NFL Rumors: Roundup of Most Intriguing Roles for Top 2012 Draft Picks

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Morris Claiborne (R)from LSU holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #6 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

A number of picks in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft were far from surprises. While a few teams made curious picks in terms of value and trades, their roles on their new teams were obvious.

Even the Seattle Seahawks' selection of Bruce Irvin, which many consider the biggest reach of the first round, fits in the sense that coach Pete Carroll wants to creatively find a way to hit opposing quarterbacks.

But not all the picks offered up that type of clarity.

Here's a look at a few top picks with the most intriguing roles of 2012.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Cowboys

Mo's role seems easy enough to understand: help lock down the likes of Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson, Victor Cruz and other targets in the NFC East.

But that doesn't appear to be all of it. It's clear that Claiborne has great ball skills and return skills, and there might be a chance the Cowboys would use those skills more frequently.

Claiborne was told ESPN Dallas when prompted:

"I would love to be a two-way player. If they gave me that chance to be able to go both sides of the ball I'll love it and I won't turn it down. I get in and give it 100 percent."

This obviously draws more comparison to a Cowboy famous for his two-way ability: Deion Sanders.

Dallas has two dynamic receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but it wouldn't be surprising at all if we see a gimmick or two for Claiborne this season.


Stephon Gilmore, CB, Bills

Like Claiborne, we know Gilmore was brought in to shore up the secondary, but the Bills had a few particular players in mind when they selected the South Carolina star.

GM Buddy Nix told the Bills flagship station, WGR Sportsradio 550:

"We would like to be able to match up against those two guys,” said Nix of New England’s Gronkowski and Hernandez. ”Even though you’re not as big as they are these guys with speed and they’re big enough that they can’t knock them around and push them away from them. It’s a lot harder for them against these bigger corners. Yes, we think [Gilmore] can do that."

That is quite a tall order, even for the No. 10 overall pick, but the Bills wouldn't have drafted him if they thought it would be a waste. A year ago they selected Aaron Williams out of Texas and may draft pundits wondered if he had the size and ability to play safety in the NFL.

He was hampered by injuries as a rookie, but will get a chance to get back on the field with a new teammate they hope can help shutdown of the league's most dominant passing attacks. 


Quinton Coples, DE, Jets

This was one of the more curious picks of the draft considering the players on the board, the schematic fit and the Jets' need for pass rush help.

Coples is a pass rusher, but not in a 3-4 scheme. He's too big and not athletic enough to line up as an outside backer off the edge, but the five-technique spot doesn't necessarily play to his strengths much either.

Jets coach Rex Ryan was quoted by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News saying the following after proclaiming his first two picks (Coples and WR Stephen Hill) will crack the starting lineup this year:

"You had a vision for those players,” Ryan said on Saturday. “That’s why you took them... There’s so many different roles... There’s so many things they can start on—there’s sub team, there’s this team... They’re going to play significantly. Is it 100% all 16 games? It really depends."

Although Ryan admitted that Coples “is not going to play 70 snaps a game for us,” the coach believes that “he’s definitely going to have a huge role in our defense.”

That remains to be seen. Coples is a gifted football player, but he's not a natural fit in this defense. 


David Wilson, RB, Giants

The Giants had a hole at running back and were hoping to land Doug Martin of Boise State at No. 32. The Bucs jumped back into the first round and stole him, but they're more than happy with Wilson on the roster.

One player in particular, starter Ahmad Bradshaw, is planning to work with the rookie specifically (via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News):

"I plan on using him as my project,” Bradshaw said Monday. “He’s a very talented running back and he’s from Virginia. Two Virginia guys in this running back corps is going to be dangerous. I expect to use him as my project to get him better, to get him smarter and just to mature him a little bit, just to help him understand the NFL.”

Bradshaw, who lives about three hours away from Wilson during the offseason, is already handing out advice to the rookie ... The Giants’ offensive playbook is thick and the plays, signals and assignments are complicated. For a running back — especially one who figures to get a lot of work in the Giants’ two-back rotation — learning it all will be a lot of work.

We can take away two things from this: that Wilson has himself one heck of a tutor, as Bradshaw is one of the best all-around backs in the league, and that we shouldn't expect too much too soon.

The Giants are one of the more thorough teams in the league (surprise, surprise with coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning running things) so don't be surprised if D.J. Ware starts the season as the No. 2 back.