2012 NFL Draft Big Board: Week 13 Update with NFL Comparisons
Get up to date with who to watch as the college football season comes to a close with a look at the top 50 players in the 2012 NFL draft.
There's a new top five this week, as one quarterback makes a big move to the top of the 2012 NFL draft big board, while another star quarterback starts a slide that may result in a draft day tumble.
Find out who is rising, who is falling and which players you need to watch this weekend as we break down the best players college football has to offer.
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50. Josh Chapman, DT, Alabama
Best-case NFL comparison: Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills
49. Alameda Ta'Amu, DT, Washington
Best-case NFL comparison: Shaun Rogers, New Orleans Saints
48. Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Best-case NFL comparison: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
47. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Best-case NFL comparison: Bernard Pollard, Baltimore Ravens
46. Robert Lester, FS, Alabama
Best-case NFL comparison: Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
45. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Best-case NFL comparison: Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles
44. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Best-case NFL comparison: Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions
43. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Best-case NFL comparison: Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
42. Markell Martin, FS, Oklahoma State
Best-case NFL comparison: Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
41. Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Best-case NFL comparison: Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins
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40. Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
Best-case NFL comparison: Elvis Dumervil, Denver Broncos
39. Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia
Best-case NFL comparison: LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers
38. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Best-case NFL comparison: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
37. Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
Best-case NFL comparison: Duane Brown, Houston Texans
36. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State
Best-case NFL comparison: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers
35. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Best-case NFL comparison: Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys
34. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Best-case NFL comparison: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
33. Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
Best-case NFL comparison: Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
32. Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Tramon Williams, Green Bay Packers
As more NFL teams move to a press cover system on defense, players with the talent of Janoris Jenkins will always be in demand—no matter their off-field transgressions.
Jenkins' past is checkered, and much space has been spent here discussing his multiple arrests and removal from the University of Florida team. If NFL teams can overlook his past—and draft history would indicate they can and will—Jenkins will find himself drafted in the first round and expected to step in as a rookie contributor.
Like Tramon Williams, Jenkins does an excellent job in jamming receivers off the line and forcing them off their route. He would be a great fit in systems run by the Packers, Buccaneers and 49ers.
31. Dont'a Hightower, Inside Linebacker, Alabama
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have a stud at middle linebacker in Brandon Spikes. He may not be the fastest MIKE linebacker in the game, but his bulk and vision make him a damn fine two-down middle 'backer.
I see a similar career path for Dont'a Hightower.
Hightower has lost some burst over the last three seasons at Alabama, but he's still great at reading the play and reacting to the ball. He's a no-nonsense tackler with the tools to be an early starter in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, especially on first and second down.
You can teach many things, but instincts aren't one of them, and that's where Hightower excels.
30. Alfonzo Dennard, Cornerback, Nebraska
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Carlos Rogers, San Francisco 49ers
Alfonzo Dennard hasn't had the best season at Nebraska, but he's still an elite cornerback prospect who could be a steal at the end of the first round.
What I like most about Dennard is his experience and ability playing near the line of scrimmage. Dennard will do well when asked to match up in zero coverage and control the line of scrimmage. He's not overly big or long, but he's strong enough to misdirect receivers at the snap and can get physical against the run.
Dennard has to learn to play without taking himself out mentally, but he is a talented cornerback nonetheless.
29. Brandon Thompson, Defensive Tackle, Clemson
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings
Sometimes great defensive tackles make an impact without sacking the quarterback. You can look at things like hurries, hits, pressures and stops in the run game. Much like Kevin Williams, who has just one sack in the last 24 games, Brandon Thompson makes his impact without getting great sack numbers.
You can't put a number on penetration, and that's what Thompson does so well. His hustle in the middle of the line opens up lanes for defensive ends and linebackers crashing the backfield.
Thompson's ability to man the three-technique position and get penetration makes him one of the best defensive tackles in this class.
28. Peter Konz, Center, Wisconsin
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Nick Mangold, New York Jets
A lofty comparison to be sure, but Peter Konz and Nick Mangold are more alike than you think.
