2012 NFL Draft: 50 Draft Prospects Who Are Huge Gambles

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIApril 20, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 50 Draft Prospects Who Are Huge Gambles

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    The NFL draft is such a critical part to building a successful franchise because that's where the majority of the building takes place—much more than through free agency.

    We have seen teams absolutely nail the draft over the years, such as the San Francisco 49ers, while teams like the Detroit Lions under Matt Millen have completely whiffed.

    In that spirit, let's talk about some of the biggest gambles heading into this year's draft.

    Here are the 50 biggest gambles in the 2012 NFL draft.

Andrew Luck

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    Wait a second—Andrew Luck is on this list? You bet he is.

    Don't get me wrong; Luck is the most hyped quarterback in recent memory and has been labeled a once-in-a-decade quarterback—and that is exactly why he's such a gamble.

    The Indianapolis Colts ended an era led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning and will now look to start an era led by the unproven rookie out of Stanford. 

    That, to me, is a huge gamble.

Morris Claiborne

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    I hate to say this, but Morris Claiborne might face serious challenges in the NFL...just sayin'.

    Take a look at his Wonderlic score if you don't believe me—he scored a four out of 50. 

Orson Charles

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    Considering the elite size and incredible talent that Orson Charles has, he was really inconsistent at the college level with Georgia and should have put up much more impressive numbers. 

    Charles should be one of the top tight ends selected, but he's still going to be considered a gamble. 

Brandon Weeden

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    I have two problems with quarterback Brandon Weeden.

    One: He is going to be 28 years old when he takes his first NFL snap.

    Two: Speaking of his first NFL snap, Weeden had very little experience under center while at Oklahoma State.

    Those two reasons right there certainly label Weeden as a huge gamble.

Harrison Smith

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    Harrison Smith has the elite size to be a dominant safety at the NFL level while being an incredibly smart football player, but the talent is a huge question for him.

    Smith isn't as fast as the majority of wide receivers that he'll face in the NFL, and that is something that will certainly come back to hurt him in a huge way—making him a huge gamble.

Stephen Hill

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    Stephen Hill is going to have a huge learning curve ahead of him as he enters the NFL; he will have to learn the entire route tree, as he played in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense.

    Aside from that, Hill is a great prospect, but his skills are rather raw.

Brock Osweiler

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    Brock Osweiler has elite size and strength for the quarterback position but is rather raw with his delivery.

    Osweiler doesn't have the greatest passing motion, as he's rather slow in his release, which results in several of his balls being off-target or even knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

Vinny Curry

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    Vinny Curry scares me. Why? Because he played at Marshall and dominated against talent that wasn't that great.

    Other than that, Curry is a great prospect but still is a huge gamble heading into the 2012 draft.

Kirk Cousins

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    While taking a look at film for quarterback Kirk Cousins, I noticed one thing: His pocket presence is awful. It's almost laughable.

    The biggest thing with Cousins is that he throws off his back foot too often, which results in inaccurate passes due to his indecision in handling the pressure effectively by stepping up into the pocket.

    This has to change if he wants to excel at the NFL level.

Nick Foles

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    Nick Foles has a ton of talent and potential, but there is one major concern that I have with the Arizona product.

    While playing in Arizona's offensive system, Foles played in a spread offense that went off one quick read—which is going to be a problem heading into the NFL. An NFL quarterback needs to make several reads prior to the snap and while the play is developing, something that Foles did not do while at Arizona.

Chris Polk

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    Chris Polk may be fast, but he's not that fast. For starters, Polk struggled hitting the corner at the college level, which is rather alarming, as the game is so much slower at the college ranks compared to the NFL.

    Aside from that, Polk should be a solid running back at the professional level.

Zach Brown

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    Zach Brown has blazing speed for the linebacker position and is such a freak athlete—but that could come back and bite him at the NFL level.

    Perhaps Brown is too much of an athlete; he's not strong enough to dominate at the professional level, as he gets blocked far too often.

David Wilson

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    Virginia Tech's David Wilson is one of the best off-tackle running backs that the 2012 draft class has to offer, which should make him one of the top running backs selected.

    However, my biggest knock on Wilson's game is his inability to run between the tackles, which is going to be a concern heading forward.

Justin Blackmon

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    Justin Blackmon has got it all except just one thing: speed.

    Blackmon is not the fastest wide receiver. He has decent speed, but I'd still label drafting him in the top five as a huge gamble.

Case Keenum

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    Case Keenum is a very accurate passer when it comes to short to intermediate throws but struggles getting the ball downfield, which is a huge concern.

    Another thing I'd like to point out about Keenum is that he has some durability issues, as he tore his ACL back in 2010, which resulted in him being eligible to play the 2011 season for Houston.

Andre Branch

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    Do not think of as Andre Branch as an elite pass-rusher—he will never be.

