2012 NFL Draft Grades: Best Picks of the Fourth Round
Usually fourth-round picks aren't very sexy, but this year a lot of really good football players managed to slip all the way to the middle of the draft.
There are four picks I absolutely loved in the fourth round of this year's draft, and I see all four players becoming big-time contributors for their new teams in the immediate future.
The following are the best picks from the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft.
109. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington
I have no idea how Ta'amu fell this far. I had him with a high second-round grade because true 3-4 nose tackles don't come around that often. With Casey Hampton rapidly approaching the end of his career, this was a perfect fit for Pittsburgh, which is having an outstanding draft.
Ta'amu has outstanding size (6'2" and 348 pounds) and has great endurance considering how massive he is. He still has some developing to do as a pass-rusher, but he has the kind of raw ability that is tough to find at the position.
He will be a classic two-gap lineman, and his job will be to hold the point of attack against the run. Any disruption he provides against the pass will be a bonus.
110. San Diego Chargers: Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Chargers have been seeking a pass-catching tight end to serve as a backup to Pro Bowler Antonio Gates for a while now, and they landed that guy in Green. The Louisiana-Lafayette product has great size at nearly 6'6" and 238 pounds and he has incredible ball skills.
In addition to that, he has the ability to make big plays, and while he is a competitive guy, Green is also a consummate team player who should have no problem allowing Gates to mentor him.
The one area of concern for Green is that he is an incredibly weak blocker. But the Chargers already have a few guys who can block at the position, and he won't need to get better in that aspect for a while. Green is almost certainly the team's future at Gates' position, but he could also spell the soon-to-be 32-year-old vet as soon as this season.
A great fit and an outstanding pick.
112. Arizona Cardinals: Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
Massie carried a late first-round grade on some boards, and I really don't know how he dropped to the middle of the fourth round, but the Cardinals are the beneficiaries of that slide. Arizona has a glaring need at offensive tackle, as the team surrendered 54 sacks in 2011, with most of those coming off the edge.
The Ole Miss product is an absolute steal at this point in the draft at a position of need, which makes the pick even better. Massie checks in at 6'6" and 316 pounds, and has a near-perfect blend of height, weight, speed and quickness at the position. He will likely start his career on the right side, but with enough experience he could slide over to left tackle if needed.
He is already a solid pass protector with a really high upside in that area, and is more than adequate as a run blocker. Massie probably could have used another year of seasoning in college, but according to Scouts Inc., he declared for the draft as a way to provide for his mother.
He's a great kid who shows toughness and is competitive. Looking at Arizona's roster right now, I don't see any way Massie doesn't start from day one.
This might be the best overall value pick in the 2012 draft.
123. Philadelphia Eagles: Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Boykin fell a long way in this year's draft because of concerns about his actual ability as a football player. There is no question that he is an exceptional athlete, but he is still developing actual football skills. Still, his upside is tremendous, and in a no-pressure situation as an extra cornerback with the Eagles he could quietly develop in the background before exploding on the scene.
At 5'9" and 182 pounds, Boykin is undersized for the position, but he has outstanding top-end speed. Another area he excels is in leadership. He was recognized as one of Georgia's hardest workers and was also an emotional leader for the team's defense. He was a good student and seems to always be focused.
He isn't an instinctive player and often looks like his movements are forced. Experience could help clean that up, and sharing a secondary with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could help iron some of those problems out.
I just really like this as a high-upside pick late in the fourth round.
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