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OFFICIAL 2012 NFL DRAFT ORDER: PICKS 21-30
January 26, 2012, 12:23 am
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Written By: Mark Scott

The Super Bowl is set with the New England Patriots taking on the New York Giants, while the rest of league now focuses on the NFL Draft and how to improve their teams for next season. As the last two teams alive, the Patriots and Giants will determine picks 31 and 32 of the 2012 NFL Draft with the Super Bowl winner obviously selecting with the last pick of the round. As for the other ten teams that made the playoffs this year, their draft position was determined as they were knocked out of each round, along with their final record and strength of schedule. Draft picks 21-24 are made up of the four teams (CIN, ATL, DET, PIT) that lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, while selections 25-28 consist of the four teams (DEN, HOU,NO, GB) that lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The two teams (BAL, SF) that lost in the AFC and NFC Championship games will slot in at picks 29 and 30. Atlanta’s pick #22 is owned by the Cleveland Browns courtesy of the Julio Jones trade at last year’s Draft. New Orleans’ pick #27 is owned by the New England Patriots due to the Mark Ingram trade that also happened at the 2011 NFL Draft. The Top 20 spots in the Draft consist of the twenty teams that failed to make the playoffs this season. The order of the Top 20 can be seen here: http://nfldraftcenter.sportsblognet.com/2012/01/02/the-almost-official-2012-nfl-draft-order/

 

Team/Record/Strength of Schedule

21.          CIN (9-7)              .492

22.          ATL (10-6) CLE    .480

23.          DET (10-6)           .535

24.          PIT (12-4)             .492

25.          DEN (8-8)             .520

26.          HOU (10-6)         .453

27.          NO (13-3) NE      .441

28.          GB (15-1)             .457

29.          BAL (12-4)           .477

30.          SF (13-3)              .449

 



2012 NFL Draft Watch: Prospect All-Star Games (JAN 21/2012)

Written By: Mark Scott

NFL Draft season is now in full swing as a record number of under classmen have officially declared and All-Star games featuring draft eligible prospects go down this Saturday, January 21/2012. It is the first chance since the College Football regular and post-season ended for prospects to showcase their talent to NFL Coaches, Scouts and Evaluators. The action begins with the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at 3 pm ET in Los Angeles, while the East-West Shrine Game will be played on the NFL Network at 4 pm ET from St. Petersburg, Florida. Following the two big games will be The Battle of Florida in Boca Raton, Florida at 8 pm ET on Fox College Sports. Of course practices have been happening all week and more than a few players have made good impressions, while all of the prospects jostle for draft position. There are not a whole lot of big names playing in these three games with mostly potential Day 3 Draft selections on the rosters, although there are a couple of note-worthy prospects that could be chosen on Day 2 of the draft.

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will feature 100 potential NFL Draft picks this year led by Head Coaches Dick Vermeil and Tom Flores, although the game and practices will not be attended by NFL Scouts, as under the current collective bargaining agreement, they cannot attend events involving underclassmen. Nonetheless, they will all receive tapes of the event, so prospects will need to be on their A-game if they want to have a shot at getting drafted. Miami’s OL Brandon Washington, who will dress for the American Team, is the top dog at this event and has shown it this week during practices. The potential second round pick has lived up to his draft rating so far displaying the physical and mental abilities to play Offensive Tackle and both Guard positions. He showed he has the strength, quickness and footwork to handle playing Left Tackle, where he played this past season and then later in the week, he proved he could line up and play on the interior, where he was an All-ACC First-Team selection in 2010. Washington is definitely a guy to watch this Saturday. Northwestern’s DE Vince Browne has been the best of the American Team’s defensive linemen. He has shown good balance and quick feet and has shown the ability to get passed blocks and make plays along the line of scrimmage. Eastern Washington’s QB Bo Levi Mitchell is the player to watch among the small school contingent on the American squad after leading the Eagles to a FCS National Title in 2010 and being named the Walter Payton Award winner in 2011 as the best player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Along with Mitchell, Liberty’s NT Asa Chapman has shown this week in practice that he could be a solid run-stopper at the Nose in the NFL, but is limited when he has to move outside his area.  Morehead State’s RB Desmond Cox and Southern’s WR Jared Green are also worth a look as small school players, while the American Team will also include WR Keith Nichol MCST, S Eddie Whitley VTCH, WR Lavasier Tuinei OREG, DE Max Holloway BC and QB Jarrett Lee LSU. The National Team will be led by QB Jacory Harris MIA, ILB Chris Galippo USC, S Neiko Thorpe AUB, S Tony Dye UCLA and WR Taylor Embree UCLA. A pair of pass-rushers shined for the National squad during practices in Bowie State’s OLB Delano Johnson and Oklahoma State’s DE Wilson Youman. Johnson stood out immediately as he already has the body and build of an NFL player and then demonstrated the speed, power and explosiveness to rush the passer from the 3-4 as an OLB and with his hand on the ground as a DE in the 4-3. He also showed great passion and enthusiasm on the field. Youman showed good speed and strength to attack opposing quarterbacks and exceptional technique to the point he was asked by Coaches to demonstrate for others. Small school players to watch for the National Team includes Langston CB Antonio Dennard, Georgia Southern’s CB/KR LaRon Scott and Southern WR LaQuinton Evans.

