The West Virginia Mountaineers sent five players to the 2012 NFL draft.
Three were selected, including a first-rounder.
Defensive end Bruce Irvin was the first off the board, selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 15th-overall pick.
The next Mountaineer had to wait awhile for his name to be called.
Linebacker Najee Goode wasn't taken until the early fifth round by Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers liked what they saw in Morgantown and took cornerback Keith Tandy in the next round.
All three of these players, along with Don Barclay and Tyler Urban, who went undrafted, made solid contributions to the West Virginia football program. However, only one can rise up and have the best rookie season in the NFL.
Who do you think will most successful in their first season? Leave a comment!
Standing at 5'10", 200 lbs., Keith Tandy is well-sized for his style of play.
He is an aggressive defender that likes to come up and pop a receiver in the mouth. But he has an extra advantage over most other cornerbacks.
Tandy is actually one of the most prolific high school quarterbacks in Kentucky state history. He finished his high school career with 8,609 yards passing for 90 touchdowns.
All that experience on the offensive side of the ball has directly benefited his play as a defensive back.
Tandy already knew the ins and outs of the quarterback and wide receiver relationship before playing on the other side of the ball. This advantage is quite evident when you look at the 13 interceptions Tandy reeled in since he started as a sophomore.
Though Tandy had a successful career with the Mountaineers, his average speed and size might be an issue when going up against the big and physical NFL receivers.
Aqib Talib and Ronde Barder won't give up a starting cornerback position, but Tandy could develop into a ball-hawking nickel corner down the road.
Najee Goode is one of the more versatile linebackers to play at West Virginia. While it gives Goode playing time at multiple positions, it also has been a drawback to his draft stock.
NFL teams are worried about taking on the same problem West Virginia had.
Where do you play Najee Goode?
He has played outside linebacker for much of his football career and has shown the ability to come up and plug the run. However, outside linebackers are often required to drop back into pass coverage.
That's something that Goode struggles with.
So while he has the most experience as an outside linebacker, his skill set would be better used as an inside linebacker.
Ultimately, due to Goode's inability to play either zone or man defense, he will likely only see duty as an early down linebacker
With the serious concerns surrounding his play as a linebacker, Goode's rookie season will be much more about learning than playing.
As a first-round pick and the only Mountaineer taken in the first four rounds, fans should naturally assume that he will have an immediate impact in the NFL.
The fans are absolutely right.
Bruce Irvin is perhaps the most gifted pass-rusher in the entire 2012 NFL draft, but you couldn't tell at first glance.
Irvin is a bit undersized at 6'3", 245 lbs., but he is one of the few players that has turned that into an advantage. The quickness to maneuver his smaller frame around offensive lineman was put on display during his time at West Virginia, where he recorded 22 sacks in two seasons as a starter.
Irvin could easily make the field as a situational pass-rusher while he develops the other areas of his game. Expect him to make a splash during his rookie season, recording multiple sacks along the way to having the best rookie year of any former Mountaineer in 2012.