NFL Draft Center


Written By: Mark Scott

The NFL Draft officially got started last night and what a night it was as it has to go down as one of the more entertaining, if not the most entertaining NFL Draft that there has ever been. There were trades galore as teams moved up and down and all over the place all night long. Ten trades total happened in the first round more than doubling the four that went down last year including picks no.2-7 all changing hands. There was six widely considered elite prospects in this draft in Luck, Griffin III, Richardson, Kalil, Blackmon and Claiborne and all of them came off the board in the top six selections with the top five picks all being offensive players. The frenzied action continued throughout the first round laying the ground work for an amazing draft. It really was an incredible night of draft-picking action.

The Top Ten

  1. IND – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
  2. STL WSH – QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
  3. MIN CLE – RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
  4. CLE MIN – OT Matt Kalil, USC
  5. TB JAX – WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  6. WSH STL DAL – CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
  7. JAX TB – SS Mark Barron, Alabama
  8. MIA – QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
  9. CAR – ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  10. BUF – CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina


It didn’t take long for the night to get going as the Cleveland Browns tried to steal some thunder from top picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III by trading up a spot about an hour before the draft started to no.3 to put themselves in a position to land Trent Richardson. As expected Luck and Griffin III went in the top two spots of the draft and then the action really began as picks no.3 through 7 (pick no.2 was traded to Washington in March) had all changed hands. Along with Luck and Griffin III, the other four players; Richardson, Kalil, Blackmon and Claiborne, rated as the six elite prospects available, all went in the first six selections. It’s not like Jerry Jones to go unnoticed on draft night and he certainly didn’t last night after he traded up from the middle of the round to no.6 to land cornerback Morris Claiborne helping to turn the Cowboys’ weak secondary into one of the strongest, to go along with their free agent addition of Brandon Carr. Mark Barron, Luke Kuechly and Stephon Gilmore were all able to rise up a few spots and crack the top ten, while Miami was finally able to land a quarterback after reaching for Ryan Tannehill making him the third quarterback to go in the top ten.

The Middle Ten (Picks 11-20)

  1. KC – NT Dontari Poe, Memphis
  2. SEA PHI – DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
  3. ARZ – WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
  4. DAL STL – DT Michael Brockers, LSU
  5. PHI SEA – DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
  6. NYJ – DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
  7. OAK CIN – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
  8. SD – OLB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
  9. CHI – DE Shea McClellin, Boise State
  10. TEN – WR Kendall Wright, Baylor


The middle section of the first round was all about beefing up the defensive line and pass rush. This part of the round certainly did not go without a couple of questionable selections. Of the ten picks, seven were either a defensive lineman or pass rusher. The Chiefs started the run by selecting the mammoth Poe to take over the middle of their defense at Nose Tackle. It was an interesting pick by GM Scott Pioli, who has built a bit of reputation for taking solid, safe players in the draft, but clearly went away from that by taking one of the biggest gambles and potential payoffs in the Memphis product. Then the Philadelphia Eagles stepped up to the plate and moved up to the no.12 spot trading with Seattle to take the top rated defensive lineman in the draft in Fletcher Cox. Great move, great pick and outstanding value as Cox was widely believed to be the next best prospect following the elite six at the top. Maybe control over Arizona’s draft picks was a part of that massive contract they gave Larry Fitzgerald because the Cardinals continued to reward their star player by drafting the guy he wanted so badly and campaigned for in Notre Dame wide out Michael Floyd, instead of filling a bigger need on the offensive line. The Rams appeared to be very pleased with landing Michael Brockers, who should give Jeff Fisher the Albert Haynesworth-type player he had such great success with in Tennessee to build his new line around in St. Louis, while continuing to add more draft picks. Though the selection of Brockers wasn’t that questionable as defensive tackle help was needed, it was the fact that a wide receiver they so desperately needed came off the board directly in front of them both times they were set to make their selection. Blackmon at 5 and Floyd at 13, when the Rams were lined up to pick at 6 then ultimately at 14. The biggest SHOCK of the entire first round and maybe the draft came when the Seattle Seahawks chose Bruce Irvin out of nowhere, especially with the entire class of pass rushers still available to be had. Irvin has a ton of run-ins with the law and off the field issues galore and wasn’t expected to be drafted until at least the mid to late second round and maybe further into round three, but Seattle believes that he is the best pass rusher in the draft. He better be because all he brings to the table is a small, one-trick pony. If they wanted Irvin, they certainly could’ve moved a bit further down the draft and stockpiled more picks. Then the Jets passed up on Ingram, who they needed and apparently loved for Quinton Coples. He has a lot of talent, but major concerns about his effort and character exist. He should fit right in with the Jets already questionable locker room. The Bengals landed the corner they needed in Dre Kirkpatrick, while San Diego gleefully scooped up Ingram to fix their pass rushing issues with one of the best values of the draft. The Bears also fixed their pass rush by bringing in the rising Shea McClellin, who already looks like a Chicago Bear. Then in a bit of surprise the Titans selected wide receiver Kendall Wright, instead of fixing their interior offensive line or pass rush woes. I thought it was a no-brainer for the Titans to take David DeCastro after he was still on the board for them.

The Playoff Twelve (Picks 21-32)

  1. CIN NE – DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse
  2. CLE – QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
  3. DET – OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
  4. PIT – OG David DeCastro, Stanford
  5. DEN NE – ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
  6. HOU – OLB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
  7. NE CIN – OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
  8. GB – DE/OLB Nick Perry, USC
  9. BAL MIN – SS Harrison Smith, Notre Dame
  10. SF – WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois
  11. NE DEN TB – RB Doug Martin, Boise State
  12. NYG – RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech


The good teams just keeping getting better as the playoff teams that held onto their spots in the late first round all made sound choices with their draft picks for the most part. The New England Patriots took over this part of the draft moving up instead of their usual down to land two players they really wanted in Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. I hope the AFC is ready because the Patriots aren’t going to have one of the worst defenses again especially with these two selections. Just awesome work from Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Then there was Detroit and especially Pittsburgh, who couldn’t believe their eyes when Riley Reiff and David DeCastro fell into their laps. The DeCastro selection is easily the best pick of the first round. One of the very top players in this draft, the Stanford guard fell because of the lack of value placed on interior offensive linemen. Don’t be surprised if he ends up going to more Pro Bowls than anyone else in this draft. Pouncey and DeCastro have got to be one of the best center-guard combos in the league now. Houston and Green Bay were both able to make their dangerous pass rush even more so by adding Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry respectively. And who said that running backs were out because three went in the first round as the Bucs and Giants closed out the night by taking Doug Martin and then David Wilson to help their running attacks.

Biggest Risers and Fallers

Bruce Irvin was clearly the biggest winner and riser of the draft from a player perspective as he rose from a projected late second/third round spot to the middle of the first round and the first pass rusher taken. While it was widely believed that Ryan Tannehill would be picked by the Dolphins in the top ten, he was still thought by most to be a late first or second round talent. All the talk about Stephon Gilmore rising up draft boards did come to fruition as he rose to the tenth pick with Buffalo. Mark Barron entered the draft as one of the most highly coveted players and that certainly came into an affect as Tampa Bay took him at no.7 higher than his expected spot in the middle of the first round. Shea McClellin was also a guy that was getting a lot of buzz in the last few weeks leading up to the draft about rising into the late first round and he rose even higher than that going to Chicago at pick no.19. The value of the quarterback came into play again as the Cleveland Browns reached to take 28-year old Brandon Weeden, who was a projected as a second or third round pick, mainly due to his age, but the Browns didn’t seem to care about that. Other risers included Kevin Zeitler, A.J. Jenkins and David Wilson. Jenkins was the biggest riser of the three as he leapfrogged higher rated wide outs like Stephen Hill, Reuben Randle and Alshon Jeffrey.

Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, Riley Reiff and David DeCastro all fell much lower than expected, but still found homes in the first round. Although it should be noted that there were reports that Ingram, Coples and Reiff were falling down draft boards this past week. The biggest fallers were Courtney Upshaw and three offensive linemen; Cordy Glenn, Jonathon Martin and Mike Adams, who are all still available heading into Day 2 of the draft. Upshaw’s fall had to do with the fact that despite being an excellent football player, a number of teams are still unsure of where exactly to play him on the field. For Adams, the off the field issues continued to catch up with him as he tested positive for pot at the Combine after a collegiate career filled with a laundry list of incidents, including being a major part of the famous Tattoo-gate at Ohio State. The off the field concerns are also why Janoris Jenkins is still available despite having widely-regarded top ten talent. The lack of highly talented corners should help him from falling too far. Potential late first round prospects like Jerel Worthy, Devon Still, Coby Fleener and Stephen Hill are all still available as well, but probably won’t last very long when the second round begins tonight.