    Branch lacks elite speed and doesn't have great football instincts, as he's rather slow in reacting to the developing play right in front of his eyes.

    Branch is a huge gamble in my book.

Jerel Worthy

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    Michigan State's Jerel Worthy can certainly be an elite defensive lineman through his NFL career, but he's far too inconsistent.

    I love Worthy as a prospect, but I have huge concerns about his "motor" and his ability to go all-out every single play; it seems like he slows down as the game goes on.

Mohamed Sanu

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    One word for Mohamed Sanu: raw.

    Sanu has all the talent to be a great NFL wide receiver, but he is incredibly raw. He certainly will have to be coached up quite a bit in order to excel at the professional level.

Brian Quick

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    I have two major concerns with wide receiver Brian Quick.

    For starters, Quick played for the small school Appalachian State, so the talent lining up against him was questionable. Also, Quick played in a run-first offense while in college, which certainly limits game film on him.

Janoris Jenkins

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    Four kids, several arrests involving marijuana and a dismissal from Florida...is that enough to be labeled as a gamble? I think so.

    Janoris Jenkins is a big-time gamble.

Dominique Davis

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    I'm not sure Dominique Davis will ever be a starting quarterback at the NFL level, but I will say something: He could make a decent backup.

    Davis doesn't have the strongest arm, as he struggles throwing the ball 15-plus yards; he is also one of the worst decision-makers in this year's draft, as he threw some pretty awful passes in college that were forced into pretty tight coverage.

Joe Adams

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    Joe Adams is a great wide receiver prospect, but he's going to have to sharpen up his route-running, as it's rather sloppy.

    Also, Adams is a bit small and will have to add a few more pounds to withstand the hits at the NFL level.

Ryan Broyles

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    ACL injury back in November—is that enough to make Ryan Broyles a huge gamble? I think so.

Bernard Pierce

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    Bernard Pierce is a quality running back that has a great football IQ, as he has some of the best field vision out of all the running backs in this year's draft.

    However, Pierce has yet to play a full season due to injuries and isn't as fast as we'd like him to be. He struggles with accelerating away from chasing defenders, which will come back to haunt him at the NFL level.

Kendall Wright

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    Kendall Wright is the most explosive wide receiver in this year's draft class, but I have two major concerns about his style of play.

    For starters, he has a very small frame. He stands in at 5'10", which could scare teams away, as that could cause some durability issues.

    I also have questions about his ability to run the full route tree, as he ran only a few pass patterns in Baylor's speed offense.

Dwayne Allen

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    Clemson's Dwayne Allen should be a very productive receiving tight end in the NFL, but there are two areas that I am concerned about.

    For one, Allen doesn't run the greatest routes and will have to sharpen them up. Also, Allen isn't all that fast—he's just quick.

Robert Griffin III

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    Robert Griffin III a huge gamble? Absolutely.

    RG3 is the most exciting player in this year's draft class, and that's exactly why he's such a gamble. RG3 is one of the most athletic quarterbacks that I have ever seen.

    He excelled in the spread offense at the collegiate level, but he will certainly have to adjust from throwing high-percentage passes in the spread to running an NFL-style offense, which is going to be a huge challenge for the Heisman Trophy winner.

Doug Martin

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    Doug Martin is a human wrecking ball, but the biggest concern with his style of play is if he'll ever be able to break a run for 10-plus yards.

    Therefore, I have to label Martin as a gamble heading into the 2012 draft.

George Iloka

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    George Iloka is a pretty decent free safety heading into this year's draft, but this is a rather weak position for 2012.

    Iloka does have some concerns since he doesn't have elite speed and takes some pretty poor angles if you go back and watch him on film, which I have—so you're going to have to trust me.

LaMichael James

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    Two words for you: spread offense.

    I have serious doubts about any player coming from a spread system in college heading into the NFL.

    My biggest concern about Oregon's LaMichael James is his ability to run between the tackles, as he didn't do that a lot while with the Ducks.

Rueben Randle

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    Rueben Randle is a very intriguing prospect for the wide receiver position, but he does have some flaws.

    Randle is a very underdeveloped route runner and will have to work on that in order to excel in the NFL, not to mention that his speed is somewhat questionable when you talk about deep-threat wide receivers like Randle.

B.J. Coleman

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    B.J. Coleman certainly has talent, but there are some question marks regarding his play at the quarterback position.

    For starters, Coleman doesn't have the greatest footwork and has a hard time leading receivers.

    On a whole new level, some may question Coleman's reasoning behind leaving Tennessee after Lane Kiffin was named the head coach, as he decided to transfer to Tennessee-Chattanooga.

    Is there something to be worried about that we're unaware of? That could be a problem.

Ryan Tannehill

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    Without a doubt Ryan Tannehill has potential and upside, but he is just so inexperienced at the quarterback position.

