It's Christmas in April across the National Football League, as Thursday brings with it the first day of the 2012 NFL draft. By the time the day is done, the first round will have concluded and 32 collegiate stars will know the first team they will call home in the NFL.
Just because they aren't selected in the first round, though, doesn't mean there won't be players left on Day 2 who could go on to have a big impact for their NFL squads as rookies. Using this Round 1 mock to determine player eligibility, here's a projection of how the 2012 draft's second round could play out.
33. St. Louis Rams: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Worthy was somewhat inconsistent for the Spartans in 2011, but the 308-pound All-American has considerable upside and would fill an area of need for the Rams.
34. Indianapolis Colts: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
The Colts blew up the offense in the offseason, jettisoning tight ends Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, and the team is going to need to improve the targets for new signal-caller Andrew Luck.
35. Minnesota Vikings: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Outside wideout Percy Harvin, the cupboard at wide receiver in the Twin Cities is pretty bare. While Jeffery has had a roller-coaster offseason, the 6'3", 216-pounder led the SEC in receiving yards in 2010.
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Starter LeGarrette Blount has softened his stance on the team adding a running back, and given Blount's ball security issues last year, there's a good chance the Buccaneers will do so early in the 2012 draft.
37. Cleveland Browns: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
After adding a running back and offensive lineman in the first round, the Browns will turn their attention to the passing game by adding the 6'3" Randle, who has drawn comparisons to former NFL great James Lofton.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
If the Jaguars are going to get a true sense of whether or not Blaine Gabbert is the answer at quarterback, it might be a good idea if they got the second-year pro someone to throw the ball to.
Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick has a prototypical 6'4" 220-pound frame. While Quick may need some time to develop at the professional level, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that Quick has been on some NFL radars for quite some time now:
The top FCS pick of the draft is expected to be Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, who scouts likely have been impressed with ever since he blocked the field-goal attempt that set up the Mountaineers' game-winning touchdown drive at Michigan in the 2007 season opener.
39. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
No team in the National Football League allowed more sacks in 2011 than the St. Louis Rams. Failed drug test or not, it's highly unlikely that the Rams would let the former Ohio State standout drop any farther than this.
40. Carolina Panthers: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Neither starting safety graded out well for the Carolina Panthers in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus, and Smith could provide an immediate upgrade after racking up 90 stops for the Fighting Irish a year ago.
41. Buffalo Bills: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
The Bills need to improve the offensive weaponry at quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's disposal. The 6'2" Sanu likely worked his way back into the second round after an improved 40-yard dash time at Rutgers' pro day.
42. Miami Dolphins: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
With the Dolphins reportedly set to make the switch to the 4-3 defensive front, the team needs help at defensive end, and the 266-pound Curry rehabbed his lagging draft stock somewhat with a strong pro day.
43. Seattle Seahawks: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
Chris Clemons has racked up double-digit sacks in each of the past two seasons, but the Seahawks badly need to find Clemons a batterymate at defensive end.
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Were it not for the fact that Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden is 28 years old, he'd likely be drafted much earlier than this after throwing for over 4,700 yards for the Cowboys in 2011. But Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy recently told the Lorain Chronicle-Telegram that he doesn't see Weeden's age as a big stumbling block:
Weeden is the most underrated player in the draft, because of his age,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy recently told The Chronicle-Telegram by phone. “He’s definitely a first-round pick. He’s got the body of a 24-year-old. He’s healthy, he hasn’t been hit.
He’s mature, married and has been through the growing stages you go through as a young player. Money won’t affect him. And not many people walking on the face of the Earth throw the football like him.
45. Dallas Cowboys: Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
The Cowboys need to bolster the pass rush outside of linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and Lewis has the quickness to make the transition outside in a 3-4 defensive front.
46. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina
Even after the addition of DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles still have a hole at weakside linebacker, and that's the optimal position for the speedy Brown in the NFL.
47. New York Jets: Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss
The right side of the offensive line was suspect for Gang Green a season ago, and the 316-pound Massie would, at the very least, provide depth and could quickly assume a starting role in the Big Apple.
