Every year, big-time college football players somehow slip past the first round in during the NFL draft. For some franchises, college production isn't the biggest determining factor in whether or not to take a player. Oftentimes, "measureables" or "upside" take precedence over actual results.
The 2012 NFL Draft will be no different and I already expect two big time playmakers to fall out of the first round in April.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington
While some experts love what Polk brings to the table, he is listed far behind fellow tailbacks Trent Richardson (Alabama) and Lamar Miller (Miami) on most draft boards. With how devalued the running back position has become in the NFL, don't be shocked if this ridiculous athlete, who has been one of the most productive running backs in Washington history, falls completely from the first round.
Polk looks every bit the part of an NFL ball-carrier. He is 5'11" and 214 pounds and runs hard, but also has outstanding top-end speed. He has good vision, reads blocks well and, while he is fast, often prefers to run over people. His intangibles are off the charts as well, but the fact that he plays in the Pacific Northwest probably holds him back a bit.
The redshirt junior has rushed for 3,802 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career and is set to make an NFL team very happy sometime in the near future. However, his name probably won't come off the board until the second round.
Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
Entering this season, Crick was considered by many to be the top defensive lineman in the nation. At 6'4" and 286 pounds, the Nebraska prospect was considered a tad undersized for his position but is so incredibly strong and quick you wouldn't know it. He also possesses the kind of intangibles scouts drool over with his insane work ethic, his performance in the classroom and his community service work.
Crick has been ridiculously productive in his career, entering the season with 19 career sacks and 32 tackles for loss. What will send him dropping down draft boards is a torn pectoral muscle that has put him out for the year and likely means he will miss all pre-draft workouts.
Still, Crick should not be discounted because of this injury. He has enough size to add the extra bulk needed to play end in a 3-4 if he must and can certainly handle himself on the outside in a 4-3. While teams will pass on him early because of his health concerns, I think he will end up being a great NFL player for a long time.
2012 NFL First Round Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stan.)
17. Buffalo Bills: Janoris Jenkins, CB (N. Ala.)
2. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
18. New York Jets: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
3. Carolina Panthers: Quinton Coples, DE (UNC)
19. Cleveland (From ATL): Jeff Fuller, WR (Tex. A&M
4. Arizona Cardinals: Trent Richardson, RB (Ala.)
20. Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, G (Stan.)
5. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
21. Detroit Lions: Kevin Reddick, LB (UNC)
6. Cleveland Browns: Vontaze Burfict, LB (ASU)
22. Cincinnati (From Oak): Jonathan Martin, OT (Stan.)
7. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Okla. St.)
23. Dallas Cowboys: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (N.D.)
24. Chicago Bears: Nick Toon, WR (Wisc.)
9. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, DB, (LSU)
25. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT (Ohio St.)
10. Washington Redskins:Landry Jones, QB (Okla.)
26. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, S (Ala.)
11 .Philadelphia Eagles: Manti Te'o, LB (N.D.)
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cliff Harris, S (Oregon)
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brandon Thompson, DT (Clem)
28. N.E. (From N.O): Cam Johnson, DE (Virginia)
13. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Ala.)
29. Baltimore Ravens: Luke Kuechly, LB (B.C.)
14. Denver Broncos: Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Neb.)
30. San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Boykin, CB (Georgia)
15. Kansas City Chiefs: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Ala.)
31. Houston Texans: Jeff Fuller, WR (Tex. A&M)
16. Tennessee Titans: Alshon Jeffery, WR (S. Car.)
32. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (S. Car.)
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