2012 NFL Mock Draft: The Latest Look at Who's Falling out of the First Round
Some may say it's a bad thing for a prospect to drop out of the first round, but none of that matters on the field.
If anything, it just gives a considered first-rounder even more motivation to prove the cynics wrong. However, there's also less pressure as well. Hence, a little easier to adapt to pro football.
That said, here are five players who have solid arguments to be first-round picks but will likely fall to Round 2.
Landry Jones: QB, Oklahoma
It's obvious that not having Ryan Broyles out wide has had a significant impact on Oklahoma QB Landry Jones.
He hasn't thrown a single TD pass since the Texas A&M game in early November, and the Sooners finished a disappointing 9-3 (fourth in the Big 12).
Through 12 games, Jones has thrown 28 TDs to 14 INTs, but in addition to his TD pass slump, Landry has thrown five INTs in the last three games.
Now, he does have more than 4,300 passing yards, and he went over 4,700 in 2010, but based on recent performance, he'll be lucky to be a second-rounder.
A lot of where he ends up will be weighed on how he plays in the bowl game against a respectable Iowa pass defense (they allow just 228 pass yards per game).
All that said, don't be surprised if Jones drops, because there are a lot of other QBs who are receiving a lot more attention right now.
Dont'a Hightower: ILB, Alabama
Alabama ILB Dont'a Hightower may be one of the more productive LBs this season, but a lot of that can be contributed to Tide DT Josh Chapman taking on blockers for him.
The past two seasons, Hightower has recorded a total of 149 tackles, and this season he's added three sacks.
His size is ideal for the middle backer position (6'4", 260 pounds), and he is a sure tackler who knows how to read and react quickly to find the rock.
Another big reason why Hightower's had so much success, though, is not only because of Chapman in front of him, but there's talent everywhere on the Alabama defense.
You have Courtney Upshaw at OLB, safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester patrolling the secondary and Dre Kirkpatrick as the lock-down CB.
So there's talent everywhere on the Alabama defense—which is great, but how will Hightower produce when there's less talent around him?
Lamar Miller: RB, Miami (Fla.)
It's not so much that Miami RB Lamar Miller doesn't have the talent—more that he's just a redshirt sophomore who has one legit college season under his belt.
His freshman campaign in 2010, Miller ran for 646 yards and had six TDs in 11 games played.
This season, he's increased those numbers to 1,272 rush yards and nine TDs though 12 games, but he's also doing it against weak rush defenses.
Complete rush defenses in the ACC are far and few between. Some of them, like Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State, may rank high, but another reason for that is because they have a weaker pass defense.
Hence, it's much easier to set up the run. That said, Miller does possess the size and acceleration to succeed in the NFL. But if he's a late first round, early second-rounder in the 2012 draft, he could be a Top 10 or Top Five pick if he waits until 2013.
For one, it would build his credibility more as a RB, and he'd be solid Heisman candidate. If Miller declares early, however, his playing time would be limited to returning kicks and being the third-down back.
Not bad, but he'll make himself much more marketable if he waits one year.
Kendall Wright: WR, Baylor
He's definitely QB Robert Griffin III's favorite target.
However, Griffin knows how to dish the rock elsewhere, also.
Nonetheless, Baylor WR Kendall Wright has emerged as a good NFL prospect in compiling 1,572 receiving yards on 101 receptions, including 13 TDs.
Yes, the Big 12 isn't too well known for pass defense, but Griffin hasn't been throwing INTs either, and Wright's averaging more than 15 yards per reception.
Not one time this season did he catch less than six passes in a game, so it's clear that the reliable consistency is there as well.
The reason why he may drop, however, is because of his size.
Wright is only 5'10" 190 pounds and had the potential Heisman winner as his QB. Add in the Big 12's weak pass defenses, and he hasn't really been tested against tough DBs. Also, this was his breakout campaign, so more evidence of yearly consistency is needed.
One reason why Justin Blackmon and Ryan Broyles are considered better is because they dominated every year as a full-time starter, whereas Wright has just one overly dominant season on his resume.
However, Wright will definitely have an opportunity to prove himself, as any team wanting a sure-handed WR for the slot would like to have him.
Billy Winn: DT/DE, Boise State
One reason Boise's Billy Winn won't go in the first round—he's a versatile defensive lineman, but he's not completely dominant on the outside or inside, just good at each area.
It'd be different if Winn were to line up anywhere and just destroy the opposing lineman, but constantly adjusting in the trenches isn't easy.
And although Winn has done a solid job for the Broncos, he would be so much better if they maximized him on the outside or inside.
But that's what also makes him an appealing second-rounder (worst-case scenario).
In a 4-3 defense, he's a gap-plugging DT that can out-maneuver any guard or center. Then in the 3-4, he can line up as a DE and shoot inside the tackle while the backer has to contain.
That said, he's not quick enough to be a true 4-3 DE or big enough to be a true 3-4 NT. More like a hybrid which allows him to be used in different spots, but not yet an every-down NFL defensive lineman.
However, the potential is there, and anyone needing to improve on the fringe of battle will surely get a guy who can contribute.
2012 First Round NFL Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stan.)
17. New York Jets: Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)
2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Okla. St.)
18. Tennessee Titans: Jeff Fuller, WR (Tex. A&M)
3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, DB (LSU)
19. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, LB (UNC)
4. Miami Dolphins: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
20. Cincinnati Bengals: David DeCastro, G (Stan.)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devon Still, DT (Penn St.)
21. Cleveland (From ATL): Vontaze Burfict, LB (ASU)
6. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (ND)
22. Cincinnati (From Oak): Jonathan Martin, OT (Stan.)
7. Arizona Cardinals: Alshon Jeffery, WR (S. Car.)
23. Chicago Bears: Nick Toon, WR (Wisc.)
8. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)
24. Denver Broncos: Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Neb.)
9. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB (Ala.)
25. Dallas Cowboys: Quinton Coples, DE (UNC)
10. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin, QB (Baylor)
26. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OG (Georgia)
11 .Philadelphia Eagles: Manti Te'o, LB (N.D.)
27. Houston Texans: Jerel Worthy, DT (Mich. St.)
12. Carolina Panthers: Brandon Thompson, DT (Clem)
28. N.E. (From N.O.): Cam Johnson, DE (Virginia)
13. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Ala.)
29. New England Patriots: Mark Barron, S (Ala.)
14. Kansas City Chiefs: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Ala.)
30. San Francisco 49ers: Chase Minnifield, CB (UVA)
15. Buffalo Bills: Janoris Jenkins, CB (N. Ala.)
31. Baltimore Ravens: Luke Kuechly, LB (B.C.)
16. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT (Ohio St.)
32. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (S. Car.)