arizona CardinalsMichael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame) – The Cardinals need another receiving threat to take the pressure off Fitzgerald. Floyd can step right in and fill the void that Boldin left years ago when he left. Floyd would be a guy to keep an eye on late in fantasy football drafts. Other Possibilities:  Riley Reiff (OT), David DeCastro (OG)
14.  Dallas Cowboys:  Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina) – The Cowboys’ defense is solid, but their main weakness is at defensive end. Coples could fill that void nicely if he can get over his attitude and work ethic issues. Other Possibilities:  Dontari Poe (DE), Mark Barron (SS)
15.  Philadelphia EaglesFletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) – Andy Reid loves his defensive line. If Dontari Poe has gone by this point, Cox will be the best prospect left at this position. Other Possibilities:  Ryan Tannehill (QB), Riley Reiff (OT), Stephon Gilmore (CB)
16.  New York JetsMark Barron (SS, Alabama) – The Jets’ defense has a big hole at the safety position and Barron can step right in and start.  Other Possibilities:  Courtney Upshaw (DE), Malcolm Floyd (WR)
17.  Cincinnati BengalsDre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama) – Kirkpatrick has gotten in a bit of trouble after getting busted for possession of marijuana. The charges were dropped, but it definitely calls into question his decision making ability. In the NFL, however, talent wins out and there is no doubting Kirkpatrick’s ability.  Other Possibilities:  Stephon Gilmore (CB), Janoris Jenkins (CB)
18.  San Diego ChargersWhitney Mercilus (LB, Illinois) – San Diego is still in the process of rebuilding their group of linebackers. Mercilus (who would be a favorite of the Cobra Kai) can play linebacker or pass rushing defensive end. Other Possibilities:  Dre Kirkpatrick (CB), Stephon Gilmore (CB), Mark Barron (SS)
19.  Chicago BearsKendall Wright (WR, Baylor) – The Bears have getting by the last couple of seasons with a below-average group of receivers. They are addressing that issue this off-season. They started by signing Brandon Marshall, reuniting him with Jay Cutler, and I think they will use the draft to build on that momentum. Wright can be a downfield threat and kick returner in his rookie year. Other Possibilities:  Whitney Mercilus (LB), Jonathan Martin (OT)
20.  Tennessee TitansMichael Brockers (DT, LSU) – Tennessee struggled on both their offensive and defensive line last season. At this point in the draft, the best player available will be a defensive lineman, so they will address that first. Other Possibilities:  Peter Konz (C)


By:  Brent “The Fantasy Dick” Carlson

Follow on Twitter:  @TheFantasyDick