If you could project how the NFL draft class of 2012 will fare four or five years down the road, which players will have evolved into All-Pros by then?
The way that each rookie will develop depends on factors like which team drafted them, how many changes did they experience with their head coaches being fired, offensive or defensive scheme changes, holdouts, injuries or other factors that either stunted their personal and professional growth, or allowed them to take off from day one.
We are looking to determine which players in the 2012 draft have the best chance to turn into an All-Pro player at some point in their career. On to the presentation.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The expected first and second overall draft picks in the 2012 NFL draft. Due to the high level of expectations placed on both of these outstanding athletes, it would make sense that both of them should project to reach All-Pro status during their pro careers.
Luck is smart, athletic and an accurate passer. Labeled as the best quarterback prospect to enter the NFL since Peyton Manning, if Luck is able to play up to that lofty comparison, then he will be able to reach All-Pro status.
The only part of the equation that gives me pause, is who will Andrew Luck have to throw the football to at Indianapolis? The Colts have already lost Pierre Garcon to Washington, and they waived Dallas Clark.
Yes, Reggie Wayne surprisingly re-signed with the Colts, but they will need more than just him as a target. The Colts will have to start surrounding Luck with some talent if he is to become anything like his predecessor.
As for RG3, the Washington Redskins have already done a nice job of bolstering their passing attack by signing Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Given the athleticism of both receivers, combined with the skills of Griffin, the Redskins offense is going to be cranking at a higher level in 2012, and conceivably for at least a few more years after that as well.
Given the tools that Griffin will be provided to work with, he stands the better chance to reach All-Pro status first.
Trent Richardson is the most complete running back in the 2012 NFL draft. He is a combination of power, agility, speed and elusiveness that makes him the ideal running back to draft this year.
There has been much speculation as to where Richardson will ultimately be drafted, could he go in the top five overall, or will he tumble out of the top 10 due to the emphasis placed on the passing game currently in the NFL?
Wherever he winds up being drafted, that team will be counting their lucky stars that they had the foresight or wisdom to draft Richardson when they did, because he will be a strong producer for them for many years to come.
In my opinion, none of the other running backs in this class are that close to him, in regards to being the complete package.
Our choice for most likely All-Pro at wide receiver is Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. This is one position that could offer a number of other options, ranging from Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), Kendall Wright (Baylor) and Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech).
Whatever concerns existed about Blackmon had to do with the need to verify his speed. He demonstrated his foot speed at his Pro Day, running the 40 in an impressive 4.46.
Blackmon exploded in his junior season, coming up with 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Blackmon had an average of 12.6 yards per catch.
Despite being the focus of opposing secondaries, Blackmon continued to find ways to get open week after week.
He should have a very solid career in the NFL. He is a strong route-runner and has solid hands. Is also very good in picking up yards after the catch, which will be part of his trademark.
Before the NFL Scouting Combines began, the odds-on favorite for future Pro-Bowl player would have been Orson Charles from Georgia. But, Charles didn't have a great Pro Day and soon after was arrested for a DUI charge. Not the kind of thing you want to do the month before the draft.
I was tempted to write that my answer was nobody, because frankly I am not that impressed with the 2012 tight end draft class. But, the theme of the article is to identify who is most likely to reach All-Pro status.
So under the literal translation of most likely, I will go with Coby Fleener, tight end from Stanford. Fleener is better at blocking but still is a decent receiver.
If he can improve on his receiving skills and prove that he can get open in the NFL, he has a good chance to improve his overall game with some NFL coaching.
One final thought, with as young as Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are, it will be very difficult for Fleener (or Charles for that matter) to reach All-Pro status with those two young stud tight ends that haven't even reached their prime yet.
Matt Kalil, tackle from USC, is our choice for future All-Pro from the 2012 draft class.
Kalil is massive, 6'6" and weighs 306 pounds. He showed very well at the scouting combines and will probably wind up as a top five draft pick.
