2012 NFL Mock Draft: Underrated Players Whose Stock Will Soar at Combine

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2011

While nothing says more about a player than their film, the NFL Combine gives workout warriors a platform to showcase their freakish athletic abilities.

Guys like Calvin Johnson, Brian Orakpo, Chris Johnson, Julio Jones, Vernon Gholston and Vernon Davis dominated in the combine and watched their draft stocks soar.

The 40-yard dash is obviously the marquee event at the combine, but the drills that don't garner nearly as much attention as the 40 and the bench press do give scouts a better look at how the prospects will fare in a more football-related setting.

Here is a full first-round mock draft, highlighting players who are going to wow everyone at the NFL Combine.


1. Indianapolis Colts: QB, Andrew Luck, Stanford

Regardless of what happens to Peyton Manning, the Colts won't pass on the opportunity to bring in a quarterback prospect who can replace The Sheriff for the next decade.


2. St. Louis Rams: T, Matt Kalil, USC

Matt Kalil is the best offensive lineman prospect since Jake Long. He's a true plug-and-play left tackle and just the guy the Rams need to ensure Sam Bradford's career isn't cut short.


3. Minnesota Vikings: T, Jonathan Martin, Stanford

Christian Ponder needs a guy protecting his blindside. Who knows if Adrian Peterson is going to be the force he's been since he entered the league after tearing his ACL and MCL last week. They need help up front and Jonathan Martin is a guy who can develop into a great insurance policy.


4. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE, Quinton Coples, North Carolina

Quinton Coples has the potential to be an Osi Umenyiora-type defensive end. He's a prototypical rush end with length and explosiveness that will leave scouts salivating.

He's going to dominate the combine with his combination of size and power. The Jaguars have bigger needs, but they can't afford to pass on a top-flight talent like Coples.

Right now, many mocks have Coples getting shoved out of the top 10 by the offensive talent that this draft features. However, after seeing him work out, the Jags aren't going to let him slip away.



5. Cleveland Browns: CB, Trent Richardson, Alabama

Trent Richardson might be the strongest back in the history of the combine. He's a weight room legend and it wouldn't be surprising to see him out-lift every lineman in this year's draft class.

He's not going to run a Chris Johnson-like 40, but don't sleep on him. He's got decent top-end speed and lethal agility for how powerful he is.

With Peyton Hillis kicking and screaming his way through the 2011 season, the Browns need a replacement at running back. Richardson has it all, and with his ridiculous consistency and the raw physical tools he's going to put on display at the combine, he's going to prove worthy of early selection.



6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB, Morris Claiborne, LSU

Morris Claiborne isn't getting nearly the recognition he deserves because of the talent surrounding him. The Bucs need a corner who isn't in danger of going to prison, and he can help fill the void Ronde Barber will leave in the (hopefully) near future.


7. Miami Dolphins, QB, Robert Griffin III, Baylor

There's never been anything like Robert Griffin III. He's got a solid shot at breaking the all-time 40 record, and when scouts see him throw, they'll see how underrated his arm is.

He's got world-class speed, and the way he took over games this season proves he's far more than a glorified track guy in shoulder pads.

He's going to hit the interview process out of the park, as he's arguably the smartest prospect coming out in the draft. A team is going to fall in love with RG III, and that team could easily be the Miami Dolphins.


8. Washington Redskins, QB, Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Landry Jones benefits more than anyone in the draft from Matt Barkley's decision to stay. The Redskins need a true franchise QB, and it will be shocking if he makes it out of the top 10.


9. Kansas City Chiefs: T, Riley Reiff, Iowa

The Chiefs need help offensively, and with Jamaal Charles coming back, adding a hog up front will help make them one of the most feared rushing attacks in the league once more.


10. Carolina Panthers: WR, Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Justin Blackmon being paired with Cam Newton would create a ferocious connection for years to come. His stat sheet will be much more impressive at the next level than his combine numbers, which will force some teams to pass on the wide receiver.


11. Buffalo Bills: LB, Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

The Bills have a fantastic core in their secondary. They are reaching here, but they need serious help in the pass rush department and Reddick would start immediately.


12. Philadelphia Eagles: LB, Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State

Vontaze Burfict is going to dominate the combine. He's a ruthless hitter, can make plays from sideline to sideline and routinely finds himself in the backfield. 

Unfortunately, he's also a guy who is going to be taken off some teams' boards. He has horrible character issues and has developed quite the reputation.

After seeing his speed and strength on display, the Eagles, who need a linebacker, could take the plunge. A run-stopping machine like Burfict would do wonders for their run defense.


13. Arizona Cardinals: G, David DeCastro, Stanford

There isn't an offensive tackle that warrants this selection, and rather than reach to fill a need, the Cardinals should take the best offensive lineman on the board.


14. Tennessee Titans: WR, Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

Michael Floyd is going to shoot up boards leading up to the draft. He's not going to be the most impressive wide receiver at the combine, but he's going to turn heads during his workouts.

