2012 NFL Mock Draft: 5 Hidden Gems That Will Soon Be NFL Stars
Predicting the NFL Draft while both the college and pro seasons are ongoing is always tough.
Stock rises and falls with every passing week and nothing is set in stone until the names are called in late April.
However, after watching some of these kids play every week, you can be certain that some will be NFL stars, regardless of where they are drafted.
Most current mocks do not have these young men listed in the first round, but they are playing like they belong there and will reward teams who take a chance on them.
Let’s take a look at five guys who are flying under the radar but will be heavily contributing on Sunday's soon enough.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati
This senior is a stud. He has barely been deployed because he is so valuable to the Bearcats program that they don’t want to wear him down against inferior opponents.
In a loss to the Tennessee Volunteers, Pead went off 155 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown. In Cincinnati’s two other big wins, he has 13 carries for 102 yards and two scores.
He broke 1,000 yards rushing in his junior year and average 6.6 yards per carry and scored six times on the ground. He also added nine more touchdowns as a sophomore.
This 5-foot-11, 200-pound back is going to be an integral part of an NFL backfield next season, just watch.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
The Wildcats QB has the size—6-foot-5, 240 pounds—and athleticism to get it done at the next level; just needing to work on his footwork and mechanics.
He is a great prospect and is playing phenomenally so far in his senior year with his program.
I can see him easily going in the mid-first round, as he is very comparable to Blaine Gabbert, who Jacksonville took with the No. 10 overall selection this year.
Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
Toon has a football pedigree as his father, Al, was a former first-round pick of the New York Jets out of Wisconsin. He had a prolific but short NFL career; making three Pro Bowls.
You can bet that his son is going to follow in his footsteps and make a living playing pro ball as well. He is fast, fluid, and can make any catch.
The only knock I have on Toon is his smaller stature, standing at just 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds, but there are plenty of guys with less height and bulk doing just fine at the WR position in the NFL.
Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
Boykin would easily be a first-round pick if he was 5-foot-11 or 6-foot. However, he is listed at 5'10", and could easily be measured below that at the combine. This is going to hurt his stock, but this kid can simply play.
He has every other skill you look for in a DB prospect, including great fundamentals. He can jam at the line of scrimmage, run with any receiver, tackle and even return kicks.
I believe if he improves his hands (seven career interceptions), Boykin will be a No. 2 corner by the end of his rookie year in the NFL.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
How Martin is under the radar is beyond me. The senior Boise State Broncos RB has been a beast since 2009 and is a compact, strong runner who simply has a nose for the end zone.
He put up 14 scores in ’10 and 15 in ’09. Furthermore, he anchors the underrated ground game for the Broncos who are mostly talked about for their amazing vertical passing.
Martin has great athleticism and will be a top running back in the NFL soon. He is a complete runner who has no glaring flaws.