Both players hail from the Big Ten. Both are tall for their position—Konz is 6'5", Mangold 6'4"—and both are exceptionally smart blockers and leaders on the line.
Konz has battled an ankle injury for several weeks, but he's still an elite-level center who could shoot up draft boards by April.
27. Luke Kuechly, Inside Linebacker, Boston College
Best-Case NFL Comparison: D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns
Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine with a big following among college football fans. While Kuechly is a great tackler at the college level, he may become a two-down player once in the NFL.
Kuechly will also have to prove he can handle tracking the ball through traffic at the next level. He will be a best fit in the 4-3 defense, where two big defensive tackles can help keep blockers to a minimum as he reads and reacts to the play.
Drafted into the right system, Kuechly could shine. I'll still have doubts about his ability to handle traffic and get off blocks, but he's worth the gamble.
26. Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Joey Porter, Arizona Cardinals
Courtney Upshaw is a bit of an enigma. He has played both inside and outside linebacker at Alabama in the 3-4 defense. I like him best on the inside long-term, but I do think he provides value as a pass-rusher both off the edge and in the "A" gaps.
Like Joey Porter in his prime, Upshaw has the ability to move around pre-snap to find the best matchup. His versatility and skill set will make him a favorite of coaches who move around their linebackers before the snap.
Another potential comparison, based on versatility, would be Terrell Suggs—but Upshaw lacks the burst that makes Suggs so dangerous on the edge.
25. Ronnell Lewis, Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs
A college defensive end with great quickness, hips and balance, Ronnell Lewis has the same DNA as Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali.
Like Hali, Lewis make a take a few seasons to fully develop in the NFL, but in the meantime he has the skills to be a terrifying edge-rusher from the 3-4 outside linebacker position.
I would plug Lewis in at left outside linebacker and let his speed and motor overpower right tackles in the NFL. His experience at defensive end and his ability to stop the run makes him an ideal candidate to shut down the right side.
The biggest question mark with Lewis—and the reason he's moving down—are the injuries in his history. He's out again with a knee injury that could keep him at Oklahoma for his senior season.
24. Jared Crick, Defensive End, Nebraska
Best-Case NFL Comparison: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Jared Crick would be a top-15 player if not for a torn pectoral muscle earlier this season. That injury, and the unknown length of time he'll be sure to miss pre-draft work, is why Crick is moving down.
I've talked to two different NFL scouts about Crick, a senior at Nebraska. One tells me a torn pectoral shouldn't keep Crick out of the combine (held in late February), while the other told me they don't expect Crick to be healthy until after the late April draft.
Crick's availability for the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine will go a long way in determining his stock.
Whether Crick is drafted where his talent dictates or lower than that based on injury, he will be a steal once in the NFL.
23. Devon Still, Defensive Tackle, Penn State
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders
Much like Richard Seymour, Devon Still has the size and strength to make an impact in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Seymour has been one of the best defensive linemen of the past decade in the NFL, making this comparison high praise for Still.
The Penn State defensive tackle is playing great this year—noticeably better than any other interior lineman in the nation by my estimation. Still will be a high-flyer up draft boards by April.
Considering the dramatic number of teams who need help at defensive tackle or end in the 3-4, Still could hear his named called very early.
22. Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles
A tall cornerback with great range and game-changing ability, Dre Kirkpatrick's consistency and skill set remind me of Nnamdi Asomugha—just remember this is a "best-case" comparison.
Much like Asomugha, Kirkpatrick needs to play in the right scheme to truly excel. In a man coverage system that would let his athleticism shine, Kirkpatrick could be one of the best in the league.
However, if played in a zone system, I can't see him excelling. Kirkpatrick lacks the feel for the ball to make plays in a zone, but in man coverage his size and length are a huge asset.
21. Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Ray McDonald, San Francisco 49ers
When you have a college player with experience at both defensive tackle and defensive end, I naturally want to see that player in a five- or six-technique playing in a three-man front. Quinton Coples has the natural size and speed to make a big impact on the edge in an active 3-4 defense that asks the ends to get upfield and make plays.
Look at the schemes being run in San Francisco and Green Bay for a great example of where Coples could excel. Much like Ray McDonald, who played multiples positions in college, Coples could be an impact player at defensive end.
20. Landry Jones, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Landry Jones got lost a bit this week in the hype of the top quarterbacks in the country, leaving him as an afterthought for those not stuck in the Midwest with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon.
Lucky for Jones, that's what I was doing, and he didn't look good doing it.
I do like what Landry Jones has shown. His accuracy, especially 20 yards and under, is impressive. He's smart, comfortable in his offense and plays well under pressure. Here's a franchise quarterback that I would rank above every passer in the 2011 draft—other than Andy Dalton and Cam Newton (my top two pre-draft last year).
Having said that, I think there's a great chance Jones returns to Oklahoma for his senior season.
19. Cordy Glenn, Offensive Tackle, Georgia
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
The more I get to see Cordy Glenn playing tackle for the University of Georgia, the more I think he can easily make the move to tackle permanently.
Glenn is a massive man, which would make casual observers pencil him in at guard or right tackle, but he has the agility and quickness to last at left tackle.
If you are the Detroit Lions, drafting late in Round 1, Glenn has to be a player you're targeting to replace Jeff Backus.
18. Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Shaun Phillips, San Diego Chargers
Melvin Ingram may be the most difficult player to scout of any in the top 32. He is playing great this year, but the South Carolina defensive line features at least three players with first-round potential.
Is Ingram's season the product of the talent around him, or his own individual skill set?
I'm anxious to see Ingram in workouts to get a better look at his skills without the influence of the players around him. There's no doubting he is a talented individual. He has experience playing in-line and in space and has a rare size and speed ability that could make him a great candidate to drop to outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense.
17. Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Lardarius Webb, Baltimore Ravens
I have a soft spot for physical cornerbacks who are just as good in coming up to stop the run on the edge as they are in pass coverage. That's why Stephon Gilmore is probably higher on my board than anyone else's.
Gilmore does it all for South Carolina. He's great against the run, physical in coverage and capable of making plays on the ball. He also doubles as a return man. Talk about value.
Gilmore will be a threat on all four downs in the NFL.
16. Manti Te'o, Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots
The comparison between Manti Te'o and Jerod Mayo is too easy to make. When watching the linebackers play, you would think they were related.
Both Te'o and Mayo are able to play inside or outside in any defensive scheme. Their athleticism, speed and agility make them a threat from any spot on the field. Te'o is already a great coverage linebacker, something few college players can say. He's NFL-ready right now, even if it seems unlikely he'll leave Notre Dame for the NFL.
There is talk that Te'o could eventually move to outside linebacker in the NFL, and I see it, in fact Mayo has made this move at times for the Patriots. We're talking about a special athlete who will help immediately in any scheme.
15. Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
Big, fast and great after the catch. That's Michael Floyd. Sounds a lot like Kenny Britt, too. Before injury this season, Britt was one of the best in the NFL at making plays after the catch. A slimmed-down Floyd is showing the same quickness and vision this season for Notre Dame.
I'm not sold on Floyd's route-running ability or character, but there's no doubting what he can do with the ball in his hands. He's a big target and will be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver option.
Teams like the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns have to be targeting Floyd.
14. Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos
There was a point just a few seasons ago when Ryan Clady could have won the argument for best left tackle in the NFL. Injuries and horrible play by the Denver Broncos as a team have resulted in a changed perception of Clady, but he is still one of the best in the game.
Clady excels because of rare agility. Jonathan Martin has the same look.
Martin is an accomplished pass-blocker who has the quick feet to keep up with speed rushers, but the power and long arms to hold off a power rush.
He's not quite elite as a run-blocker, but Martin would be a franchise left tackle for many NFL teams and should be getting long looks from teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings.
13. Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Eric Winston, Houston Texans
I have said all season that I love the idea of moving Riley Reiff and his long arms and quick feet to the right side in the NFL, especially in a zone scheme. Put Reiff on the offensive line in Kansas City and its weakness goes to a strength immediately.
Reiff could easily play at left tackle and be a very good pro tackle, but on the right side I see a dominant player with rare speed and quickness off the line. His ability to drop his weight and wall off pass-rushers, combined with the quick feet to stop pass-rushers, would make Reiff one of the best right tackles in the NFL by 2014.
Much like Eric Winston of the Houston Texans, Reiff is a former tight end with the quickness and agility of a smaller man. Placed in a zone scheme, Reiff would dominate.
12. David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Josh Sitton, Green Bay Packers
David DeCastro makes an appearance on the big board higher than any guard ever has in my 10 years of scouting. I'm not quite sure DeCastro is the best I've ever seen—Steve Hutchinson carries that grade—but he's ranked higher than anyone else has been.
DeCastro is a great run-blocker, able to quickly seal off his hole and get to the next level to make downfield blocks. Spend any amount of time watching Stanford play and it's easy to see No. 52 clearing holes through the middle of the field.
The intelligence, experience and raw ability DeCastro brings to the table will make for an exciting NFL career.
11. Zach Brown, Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears
The more I see Zach Brown, the more I like his ability as a pure outside linebacker. Brown is not a pass-rusher, but a traditional outside linebacker for a 4-3 set. He's good at setting the edge, athletic enough to drop into coverage and smart enough to make plays on the ball.
He's also very, very fast. Brown has been timed in the 4.3-range in the 40-yard dash.
Brown, in my mind, is a younger version of All-Pro Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears: excellent in every aspect of the game and a weapon when utilized correctly. Like Briggs, Brown could change the game as a coverage linebacker, a blitzer or a tackler in run support.
10. Vontaze Burfict, Inside Linebacker, Arizona State
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers
I continue to move Vontaze Burfict down bit by bit, but he is still one of my favorite draft prospects from the 2012 class. This is the lowest Burfict has been ranked all season, but fittingly so after a bad performance Friday night against Arizona, where Burfict mentally checked out of the game in the first half.
As I explained last week, Burfict's game is amazing, but he has to learn to play controlled football. Until he does, he's as much a liability as he is a benefit to his team. Few players have the natural ability to impact a game in the way Burfict can, but he has to play within himself for that impact to be positive.
I would choose to build my defense around Burfict because I love his aggressive style of play, but there will be NFL scouts who take him off their board because of the same aggressiveness that I find attractive.
9. Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami (FL)
Best-Case NFL Comparison: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
I generally don't rank redshirt sophomores here, but I have it on good authority that Lamar Miller will enter the 2012 NFL draft soon.
Miller didn't have a huge season statistically, but the blame shouldn't be pointed at him alone, if at all. The Miami offensive line has been terrible this year, and without much of a passing attack to rely on, defenses are stacking the box against Miller.
Look past the stat line and focus on Miller's ability and you will see a running back with amazing burst, great open-field quickness and receiving skills that make him an immediate three-down threat in the NFL.
8. Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens
When you look around the NFL for a powerful possession receiver who does a good job separating from defenders by using his frame and sudden bursts of quickness, there is no better comparison than Anquan Boldin.
Justin Blackmon may be a little quicker in space, but the physical makeup of these two players is uncannily similar. Like Boldin, Blackmon could make a big impact early in his career as a possession-style receiver.
Blackmon is assaulting the Big 12 with jaw-dropping statistics, but I still worry about his speed at the next level. Those same concerns kept Boldin out of the first round. Blackmon won't fall past pick 10.
If the St. Louis Rams or Cleveland Browns wanted my opinion, I would tell them to keep their eyes on No. 81.
7. Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Alshon Jeffery gets criticized by fans because of his perceived lack of speed or chiseled frame. The speed issue would bother me, but Jeffery has run just as fast in timed 40-yard dashes as Justin Blackmon. He's also three inches taller.
Jeffery will excel because of his size and his rare ability to use his length to box out defenders at any point of the field.
Put Jeffery opposite Steve Smith in Carolina and he's an All-Pro with Cam Newton at quarterback. Put him in St. Louis or Cleveland and young quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy suddenly look a lot more promising for the long-term.
6. Morris Claiborne, Cornerback, LSU
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns
LSU is loaded with talented young players, but surprisingly few draft prospects for the 2012 class. Morris Claiborne more than makes up for that. I simply cannot get enough of him.
Claiborne is in the mold of Joe Haden and Patrick Peterson, two top-10 draft picks from the 2010 and 2011 classes. I'll be surprised if Claiborne doesn't join that fraternity this year.
A junior at LSU, Claiborne is the best pure cover man in college football. His quickness when changing direction and vision are top-notch. He'll be an immediate impact starter, like Haden and Peterson, in the NFL.
In fact, he's already better as a true coverage prospect than either were when they entered the draft.
5. Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
Matt Kalil is college football's top tackle, and each week he separates himself more from the pack.
Kalil's long arms make him an ideal NFL tackle, and his quick feet lead me to believe he'll stick on the left side once in the pros. However, he has experience on the right side in USC's swing-tackle offensive philosophy and could make the switch if needed.
Like Joe Thomas, Kalil is an underrated run-blocker who is quick enough to get to the second level and lead-block. He's also quick, smart and flexible in pass protection.
Kalil has all the tools to be a 12-year starter along the offensive line and at varying points in his career could be in the conversation as the best tackle in the game.
4. Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
You may wonder why I'm making the comparison between Matt Barkley and Sam Bradford.
Both Bradford and Barkley come from high-octane offenses. Both are very good at moving in the pocket and can even make plays outside with their feet. Both benefit, at least somewhat, from the system they run.
I liked Bradford a lot coming out of Oklahoma, and I like him still, but he's suffering without talent around him. Bradford isn't a Cam Newton; he won't make the players around him noticeably better, but given a good supporting cast he can be very good.
That's the same with Barkley. He's not going to elevate the talent around him like a Tom Brady, but given enough pieces he can be a very good NFL quarterback for a long time.
3. Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama
Best-Case NFL Comparison: LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets
Running backs are not my favorite position to see drafted in the top 10, unless that player has special ability.
Look around the NFL at how the best offenses are using their running backs. More than ever, a great running back must also be a good blocker and an even better receiver. McFadden, Matt Forte, Fred Jackson and Frank Gore all excel because of their dual use.
Richardson will leave Alabama as a productive runner, but also as a finished product. He's as NFL-ready as any runner since Peterson left Oklahoma—and he's already a better blocker and receiver.
2. Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Baylor
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Robert Griffin is making appearances on big boards and mock drafts around the country as of late, but here at Bleacher Report he's been in the top five for six weeks. There are some concerns—notably a concussion suffered last week—but otherwise Griffin is still rock solid.
What I have seen all season from Griffin is next-level accuracy and an ability to create plays both in space and under pressure that is rare.
I compare Griffin to Cam Newton, but he's a much better quarterback than Newton was leaving Auburn. He's more accurate in the short- to mid-passing game and probably faster, too.
That's the closest comparison there is for Griffin's ability, even if he's two inches smaller and 15 lbs lighter than Newton.
1. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
Best-Case NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
What more can be said about Andrew Luck? He's playing at a high level each week, keeping a team with limited talent in the running for a national championship and proving his few doubters wrong along the way.
Those calling for Robert Griffin or Matt Barkley to be drafted ahead of Luck are ridiculous, and shouldn't be listened to. As much as I like Griffin and Barkley, neither is the finished product that Luck is or that Luck will be once he's in an NFL system.
Luck may be boring to some with the hype he's received throughout the year, but believe me, he's worth it.