Janoris Jenkins and the Top 10 Steals from the 2012 NFL Draft
St. Louis Rams' cornerback Janoris Jenkins is the biggest steal of the 2012 NFL draft class and the perfect example of what can happen for an NFL franchise if it can manage to find the proverbial diamond in the rough.
Jenkins has been spectacular in St. Louis so far, but he is certainly not the only notable steal from his draft class. While Jenkins was passed over because of off-the-field concerns, other steals were passed up for supposed red flags, and since, they've proved they were incorrectly labeled.
The difference between a Super Bowl contending team with a great front office and a mediocre franchise unable to take the final step is usually the ability to find these steals in each draft.
Let's take a look at the top 10 steals of the 2012 NFL draft just past the quarter mark of the 2012 season.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, St. Louis Rams
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Janoris Jenkins was considered a major risk in the 2012 draft thanks to his off-the-field issues, but it was well known that he was a special talent while playing at the collegiate level.
Thanks to concerns about his character, Jenkins fell into the laps of the St. Louis Rams front office in the second round, No. 39 overall.
Jenkins has shined as the starting cornerback opposite Cortland Finnegan. He has already racked up 24 tackles and an interception while playing sound coverage and being extremely physical against the run game.
While past character issues could arise at any point, so far so good for Jenkins and the Rams.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
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With the No. 173 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins managed to find a starting running back who is currently having a monster season.
Alfred Morris was not exactly a household name coming out of Florida Atlantic, and apparently he was not a big name in NFL offices around the country either.
Except in Washington.
Morris has carried the ball exactly 100 times for 491 yards and four touchdowns for the Redskins. He has opened eyes around the league as to the types of backs that may be available in the late rounds of the draft.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
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The Seattle Seahawks managed to find a starting quarterback with the No. 75 overall pick in the draft in Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, despite drafting him as a backup.
Wilson changed the minds of the Seattle coaching staff rather quickly.
While the Seahawks had brought in Matt Flynn in free agency, head coach Pete Carroll and his staff were impressed enough with Wilson to name him the starter before the season even began.
Wilson has thrown for 815 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions while leading a competitive Seahawks team. Not a bad selection in the third round by Seattle.
Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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So far, Lavonte David has been a breakout star for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a starting outside linebacker, which is great news for the franchise, considering they nabbed him in the second round with the No. 58 overall pick.
David has been a stud, recording 33 tackles to this point and being a main component of the Tampa Bay defense.
Typically starters are not found in the second round, but the product out of Nebraska has managed to not only hold onto a starting gig, but excel at it in the process. The defense is taking a turn for the better in Tampa Bay, and David is a big reason why.
Bryan Anger, P, Jacksonville Jaguars
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It's not often that a punter would be considered a steal, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are able to boast that thanks to Bryan Anger.
Anger, a third-round pick out of California, has been great so far, averaging over 50 yards per punt and downing seven inside the 20-yard line in only five games.
While the Jaguars were blasted for taking a punter so early, it was about the only thing the organization did right in the 2012 NFL draft. Taking a punter in the third round is frowned upon, but he's been a steal for Jacksonville nonetheless.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
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The closest competition Janoris Jenkins is going to get for the steal of the rookie class is Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict may not have been drafted, but he still belongs on this list as one of the biggest steals of the rookie class.
After being passed on in the draft, Burfict signed on as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals, largely because of his great relationship with head coach Marvin Lewis.
Once a top prospect, Burfict took a nose dive thanks to character and effort concerns, as he was known for taking plays off and committing silly personal fouls because he could not keep his emotions in check.
Now Burfict has erased his issues and worked his way into a starting weakside linebacker role with Cincinnati and has already amassed 25 tackles and a sack. He's the future of the defense in Cincinnati at the position.
Mike Martin, DT, Tennessee Titans
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The Tennessee Titans made Mike Martin the No. 83 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft in the third round, and he's turned out to be one of the bigger steals on the defensive side of the ball.
Martin was a beast with an endless motor at the collegiate level with Michigan, but has only managed to earn a rotational role with the Titans so far.
Despite this, he has compiled 18 tackles and two sacks in five games.
Martin is quickly earning himself some more playing time and quietly beginning to stand out as one of the better overall players in the draft class.
Billy Winn, DT, Cleveland Browns
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Billy Winn has quietly earned a starting rotational role with the Cleveland Browns at the defensive tackle spot despite being a sixth-round pick.
The Browns have a stout defensive line, so given the fact a player the organization selected with the No. 205 overall pick has cracked the starting lineup is very impressive.
Winn has not posted eye-popping statistics by any means, yet his presence has been more than felt as he has applied constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks and been a force in the run game as well.
Winn is receiving more playing time than third-round pick John Hughes, which speaks volumes to just how great the Boise State graduate has been playing so far.
Jerron McMillian, S, Green Bay Packers
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Jerron McMillian is not a widely known name just yet, but he will be soon thanks to his stellar play so far for the Green Bay Packers.
McMillian has been a force in the secondary for Green Bay when actually on the field, delivering big hits and playing sound coverage. He has a way to go before he catches the national spotlight, but he's an important piece for the future of the Packers defense.
Green Bay saw something in the safety from Maine and made him the No. 133 overall pick in the draft. For a fourth-rounder that is contributing this much already, he has been quite the steal.
Jamell Fleming, CB, Arizona Cardinals
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Jamell Fleming fell to the third round of the draft where the Arizona Cardinals were happy to scoop him up with the No. 80 overall pick, and what a pick that has turned out to be.
Fleming only has 12 tackles, but his real value has been the things not recorded on a stat sheet such as sound coverage and run support.
With elite speed and the ability to change direction at full speed, Fleming has been a nightmare for opposing receivers and quarterbacks so far this season. By no means will he ever steal a starting gig from Patrick Peterson, but Fleming gives Arizona a serious one-two punch at cornerback for a long time.