2012 NFL Draft Projections: Ryan Tannehill and Underrated Stars Who Will Shine

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2012

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws a pass against the Texas Longhorns in the second half of a game at Kyle Field on November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

Being an underrated prospect in the NFL is hard to do. With all the coverage and analysis we have at our disposal, you would think that everyone would be ranked right where they belong. 

Still, there are other factors besides the tangible items that you have to examine when evaluating talent. Mental makeup and consistency in college also have to be factored in, which will drive some talented players down. 

How far down is up for debate, but when stock starts slipping there is no telling where it will end. Here are the underrated stars in this year's draft class who will shine regardless of where they get taken. 


Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 29:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies looks to pass during a game against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on October 29, 2011 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

While Tannehill has his share of detractors, he could end up being a top-10 pick because the Miami Dolphins are desperate to get a long-term solution at quarterback. 

Some may scoff at that, but don't underestimate his natural ability on the field. He does have to work on his mental makeup—specifically not letting every mistake snowball on him. 

As long as he can do that, and has weapons around him that will allow him to play up his arm strength, Tannehill can be a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. It will take a few years but he will get there. 

Projected Pick: No. 8 to Miami


Andre Branch, Defensive End

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers rolls out of the pocket against Andre Branch #40 of the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Ph
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you want to get hype around you in this draft class, all you have to do is be named Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin, or play on the defensive line. 

While this class is loaded with defenders who will make their presence felt right away, don't forget about Branch. 

His overall skills are not at the levels of those elite names like Dontari Poe or Melvin Ingram, but he is on the same level as Courtney Upshaw, who can play linebacker or defensive end in the right scheme. 

Branch will take more time to develop than those players, so as long as you have a stop-gap option in place he is worthy of a late first-round pick. 

Projected Pick: No. 31 to New England


Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Rueben Randle #2 of the LSU Tigers gets away from a defender for Alabama during the second half of the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Like Tannehill, Randle has to prove that his mind won't get in the way of the natural talent that is already there. 

Receivers must have size and speed to succeed in the NFL today. At 6'3", 210 pounds, Randle certainly fits the mold as far as his look. He did not have a good time at the NFL Scouting Combine, which leaves him likely on the outside of the first round looking in. 

For a second-round playmaker, Randle is going to be a steal. He can change games with his hands and his route running has gotten better during his time at LSU. He is a star in the making, as long as he doesn't pout when balls don't get thrown his way. 

Projected Pick: No. 37 to Cleveland