Best Still Available

  1. OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
  2. OG/OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia
  3. OT Jonathon Martin, Stanford
  4. DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
  5. DT Devon Still, Penn State
  6. TE Coby Fleener, Stanford
  7. CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
  8. OLB Lavonte David, Nebraska
  9. OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi
  10. OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
  11. RB Lamar Miller, Miami-Florida
  12. C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
  13. WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
  14. DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut
  15. QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

Mark Scott’s Official 2012 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially upon us as the first round gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Stanford’s Andrew Luck is set to be taken with the first overall pick by the Colts beginning a new era in Indianapolis, while Robert Griffin III will be drafted right behind him by the Washington Redskins, who traded three first round picks and second round pick to move up to take the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. The Draft takes off from there as recent reports have the Vikings possibly looking elsewhere after being locked into USC left tackle Matt Kalil for months. Then the Cleveland Browns at no.4 are debating between three offensive players in Trent Richardson, Ryan Tannehill and Justin Blackmon. Tannehill will be a central figure to watch throughout the first round as the Texas A&M quarterback awaits to see where he will be taken. It could be Cleveland or Miami or perhaps another team will make a move to trade up to get him. Regardless of where he is taken it is widely believed that he will be vastly over drafted. Watch out for names like Fletcher Cox, Mark Barron, David DeCastro, Michael Floyd, Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones as they appear to be highly coveted prospects heading into the draft. This really feels like the year where there will be twists and turns all over the first round as teams trade up or down and prospects rise or fall and expect that to continue throughout the draft. Let the mocking begin.


It’s basically official after the Colts notified Andrew Luck and the sports world this past week that he would indeed be their selection with the first overall pick ending months of waiting and finally beginning the Luck era in Indy and closing the book on Peyton Manning as a Colt. The Stanford product is the best prospect since John Elway in 1983 and has been ready to take this step for a long time. He possesses all the tools physically and mentally and is a once in a lifetime type talent.


The Redskins were desperate to fix their quarterback situation after disastrous seasons with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck as their signal-callers and will do so after making a blockbuster trade with the Rams to move up to the no.2 spot to take Robert Griffin III. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has rare abilities for a quarterback and is a truly special talent. He appears to be a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s offense, who can finally attempt to take the next step forward with this franchise after taking over in 2010.

*pick acquired from St. Louis.


Despite all the reports coming out that the Vikings and GM Rick Spielman are leaning towards a different direction than Kalil, it is very likely that when it comes down to it, the USC offensive lineman will be putting on the purple and gold. Spielman is likely trying to drum up some late trade interest for other coveted players like Claiborne, Richardson, Blackmon and Tannehill in an attempt to move down a couple spots and still land Kalil. They do really like Claiborne and Blackmon, who both could fill a major need at either the cornerback or receiver position and it wouldn’t be that big a surprise if one of them is selected. Kalil is the only legitimate franchise left tackle available this year and would fill the Vikings’ major hole protecting Christian Ponder’s blindside.


The Browns desperately need to fix their offense and with three picks in the top 40 selections they should be able to add some talented pieces. The debate for their front office will be which direction they should go first. Colt McCoy is not the answer as a starting quarterback, but is Ryan Tannehill really that much better, especially considering his inexperience at the college level and the fact he probably won’t be ready for a couple seasons and will still have to deal with the lack of offensive weapons in Cleveland. Then there is the absence of a true no.1 wide receiver to throw too. They have Little, Robiskie and Massaquoi as their current wide outs, but all of them are just nice complimentary pieces. They also have a major need at running back after Peyton Hillis was let go and took his sideshow to Kansas City this offseason and Montario Hardesty’s inability to stay healthy. Trent Richardson is one of the top six elite talents in the draft and the only feature, 3-down running back available. He has the ability to pound the ball inside or break it out wide for big gains and is a flawless receiver out of the backfield. He is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Plus there will be a number of wide receivers available later in the first when they select again at pick no.22.


Ronde Barber is likely playing his final season before retiring. Free Agent signing Eric Wright isn’t very good at all and no.1 corner Aqib Talib is probably going to be suspended and may even be headed to jail if his trial doesn’t go his way. He’s in the last year of his contract anyways and it wouldn’t a surprise to see the Bucs cut him any day now. Morris Claiborne is not only the top cornerback in the draft, he’s the top defensive player too. He’s an elite cover corner with terrific instincts and ball skills. He has big play ability and can contribute on special teams as well. It should be noted that Tampa has hired acclaimed LSU Defensive Backs Coach Ron Cooper to its new coaching staff in the same role. Cooper guided and transformed Claiborne into an elite cornerback after he came to LSU as a high school wide receiver.


The Rams have one of the worst wide receiver corps in the league and it has had a major affect on quarterback Sam Bradford’s development. St. Louis partly made the trade with Washington in hopes that Blackmon would still be available a few picks later allowing them to select the feature wide receiver they so badly need, while adding a major haul of draft picks from the Redskins. Blackmon is an absolute monster that can dominate defenders and has the ability to take over games by himself (see his legendary performance vs. Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl).

*pick acquired from Washington.


The Jaguars are reportedly very interested in cornerback Stephon Gilmore, but with a pass rush that has finished near the bottom of the league in sacks the past three seasons, they need to add some new talent at defensive end. Ingram has emerged throughout the draft process as the top pass rusher available and while he is a bit of a tweener in size, he has the skills and versatility to play a multitude of positions and defensive end in a 4-man front like the Jags employ is one of them. He has good explosion off the snap and is able to gain leverage on opposing offensive linemen and his endless motor allows him to be an every down player.


It’s know secret that the Dolphins have been looking to add a new quarterback to their team after missing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith in free agency. They also missed out on trading up for Robert Griffin III. So what’s left for Miami, well it is the rising, but perhaps slightly overrated Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M, who is actually pretty good fit for their offense especially after they named his former college head coach Mike Sherman as their new offensive coordinator. Tannehill has fantastic potential, but lacks experience at the position after playing two-plus years as a receiver for the Aggies before switching back to quarterback and taking over for Jarrod Johnson in 2010. He has a live arm and possesses great mobility, but his accuracy and decision-making are major question marks. He is still a year or two from being ready to play in the NFL and needs some work.


The Panthers run defense was abysmal and repeatedly gashed week after week this past season. They drafted a pair of defensive tackles in Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in the third round last year, but neither player showed very much promise during the season. Fletcher Cox was the best defensive lineman in the extremely talent-laden SEC and has emerged as just that in this draft as well. He is great at stopping the run, but it is his pass rush skills from the interior that have him in such high demand and he’s still getting better at an incredible rate. He also provides great versatility should Ron Rivera ever decide to switch his defense to his preferred 3-4 scheme. He’s an instant upgrade over everyone on their roster at the position.


The Bills have had a major need for a new franchise left tackle for a few years now and Riley Reiff is available, but there are questions about his ability to play left tackle at the next level and he’s starting to slide. If Buffalo can trade down a few spots he could definitely be in play. GM Buddy Nix likes to often go with the best player available and Kuechly fits that description. Linebacker isn’t the biggest need for the Bills, but they can use a third guy next to Nick Barnett and Kelvin Sheppard. He is an outstanding athlete that is a tackling machine and a complete linebacker that continues to turn this Bills defense into one of the strongest in the NFL.


Center Casey Wiegmann will likely retire before the start of the season allowing the Chiefs to move Rodney Hudson over from guard to replace him. Doing so will still leave a hole that needs to be filled and DeCastro seems like the smart, safe Scott Pioli type of pick he’s become known for. Guards normally don’t go this high in the draft, but DeCastro is the best guard prospect in the last decade and is ready to step in immediately and play at a perennial Pro Bowl level. He is one the best prospects in the entire draft and is worthy of this high of a selection.


Chris Clemons was the only defensive end on Seattle’s roster to provide a pass rush and he will be a 31-year old free agent following the season. Their other starting defensive end was Raheem Brock who is currently a 34-year old free agent in decline. Coples has tremendous upside and is an elite talent, but commitment and effort concerns are why he is still available at this point. After feeling a little bit of heat as he waits to hear his name called later than he thought it should, Coples will come into the league with a chip on his shoulder and Pete Carroll should be able to get the most out of him.


Arizona’s offensive line is atrocious and with Reiff still on the board, they have to overlook the temptation of adding receiver Michael Floyd and select the tenacious offensive tackle. RT Brandon Keith is a free agent and won’t be resigned, while LT Levi Brown was cut and then immediately brought back at a much cheaper price, but both guys weren’t very good and needed to be upgraded. Reiff isn’t ready to be an NFL left tackle just yet, but he can be plugged in and played right away on the right side of the line. As he matures and gains experience he should be able to be moved over to the blind side eventually.


