2012 NFL Draft: LaMichael James and 9 Late-Round Picks Destined to Shine
LaMichael James and a select group of other late-round draft picks are going to make an impact in the NFL.
Some of them were college studs, while others come from unknown colleges that will have people thinking their favorite teams' general managers are on drugs.
Though the first-round draft picks get all the glory, it's the players that are drafted in the later rounds that can take a team from good to great.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
When you think of playmakers in this year’s draft, the name LaMichael James comes to everyone’s mind. One of the best players in college football, James won the Doak Walker Award and was a unanimous first-team All-American.
Scouts are worried about his size, as he is only 5’9” and less than 200 lbs. But what they cannot deny is his athleticism. James has elite speed and agility that is going to make him deadly at the NFL level.
He runs a 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 range. He is an all-around athlete. He ran for more than 1,500 yards in all three of his season at Oregon and can catch passes out of the backfield.
He is not exactly a sleeper prospect, but if James drops to the third round, he will be by far the best third-round draft pick. He has the talent to go in the late first round or early second round.
James will be a deadly third-down back in the NFL and could become a big-time playmaker similar to Darren Sproles.
Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
One of the top wide receivers in college football last year, Marvin McNutt is a great draft pick for any team that can get him in the fifth round. He absolutely dominated at Iowa his senior year, catching 82 passes for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named the Big Ten wide receiver of the year.
McNutt is an elite athlete, standing at 6’3" and running a 40-yard dash in 4.45-4.5. He has dealt with some injuries throughout college, but nothing too serious to threaten his NFL career.
McNutt has the potential to be a starter in the NFL for a while and will be a steal in this year’s draft.
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
Not many people have heard of Trumaine Johnson because he played his college football at Montana.
Johnson is an intriguing small-school prospect because he is a 6’2”, 200-pound cornerback. Along with a 40 time around 4.5-4.6, Johnson has the ability to match up against big and physical wide receivers.
He has plenty of experience, starting all four years at Montana. Johnson possesses great ball skills, picking off 15 passes throughout his college career.
With his size and knack to find the ball, Johnson has great value as a third-round draft pick.
Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State
Bryce Brown was arguably the No. 1 recruit when he came out of high school. Several websites had him as the No. 1 recruit ahead of Matt Barkley in the 2009 recruiting class.
Things went downhill for Brown in college, though. He started off at Tennessee and after one year he transferred to Kansas State. His time at Kansas State was brief, as he left the team after only three games.
Despite the bizarre college career, NFL scouts cannot deny the talent that Brown has. He was not the No.1 prospect coming out of high school for no reason. Brown runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 range, and he runs with a ton of power.
Brown probably will not be drafted until the third day, but whoever gets him is going to be getting one of the elite prospects in this year’s draft.
Justin Bethel, S, Presbyterian
Another small-school prospect, Justin Bethel is a safety out of Presbyterian. Most people immediately write off the small-school players when they are mentioned being taken in the second to third round.
After Bethel’s performance at the combine, though, scouts are going to have their eyes all over this guy when it gets to the middle rounds. He dominated at the combine, posting the best vertical jump and broad jump among all safeties.
Bethel was also a standout on special teams, blocking nine kicks throughout his college career.
With his elite athleticism, any team that gets Bethel in the third or fourth round will be getting a potential starting safety and special teams ace.
Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan
If Junior Hemingway goes to the right team, then they are going to have a late-round gem. Hemingway has the ability to make big-time plays downfield. He was able to show this when he won the Sugar Bowl MVP award when Michigan beat Virginia Tech.
Hemingway had a very impressive performance at the NFL combine, running the fastest three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle among all wide receivers. Hemingway has great size, being close to 6’1” and 220 lbs, and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.
For a prospect that is projected to go anywhere from the sixth round to undrafted, Hemingway has the potential to have a solid career in the NFL. I expect him to have a very similar career to former Michigan Wolverine and current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, Jason Avant.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
There has not been a player who has had their stock drop more than Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is still one of the top linebacker prospects in the draft.
After his sophomore season, he was considered a lock to be a first-round draft pick. After a poor junior season and combine, there is a good chance that Burfict does not get picked until the third day.
Whoever is able to get Burfict in the fifth round is getting a great prospect. I see Burfict having a very similar career to San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Both were very talented in college, but dealt with a ton of a character issues.
If Burfict goes to a team that can keep his head straight, then they are going to have a great linebacker.
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida
Chris Rainey does just about a bit of everything.
He is one of the most explosive and versatile players in this year’s draft. He had the best times in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, and he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash.
Throughout his time at Florida, Rainey ran the ball, caught passes and returned punts. In his senior season he had 861 rushing yards, 381 receiving yards and returned a punt for a touchdown.
Sounds a lot like Darren Sproles.
And by the way, he blocked six punts throughout his college career.
Rainey is going to be a great pick for anyone who can get him in the fifth or sixth round.
Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor
Terrance Ganaway is an intriguing power running back prospect.
He had an amazing senior season at Baylor, running for more than 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. Ganaway has great power and will be able to break out of tackles. I would say he is very similar runner to LeGarrette Blount.
For a fifth-round prospect, Ganaway will have an impact as a physical presence in a team’s backfield.
Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
At the beginning of the 2011 season, Donte Paige-Moss was one of the most highly touted prospects. Many mock drafts had him going early in the first round.
He was great his sophomore year, posting 49 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
His junior season was a nightmare, though. He lost his starting position and was unproductive. To top it all off, Paige-Moss tore his ACL at the end of the year.
However, you cannot deny his freakish athleticism. He is 6’3” and 268 lbs. and can run a 4.6 40-yard dash. He is projected to be a seventh-round draft pick or to go undrafted. Whoever is able to get Paige-Moss that late could have a potential star.