2012 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting the Underrated Pass-Rushers

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IJanuary 18, 2012

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 22:  Defensive lineman Vinny Curry #99 of the Marshall Thundering Herd lines up against the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

As the 2012 NFL Draft nears, one of the most exciting positions to watch are the pass-rushing specialists. After all, applying constant pressure to the opposing quarterback in a pass-happy league can give any defense a significant advantage.

That being said, here are some underrated pass-rushers that most of the football world has yet to here of.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Vinny Curry, Marshall (Round 3)

In 2010, Marshall's Vinny Curry had 12 sacks with 94 tackles and forced two fumbles. He recorded 11 sacks, 77 tackles and forced seven fumbles in 2011.

The man has a great combo of speed, power and acceleration as well as the instincts and awareness of how to find the football. Slated as a late second/early third-round pick, Curry will flourish in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars still had a top-10 defense despite only recording 31 sacks on the year. The addition of Curry will significantly boost their sack total and really help out the already solid pass defense. And he's a steal, because Marshall plays in the Conference USA which doesn't garner him much exposure.

Seattle Seahawks: Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati (Round 5)

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A guy who can play both defensive tackle and end, Cincinnati's Derek Wolfe recorded 9.5 sacks in 2011 along with two forced fumbles and 70 tackles.

Wolfe can play in either a 4-3 or 3-4 and act as a run-stuffer or pass-rusher. He's a good fit for the Seattle Seahawks who wouldn't have much of a pass rush if it weren't for Chris Clemons. Adding Wolfe would make their defensive line even stronger and will bode well against divisional teams like San Francisco.

Complementing Clemons well, Wolfe is a sure tackler in the trenches and will either take on multiple blockers to free up the linebackers or beat his guy one-on-one. As for Clemons, this allows for multiple creative defensive line stunts to confuse blocking schemes and fill gaps quicker.

Plus, their pass-rushing abilities will prove well versus passing teams.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Daniels, Iowa (Round 5)

Another guy who can play either defensive tackle or end, Iowa's Mike Daniels recorded nine sacks and 67 tackles in 2011. A significant improvement from a decent campaign in 2010 where he recorded four sacks and 40 tackles, Daniels can get the Titans over the hump in the AFC South.

Not only did the Titans finish ranked No. 31 with just 28 sacks, they were No. 24 in defending the run (allowed 128.3 rush yards per game). Daniels' versatility to play anywhere on the line will allow Tennessee to switch fronts and mix up its blitz packages.

Also, being that they have to play the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars twice a year, having a guy who can stop the run between the tackles and/or on the edge is needed. Otherwise, Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew will continue doing work on Tennessee as they did in 2011.

Buffalo Bills: Sammy Brown, Houston (Round 7)

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 22:  Linebacker Sammy Brown #8 of the Houston Cougars flexes his muscles after sacking quarterback A.J. Graham #1 of the Marshall Thundering Herd at Robertson Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Imag
Bob Levey/Getty Images

A true sack-master, Houston's Sammy Brown finished No. 2 in the nation with 13.5 sacks in 2011. In addition, he recorded 93 tackles, 30 of which were for a loss, and he defended three passes.

This past season, the Buffalo Bills only recorded 29 sacks and had one of the worst defenses in pro football. They ranked No. 19 against the pass, No. 28 against the rush and allowed an average of 371 total yards per game.

To slow down the opponents' ground game, Brown's ability to run-blitz will come in handy.

A year earlier in 2010, Brown recorded 7.5 sacks and 76 tackles, however, 20 were also for a loss. With 50 tackles for loss in two years, Buffalo needs an aggressive force coming off the edge, otherwise they will get diced up in defending the pass while also being dominated on the ground.

2012 First-Round NFL Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB (Stanford)

17. Cincinnati (From OAK): Riley Reiff, OT (Iowa)

2. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR (Oklahoma State)

18. San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB (Alabama)

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT (USC)

19. Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR (South Carolina)

4. Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne, CB (LSU) 

20. Tennessee Titans: Mohamed Sanu, WR (Rutgers)

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent Richardson, RB (Alabama)

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordy Glenn, OG (Georgia)

6. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB (Baylor)

22. Cleveland (From ATL): Vontaze Burfict, LB (ASU)

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michael Floyd, WR (Notre Dame)

23. Detroit Lions: Zach Brown, LB (UNC)  

8. Miami Dolphins: David DeCastro, G (Stanford)

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zebrie Sanders, OT (Florida State) 

9. Carolina Panthers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Alabama)

25. Denver Broncos: Chase Minnifield, CB (UVA)

10. Buffalo Bills: Alfonzo Dennard, CB (Nebraska)

26. Houston Texans: Jerel Worthy, DT (Michigan State)

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Quinton Coples, DE (UNC)

27. New England Patriots (From NO): Nick Perry, DE (USC)

12. Seattle Seahawks: Kendall Wright, WR (Baylor)

28. Green Bay Packers: Melvin Ingram, DE (South Carolina)

13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT (Stanford)

29. New York Giants: Devon Still, DT (Penn State)

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB (North Alabama) 

30. Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower, LB (Alabama)

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Kuechly, LB (Boston College)

31. San Francisco 49ers: Mark Barron, S (Alabama) 

16. New York Jets: Brandon Thompson, DE (Clemson)

32. New England Patriots: Jayron Hosley, CB (Virginia Tech)

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