The Patriots front seven needs work after the loss of Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, and the 2011 Big Ten defensive player of the year has the versatility to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment or kick outside to end in 3-4 looks.
49. San Diego Chargers: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
The Chargers need to improve a secondary that was middle-of-the-pack against the pass in 2011. While the small-school star had some off-the-field issues, the physical tools certainly appear to be there with Johnson.
50. Chicago Bears: Mychal Kendricks , LB, Cal
Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been the foundation of the Chicago defense for years now, but with both players past their primes, the Bears need to address the linebacker position in the draft.
Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year last season after logging over 100 tackles for the Bears. As the San Jose Mercury News recently reported, Kendricks was one of the standout performers at his position at February's NFL scouting combine:
Fewer teams will pass on Kendricks after his consistently strong pre-draft showing. Coming off a Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year season in the fall, he turned heads at the NFL combine camp in Indianapolis by running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds -- the fastest time by a linebacker at the event since 2000. He also had the best linebacker scores for vertical leap and standing broad jump.
Starter Mike Vick is 31 years old, and he plays with a style that doesn't lend itself to durability. So it's time for Philadelphia to look to the future under center.
52. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Titans badly need to upgrade the interior of the offensive line. If the draft's best center prospect makes it back around to Tennessee, they won't hesitate to select the Badgers star.
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
The Bengals added plodder BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, and while the 223-pound Martin doesn't do any one thing exceedingly well, there also aren't many holes in his game.
54. Detroit Lions: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal
As with many NFL teams, the Lions are always looking to add depth along the offensive front. The 318-pound Schwartz would add an infusion of youth and improve the pass protection for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG, Iowa State
Osemele played left tackle at Iowa State, but at a hefty 333 pounds, the All Big-12 performer likely projects better as a guard at the professional level.
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
The Steelers desperately need to improve up front, especially at the guard position, and the 314-pound All Big-Ten beefeater could start at guard while providing depth at center.
57. Denver Broncos: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
The addition of Peyton Manning was the big storyline in the Mile High City this offseason. However, with Willis McGahee a 30-year-old injury risk and Knowshon Moreno a huge disappointment at this point in his NFL career, the Broncos need to take a look at the ground game.
Lamar Miller rushed for almost 1,300 yards for the Hurricanes in 2011. While so-so workouts have damaged the 212-pounder's draft stock in some scouts' eyes, Matt Waldman of The Fifth Down still sees considerable upside in the Miami star:
Lamar Miller is a potential Pro Bowl back. He’s at the sweet spot in terms of height, weight, speed and acceleration. He runs with patience and balance, and he protects the ball. He understands how to stay close to his blocks until an opening develops, and like Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James before him, he knows how to shorten his steps in traffic until he finds a cutback lane or alternate crease when the primary hole does not open.
58. Houston Texans: Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
The Houston defense improved by leaps and bounds in 2011, and the addition of the 348-pound Ta'amu to anchor the Texans' three man front would continue that trend.
59. Green Bay Packers: Kendall Reyes, DE/DT, Connecticut
The Packers ranked dead last in the NFL in defense a year ago due in large part to a pitiful pass rush, and Reyes displayed the speed at the combine to be a more-than-effective 3-4 defensive end.
60. Baltimore Ravens: Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
The Ravens could stand to bolster their depth in the defensive backfield. While Robinson may be a bit of a project in the NFL, they say you can't coach speed, of which Robinson has plenty.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia
The 245-pound Irvin showed off his speed at February's combine, and after racking up 8.5 sacks as a defensive end in 2011, Irvin should be able to make the switch to 3-4 outside linebacker fairly easily.
62. New England Patriots: Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois
The retirement of Matt Light leaves the Patriots with a hole at tackle. While Allen may not possess Pro Bowl upside, the 307-pounder has the potential to develop into a capable NFL starter.
63. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
For the second straight round, the rich get richer, as the Giants are able to address a position of need with a player who represents an excellent value at this point in the draft.