2012 NFL Draft: Who Is Coming off the Board Later Than Predicted?

Jake SilverCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Who Is Coming off the Board Later Than Predicted?

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    The NFL draft is a tough thing to predict. Some players and teams find perfect marriages, while other prospects and organizations find themselves careening into draft-bust misery or free agency. 

    In the months leading up to the draft, prospects fluctuate like New York weather reports. Former potential first-rounders can find themselves destined for the bargain bin, while unknowns might shoot to the top with promising combines and character. 

    Brady Quinn has become the poster boy for players whose stock fell precipitously on draft day. Who will join him in 2012?

5. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

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    Dre Kirkpatrick is a terrific athlete with tremendous pro potential. He trails only Morris Claiborne among cornerbacks in the 2012 draft class. 

    The problem? He is coming off an acquittal for drug-possession charges. That's all well and good, and it's nice to know he didn't do it, but the NFL is a place of appearances. That he's even been involved in this type of situation prior to entering the NFL is going to be a huge red flag in NFL media-relations departments. 

    He has the talent to be a mid first-rounder, but his alleged legal troubles could knock him down a round or two if teams are being overly cautious. 

4. Lamar Miller, Miami

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    Lamar Miller is a freakish athlete with tremendous skill. Any running back with his abilities is a valuable commodity, even in this new pass-happy NFL world.

    However, there are two things working against Miller. One, he isn't very big, and that is a huge deal in a league where 350-pound dough boys are trying to squash you. At 5'11'', 210 pounds, Miller is big when standing in an office elevator, but he's tiny on an NFL field. 

    The other problem? Running backs are not in particularly high demand this year. With Trent Richardson available to fill the void for whichever one or two running-back needy teams there are, Miller's services will not be seen to be worth a first-round pick. 

    Though he has the talent to go late in the first round, Miller could tumble due to his size and lack of demand.

3. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

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    Ryan Tannehill has "the next Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen" written all over him. Talent-wise, Tannehill should be drafted in the second round at best. But due to the voracious demand for quarterbacks around the league, he could find himself as the 2012 Christian Ponder and get drafted way before his time 

    Having said that, his broken foot kept him out of combine drills and that should throw up red flags about his durability. And given the addition of Peyton Manning to the free-agent market, the number of quarterback-needy teams have been reduced by one.

    If the Cleveland Browns decide not to use a first-round pick on him, it is possible that he tumbles all the way to the second round. 

2. Trent Richardson, Alabama

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    Like Lamar Miller, Trent Richardson is unfortunate enough to be entering an NFL where running backs are severely undervalued. With the advent of the modern NFL offense, running backs just don't have the same impact they used to have.

    Three to five years ago it was a completely different story. Adrian Peterson, Darren McFadden, C.J. Spiller and Ryan Matthews were all selected in the top 15. Arguably, Peterson is the only member of that group better than Richardson.

    Yet, running back is not likely to be a position of demand in the 2012 NFL Draft. Any team that could use a running back, like the Buccaneers, Jets or Giants, also will have other pressing needs.

    A history of knee issues does not help him. The only thing that will stop Richardson from spiraling to the end of the first round is that somebody in the 15-25 range will pick him up for pure value. 

    Still, this is a top-five talent who could go anywhere in the mid-to-late first round. 

1. Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

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    Vontaze Burfict didn't just shoot himself in the foot at the combine. He took a 12-gauge shotgun and blew his foot right off. Even Plaxico Burress is laughing at him. 

    At one point touted as the best linebacker in the 2012 draft, the Arizona State product spat all over his coaches and teammates in interviews, ran a horrific 40-yard dash time of 5.01 and generally failed to impress in every way. 

    His stock has gone from guaranteed first-rounder to probable undrafted free agent. Just weeks ago he was being mocked in the early-to-middle of the first round on some boards. Now he probably won't make the cut on an NFL team.

    Way to go, Vontaze.