The 2012 NFL Draft is almost upon us.  This coming Thursday night has become a national phenomenon, comparable only with the most highly rated TV shows on the air today.  There will be a lot of questions answered on thursday.  Who will your favorite team take with their 1st pick?  Where will the top offensive rookies land?  What fantasy football implications will those “landing spots” have? and Who should I be targeting with my 1st round pick in my upcoming rookie draft or new Dynasty League start-ups? I will be giving you my 1st round rankings below based on mock drafts and personal scouting.  I will be doing an updated mock after the draft on thursday so stay tuned.

1. T-Rich–  Trent Richardson is the clear #1 pick in any rookie draft.  He is likely to land in Cleveland, but honestly it won’t matter, unless Belichick or Shannanhan get their mitts on this guy.  He will be featured wherever he lands.  Richardson is the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson and any Dynasty owner will be happy to have him.  He is being targeted in the 3rd round of start-ups by big Trent Richardson fans, but is gone by most 4th rounds.

2. Justin Blackmon–  His skill set is perfect for the west-coast offense, and he will spend a ton of time in the slot.  When you look at him physically and watch his highlights, you should just put Owens on the back of his jersey.  On tape, they look identical from start to finish.  It took Terrell Owens a year and a half to figure out the system, but he got it and became a game breaker.  Blackmon has that, but he won’t have the advantage of quarterbacks like Garcia and McNabb in their respective primes.  Blackmon has the potential to be great, but he isn’t a freak.  He will be a heavily targeted YAC-MONSTER at best.  Blackmon is typically being targeted in the 6th round of mock start-ups, either right before, or right after my next rookie.

3. Doug Martin–  Built like Ray Rice, Martin will have the rare opportunity to be a work-horse back.  He is good in all phases of the game.  He can run inside and out.  He can catch the ball very well and he can pass protect.  Martin’s landing spot will determine how quickly he gets his opportunity to be the featured guy, but he is built to last and I honestly won’t be surprised if he ends up a better fantasy back than T-rich.

4. Michael Floyd–  There are 3 reasons why Floyd is not above Blackmon in my rankings.  #1) He has had some off-field issues.  Now normally I don’t place much stock in these when ranking players, in fact I like targeting falling players due to this type of thing, but when two players are so close on my fantasy rankings, I have to find small reasons to separate them.  #2)  Floyd has had a series of nagging injuries and #3) I believe Blackmon will ultimately be the more consistent of the two WRs.   Floyd has better big-play potential, is a really underrated run blocker and just seems to be an inch or two higher than anyone he goes up against on jump balls.  Floyd is also being targeted in the 6th round of start-ups, but with his stock skyrocketing, Floyd may jump ahead of Blackmon on many lists after the draft.

5. RG3- Consider me SOLD!  Not only do I think RG3 will be the better a fantasy QB than Luck, I believe he will end up being the better of the two QBs long-term as well.  RG3’s skill set is equal to or better than Andrew Luck in almost every category, and he just happens to be a “gamer” as well.  I see no reason why RG3 will not put up QB1 numbers right out of the gate. No, I didn’t say Cam NEW-TRON numbers.  I said QB1 numbers.  Where most leagues count rushing TDs count for 6 pts, RG3 will have a decided advantage.   Where Andrew Luck may have a lower floor, RG3 definitely has the higher ceiling.  He is being drafted in the 7th round of start-ups.

6. Andrew LuckLuck is the safest pick in the draft.  He is the most NFL-ready QB prospect since Manning.  Luck should also be a good QB1.  I believe he will take a little longer to develop, but by the end of the year he will be a top 10 QB going into next year.  He has limited weapons in Indy and will have to do more with less.  Luck is the closest thing to a “sure-thing” in this years draft.  If you have a decent QB who you will be looking to replace with a potentially great QB a year or two down the road than Luck is your man.   Luck is being drafted in the 8th round of start-ups.

7. David Wilson– David Wilson and Lamar Miller are currently tied in my rankings.  Wilson to me is the safer pick, but neither prospect is perfect at this point.  Landing spot will be so crucial during this stretch of the draft.  Wilson has great speed, is small but durable, and really looks good on tape.  If he can improve his pass blocking he could potentially be an every down back very much like Martin.  Wilson is going in the 7th round of start-ups.

8. Lamar Miller– Miller is the biggest play-maker in the running back field this year.  Whether he will ever be an every-down back is his biggest question mark and he is unproven catching the ball.  He is long at six feet tall and will take a bigger beating in the NFL.  Miller is a speed freak and will be the guy who has a chance to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.  He is a good returner, so if your league include kick/punt return yards or touchdowns, you may want to move Miller up your list.  He is being drafted in the 8th round of start-ups.

9. Marvin Jones– This is my sleeper of the draft (at least FF-wise).   He has gotten a little steam here recently but not enough to really draw attention to him.  Jones has elite up-side talent.  He was overshadowed at California by another good WR named Kennan Allen.  Kennan just happens to be the brother of Cal quarterback Zach Maynard.  Enough said.  I just love Jones.  He is a physical freak of nature.  Very quick.   GREAT hands and route running ability and will line up in the slot for the most part.  Jones will be an easy target on 10-20 yard routes and should be a QBs best friend at the next level.  Jones is going in the 14th round of start-ups.  Sometimes later than that depending on your owners and their awareness.

10.  Chris Polk–  Polk is another guy that may end up higher on my list after thursday.   What’s not to like about Chris Polk.  He fast enough, strong enough,  and he runs hard.  Polk has a lot of mileage on him from Washington with over 700 carries.  He is another guy that could be a featured every down back at the next level.  Polk is being drafted in round 12 of start-ups.

11. Kendall Wright–  I admit I have never been as high on Kendall Wright as the next person.  I just never saw the “wow-factor” on tape.  He will be a decent slot receiver at the next level but will be limited to that position in my opinion, whereas a Marvin Jones could easily line up at the 2 spot.  Wright has had a brutal off-season and his stock is falling.  He is still a good grab near the end of the 1st round, but not before.  Wright is being targeted in the 8th round of start-ups.  This is too high in my opinion and with recent reports of 16% body fat and weight gain, I expect you will be able to get Wright a couple of rounds later than that.

12. Alshon Jeffery– Jeffery is the anti-Wright.  His off-season has only helped him and while there are still critiques about his work ethic and weight issues, I am a believer.  If Jeffery had shown these to not be problems we would be arguing over Floyd or Jeffery right now.  Jeffery has lost 20 lbs and his 40 time has improved.  He has the best hands in the draft and is big at 6’4″.  I don’t know if Jeffery will be able to keep the consistent work ethic at the next level, but he is playing the game now.  Jeffery is going in round 12 of start-ups.

So there it is.  This is a list that will most likely change on Friday morning.  If you are like me, then you are counting the hours down to draft time.  There is something about the potential and the promising future of these young kids that makes this such an intriguing night.  Dreams are made and broken.  I hope you find the mock draft helpful and please make sure to tell me what your thoughts are.  Where you agree or disagree.

Burgandy 4-21-12  Follow me on Twitter at: @Dan_DynastyFW