After months and months of player evaluations, the 2012 NFL draft is finally within our sights.
There aren’t just collegiate careers to keep in mind: NFL teams can weigh in combine times, personal interviews, and pro day performances when deciding who to draft from the 2012 NFL prospects.
And while these pro days and personal interviews have helped some prospects, they’ve caused the draft stock of others to drop.
Here’s a look at just a couple top prospects whose stock has gone up, and some whose stock has taken a bit of a dive.
The proverbial mystery man of the 2012 prospect class, Dontari Poe’s stock has been on the rise since before the combine.
A defensive tackle from the University of Memphis, he was relatively unknown since he didn’t play on a BCS squad. It wasn’t until the combine that many scouts got a first-hand look at Poe’s size and brute strength.
And while he might not have experience against “elite competition,” he is also a raw talent with room to grow and hone his football prowess. NFLDraftGeek.com notes that he is a hard worker, which could potentially make him a more desirable draft pick than other top-10 caliber prospects with character issues.
Expect Poe to crack the top 15.
This prospect out of South Carolina has shown that his small size doesn’t limit his athleticism or versatility.
He performed well in the combine, posting a 4.18 in the 20-yard dash and a 6.83 in the 3-cone drill. When asked at South Carolina’s pro day how he would feel about playing as a 3-4 outside linebacker—he was listed as a defensive end at the combine—Ingram replied with: "Wherever they point me, I'm ready to go there."
While draft aficionados are split as to where Ingram might land, I expect him to crack the top 10, getting picked up by Jacksonville or Carolina, as also projected by mock draft pros at NFL.com.
How Coples is still considered a top-10 pick by many mock draft gurus, I don’t know.
He is an incredible talent, and has the ability to play in both 4-3 and 3-4 defense schemes. And while he wasn’t superior in the combine, his initial athleticism “will be tough for many NFL front offices to ignore.”
But his perpetual habit of losing steam is still a concern. He has a “propensity to disappear from the stat sheet for stretches at a time.”
And despite his versatility on the defensive line, it’s hard to dismiss “the perception that he resisted the move back to tackle last season for fear that it would hurt his draft stock.”
He’s a talented athlete, but his habit of losing steam isn’t a quality that professional teams will tolerate.
Add on that, although he demonstrated his versatility at North Carolina’s pro day, he also showed up having lost weight.
Coples is expected to be picked seventh overall, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up not breaking the top 10.
DeCastro was already considered to be a top-20 pick before Stanford’s pro day last Thursday.
But mix a successful pro day with a strong combine, and DeCastro’s stock has lifted him to be the No. 1-ranked prospect for his position. He posted a 4.56 in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.30 in the 3 cone drill, coming out a top performer in both events. He then showed off his superior blocking skills at Stanford’s pro day, making him the second-most watched Stanford prospect behind Andrew Luck.
While it is reported that DeCastro spent at least 20 minutes talking to Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander—Cincinnati has the 17th overall pick—he is projected to be drafted much higher, by perhaps the Seahawks or the Cardinals.
With great prospects, superior athleticism can often have the ability to outweigh character flaws come draft day. Such isn’t proving to be the case for inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict’s stock took a nose dive after the combine and hasn’t regained any momentum in the following weeks.
After bombing his combine interviews and posting poor scores in the performance drills—including the slowest 40-yard dash among combine linebackers—one would think that Burfict would go to great lengths to salvage his draft stock at Arizona State’s pro day.
This is on top of Burfict’s already-evident character issues, and inability to control his temper, both on and off the field. (Keep in mind, this guy punched his own teammate.)
Burfict has fallen to a third-round caliber slot, if that.
STOCK: IN FLUX
Wright’s stock has possibly yo-yoed more than any other prospects in the 2012 draft class.
He was touted as a top-tier wide receiver following his senior season at Baylor, posting 108 receptions for 1,663 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Then his stock took a tumble after a dismal combine in which he ran a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash.
But Wright got the opportunity to redeem himself at Baylor’s pro day last Wednesday, improving his time and showing scouts why he was Robert Griffin III’s “go-to receiver.”
The heads of the mock draft world are split on whether the pro day was enough to fully boost Wright’s stock: While he is projected across the board to still be a first-round pick, draft insiders are split on whether it was enough for him to crack the top 20.
STOCK: ALL OVER THE PLACE
Tannehill is another prospect whose stock has fluctuated over the past few months. And not all of it has been a result of a broken foot that sidelined him at the combine and Texas A&M’s pro day. (He’ll get to make up his pro day this Thursday.)
NFLDraftGeek.com calls him “the most overrated prospect” of this year’s draft class, in part because his poor mechanics and lack of leadership skills currently outweigh his “untapped potential.” While having room-to-grow qualities can be an upside, it doesn’t make Tannehill starter material for his rookie year in the NFL.
And with the race to solidify a quality quarterback ever-fierce in the NFL offseason, the free agency has had just as much of an affect on Tannehill’s landing spot as his actual athleticism.
Despite his negative aspects, Tannehill will probably still be drafted in the top half of the first round, probably by the Miami Dolphins, who have yet to select their franchise quarterback.