Top Mid-Season Prospects for 2012 NFL Draft – Offense

NFL Draft Analyst Abe Munch

Quarterback

1. Andrew Luck, Jr, Stanford, 6’4 235 – Luck is smart, poised, efficient, accurate, athletic, and shows natural leadership skills on the field. To top it off he runs a pro style offense. There’s not much more you could ask for in a quarterback prospect. The best player in the 2012 draft if he decides to declare.

2. Matt Barkley, Jr, USC, 6’2 220 – Barkley shows good mechanics from under center and has improved in every area of his game since beginning his career as a true freshman two years ago. He doesn’t possess an elite skill, but he shows good control of a pro style offense.

3. Landry Jones, Jr, Oklahoma, 6’4 230 – A pocket passer with very good size, arm strength, and mobility when the play breaks down. Jones has looked more and more comfortable with his decision making this season. His accuracy could still use some refinement, but he shows all the tools teams look for in a franchise QB.

4. Ryan Tannehill, Sr, Texas A&M, 6’4 220 – The former wide receiver looks very natural as a passer in his first full year as a starter for the Aggies. He has good field vision with the arm strength to make all the NFL throws. A strong finish to the season could push him into the first round.

5. Brandon Weeden, Sr, Oklahoma State, 6’4 215 – Weeden may be the best pure passer in this draft class. He throws a tight ball in layers with a compact delivery and accuracy. The system does hurt his stock as he isn’t asked to make pro progression reads, and he can be streaky with his decision making at times.

Players to Watch: Ryan Lindley, Sr, San Diego State, 6’4 215, Kirk Cousins, Sr, Michigan State 6’3 205, Tyler Wilson, JR, Arkansas, 6’3 215, Nick Foles, Sr, Arizona 6’5 245.

Quick Take: The top of the class is dominated by underclassmen, so the overall quality will depend on whether they decide to declare. Even still, outside of Andrew Luck it’s hard to see a definite first rounder in this group. Plenty of solid quarterbacks, but value will vary from team to team.

Running Back

1. Trent Richardson, Jr, Alabama, 5’11 225 – A strong and determined inside runner who produces big yardage after contact. Richardson isn’t a burner but he has good speed to challenge the outside and is effective in blitz pickup. The most complete running back available.

2. Lamar Miller, ®So, Miami (Fl), 5’11 215 – Miller is a between the tackles runner capable of going the distance from anywhere on the field. His ability will draw comparisons to former Hurricane Clinton Portis. He isn’t a finished product but he looks every bit the part of a big time NFL running back.

3. Chris Polk, Jr, Washington, 5’11 222 – Polk has been a workhorse for the Huskies offense the past three years and is on his way to a third consecutive 1,000 yard season on the ground. He’s tough between the tackles, running with good balance and patience to setup blockers. Steady and reliable in all areas.

4. LaMichael James, Jr, Oregon, 5’8 195 – A slashing runner with good short area quickness and burst, James is also a threat in the passing game. He has reliable hands and has continued to improve his blocking the past two seasons. James is on pace to rush for back to back 1,700 yard seasons.

5. Montee Ball, Jr, Wisconsin, 5’11 215 – Ball has worked primarily in a rotation the past two seasons for the Badgers but has shown he can handle a 30 carry workload when asked. He does a good job picking his way through trash with patience, but also knows when to hit the hole. A well-balanced runner.

Players to Watch: Cyrus Gray, Sr, Texas A&M, 5’10 200, Vick Ballard, Sr, Mississippi State, 5’10 218, Isaiah Pead, Sr, Cincinnati, 5’10 200, Doug Martin, Sr, Boise State, 5’9 215.

Quick Take: Plenty of good runners available throughout this class. Teams looking for a change of pace back are likely to find an effective one from rounds three into the late rounds. The top of the class may end up being similar to last year’s class, where we didn’t see a runner drafted until the late first round.

Wide Receiver

1. Justin Blackmon, Jr, Oklahoma State, 6’1 212 – A slightly smaller version of a young Terrell Owens (on the field), Blackmon can beat you over the top and is fearless over the middle. He can kill a defense if given a free release but he also loses concentration at times leading to the occasional drop. A game changer.

2. Alshon Jeffery, Jr, South Carolina, 6’4 232 – Big, physical receiver who can beat the jam and shows deceptive speed to separate downfield. Jeffery comes out of his breaks crisply and more fluid than most tall receivers. One of the top five players in this draft class.

3. Michael Floyd, Sr, Notre Dame, 6’3 228 – Floyd has shown the ability to take over games during his collegiate career. His size and strength make it difficult to cover one-on-one, he’s tough after the catch and runs through smaller secondary defenders. Lacks deep speed but size and strength makeup for it.

4. Ryan Broyles, Sr, Oklahoma, 5’10 185 – A sure-handed pass catcher who runs smooth routes and consistently finds holes in the zone to help his quarterback. Broyles can rack up yards after the catch if given space. He’s on pace to catch over 120 passes for the second straight year.

5. Jeff Fuller, Sr, Texas A&M, 6’3 215 – Fuller has been slowed this season by a nagging hamstring injury, which has hurt his draft stock a little bit. He’s a good route runner who uses his size well to leverage position and win the jump ball. Gives good effort in run support.

Players to Watch: Dwight Jones, Sr, North Carolina, 6’4 225, Kendall Wright, Sr, 5’10 185, Stephen Hill, Jr, Georgia Tech, 6’5 200, Juron Criner, Sr, 6’4 214, Greg Childs, Sr, Arkansas, 6’3 217.

