2012 NFL Draft: 5 Draft Prospects Who Can't Afford a Bad Game
Every year in the world of NCAA Football, there are a few select players who are surefire top picks for the coming NFL Draft.
Guys like Andrew Luck or Sam Bradford who are considered incredible picks often find their draft stock impervious to screw-ups—which don't actually happen anyway.
There are plenty of other players though—the vast majority in fact—whose draft stock is much more precarious and completely contingent upon a lights-out year.
The pool of potential draftees coming out each year is huge, but there are only a finite number of spots available on the biggest stage in professional sports. If a player fails to bring his A-game even one time, he might find himself slipping through a round.
Here are five players whose draft stock can't withstand a singular poor performance in 2011.
5. Robert Griffin III: QB, Baylor
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Robert Griffin III, the young quarterback for Baylor, has looked pretty good so far in the 2011 college season, and as of now is the consensus third best quarterback in the class.
The 2011 season to this point is a large reason for him even being on the map at all. A single terrible game could horribly affect his draft stock.
So far, he has revitalized an otherwise lackluster Baylor squad which was ranked No. 6 in the Big 12 conference prior to the season.
Still, a gruesome knee injury in his past and his biggest college season only being a few games in will cast doubt on his considerable physical skills.
If he keeps up the level of play he showed in his magnificent game against TCU in the opener (359 yds, 5 TDs, 78 percent completions), his draft stock will be just fine.
One major screwup, and they'll be dropping him down like a bad habit, citing an injury and inconsistent play
4. Lamar Miller: RB, Miami
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Lamar Miller torched the Georgia Tech defensive unit when the Hurricanes played them on Saturday. His game has been good in 2011, especially on a skeletal University of Miami team and in a running back-starved draft class.
Still, even without healthy competition for running back draft spots, teams generally tend to look for value in running back picks, given the short life span of the position.
If Lamar Miller cannot truly set himself apart with his skill, he may fall through the cracks in the 2012 draft. A bad game will only undermine his cause and maybe even constitute a slip into the third or fourth round.
3. Janoris Jenkins: CB, North Alabama
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The talent is there, no question of that. The only problem is that Janoris Jenkins has been arrested at least four times and been disciplined repeatedly.
He has top-10 talent, but his off the field antics cause his draft stock to plummet.
If he wants any chance at being a first round pick in 2012, he had better play lights out every game. He needs to show elite coverage skills to make up for his elite "being handcuffed" skills.
Even then, his character will be constantly called into question no matter how well he plays, meaning a single bad game could knock him out of the draft entirely and make him a rookie free agent.
2. Michael Floyd: WR, Notre Dame
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Another talented guy with major character concerns, Michael Floyd will have to make people believe that his talent level offsets his lack of character.
Obviously someone will take a chance on him, but every single mistake pass in 2011 will be leading to a lower draft spot and less money coming his way.
1. Matt Barkley/Lance Jones, QBs, USC/Oklahoma
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These two guys go hand in hand for a very simple reason: Andrew Luck. His very existence spells trouble for Matt Barkley and Lance Jones.
It is difficult enough to be the second or third-best quarterback in any draft, but to be the second or third best quarterback in Andrew Luck's draft class is just—bad luck.
You never want to be competing for a team's attention with the guy people are calling the next Peyton Manning.
If either Barkley or Jones has a bad game, that quarterback will be considered the third best in the 2012 class.
The problem is, once Luck goes No. 1 overall, many of the teams who will likely be picking in the top half already have young quarterbacks starting or waiting in the wings (Jaguars, Rams, Panthers, Cardinals, Vikings, Titans, to name but a few).
Draft spots are not plentiful for current college QB's with the NFL crawling with young signal callers after all.
A bad game easily turns Barkley or Jones into a sudden Brady Quinn, plummeting through the first round and maybe into the second.
2012 will be the Year of the Quarterback; except "the" QB will be Andrew Luck, and his runners-up will have to fight tooth and nail to not be left behind.