2012 NFL Mock Draft: The Most Athletically-Gifted Top Defensive Prospects

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2012

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 04:  Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs onto the field before the college football game against the Portland State Vikings at Sun Devil Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the Vikings 54-9.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

On offense, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson are among the most athletic members of the 2012 NFL draft class.

On defense, there are a multitude of physical freaks who are deceptively strong, speedy and agile. 

Let's take a look at the most athletically gifted defensive prospects who'll almost assuredly be selected in the first round.

Michael Brockers, DL, LSU 

As a 21-year-old sophomore, Brockers was a surprise entry to this year's draft, but he's easily one of the most athletic defensive linemen in the class. 

At 6'6'' and 305 pounds, he possesses the strength to bull-rush his way to the quarterback and aggressively reaches the backfield with shocking speed. He also has a variety of moves in his arsenal and doesn't take plays off. 

And 6'6'', 305-pound mammoths shouldn't be able to move as fluidly as Brockers does. 

He has eye-opening leaping ability as was evidenced on his field goal block against Alabama in the national championship game. 

With room to add more bulk to his frame, Brockers has the potential to be a disruptive, pass-rushing defensive tackle at the next level and could even line up as a defensive end. 

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Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC 

At 6'3'' and 250 pounds, Perry is an elite athlete. Not surprising for a guy from USC, right?

He's tremendously agile and smooth when getting to the passer and often beats opposing tackles with speed rushes to the outside. 

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive end Nick Perry #8 and linebacker Lamar Dawson #55 of the USC Trojans close in on quarterback Darron Thomas #5 of the Oregon Ducksin the third quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon.
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Perry doesn't have a variety of counter-moves, but he can get to the quarterback with his quickness and footwork alone. 

I wouldn't call this 21-year-old junior the strongest hybrid prospect ever, but he can surprise offensive linemen with an occasional powerful bull-rush. 

He's can be a good run defender due to his phenomenal burst and speed and is strong enough to get off blocks. 

A special, more underrated player. 

Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State 

Burfict has an NFL-ready body at 6'3'' and 250 pounds and is the most ferocious sideline-to-sideline, hard-hitting linebacker in the 2012 class. 

Sometimes this Arizona State product overruns plays, because he's so quick to the football. 

Burfict carries his weight well, and although he isn't great in coverage, he's Patrick Willis-like making plays within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage. 

He's got great body control and can slip or shred blocks to take down the ball carrier, or slip into the backfield.

It'll be interesting to see his 40-yard dash time, because he plays extremely fast on the field. 

2012 NFL Mock Draft (Jan. 18 edition; next update coming after Senior Bowl)

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

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

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

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

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

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

8. Carolina Panthers: Michael Brockers, DE/DT, LSU

9. Miami Dolphins: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

10. Buffalo Bills: Nick Perry, OLB, USC

11. Seattle Seahawks: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

12. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

14. Dallas Cowboys: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

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

16. New York Jets: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Lamar Miller, RB, Miami  

18. San Diego Chargers: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa 

19. Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

20. Tennessee Titans: Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama 

23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia

25. Denver Broncos: Chris Polk, RB, Washington

26. Houston Texans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor 

27. New York Giants: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

28. Baltimore Ravens: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

29. New England Patriots (from New Orleans Saints): Devon Still, DT, Penn State

30. San Francisco 49ers: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

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

32. Green Bay Packers: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

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