NFL Draft 2012: 10 Bold Predictions for Draft
Throughout draft season, pundits and "experts" make predictions as to where certain players will land, where teams are going to go on their big board and how the draft itself is going to play out.
For the most part we are wrong, but sometimes we find a way to look like geniuses.
The NFL Draft really is a crap shoot. If it was an easy event to predict, teams with professional scouts would have much more success on draft day than they do.
Of course, this wont stop us from throwing out predictions and hoping that they stick. Kind of like throwing darts at a board with a mullet covering the front side of your face.
This article is going to be no different. This evening I am going to give you 10 bold predictions for the 2012 NFL Draft.
10. New England Patriots Will Keep Their Picks
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Year after year, the New England Patriots find some sappy team to literally steal draft picks from. This has occurred over and over again. Still, to this day, I have no idea why other franchises actually pick up the phone when the Patriots come calling on draft day, but they do.
I believe that this will change in 2012. The New England Patriots defense has been absolutely horrendous for the most part this season and may keep them from winning the Super Bowl when all is said and done.
The switch in scheme may be a result, but I believe it is more about personnel than anything else. They really do have the necessary talent in the defensive backfield to stop the run and are missing a few pieces in the front seven.
Don't expect the Patriots to look for a trade partner this time around. Instead, you can look for them to keep all four picks that they have in the first two rounds and spend most of them on defensive players.
At least that is what I would do at this point.
9. Jim Harbaugh Will Select Kellen Moore
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I agree that Kellen Moore's game might not translate well to the NFL, but it is extremely hard to deny what he did at Boise State: Success is success no matter which way you spin it.
Despite not having the strong arm or physical build to be a great quarterback at the next level, he does fit the west coast offense to a tee. Extremely accurate on the intermediate routes, gets the ball to the receivers in stride and has great awareness in the pocket.
While I have Moore rated higher than most “experts,” he will not be an early-round pick. You are looking at fifth round at the earliest with a strong seventh-round possibility. With Scott Tolzien sitting on the 49ers practice squad as the third-string quarterback behind Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, they could use some competition heading to camp next season.
8. A Record Number of Offensive Linemen Will Be Selected in the First Round
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One thing that became apparent during the 2011 regular season is that teams are lacking a great deal in pass protection. Just look at the record number of players with double-digit sacks.
Even a rookie, Aldon Smith, racked up 14.
A combination of extremely athletic pass-rushers and lackluster offensive line play were the reasons for quarterbacks getting hit a lot more than in previous seasons.
Couple this with the fact that there are a myriad of talented offensive linemen in this draft and you have the making for a ton to be selected early.
Just off the top of my head: Matt Kalil (USC), Jonathan Martin (Stanford), Riley Reiff (Iowa), David DeCastro (Stanford), Barrett Jones (Alabama), Mike Adams (Ohio State), Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State) and Levy Adcock (Oklahoma State) would seem like strong first-round possibilities.
7. Michael Floyd Will Be the Second Receiver off the Board
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It could be my Notre Dame bias coming out in full force, but I believe that Michael Floyd is the unquestioned second-best receiver in the 2012 NFL Draft. He also appears to be the most pro-ready of any receiver in the draft.
This will lead a myriad of different teams to consider taking him over Alshon Jeffery, who might have more upside. Over the course of the last 20 years, drafting a receiver in the first round has been nothing more than a crap shoot.
Why not go for the least risky pick? This rings true with teams like the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears, all of whom are looking to contend right now rather than draft a project player.
Floyd possesses an amazing red-zone ability that will be utilized on corner fades. He also gets great separation at the line and is able to use his frame to fend off opposing defenders.
These are two traits that are not taught. You either have them or you don't.
6. David DeCastro Will Be a Top-10 Pick
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Carolina, Buffalo, Miami and Washington could all use help along the interior of their offensive line. This doesn't mean that that any of them are willing to spend a top-10 pick on a guard.
In fact, that rarely ever happens. It is so rare that the last time a guard was selected in the top 10 was Chris Naeole in 1997 and only seven guards have been taken in the first round since 2002.
David DeCastro is a completely different beast. He is one of the best guard prospects to come around in a long time. My comparisons of DeCastro to another early first-round pick, Mike Iupati in 2009, is what leads me to believe he will be selected in the top 10.
If the 2009 version of the NFL Draft was re-held today, the 49ers guard would be a top-10 pick.
I had previously mentioned that I believe a record number of offensive linemen will be selected in the first round in April. The reasoning for that isn't much different than this. DeCastro is just as good, if not better, in pass protection than he is in run blocking. His get-off at the line is tremendous and he continually beats defensive players at the point of impact.
Projected second-round pick, Alameda Ta'amu, a 350-pound defensive tackle from Washington was completely neutralized by DeCastro in two meetings over the last couple of seasons. This leads me to believe that he will be solid against tackles at the next level.
