NFL Draft Center


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.

Quarterbacks

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

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