2012 NFL Mock Draft: Elite College Stars Bound for Big-Time Failure
While success in the college ranks can often lead to an excellent professional career, that isn't always the case. Sometimes skill sets work in college, but don't translate to the NFL either because of the system they are placed in or because they simply can't adjust to the tougher level of competition.
Some players have warning signs that they might not be able to perform as well in the NFL, but much of the time it comes as a bit of a surprise. That is why the draft is such a crapshoot and why bottom feeders don't always turn things around immediately. A bad first-round selection can really set teams back, so every franchise will have to tread carefully.
In addition to a full first-round mock draft, here are some top-flight collegiate stars who will ultimately be busts at the next level.
There certainly won't be much mystery to begin the draft as the Colts have already announced that Luck will be the pick, but it's the right move.
2. Washington Redskins (5-11): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (via STL)
The Redskins have yet to say publicly that they'll take Griffin, but they didn't trade up to No. 2 for another other reason, so he'll be the pick.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13): Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Minnesota could easily trade down, but the Vikings have a major need at left tackle, so there is no reason why they shouldn't take Kalil.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns have flirted with taking Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Richardson would be a much safer and smarter selection.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Ronde Barber will probably be retiring soon and Aqib Talib could be traded, so Claiborne is the clear pick as the top corner in the draft.
6. St. Louis Rams (2-14): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (via WAS)
The Rams really need to get Sam Bradford a weapon with Brandon Lloyd leaving via free agency, so they'll take Blackmon here.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Quinton Coples, DE, UNC
Jacksonville can address basically any position, but it can't afford to botch another pick, so the Jags will hope that Coples is as good as advertised.
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill may have all the tools to succeed at the next level, but if the Miami Dolphins take him at No. 8, then he is being put in a position to fail. Tannehill has an excellent arm and plenty of mobility, but he has gone from being a second-round prospect to a likely top-10 pick without explanation, so I have my doubts about his ability to translate.
Tannehill played out of the spread offense in college, and while the spread is becoming increasingly popular in the NFL, he'll have to learn to play in a pro-style system as well. He doesn't seem like the type of signal-caller who can excel in that system, though, particularly with the Miami Dolphins as he will enter a situation where he has nobody to throw to.
While Tannehill may be the beneficiary of some late hype pushing him up draft boards, his lofty status will ultimately doom him in the end and lead to a rough go in the NFL.
9. Carolina Panthers (6-10): Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State
Teams ran at will on the Panthers last season, so they need to take a big defensive tackle like Cox who can win battles at the point of attack.
10. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Mark Barron, S, Alabama
There have been some rumors that the Bills have interest in Barron, and while it may be a slight reach, he will be a big help when it comes to shutting down the New England Patriots.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9): David DeCastro, G, Stanford
The Chiefs can't upgrade the quarterback position at this point, so they might as well get Matt Cassel another solid protector in DeCastro.
12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Many consider Ingram to be the best 4-3 defensive end in the draft, so the Seahawks will be absolutely thrilled if he drops to them.
13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Cardinals could stand to upgrade on defense, but drafting Floyd would give quarterback Kevin Kolb two big desirable targets to throw to.
14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
There are a lot of issues with the Cowboys defensively, but taking the surest tackler in the draft would cure many of their ills.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8): Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
There is no doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles' biggest issue last season was defense, so they will make it a priority to address that at No. 15. There won't be a linebacker or safety worth taking, so the logical selection figures to be LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers. It wasn't long ago that Brockers was considered the best tackle in the draft, but his stock has dropped a bit as of late.
Brockers has the rare ability to blow up plays in the backfield, but it's tough to say whether he will be able to do the same things at the professional level. He didn't test as well as many anticipated at the combine, and it isn't as if he put up mind-blowing stats in college. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he may have benefited from superior players around him.
He will have the opportunity to succeed as he will be flanked by the likes of Jason Babin and Trent Cole in Philly, but the Eagles never seem to get the most out of their defensive tackles. That doesn't mean that Brockers is doomed, but he has high bust potential in my estimation.
16. New York Jets (8-8): Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Jets didn't pester opposing quarterbacks last season like they had in previous years, so Upshaw would be a great fit at rush linebacker.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (via OAK 8-8): Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Cincinnati has tried to address the cornerback position by signing Terence Newman, but the Bengals need a long-term option like Gilmore.
18. San Diego Chargers (8-8): Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Chargers probably didn't expect Reiff to fall this far, but with so many issues along the offensive line over the past couple seasons, he's an obvious choice.
19. Chicago Bears (8-8): Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
Chicago won't be going anywhere if it can't protect quarterback Jay Cutler, but Cordy Glenn can slide in and start at either guard or tackle.
20. Tennessee Titans (9-7): Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
The Titans managed to bring in one good pass-rusher this offseason in the form of Kamerion Wimbley, so they should complement with Mercilus.
After taking a cornerback with their first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals have the luxury of doing pretty much whatever they please at No. 21. They surprised a lot of people by making the playoffs last season and will have the opportunity to add to their considerable amount of young talent. One possible target is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright.
With troubled pass catcher Jerome Simpson out of the picture, the Bengals may want to add another weapon for quarterback Andy Dalton. He already has receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham, but you can never have too many targets. Wright enters the league with the reputation of being a dynamic speed receiver, but he didn't test particularly well at the combine.
Most consider Wright to be the third-best receiver in the draft behind Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, but he took advantage of weak Big 12 secondaries in college, so I'm hesitant to say he will be a quality NFL player. Of all the likely first-round receivers, I believe Wright is the one with the most bust potential.
22. Cleveland Browns (via ATL 10-6): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Browns need another offensive tackle to block for Colt McCoy and Trent Richardson, and Martin can develop into a stud.
23. Detroit Lions (10-6): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Kirkpatrick may be a bit of a risk due to his off-field issues, but the Lions are desperate to upgrade their secondary, so they'll roll the dice.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
The current nose tackle is injured and literally on his last legs, so the Steelers need to beef up the middle of their defense with Poe.
25. Denver Broncos (8-8): Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Peyton Manning benefited from having a great center in Jeff Saturday with the Colts, so the Broncos ought to take Konz since he's the best in the class.
Which player is most likely to be a bust in the NFL?
26. Houston Texans (10-6): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Andre Johnson can't do it all on his own forever, so the Texans will finally cave and take the big, skilled Hill to put across from him.
27. New England Patriots (via NO 13-3): Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State
The Patriots desperately need to find a pass-rusher, and with rumors out there that they're smitten with McClellin, I expect that to be the selection.
28. Green Bay Packers (15-1): Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
Green Bay had a lot of success taking Clay Matthews in the first round a couple years ago and will go with another rush linebacker this year in Jones.
29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4): Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Ravens lack depth at linebacker currently and could really use an instinctive player like Hightower to eventually take over for Ray Lewis.
30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Many expect Adams to fall out of the first round due to a positive marijuana test, but the 49ers will overlook it because of his immense talent.
31. New England Patriots (13-3): Devon Still, DL, Penn State
Still has fallen from his perch as the top defensive tackle in the draft, but his ability to play all over the line in a 3-4 makes him ideal for the Pats.
32. New York Giants (9-7): Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
It may not seem like a need pick, but quarterback Eli Manning will be grateful to see a replacement for Mario Manningham in the form of Randle.
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