    Tannehill is a converted wide receiver and didn't play a whole lot of snaps at quarterback while at Texas A&M, which makes him certainly a giant gamble for whichever team decides to draft him. 

Nick Toon

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    Nick Toon is a great wide receiver prospect that has got what it takes to be great at the NFL level but is lacking one thing: speed.

    We have major questions about Toon's below-average speed at wide receiver and how it will translate to the NFL.

Coby Fleener

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    Coby Fleener has got it all to be a great NFL tight end—but there are just two things that concern me.

    One: Fleener played with quarterback Andrew Luck, which could have spiked his stats.

    Two: Fleener needs to add a few more pounds, as he's rather lanky for the tight end position.

    Other than that, I really like Fleener as a prospect—the top tight end prospect on my board.

Dwight Jones

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    Dwight Jones has all the tools to be a successful NFL wide receiver, but there's just one thing that's worrisome: the way that he catches the ball.

    The North Carolina product tends to use his body to catch passes rather than his hands, which will result in quite the number of drops at the NFL level.

Vontaze Burfict

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    Vontaze Burfict has all the talent in the world to be a great linebacker at the NFL level, but it's almost like he doesn't get it.

    Burfict was so inconsistent in 2011 that he was benched a few times while at Arizona State. Also, from what I have seen on tape, I have come to the conclusion that he has a really low football IQ, which makes him even more of a gamble.

Devon Still

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    Devon Still is a pretty impressive defensive line prospect, but I am concerned about just one thing: his pass-rush move arsenal.

    If Still wants to be a successful defensive lineman at the NFL level, then he's going to have to learn some more pass-rushing moves so he can get to the quarterback more frequently.

Mike Adams

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    Mike Adams is a very talented and intriguing offensive tackle prospect heading into the NFL draft and should be taken within the first two rounds.

    However, Adams doesn't possess the necessary skills to handle powerful pass-rushers at the NFL level—which is going to be a huge concern for teams that will be interested in him in this year's draft.

Quinton Coples

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    There's just something about Quinton Coples that screams "bust" to me. I don't know why.

    Coples is just too raw, and I don't see too much diversity in his pass-rushing moves, which will come back to bite him in a big way throughout his NFL career.

Dontari Poe

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    Workout warrior—that's all that I have to say.

    Dontari Poe is going to be a huge gamble if he's selected in the top 20 in this year's draft.

Jared Crick

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    Jared Crick should be just fine at the NFL level, but there's just one question mark about him heading into the 2012 draft: his health.

    Crick is currently coming off a torn pectoral muscle, which will cause his stock to fall a tad in this year's draft.

Lamar Miller

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    My biggest concern with Lamar Miller heading into the 2012 draft is his ability to stay healthy.

    Granted, Miller never really sustained any real injuries aside from a shoulder injury during his sophomore season, but he received so few touches while at Miami.

    Miller is certainly going to have to prove that he can take on an NFL workload.

Jordan Jefferson

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    The only reason why Jordan Jefferson won't go undrafted this year is because his upside is too large since he's so athletic.

    Plain and simple, I do not see Jefferson ever playing quarterback at the NFL level.

Shea McClellin

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    NFL teams cannot draft Shea McClellin and expect him to be an inside linebacker. That is not his natural position, as he's far too finesse for it.

    McClellin is not a great pass-rusher, gets blocked far too often and isn't all that great in coverage—so what is he good at?

Alfonzo Dennard

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    I really like how Alfonzo Dennard is such a physical cornerback, but that will come back to really hurt him at the NFL level.

    For starters, when Dennard chooses to be physical, he tends to get unbalanced. When he is physical, that will likely end up being a pass interference call in this pass-happy NFL.

Kellen Moore

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    Kellen Moore is one of the smartest quarterbacks in this year's draft class but isn't the most talented.

    For starters, Moore doesn't have the greatest arm and is very inaccurate when throwing the ball deep. Another note on Moore is that he's really short at barely six feet tall—which will be an issue at the NFL level.

Whitney Mercilus

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    Whitney Mercilus may be considered one of the best pass-rushers in this year's draft, but there are some weaknesses in his game.

    For starters, I do not believe that Mercilus has the elite speed to dominate at the NFL level, and he plays rather stiff—he looks really awkward on film sometimes, as he often gets caught up in the play and freezes.

Alshon Jeffery

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    Where do I even start with Alshon Jeffery?

    Jeffery has all the talent in the world to be an elite wide receiver, but his ability to stay in shape and his below-average speed are certainly going to come back and haunt him at the NFL level.

Cam Johnson

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    Cam Johnson is a rather "boring" prospect for outside linebacker/defensive end.

    Johnson doesn't have a ton of moves, he doesn't have great speed, he doesn't have great strength—he's just average, which makes him a pretty big gamble.