2012 NFL Draft: Listing the Top 37 SEC Players Eligible for This Year's Draft

Ryan Wright@@HogManInLAAnalyst IIIJanuary 19, 2012

How many players from this year's BCS Championship team will be drafted?
How many players from this year's BCS Championship team will be drafted?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

During the 2011 NFL draft, 37 players from the SEC heard their name called by NFL teams, 10 in the first round alone. Fifty-one total seniors from SEC schools have been invited to participate in the four different postseason All-Star games. Underclassmen are already preparing for this year’s NFL combine by hiring strength and fitness instructors to help them display their athletic abilities.

How many SEC players will hear their names called during the 2012 NFL draft

Here’s a list of the top 37 players that can equal last year’s impressive transition from college football into the NFL.

(*Denotes underclassman)

Running Backs

*Trent Richardson, 5’11”, 224 Pounds, University of Alabama

Workhorse, power-runner, game-changer, breakaway back, the total package—however you want to describe Richardson as a dominant running back, take your pick. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield. The only thing that will keep him off the field as a rookie in the NFL is if he does not show the ability to pick up the blitz on passing downs.

Richardson led the SEC in rushing yards (1,679), rushing attempts (283) and rushing touchdowns (21). He also led the SEC to their sixth straight BCS National Championship.

Richardson should be the first back taken in the NFL Draft.
Richardson should be the first back taken in the NFL Draft.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Draft-Worthy Mentions

RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State

RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee

RB Chris Rainey

FB Broderick Green, Arkansas

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

*Alshon Jeffery, 6’4”, 229 Pounds, University of South Carolina

Jeffery is a big target, which NFL scouts like, and he’s great at jumping over defenders, especially in the red zone. Jeffery lacks the blazing speed coveted by NFL teams and his route running is not crisp.

Even with the instability at quarterback for the Gamecocks, Jeffery was able to finish the season ranked No. 5 in the SEC in total receiving yards. His eight touchdown receptions were tied for third best in the SEC.

Jarius Wright led the SEC in receiving.
Jarius Wright led the SEC in receiving.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

*Orson Charles, 6’3”, 242 Pounds, University of Georgia

Charles may be the best tight end available in the NFL draft, much less the best tight end in the SEC. He has the speed, height and athletic ability for the next level. His ability to stretch the field and pump against linebackers will help his draft status.

Charles was No. 12 in the SEC in total receiving yards with 574 while hauling in 45 passes and five receiving touchdowns.

Jarius Wright, 5’10”, 180 Pounds, University of Arkansas

Wright is a smaller wide receiver than what most scouts want in a No. 1 receiver. In Arkansas offense he was accustomed to running routes across the middle of the field, which is something he will have to do on the next level as a No. 2 option or as a slot receiver.

Wright finished the 2011 season leading the SEC in receiving yards (1,117) and receiving touchdowns (12). He was one catch shy of tying Da’Rick Rogers (Tennessee) for most receptions—Rogers 67, Wright 66.

Joe Adams, 5’11”, 190 Pounds, University of Arkansas

Joe Adams and Greg Childs are ready for the NFL Draft.
Joe Adams and Greg Childs are ready for the NFL Draft.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Adams was a consensus All-American as a punter returner in 2011. He led all players with four kickoff returns for touchdowns and his yardage-per-punt-return average of 16.89 was second in college football. Some team will take a chance on Adams for his return ability alone. His 4.3 40-yard dash helps too.

Do not overlook Adams’ ability as a receiver. He was No. 4 in the SEC in total receptions (54) and No. 8 in total receiving yards (652).

Draft-Worthy Mentions

WR Greg Childs, Arkansas

*WR Rueben Randle, LSU

Offensive Linemen

Cordy Glenn, 6’5”, 348 Pounds, University of Georgia

Glenn has the size of a NFL tackle but played guard for the Bulldogs since his sophomore year. Either way he’s a beast to contend with especially on running plays.

Courtney Upshaw will be among the first at his position drafted.
Courtney Upshaw will be among the first at his position drafted.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

He has started since his freshman season and has played against top-quality defensive linemen throughout his college career. Glenn should be a late first-round draft pick.

Draft-Worthy Mentions

OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

C Ben Jones, Georgia

OG Will Blackwell, LSU

C William Vlachos, Alabama

OT Bobby Massie, Ole Miss


*Dont’a Hightower, 6’4”, 260 Pounds, Alabama

Hightower is a hard-nosed tackler with size and good speed. If he did not have a history of being injured (tore ACL in left knee in 2009), Hightower might be considered the top outside linebacker in the NFL draft. As it is, he still will go somewhere in the first round.

