NFL Draft 2012: Five Second-Round Draft Picks Who Could Become Future Stars

Baily DeeterSenior Writer IIIApril 28, 2012

NFL Draft 2012: Five Second-Round Draft Picks Who Could Become Future Stars

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    The first round of the NFL draft gets the most attention, but the second-round picks are also crucial.

    Any big college football fan would recognize most of the names of the second-round picks. Stud receivers, big linemen, sack-happy linebackers, a pair of great running backs and a gun-slinging QB went off the board in Round 2.

    All of them have star potential, but which have the most?

    Here are five second-round picks who have tremendous star potential and could become the next big thing in the NFL.

Mychal Kendricks

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    This guy was amazing at stopping the run and clogging up the inside at Cal, so maybe he'll do the same in Philly.

    Is this the piece the Eagles need to finally push their D to the next level?

    In 12 games, Mychal Kendricks recorded 98 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. He ran a 4.47 at the 40-yard dash, and he hits hard. I think he's the piece the Eagles need to stop running backs from dancing up the middle and scoring.

    If a running back bounces to the outside, Kendricks will chase the back. He never gives up on a play, which could be crucial against running backs who like to run east to west.

    Kendricks needs some improvement against the pass, but he and free agent signee DeMeco Ryans add lots of value to the Eagles. If Kendricks and Ryans stop the run, teams will be forced to pass against Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    Star Potential: 9.4 out of 10

Courtney Upshaw

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    Anyone who watched the BCS National Championship knows how Courtney Upshaw and Alabama's defense harassed Jordan Jefferson and LSU. And now, Upshaw's with the Ravens?

    That's just not fair.

    Upshaw isn't too fast, and he isn't great at defending the pass, but he gets by offensive linemen, and he gets to the quarterback. Against LSU in the national championship, he got to Jefferson most times he dropped back to pass. 

    Upshaw can play outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive end. While Baltimore has Ray Lewis, Upshaw's versatility will be key for the Ravens. In his final season at Alabama, he forced two fumbles, intercepted a pass (and returned it for a TD), recorded 52 tackles (18 of them for loss) and recorded 9.5 sacks.

    His strength may not be the run game, but against pass-happy teams (say, New England), he will be valuable. He'll be constantly harassing the quarterback, forcing bad decisions and changing the game in favor of his new team.

    Star Potential: 9.7 out of 10

Coby Fleener

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    Andrew Luck was the reason Colts fans are happy with their draft. Coby Fleener just gave them more happiness.

    Most people expected the star tight end to be a late first-rounder, but when he fell to Indianapolis' second-round pick, the Colts had to take him. Dallas Clark is old and likely won't return to the Colts, and Jacob Tamme is now a Denver Bronco.

    So, the Colts got their new Dallas Clark in Fleener.

    Fleener and Luck were a great duo at Stanford, with Fleener catching 34 passes (10 touchdowns) for 667 yards in his final year at Stanford. Fleener didn't make many catches, but he blocked well and took advantage of his catching opportunities (19.6 yards per catch).

    Luck won't have great receivers in Indy, so adding Fleener is huge for the Colts. Luck is familiar with him, so he'll know Fleener's receiving and blocking habits. That will be crucial for him and the Colts.

    Late in the game, if the Colts need a big play, Fleener's the guy to get it for them. Luck can make the big throw, as he continuously showed us throughout his Stanford career, and Fleener can get open deep and catch the big throw, as well as break tackles.

    If Fleener plays in the NFL like he did in college, 31 defenses better watch out.

    Star Potential: 9.9 out of 10

Brock Osweiler

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    The Denver Broncos are one of my two teams, so when I saw this selection, I was overjoyed.

    Yes, I am aware that Peyton Manning is a Denver Bronco. But he can only give us five years (at most), and his injury risk is high. I think Manning will retire or get injured and give us three years, and then Osweiler will take over.

    Learning under Manning will help Osweiler get used to the NFL so he can play better when he gets his shot, possibly becoming the next Aaron Rodgers. In 2011, Osweiler had a 140.5 quarterback rating. Manning can help him improve upon that.

    Last year, Osweiler threw 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but Arizona State only finished 6-7. However, the Sun Devils scored at least 24 points in all but one game, and Osweiler threw a touchdown in every game.

    Arizona State beat USC, Utah, and Missouri in Osweiler's final season, all teams with eight or more wins. Osweiler had a good but not great receiving corps at ASU, but he won't have great receivers in Denver. However, he is accurate, and his height (6'7") helps him see over linemen.

    Once Peyton Manning steps down, this guy will step in and make his impact felt immediately.

    Star Potential: 9.8 out of 10

LaMichael James

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    I know a lot of people don't like this pick, but I love it. Here's why.

    James carried the ball a lot at Oregon, and while he won't get many carries in San Francisco, in a few years, his durability could be a factor. He is fast, and while he's small (5'8", 194 pounds), he can break tackles.

    And when lineman open up a hole, he doesn't hesitate. He sprints through it, and nobody can catch him. Touchdown.

    In three years, James scored 53 touchdowns. In case you didn't know, that's a lot. In 2011, James scored a touchdown in all but one game (he played 12 games). Against a great Stanford defense, James ran for 146 yards on 20 carries, and he scored three touchdowns.

    If a defensive tackle or lineman makes one mistake, and the offensive lineman blocking him catches the mistake, the OL will open up a hole. James will burst right through that hole every time, and he'll score.

    It's hard to stop James in the backfield for a loss, and when you think you have him, usually, you don't. James breaks tackles and fights for every yard, which is why he averaged 7.3 yards per carry. Oh, and he can also return punts and kickoffs very well, bursting through any hole he sees.

    If Frank Gore goes down, he and Kendall Hunter could just be the dominant one-two punch San Francisco has been missing to make its offense better.

    Star Potential: 9.8 out of 10