The Cowboys secondary has been one of their biggest weaknesses the past two years, including last season when it was just embarrassing at times. They added free agent corner Brandon Carr from the Chiefs to form a tandem with Mike Jenkins, who’s on the hot seat and then released former starter Terence Newman. Brodney Pool helps at free safety, but the rest of the Dallas safety corps is bad. Mark Barron is a hot commodity as the draft nears and Dallas will be lucky if he is still available for them at pick no.14. He would instantly give credibility to their secondary and provide them with the leader they sorely need. Barron is the complete safety prospect that can contribute in all facets of the game and is one of the top players in the draft.


The Eagles would like to add a big, physical defensive tackle, but the recent trade of Asante Samuel leaves them short a corner. Gilmore is soaring up draft boards and rumors have him coming off the board in the top ten, but in this scenario he is still available for the Eagles and too good to pass up. Adding Gilmore will allow them to eventually replace Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who is in the last year of his deal and needed to be upgraded anyways. Gilmore has good size, speed and all-around skills with the potential to become a no.1 corner down the line.


The Jets defense struggled at times last season due to a lack of pass rush. Aaron Maybin was a nice find, but is still just a situational player. Courtney Upshaw is great football player with personality that is a perfect fit for Rex Ryan and could easily go here, but with Jones skyrocketing up draft boards the past few weeks and his brother being UFC Light heavyweight Jon Jones, combined that with Ryan’s affinity for MMA and Jones could be the surprise pick. He has freakish athletic ability with excellent length. There’s a ton of upside with him and he should be ready to contribute right away, while continuing to get better.


The Bengals need for a cornerback is well-documented. Jonathon Joseph signed with Houston last offseason and was never really replaced, Leon Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles and may never be the same, while Nate Clements and the recently signed Terence Newman are aging, declining players. Kirkpatrick is a big, well-coached corner with a National Championship pedigree. He is solid in coverage and a quality tackler that contributes against the run.

*pick acquired from Oakland


The Chargers defense is in desperate need of playmaker, specifically at the rush linebacker position. They had just one player record more than four sacks last year. Larry English has battled injuries and looks like a bust, while the recent signing of Jarrett Johnson is a pretty good one, although he isn’t really a pass rusher and is more effective versus the run. Upshaw is falling down draft boards as a majority of teams are unsure of where to play him. At the Combine he appeared too big and slow to play outside linebacker, but too short and not strong enough to play defensive end, however his game film says otherwise as he was a dynamic playmaker and pass rusher for Nick Saban at Alabama. He is a pure football player.


The Bears appear to be leaning towards adding a defensive lineman in this spot instead of taking a Jonathon Martin, Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams to improve their woeful offensive line or giving Jay Cutler another weapon like Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill to work with. Mercilus put up huge numbers this past season and showed great potential as a big-time pass rusher, but he could also be a one-year wonder. Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije are a good pass rushing tandem, but were badly overworked last year and could feel some after affects of that this year. Adding a young player to spell them throughout the game should help avoid that.


Defensive ends Jason Jones and William Hayes are gone, but the Titans could’ve used an upgrade over them anyways after they provided just 4.5 sacks combined last year. They signed pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley, but former first round pick Derrick Morgan still remains an unknown commodity as injuries have hampered his development since being drafted. Wimbley and Perry should create a formidable pass rushing duo as Morgan continues to try and find his legs. There is concern that Perry is a one-year wonder, but he possesses a great first step off the snap with good footwork and body control while using his relentless motor and ability to gain leverage to get to the quarterback.


The Bengals lost both starting guards Nate Livings and Bobbie Williams to free agency and Cordy Glenn is the type of mammoth SEC offensive lineman that Cincinnati loves to draft. Glenn has unreal athleticism and size with the ability to play left guard and both tackle positions. He can be plugged into the starting lineup right away at guard and provide insurance at tackle.


The Browns continue to add weapons on offense and drastically improve their wide receiver corps, which is one of the worst in the league, by adding the dynamic Wright. The Baylor product can stretch the field or make plays in the slot and has big play ability. By adding Richardson and Wright, the Cleveland offense just got a whole lot better now and for when they find their eventual franchise quarterback.

*pick acquired from Atlanta


Detroit has avoided fixing their left tackle position for years and while they re-signed the steady Jeff Backus, who has been manning the spot for a while now, he is just about finished. Right tackle isn’t much better with Gosder Cherilus badly needing to be upgraded. Martin solves both problems as he can take over for Cherilus in the short term, while Backus’ career comes to an end and he gets adjusted to playing the NFL before sliding over to left tackle to replace him. Martin is an excellent pass protector that has been watching Andrew Luck’s blind side the past three years at Stanford and did a heck of a job in doing so.


The Steelers have major needs at three positions; inside linebacker, nose tackle and offensive line and there are prospects still on the board that could fill any of those needs with Hightower, Dontari Poe and Mike Adams. Poe is very tempting, but his production was lacking and his football skills are questionable, which will turn off the Steelers, who instead go for the sure thing with Hightower and fill a major hole left by the release of James Farrior. Hightower is big, nasty and physical with the leadership abilities to quarterback a defense and fits in perfectly as a Pittsburgh Steeler.


The interior of their defensive line is pretty bare and got even more so after their best defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley signed with the Saints during free agency and they will need to land a couple of defensive tackles in the draft to make up for it. While guys who can play immediately appear to be on the top of Denver’s radar, they did not expect to see Michael Brockers still available and can’t pass on his immense talent. He’s very raw and young as just a redshirt sophomore, but his upside and potential are through the roof. Trying to find a more experienced, pro-ready defensive tackle later in the draft will be a priority, but will probably have to come in the second round if they want a guy that can start and contribute now.


The Texans are in a great position as they don’t have any glaring holes and can afford to take the best player available or a luxury pick. Wide receiver is a definite possibility as they have sorely needed someone across from Andre Johnson for a few years now, but with Poe still available and an upgrade at nose tackle needed he’s the pick. Poe is an incredible athlete with an extremely high ceiling, but is still very raw and needs a lot of work. Houston’s current nose tackles can hold down the fort while Wade Phillips develops Poe into a star.


Defense, defense and more defense is what the Patriots need after finishing at the bottom of the league in defense in 2011. Pass rushers are their most dire need to attend to after losing sack leaders Mark Anderson and Andre Carter to free agency after very productive one year stops with the team. Shea McClellin is a hot commodity right now, but because of the depth at pass rusher in this draft he remains just a late first round pick. He has great versatility and can play multiple positions in various schemes. He plays tough and physical with a mean streak and should help add some attitude to this soft Patriots defense. He is the type of player that will do whatever is asked from him and do it at a high level. Bill Belichick will love him.

*pick acquired from New Orleans


The Packers just had to make the tough decision to release safety Nick Collins after they deemed his health too much of a concern, while his career was likely over anyways. He was a core player for them for a number of years and GM Ted Thompson will need to find a replacement soon. Luckily for them Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith is still available. Smith is a very good safety prospect that has a number of teams after him and will have even more once Mark Barron comes off the board. The safety class is very weak this year, but Smith has a ton of talent. He has good size, intelligence and productivity. He is a little rough around the edges, but has the potential to be a very good safety for a long time.


The Ravens lost starting left guard Ben Grubbs to free agency and then missed out on Evan Mathis after he decided to re-sign in Philadelphia instead of heading to Baltimore. Kevin Zeitler is a big, nasty mauler that has the ability to destroy oncoming defenders. He is an anchor in pass protection and a wrecking ball in the run game. He will start immediately for the Ravens, who won’t notice Grubbs is even gone after Zeitler gets on the field.


The 49ers are in a great position as they don’t have too many holes to fix and can focus on adding the best player for them. Wide receiver is a need area and will be tempting, but the combination of Crabtree, Manningham and Moss isn’t all that bad and maintaining their top notch defense is a must after winning a number of tight games last year. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are an outstanding pair of defensive ends, but there isn’t a whole lot behind them should one of them get injured. Jerel Worthy and Devon Still could be options, but Kendall Reyes’ pass rush skills along with his run stopping ability get him the nod over the pair of Big Ten tackles.


It’s no secret that New England had the worst pass defense in the league last season and at numerous times had to rely on wide receivers like Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater along with guys they signed off the street to play and start at cornerback in crucial games. Devon McCourty regressed and might be moved to safety where he spent some time last year, while Ras-I Dowling is a major health risk. On talent alone, Janoris Jenkins would be a top ten pick and could be the best cornerback in the draft, but a laundry list of off the field issues have him plummeting down draft boards. He is the top cover corner with the experience of shutting down the likes of A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffrey when he played for Florida before being dismissed from the team and ending up at North Alabama last year. Belichick’s close relationship with former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will help in the selection of this pick. What a steal for the Patriots.