If the chips fall away from the Miami Dolphins and certain players are not available towards the back end of the top ten, I could easily see them take DeCastro, who would form an amazing left side of the line with Jake Long.
5. Vontaze Burfict Will Go Outside of the Top 20
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Many draft outlets had Vontaze Burfict as a projected top-five or -10 pick a few months ago. Due to a combination of on-field play and off-field issues, his stock has dropped a great deal.
While I am not going to focus on his off-field issues, I will write about some parts of his game that worries me a great deal. Arizona State found it necessary to take Burfict out of the game in nickel situations, which doesn't speak well to his coverage ability.
In watching tapes, I have noticed that Burfict struggles a great deal in fluid hip motion dropping back into coverage, leaving him vulnerable to getting turned around as he doesn't get squared to the opposing player.
Of course, something like this can be learned, but his game in that regard is way too raw. Burfict might do a great job prowling and flying around the field—his speed is amazing. That said, he isn't great outside of space, rather Burfict does tend to struggle a bit shedding blockers.
Luke Kuechly, who recently declared for the draft, is my unquestioned No. 1 inside linebacker in an extremely weak class. Teams such as Buffalo, Carolina, Philadelphia and Seattle all have needs at this position. They won't, however, draft purely for need if value is there.
Vontaze Burfict fans, don't fret too much, as he will be selected in the first round. He seems to be a perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens, who are going to be looking for a replacement for Ray Lewis. Detroit, Pittsburgh and Green Bay are also strong possibilities.
The talent of Burfict will not slide outside of the first round, no matter the questions many have in regards to his game and character.
4. There Will Be a Ton of Movement in the First Round
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As evidenced by the Atlanta Falcons' shocking move into the top 10 last season to select Julio Jones, there is always movement in the first round. Sometimes the draft plays out as expected for certain teams, but more often than not, it doesn't.
This means that phones are ringing off the hook as the first round progresses. Teams use strategy against one another in order to get the upper hand and land their "favorite" player.
This will only be magnified in 2012 with extremely deep positions and other lackluster areas. For example, Morris Claiborne is clearly the best corner in the draft and that position falls dramatically after him. This gap between Claiborne and the likes of Dre' Kirkpatrick (pictured) may force some teams to play their cards and give up a bounty in order to move up.
The same could be said at the quarterback position (more on that later) and the inside linebacker position.
3. LaMichael James Will Not Be Selected in First Three Rounds
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We all know how the value of drafting a running back early has gone down in recent years. Some of this has to do with lackluster classes at that position, but it's mainly due to the possibility of getting a steal later in the draft.
Just look at some of the league's best running backs: Arian Foster (undrafted) and Frank Gore (third round).Couple that with the fact that LaMichael James doesn't have the physical build to be a bell cow at the next level. He lacks about four inches and 30 pounds, two things that are hard to look past.
James reminds me of a really good complementary back in the mold of Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. This doesn't mean that we wont have a good career at the next level, it just means that he wont be valued nearly as much as other backs heading into April, such as Chris Polk and David Wilson.
2. Some Team Will Trade Up to No. 2 Overall Pick and Select Robert Griffin III
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I have Robert Griffin III No. 3 on my big board behind Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson. This is a quarterback that possesses all the necessary skills to be a super star at the next level.
With the Cleveland Browns sitting at number four, you will see teams like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins look to trade up past them. The St. Louis Rams are the perfect trading partner for those two. They have a myriad of different needs, mainly wide receiver.
Still, the Rams wouldn't get much value in going that route with the second overall pick. It is entirely possible that St. Louis looks to acquire more picks and go with another receiver later in the top 10 (Michael Floyd or Alshon Jeffery).
The price will be steep—probably an additional first-round pick or the equivalent, but teams like Washington might be desperate enough to get that “franchise” quarterback.
1. Ryan Tannehill Will Be a First-Round Pick
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I was not sold that Landry Jones was going to be the third quarterback selected if he had come out this season. Still, his omission from the 2012 NFL Draft sure does help Ryan Tannehill's draft stock.
There really aren't many teams looking for a quarterback of the future outside of the top 10. I guess you could say that the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns (pick acquired from Atlanta) would be the most likely to “reach” for the Aggie quarterback.
Remember, not many had the Vikings going after Christian Ponder last season. In fact, most people had clearly decided that the Florida State product was firmly entrenched as a second-round pick.
The more likely scenario would be a team with an early second-round pick trading back into the late first round in order to acquire his services. This isn't without precedent as San Francisco attempted to do that in order to acquire Colin Kaepernick before he slipped to them in the second.
Teams that miss out on the two quarterback prizes atop the first round might look to move up and get Tannehill. Those teams are the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.
It all depends on how the situation plays out in regards to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. That will be telling as to where Tannehill goes in the first round. But make no mistake about it, he will go in the first round in April.