2012 NFL Draft: David DeCastro, Courtney Upshaw and the Biggest Steals
When we examine the plight of a player in free-fall on draft weekend, we view the whole thing as a negative experience; bringing us back to the schoolyard days when we were always worried about being picked last (of course, we didn't get paid a million dollars for dodgeball).
It may not be fun to tumble through the draft, but what about the other side of things? What about when an organization pulls off the heist of the season when a coveted player drops right into their laps where they never thought he could?
A player's unprecedented fall can shake up the entire draft by changing teams' big boards sparking trades or the famous "taking the best player available" strategy.
When a player drops, thievery abounds.
10. Stephen Hill, New York Jets, No. 43
The New York Jets received a massive blessing when wide receiver Stephen Hill fell into their laps at No. 43. A 6'5'' blessing, to be exact.
Projected to go as early as the mid-20s in Round 1, Hill is a raw receiver with tremendous upside, only falling down so far because the Browns panicked, taking Mitchell Schwartz and Brandon Weeden before they had to.
The Jets will finally have a playmaker opposite Santonio Holmes.
9. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins, No. 97
Lamar Miller is the fastest running back in the 2012 draft class. Even in a world where running backs are undervalued, Miller projected as an early second-round pick who could possibly sneak into the bottom of Round 1 if a team fell in love with him.
Apparently, nobody did.
Miller fell to the fourth round, where the Miami Dolphins, a team utterly starved for playmakers, decided to pull the trigger.
The Dolphins already had Reggie Bush and second-year back Daniel Thomas, but Miller can provide an excellent change of pace and spark in the return game.
Even better, they got him at a fourth-round price, and he's a local from the University of Miami, a big bonus for a team looking for ways to fill seats.
Even Walmart doesn't have deals that good.
8. Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore Ravens, No. 35
Coming in at No. 35 overall, Upshaw may not seem like that much of a steal, but factor in that the Ravens traded back for him, and this becomes a robbery.
Upshaw was arguably the second-best pass-rusher in the nation, which means a whole lot in the new pass-happy NFL. If that wasn't enough, he was the MVP of the Crimson Tide defense that shut out No. 1 LSU in the BCS Championship game.
There are a few teams who may come to regret allowing the Ravens to have Upshaw.
7. Zebrie Sanders, Buffalo Bills, No. 144
Projected as a potential third-round pick, Zebrie Sanders has all of the physical tools required to succeed at the next level. Due to some bizarre undervaluing of offensive tackles in this draft, Sanders wasn't taken until the Bills decided to pair him with fellow steal Cordy Glenn in Round 5.
The 92nd overall ranked prospect going at No. 144?
To say the Bills got a treasure trove in this draft still doesn't quite say it.
6. Peter Konz, Atlanta Falcons, No. 55
Peter Konz is by far the best center of the 2012 class, projected as a late first- or early second-round pick. Good center prospects are few and far between, and the dearth of talent at center in the NFL should have pushed Konz's draft stock.
He still went in the second, but the fact that the Atlanta Falcons were able to grab him at 55 is shocking.
A nice steal for a team desperately in need of help on the offensive line.
5. Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins, No. 42
The devaluing of offensive linemen continues with the fall of Jonathan Martin, projected to be a possible first-round pick, ranked as the No. 28 prospect and the fourth-best offensive tackle.
Martin should have been a sure thing for any team looking for the "best available player" or an offensive tackle at the bottom of Round 1.
The Dolphins got to use the No. 42 pick on this guy?
First stroke of luck they've had in 2012.
4. Bobby Massie, Arizona Cardinals, No. 112
"Absolutely absurd" is just about the only way to describe Bobby Massie's plunge from being a possible end-of-first-rounder and No. 42-ranked prospect on the big board, to being selected at No. 112.
Thanks to this masterful heist, the Cardinals are now well on their way to being an actual team.
3. Rueben Randle, New York Giants, No. 63
Rueben Randle was the No. 5 receiver in the class, the 34th-ranked prospect, the leading receiver on the No. 1 seed in college football and an incredible value where the New York Giants drafted him.
The thing that makes this difficult to understand is that receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brian Quick were drafted before him, despite Jeffery's alarming weight problem.
Whatever reason teams chose to pass on Randle (Jordan Jefferson could make Jerry Rice look bad), Jerry Reese is not one to let the best player available by that margin slip through his fingers in any draft situation.
2. David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 24
This is how good David DeCastro is: He was actually a steal at No. 24 overall. He is, with the possible exception of Matt Kalil, the surest thing in this entire draft.
DeCastro has everything he needs to be one of the game's elite interior linemen for the next 10 years, and most mock drafts (including my own) had him going in the top 15, likely to Kansas City.
Why he was passed up by so many teams is unknown, but the Pittsburgh Steelers committed grand theft guard and insured their continued presence in the Super Bowl contenders club.
1. Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills, No. 41
Cordy Glenn was yet another undervalued offensive line prospect in this draft. As strange as it is to see this tackle-starved league passing up on so many premium linemen, Glenn fell from an early to late first-rounder to a mid-second-round pick.
Thanks to the odd draft boards of 31 other teams, the Buffalo Bills found themselves in position to take Glenn for an unbeatable value, just as they would later do with Zebrie Sanders.
Buddy Nix was too smart to pass up this gem in the second round.