Protecting and keeping Eli Manning healthy should be priority number one when New York’s projected starting offensive tackles are William Beatty and James Brewer. Beatty has battled injuries and missed 18 games over the past two seasons, while Brewer has yet to play a snap on offense. Kareem McKenzie is gone as well. They would’ve preferred Jonathon Martin over Mike Adams and his off the field issues, but adding an offensive tackle that can play and start right away is necessary. Adams has rare size and ability for an offensive tackle and has the skills and potential to be a special talent, but he needs to grow up, cut out all the off the field crap and become a professional or he won’t be around for very long.

April 26, 2012, 8:25 am
Filed under: NFL Draft Order | Tags:


1.IND / 2.WSH / 3.MIN / 4.CLE / 5.TB / 6.STL / 7.JAX / 8.MIA / 9.CAR / 10.BUF / 11.KC / 12.SEA / 13.ARZ / 14.DAL / 15.PHI / 16.NYJ / 17.CIN / 18.SD / 19.CHI / 20.TEN / 21.CIN / 22.CLE / 23.DET / 24.PIT / 25. DEN / 26.HOU / 27.NE / 28.GB / 29.BAL / 30.SF / 31.NE / 32.NYG


33.STL / 34.IND / 35.MIN / 36.TB / 37.CLE / 38.JAX / 39.STL / 40.CAR / 41.BUF / 42.MIA / 43.SEA / 44.KC / 45.DAL / 46.PHI / 47.NYJ / 48.NE / 49.SD / 50.CHI / 51.PHI / 52.TEN / 53.CIN / 54.DET / 55.ATL / 56.PIT / 57.DEN / 58.HOU / 59.GB / 60.BAL / 61.SF / 62.NE / 63.NYG


64.IND / 65.STL / 66.MIN / 67.CLE / 68.TB / 69.WSH / 70.JAX / 71.BUF / 72.MIA / 73.MIA / 74.KC / 75.SEA / 76.HOU / 77.NYJ / 78.SD / 79.CHI / 80.ARZ / 81.DAL / 82.TEN / 83.CIN / 84.ATL / 85.DET / 86.PIT / 87.DEN / 88.PHI / 89.NO / 90.GB / 91.BAL / 92.SF / 93.NE / 94.NYG / 95.OAK


96.STL / 97.IND / 98.MIN / 99.HOU / 100.CLE / 101.JAX / 102.WSH / 103.MIA / 104.CAR / 105.BUF / 106.SEA / 107.KC / 108.DEN / 109.WSH / 110.SD / 111.CHI / 112.ARZ / 113.DAL / 114.PHI / 115.TEN / 116.CIN / 117.DET / 118.CLE / 119.PIT / 120.DEN / 121.HOU / 122.NO / 123.GB / 124.BUF / 125.SF / 126.NE / 127.NYG / 128.MIN / 129.OAK / 130.BAL / 131.NYG / 132.GB / 133.GB / 134.MIN / 135.DAL


136.IND / 137.DEN / 138.MIN / 139.CLE / 140.TB / 141.WSH / 142.JAX / 143.CAR / 144.BUF / 145.MIA / 146.KC / 147.BUF / 148.OAK / 149.SD / 150.CHI / 151.ARZ / 152.DAL / 153.PHI / 154.NYJ / 155.TEN / 156.CIN / 157.ATL / 158.DET / 159.PIT / 160.CLE / 161.HOU / 162.NO / 163.GB / 164.BAL / 165.SF / 166.CIN / 167.CIN / 168.OAK / 169.BAL / 170.IND


171.STL / 172.PHI / 173.WSH / 174.TB / 175.MIN / 176.JAX / 177.ARZ / 178.BUF / 179.NO / 180.CAR / 181.SEA / 182.KC / 183.SD / 184.CHI / 185.ARZ / 186.DAL / 187.NYJ / 188.DEN / 189.OAK / 190.TEN / 191.CIN / 192.ATL / 193.PIT / 194.PHI / 195.HOU / 196.MIA / 197.GB / 198.BAL / 199.SF / 200.PHI / 201.NYG/ 202.NYJ / 203.NYJ / 204.CLE / 205.CLE / 206.IND / 207.CAR


208.IND / 209.STL / 210.MIN / 211.CLE / 212.TB / 213.WSH / 214.IND / 215.MIA / 216.CAR / 217.BUF / 218.KC / 219.DET / 220.CHI / 221.ARZ / 222.DAL / 223.MIN / 224.GB / 225.SEA / 226.SD / 227.TEN / 228.JAX / 229.PHI / 230.DET / 231.PIT / 232.NYJ / 233.HOU / 234.NO / 235.GB / 236.BAL / 237.SF / 238.KC / 239.NYG / 240.PIT / 241.GB / 242.NYJ / 243.GB / 244.NYJ / 245.CLE / 246.PIT / 247.CLE / 248.PIT / 249.ATL / 250.SD / 251.BUF / 252.STL / 253.IND


2012 NFL Draft Cheat Sheet: Offense

Written By: Mark Scott

The offensive draft class this year is headlined by the best prospect in 30 years in Quarterback Andrew Luck, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner Quarterback Robert Griffin III, BCS National Championship Running Back Trent Richardson, Two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Wide Receiver Justin Blackmon and USC Left Tackle Matt Kalil. All five are among the top six prospects in the draft. Then comes Ryan Tannehill and Michael Floyd, who are both surging up draft boards to possible spots in the top 13 picks. Rounding out the first round are couple of offensive tackles in Riley Reiff, Jonathon Martin and possibly Mike Adams, a pair of guards in David DeCastro and Cordy Glenn, wide receivers Kendall Wright and Stephen Hill and even possible spots for players like Peter Konz, Doug Martin, Kevin Zeitler and Coby Fleener. Overall the offense could provide the first round with around 18 players. The interior offensive linemen crop is exceptional and the wide receivers and running backs each have a couple potential stars along with great depth, while tight end is severely lacking and offensive tackle isn’t as good as it normally is. There is no doubt a significant amount of elite, impact talent available on the offensive side of the ball in the draft with a number of names that fans will be hearing for a long time.


The Quarterback draft class of 2012 is incredible at the top with two truly special franchise talents, one very good and intriguing athlete along with a couple of solid, intelligent signal-callers before it quickly drops off and becomes a group of long-term projects. Andrew Luck isn’t a once in decade talent, he’s much more than that as the best prospect since John Elway in 1983, a period that spans 30 years and across four different decades of incredibly talented players. He possesses every possible tool physically and mentally and appears to know almost everything there is to know about how to be a quarterback. He already has the ability to break down defenses and call plays at the line. He has a mix of a cannon and sniper rifle for an arm with every throw in the book and displayed at the Combine that he has pretty much the same pure athletic ability as Cam Newton. He might be a once in a lifetime talent. While he’s not Andrew Luck, the Heisman Trophy winning Robert Griffin III is just as special a talent. He possesses rare athletic abilities for a quarterback, namely his world-class speed. He has a fantastic arm with great touch and accuracy and the fearlessness to make any throw (just checkout his game-winning touchdown throw in the final seconds versus Oklahoma this past year). He’s extremely mobile and has the ability to make oncoming tacklers miss and will take off when he needs too, but he is a pass-first quarterback. He has the type of abilities to make people think that he can revolutionize the quarterback position much like Michael Vick almost did early in his career. Opinions on Ryan Tannehill are all over the map, though for the most part he is believed to be a first round talent that has moved up boards due to the need and value of a possible franchise quarterback. He’s a terrific athlete as evidenced by his experience playing wide receiver at a high level and displayed the ability to transition back to quarterback without missing a beat and improve at an extremely fast pace.  Still, he lacks experience as a signal-caller and made a number of mistakes especially in clutch situations in college. He’s still early in his development and is a couple of years away. He could be a huge risk that will set a team back years if they rush him and he doesn’t work out. Following those top three quarterbacks is another group of three with Brock Osweiler, Brandon Weeden and Kirk Cousins all having the potential to be solid pros and possible starters, but likely backups down the line. Osweiler is a giant quarterback at almost 6’7”, 242lbs., but it is his size that has teams most concerned about his ability to move around. He’s still raw and needs a lot of work, particularly on his mechanics, but he has very good upside. For Weeden, it is really a matter of age is just a number or at least that’s what he will be telling teams as he tries to make it as an almost 28-year old rookie. He has a fantastic arm with excellent accuracy and touch, but does not have great mobility and will take some big shots. He is mature, professional and probably ready to play right away for a team in need. Cousins is as solid a prospect as there is going to be. He has incredible leadership skills as one of the best leaders in the entire draft, his intangibles are through the roof and he possesses that clutch gene to come through in the biggest of situations. His arm is ready to go, though it isn’t the strongest or most powerful, but he has more of a finesse style relying on accuracy and anticipation. The knock against him is he is about as good as he is going to get and doesn’t have a very high ceiling. Think Chad Pennington. He may be looking at a long career as a very good backup. This is where the talent level and potential really starts to drop off with only Russell Wilson possibly able to break into the late stages of Day 2 of the draft. He has the arm, athletic ability and leadership skills to make it, but as the shortest quarterback in the draft at barely 5’11”, he is facing an uphill battle as a starting quarterback. B.J.Coleman, Nick Foles and Patrick Witt could be interesting long-term projects.