East-West Shrine Game

This is definitely the game to watch of the three this weekend as it will showcase more potential NFL draft picks than the other two combined, although there may be only one or two players that get drafted before Day 3. The East squad will be led by Head Coach Bobby Ross and will feature players such as OLB/DE Brandon Lindsay PITT, QB John Brantley FLA, QB Austin Davis SMSP, WR AJ Jenkins ILL and OG Quinton Saulsberry MSST. Lindsay is the top rated prospect at this event and has some work to do after a disappointing season where he saw his stock fall from a potential late first-rounder to the late third round grade he had heading into this week’s practices. He has yet to blow anyone away this week and could see his stock continue to take a hit. On to the more impressive showings this week for the East Team starting with Tennessee RB Tauren Poole, who emerged as the top running back at the event demonstrating good quickness and a tough running style, while consistently getting to the second level in practice. A pair of East wide outs have performed well in Michigan State WR BJ Cunningham and WR LaRon Bryd of Miami. Cunningham has good size, hands and body control, but a lack of speed has hurt his stock. He has impressed scouts with his playmaking ability, but will need to eventually show he can consistently separate from defenders and get into the open field. Scouts are all over the board with him. Bryd continued his regular season struggles early in the week before emerging with impressive workouts mid-week. A massive wide receiver at 6’4, 224lbs, Bryd’s size has really caught the attention of scouts, but so did his ability to elevate and make catches at the ball’s highest point above opposing defensive backs. The East squad’s small school contingent has been perhaps the most impressive of all of the players at the event. Former LSU transfer, Regina (Alberta, Canada) DT Akiem Hicks is still a bit raw, but is a mammoth man at 6’5, 324lbs with an 84 inch wingspan that has shown he knows how to use his size and strength. He also displayed good movement and nimble feet for a man his size and could be a sleeper. Coastal Carolina’s CB Josh Norman might be the most impressive of anyone this week as he has shown good size, speed and an impressive burst towards the play. He’s made plays all week all over the field and could see his draft stock skyrocket into the first three rounds, although there are off-the-field concerns with him. QB BJ Coleman CHAT, WR Thomas Mayo CAL-PN, OG Rishaw Johnson CAL-PN and WR Tim Benford TNTC have also made good impressions on scouts this week. The West Team will be coached by Brad Childress and will include ILB Jerry Franklin ARK, OT Matt Reynolds BYU, S Blake Gideon TEX, QB Chandler Harnish, OT Markus Zusevics IOW and RB Marc Tyler USC. Arkansas WR Jarius Wright is the West’s top rated player in this game and probably should’ve been invited to the Senior Bowl instead. He is a smaller wide out, but has exceptional speed, great hands and very good route-running ability. He is a big-time playmaker that can stretch defenses as well as play in the slot. Iowa CB Shaun Prater has been one of the more impressive players this week showing that despite a lack of size and speed, he has good technique and fundamentals and has displayed good cover skills. He could fit in nicely as a nickel corner at the next level and has really helped his draft stock this week. USC DT DaJohn Harris has really emerged this week and has shown that he can be a solid run-stopper and an effective pass-rusher from the interior. He has a good first step off the snap and can generate excellent leverage against opposing offensive linemen. He has a ton of upside and should move up draft boards. Finally Miami-Ohio’s OG Brandon Brooks is an absolute specimen at 353lbs and his size alone had scouts buzzing. Brooks is extremely strong and dominated defensive linemen all week. He displayed excellent balance and quickness for a man his size and showed that he can be an anchor in pass protection or a bull-dozer in the run game. He really elevated his draft stock this week.

The Battle of Florida

The Battle Florida will include very few prospects if any that will even get drafted, but a number of these players will end up getting signed as undrafted free agents and land on practice squads. Names you will recognize include QB Stephen Garcia SCAR, QB Dominique Davis ECU, RB Zach Brown PITT, LB Ronnie Sneed KENT and CB Antonio Fenelus WISC. The teams will be coached by Bobby Bowden and Howard Schnellenberger.

 

*The Senior Bowl featuring the nation’s top Senior prospects will take place next Saturday with practices taking place all week. Updates next week.



2012 NFL Draft: Official List of Declared Underclassmen

Written By Mark Scott

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft has passed by and a total of 65 prospects have officially declared for the 2012 NFL Draft. The group is led by the ACC with 15 players, while the SEC has 12 draft eligible underclassmen. Of the record 65 prospects, 25 of them have first round grades and could really dominate the first two days of the draft. Players like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon headline the group. In the end there were some surprises like potential early first round selections Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and Manti Te’o deciding to return to school, while Darron Thomas, Brock Osweiler and a number of ACC players chose to enter the draft despite mostly unfavorable draft grades as of right now.

ACC (15)

Luke Kuechly BC, Max Holloway BC, Dwayne Allen CLEM, Stephen Hill GTCH, Aldarius Johnson MIA, Brandon Washington MIA, Lamar Miller MIA, Marcus Forston MIA, Olivier Vernon MIA, Tommy Streeter MIA, Terrell Manning NCST, Donte Paige-Moss UNC, David Wilson VTCH, Jayron Hosley VTCH, Chris Givens WF

SEC (12)

Don’ta Hightower ALA, Dre Kirkpatrick ALA, Trent Richardson ALA, Barrett Trotter AUB, Orson Charles GEOR, Michael Brockers LSU, Morris Claiborne LSU, Reuben Randle LSU, Bobby Massie MISS, Fletcher Cox MSST, Alshon Jeffrey SCAR, Stephon Gilmore SCAR

PAC-12 (10)

Brock Osweiler AZST, Vontaze Burfict AZST, Cliff Harris OREG, Darron Thomas OREG, LaMichael James OREG, Andrew Luck STAN, David DeCastro STAN, Jonathon Martin STAN, Matt Kalil USC, Nick Perry USC

Big Ten (7)

Whitney Mercilus ILL, Riley Reiff IOW, Edwin Baker MCST, Jerel Worthy MCST, Tiree Eure MIN, Ken Plue PUR, Peter Konz WISC

Big 12 (6)

Robert Griffin III BAY, Bryce Brown KSST, Ronnell Lewis OKLA, Johnny Thomas OKST, Justin Blackmon OKST, Jamison Berryhill TEX

Big East (5)

Mohammed Sanu RUTG, Darrell Scott SFLA, Chandler Jones SYR, Dorian Graham SYR, Phillip Thomas SYR

Non-BCS (10)

Janzen Jackson McNST, Dontari Poe MEM, Mike Ball NEV, Ronnie Hillman SDST, Jewel Hampton SILL, Bernard Pierce TEM, Eric Page TOL, Damaris Johnson TULS, Josh Robinson UCF, Alvester Alexander WYO

*Washington’s Chris Polk has entered the draft, but it was determined that he is actually a Senior as he had exhausted all of his eligibility. He will be at the Sr. Bowl. Utah State’s Robert Turbin was also actually a Senior and not Junior and will be in the draft as well.



