The 2012 NFL draft is over, but analysis of the results is just beginning. Like every year, the 2012 NFL draft was littered with steals in every round.
There’s no handbook on how to find a steal in the draft. A player being selecting well after he was projected to be taken typically constitutes a steal. However, true steals are never truly revealed until a few years after the draft. No one considered Tom Brady a steal right after he was drafted because not many knew who he was. We all know how that turned out.
Some steals are so obvious that it is safe to declare them as so immediately after the draft. One such steal was Rutgers’ wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. He was projected as a fringe first-round pick but wasn’t selected until the mid-third round.
Here are Mohamed Sanu and the 15 biggest seals of the 2012 NFL draft:
Alfonzo Dennard was at one time projected as a first-round pick. At that time it would have been ridiculous to predict he wouldn’t be selected until the seventh round, but that’s exactly what happened.
Dennard had a horrible offseason with a mediocre scouting combine performance followed by an average pro day. He then ran into trouble with the law which killed any shot of him being drafted during the first two days.
If Dennard can stay out of trouble, he is a very good pick for the New England Patriots. He probably should have been taken in the third round, so landing him in the seventh is an amazing steal.
Devon Still is yet another player that who landed with the Cincinnati Bengals after plummeting down the draft board. The ridiculous depth at the defensive tackle position is the likely candidate as to why Still fell.
Still was projected to go in the first round of the draft thanks to his legitimate all-around game at the position. Still dominated in college at Penn State on his way to the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011.
Still could have gone to the Bengals in the first round but ended up with them in the second. He’s a great value there, and the Bengals are surely happy to have him later than they should have.
Brandon Boykin out of Georgia was one of the better corner prospects entering the draft before an injury derailed his offseason leading up to the event. The injury caused him to plummet all the way to No. 123 before being scooped up by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Boykin fits perfectly with the Eagles as a nickel corner. He’s got great coverage skills and can contribute on special teams as a kick returner as well.
Teams had a good reason to pass on Boykin, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the biggest steals of this draft class.
Going into the draft, Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu was considered one of the better 3-4 nose tackles available because of his athleticism. He’s good at stopping the run and can rush the passer when asked.
His fall to the fourth round is perplexing, but the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t complaining. They needed a successor to Casey Hampton and found one in the fourth round.
Ta’amu was a second round pick at worst, so this is a huge steal for the Steelers. This is yet another example of why Pittsburgh is one of the best organizations in all of sports.
Courtney Upshaw was considered a first-round pick thanks to his eerie combination of strength and speed that allowed him to get to opposing quarterbacks with relative ease while playing for Alabama.
The one knock on Upshaw was his height at 6’2”, which brought up the question of what position he could truly play at the professional level. Many teams passed because of this, but that didn’t deter the Baltimore Ravens at No. 35.
Upshaw lands in a perfect situation with one of the best defenses in the league. He’s an absolute steal here that allow the Ravens to get even better. As they say, the rich get richer.
Miami’s Lamar Miller was expected to go in the first or second round come draft day. There were a variety of teams in the first two rounds who could have used his services but decided to pass.
As the draft wore on, information began to leak out about Miller’s injuries to his shoulder and knee, which appear to be the driving force behind his fall.
The Miami Dolphins ended his slide in the fourth round, which also ended one of the bigger storylines of the draft. If healthy, Miller is one of the better backs to come out of the draft. A first-round value in the fourth is nothing but a steal.
Nebraska was fortunate enough to have an elite defensive end prospect with an endless motor playing for them the past few years. He was widely considered to be a second-round selection.
Instead Jared Crick heard his name called in the fourth round by the Houston Texans. His fall is likely attributed to his injury history, but that’s not something that should have driven his value down that far.
Crick is a workhorse who projects to be a solid defensive end for a long time. Many teams were scared off because of injuries, but the Texans were smart to grab him. Many teams are going to regret allowing Crick to fall in a few years.
There’s a bit of a trend forming here. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers litter this list because of their ability to find steals in the later rounds.
