2012 NFL Mock Draft: Highlighting the Biggest Downside to Every Pick
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When I write NFL mock drafts, I normally remind myself to present a fair picture of the prospect. It is far too easy to paint a rosy picture and leave off any glaring errors a prospect may have.
However, I'm not going to be fair and balanced today. Here is the biggest downside to each pick in this 2012 NFL mock draft.
I had to get out my microscope for this one, but there are a few concerns about Luck's game. He doesn't have elite NFL accuracy at this point in his career, but could certainly develop a Brees- or Brady-esque level of perfection. Luck also stares down his receivers at times, something NFL defensive backs will take advantage of.
2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OL, USC
It is tough to find a huge problem with Kalil's game, but the one thing he should improve on is his lower-body strength. He will need to add some muscle and weight below the belt to effectively anchor.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Reiff has a few footwork issues, but his main downside is that he just isn't a nasty finisher. Drawing on his wrestling background and showing a little more aggressiveness in his game would give it another dimension. Some teams have even said they may move him to guard.
4. Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Griffin's extreme talent in some areas overshadow some of his deficiencies. His biggest downside to me is his ability to make reads—both pre-snap and going through his progressions. If that improves at the next level, he will be even more dangerous.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
If there is one thing Claiborne has problems with at times, it's in his press against quicker receivers. Both Joe Adams and Jarius Wright of Arkansas made Claiborne look pedestrian at times.
6. Washington Redskins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Who will be the first WR taken in the 2012 NFL Draft?
The biggest knock on Tannehill is his lack of experience, especially from under center. If the converted receiver can build on his seemingly unlimited talent, he can be a top quarterback in the league five years from now.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Blackmon is an incredibly talented receiver and has been a mainstay in our 2012 Top 100 Prospects since 2010. That said, there is a concern with his ability to create separation at the next level. Even so, he will always be open four feet above his head.
8. Miami Dolphins: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
I absolutely love Wright's game. The only knock I have on him is his size. He is going to need to add some bulk to him without losing speed to avoid getting dinged up going across the middle.
9. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
Fair or not, many have questioned Coples' work ethic. I'm not worried about that issue in the NFL, but what concerns me is his ability to disengage from blocks. At times it looked like Coples was content to be blocked. If he can refine his technique and shed some of those blocks, the sky is the limit.
10. Buffalo Bills: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Perry could have easily made my one-trick pony article from a few days ago. He is very adept at the speed rush, but that is really his only go-to move. He will need to develop some more moves and counters to excel at the next level.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Devon Still, DL, Penn State
Motivation is the key to Still's game. When locked in, his pads stay low and he is a dominant force on the defensive line. When not, he gets high and is pushed off the ball.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Michael Brockers, DT/DE, LSU
There isn't a single bad thing you can say about this prospect's body. His body of work? That is a different story. He has incredible potential, but two sacks and 11 tackles for loss in his career may cause some teams to wonder why his production is so low.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Adams is a huge prospect and has trouble keeping all of that mass centered and balanced. If he can keep his feet under him, he has the potential to be an All-Pro left tackle. After a poor performance at the NFL combine, strength might also be an issue in some teams' minds.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick is immensely talented, but he could be even better if he could clean up his footwork. He gets out-quicked at times, although his length allows him to recover position quickly.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Kuechly is not a track superstar, although he ran very well at the combine. His lack of top-end speed on tape might be a cause for concern playing against the elite athletes of the NFL. He has been able to rely on instincts, technique and film study up 'til now, but he will have to have show his newfound speed on the field in the NFL.
16. New York Jets: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
One of the best running backs to come out since Adrian Peterson, Richardson is a hard guy to find many faults with. His recent knee surgery is certainly cause for a little investigation. Teams at the combine will be checking to see if that knee may be prone to future issues as well as if it is fully healed.
While there are minor technique issues you can pick on with Jenkins, his biggest downside comes from his off-field behavior. If his marijuana use is behind him, he could be a steal in the 2012 NFL draft.
18. San Diego Chargers: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Hightower isn't Brandon Spikes slow, but he isn't going to light a track on fire anytime soon. Like Spikes, Hightower uses his guile and instincts to get to plays he shouldn't based on speed. He will need to get even better in those areas to keep up at the next level.
19. Chicago Bears: David DeCastro, OL, Stanford
DeCastro's biggest flaw is that he plays the position on the line that is easiest to fill: right guard. He is extremely talented, but many teams do not put a priority on that position, choosing instead to pay a premium on the left side of the line.
20. Tennessee Titans: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Who will be the first Alabama prospect taken?
I struggle to find a huge downside to Upshaw's game, so I'll pick on something very small: his height and length. At just over 6'1" and with 31" arms, some teams—like New England—might shy away from Upshaw as a 3-4 OLB.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
Like with Upshaw, Martin is such a complete back that it is hard to poke a big hole in his game. Breakaway speed might be his only issue—he isn't going to be a Chris Johnson type of runner—but any NFL team could use a back like him. His 4.47 combine time might have already put this argument to bed.
22. Cleveland Browns: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Like Justin Blackmon, scouts have raised concerns about Jeffery's ability to separate down the field. I am more concerned with whether Jeffery will be able to stay in shape during the offseason without having the combine there to motivate him. If he doesn't stay motivated, he might be another Mike Williams.
23. Detroit Lions: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Konz is easily the best center in the draft. I have some big concerns about his durability, however. He has had blood clots in the past, as well as suffering multiple ankle injuries. If he can stay healthy, Konz will be a Pro Bowl center for years.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
Glenn does not always play very well in space and is sloppy in his bend at times. That might necessitate a move to the interior line in the NFL. He is certainly talented enough to play tackle, though.
25. Denver Broncos: Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis
Poe is one of the rawest prospects in the whole draft. He has natural strength, explosiveness and a good first step, but none of those abilities is worth anything if he doesn't have the technique to use them. Poe will be a project, albeit one with a potentially huge payoff.
26. Houston Texans: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Off-the-field concerns, like Janoris Jenkins, might keep Floyd from being drafted as high as he should. When four prospects are nearly as equal as Blackmon, Wright, Jeffery and Floyd, issues away from the game might be the tiebreaker.
Cox is pretty raw, but has a lot of potential. Cox needs to keep his pad level lower and learn to use leverage to his advantage if he wants to succeed as a 3-4 DE. He certainly has the body and athleticism to do it.
28. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Ingram is a man without a position to me. He does his best work from the DT position, but his body type screams 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. I'm not sure he can win consistently from the edge in the NFL.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Martin, OL, Stanford
The more I watch Martin, the more I wonder if he has what it takes to be a left tackle in the league. He isn't overly physical, nor does he possess explosive athletic ability. If you are thinking about drafting a tackle in the top 15, as many mock drafts have Martin, you have to think he is going to play a premium position—right tackle is not one of those.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Alfonzo Dennard, CB/S, Nebraska
Dennard's biggest downside stems from his biggest strength: his physicality. He will get overaggressive at times, missing the jam or losing his balance in press.
31. New England Patriots: Kevin Zeitler, OG/C, Wisconsin
One of the better run-blockers in the draft, Zeitler's game is a tough one to find a lot of problems with. He could improve certain aspects of his pass blocking, especially getting set quicker following the snap.
32. New York Giants: Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State
Osemele has had a bum ankle all year long. Both games that we scouted from the press box in Ames, Osemele missed some time due to the injury. The former Cyclone could be an absolute mauler inside or at right tackle, but if he can't stay on the field, that will be a big problem.
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