  1. Andrew Luck, Stanford, First Overall
  2. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Second Overall
  3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, First Round/Top 12
  4. Brock Osweiler, Arizona State, Second Round
  5. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, Second Round
  6. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State, Second/Third Round
  7. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, Late Third/Fourth Round
  8. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Fourth/Fifth Round
  9. Nick Foles, Arizona, Fifth Round
  10. B.J. Coleman, Chattanooga, Sixth Round

Worth Mentioning: Austin Davis/Southern Mississippi, Kellen Moore/Boise State, G.J. Kinne/Tulsa, Patrick Witt/Yale, Chandler Harnish/Northern Illinois, Aaron Corp/Richmond, Case Keenum/Houston

Wide Receivers

The wide receiver crop is deep with plenty of players to fill any role, but has just two definite first round talents in Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd. Blackmon isn’t the biggest or the fastest receiver, but he is an absolute beast with the ability take over games by himself and just run over and dominate opposing defenders (see his performance vs. Stanford in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, one of the best I’ve ever seen). As the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in college his production is off the charts. He plays hard and physical and his style is reminiscent of Anquan Boldin, but with more speed, explosion and downfield ability. Michael Floyd is a perfect example of the new generation of talented wide receivers that are tall, big and fast with the ability to blow past corners and out-jump everyone. He can play in the slot, but his strength is stretching the field deep and making big plays. He has risen up draft boards over the last two months, especially in the last couple of weeks where he now looks to be a likely top-15 selection. There are some maturity concerns after some off the field issues with alcohol, but those appear to have been taken care of over the last year. Kendall Wright is the next standout following Blackmon and Floyd and will probably come off the board late in round one, despite a disastrous Combine that dropped his stock. He’s shifty and moves smoothly in and out of routes and can cut on a dime to get open. He makes plays all over the field and has the hands to make some unbelievable catches. He’s similar to Philadelphia’s Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but plays a bit more physical than they do, but he won’t be getting any bigger. Stephen Hill put on a show at the Combine, but like his former teammate and Bronco’s first round pick Demaryius Thomas, he has a lot of work to do as a receiver after running very few routes and being used mostly as a blocker or decoy in Georgia Tech’s run-option offense. South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffrey has terrific upside and the potential to be the best receiver in this class, but major concerns about his fluctuating weight, effort and work ethic are why he is no longer a first round possibility. After the top four or five are gone, it really becomes much like running back and cornerback, where personal preference among teams and what they like in their wide outs that will determine who goes where and when.

  1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State, First Round/Top Ten
  2. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame, First Round/Top 20
  3. Kendall Wright, Baylor, First Round
  4. Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech, Late First/Early Second Round
  5. Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina, Second Round
  6. Reuben Randle, LSU, Second Round
  7. Mohammed Sanu, Rutgers, Second Round
  8. A.J. Jenkins, Illinois, Second/Third Round
  9. Chris Givens, Wake Forest, Second/Third Round
  10. Nick Toon, Wisconsin, Third Round

Worth Mentioning: Juron Criner/Arizona, Brian Quick/Appalachian State, Ryan Broyles/Oklahoma, Dwight Jones/North Carolina, Marvin Jones/California, Marvin McNutt/Iowa, T.Y. Hilton/Florida International, Greg Childs/Arkansas, Jeff Fuller/Texas A&M, Devon Wylie/Fresno State, DeVier Posey/Ohio State

Running Backs

The running back position this year is good with talented prospects to be had throughout the draft. Alabama’s Trent Richardson is one of the draft’s special talents this year. He is a bit of throwback as a complete, three-down franchise back with the ability to power his way up the middle, hit the home run on the outside and catch the ball as well as any receiver out of the backfield. He can do it all. While he has a ton of experience and the skills to be a workhorse back, he wasn’t over used or worn down in Tuscaloosa as he backed up and split time with Mark Ingram for two seasons before taking on the main role last year with Eddie Lacy providing relief to keep him fresh and healthy. He is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson and is a can’t miss. This is where it becomes a bit of a crap-shoot regarding running backs, though the second round backs are very good and could produce a couple stars. There are multiple tiers of backs for each round with a variety of different types of players. Doug Martin, David Wilson, Lamar Miller and LaMichael James make up that first group of backs behind Richardson and will likely all be selected in the second round. Martin is the extremely physical power back of the group, while the other three rely more on their outstanding speed and elusiveness. All four have the ability to run inside and outside and catch the ball out of the backfield. Wilson and Miller are getting Chris Johnson type comparisons, while James is being hyped up as the next Darren Sproles. They all have their pros and cons, but all look to have the ability to be very productive players and possible starters at the next level. From the third round on it all becomes a matter of team preference and what they want in their running back. There is just about every type of running back to be had whether teams are looking for power, speed or pass-catching ability.

  1. Trent Richardson, Alabama, First Round/Top Ten
  2. Doug Martin, Boise State, Late First/Early Second Round
  3. David Wilson, Virginia Tech, Second Round
  4. Lamar Miller, Miami-Florida, Second Round
  5. LaMichael James, Oregon, Second/Third Round
  6. Chris Polk, Washington, Second/Third Round
  7. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati, Third Round
  8. Bernard Pierce, Temple, Third Round
  9. Robert Turbin, Utah State, Third/Fourth Round
  10. Chris Rainey, Florida, Fourth Round

Worth Mentioning: Cyrus Gray/Texas A&M, Ronnie Hillman/San Diego State, Vick Ballard/Mississippi State, Edwin Baker, Michigan State, Tauren Poole/Tennessee

Offensive Tackles

The offensive tackle class this year is slightly below average and not as good as it usually is, especially with the top four prospects all reportedly dropping down the first round. Even Matt Kalil, who has been pegged to go to Minnesota at no.3 overall for months, may now drop as far Buffalo at the ten spot if the Vikings pass on him. The USC product is the one sure fire potential franchise left tackle in the draft. He has good size, great athleticism and all the tools and fundamentals to be the next upper echelon tackle in the NFL. He’s a flawless pass protector, a great run blocker with the ability to get to the second level and continue blocking and he’s a great fit for any system. Following Kalil are three first round worthy tackles in Riley Reiff, Jonathon Martin and Mike Adams, however all three have some minor concerns around them. They all have played left tackle in college, but for one reason or another they are being talked about more as right tackles at the next level. Reiff is well-coached by offensive linemen guru and Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz and plays with the proper technique. He has good athleticism and footwork to go with a solid frame that can handle adding more strength and bulk to it. His background as a tight end and a wrestler make him a unique talent, although he is still more of a prospect than a proven guy and could take a couple years to develop into a top tackle on either side of the line. Martin has spent the past three seasons successfully blocking top pick Andrew Luck’s blindside and playing in a pro system at Stanford.  He appears to have the talent and size to be an impact lineman, but scouts are questioning how good he really is, whether he has the strength to block stronger defenders or the quickness and athleticism to take out speed rushers. He is being talked about as a potential bust, but as he falls down the board the risk continues to diminish and the reward of landing a possible franchise tackle down the road increases. Ohio State’s Mike Adams has rare size and athleticism for a left tackle and has all the potential in the world to become something special, but numerous off the field issues (as recent as testing positive for pot at the Combine), a lack of commitment and drive as well as major maturity concerns have him possibly dropping out of the first round altogether. Even his mammoth size is working against in some circles as it’s believed that he won’t be able to get low enough to gain leverage against oncoming defenders in both the run game and in pass protection. He could end up being moved inside to left guard. For all the talk of the top four dropping, Mississippi’s Bobby Massie is actually rising up draft boards into the early potion of round two and might even sneak into the late first round. He’s the prototype NFL Right Tackle with long arms and big hands and has the strength and power to toss defenders around. He’s a terrific athlete that can handle speed and power rushers and his ceiling is about as high as any offensive tackle in the draft. Following the first five tackles off the board, there is a drop-off in talent and aside from Jeff Allen of Illinois it looks like it’s predominantly all right tackles the rest of the way.

