Top Pac-12 NFL Draft Prospects and Their NFL Comparisons

Luke KemperContributor IIIDecember 3, 2011

Top Pac-12 NFL Draft Prospects and Their NFL Comparisons

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    Now that the season comes to an end bowl season begins for many teams, but for those who did not make it they will begin getting ready for next season or the draft. 

    Seniors all over the country have dreamt of making it to the NFL as long as they can remember and they are oh so close. 

    The SEC is known as a great producer of talent, but the Pac-12 is full of talent that scouts will be paying close attention to. 

Chase Thomas, DE/OLB, Stanford

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    Best NFL Comparison: Lance Briggs

    Quick, versatile and great field vision? Sure sounds like a Bears linebacker to me. Thomas can either play in the three-point stance or stand up in a 3-4 defense.

    Thomas will probably be drafted later since there are so many top linebackers in this year's draft. Tune in around the fifth round, I would be absolutely shocked if he has not been snatched up by then. 

Ryan Miller, Guard, Colorado

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    Best NFL Comparison: Logan Mankins

    Much like Mankins, Miller is very consistent. He has great drive blocking skills that will convert very well to the NFL.

    Miller is not well known by many because he will be drafted pretty low compared to his skill level. He will probably go in the fourth or fifth round.

Jermaine Kearse, Receiver, Washington

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    Best NFL Comparison: Jeremy Maclin

    Kearse has really fallen off the face of the earth this year without Jake Locker throwing him the ball. He won’t be drafted in the first round like Maclin was, but they are both very good red-zone targets that can use their physical abilities to win a jump ball.

    Kearse will probably fall down to at least the fourth round before anyone is thinking about selecting him.

Nick Foles, Quarterback, Arizona

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    Best NFL Comparison: Matt Cassel

    What makes him so similar to Cassel are pocket presence, poise and the ability to throw a great deep ball.

    Expect Foles to get drafted in the late second round.

Coby Fleener, Tight End, Stanford

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    Best NFL Comparison: Tony Gonzalez 

    Before you get upset, I am not declaring Fleener the next Gonzalez. Tony Gonzalez is and probably always will be the greatest tight end in the history of the NFL. The two are very similar in their style of play, however. They play like big wide receivers who are quick enough to outrun people while having the power to bowl them over as well.

    Fleener is establishing himself as a second-round draft prospect.

LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon

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    Best NFL Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew

    Both undersized, some people are going to be shocked how far James will fall this year. James and Jones-Drew are both very good and explosive players, they are just smaller.

    While he may not get drafted as high as he should based upon ability, James will be drafted somewhere in the second day. 

Cliff Harris, Cornerback, Oregon

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    Best NFL Comparison: Patrick Peterson

    Cliff Harris will not go nearly as high as Peterson did, but they are quite similar. Both have a great quickness, one of the qualities that makes them both such great returners.

    Harris has been in a lot of trouble this season and that will probably scare off some teams. Look for him getting taken in the second round. 

Juron Criner, Receiver, Arizona

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    Best NFL Comparison: Sidney Rice

    Criner is a big and physical receiver and is like the Sidney Rice that wore the Vikings uniform. Criner is able to go up and get jump balls, making him one of the top receivers in the upcoming draft.

    Criner is having a great year and depending on how well his combine goes, he might be able to sneak into the first round. If not, though, he for sure will be an early second-round pick. 

Chris Polk, Running Back, Washington

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    Best NFL Comparison: Steven Jackson

    Before Sam Bradford arrived last season for the Rams, Jackson was the heart and sole of their offense. Both he and Polk are great rushers that can burst through holes, break tackles and catch passes very well. Except for the dreadlocks, they are like the same person.

    Polk is having another great year and is on pace to become the all-time leading rusher at the University of Washington. Expect Polk to be a late second-round pick all the way to a late third-round one. If for some reason he drops down to the third, someone is going to be getting a steal. 

Alameda Ta'amu, Defensive Tackle, Washington

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    Best NFL Comparison: Casey Hampton

    Many mock drafts have Ta’amu going to the Steelers in the first round to replace the aging Hampton. In his prime, though, Hampton was able to clog holes and eat up space like Ta’amu does now.

    Ta’amu’s stock has been dropping as of late. He will either be a late first-round pick or an early second-rounder. 

David DeCastro, Guard, Stanford

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    Best NFL Comparison: Jahri Evans

    Only fitting that the best guard in college gets compared to the best in the NFL. DeCastro has shut down some of the best defensive tackles and will be a great addition to any line.

    DeCastro will go in the mid to late first round but if it is the latter part of the first, that team will be getting a steal.

Vontaze Burfict, Inside Linebacker, Arizona State

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    Best NFL Comparison: Ray Lewis

    There are a lot of great middle linebackers in the NFL such as Patrick Willis and Brian Urlacher, but Ray Lewis is who Burfict reminds me of. If there was only one reason for him to be the next Ray Lewis it is because of fear. Players and coaches are terrified to have to play against Lewis and for a good reason. Lewis has been dominating for 16 years in the NFL now and leads the most feared defense in the NFL.

    Burfict has had a down season, but his talent level is too great to look down on him just because he has not been as productive. Do not expect to see him slip out of the first round. 

Jonathan Martin, Tackle, Stanford

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    Best NFL Comparison: Jordan Gross

    Gross has been a dominant force for the Panthers for a while now, just like Martin has been the key to protecting Luck for his career.

    Martin has dominated all year and has made his case to be a top 15 pick for next year’s draft.

Matt Barkley, Quarterback, USC

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    Best NFL Comparison: Matthew Stafford 

    Much like Stafford’s NFL career, Barkley has been up and down. There is no question that he should declare for the draft this year the way his amazing season is going.

    It would be possible for Barkley to be drafted right behind Andrew Luck assuming that the right team were drafting at No. 2 overall. With that said, it is safe to assume that Barkley will be a top five pick.

Matt Kalil, Tackle, USC

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    Best NFL Comparison: Jake Long

    Kalil is a very put together prospect and the expected top lineman in the upcoming draft. I have heard comparisons already calling him the next Walter Jones, but alas the future Hall of Famer is retired. Long and Kalil both have great footwork, long arms and can protect any quarterback’s blindside.

    Look for Kalil to easily be a top five pick, but possibly even top three.

Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford

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    Best NFL Comparison: Aaron Rogers

    Rogers is the best quarterback in the NFL and Andrew Luck is the best pro prospect at quarterback probably since Peyton Manning. Both have amazing accuracy, a great arm and handle pressure very well.

    Luck will be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, because even if the team who has the pick has a good quarterback, they will be able to trade him or the spot for him in return for a king's ransom.