2012 NFL Draft: Comparing Top Prospects to Current/Former Players

Craig ForrestalContributor IIIFebruary 26, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Comparing Top Prospects to Current/Former Players

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    Every year Roger Goodell walks to the podium and makes childhood dreams come true for top college prospects. Goodell then takes photos with the recently selected player, if they are invited to New York City for the draft. With every player there is a chance they may be a Hall Of Fame talent or they could be a total bust and being drafted will be the highlight of their NFL career. This draft, just like every, is filled with talent; especially at the top of the draft. The following slides will look at some of the most highly regarded prospects and a current or former NFL player that they compare well to.

Andrew Luck (QB- Stanford)

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    A lot of the Luck talk so far has been about how he compares to Peyton Manning. I understand where those comparisons come from. They both have a wealth of intelligence on and off the field. Luck has NFL bloodlines, as does Manning, and the comparisons could go on forever. However, I see a different player that Luck compares to: John Elway.

    Yes, the Stanford connection plays a tiny factor in my choice, but there is more. Elway made good decisions with the ball and liked to use the run game to set up the defense. Luck used a strong running attack at Stanford to help him set up the passing game. They have similar size and are both more than capable of picking up a few yards with their legs. I feel that while Luck can play out of the shotgun, he is more comfortable under center.

    Elway has one of the best winning percentages ever and went to the Pro Bowl nine times in his career. Elway is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, and I believe Luck compares very favorably to Elway. Another element of Elway's legacy is that he is one of the all-time leading rushers from the quarterback position, and just like Luck his athleticism is often undervalued.

    Either way you slice it, Peyton Manning or John Elway, Luck will be a great NFL quarterback. I feel that Manning is the best quarterback ever, and that is part of the reason why Elway comparison was used.

Robert Griffin III (QB- Baylor)

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    If a quarterback runs an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash, the Mike Vick analogies will pop into your head immediately. For some reason, though, I feel those comparisons just are not a good fit for RG3. Griffin has a cannon attached to his right shoulder and is a dazzling athlete. If you don't believe me, look up what he did as a track star at Baylor. Yes, he is also a track star. He could probably run for the United States Olympic track team if he focused on track only.

    With that being said, I see a reincarnation of Randall Cunningham with RG3. Cunningham went to multiple Pro Bowls in his career and was one of the most entertaining players of his generation in the open field. Given RG3's track background, I 100 percent believe that he will be electric in the open field. Some have compared him to Cam Newton, but I feel the size difference is too much. Cunningham was the field general for one of, if not the greatest, offenses ever: the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. I believe RG3 has the poise and talent to lead an offense like that at some point in his career.

    Like Cunningham, Griffin has shown the ability to bounce back from injury. Cunningham and RG3 both have torn ACLs.

    While I do not see RG3 having a Hall of Fame career, I do see him as being a very, very good quarterback in the NFL for about 12 years. 

Ryan Tannehill (QB- Texas A&M)

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    Ryan Tannehill was a quarterback in college for one full season. He played a majority of his snaps at Texas A&M at wide receiver. Tannehill could not beat out Jerrod Johnson for the starting quarterback job. Johnson had a very good career for the Aggies, but not enough to be regarded as a top-notch NFL prospect. Stephen McGee of the Dallas Cowboys was also at the College Station campus when Tannehill was.

    As a redshirt freshmen, Tannehill was the third option at the quarterback position, forcing him to learn the wide receiver position.

    In his sophomore season he lost the QB job outright to Johnson, but was named honorable mention All-Big 12 as a wide receiver.

    As a junior, he split some time with Johnson as the Texas A&M signal caller but was given the starting QB job for the final six games of the season. 

    Then, finally, as a senior, he was given the keys to the car without controversy. Tannehill did throw 29 touchdowns, but he is not a quarterback in my mind. He struggled to distance himself from Johnson and had success as a wide receiver. Tannehill has good size in the 6'4", 220-pound range, and that is why he compares to Drew Bennett. Bennett was a QB and WR at UCLA and scored 28 receiving touchdowns in his NFL career.

    There is talk of Tannehill being selected by the Miami Dolphins to address their QB needs, but I feel that is a terrible idea. Tannehill is a smart kid with aspirations of becoming a surgeon one day. I just can't justify Tannehill as a first-round pick or an NFL quarterback. He should have a decent to pretty good career as a WR in the NFL. 

Trent Richardson (RB- Alabama)

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    Trent Richardson is a thick running back. When you look at the 225-pound beast, you see a skill set that screams greatness. Just like fellow Pensacola native and Escambia High School alum Emmitt Smith, Richardson can run around, by or through a defense. Richardson and Smith have compact bodies and incredible toughness. Both of these running backs have a north-to-south running style, which means they go straight ahead without using a lot of jukes, opposed to Barry Sanders.