Floyd has deep-threat potential and the complete skill set that sets him apart. He's not a one-trick pony, and the Titans need another target for young Jake Locker to get the ball to.

Chris Johnson got back in the swing of his game, and now they need a pass attack to complement him.


15. San Diego Chargers: WR, Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

Alshon Jeffery is arguably the most polarizing figure in the draft. He's going in the top 10 in some mocks and slipping to the back in others. He's a great fit in the Chargers' pass-happy offense and has to be considered over other more pressing defensive needs.


16. Seattle Seahawks: QB, Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

The Seahawks need a quarterback of the future, and as we've seen in recent drafts, teams overvalue the quarterback position. Think of Tannehill as this year's Christian Ponder.


17. Dallas Cowboys: DE, Andre Branch, Clemson

The Cowboys have one of the most complete rosters in the entire NFL. With no gaping holes to plug, they could add another defensive lineman into the rotation, and Branch's big-time potential makes him a great fit.


18. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland): CB, Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska

Alfonzo Dennard isn't the biggest corner in the draft by any means, but he makes up for it with his ability to mirror a wide receiver and run stride for stride with burners.


19. Chicago Bears: WR, Kendall Wright, Baylor

Jay Cutler has absolutely no help. Kendall Wright can come in and give him a true deep threat that stretches the field and can take it to the house on any given play.

The Bears have the best return man in history, so his services as a returner won't be needed, but he's the best playmaker in the draft and he can take some of the heat off of Matt Forte.

He's going to dominate the combine with his blazing speed, and should be able to showcase his repertoire of skills favorably enough to go higher than the back end of the first round.


20. New York Giants: LB, Zach Brown, North Carolina

The Giantsneed a middle linebacker to round out their lethal front seven. Jason Pierre-Paul is an absolute animal and they've got a great young core to build around defensively. Brown brings more versatility and is more appealing than tackling machine Luke Kuechly. 


21. New York Jets: LB, Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

The Jets struck out on Vernon Gholston and still haven't found a guy who can take over the trenches as a rushing end. Upshaw has the potential to be the cookie-monster sack master the Jets so desperately need.


22. Cincinnati Bengals: DT, Devon Still, Penn State

The Bengals need offensive help, but adding two defensive players of this caliber would make their defense elite. Devon Still dominates the middle of the field like nobody on the Bengals defense.


23. Denver Broncos: DT, Brandon Thompson, Clemson

Von Miller is as advertised, and John Fox has a great defensive centerpiece to build around. Fox loves to build up front, and Thompson is a guy who give an even bigger boost to their run defense.


24. Cleveland Browns: LB, Jarvis Jones, Georgia

The Browns are already getting the best offensive non-quarterback in the draft. Jarvis Jones playing in the same linebacking corps as D'Qwell Jackson would give the Browns another boost in their front seven.


25. Detroit Lions, CB, Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

Dre Kirkpatrick is the sort of in your face corner that fits the Lions mold perfectly. The Lions need help in their secondary and this rising young team needs to go there.


26. Houston Texans, OT, Mike Adams, Ohio State

The Texans have a ton of defensive talent and weapons galore on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Adams will sneak into the first round here and provide the Texans with a boost up front.


27. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB, Luke Kuechly, Boston College

James Farrior isn't going to be around much longer and the Steelers need someone to put alongside Lawrence Timmons. Luke Kuechly fits the bill and can help them reload. They need O-line help, but they can't afford to regress defensively.


28. Baltimore Ravens: C, Michael Brewster, Ohio State

Michael Brewster is one of the best interior lineman in his class. The Ravens need a guy to replace Ray Lewis, but unfortunately, one is highly unlikely to slip in this MLB-laden class.


29. New England Patriots: DE, Jared Crick, Nebraska

Jared Crick is an animal. He's coming off of an injury, but he's the definition of a high-motor guy and can give a Patriots team starved for defensive talent up front as a DE.


30. San Francisco 49ers: DT, Jerel Worthy, Michigan State

The 49ers have the best defense in football, and adding a player who can develop into an elite defensive tackle would make them that much better. They need a corner, but Worthy can be a guy who holds the point.


31. New England Patriots: S, Mark Barron, Alabama

The Patriots have the worst defense in football. They cut Brandon Meriweather and did nothing to replace him. This would fill a defensive hole, and Barron is a huge steal for the Pats.


32. Green Bay Packers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Janoris Jenkins is a top-ten talent, and he'll show why at the combine. Had he stayed on the straightened arrow, he'd be the first corner selected.

He finds himself at North Alabama because he was booted from Florida after starting as a true freshman.

Jenkins has the potential to be an all-pro corner, and the Packers could use a guy to put opposite Tramon Williams after Charles Woodson calls it quits. Ted Thompson has to take a long hard look at Jenkins' character, but the strong locker room makes Green Bay the perfect fit for Jenkins.



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