2012 NFL Draft Grades: Alshon Jeffery and Second Round's Biggest Impact Players
The second round of the 2012 NFL Draft took place on Friday evening, and much like the first round, there were a few surprises, some great values and any number of transactions in what shall be known from here forward as "the year of the trade."
Several teams acquired players in the second round of this year's draft who could easily go on to have outstanding rookie seasons, and here's a look at the best of the best from Friday evening's action.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
Stanford tight end Coby Fleener was an All-American performer in 2011 after a senior season in which the 6'6", 247-pounder hauled in 34 passes for 667 yards and 10 scores, and Fleener established himself as the top player in this year's class at his position with an outstanding showing at Stanford's pro day.
The Indianapolis Colts gutted the offense in the offseason, jettisoning tight end Dallas Clark and watching Jacob Tamme and wide receiver Pierre Garcon depart in free agency.
With that said it was essential that the Colts acquire new quarterback Andrew Luck some offensive weaponry, and the team was very wise to use the second pick of the second round on Luck's old college teammate.
Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
All-American linebacker Courtney Upshaw was once widely regarded as a top 20 pick after a 2011 campaign where the 6'2" 272-pound senior tallied 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks, but so-so workouts at the NFL combine and Alabama's pro day sent Upshaw's stock tumbling.
That tumble ended when the Baltimore Ravens chose the Alabama standout with the 35th overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, and Upshaw will not only infuse some much-needed youth into an aging Ravens defense, but Upshaw will also provide a substantial boost to the Baltimore pass rush.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama was one of the most talked-about players leading up to this year's draft.
The off-the-field issues that plagued Jenkins throughout college knocked him from many draft boards altogether, while the considerable talents of the 5'10" 193-pound former Florida star left him a first-round prospect on others.
The St. Louis Rams, who saw injuries decimate their secondary in 2011, finally rolled the dice on the smothering cornerback with the affinity for the sticky icky with the 39th overall pick.
If the team can keep Jenkins out of trouble and his head in the game, then they may have gotten one of the steals of the draft, and Jenkins could quickly form an imposing duo in the Rams secondary with the newly acquired Cortland Finnegan.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
The poster boy for this particular little assemblage, South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery suffered through an up and down senior year for the Gamecocks, and that, coupled with a tumultuous offseason, left Jeffery's draft day stock in limbo.
However, Bleacher Report NFL Draft Senior Lead Writer Matt Miller has been singing the praises of the SEC's leading receiver in 2010 for some time now, and if the 6'3" 216-pound Jeffery can keep his weight in check, he could be a big (so-to-speak) addition for the Chicago Bears passing game with the 13th pick of the second round.
Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
Senior linebacker Lavonte David was a force in the middle of the Nebraska defense in 2011, as the 6'1" 233-pound Cornhuskers standout paced the Blackshirts with 133 stops en route to being named a second team All-American.
David's rather diminutive frame has led many to question how effective he can be playing inside at the professional level, although he allayed some of those fears with a strong showing at the NFL combine.
However, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made David the 58th overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, David immediately leaped to near the head of the class as an impact linebacker, if only because Tampa is in such dire straits at the position that David may well start at middle linebacker as a rookie.