Hope springs anew for teams and fans across the National Football League on Thursday, as the 2012 edition of the NFL draft gets underway from Radio City Music Hall in New York City with the draft's first round.
The first 32 picks of the draft always receive the most scrutiny, but there are any number of players chosen outside the draft's first round who will go on to standout careers as professionals. With that in mind, and using this mock draft as a template for player availability, here's a look at how Friday's second round of the draft could unfold.
33. St. Louis Rams: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State: Worthy had an up-and-down season for the Spartans in 2011, but the 308-pound All-American has loads of upside and would fill an area of need for the Rams.
34. Indianapolis Colts: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: The Colts gutted the tight end position in the offseason, cutting loose Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, and the team is going to need to improve the offense for new signal-caller Andrew Luck.
35. Minnesota Vikings: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina: Other than wide receiver Percy Harvin, the Vikings are paper-thin at the position, and while Jeffery has had a roller coaster offseason, the 6'3", 216-pounder led the SEC in receiving yards as recently as 2010.
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: Starter LeGarrette Blount now says he welcomes competition in the Tampa Bay backfield, although he may change his tune again once the talented Wilson arrives in Florida.
37. Cleveland Browns: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: After adding a running back and offensive lineman in the first round, the Browns need to turn their attention to the aerial attack, as wide receiver is yet another position of need on that side of the ball for Cleveland.
LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle managed over 900 yards for the Tigers in 2011 in spite of inconsistent play at quarterback, and the 6'3" wideout would instantly improve the receiving corps for the Browns, according to Marq Mitcham of Pro Football Weekly.
More smooth than sudden, Randle is a long, lean, fluid, athletic “X” receiver who flashes natural ball skills and first-round ability on tape, though his production was affected by poor quarterback play in a run-first offense at LSU. With continued refinement, could develop into a No. 2 in a vertical passing game and help open up the field for an offense.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: If the Jaguars are going to get a real gauge on whether 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, and Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick has a prototypical 6'4" 220-pound frame.
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, so regardless of Adams' failed drug test, 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 Charles Godfrey or Sherrod Martin played well at safety for the Carolina Panthers in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus, and Smith could provide an immediate upgrade after racking up 90 stops for Notre Dame a season ago.
41. Buffalo Bills: Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss: With 2011 starter Demetress Bell now in Philadelphia, offensive tackle has become an urgent area of need for the Bills, and the 316-pound Massie is the top option available at the position at this point.
42. Miami Dolphins: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall: With the Dolphins making the switch to the 4-3 defensive front, the team needs to improve at defensive end, and the 266-pound Curry boosted his falling draft stock somewhat with a strong pro day.
43. Seattle Seahawks: Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson: Chris Clemons has racked up 11 sacks in each of the past two campaigns, but the Seahawks badly need to find Clemons a playmate at defensive end.
44. Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: One of the biggest remaining question marks for the Chiefs remains under center, and despite his advanced age, the 28 year-old Weeden would probably push Matt Cassel fairly quickly after topping 4,700 passing yards last year.
45. Dallas Cowboys: Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma: The Cowboys need to bolster the pass-rush outside of linebacker DeMarcus Ware, as no player besides Ware accrued more than six sacks for the Cowboys last year.
Ronnell Lewis played with his hand down for the most part in Norman, but the 6'2", 253-pound junior has the quickness to transition to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, and Wes Bunting of the National Football Post sees a lot to like in Lewis.
His game reminds me some of former 2010 second round pick Sergio Kindle and former 2011 third round pick Justin Houston. He’s an explosive kid with a “plus” first step, generates a lot of natural explosion into contact and is a powerful striker. He’s got the ability to threaten the edge, fend off blocks through contact and shoot gaps well inside.
46. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina: Even after the addition of DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles still have a hole at weak side linebacker, and that's the optimal spot for the speedy former Tar Heel in the NFL.
47. New York Jets: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Part of the Jets' offensive struggles a year ago can be traced to the lack of a viable second wideout opposite Santonio Holmes, and the 6'2" Sanu should be of assistance in that regard.