  1. Matt Kalil (LT), USC, First Round/Top Five
  2. Riley Reiff (LT/RT), Iowa, First Round
  3. Jonathon Martin(LT/RT), Stanford, First Round
  4. Mike Adams (LT/RT), Ohio State, Late First Round
  5. Bobby Massie (RT), Mississippi, Early Second Round
  6. Jeff Allen (LT/RT/LG), Illinois, Second/Third Round
  7. Mitchell Schwartz (RT), California, Third Round
  8. Zebrie Sanders (RT), Florida State, Third Round
  9. Donald Stephenson (RT/LG), Oklahoma, Third/Fourth Round
  10. Brandon Mosley (RT), Auburn, Fourth Round

Worth Mentioning: Matt McCants/UAB, Tony Bergstrom/Utah, Tom Compton/South Dakota, Nate Potter/Boise State, Matt Reynolds/BYU

Offensive Guards/Centers

Guard and Center are rarely ever going to get the fans excited, but this year’s crop of interior linemen is phenomenal and is probably the deepest position on offense in this draft. The Guards are amazing and the Centers are very good. It all starts with Stanford’s David DeCastro, who is a truly special talent that might be the best Guard prospect in over a decade and is one of the top ten players available at any position. He is ready to be plugged in immediately and it won’t take long before he is performing at a perennial Pro Bowl level. If Guard was as valued as other positions he would be considered a franchise talent. Right behind him is Georgia’s Cordy Glenn, who put on an incredible display of athleticism at the Combine, especially for a man of his mammoth size. He brings a ton of experience and the versatility to line up at both tackle positions and Left Guard. Then comes a pair of Wisconsin powerhouses in center Peter Konz and left guard Kevin Zeitler. They are both maulers in the run game and anchors on passing downs. They are big, nasty and well-coached with a ton of experience. A contingent of Left Guard/Right Tackle type prospects will make up the second and third rounds of the draft with a group of centers following them on Day 3. Kelechi Osemele, Amini Silatolu and the severely underrated and massive Brandon Brooks all have the upside and potential to be stars in the NFL. All three are big, athletic and like Konz and Zeitler ahead of them, they bring a mauling style to their blocking. It is really is amazing how Brooks wasn’t even invited to the Combine, but may be one of the net linemen in the draft. Centers Ben Jones, Mike Brewster and David Molk will start coming off the board around the fourth round and while they aren’t going to blow anyone off the screen, they are smart, experienced blue collar type athletes that will always give everything they have. The three of them are ready to play right now. The talent inside continues on throughout the draft with solid talents like Senio Kelemete, James Brown and Brandon Washington still available in the mid to late rounds.

  1. David DeCastro (RG, LG), Stanford, First Round/Top 15
  2. Cordy Glenn (LG, LT, RT), Georgia, First Round
  3. Peter Konz (C), Wisconsin, Late First/Second Round
  4. Kevin Zeitler (LG), Wisconsin, Late First/Second Round
  5. Kelechi Osemele (LG/RT), Iowa State, Second Round
  6. Amini Silatolu (LG/RT), Midwestern State, Second Round
  7. Brandon Brooks (LG), Miami-Ohio, Second Round
  8. James Brown (LG/RT), Troy, Third/Fourth Round
  9. Brandon Washington (LG/RT), Miami-Florida, Third/Fourth Round
  10.  Ben Jones (C), Georgia, Third/Fourth Round

Worth Mentioning: C Mike Brewster/Ohio State, OG Senio Kelemete/Wahsington, OG Lucas Nix/Pittsburgh, OG Josh Libereus/SMU, C David Molk/Michigan

Tight Ends

This year’s tight end draft class is not very good at all and consists mostly of pass catchers. There are just three noteworthy prospects in Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and Orson Charles. Each player fits in a specific spot in the draft as Coby Fleener is the standout of the class and will certainly be selected in the late first or very early second round, while Allen is a definite second rounder and Orson Charles will be taken in the third round. Fleener really has a chance to be something special and his size and skill will have teams eager to land the next potential Gronkowski, Graham or Hernandez. That’s not to say he will be any one of those players, but he is an excellent route runner whether on the inside or deep downfield with the experience of playing from multiple receivers spots as Stanford loves to use up to three tight ends at a time in their passing attack. He knows how to use size and strength to dominate defensive backs and has the speed and athleticism to get away from linebackers. He has terrific hands catching the ball, but won’t be blocking too many people. The reigning John Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in the country, Clemson’s Dwayne Allen is a solid prospect with the all-around skills to contribute as a pass catcher and a blocker, but doesn’t have the blow you away athleticism or upside. He is a productive player with good hands and footwork and should excel as a red zone target. Orson Charles has the potential to be a very good offensive weapon at the next level. He is a natural receiver with very good hands and route running ability playing at the tight end position. He is at his best when moved around the offense to get him into the open field whether he is lined up as a traditional tight end, out wide or in motion as a receiver or as an H-back. He is very similar to New England’s Aaron Hernandez, but with a bit more strength and bulk. An arrest for DUI in early March has dropped Charles to a likely third, even fourth round pick, which is a shame because he had displayed excellent character up to that point throughout his career as a team captain and award-winning leader as well as a Honor Roll student.  After the top three prospects come off the board the rest of the tight end class will be jockeying for position on Day 3 of the draft as its unlikely that any of them will be able to crack the first three rounds. Ladarius Green and Michael Egnew are clearly a notch above the rest of the available tight ends as they are both excellent athletes with a ton of experience and production catching the ball. SMU’s Taylor Thompson is a very intriguing prospect after he played defensive end throughout his career with the Mustangs, but has been working out for and impressing teams as a tight end, which has sent his stock soaring. After them there really isn’t a whole lot left to choose from over other positions with better prospects.

  1. Coby Fleener, Stanford, Late First/Early Second Round
  2. Dwayne Allen, Clemson, Late Second Round
  3. Orson Charles, Georgia, Third Round
  4. Ladarius Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Late Third/Fourth Round
  5. Michael Egnew, Missouri, Fourth Round
  6. Taylor Thompson, SMU, Fourth/Fifth Round
  7. DeAngelo Peterson, LSU, Fifth Round
  8. Rhett Ellison, USC, Fifth/Sixth Round
  9. Chase Ford, Miami-Florida, Fifth/Sixth Round
  10. George Bryan, North Carolina State, Sixth Round

Worth Mentioning: James Hanna/Oklahoma, Brian Linthicum/Michigan State, David Paulson/Oregon

2012 NFL Draft Cheat Sheet: Defense

Written By: Mark Scott

The crop of defensive talent in the 2012 NFL Draft is a pretty good one with the defensive tackle and pass-rusher classes leading the way despite only LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne being rated among the top five or six players in the draft, although defensive players will likely make up the majority of the first round. The defensive tackles are incredibly versatile from top to bottom with a majority of the top fifteen or so players having the ability to play multiple positions along the defensive front in various different schemes, whether as 4-3 tackles, 3-4 five-technique ends or as nose tackles. As for the pass-rushers, there might be as many as eight or nine taken in the first round. From Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples to Courtney Upshaw, Chandler Jones and Vinny Curry there is a great selection to choose from over the first two rounds of the draft. The cornerbacks are solid, but aside from Claiborne, there are questions about every one of them including likely first round talents Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins. While the linebackers and safeties have a few notable elite prospects like Luke Kuechly, Dont’a Hightower and Mark Barron, there isn’t a whole lot behind them. As a whole, the defensive class is very good with a number of potential early and long-time starters available and more than a few possible future Pro Bowlers.


The cornerback class of this year’s draft is solid but lacking in elite talent at the top. Morris Claiborne is an elite prospect and one of the top five players in the entire draft. He is the top cover-corner available and possesses terrific instincts and ball skills with big play ability. Despite a poor Wonderlic score, he has a high football I.Q., great fundamentals and the skills to play and excel in any system. He has zero issues, which is a major factor among this group of corners. He is far and away the top cornerback in the draft. It is zero issues which has propelled Stephon Gilmore up draft boards and past troubled, but highly talented players like Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins. That’s not to overlook his talents as he is one of the better all-around corners with the abilities to contribute in all areas whether in coverage or against the run. He has great size, speed and strength with the upside to develop into an excellent player, but in terms of overall talent and potential he is still probably behind Kirkpatrick and Jenkins. Those two though come with major off the field concerns. Kirkpatrick was busted for marijuana possession in January and even though he got off, the fact that he was hanging out with that type of crowd and putting himself into a position where something like that could happen has raised more than a few eyebrows. And during the start of draft season no less. He is still a first-round talent. He’s big, physical and well-coached by Nick Saban and comes with a National Championship pedigree from Alabama. Janoris Jenkins will be one of the more discussed prospects in the draft as he possesses supreme talent, especially as an elite cover corner and is worthy of a place in the top 15 on talent alone, but numerous run-ins with the law throughout his collegiate career, most of which had to do with smoking marijuana and excessive partying led to his dismissal from Florida before his Senior year. Fathering four children with three different women hasn’t helped his case either. Questions have also arisen throughout the draft process that his excessive partying continued at North Alabama and his stock continues to fall as the draft nears. After the top four have been selected, it really becomes a matter of what type of corner and skill set each team prefers as the rest of the class is made up of players with very clear pros and cons. Josh Robinson is an outstanding athlete that blew up the Combine, but his game film might say mid-round pick. Jayron Hosley is extremely well-coached and does all the little things that most corners don’t do or even know how to do, but he is small and very thin and might not have the strength or build to hold up against NFL receivers. Dwight Bentley has good all-around ability, but lacks experience versus high level competition and could have the skills to be better suited to play safety. Another possible convert to safety, Trumaine Johnson is a fantastic athlete that plays very physical, but may be too big and heavy to play corner at the pro level.  There is also the free-falling Alfonzo Dennard, who has seen his draft stock plummet over the past year from a solid spot in the first around among the top corners to as far as Day 3 of the draft after being arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Injuries and inconsistent play, along with his recent arrest have killed his stock. Nonetheless he does have a lot of talent and plays a very tough, physical game. He’s able to match and mix it up against big receivers and uses his great leaping ability to make up for his lack of height. Some even consider him to be more talented than his former teammate and 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara of the Giants. It is a talented, but flawed group of corners with Morris Claiborne the lone exception as a truly elite talent.