2012 NFL Draft Watch: BCS National Championship Part 9 (JAN.9)

Written By: Mark Scott

The BCS National Championship Game and rematch of the century is finally here as LSU and Alabama are set to duke it out for the second time this season. Both teams are stacked and possess some of the best prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft, including a potential eight first round draft picks between them. The majority of the elite prospects are on defense with the likes of Claiborne, Kirkpatrick, Upshaw, Hightower and Barron, but Heisman Finalist Trent Richardson will also showcase his talents in this matchup on offense. It should be an incredible game with a group of prospects that could shape the 2012 NFL Draft.

All rankings attained form CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, SI’s Tony Pauline and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

 

Allstate BCS National Championship Game (January 9/2012)

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Louisiana State Tigers

ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide will showcase a buffet line of top prospects in this game, including five likely first round selections. It all starts with 2011 Heisman Finalist and Doak Walker Award winner rJr RB Trent Richardson, as complete a running back as you will find. He has the strength of a power back to pound the ball up the middle with the speed and agility to beat defenders on the outside, while also possessing excellent receiving ability out of the backfield. He is a big-time playmaker with great vision, who has been groomed for a NFL career since he arrived at Alabama and is a better prospect than former teammate and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram (2011 New Orleans First Round Pick, 28th overall). He could be a Top Ten draft choice this year. On to defense as the rest of Alabama’s top prospects are defensive players beginning with Jr CB Dre Kirkpatrick, a tall, athletic corner that possesses great ball skills and instincts, while he continues to improve and get better in coverage. He is a confident player with a lot of upside and could end being the top corner in this draft. SR OLB Courtney Upshaw is a ferocious, versatile defender that can play multiple positions in multiple schemes. He has fantastic strength and power with a great burst and his best fit is as a pass-rusher whether standing up or with a hand on the ground. It should be interesting to see which team he goes to in the draft because he could land in any number of spots in the first round. Another stud linebacker that will be a first round selection is rJr ILB Don’ta Hightower.  He is a fantastic leader and imposing athlete that could immediately step into a NFL starting defense. He has great size, speed and strength that allows him to stuff the run and is fluid enough to drop into pass coverage. There are some questions about his effort, but battling back from serious knee injury suffered during the 2009 season should silence those questions. Sr SS Mark Barron is a complete player and easily the top safety in the draft. He is a terrific athlete that does it all on the field, whether it is in pass coverage or contributing against the run. He possesses great ball skills and is a devastating hitter with fantastic leadership ability. A very underrated player, he will be a steal for some team in the second half of the first round. After their top five prospects, Alabama has a pair of Day 2 defenders in rSr NT Josh Chapman and Jr FS Robert Lester. Chapman is a big, strong Nose Tackle that is dominant against the run and swallows up ball-carriers in the middle of the field, while taking on multiple blockers. He doesn’t get to the passer very much, but still has a good first step off the snap and possesses some explosiveness. He might not be the top rated Nose Tackle in the draft, but he is definitely the best coached under Nick Saban. He could be a great sleeper pick on Day 2. Hidden amongst all of the elite prospects on his team, Robert Lester is an excellent Free Safety with great cover skills and instincts that can also lay out offensive players with big hits. The Crimson Tide also has some possible late round draft choices in rSr WR Marquis Maze, rSr C William Vlachos, Sr CB DeQuan Menzie and Sr OLB Jerrell Harris.

 

LSU

The Tigers have their own fantastic group of prospects starting with a potential Top Five draft pick in Jr CB Morris Claiborne. An excellent athlete, Claiborne is the top cover corner in the draft and also possesses terrific ball skills and instincts. He is a complete cornerback that is well-coached and should start right away in the NFL. Some have him rated as a better prospect than former teammate and Arizona 2011 first-round pick (5th overall) CB Patrick Peterson, although he doesn’t have the returner skills that Peterson has. Possibly joining Claiborne in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft could be a pair of young defensive linemen in rSo DE Sam Montgomery and rSo DT Michael Brockers. Montgomery has started to gain some first round buzz following the end of the regular season and for obvious reasons after he recorded 9 sacks and 9 tackles for loss on the year. He is a very fast pass-rusher with an explosive burst that allows him to blow past offensive linemen en route to the Quarterback or chasing down ball-carriers on the outside. A little undersized, he currently projects as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL. Brockers is an imposing interior defensive lineman that is versatile enough to play multiple positions on the line. He is an excellent run-stopper that can also wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage, while occasionally getting to the Quarterback. Both Montgomery and Brockers are still young, developing players that could benefit from another season at LSU and probably will return to school for the 2012 campaign. On offense, LSU rJr OT Alex Hurst is starting to gain some buzz around him. The 6’6, 340lb. Offensive Lineman is a mammoth man that uses his size and strength to dominate defenders. He has very good fundamentals and technique that allow him to use his intelligence on the football field. He has a lot of experience and can play either Right Tackle or inside at Guard. He could be an early Day 2 selection if he chooses to enter the draft this year. Also on offense for the Tigers is Jr WR Reuben Randle. A tall, reliable wide out, Randle has big play ability deep and on third downs. He has a great set of hands and good speed that allow him to make plays downfield. He has made some very good improvements this season and has terrific upside as a potential feature NFL receiver. Randle currently sits as a possible Day 2 selection and he too could return for another season at LSU. Sr SS Brandon Taylor hasn’t gotten the attention that his defensive back mates like Claiborne and Heisman Finalist Tyrann Mathieu have gotten, but he is an outstanding player in his own right. Taylor made big-time improvements in his game this season and showed that he can defend against the pass and run. He has a great work ethic along with good instincts that make up for a lack of size and speed. He currently rates as a Day 3 draft choice. LSU also has a pair of possible late round selections in Sr TE Deangelo Peterson and Sr QB Jordan Jefferson, although it would be a surprise to see Jefferson get drafted, even in the seventh round.



