2012 NFL Draft Predictions: Projecting Top Pro Bowlers at Each Position

Jon Siddoway@@JSiddowayCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  David Wilson #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs the ball against the Michigan Wolverines during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Every NFL draft is the same, only the names are changed. 

We huddle around the TV screen like ice fishermen near a fire, as if our very lives depend on it.  

Waiting for picks to be made; waiting to react. 

Some cheer, others boo and New Yorkers are never satisfied with their team's selection. 

Players then meet their new teams and NFL careers are born. Whether or not they blossom into success, however, remains to be seen. 

Each year produces a handful of future Pro Bowlers—a truckload of steady contributors and plenty of disappointments. 

Below are prospects with the best chances of frequenting the Pro Bowl more than any others at their respective positions. 


QB: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Having Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan and Mike Shanahan on his side makes this a little easier to swallow.  

Dark horse: Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

WR: Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech

Needs to polish his route-running, but the blend of size, speed and leaping ability is too dangerous.  

Dark horse: T.Y. Hilton, Florida International

RB: David Wilson, Virginia Tech

All-purpose running back who will only get better in the pros. 

Dark horse: Robert Turbin, Utah State

FB: Cody Johnson, Texas

Pass-catching skills are a concern, but he's great as a blocker and runner in short-yardage situations. Accumulated 36 rushing touchdowns during collegiate career. 

Dark horse: Shawn Asiata, Utah

TE: Coby Fleener, Stanford

Eye-popping performance at Pro Day has scouts salivating. Fleener has a knack for finding the end zone. 

Dark horse: James Hanna, Oklahoma

OT: Matt Kalil, USC

Not just the top tackle in this year's class, but one of the better prospects in years. 

Dark horse: Bobby Massie, Ole Miss

OG: David DeCastro, Stanford

Kept Andrew Luck upright and will do the same for his next starting quarterback, for several years. 

Dark horse: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State

C: Peter Konz, Wisconsin

Played well against top competition, foreshadowing success at the next level.

Dark horse: David Molk, Michigan


DT: Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

Good power and surprising quickness for a player his size (6'4", 300 pounds). 

Dark horse: Brandon Thompson, Clemson

DE: Quinton Coples, UNC

May never live up to the Julius Pepper comparisons but will be a pretty special player. 

Dark horse: Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati 

OLB: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

After leading the NCAA in 16 sacks last season, NFL quarterbacks are next on his hit list. 

Dark horse: Mychal Kendricks, California

ILB: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

Big, physical linebacker who showed off excellent speed at the combine with a 4.62 40-yard dash.  

Dark horse: Tank Carder, TCU

CB: Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

Only concerns are non-football related. On the gridiron, Jenkins is a shutdown corner with top-end speed and fluidity. 

Dark horse: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma

SS: Mark Barron, Alabama

Top strong safety in this year's shallow pool. Hard-hitter who always finds a way to make big plays. 

Dark horse: Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State

FS: Trumaine Johnson, Montana

Played corner in college but projects as a free safety. Has the size (6'2", 210 pounds) and range to excel as a team's center fielder. 

Dark horse: Brandon Taylor, LSU

Special Teams

K: Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss

Big-legged kicker able to consistently convert long field goals and touchbacks. 

Dark horse: Carson Wiggs, Purdue

P: Bryan Anger, California

Boots the ball with a lot of anger and precision, Anger is the top-rated punter in this year's draft.  

Dark horse: Drew Butler, Georgia

KR: Chris Rainey, Florida

Blazing speed combined with elusiveness make him near impossible to take down in the open field. 

Dark horse: Michael Smith, Utah State


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