    While Richardson is a little bigger than Smith, he is a capable receiver out of the backfield. Richardson is a complete player and does not have any glaring flaws in his game. Richardson is a beast, and his weight room-warrior persona has been well-documented. Richardson has strength that some linemen envy. He has been working out like this even before his day with the Crimson Tide.

    There is also a soft side to Richardson. He is the father of two girls, and it has forced him to mature quicker then most people his age. This lets NFL teams know that if they select Richardson, they are getting a hard-working, focused and intelligent young man. Richardson wants to provide for his daughters, that way they don't have to go through the same struggles he did. Richardson grew up in a housing project in Pensacola and has not just relied on his athletic talents to provide for his daughters as he maintained a GPA over 3.0 as a business major at Alabama.

Lamar Miller (RB- the U)

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    Lamar Miller grew up in Miami, went to the University of Miami and could be the next in a great line of UM backs. At 5'11" and  between 210-215 pounds, Miller has a striking physical resemblance to Clinton Portis. Miller is the first Hurricanes running back to go over the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Willis McGahee. Well, if in the first few sentences of your writeup you get compared to Portis and then have McGahee mentioned with you, you're off to a good start. Then mix in an unofficial 40 time of 4.38 and you have a recipe for success. 

    Miller had some of his best games against the best competition he faced. He had 184 yards against Ohio State, 166 against VA Tech and 92 against Florida State. Miller brings an added dimension to any team as he is an exceptional pass-catcher with tremendous speed, vision, agility and a competitive spirit that is second to none. I expect Miller to develop into one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL.

    The one knock on him is that he is not a great blocker and will need to work on his technique. The positive about Miller and his blocking is that he is not afraid to lower his helmet and take on a pass-rusher. He makes decisive cuts and has a lot of wiggle and juke in him that allows him to get beyond defenders. 

    Miller would be best suited in a one-back system, and I think the Bengals would suit him very well. Even as a rookie, Miller is an upgrade over Cedric Benson.

Justin Blackmon (WR- Oklahoma State)

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    Justin Blackmon is better than Dez Bryant, a former Oklahoma State player, and also causes way less headaches.

    The easy player to compare Blackmon to is Michael Crabtree. Like Crabtree, Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award twice and had a remarkable college career. Blackmon was the first WR to ever win the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2010. Twice an All-American, Blackmon dominated the Stanford defense in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl as he found the end zone three times.

    At 6'1" and about 210 pounds, Blackmon strikes me more as a Reggie Wayne-type player. Blackmon is a little bit bigger, but he is a sure-handed option in the passing game. Blackmon is a sharp route-runner and is strong enough to get off press coverage and into his route. He reads defenses well and can adjust his route on the fly.

    Wayne has been to five Pro Bowls in his career and has had a great career. Blackmon should be able to duplicate Wayne's career and make the team that selects him very happy. Blackmon will put up good numbers as a rookie and have an immediate impact. 

Michael Floyd (WR- Notre Dame)

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    Michael Floyd, statically, is amongst the greatest wide receivers in Notre Dame history, but that didn't come without some bumps in the road. 

    Floyd was busted for drunken driving in 2011 and C\coach Brian Kelly suspended Floyd for a period of time. After a few months Floyd was allowed back on the team but did not retain his captain title. However, Floyd put up good stats as he had 100 catches on the season for over 1,100 yards.

    There is no question of Floyd's talent; the questions surround his focus. He is a physically imposing WR at 6'3" and 220 pounds. Floyd is huge, with good speed and solid athleticism. Some may even categorize him as a supreme athlete. 

    With the aforementioned tidbits on Floyd and him being expected to be selected in the first round, I can't help but throw the David Boston label on him. Boston had some baggage, and it got worse with time. Boston had all the talent in the world but wasted it by making awful choices. Boston had a complex about him that made no team want him after a while, and unfortunately, I see the same for Floyd.

Alshon Jeffery (WR- South Carolina)

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    Alshon Jeffery has admitted to playing around 230 pounds last season at South Carolina, but checked in at 216 pounds at the combine. That is a difference of 14 pounds. Some teams will look at that as a lack of commitment to the game and his conditioning. 

    Jeffery was also ejected from from the Capital One Bowl after fighting with cornerback Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard. In the final game of his college career, Jeffery scored a 78-yard touchdown before he got ejected. This is what you have to deal with if you select him.

    He has all the talent in the world but, at times, just doesn't care.

    Playing heavy and getting into fights shows a me attitude, and unless you are Terrell Owens that won't work out too well for you. It hasn't even worked out too well for T.O.

    Taking all things into consideration, Jeffery compares to Mike Williams of the Seattle Seahawks. Williams ate his way out of the NFL. Williams didn't play in 2008 or 2009, but got a chance again in Seattle with Pete Carroll. Hopefully, Jeffery doesn't become Williams, but I have a funny feeling his immaturity will cripple his NFL career.

    Well, immaturity combined with the buffet line.