2012 NFL Draft Watch: Bowl Games Part 8 (JAN.6-JAN.8)

Written By: Mark Scott

The final weekend of Bowls is finally upon us with just three games remaining before the rematch of the century and BCS National Championship game between LSU and Alabama. There are a number of Day 3 draft eligible prospects in these final Bowls to watch including Pittsburgh’s Brandon Lindsay and Arkansas’s Jarius Wright.

All rankings attained from CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, SI’s Tony Pauline and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

 

AT&T Cotton Bowl, January 6/2012

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Kansas State Wildcats

The best game of the three remaining Bowls, this matchup probably should’ve have been for a BCS Bowl rather than for the Cotton Bowl. Nevertheless it features two very good teams with a solid group of Day 3 prospects. Arkansas will field the majority of the prospects in this game starting with a pair of fast wide receivers. Sr WR Jarius Wright was always a productive wide out, but really took his game to another level this year in setting Arkansas single-season records for receptions (63), receiving yards (1029) and touchdowns (11), including single-game records for Arkansas with 13 receptions for 281 receiving yards vs. Texas A&M. He will also leave the Razorbacks as their all-time career receptions leader with 165 catches. He lacks size, but is one of the fastest wide receivers in the nation and possesses very good hands and route-running ability. He has a pretty complete game and while he can go deep and stretch defenses, his best fit at the next level will be as a slot receiver. Sr Joe Adams is a very similar receiver to his teammate Wright, but is just slightly slower, which is still faster than most, and doesn’t possess the same level of skills in the receiving game as him. However, he is a very good punt returner with big-play ability in both the return game and as a receiver. He should fit in as a slot receiver in the NFL as well, but will get on the field sooner on special teams as a returner. The Razorbacks’ also have three late round prospects on defense in Sr FS Tramain Thomas, rSr ILB Jerry Franklin and rSr DE Jake Bequette. Thomas is a ball-hawking safety with 12 career interceptions, including five this season. He is excellent in run-support and can lay out and intimidate ball carriers and pass-catchers with big hits. Franklin is a solid inside linebacker that contributes in run-support and in pass-coverage. He swallows up ball-carriers in the middle of the field and has the speed to make tackles from sideline to sideline. He is also adept at getting into opposing backfields to pressure the Quarterback or make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Bequette is a fierce pass rusher that has made a career of sacking the Quarterback. He’s not the best of athletes, but always goes hard and gets the most out of his talent. He should fit in nicely as a traditional 4-3 defensive end. For Kansas State, they have just two prospects worth noting in rJr ILB Arthur Brown and rSr Tysyn Hartman. Brown was a big part of Kansas State’s revival this season as he solidified the defense and middle of the field with his play and leadership. He is an excellent athlete with next-level ability and the speed to make tackles sideline to sideline. He could be drafted earlier than Day 3, although he may very likely return to Kansas State for another year alongside his brother in an attempt to take the Wildcats to another level and win a Big 12 Championship. Hartman is a tough, physical safety that plays with an edge. He still has improvements to make, but should make some team’s roster as a special teams ace and backup safety.

 

BBVA Compass Bowl, January 7/2012

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. SMU Mustangs

The Panthers will feature two prospects of note in their matchup with the Mustangs, while SMU will field a pair of late round picks. The top prospect remaining to watch among the final Bowls until the BCS National Championship is Pittsburgh’s rSr OLB/DE Brandon Lindsay, a potential third round pick. A very good athlete, Lindsay has shown that he can play in both a 4-3 defense as an end and standing up in the 3-4 as an outside linebacker. His size has him projected to fit best in a 3-4 defense.  He doesn’t have great speed or quickness, but he does have very good upper body strength and violent hands that allow him to push past blockers into the backfield. He has a good first step off the snap and can get to opposing passers as evidenced by his 18.5 sacks the past two seasons. Sr OG Lucas Nix is a strong, mobile run-blocker that can get to the second-level and continue to create holes for his ball-carrier. He began his collegiate career at Right Tackle, but a move inside to Right Guard really allowed his game to excel. He has excellent technique and is a hardworking anchor in pass-protection. He was slowed by a mid-season knee injury, but that shouldn’t hurt his draft stock. What will hurt his stock are the three criminal charges stemming from a drunken fight with a pair of West Virginia players at their house over the holiday break. Nix will still be allowed to play in this game and rates out as fifth round pick. Pittsburgh’s rSr ILB Max Gruder has a chance to be drafted late on Day 3. SMU also has a pair of potential late Day 3 selections in rSr OL Kelvin Beachum and Sr DE Taylor Thompson. Beachum was named to the 2011 All-CUSA First-Team and is an experienced offensive lineman as a 4-year starter at Left Tackle for the Mustangs, but will probably have to transition to Guard in the pros. Thompson is a productive pass-rusher as a defensive end in a 4-3 with 17 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in his collegiate career.

 

GoDaddy.com Bowl, January 8/2012

Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. Northern Illinois Huskies

The final Bowl of the season will be a showcase for one Day 3 prospect in Northern Illinois rSr QB Chandler Harnish, who will be trying to make a statement against the Red Wolves to show scouts that he should go higher in the draft. Harnish is a fantastic athlete with a NFL body and is one of the top dual-threat Quarterbacks in the nation. He combines good speed and mobility with an accurate arm that can make NFL throws. Certainly the level of competition he played against in the MAC will work against him, but he dominated that competition for four seasons as one of the most prolific players to ever to play in the conference and lead Northern Illinois to their first MAC Conference Championship since 1983 this season. He has very good intelligence and decision-making and should impress a few more scouts with his play this weekend. Right now he has a mid to late round grade, but with a couple QBs returning to school it could create an opening for him to possibly even be drafted on Day 2, although that might be pushing it. Arkansas State has a pair of possible seventh round picks in rSr SS Kelcie McCray and rSr OLB Demario Davis. McCray is a hard-hitting safety that is continuing to improve against the run and pass, while Davis is a great athlete that can make plays all over the field. Both could make an impact on special teams while they work towards a spot on defense.



