NFL Draft 2012: Defensive Studs Your Team Needs

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Defensive lineman Devon Still of Penn State takes part in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the 2012 NFL draft under a month away, the time to start figuring out who your team will take in the first round is upon us.

Many fans are looking for their squad to go with an offensive player, but it will be the organizations going for the defensive prospects that will be rewarded most.

All of the following players will be selected in the middle-to-late first round, but will deliver stellar rookie campaigns for their team. Each of these men will be successful.

Melvin Ingram

While he will end up falling to the New York Jets at No. 16 in the first round of the draft, South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Melvin Ingram will be the star of this year’s selection process.

What makes Ingram so special is his versatility. With the strength and speed to play any position on the defensive line and at outside linebacker, the pass-rushing specialist will be a sack machine on a Rex-Ryan style defense.

The biggest concern scouts had with the star defensive prospect was his height (6’2”) and his short arm length. As much as those factors may hurt him against bigger offensive tackles, his speed and quick moves will have him under their big paws and on top of QBs.

Janoris Jenkins

Despite several drug-related arrests and a dismissal from the Florida Gators program, North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins is the best cornerback in the draft.

With elite abilities in zone or man coverages, Jenkins has the ability to be an absolute shut-down cornerback in the NFL. Serious speed only adds to the polarizing star’s mystique.

The combination of superior on-field abilities and off-field issues has made Jenkins hard to read in terms of team’s interested, but let’s be honest, he’d never make it past the Bengals in the first round.

Devon Still

Before the 2011 season, Penn State Nittany Lions defensive tackle Devon Still was slated as a top-10 pick in the draft. One controversy-filled season later and his stock has plummeted.

Many scouts that have analyzed the star senior have him as the most NFL-ready tackle in the draft, yet feel his ceiling is much lower than a stud like Michael Brockers who is expected to be a top-10 pick now.

With Still falling down the board in the first round, there may be chance that the teams picking later in the first round may get an opportunity at the big run-stopper.

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