He also has NFL blood lines with his brother Ryan Kalil, who plays for the Carolina Panthers. He could play right tackle now but will probably spend most of his career at left tackle, which is where he will have a outstanding chance to become an All-Pro.
David DeCastro, the outstanding guard from Stanford, is thought to be the top guard in the 2012 draft class, and he is my choice for the guard to most likely become All-Pro.
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report's NFL draft analyst, thinks that DeCastro is the best guard to come out in the past 10 years.
DeCastro is 6'5" and weighs 315 pounds. He is athletic, is a strong run blocker and is as consistent as you could want.
Peter Konz, Wisconsin center, is the runaway choice for future All-Pro candidate from this class. Konz is 6'5" and weighs 315.
There is a fairly steep drop off in talent after Konz in this class for centers, so he is easily the choice to make.
According to Matt Miller, Konz offers a combination of size, strength and smarts, which are certainly traits any center at an All-Pro level would need.
My choice for defensive end is Quinton Coples. While there is no doubt that Coples has all of the physical tools that you would want, the real question is does he have the desire and the heart to play through obstacles to be able to reach an All-Pro level of performance?
It might take a couple years of trial and error, some personal growth and some hard lessons, but I think that Coples will be able to use his God-given talents and find the desire to succeed at the professional level.
Coples is 6'6" and weighs 284 pounds. His production suffered last year due to a position switch and if he falls out of the top 10 at the draft due to fears about what he will do, it will serve as proper motivation for Coples to prove to everybody that passed on him that they were wrong.
Michael Brockers, from LSU, is my choice for defensive tackle. Brockers is massive at 6'6" and weighs 306 pounds.
Brockers is strong, explosive and is a strong run defender. He can become better in pass rushing, but we don't expect him to become an All-Pro as a rookie.
Over his NFL career, expect Brockers to evolve into an All-Pro caliber defensive tackle, being the type of disruptive tackle that offenses hate to face.
Since his freshman year at LSU, Brockers has gained about 50 pounds, so he is still evolving as a physical specimen. As he continues to mature and grow stronger, he can do more damage in the backfield.
For outside linebacker, my pick is Nick Perry from USC. Depending on where you look, Perry has been listed as either a defensive end or as an outside linebacker. For our purposes here, I am going with Perry as an outside linebacker.
Perry is underrated, goes 6'3" and weighs 250 pounds. Perry has long arms, which moves him up my list, as opposed to shorter-arm players like Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram.
Due to leading the Pac-12 in sacks in 2011, Perry is a player that many teams are interested in. Will he go in the first round? That remains to be seen, but I like his chances to turn into a top-tier performer when he lands in the NFL.
For the choice at inside linebacker, we turn to Luke Kuechly from Boston College. Kuechly is 6'3" and weighs 242 pounds. He showed strong athleticism at the scouting combine and could easily wind up being drafted in the top 20 picks in April.
Kuechly has been adding weight since the 2011 season ended, and the added muscle hasn't appeared to slow him down or make him less athletic.
In fact, the added weight will help him at the next level, when he will have to fight through the blocks of players who are bigger than him.
He has great instincts for the ball, and if he continues to show that he can make plays, that will lead him to All-Pro status.
As you can tell from this photo at the NFL Scouting Combine, Morris Claiborne can sky. That is a very needed asset for playing cornerback in the NFL when you are going up against wide receivers that seem to keep getting taller and taller.
Claiborne is our choice to be an All-Pro corner from this draft class. Claiborne is 5'11" and weighs 188 pounds. He has great instincts and a nose for the football. He plays a sound cornerback and has good hands. Good coverage guy.
Claiborne has a very strong chance to become an All-Pro corner during his career.
Our selection for future All-Pro at safety is Mark Barron.
Barron is 6'1" and weighs 213 pounds. Barron went up against strong competition during his college career in the SEC and should continue to play at an advanced level compared to his fellow safeties from his draft class.
Barron is a good tackler who will provide run support and should go in the first round in April.
Thanks very much for checking out our presentation.