The early portion of April's 2012 NFL Draft will be littered with underclassmen who declared early, which means it will be difficult for seniors to crack the top 10. That said, here are three seniors worthy of being selected that high.
Coples has watched his stock slip a little bit as more underclassmen moved up the charts. He played both defensive end and defensive tackle at North Carolina, but really excelled after moving inside during his senior campaign. He totaled 55 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
He'll need to add some more weight if he's going to play tackle at the next level. Other than that, he's a solid run stopper and can also get after the quarterback. It's those dual-threat abilities which will impress scouts during the period leading up to the draft.
Following a couple strong defensive tackle classes in a row, this year's crop isn't quite on the same level. Penn State's Still is the best pure tackle on the board. He's got sky-high potential, which could push him into the top 10, but still has some developing to do.
He was able to illustrate a better pass-rushing prowess in his senior season en route to 4.5 sacks. He'll be major factor in stopping the run right away and that should make him an intriguing option to teams like the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills.
Which player will have the best NFL career?
Ingram was able to back up his breakout junior campaign with a double-digit sack senior season. He also showed a lot better field awareness by picking off two passes after picking up zero prior to 2011. His best attribute is probably the ability to play almost anywhere in the front seven.
He gained experience at every stop along the line while with the Gamecocks and even played some linebacker during the early part of his stay in South Carolina. The most important thing for him over the next few months is proving he can be an key impact player at one of those positions.