NFL Draft 2012: Big-Name Stars Sure to Live up to the Hype

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal looks to pass against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2012 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Year in and year out there are inevitably going to be busts in the NFL Draft. It's simply the nature of the beast as it's impossible for every player or even a majority of players to live up to their potential. At the same time though, there are some players who seem like they're on track to succeed no matter what.

While that doesn't always end up being the case, you can often identify a few surefire success stories ahead of the draft. That may seem like a dangerous game, but several 2012 prospects look to have all the tools necessary to be stars. Here are three big-name players who are guaranteed to live up to the hype at the next level.

WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Wide receivers that go high in the draft can often be a crapshoot as for every Calvin Johnson there is a Charles Rogers not far behind. The consensus top receiver in this year's draft is Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. It isn't a stretch to say that Blackmon has absolutely everything a scout looks for in a pass catcher. He has excellent size at 6'1" and 215 lbs., he's physical, speedy and even has great leaping ability.

On top of that, all he did was produce at the collegiate level as he racked up over 230 catches, well over 3,000 yards and 38 receiving touchdowns combined over the past two seasons. It's rare that a player has that combination of physical tools and production, so Blackmon looks like a sure thing. Essentially any team in the top 10 could use his services, and I think they'll be more than happy with what he brings to the table.

LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

While the Boston College linebacker may not be as hyped as some of the elite offensive players in the draft, he is by far the best player available at his position. Most mock drafts are projecting Kuechly to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but I believe his play will far exceed his draft status. Kuechly reminds me a lot of the Chicago Bears' Brian Urlacher as he is a tackling machine and relentless pursuer of the ball carrier from sideline to sideline.

No middle linebacker was more prolific in college football over the past few seasons. Kuechly racked up two consecutive seasons with at least 180 tackles and three interceptions, making him one of the best defensive playmakers available. Perhaps Kuechly can't match the athletic ability of some of his counterparts, but no player is going to outwork him. Because of that, I view Kuechly as a sure thing.

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

With all the hype surrounding him, it would be quite easy for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to fail. When you look at his skill set, though, it's very difficult to see him being a bust in the mold of Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch or David Carr. Luck was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in each of the past two seasons, which is a testament to his great consistency.

Luck has every tool that you look for in a quarterback. He's very intelligent, he has great arm strength that doesn't compromise his accuracy, he's mobile and he's a fantastic leader. Luck threw for at least 3,300 yards and 32 touchdowns and completed over 70 percent of his passes in each of the past two seasons. It looks as if the Indianapolis Colts are planning to take him No. 1 overall, so there is a distinct possibility he will have to sit behind Peyton Manning for at least a year. Whether Luck starts right away or has to wait, though, I truly believe he is the next great NFL quarterback.