2012 NFL Draft Watch: Bowl Games Part 7 (JAN.3-JAN.4)

Written By: Mark Scott

Bowl season is starting to wind down with just a handful of games remaining, but there are still a ton of prospects left to play in them that are trying to improve their draft stock.  The Sugar and Orange Bowls showcase a number of those prospects, including a few possible first round picks in Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and a trio of Clemson Tigers, Dwayne Allen, Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson.

All rankings attained fromCBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, SI’s Tony Pauline and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

 

Allstate Sugar Bowl, January 3/2012

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Michigan Wolverines

The Hokies and Wolverines have the stage to themselves January 3, although the game will feature just one, maybe two early round picks, there will also be a bunch of Day 3 prospects to watch on both teams. Both possible early round selections play for Virginia Tech in Jr RB David Wilson and Jr CB Jayron Hosley. Wilson is a dynamic playmaker with great vision and elite speed. He is able squeeze through holes between the tackles or get to the outside and if there is daylight, he will be gone in a flash. He exploded this year as the Hokies’ feature back with 266 carries for 1627 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, while also displaying good hands out of the backfield with 21 receptions for 126 receiving yards and a score. He has the ability to slip tackles and blow past oncoming defenders. There has been a lot of buzz about him being a first round pick, but running backs typically drop down the draft slightly and with a couple of backs ahead of him, he will likely go on Day 2. Hosley was outstanding in 2010 when he was named an All-American after recording an incredible 9 interceptions, but he battled a hamstring injury throughout this year that saw his number of picks drop to just 3, although he did have a career-high 59 tackles to make up for it. His number of interceptions also dropped this season because teams tended to throw away from his side of the field. He possesses fantastic ball skills, instincts and is solid in man to man coverage. He is a bit a small and lacks the ideal size for a starting NFL corner, but he plays tough and with an edge. Both Wilson and Hosley could return to school for another season. The rest of Virginia Tech’s players are Day 3 prospects in Sr FS Eddie Whitley, rSr OG Jaymes Brooks and Sr WR Jarrett Boykin. For Michigan, rSr C David Molk is their top draft eligible prospect among a group of possible Day 3 selections. He was named the 2011 Rimington Trophy Award winner as the nation’s top Center after leading the Michigan Offensive line through a great season. While he isn’t a dominating player or athlete, he does possess good strength, footwork and knows how to handle the position. He has a ton of experience and has played at a consistently high level throughout his collegiate career with the Wolverines. He is better when in motion and probably best fits a zone-blocking team. Sr DT Mike Martin is a hardworking, competitive player that always gives his all and gets the most out of his talent. He is a blue-collar athlete that has solid skills and technique. Martin has experience playing in multiple defensive schemes and should fit into a rotation in the NFL. Michigan also has a pair of possible late round draft choices in Sr TE Kevin Koger and rSr DE Ryan Van Bergen.

 

Discover Orange Bowl, January 4/2012

Clemson Tigers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

The Orange Bowl battle between the Tigers and Mountaineers will involve four note-worthy prospects, who could be drafted on the first two days of the 2012 NFL Draft. Three of those prospects play for Clemson and all three are in first round discussions starting with rSr DE Andre Branch, who is being talked about with the other top pass-rushers available. He is an athletic pass rusher with good quickness and agility that lets him get to opposing passers and even chase down backs coming around the edge. After a strong Junior season, Branch took his game to another level this year with 73 tackles, 14 for loss and 10.5 sacks as he took over for 2010 Tampa Bay first round pick Da’Quan Bowers. He has good size as a natural 4-3 end, but could also get attention from 3-4 teams that want to turn him into a rushing OLB. Sr Brandon Thompson is a disruptive, hardworking interior defensive lineman that has the ability to blow up plays in the middle of the field. He has an explosive first-step that allows him to get pressure on Quarterbacks and penetrate gaps to stop backs behind the line of scrimmage. He is still a little inconsistent from time to time and could stand to get a bit stronger in his upper-body. A finalist for the 2011 John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, rJr TE Dwayne Allen really emerged as a big-time playmaker for the Tigers after recording 48 receptions for 577 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns this season. He can stretch defenses with his speed and create mismatches with his size against opposing defensive backs. A legit red-zone threat, Allen is only improving and has a ton of upside. He will be the top tight end drafted in April. After their top three prospects, Clemson will also field three more players that could be late round selections in Sr OG Antoine McClain, rSr OT Landon Walker and rSr FB Chad Diehl, the top fullback in the draft. For West Virginia, they have just one notable prospect in Sr OLB Bruce Irvin and a group of possible late round draft picks. Irvin is an extremely athletic and fierce pass-rusher with excellent speed and toughness that racked up 22 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in his two years at West Virginia and was named to the 2011 All-Big East First-Team. He lacks a lot of playing experience, but has worked incredibly hard to get where he is after being academically ineligible to play high school football and spending time in a juvenile jail before getting his life back on track and making his way up the college ranks. He is a bit undersized to play defensive end in the NFL and projects out as a rushing 3-4 OLB. He will be drafted on Day 2. After Irvin, the Mountaineers have rSr CB Keith Tandy, rSr DE Julian Miller, rSr OT Don Barclay and Sr TE Tyler Urban all fighting for a spot late in the draft.



The Almost Official 2012 NFL Draft Order
January 2, 2012, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Home,NFL Draft Order | Tags: , , ,

Written By: Mark Scott

We finally have an official 2012 NFL Draft Order (Top 20 picks only), time to start mocking away. The regular season is officially over and the NFL has released their official draft order for the Top 20 selections made up of the 20 non-playoff teams. The playoff teams will make up picks #21 through pick #32 as each round of the playoff comes to a close and teams are eliminated or move on to the next round. The order is determined by worst record and then strength of schedule for teams with the same record. The third tie-breaker, for teams with the same record and the same strength of schedule, which will have to be used in two separate cases this year to break ties between Carolina and Miami as well as Kansas City and Seattle will be determined by a coin toss that will take place at the 2012 NFL Draft Scouting Combine.