The culprit here is Cincinnati by taking Georgia tight end Orson Charles in the fourth round. Charles was slated as a first-round pick because of his elite strength and pass-catching ability. He’s a force in run-blocking and will catch anything thrown his way, making him an elite red zone target.
Charles fell down the draft board because of a DUI arrest, one blemish on an otherwise pristine record. The Bengals were smart to grab the projected first rounder in the fourth and will reap the benefits for years to come.
Josh Chapman tore his ACL while at Alabama in 2011. That didn’t stop him. Chapman played with the injury while being the anchor of the country’s best defense. That sounds like at least a second-round selection, right?
Wrong. According to the NFL, that’s only worthy of being selected in the fifth round. Chapman found a home with the rebuilding Indianapolis Colts, and he’s going to end up being a key part of the process if healthy.
Chapman has all the tools to be a great every-down player for the Colts. Add in the fact he’s motivated by being insulted by the league, and he’s on track to make every team pay.
Bobby Massie entered the draft as one of the premier offensive tackle prospects, and like many other highly-regarded tackles fell drastically further than anyone could have predicted.
Massie was a solid second-round prospect who somehow fell to the fourth round where the Arizona Cardinals were happy to have him. Massie is a massive tackle from Ole Miss who had a plethora of starting experience that looks to allow him to have a smooth transition to the NFL.
Massie went a few rounds after he should have, and that doesn’t bode well for the teams that skipped out on him.
DeQuan Menzie was overshadowed at Alabama by first-round selection Dre Kirkpatrick. Despite this, Menzie was one of the most well-rounded cover corners in the draft and shouldn’t have been taken any later than the third round.
Instead Menzie found himself selected in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs. His abilities will allow him to work his way up the depth chart quickly.
Menzie isn’t a big name now, but he could be in the next few years. He’s been criminally overlooked throughout his career, but he’ll open the eyes of fans everywhere soon enough.
Mohamed Sanu landed with the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round, two rounds after he was expected to be selected.
Sanu was a standout wide receiver at Rutgers. He managed to excel as the No. 1 target on an offense with issues at the quarterback position. His size and physicality allowed him to be predicted as a second-round pick at worst.
It’s hard to tell why Sanu fell, as he is a prototypical No. 2 receiver in the NFL. He can go over the middle and catches anything thrown his way. He has landed in the perfect situation in Cincinnati and likely has a chip on his shoulder to prove to the teams that passed on him that he should have been selected higher.
Kirk Cousins out of Michigan State had everything a team looks for in an NFL quarterback: strong arm, leadership qualities and experience. Despite having all of this and more, Cousins fell to the fourth round.
Cousins landed in a bad situation with the Washington Redskins, a team that had already selected quarterback Robert Griffin III in the first round, second overall.
Not only did Cousins fall much further than he should have, he was selected to be a backup. When Cousins gets his shot, he’ll make the most of it. He’ll have a chance to start in the NFL someday, and he’ll have the chance to prove he was one of the biggest steals in the draft.
If you asked anyone leading up to the draft, they would have told you Cordy Glenn was a sure-fire first-round pick. His body of work at Georgia combined with his outstanding athleticism for such a massive man made him an elite prospect.
Come draft day, the first round came and went without Glenn hearing his name called. He landed with the Buffalo Bills in the second round.
Glenn is versatile enough to play either guard or tackle in the NFL, which should have raised his stock even more. It’s hard to imagine he’ll bust, and he’s going to wreak havoc on the NFL for a long time after being shunned by every team in the first round.
David DeCastro was one of the surest things going into the draft. His body of work and skill set at the guard position ensure that he’ll have a successful NFL career somewhere.
Despite being a lock of a pick, DeCastro slid all the way to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 24, about 10 spots lower than the most projected him.
It’s unknown why Decastro tumbled down the board, but Pittsburgh landed one of the biggest steals of the draft by taking him. Now DeCastro solidifies a mediocre offensive line for the Steelers and will likely do so for an extremely long time.