  1. Morris Claiborne, LSU, First Round/Top Five
  2. Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, First Round
  3. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, First Round
  4. Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama, Late First/Second Round
  5. Josh Robinson, Central Florida, Second Round
  6. Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, Second Round
  7. Dwight Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette, Second/Third Round
  8. Trumaine Johnson, Montana, Second/Early Third Round
  9. Brandon Boykin, Georgia, Third Round
  10. Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, Third/Fourth Round/Stock Falling Hard

Worth Mentioning: Chase Minnifield/Virginia, Leonard Johnson/Iowa State, Casey Hayward/Vanderbilt, Ron Brooks/LSU, Josh Norman/Coastal Carolina, Omar Bolden/Arizona State

Defensive Tackles/Nose Tackles/3-4 Defensive Ends

The deepest position in the 2012 NFL Draft, the defensive tackle crop runs deep with very talented, versatile players available throughout the first three rounds, while as many as seven could come off the board in the first round alone and fifteen or more could be selected among the top 100 picks. The class has everything; pass-rushers like Fletcher Cox and Kendall Reyes, run-stoppers like Jerel Worthy and Devon Still, and freaks of nature with a ton of upside like Michael Brockers and Dontari Poe. There are Nose Tackles to be had in each round in Brockers and Poe, along with Alameda Ta’amu, Josh Chapman and Hebron Fangupo. Versatility is what really elevates this group as the number of athletes that can play multiple positions along the defensive front in various schemes is truly amazing. Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox has emerged throughout the pre-draft process as the top player and the must have guy at the position. He was dominant this past season emerging as the best defensive tackle in the supremely talented SEC. He is excellent at stopping the run, but it is his pass rushing skills that set him apart from the majority of the defensive tackles. He possesses a great burst off the snap, terrific speed and the ability to move laterally which allows him to bypass offensive linemen and put pressure on and attack opposing quarterbacks. He will likely be selected in the top ten. The next two tackles on the board are two of the more intriguing prospects at any position in draft in LSU’s Brockers and Memphis’ Poe. Both guys are mammoth athletes with almost limitless potential, but both players are very raw. Brockers has displayed more skill and production than Poe and at a much higher level with the best possible coaching, but he is very young as just a redshirt sophomore and probably could’ve benefitted from another season at LSU. Poe put on an unbelievable performance for the ages at the Combine and displayed unreal speed and athleticism for a man 6’4”, 346lbs and had scouts envisioning the next Haloti Ngata. While he proved he has the athletic abilities in workouts to be a stud in the NFL, his production and game tape at Memphis playing against a number of inferior opponents in Conference-USA say otherwise and have caused scouts to question his actual football skills and whether or not he is just another workout warrior. After the top three guys, there is a group of four potential late first round picks in Jerel Worthy (MCST), Devon Still (PSU), Kendall Reyes (CONN) and Brandon Thompson (CLEM) that are all extremely solid selections and look to be long-time starters at the next level. Worthy and Still are both elite run-stoppers that are both ready to plug in and play immediately. The talented players continue to come off the board throughout the second round with Nebaska’s Jared Crick, who battled injuries this season, but has first round talent and Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu, who had his struggles at times this year, but like Crick, he has displayed first round ability and may be the best pure Nose Tackle in the draft. The defensive tackle class is truly phenomenal this year and it runs extremely deep throughout the entire draft with teams being able to add quality players in every round.

  1. Fletcher Cox (DT, 3-4 DE), Mississippi State, First Round/Top Ten
  2. Michael Brockers (DT, NT, 3-4 DE), LSU, First Round
  3. Dontari Poe (DT, NT), Memphis, First Round
  4. Jerel Worthy (DT, NT), Michigan State, Late First/Early Second Round
  5. Devon Still (DT, 3-4 DE), Penn State, Late First/Early Second Round
  6. Kendall Reyes (DT, 3-4 DE), Connecticut, Late First/Early Second Round
  7. Brandon Thompson (DT, NT, 3-4 DE), Clemson, Second Round
  8. Jared Crick (DT, 3-4 DE), Nebraska, Second Round
  9. Alameda Ta’amu (DT, NT), Washington, Second/Early Third Round
  10. Billy Winn (DT, 3-4 DE), Boise State, Late Second/Early Third Round

Worth Mentioning: Mike Martin/Michigan, Josh Chapman/Alabama, Marcus Forston/Miami-Florida, Hebron Fangupo/BYU, Kheeston Randall/Texas, Jaye Howard/Florida, Derek Wolfe/Cincinnati, DaJohn Harris/USC, Akiem Hicks/Regina (CA)

Pass Rushers: 4-3 Defensive Ends/3-4 Outside Linebackers

This year’s group of pass-rushers available in the draft is good, but not great, although as many as eight or nine players could be selected in the first round despite a lack of elite talent and questions surrounding every prospect. Melvin Ingram emerged as the top pass-rusher throughout the draft process and has displayed the versatility to play outside and inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and anywhere from defensive end to outside linebacker to even as a middle linebacker in the 4-3. While his versatility is a plus, it has also slightly hurt his stock as teams are unsure of where exactly to play him. Regardless he is an excellent football player that has the ability to put up gaudy stats on the right team. Effort and dedication are the major questions surrounding North Carolina’s Quinton Coples. His upside and potential are through the roof and without the concerns regarding his every down effort and dedication to playing and working hard, he would be a sure-fire top five pick, but those concerns do exist after a very disappointing Senior season. BCS National Championship MVP, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, like Melvin Ingram, is just a pure football player when you really get down to it. He had his struggles at the Combine where scouts began to question whether he was too big and not fast enough to play outside linebacker in the 3-4, but too short and not strong enough to be a 4-3 defensive end. He is the ultimate tweener and it is causing him to drop down the first round. Despite all that, he is a fantastic football player that is going to excel at the next level, especially if he lands on the right team and is used in the right ways. He can be used in a variety of different spots and will put up good numbers. Then there is the next tier of players that consist of potential one-year wonders in Whitney Mercilus and Nick Perry that put up very impressive numbers, but only did it during this past season. Then there is the rising Chandler Jones and Shea McClellin, who are the two hottest names at the moment in the lead up to the draft and are moving up the first round. Those four however, all appear to be in the bottom third of the first round discussions as the majority of pass-rusher needy teams make up that part of the draft order. Talented, but flawed pass-rushers like Vinny Curry, Andre Branch, Ronnell Lewis and Bruce Irvin among others are still to be had through the second and third rounds. There is a ton good depth in this group.

  1. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, First Round/Top 15
  2. Quinton Coples, North Carolina, First Round
  3. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, First Round
  4. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois, First Round
  5. Nick Perry, USC, First Round
  6. Chandler Jones, Syracuse, First Round
  7. Shea McClellin, Boise State, Late First Round
  8. Andre Branch, Clemson, Late First/Second Round
  9. Vinny Curry, Marshall, Second Round
  10. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma, Second Round

Worth Mentioning: Cam Johnson/Virginia, Bruce Irvin/West Virginia, Tyrone Crawford/Boise State, Malik Jackson/Tennessee, Trevor Guyton/California, Jonathon Massaquoi/Troy

4-3 Outside Linebackers

The crop of 4-3 outside linebackers in this year’s draft is just okay and comes with a lot of question marks. Nebraska’s LaVonte David is the best of the bunch and is rising up draft boards and could even sneak into the first round, but is likely to be selected early in the second. He is a hardworking playmaker that is always around the ball and has the ability to sniff out plays before they happen. His size is a concern as he might not be big enough to play linebacker and could eventually be moved to safety. However, whether he is at outside linebacker or safety, he has the potential to be an every down starter with the ability to be a triple-digit tackler on the right team. Zach Brown of North Carolina is an incredible athlete that may be the best in the entire draft. He has unreal speed for a linebacker with the ability to run the 40 in the 4.4s. While his athleticism is through the roof, he is still very raw and needs more seasoning and coaching, but his upside and potential is something very special.  The next set of outside linebackers are solid mid-round prospects and will find spots in lineups throughout the league, but they all have major questions. Is Sean Spence to small? Is Travis Lewis injury-prone? Does Nigel Bradham take too many penalties? Is Kyle Wilbur overrated? All of the questions and concerns exist among this group of outside linebackers.