Quick Take: This may be the best position in the 2012 draft class, provided the underclassmen declare. Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery are special players and there is size and talent to be found into the late rounds. Teams looking for a receiver will likely find a productive one in this draft class.

Tight End

1. Dwayne Allen, Jr, Clemson, 6’4 255 – A talented tight end who can seal the edge in run support and separate from linebackers down the field. Allen has progressed well in Clemson’s new offense. His blocking technique could use some refinement but he continues to improve.

2. Michael Egnew, Sr, Missouri, 6’6 235 – Looks and plays more like a big receiver than an NFL tight end. Very sure-handed with good movement in space for his 6’6 frame. Used almost exclusively in the slot; able to create mismatches.

3. Orson Charles, Jr, Georgia, 6’3 240 – Charles shows a quick release off the line of scrimmage and is very fluid in space; adjusts quickly to passes away from his body. He could be an Aaron Hernandez type weapon for an offense if used correctly.

4. Coby Fleener, Sr, Stanford, 6’6 248 – Fleener’s experience in Stanford’s pro offense allows him to run all the routes he’ll be expected to run at the next level. He’s a big target who can stretch the field and make catches over the top of coverage.

5. George Bryan, Sr, North Carolina State, 6’5 265 – A physical in-line blocker who is almost a third tackle on run downs, Bryan also offers sure hands as an outlet catcher underneath. Won’t be a threat downfield but shows good strength to run through arm tackles.

Players to Watch: Tyler Eifert, Sr, Notre Dame, 6’6 240, Ladarius Green, Sr, Louisiana-Lafayette 6’6 230, David Paulson, Sr, Oregon, 6’3 243, Chris Jeannot, Sr, New Hampshire, 6’5 260.

Quick Take: A good group of tight ends that offer the best value in rounds two to five. A couple of players could develop into productive starters in their first year if placed in the right system.

Offensive Tackle

1. Matt Kalil, Jr, USC, 6’6 295 – A prototypical left tackle with good footwork, long arms, and solid technique, Kalil has continued to establish his ranking this season as the top tackle prospect in 2012. His brother Ryan Kalil is a two-time Pro Bowl center for the Carolina Panthers.

2. Jonathan Martin, Jr, Stanford, 6’6 305 – Responsible for protecting Andrew Luck’s blindside, Martin has proved reliable over the past three seasons. His technique could use some refinement but his size and athleticism can’t be coached. Martin should be a long term NFL starter on the left side.

3. Riley Reiff, Jr, Iowa, 6’6 300 – A better athlete than former teammate and first round pick Bryan Bulaga, Reiff controls the line of scrimmage with long arms, good upper body strength and a sharp understanding of blocking angles. He has experience at both tackle spots and inside at guard.

4. Mike Adams, Sr, Ohio State, 6’8 305 – Adams has shown the ability to close off the left side of the line early in 2011. He has great size for the position and has continued to progress in his technique throughout his career. A few character mishaps may be a concern for some teams in April.

5. Zebrie Sanders, Sr, Florida State, 6’5 305 – Zebrie Sanders shows excellent movement skills, agility, and straight line speed for his size. He may have the most upside of all the tackles available. A starter on the right side for the Seminoles, his ability translates well to the left side at the pro level.

Players to Watch: Levy Adcock, Sr, Oklahoma State, 6’5 320, Andrew Datko, Sr, Florida State 6’6 305, Nate Potter, Sr, Boise State, 6’6 295, Brandon Mosley, Sr, Auburn, 6’5 305.

Quick Take: I could see three or four tackles taken with the top 20 selections. It’s a solid group of players available, with good prospects to be found into the third and fourth round who may be able to come in and offer reliable depth on a roster early.

Interior Lineman

1. Cordy Glenn, Sr, OG, Georgia, 6’5 330 – With half the games finished in the college season, Glenn is absolutely ready for the NFL. He is dominant against the run with a powerful base to drive open running lanes, and has shown steady improvement against the pass rush. The best interior lineman in his class.

2. David Decastro, Jr, OG, Stanford, 6’5 310 – Decastro plays with sound technique against the run and in pass protection; consistently winning and maintaining leverage. He anchors what has shown to be a very talented offensive line for the Stanford Cardinal in 2011.

3. Ben Jones, Sr, OC, Georgia, 6’3 315 -Everything you look for in an NFL center. Jones has been a durable four year starter for the Georgia Bulldogs and rarely makes mistakes. An NFL team in need of a reliable pivot man will be happy to have Ben Jones.

4. Kevin Zeitler, Sr, OG, Wisconsin, 6’4 312 – Wisconsin is known for producing NFL ready offensive lineman, and you can add Kevin Zeitler to that list. He’s smart and quick to react to delayed blitzes and stunts along the front seven. A complete player with very good competitiveness.

5. Mike Brewster, Sr, OC, Ohio State, 6’5 295 – A smart and athletic pivot man who can slide in pass protect and get outside quickly to neutralize secondary defenders. Plays with consistent leverage; only lacks pure size.

Players to Watch: Peter Konz, Jr, OC, Wisconsin, 6’5 315, Kelechi Osemele OG/OT, Iowa State, 6’5 345, Rokevious Watkins, OG, South Carolina 6’4 325, Amini Silatolu, OG/OT, Midwestern State, 6’3 312.

Quick Take: A good class for interior lineman in terms of depth. There will be plenty of three and four year starters throughout the draft available late with the capability of developing into NFL contributors.


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