Kiper's 'Grade A' Draft: AFC

Who are the best picks in Rounds 1-3 of the 2012 NFL draft for every team, according to Mel Kiper? ESPN.com Illustration

When I do mock drafts, I'm not simply giving my opinion on where players will go. In fact, I disagree with some of the picks I'm putting down. But the mocks are based on a combination of where players are being valued across the league, how I feel those players are valued by individual teams, what the top needs for each team are, whether they value need over the best player available and so on. It's not an editorial. For this, I was asked, "What would you do if you were picking?" So I gave it a shot. I've listed what I see as the top needs for each team, and I've gone ahead and made the picks that fill needs based on where I have players ranked. A few ground rules:

1. At each spot, I'm making the pick best for that team at that spot. I won't pass on an ideal pick for the Bills at No. 10 just because that player would be a great fit at No. 11.
2. There are no duplicates anywhere.
3. I will suggest good spots to trade down, but I won't rearrange the board.
4. This is for fun! One pick can derail a whole draft, so in no way do I think this is how it might look.

With that in mind, let's go through it. I'll discuss motives for each team in the analysis.

More Kiper NFL draft content:

'Grade A' AFC Draft | 'Grade A' NFC Draft | Mock 4.0 | Latest Big Board
Regrading the 2011 NFL draft

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Top needs: LT, WR, OLB, CB, QB

Rd 1 (10) WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Rd 2 (41) OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Rd 3 (71) LB Mychal Kendricks, California

Analysis: Not in order, but I've hit my top three needs if I'm Buffalo. There are front offices that have Floyd as the top wide receiver in the draft, so getting him at No. 10 is pretty fair, given I've had him at about that spot on my Big Board. Floyd is a big target who will pick up the route tree quickly and give Ryan Fitzpatrick a much-needed new option. Martin is a guy who once carried a solid first-round grade and could be a total steal at No. 41. Kendricks has immense physical talent and could be plugged in immediately, something the team did with Kelvin Sheppard last year.

Miami Dolphins