While much attention leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft has been centered on dissecting first-round mock drafts, future success often boils down to which team can identify that one “diamond in the rough."
What separates the league's top teams from the rest of the pack is their ability to make trades or draft wisely in the later rounds, as each acquisition has the opportunity to make an immediate impact.
The following are bold predictions for every round of the draft.
In the past, general manager A.J. Smith has shown an aggressiveness to move up in the draft to acquire a specific player.
All of the trade rumors center around Alabama S Mark Barron, who would give the Bolts their best strong safety since Rodney Harrison. This type of trade could spark a renewed interest in a franchise that’s coming off two disappointing seasons.
Some NFL teams still have a few questions about Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden that must be answered before they select him in the upcoming draft.
No, it has nothing to do with his height or arm strength—the red flag is his age.
Most rookie quarterbacks are either 21 or 22 years old when they begin their first training camp, but Weeden will be 28 years old this summer. Pro scouts feel he’s too old, but he is also pro-ready.
The hope is that a summer of classroom study sessions and a full preseason schedule will give Weeden ample time to grasp the pro game and be ready for the first game of the season.
Whichever team that ends up selecting Weeden better make him their starter ASAP.
If Chandler Jones of Syracuse is still available at the No. 32 position, their draft pick will be a no-brainer.
The Giants would be selecting a big, athletic, pass-rushing defensive end, the type of player that GM Jerry Reese has always coveted in the draft.
This would allow the Giants to begin accepting offers for Umenyiora, and hopefully get additional picks in this year’s draft. Though the front office will have to be floored with an offer to pull the trigger, the right value could send Osi packing.
The one glaring hole the Denver Broncos have on their roster is a lack of depth at the defensive tackle position.
Thus, acquiring DT Nick Fairley from the Detroit Lions will help bolster the front seven. He's the perfect rotational player that could excel in John Fox’s defensive scheme.
Drafting a defensive lineman in the first round will still be a priority for John Elway and company. Last April, Elway tried to move up and draft Fairley, but now the Broncos might be able to acquire him on the cheap one year later.
Fairley had a disappointing rookie season, as he dealt with several nagging injuries that kept him out of the starting lineup all year long.
Then came the off-field issues earlier this month, as he was arrested on a marijuana possession charge. If Fairley wants to become a significant piece to a defense, he must mature off the field first.
Sparked by a tremendous pro day workout, Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin has helped himself move up in the upcoming NFL draft. This is remarkable news for a player that missed the entire 2011 season due to a shoulder injury.
Hardin’s turnaround began with his play at the East-West Shrine Game, and continued through Oregon State’s pro day. He has graded out to be a fifth-round draft choice, but one team might take a chance and select Hardin earlier.
If an NFL team is looking for a skill player to draft in the later rounds, then they should take a closer look at Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles.
Broyles' senior season begins and ends with an ACL injury suffered in a November game against Texas A&M.
Before the injury, Broyles was set to become a late first-round draft choice. After the injury, he became the biggest question mark on everyone’s draft board.
Broyles couldn’t participate in the NFL combine as he was still rehabbing his knee, but he did hold his own pro day to convince scouts that his recovery is on track.
Though he may be an injury risk, Broyles is well worth a pick in the Round 6.
“Mr. Irrelevant” was an award created by former NFL wide receiver Paul Salata, who bestows this honor to the last pick in each year's NFL draft.
That lucky individual will be flown out to Newport Beach, Calif. for a week-long celebration. It includes a golf tournament, a sailing regatta and a dinner ceremony that awards them with the Lowsman Trophy.
Don’t laugh—some of the past winners have made significant contributions to the NFL.
Some examples include QB Bill Kenney, who was selected for a Pro Bowl, RB Jim Finn, who was the starting fullback on the 2008 New York Giants Super Bowl Championship team and K Ryan Succop, who tied an NFL record for the highest field-goal percentage by a rookie in 2009.