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2012 NFL Draft: Late First-Round Steals That Will Fall to Playoff Teams

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  Devon Still #71 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates after sacking Taylor Martinez #3 (not pictured) of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the game on November 12, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2012

The 2012 NFL draft is just a few months away and there is already genuine excitement brewing over which players will be selected to which teams.

It’s the sense of helplessness that makes the event so interesting. While the young athletes are nervous, fans sit and wait in anticipation about which star their team will end up taking.

Off all the draft day storylines, the teams in the late first round that were Super Bowl contenders will now have a shot at some of the best talent in the world. That’s scary for other teams, but good for those that continue to succeed.

 

Devon Still, DT, Penn State

The Penn State Nittany Lions have always produced stellar defensive players, and defensive tackle Devon Still is no exception. If he is still available when the Denver Broncos pick in the first round, John Fox won’t be able to control himself.

Fox runs a 4-3 defense that is predicated on a tough defensive line, especially the interior of that line. Still would slide right in and be the team’s run-stopping specialist.

While this pick may be used for a different position if Tim Tebow is shipped out of town, if the Broncos stay pat on offense this offseason then they will draft defense to start at least. It’s still John Fox after all.

 

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd up during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The most talented cornerback in this draft isn’t Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick; it’s Janoris Jenkins from North Alabama.

The star’s stock has dropped off the map over the past few months since being kicked off the Florida Gators football team due to arrests. As if that was the worst thing going on at Florida.

Despite his troubles, the size, speed and talent of this kid hasn’t been forgotten by the coaches that do their homework. Look for a team known for taking risks like the New England Patriots to use a late first-round pick on Jenkins and turn him into their secondary salvation.

 

Chris Polk, RB, Washington

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 05:  Running back Chris Polk #1 of the Washington Huskies rushes against Terrell Turner #45 of the Oregon Ducks on November 5, 2011 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Ducks defeated the Huskies 34-17. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

As if the Green Bay Packers needed any more help on offense, the lack of a run game all season has been one of the few flaws on the offensive side of the ball.

While the Packers need far more help on defense, drafting a player like Chris Polk that can run the ball between the tackles or get loose off the edge would alleviate pressure off Aaron Rodgers and allow the team to control the clock even more efficiently.

This plan will only work if the Packers find the pass-rusher they desperately need in the latter rounds of the draft or through free agency. As much as I advocate taking a running back in the first round, besides a late-round pick on an offensive lineman, I would spend every other pick on a defensive player.

 

Check back for more on the National Football League as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s NFL Page to get your fill of all things football.

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