2012 NFL Draft: Vontaze Burfict and Players Who Will Regret Leaving School Early

Christopher Amick@https://twitter.com/#!/TheAmickCorrespondent IApril 19, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:   Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils points and yells at quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the University of Southern California Trojans just prior to a play at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

A new rookie salary cap is in effect and a record 65 underclassmen have declared their entry for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Watching these youngsters make the jump to the highest level is always bittersweet for college football fans, but they're a group of players who could have been better served staying on campus this year.


Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

Vontaze Burfict came to Arizona State as a five-star recruit, and he wowed Sun Devil fans with his closing speed and aggressiveness, but now he may not even get drafted.

The linebacker had a disastrous combine which led draft analyst Mel Kiper to say this

"I think you're looking at Vontaze Burfict as a guy that has probably dropped as much in this draft, in terms of ratings, as probably any prospect in recent times." 

He was an All-American and PAC-10 defensive MVP as a sophomore, so after a rather disappointing season last year Burfict's decision to enter the draft early is a questionable one.

A new coaching regime is in place, but a solid senior season could have redeemed Burfict's value next year.


Dontari Poe, Memphis

He was not surrounded by a ton of talent at Memphis, but Dontari Poe managed to gain the attention of many with an eye-popping scouting combine performance in February.

Poe ran a 4.87 40-yard dash and used the drills at the combine to showcase his athleticism and speed, both of which are rare for a defensive tackle.

His arrow is now pointing way up, but Poe could have trouble against elite guards and he will need to use his hands better at the NFL level.

Poe should have concluded his career at Memphis on a high note and proved that his substance matched his hype.


Michael Brockers, Louisiana State

Michael Brockers has dropped off draft boards quite a bit since the season has ended. He was projected as a top defensive tackle, but now he is trying to stay inside the first half of round one.


Brockers dominated in his sophomore season and looked to build on it during the NFL Scouting Combine, but an average performance is raising many questions.

Teams are now wondering if Brockers was a product of the highly-talented LSU defense that surrounded him and he could have possibly used another season to prove otherwise.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05:  Michael Brockers #90 and Sam Montgomery #99 of the LSU Tigers react after the Alabama Crimson Tide missed their field goal in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. C
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Ashlon Jeffery, South Carolina

A disappointing junior season has many wondering why South Carolina receiver Ashlon Jeffery has decided to enter the draft this year. 

Jeffery recorded 88 catches for an astonishing 1,517 yards in 2010, but followed that with a pedestrian 49 catches in last year's campaign.

He has prototypical size, but questions remain about his speed and his ability to get open against NFL talent.

A senior season would have gone a long way for Jeffery and he could have solidified a first-round grade in the 2013 draft. 


Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

Quarterback Brock Osweiler is a very intriguing NFL prospect in this year's draft. He has prototypical size and a big-time arm, but Osweiler is viewed as a project that will take some time to develop.

His junior year was a successful one, though, and Osweiler played well against tough opponents, but he was only the unquestioned starter for one year during his tenure at Arizona State.

He would have been better off working on his mechanics during a senior season in Tempe, rather than sitting on a bench somewhere in the NFL. 

Cam Newton and other quarterbacks recently have made a smooth transition to a pro-style offense, but it's hard to see Osweiler doing the same.