College Football 2011: The Top 10 Returning NFL Draft Prospects for 2012

Anthony BarattaContributor IJanuary 26, 2011

College Football 2011: The Top 10 Returning NFL Draft Prospects for 2012

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    Will Andrew Luck Regret his decision to return to Stanford? Only time will tell.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Put the 2010-2011 College football season in the books.  An outstanding year, concluded a few weeks ago with a thrilling Auburn BCS Championship victory over the Oregon Ducks.  Juniors and Seniors, from all over the country have also, made their decision of whether to return, for one more season, or to head to the big bucks of the NFL.  Andrew Luck (pictured above) was thought to be the best quarterback recruit, until he decided to return to Stanford for one more go, as the Cardinal Quarterback.  Sure he headlines this class, but who else that is returning will make an impact in the coming 2012 draft? 

#10: Terelle Pryor- Quarterback Ohio State University

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    One of the best recruits a few years ago, can he finally live up to the hype?Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Pryor enters the 2011-2012, College football season, as one of the top quarterbacks.  Pryor has gone through his share of Growing pains, during his time at Ohio State, and it is likely that fans would have liked to have seen better production over his first two seasons, but overall he has played a pretty good quarterback.  The question on the fans mind, and lips though has to be can Terrelle finally break through and be the player that so many teams wanted in the 2008 recruiting class?  Pryor is a dynamic player, that can run out of the pocket, and throw as well, which can cause defenses headaches, but can he better his accuracy, and decision making? This season will tell a lot about where he goes in the 2012 draft. 

#9: Matt Barkley- Quarterback USC

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    ?USC Sanctions have not put a damper on Barkley or his playHarry How/Getty Images

    One of the younger players on this list, Matt Barkley certainly will stand out whether or not USC gets the sanctions lifted while he plays there.  Barkley features a strong, accurate arm, and pretty good decision making for such a young guy.  He has struggled with injuries, so that might throw up a red flag for NFL teams, that are considering him.  Barkley probably has more pressure on him, than other players on this list, because of the fact USC, will not bee seen in any bowl games, any time soon.  However, if he can keep up his solid, play and stay healthy he should be among the top quarterbacks taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. 

#8: Michael Floyd- Notre Dame

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    Is Michael Floyd the Best receiving prospect for 2012, most likelyJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    At #7 it's Michael Floyd from the University of Notre Dame.  At 6-3, 227, Floyd certainly is an impressive figure for wide receiver, and has the make up to be a first round star, for any NFL Franchise.  Floyd posses great route running skills, and even better hands to have NFL Scouts drooling, and tripping over themselves to sign him come 2012.  Floyd made the decision to return to Notre Dame, for one more season, even though he already holds almost every receiving record in Notre Dame History.  This says that Floyd, not only is a good football player, but is a guy who wants to help his team try to get back to their glory days.  It should be interesting to watch how it turns out. 

#7: Ryan Broyles- Wide Receiver, Oklahoma

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    Dynamic enough For ya? Good speed,good hands, good player Broyles could make it big in the NFL.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Ryan Broyles comes in at #7.  Part of that high octane Oklahoma Offense it's hard to tell whether Broyles is really a great receiver or, just a product of a strong program.  It will be interesting as he enters his senior season to see which pans out.  Broyles is an explosive player, that can returns kicks and punts, so that is a big plus for teams that need help in that area.  Bryoles, needs to put together another solid 2011 season if he wants to be considered for the NFL in 2012. 

#6: Courtney Upshaw- Linebacker, Alabama

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    A Physically imposing Specimne he could be a real playmaker on Defense in the coming year.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Our First defender, on the list should come as no surprise.  Courtney Upshaw, is a big Physical linebacker, that coaches hate preparing their teams for.  A tackling machine, Upshaw, ranks as not only the best Linebacker, but defensive player in the 2012 NFL draft.  Coming back for one more season with the Crimson Tide, should only help to elevate his draft status.  He is a play maker at Linebacker and can turn any game around in an instant.  However, some personal issues may arise, and cause NFL teams to steer clear of him, but his play making ability should make him a strong candidate for a first round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. 

#5: Kenny Tate- Safety, Maryland

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    Kenny Tate Might be ripping NFL Players heads off next year.

    Kenny Tate comes in at #6 on this list.  Tate posses great physical qualities that many defensive backs only wish they had.  The combination of size and speed Tate brings to the table could prove to be a big factor in where he is drafted come April 2012.  However, Tate also brings the versatility to line up anywhere on a football field which could cause a great deal of disruption for opposing offensive lines, and skill players alike.  It is not often someone with this type of potential comes around, and he is likely to go early in the 2012 NFL Draft as long as he can stay healthy. 

#4: Quitnon Coples- Defensive End North Carolina

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    Coples can be a force to deal with for UNCStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    While he's certainly no Lawrence Taylor, Quinton Coples makes it three straight defensive players to watch next season in College Football.  Coples may just be the best pass rusher available, in the Draft.  He may have his problems containing opposing running backs but leading your team, in Tackles for loss, and Sacks, is something to be happy about.  Coples has great size and speed coming off the edge which will make protecting opposing Quarterbacks a nightmare for line coaches around the league, if he can find a way to play better against the run, look for him to be the highest Defensive prospect taken next season. 

#3: Kellen Moore, Quarterback, Boise State

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    Did Kellen Moore make the right decision choosing Boise Blue, instead of NFL greenbacks?Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Boise State fans are jumping for joy, at the fact that one of the top Quarterbacks in the country, and the best Quarterback their school has seen is returning for his Senior season.  Moore has all the qualities any team would want in a starting Quarterback, great decision making, accuracy, and arm strength, and on top of that, he does not lose very often, compiling a record of 37-2 during his time at Boise State.  However, he does lack that physical size that many teams would want in a QB, and really does not move well outside of the pocket.  The fact that he is 37-2 speaks volumes though, and he should be considered the second best Quarterback in the NFL Draft in 2012. 

#2: LaMichael James- Running Back, Oregon

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    James' speed makes up for his small size. Will that be enough to impress pro scouts?Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Anyone around College Football can tell you how good LaMichael James is.  He runs hard, and even though he is small in stature, no one has ever questioned his heart. James almost single handedly brought the Ducks their first ever BCS Championship, with his performance this year.  Now in his Junior season, Pro scouts will be keeping a close eye on how he tries to repeat a strong 2010 campaign.  If James can do so, he will be going high in the 2012 NFL Draft. 

#1: Andrew Luck- Quarterback, Stanford

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    Heisman Front Runner, Andrew Luck should continue to play at a high Level at Stanford. First overall pick here we come.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Far and wide the best College player in the country is considered to be Andrew Luck.  Luck had an outstanding season, at Stanford, and was widely considered to be the #1 overall pick, in the 2011 NFL Draft.  However, he decided to finish what he started at Stanford, and try to bring them a Championship.  Luck, like Kellen Moore, has top notch: arm strength, accuracy, and decision making ability.  He is also said to have a quick release, and great mechanics, and decent running ability, which is what sets him apart from Moore.  Should he stay healthy, Luck should have no problems, securing a #1 pick in the 2012 draft, and the big money that comes along with it.