TEAM/RECORD                        SOS

  1. IND (2-14)                           .539
  2. STL (2-14)                            .590
  3. MIN (3-13)                          .559
  4. CLE (4-12)                            .531
  5. TB (4-12)                              .551
  6. WSH (5-11)                          .477
  7. JAX (5-11)                           .500
  8. *CAR (6-10)                        .504
  9. *MIA (6-10)                        .504
  10. BUF (6-10)                             .520
  11. *KC (7-9)                              .512
  12. *SEA (7-9)                           .512
  13. ARZ (8-8)                             .469
  14. DAL (8-8)                             .473
  15. PHI (8-8)                              .488
  16. NYJ (8-8)                             .500
  17. OAK (8-8) CIN                    .504
  18. SD (8-8)                                 .516
  19. CHI (8-8)                              .527
  20. TEN (9-7)                             .563

*CAR/MIA #8 selection will be determined by coin toss at NFL Scouting Combine

*KC/SEA #11 selection will be determined by coin toss at NFL Scouting Combine

> Picks 21-32 will be determined as playoff teams lose in each round.

> Cincinnati holds Oakland’s first-round draft choice (via Carson Palmer trade)

> Cleveland holds Atlanta’s first round draft choice (via Julio Jones trade)

> New England holds New Orleans first-round draft choice (via Mark Ingram trade)

AFC PLAYOFF BRACKET

  1. NE (13-3)
  2. BAL (12-4)
  3. HOU (10-6)
  4. DEN (8-8)
  5. PIT (12-4)
  6. CIN (9-7)

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET

  1. GB (15-1)
  2. SF (13-3)
  3. NO (13-3)
  4. NYG (9-7)
  5. ATL (10-6)
  6. DET (10-6)


2012 NFL Draft Watch: Bowl Games Part 6 (JAN.2)

Written By: Mark Scott

This January 2nd is a draft nut’s dream day as elite prospects will be playing all over the place with first round talent on the field in every Bowl game, along with multiple Top 100 prospects as well. Prospects like Justin Blackmon, Devon Still, Alshon Jeffrey, as well as the likely number one pick Andrew Luck and a pair of his Stanford Offensive linemen will be selected through Day 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft.

All rankings attained from CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, SI’s Tony Pauline and ESPN’s Todd McShay.

 

Ticketcity Bowl, January 2/2012

Houston Cougars vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State and Houston kick off the New Year in a clash of defense vs. offense that will feature a potential Top Ten talent in Devon Still and a group of late round prospects. The Nittany Lions’ rSr DT Still flew up draft boards this season after a fantastic year that saw him win the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Defensive Lineman of the Year and finish as a Finalist for the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year in all of college football. He’s a dominant, disruptive force on the interior of the line and against the run game. Always working until the whistle, he can also force his way into the backfield as evidenced by his 4.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss this season. Penn State’s other prospects ,  Sr DE Jack Crawford, Sr CB D’Anton Lynn, rSr WR Derek Moye and rSr FB Joe Suhey will all be fighting for draft position late on Day 3 in the closing rounds. Crawford is an athlete that appears to possess all of the potential talent to become a starter in the NFL, but has been a big disappointment throughout his collegiate career and never really found his game. Some team could take him higher if they think they can be the ones to unleash his talent. For Houston, they have a group of potential seventh round prospects in rSr DE/OLB Sammy Brown, Sr RB Bryce Beall, rSr WR Patrick Edwards and one of the most successful and record-holding Quarterbacks of all-time, rSr QB Case Keenum. Brown is the team’s most interesting prospect and could actually go higher on Day 3 than the final round. A dynamic pass-rusher with a lot of speed, he finished with 12.5 sacks this year and could fit nicely as a 3-4 OLB in the pros.

 

Capital One Bowl, January 2/2012

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

In a battle of the SEC versus the Big Ten, three possibly even up to six players will be first round prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. South Carolina features four of those potential first-rounders in rSr DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, Jr WR Alshon Jeffrey, Jr CB Stephon Gilmore and rJr DE/OLB Devin Taylor. Ingram is a versatile defender that did a bit of everything this season including 44 tackles, 13.5 for loss, 8.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and three touchdowns (2 DEF, 1 ST) while playing multiple positions. His main job however is to rush the passer and he does so with excellent closing speed, quick hands and a number of different moves to get past blockers. His one downfall is that he is a little inconsistent in his effort from play to play, but has the potential to be the top pass-rusher in the draft. Alshon Jeffrey is a massive playmaking wide receiver that stands an enormous 6’4, 230lbs. and dominates defenders with his size. He has the ability to get deep downfield and makes incredible plays every week. He does need to show that he has the speed to be as effective in the pros as he is in the college game and will also need to improve his route-running skills.  Stephon Gilmore is a very good corner with a ton of experience that has solid cover skills, great instincts and playmaking ability. He can also contribute in the return game on special teams. He is good in run support and will fit in best with a team that plays a lot of zone coverage. He could make his way into the late first round, but with a very deep group of corners in this draft he will likely fall into the second round. Devin Taylor is a tall, lanky pass-rusher with great length and is extremely fluid and agile. He plays mostly standing up and projects to be a 3-4 OLB, but could move to end in a 4-3 if he adds more strength and size to his body. He has let it be known that he is probably going to return to school for his final season to improve his game and draft stock after a disappointing year. South Carolina’s rSr SS Antonio Allen is an impact defender that was named to the 2011 All-SEC Second-Team and is among the top safeties in the draft and will probably come off the board in the third round. For Nebraska, Sr CB Alfonzo Dennard leads the charge as one of the top cover corners in the draft. He is a very physical player with the ability to shut down the other team’s top receiver and has the talent to be a number one corner at the next level.  He battled injuries this season, but also made improvements in his footwork and ball skills. He is very similar to his former teammate and Giants’2011 first-round choice Prince Amukamara. Along with Dennard is rSr DT Jared Crick, who was the man who took over for Ndamukong Suh after he went to the pros. Crick was productive as a redshirt Junior in his first year after the departure of Suh, earning All-American honors with 9.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 10 Quarterback hurries showing that he could do it by himself and without his former teammate. He came into the year with a first-round rating, but suffered a season-ending pectoral injury midway through the year and will miss this game. He’s a strong, intelligent hardworking player that can rush the passer and defend against the run and probably fits best as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. He probably comes off the board in the second round. The Cornhuskers’ also have a pair of mid-round picks in Sr OLB LaVonte David and OT Marcel Jones. David was named a 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches All-American and the 2011 Big Ten Linebacker of the Year as well as a finalist for the Butkus Award. He has great instincts and toughness with excellent tackling ability, but will fall down draft boards because of his lack of size and could be moved to safety in the pros. He could go as high as the third round.

