How Every 2012 Heisman Candidate's Skills Translate to the NFL

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 16, 2012

How Every 2012 Heisman Candidate's Skills Translate to the NFL

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    It is almost that time of the year when we find out who the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner is going to be. But the near future holds more than that for a couple of these candidates, who hope to make a living playing in the NFL.

    There are many former Heisman winners in the NFL, including the last five recipients. That doesn't even include players such as Reggie Bush, Carson Palmer and even Charles Woodson, who won the award as far back as 1997.

    But even with the success of past award winners, just because you tear it up in college does not mean your future is bright in the big boy league.

    Let's take a look at the top Heisman candidates from 2012 and see if they will be able to hack it in the NFL.

Marqise Lee, WR, USC

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    Class: Sophomore

    Key Stats: 98 receptions, 1,447 yards and 14 total touchdowns

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    It is a shame (except for USC fans) that Marqise Lee isn't eligible to skip his junior year and head into the NFL as early as next season. We have seen a few NFL-ready receivers in the past such as Julio Jones and A.J. Green, but Lee is the complete package and may be even better than those prospects were coming out of college.

    He is a solid route-runner, adjusts to the ball extremely well and catches everything in sight. His ability to make plays after the catch is better than any other receiver in the country. There is a reason Stanford head coach David Shaw says Lee is the best receiver he has seen since scouting Randy Moss back in the day.

    With his size, speed and athleticism, Lee will be a first-round pick in the 2014 draft (if he leaves school early), and he will help a very lucky team at the next level.

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State

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    Class: Sophomore

    Key Stats: 1,753 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, 1,166 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    Earlier in the year, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer called Braxton Miller better than Tim Tebow. Well, coach, that isn't exactly saying much as far as this slideshow goes.

    Miller is a speedster who doesn't just take what he can get with his legs—he can flat-out burn anybody on the defensive side of the ball. He is a solid passer on short and intermediate routes and has a cannon for an arm.

    With Meyer, the sophomore quarterback has improved his decision-making and completion percentage, which makes you wonder just how much he can continue to grow as a true quarterback.

    Miller will have a future in the NFL as long as he continues to improve his game. He has a thick build (6'2", 210 pounds), is very athletic and has shown flashes of being able to complete difficult passes consistently.

    The Ohio State quarterback is still young, but you have to like what you have seen so far.

Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame

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    Class: Senior

    Key Stats: 92 tackles, six interceptions, 5.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    Manti Te'o is the complete package at the linebacker position and likely would have been a first-round pick in last year’s draft had he left Notre Dame early. But with his production and Heisman consideration, Te'o may have actually improved his draft stock this year.

    He has great instincts and a knack for making big plays. Te'o does a solid job of helping in run defense, but he is also comfortable dropping back into pass coverage. Te'o has underrated speed, his athleticism is off-the-charts, and he is a high-character guy who would fit well in an NFL locker room.

    Due to everything that Te'o brings and the lack of questions about him, expect to see Notre Dame's leading tackler selected within the top-15 picks of next year’s draft.

Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon

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    Class: Senior

    Key Stats: 1,360 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns, 219 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    At 5'11", 192 pounds, Barner isn’t as big as many NFL teams would prefer from an every-down back, and, much like former teammate LaMichael James, his draft stock will take a hit because of it.

    However, the senior running back is as explosive as they come and capable of taking it to the house every time he touches the ball. He also explodes in and out of his cuts and has terrific field vision, which is something you simply can't teach.

    Due to his smaller frame, expect Barner to be taken in the middle rounds. Some NFL team will take a chance on him, as he could become a Darren Sproles- or C.J. Spiller-type player.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

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    Class: Redshirt Freshman

    Key Stats: 2,780 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 1,014 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    Who knows?

    We have only been blessed to see the kid play 10 games in his collegiate career, which isn't enough to assume he will be effective in the NFL.

    As of right now, at 6'1", 200 pounds, Manziel doesn't exactly have the height of an ideal NFL quarterback. He hasn't shown much in his vertical game, but he does seem to have a strong arm. While watching the first-year player run around is exciting, it makes you wonder if he can actually stand comfortably in the pocket without having to roll out on nearly every pass play.

    Manziel is extremely athletic, so much so that he could probably even play wide receiver. I like how he keeps his eyes downfield. And even at a young age, he has learned how to throw the ball away when nothing is there. 

    Whether it is at the quarterback position or as a Brad Smith-type player, "Johnny Football" should have a future at the next level if he can continue to produce.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State

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    Class: Redshirt Senior

    Key Stats: 2,020 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 748 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns

    Would He Do Well at the Next Level?

    Collin Klein is a big guy (6'5", 226 pounds) and a hard-nosed runner who isn't afraid to get downfield and take a hit. As a quarterback, he makes smart decisions and moves around in the pocket fairly well. However, due to his goofy delivery and failure to complete passes consistently, don't expect the Kansas State quarterback to be taken too early in next year’s draft.

    The good news is that Klein is a leader and could be effective in the right system. It is hard seeing him as a quarterback at the next level, but somebody will take a chance on him hoping he can be effective in a Wildcat package or at another position.

    This may not be fair, but he reminds me a lot of this guy.