  1. LaVonte David, Nebraska, Late First/Early Second Round
  2. Zach Brown, North Carolina, Second Round
  3. Sean Spence, Miami-Florida, Third Round
  4. Nigel Bradham, Florida State, Third/Fourth Round
  5. Travis Lewis, Oklahoma, Late Third/Fourth Round
  6. Demario Davis, Arkansas State, Fourth Round
  7. Kyle Wilbur, Wake Forest, Fourth Round
  8. Josh Kaddu, Oregon, Fourth Round
  9. Terrell Manning, North Carolina State, Fifth Round
  10. Miles Burris, San Diego State, Fifth Round

Worth Mentioning: Emmanuel Acho/Texas, Brandon Lindsay/Pittsburgh, Danny Trevathan/Kentucky, Alex Hoffman-Ellis/Washington State

Inside Linebackers

It looks to be a pretty average year for the 2012 inside linebacker draft class. It consists of two top 20 studs in Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower, along with a solid group of potential rotational players that could produce a couple of nice finds that might turn out to be something more. The great thing about the top of this class is that Kuechly is the ideal 4-3 middle linebacker, while Hightower is a perfect fit on the inside of a 3-4 defense. To put it plain and simple, Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine. He’s everything that a team would want in a franchise middle linebacker to build a defense around. A leader and extremely hard-worker, he possesses great fundamentals, incredible instincts and is always in the right position to make a play on the ball-carrier and always completes the tackle. He is just as good dropping into coverage as he is when playing against the run, which really sets him apart from others. Dont’a Hightower is a big, physical athlete that plays with a mean streak and was the leader of Alabama’s BCS National Championship Defense. He’s a ferocious hitter with the burst and ability to rush the passer from the inside and on the outside, where he may eventually end up. After Kuechly and Hightower come off the board in the first round there are a couple of very interesting prospects to watch for like California’s Mychal Kendricks, who’s athletic abilities blew scouts away at the Combine, but may ultimately end up as a safety due to his lack of size for a linebacker. Utah State’s Bobby Wagner is another terrific athlete that is an excellent tackler with some solid leadership ability and James-Michael Johnson of Nevada possesses incredible upside and potential. This year’s crop of inside linebackers actually could have been something pretty special had Kuechly and Hightower been joined by Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, who was being rated among the top ten prospects and ahead of both Kuechly and Hightower before he decided to return to school for his senior season, along with Kevin Reddick, who chose to return to North Carolina for another year to improve his draft stock after a slightly disappointing season, but was still being looked at as a potential late first rounder. Of course, there was also the epic fall from grace of Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict from elite superstar prospect to an overrated, undisciplined head case that is now a likely Day 3 selection possibly as late as the sixth or seventh round.

  1. Luke Kuechly, Boston College, First Round/Top 20
  2. Dont’a Hightower, Alabama, First Round
  3. Bobby Wagner, Utah State, Second Round
  4. Mychal Kendricks, California, Late Second/Third Round
  5. James-Michael Johnson, Nevada, Late Third/Fourth Round
  6. Keenan Robinson, Texas, Fourth Round
  7. Tank Carder, TCU, Fifth Round
  8. Audie Cole, North Carolina State, Fifth/Sixth Round
  9. Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, Fifth/Sixth Round
  10. Jerry Franklin, Arkansas, Seventh Round

Worth Mentioning: Najee Good/West Virginia, Chris Galippo/USC, Shawn Loiseau/Merrimack

Free/Strong Safeties

The safety class this year is downright awful. There is one star in Alabama’s Mark Barron, one good prospect in Harrison Smith of Notre Dame and not a whole lot else. Barron is a complete prospect at an elite level. He hits like a truck, is solid in coverage, contributes at a high level versus both the run and the pass and is an outstanding leader that has the ability to quarterback a defense. Much like Barron, Smith is a pretty complete prospect in all aspects, he’s just not as talented and doesn’t have as high a ceiling as the Alabama product. He’s smart, productive and always seems to be in the right place. He possesses excellent leadership and should be a solid starter for someone for a number of years. Both players are immediate starters. After Barron and Smith, there is a steep drop-off but there still are a couple of intriguing mid-round prospects like the underappreciated Brandon Taylor, who comes from the vaunted LSU program where talented, well-coached defensive backs are churned out every year along with the two top rated free safeties; Oklahoma State’s Markelle Martin and the massive George Iloka of Boise State. This safety class won’t provide much, but Barron and Smith will be two names that fans will often hear over the next 10 to 15 years with Barron a possible potential Pro Bowler every year.

  1. Mark Barron (SS), Alabama, First Round/Top 15
  2. Harrison Smith (SS), Notre Dame, Late First/Early Second Round
  3. Brandon Taylor (SS), LSU, Third Round
  4. Markelle Martin (FS), Oklahoma State, Third/Fourth Round
  5. George Iloka (FS), Boise State, Late Third/Fourth Round
  6. Antonio Allen (SS), South Carolina, Late Third/Fourth Round
  7. Trenton Robinson (FS), Michigan State, Fourth Round
  8. Brandon Hardin (FS), Oregon State, Fourth/Fifth Round
  9. Aaron Henry (FS), Wisconsin, Fifth Round
  10. Christian Thompson (FS), South Carolina State, Fifth/Sixth Round

Worth Mentioning: Duke Ihenacho/San Jose State, Justin Bethel/Presbyterian, Eddie Pleasant/Oregon, Sean Richardson/Vanderbilt, D.J. Campbell/California, Janzen Jackson/McNeese State


Written By: Mark Scott

The NFL released its list of invitees to the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday with a record 26 prospects getting the call to attend the event. For the 26 future draft picks it should be a good sign as the NFL only invites prospects with first round grades and a high likelihood of being taken on Day 1. The SEC lead the way with 12 prospects including a record five players from reigning BCS National Champion Alabama; running back Trent Richardson, safety Mark Barron, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker/defensive end Courtney Upshaw. LSU has the next highest representation with three players in cornerback Morris Claiborne, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and wide receiver Reuben Randle, who is one of the more surprising names that was invited. South Carolina’s defensive end/linebacker Melvin Ingram and fast rising cornerback Stephon Gilmore will represent the Gamecocks, while Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox and Georgia’s Cordy Glenn will also be in attendance from the SEC.

Three other teams will send two players each as well as Stanford’s quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Coby Fleener, Baylor’s quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright, and USC’s offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry will be at the draft in April. Eight others from various schools got the call to attend including three wide receivers; Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. A pair of defensive tackles in Memphis’ Dontari Poe and Penn State’s Devon Still, along with North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples and another surprising invite, linebacker Shea McClellin of Boise State. Texas A&M’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is rising faster and higher than anyone over the last month rounds out the list.

There were a few surprising invites among the list especially considering the NFL doesn’t like guys sitting around and sweating out the night in the green room, but Reuben Randle, Stephen Hill, Devon Still, Shea McClellin and Coby Fleener could be sitting there a while and at least a couple of them could very likely be still available on Day 2. All five could be possible late first round selections, though it would be pretty surprising if any of them are selected among the top 20 picks. A fantastic performance at the Scouting Combine has raised Hill into first round discussions, while Fleener boosted his stock at Stanford’s pro day and also benefited from poor pre-draft workouts from other top ranked tight ends, Dwayne Allen of Clemson and Georgia’s Orson Charles. McClellin has started to hear his name talked about more and more over the last couple weeks and is starting to make a late push into the first round similar to that of Brooks Reed last year, although he wasn’t selected until the tenth pick of the second round, but still received considerable late first round buzz leading up to the draft.

Some notable snubs from the event include Luck and Fleener’s Stanford teammates; offensive guard David DeCastro and offensive tackle Jonathon Martin, who have both consistently been rated as first round picks for most of the year. DeCastro is widely considered to be selected in the top 15 and rated among the ten best prospects in the draft. Another pair of likely top 15 picks; Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly and Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff will also be absent from draft day. Pass rushers Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, Syracuse’s Chandler Jones and Andre Branch of Clemson have received first round grades as well, along with Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy and cornerback Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama. Of course all of these prospects won’t be selected in the first round as only 32 players can be, but there were certainly some interesting choices and snubs among the group.