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2012 NFL Mock Draft: High-Ceiling Prospects Who Will Be Overlooked

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12:  Thomas Holloway #23 of the Army Black Knights tackles Mohamed Sanu #6 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a game at Yankee Stadium on November 12, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2012

Four teams remain in contention for the Lombardi Trophy—28 teams are already thinking about the draft.

With Conference Championship Weekend upon us, the draft order is almost set. A coin toss still needs to separate several teams, but only picks 29-32 truly remain in question.

The prospect rankings have also taken shape, and declaration day has come and gone.

The postseason collegiate All-Star games kick off with the East-West Shrine Game this week, and things only pick up from there.

One thing we'll hear a lot over the course of the next few months are words like "ceiling," "potential," "bust" and "upside."

Here are several players who won't don't have a ton of exposure, but have high ceilings.

 

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 02:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal walks out onto the field 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 Mi
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14): Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Top prospect in the draft is a lock for the No. 1 pick.

 

2. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Rams have an entirely new regime taking over, so the safest pick is usually best pick. They should also entertain idea of trading down.

 

3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The Vikings have a number of needs, but none more important than out wide on both offense and defense. Claiborne is the top defensive prospect and a better value than Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

 

4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Drafting a running back in the top five isn't what teams want to do anymore, but the Browns desperately need a playmaker they can trust in the backfield.

 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Bucs can afford to "reach" for Kirkpatrick here based on need and the junior's potential to develop into an elite talent.

 

6. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

It is highly unlikely that the Redskins get lucky enough to draft RGIII at No. 6, but no team needs to land a the Heisman Trophy winner more.

 

7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Blackmon falls to a Jacksonville team that desperately needs his playmaking skills.

 

8. Carolina Panthers (6-10)*: Devon Still, DT, Penn State

Disruptive defensive tackle was close to earning recognition as not being recognized enough, but more and more people are getting familiar with his talents. The Panthers have a need for help at every level of their defense, and Still is the best available on the board. 

 

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Courtney Upshaw #41 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a defensive stop against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

9. Miami Dolphins (6-10)*: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

The BCS Championship Game defensive MVP will continue to ride his Tide to a top-15 selection. Miami's need at pass-rusher bumps him into the top 10.

 

10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Safe pick for an organization that has passed on a tackle for too many years now. Reiff's a solid technician with size and skill level needed to take over immediately.

 

11. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)*: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC

Speedy pass-rushing talent with the potential to be a dangerous sack artist.

 

12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)*: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Martin enters the NFL with a big frame, smarts and great feet. Excels in the run game and can help Chiefs get back to what they want to do with a healthy Jamaal Charles.

 

13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 01:  Melvin Ingram #6 of the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates after a sack during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Cardinals can go in a lot of directions here, but they can help their front seven and secondary by bolstering pass-rush.

 

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-7): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Smart, instinctive and tough, Kuechly is simply a football player who makes tackles everywhere.

 

15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Floyd is the most prolific receiver to ever wear the Golden Dome and is an ideal complement to the Eagles' speedy receivers.

 

16. New York Jets (8-8): Quinton Coples, DE/DT, UNC

Rex Ryan won't be able to pass up an opportunity to land a prospect with Coples' size and potential despite his sliding draft stock.

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

The draft's top interior lineman can step in and aid Andy Dalton immediately.

 

18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Dennard is a solid all-around corner prospect who can do a little bit of everything.

 

19. Chicago Bears (8-8): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

The draft's top center is a home run for a Bears team that can make their entire offensive line better with this pick.

 

20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Vontaze Burfict, LB, ASU

Burfict's size, speed and athleticism will overshadow his maturity issues.

 

21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami

If Miller runs sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash, he'll move up the board even more. Cincy will likely let Cedric Benson walk in hopes of getting a younger playmaker at the position.

 

22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

The big, athletic receiver could go much higher than this, but his consistency issues are a problem.

 

23. Detroit Lions (10-6): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The Lions need to get younger at tackle, and Adams is one of the best left on the board. He comes with great size and good athleticism.

 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia

Not many players stand 6'5", 348 pounds with the versatility that Glenn possesses.

The Georgia captain can play guard or tackle and is a complete football player.

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cordy Glenn #71 and Ben Jones #61 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate with Orson Charles #7 after Charles touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kev
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

He's willing to work hard for what he wants, and he's not the type of player to rest on what he has.

Glenn's potential at the next level with a team like the Steelers is extremely high. He was thrust onto the field early in his collegiate career and responded. 

He'll do the same in the NFL.

 

25. Denver Broncos (8-8): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

Worthy has proved himself worthy of first-round consideration once again. Helps the Broncos immediately.

 

26. Houston Texans (10-6): Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Crimson Tide safety is the draft's complete prospect at the position, and he has the size and athleticism to take over right away.

 

27. New England Patriots (via NO 13-3): Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

In terms of numbers, the Scarlet Knights wide receiver was one of the best in the nation this year with 109 catches. It was the first season Rutgers let him solely play receiver, and he not only delivered, but excelled.

At 6'2", 215 pounds, Sanu possesses an intriguing combination of size, speed, athleticism and versatility.

He's played Wildcat quarterback, running back and wide receiver in his career and actually went to Rutgers with the intention of playing safety.

He can do it all and will do it all.

 


28. Green Bay Packers (15-1): Chris Polk, RB, Washington

The Packers secondary certainly needs help, but without a running game, we've seen what good defenses can do against them. Polk is a complete back who can help them immediately.

 

29. New York Giants (9-7): Zach Brown, OLB, UNC

Brown is a freak athlete with elite speed and potential to shine in the right system.

 

30. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

The Crimson Tide's least-known star from the dominating championship-winning defense is going to be a stud in the NFL.

Hightower comes with a great combination of size and speed at 6'4", 260 pounds, and can dominate on the inside.

He was an even better athlete before knee injury a few years ago, but he's since developed as a player with great instincts and a love for flying downhill and destroying ball carriers.

Hightower can make plays in coverage and can get after the quarterback as well.

Potential star replacement for Ray Lewis.

 

31. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

A big-play athlete with great production in his career.

 

32. New England Patriots (13-3): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Janoris Jenkins isn't truly going to be overlooked, but he is forced to put himself back on the map after getting kicked out of Florida last spring.

The 5'10", 182-pound cornerback could be an Asante Samuel-like game-changer at the next level if he keeps his head on straight.

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

Jenkins showed an ability to match up with elite receivers when he played at Florida and is also a dangerous player with the football in his hands.

Teams with corner needs will regret passing on him.

 

*Order determined by coin flip at NFL Scouting Combine

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