Melvin Ingram led the Gamecock defense in 2011 and 2012.
Melvin Ingram led the Gamecock defense in 2011 and 2012.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Courtney Upshaw, 6’2”, 265 Pounds, Alabama

Upshaw is another Alabama product that projects high in the NFL draft. Upshaw is an excellent fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 NFL defensive scheme. He led 'Bama with 9.5 sacks this season and seven in 2010.

Upshaw was a four-year player for the Tide. He has 4.6 speed to go with his massive frame.

Chris Marve, 6’0”, 242 Pounds, University of Vanderbilt

Marve is a typical SEC middle linebacker, always in on a play and a sound tackler. He had an off senior year due to injuries. Still, he finished with 91 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Unless Marve shows tremendous speed at the combine, he is likely going to drop into the third round.

Draft-Worthy Mentions

LB Jerry Franklin, Arkansas

LB Danny Trevathan, Kentucky

Fletcher Cox declared early for the NFL Draft.
Fletcher Cox declared early for the NFL Draft.Butch Dill/Getty Images

Defensive Linemen

Melvin Ingram, 6’2”, 276 Pounds, University of South Carolina

Ingram was the senior leader of a three-headed defensive end rotation that terrorized the SEC, along with Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney. Ingram had nine sacks as a junior and 10 sacks as a senior.

He has a knack for making big plays. His speed is average for a defensive end his size (4.6 40-yard dash). If he can show off some superior atheism at the combine he could work his way into a solid second-round pick. 

*Michael Brockers, 6’6”, 306 Pounds, LSU

A disruptive force for offensive lines to deal with, Brockers easily dominates most blockers in one-on-one situations. He gets up field in a hurry and commands double-teams.

He converted from defensive end to defensive tackle while in Baton Rouge. He is short on overall experience but has a ton of upside. If he does well at the combine he should hear his name called in the first round.

Dre Kirkpatrick could be a first round pick in 2012.
Dre Kirkpatrick could be a first round pick in 2012.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Josh Chapman, 6’1”, 310 Pounds, Alabama

Chapman anchored the line for a great Alabama defense throughout his collegiate career. He is a little undersized for a nose tackle. His real weapon in the trenches is his speed; he clocked a 4.92 40-yard dash.

Chapman should go before the second round is over—early third round if he has a bad NFL combine or pro day.

*Fletcher Cox, 6’4”, 295 Pounds, Mississippi State

There is nothing bad to say about the abilities of Fletcher Cox. He has a motor that does not stop, he is quick off the ball and he played through double-teams throughout his college career. He posted five sacks in 2011 and 2.5 in 2010.

NFL teams will want to beef Cox up once he is drafted. Look for Cox to go somewhere in the second to third round.

Jake Bequette, 6’5”, 271 Pounds, University of Arkansas

Claiborne declared early for the 2012 Draft.
Claiborne declared early for the 2012 Draft.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Bequette is an experienced college player having redshirted before becoming a four-year starter for the Hogs. He finished the 2011 season with 10 sacks in 10 games, as a hamstring injury forced him to miss three games during the early part of the season.

Bequette is fast but not necessarily strong for a defensive end. He has been clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. He might end up being a weak-side defensive end in the NFL.

Draft-Worthy Mentions

DT Malik Jackson, Tennessee

DE Tim Fugger, Vanderbilt

Defensive Backs

*Dre Kirkpatrick, 6’3”, 192 Pounds, University of Alabama

Kirkpatrick has the size and speed NFL scouts drool over for cornerbacks. His background at Alabama will help him play man defense and zone defense at the next level.

Kirkpatrick had zero interceptions in 2011 but had three in 2010.

His ability on the field makes him a first-round draft pick. Getting busted for marijuana in Bradenton, Florida may drop his draft status.

*Morris Claiborne, 6’0”, 185 Pounds, LSU

Claiborne is considered the best corner in college football with the ability to be a shutdown corner at the next level. His speed, toughness and athletic ability will make him a first-round pick for some lucky NFL team.

Claiborne had six interceptions during his junior campaign with one returned for a touchdown. He had five interceptions in 2010.

*Jonathan Banks, 6’1”, 185 Pounds, Mississippi State

Banks is a legitimate cover corner ready for the next level. He had three picks in 2010 and five in 2011 with one returned for a touchdown. He also registered three sacks this season.

His ability to move up in draft status will depend on how well he competes at the NFL draft combine.

Draft-Worthy Mentions

*CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia

CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt

SS Mark Barron, Alabama

FS Tramain Thomas, Arkansas


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