2012 NFL Draft: Quick Hitters – Part One

Random thoughts on players entering the NFL Draft, now only 11 days away. 

QB: We can now see that three QB’s will go in round one and another three in round two.  The team and order has not yet been determined but look for Cousins, Osweiler and Weeden to be drafted in that 2nd round.  We show scatter-armed Lindley being drafted ahead of system QB Foles in the 3rd round.  Teams will fall in love with Lindley’s strong arm.  Sleeper: Don’t sit on Kellen Moore.  He goes late in the draft but he can diagnose NFL defenses right now.

RB: What to do with Chris Polk?  He’s not shifty, not the fastest RB and possesses an average 1st step, but when all is said and done is he that much different than 2nd tier RB’s Miller, Wilson and Martin?  Sleeper: Vic Ballard is an interesting prospect, going on the 3rd day.  Chris Rainey (Florida) is a 3rd down opportunity back fitting many NFL teams.

WR: Yes, close to a dozen teams have Michael Floyd equal to or higher rated over Justin Blackmon.  Blackmon’s height and parts of his game appear too close to when SF’s Crabtree was the top prospect in the draft a few years ago.  Blackmon is better than Crabtree, but do not forget that people were high on that pick a few years ago.  With Alshon Jeffery’s stock falling, the most intriguing prospect to watch early is LSU’s Rueben Randle.  His draft range is wide, from 18 (SD) to probably around 40.  He would be an excellent fit for Houston.  Watch these WR’s on day #2 and #3 of the draft: TY Hilton (fills multiple roles), Jarius Wright (small, but projects to be productive in the NFL), Ryan Broyles (too good to be passed on, even if ’12 is a sit and watch year).  Sleeper: Ohio U WR Brazill, who played hurt in their bowl game, but has skill almost equivalent to Colston of New Orleans, at least coming out of college.  Remember, Colston was drafted 3rd to the last in his class (we had him as a 5th rounder).

OL: What is the difference between Stanford OL Martin and DeCastro?  Martin can work highly effectively on a good OL.  DeCastro can make a bad line better and a good line exceptional.  He has Steve Hutchinson qualities. 

DL: Who is the “safest” DE on the board?  That is a good question, with guys like Mercilus and Brockers putting up one year stats.  You know what you’re getting if you draft DE Branch, a likely multiple year starter but a touch below All-Pro.  Honestly though, almost every DL has a washout factor. 

LB: As productive as he was in college, could Luke Kuechly fall on draft day despite his eye-popping combine performance?   The answer is yes, as ILB’s are not glamorous enough in most NFL GM’s eyes, and the need to find that next great pass rusher, cover CB or OT tends to push that position down.  Luke could go close to the top ten, but don’t be surprised if he does slip on draft day.  Sleeper: Key your eye on Sam Spence.  He’s slipped to the 3rd day due to his height, and lack of combine strength but his on field productivity is enough to make him a living in the NFL.  If he gets on a team that has a DL that can protect him then he can out-perform his draft status.

CB: We have Janoris Jenkins out of the 1st round of the draft.  There is too much risk of him being suspended at some time during his rookie contract.  Which Josh is better?  We are leaning to Josh Robinson over Josh Norman at this point.  Robinson played at UCF, held AJ Green in check and runs faster.  Norman has excellent ball skill but needs more work coming from Coastal Carolina and can get beat by NFL WR’s at this point.  

Alabama: How about the Crimson Tide!  Five players will go in round #1, and two others hit our sleeper category.  Here might be the current range of where the group will go:

RB Richardson: 4 or 5 (Cleveland, Tampa) 

DE/OLB Ingram: 7-16

LB Hightower: 15-24

CB Kirkpatrick: 14-23

Safety Barron: 14-24, with a small shot he lasts past 24

DT Chapman: 3rd round

TE-H-Back Smelley: 5th round

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