NFL Draft Center


26 PROSPECTS INVITED TO 2012 NFL DRAFT

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.

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