48. New England Patriots (from Oakland Raiders): Devon Still, DT/DE, Penn State: The Patriots front seven needs work after the departure of Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, and the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year has the strength to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment and the quickness to kick outside to end in 3-4 looks.
49. San Diego Chargers: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal: As is the case with most NFL teams, the Chargers are always looking to add depth along the offensive front, and the 318-pound Schwartz would add an infusion of youth and improve the pass protection in San Diego.
50. Chicago Bears: Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal: Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs have been the foundation of the Bears defense for years now, but with both players past their primes, the Bears need to address the linebacker position in the draft by selecting the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
51. Philadelphia Eagles (from Arizona Cardinals): Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Michael Vick is 31 years-old and plays with a style that doesn't lend itself to durability, so it's time for Philadelphia to look to the future under center with the Michigan State standout.
52. Tennessee Titans: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: The Titans desperately need to upgrade the inside of the offensive line, and if the draft's best center prospect makes it back around to Tennessee, they won't hesitate to select the 314-pound All Big-Ten performer.
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: The Bengals added plodder BenJarvus Green-Ellis in free agency, but while Cincinnati got younger in the backfield, they didn't really add any explosion to their offense.
Boise State running back Doug Martin topped 1,500 total yards each of the past two seasons for the Broncos, and as the Cincinnati Enquirer recently reported, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. believes that the 223-pound back has a considerable amount to offer at the NFL level.
Martin is one of the strongest running backs I have come across in years. He is quick to the hole, running with a determined style, and he knows how to finish his runs. Martin also plays faster than he times and is a threat to bust a long gainer at any moment. I like his style and his history of consistent production.
54. Detroit Lions: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana: After being shredded by the New Orleans Saints in their playoff loss, the Lions badly need help in the defensive backfield, and the 6'2" Johnson has the combination of size and speed that NFL scouts covet.
55. Atlanta Falcons: Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG, Iowa State: The Falcons have reportedly shown significant interest in the 333-pound Osemele, who played left tackle at Iowa State but 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 inside, and the 314-pound All Big-Ten beefeater could start at guard while providing depth at center behind Maurkice Pouncey.
57. Denver Broncos: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami: With Willis McGahee a 30 year-old injury risk and Knowshon Moreno a massive disappointment to this point in his NFL career, the Broncos need to take a look at improving the ground game, and Miller gained over 1,200 yards for the Hurricanes last year.
58. Houston Texans: Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington: The Houston defense improved by leaps and bounds in 2011, and the addition of a prototypical run-stuffing 3-4 defensive tackle such as the 348-pound Ta'amu would continue that improvement.
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 defensive end in the 3-4.
60. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH): Among the Ravens' needs this season is depth along the offensive front, as the loss of Ben Grubbs in free agency leaves Baltimore with a significant hole at the position.
Brandon Brooks is a 346-pound road grader who was dominant in January's East-West Shrine Game, but surprisingly wasn't invited to the combine. However, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recently reported, that snub hasn't stopped any number of teams from kicking the proverbial tires.
Brandon Brooks won't be the most coveted player in the National Football League draft Thursday, but he certainly will be one of the most traveled.
The Milwaukee Riverside graduate, who went on to play for Miami (Ohio) University, recently finished a tour of pre-draft visits to 15 NFL teams.
Usually, a player who wasn't invited to the Indianapolis scouting combine in February might make five or six visits, but Brooks has become so intriguing to NFL teams that half the league wanted to meet him.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia: The 245-pound Irvin showed off his impressive 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 quickly and easily.
62. New England Patriots: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State: The retirement of Matt Light leaves the Patriots with a big hole hole up front, and the 320-pound Sanders has experience manning both the right and left sides of the offensive line.
63. New York Giants: Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson: Injuries have decimated the Giants at the tight end spot, and Allen would provide an excellent value while filling a significant need for the defending Super Bowl champions.