2012 NFL Draft: Projecting Career Stats for Top Offensive Playmakers
If you're a fan of one of the 24 unlucky teams that are watching the playoffs from home, then you are likely studying every mock draft out there in an attempt to figure out the perfect combination of picks that will ensure that your team's season doesn't end in December again.
If it's offensive firepower that your team is lacking, then you might be in trouble considering that the 2012 draft class isn't exactly loaded with blue-chip talent on offense.
However, there are several exceptions.
At quarterback, Andrew Luck (Stanford) and Robert Griffin III (Baylor) will lead the class and will likely fight for the honor of being the No. 1 overall pick.
At wide receiver, the Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) and Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina) duo will provide solid first-round receiving options. It's anyone's guess who will be picked first, but Blackmon seems to be the flashier prospect at the moment.
And finally, there's Trent Richardson (Alabama), who might be a little lonely this April as he may be the only running back picked in the first round, but considering he has Adrian Peterson potential, he'll find himself landing in the top 10.
So if you're eyeing one of these players for your team, how do you think their careers will pan out?
As we look over what to expect out of these players, let's first go over the two rules:
First Rule: No one is a bust. We'll assume each player produces a believable amount of success that correlates with their personal skill set.
Second Rule: No one is overly dominant. This counters the first rule and will prevent any of these players from having an undeniable Hall of Fame career, as that's realistically too much to expect out of any given player.
Side Note: Season-by-season career projections will be included at the end of each slide.
Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Career Totals: 42,297 Yards, 282 Touchdowns, 161 Interceptions
There are two ways to guarantee wins in the NFL—field an elite defensive unit or possess a franchise quarterback capable of posting elite passing statistics.
So which one is easier to come by?
Fielding an elite defense requires 11 capable players, with at least half of them playing at a high level. On the other hand, a franchise quarterback is just one man.
Sure, the quarterback requires a suitable supporting cast, but that doesn't change the fact that an elite quarterback is the key to landing on the fast track to a Super Bowl title.
Due to that logic, it's likely that Andrew Luck will be the most sought-after prospect in the draft and will likely be selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 1 overall pick.
If Luck does wind up in Indianapolis, then he'll be forced to play behind the legendary Peyton Manning, which wouldn't be the worst thing for Luck's career given the knowledge and insight he would gain in the process.
As you can see, Luck is a bench warmer during his first two seasons, but he picks up a moderate amount of playing time during appropriate situations.
His first season as a starter will be in 2014, which results in a satisfying showcasing of his skills, but due to typical rookie mistakes, he obtains an inflated number of interceptions.
In 2015, however, he makes great strides and cuts back on his interceptions and improves his overall efficiency.
He struggles with injuries in 2016, but he hits his stride from that point on with four consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.
His decline is rather sudden, despite a flash of hope in 2024, but at that point the Colts are ready to replace him.
Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
Career Totals: 43,496 Passing Yards, 283 Touchdown Passes, 170 Interceptions, 7,686 Rushing Yards, 75 Rushing Touchdowns.
The media was all on board for Andrew Luck and practically declared him the Heisman Trophy winner before the college football season even began, but Robert Griffin III rose to the occasion and crashed the party.
Griffin took a below-the-radar Baylor team and turned them into the No. 12 ranked team in the nation, a feat he accomplished almost single-handedly.
The media thought Luck would win the Heisman, but Griffin ruined that. Now they think Luck will land himself in Indianapolis as the Colts' No. 1 overall draft pick, but can Griffin pull off an upset on draft day as well?
Indianapolis will likely stick with Luck, as his skill set in more similar to Peyton Manning's, which would make Manning's new job as a mentor that much easier.
However, Griffin will be selected with a high draft pick regardless of which team claims him.
Griffin's skills land somewhere in between Cam Newton and Michael Vick—he is larger than Vick and likely a better passer, while he's smaller than Newton but possesses more speed.
However, like most quarterbacks with scrambling abilities, Griffin will be tempted to run for it instead of standing strong in the pocket while plays develop, which is why it will take a little longer for him to increase his effectiveness as a passer, as seen in his stats.
Also, his body will gradually wear down after years of punishment in the NFL, so his rushing statistics will decrease as he gets older. But not to worry, because he'll develop into a better pocket passer as that change occurs.
In the end, he will never post elite passing statistics.
However, the overall offense he's capable of producing is well worth it for whichever team is lucky enough to draft him.
|Year||Comp %||Yards||TD||INT||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Career Totals: 772 receptions, 11,256 yards, 80 touchdowns
Justin Blackmon will likely be the first receiver drafted, meaning he will be a top-10 pick and could ultimately end up going as high as No. 2 overall to the St. Louis Rams.
If he does end up being an early pick, then he will end up with an unstable team that is still missing a few key pieces, which means it might take a couple years for him to find his groove.
As you can see, he misses some time due to injury during the 2018 season, which disrupts a five-year hot streak during his prime.
Other than that, it's a pretty textbook career—a gradual start, great production during his prime, followed by a moderate decline.
Alshon Jeffery, WR (South Carolina)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Career Totals: 737 Receptions, 11,637 Yards, 90 Touchdowns
Alshon Jeffery is basically the opposite of Blackmon—while Blackmon will go to a bad team that's still developing, Jeffery will go later in the first round to a solid team with a decent amount of established talent, which will result in Jeffery taking off early in his career.
While Blackmon will steadily grow into stardom, Jeffery will experience it immediately but will have it rapidly fade away as his career goes on.
He struggles with an injury in 2017—some will say he was never the same after that year, but in reality, the team that drafted him begins to lose its core pieces after that season, which results in a downfall.
He remains serviceable after 2017, until a freakish comeback in 2022, but then the final three years show clear decline until he finally retires.
Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Career Totals: 2,889 Carries, 12,161 Yards, 96 Touchdowns
For the first two years of his college career, running back Trent Richardson of the Alabama Crimson Tide lived under the shadow of former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
However, while Ingram may have outdone Richardson in the SEC, Richardson is the more attractive NFL prospect and will likely end up being selected in the top 10 of the 2012 NFL Draft.
If Richardson is selected early in the draft, he'll go to a weaker team that will depend on his immediate production more so than a solid team picking later in the draft, which means he'll be required to pound the rock from day one.
Like most running backs, his career won't be known for its longevity, but expect him to rack up five or six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons during his prime.