 

Gator Bowl, January 2/2012

Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Surprisingly the game between the Buckeyes and the Gators won’t feature any elite talent with just one possible late first round pick and a couple of mid to late round prospects. Ohio State’s Sr OT Mike Adams is the one player in this matchup that could sneak into Day 1, but probably goes in the second round. He is a fantastic pass-blocker on the blind side and is the prototypical NFL Left Tackle with the perfect mix of size, length and athletic ability. However, he had a ton of off the field issues throughout his collegiate career including being a part of the Tattoo scandal that rocked the Ohio State program and caused him to be suspended for the first five games of the season this year, which could scare off a number of teams. Also on the offensive line, Sr C Mike Brewster is the prototypical NFL Center with strength, athleticism and great size. He is intelligent with a lot of experience and possesses good footwork and agility to make multiple blocks and create huge running lanes for ball-carriers. He’s looking at a mid-round draft grade. Jr DE John Simon is a versatile and promising defensive lineman that plays with power and a great deal of intensity. He is extremely dedicated and hardworking and only stands to continue to get better. He is an effective pass-rusher and is solid against the run and looks like a Day 2 selection if he chooses to enter the draft. Also for the Buckeyes is another pair of players involved with Tattoo-gate that were suspended for multiple games in Sr WR DeVier Posey and rSr RB Dan Herron. Posey has great size and an excellent vertical game, where he can make big plays deep downfield. He still has some developing to do, but has a lot of upside as an eventual number two receiving option.  Herron is a banger inside despite a slight lack of size for the role, but also has the speed and quick feet to make tacklers miss and pick up chucks of yards. Both players will be mid-round selections. Florida features a pair of small, but world-class fast playmakers in Sr RB Jeff Demps and rSr RB Chris Rainey. Both are versatile athletes that can rush the ball or catch it effectively out of the backfield and break off the homerun play at any time. They project as third-down change of pace backs and it should be interesting to see which one scouts and teams prefer. Both are Day 3 selections. The Gators’ rSr DT Jaye Howard should be drafted late in the sixth or seventh round.

 

Outback Bowl, January 2/2012

Michigan State Spartans vs. Georgia Bulldogs

The third Big Ten/SEC battle of the day, Michigan State versus Georgia features a large group of prospects with more than a few Day 1 or 2 players. The Spartans have two note-worthy prospects in rJr DT Jerel Worthy and rSR QB Kirk Cousins. Worthy is a run-stopping machine that clogs up the middle of the field and is often a disruptive force in the backfield. Named a 2011 AFCA Coaches All-American, Worthy has all the tools to become an elite defender at the next level, although his fundamentals need some improving and his effort needs to become more consistent. He has a ton of upside and is a likely first round choice. Cousins has the ability to become a serviceable starter in the NFL and will be a part of that second group of QBs taken in the draft with the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden. He is a tough, intelligent signal-caller with above average arm strength and accuracy, but needs to improve his footwork and decision-making. A decent athlete with great character, he could be drafted late in round three. The Spartans also possess four Day 3 prospects in Sr FS Trenton Robinson, rSr TE Brian Linthicum, rSr WR B.J. Cunningham and Sr WR Keshawn Martin. Georgia has a couple of elite prospects of their own beginning with former USC-transfer, rSo OLB Jarvis Jones, who exploded on to the college football scene this year as one of the top 3-4 OLB prospects in the country and a finalist for the Butkus Award. He was named to the 2011 AFCA Coaches All-American Team and All-SEC First-Team after recording 69 tackles, a SEC-leading 19.5 for loss and 13.5 sacks.  He has incredible talent and unlimited upside. Already a dynamic four-quarter pass-rusher, Jones could go early in the 2012 NFL Draft if he chooses to enter and will have 3-4 teams drooling at the chance to put him on their defense. A for-sure Day 2 prospect, Sr OL Cordy Glenn is a versatile, experienced offensive lineman that will enter first round discussions. The ability to play inside at Guard or on the outside at either Tackle position, Glenn’s massive size has him projected better as an interior lineman in the pros. He is big, strong and surprisingly quick and athletic. He contributes in pass-protection and can annihilate defenders in the run game. Jr TE Orson Charles really came on this year as an athletic, play-making tight end with great hands that can create mismatches against opposing defensive backs. He finished as a finalist for the 2011 John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end and is getting even better as more balls come his way. If he chooses to enter the draft he should come off the board in the third round. Georgia’s Sr C Ben Jones and Sr CB Brandon Boykin will be drafted on Day 3, while rSr P Drew Butler, Sr K Blair Walsh and Sr DT DeAngelo Tyson will likely go undrafted, although Butler is the top punter available.

 

Rose Bowl, January 2/2012

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks

The Rose Bowl features more prospects between Wisconsin and Oregon than any other game on the day. The Badgers come into this matchup with a ton of Top 100 talent that will fill the first three rounds of the draft. Wisconsin’s Offensive Linemen, rJr C Peter Konz, rJr Ricky Wagner and Sr OG Kevin Zeitler are all Day 2 prospects and will even get some late first round love. Konz is a big, athletic Center that is a dominating blocker with excellent footwork and mobility that can blow defenders away in the run game. He is getting great reviews from scouts and will be the top Center drafted. Wagner is a fantastic pass-blocker and is solid in the run game. He has good size and quickness with next-level skills, but has a number of improvements still to make. Unlike a couple of his underclass teammates like Konz and Montee Ball, he didn’t put in his paperwork to get a draft evaluation and told Badgers’ Coach Bielman that he was coming back barring something crazy happening. Konz could also return, but likely won’t with such a high draft evaluation. Zeitler is anchor in the middle of the offensive line that has a lot of experience and was named a 2011 AFCA Coaches All-American. He is big with good mobility and a solid low center of gravity that allows him to handle multiple defenders. He is a tenacious, aggressive pass-protector and run blocker. Zeitler and Konz should both be able to start immediately. The Badgers also have a pair of playmakers on offense that will be drafted on Day 2. Heisman Trophy Finalist Jr RB Montee Ball is a complete running back that can plow his way between the tackles with power, but is also fast and elusive enough to run for big gains in open field. He also has very good hands that make him a potent receiver out of the backfield. He was absolutely incredible this season and was a touchdown machine. He could return for his Senior campaign, but his draft stock will never be higher than it is now. The Badgers’ rSr WR Nick Toon is a dependable deep threat that is the son of former NFL first round choice, Al Toon. He is smooth, but physical and can make tough grabs all over the field. He still needs to improve his speed however. Wisconsin also has Day 3 prospects in rSr FS Aaron Henry, Sr CB Antonio Fenelus and rSr QB Russell Wilson. Badgers’ rSr K Philip Welch will probably sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent. While Oregon doesn’t have any first round or possibly even second round talent, they do have a large group of draft eligible prospects starting with rJr RB LaMichael James, although he could still return for another year at Oregon. He is a dynamic, explosive playmaker with fantastic acceleration that can contribute in the passing game with a great set of hands out of the backfield. He has battled the “too-small” label his entire career, but is a homerun hitter whenever the ball is in his hands and projects as a third-down change of pace back in the pros that could go in the third round. The rest of Oregon’s prospects will be Day 3 prospects or undrafted free agents in Sr OLB Josh Kaddu, rSr SS Eddie Pleasant, rSr TE David Paulson, Jr OG Carson York and rSo Dion Jordan. York and Jordan are candidates to return to school for another year. Jr CB Cliff Harris came into the season as an intriguing cornerback prospect that was getting early round buzz, but repeated off the field issues this year and last caused him to be kicked off the Oregon team and have his draft stock unknown and up in the air, but sources have stated that Harris will enter the draft rather than find another school.

 

Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl, January 2/2012

Stanford Cardinal vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The final game of the day showcases a fantastic group of elite talent, including four definite first round choices. Stanford has three of those first round prospects starting with the all but guaranteed first overall pick, rJr QB Andrew Luck, the most talked about and best prospect since John Elway in 1983. Luck possesses all of the physical and mental skills possible with basically no holes in his game at all. He has a phenomenal arm with great strength and accuracy, an incredible football I.Q. and outstanding leadership ability. He has played in a pro-style offense his entire career, knows how to read defenses and can call his own plays. He is on a completely different level than any other player in this draft. He is ready to play right away, although he may have to sit for a year or more if the Colts decide to select and keep him and Peyton Manning rather than trade Manning or the #1 pick used to draft him. Two of the reasons, Luck has been able to develop and stay healthy throughout his collegiate career are rJr OT Jonathon Martin and rJr OG David DeCastro. Martin protected Luck’s blind side for the past three seasons and is a fantastic pass protector. He is a solid athlete with good quickness and great footwork. He is very strong and can handle all kinds of different rushers, while playing with an impressive mean streak. He will be battling Iowa’s Riley Reiff to be the second tackle selected in April. DeCastro is the top interior Offensive lineman available and an extremely nasty player. He’s not an elite athlete, but is a powerful, tough run blocker that annihilates oncoming defenders. A finalist for the 2011 Outland Trophy Award as the nation’s top interior lineman, DeCastro also possesses sound technique, excellent mobility and good intelligence. Both players have terrific upside and futures as franchise Offensive linemen in the NFL. Stanford’s final draft eligible prospect is rSr TE Coby Fleener, who stock is starting to really pickup and is one of the top tight ends available. Fleener is a pure receiving tight end as he doesn’t have very good blocking skills, but does have excellent speed, great hands and is a big-time mismatch versus opposing defensive backfields. A reliable target across the middle and deep down the field, Fleener is sure to attract multiple teams that want their own Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham and will be a Day 2 selection. Oklahoma State has their own group of outstanding prospects beginning with the top-rated wide out in the draft, rJr WR Justin Blackmon. He is an exceptional playmaker and extremely productive putting up an absolutely ridiculous 224 receptions for 3118 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns the past two years. He doesn’t have the best speed, but is very strong and physical with extraordinary hands. He’s a great route runner whether it’s in the slot or going deep. He should be a top ten selection and has fantastic potential. Sr OT Levy Adcock made waves this season among Offensive Tackle prospects as he improved with every game to the point where he was named to the 2011 All-Big 12 First-Team. He is a decent athlete that has good size and strength with the ability to pick up and block oncoming rushers. He lacks quickness and needs to improve his footwork, but possesses good balance. He will fit in best with a zone blocking team and should be drafted late in the third round or early on Day 3. Another 2011 All-Big 12 First-Team player, rSr FS Markelle Martin is one of the top Safeties available and a third or fourth round draft choice. He is a big hitter with excellent closing speed and good ball skills. He also has good vision and intelligence. A former minor league baseball player, rSr QB Brandon Weeden put together a great couple of seasons the past two years with the Cowboys. He has terrific arm strength with good accuracy and a great touch from the pocket. He struggles with throws off his back foot, but is a tough player that will hang in the pocket and take the big hit to make a play. His age (28 years old) will be the biggest knock on him and will cause him to drop further than he should. Still he could be selected before Day 3.