2012 NFL Draft: 10 Most Polarizing Prospects in the Draft

Jon Dove@https://twitter.com/#!/Jon_Dove42Contributor IMarch 28, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: 10 Most Polarizing Prospects in the Draft

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    If we were able to get a close look at each team's draft board, we would notice a lot of differences. Every team sees each prospect differently, making for a very fluid draft process.

    It seems that every year we have some prospects that spark more debate than others. These polarizing prospects not only stir up debate within the media but also in organizational draft meetings.

    Properly weighing the pros and cons of a prospect could mean the difference between a good draft and lost jobs.

Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M

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    Why they love him

    At 6'4", 225 pounds, Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill possesses the ideal size needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He combines his size with a strong throwing arm and good mobility. Physically, he has all the tools needed to excel at the next level.

    Tannehill's draft stock is tied to his upside and potential. Those who love him see all the physical tools and project him as an elite passer. He's an unfinished product who needs to land on a team with a top-level quarterbacks coach.

    At this point, there are some evaluators who see Tannehill as a top-five pick. Teams considering him in that range are the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins.

    Why they hate him

    Tannehill doesn't have two full seasons of starting experience under his belt. He began the early part of his career as a wide receiver. This lack of experience means he's more than a few years away from full development, limiting his ability to see the field early.

    The time he did spend at quarterback was filled with sloppy mechanics, interceptions and poor decisions. This is a prospect who's being valued for his physical abilities and not his play on the field. Selecting a quarterback with his blueprint in the top five is usually a recipe for disaster.

Trent Richardson, Running Back, Alabama

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    Why they love him

    Alabama's Trent Richardson has as much talent as anyone in this draft. His wide range of talent makes him a candidate to be an every-down NFL running back. Richardson is the type of runner who can pick up the tough yards and break off long runs.

    He also brings the ability to contribute in the passing game. His willingness to block helps extend plays and keep the quarterback upright. Because of his soft hands, Richardson is able to catch the football out of the backfield. He's a very reliable receiving target.

    Why they hate him

    The biggest issue facing Richardson is finding the right value for a running back. He's a top-five talent, but plays a position that doesn't bring much value that early in the draft. Not one of last year's top-five rushers were selected in the first round.

    It's possible Richardson is selected an entire round earlier than the second back off the board. However, it's equally possible that someone like Boise State's Doug Martin has a more productive career. This is where the dilemma lies: Teams must decide how much they value Richardson's abilities.

Alshon Jeffery, Wide Receiver, South Carolina

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    Why they love him

    At 6'3", 215 pounds, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery provides a big target who's capable of going up and attacking the ball at its highest point. His size makes him a great red-zone target, an area each NFL offense is always looking to improve.

    During his collegiate career, there were times where Jeffery looked unstoppable. Most of his production came despite the presence of inconsistent quarterback play. 

    Why they hate him

    There's a lot of questions surrounding the speed of Jeffery. He doesn't play with elite explosiveness limiting his ability to gain separation. NFL defenders have plenty of experience defending larger receivers, which means that Jeffery won't be able to solely rely on his size.  

    Concerns have also rose because of his significant drop in production this past season. He went from 88 receptions in 2010 to only 49 catches in 2011. Jeffery needs a strong showing at his individual workouts to help him overcome some of these concerns.

Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle, Stanford

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    Why they love him

    Stanford's Jonathan Martin is a fluid athlete who excels at protecting the passer. He quickly goes from his stance to set, helping him beat rushers to the edge. His change of direction ability and balance allow him to effectively react to counter moves.

    His experience protecting the blind side of Andrew Luck helped prepare him for the NFL. The pro-style concepts of Stanford's offense also lessens the adjustment period. An experienced and athletic left tackle prospect always receives a lot of attention come draft time.

    Why they hate him

    The draft process hasn't been very kind to Jonathan Martin. He was unable to workout at the combine and then failed to impress at this pro day. These struggles left a negative impression on evaluators and may have pushed him out of the top 10.

    While Martin does a great job protecting the passer, he doesn't show elite run-blocking skills. His technique is in order, but a lack of strength limits the push he's able to generate. 

Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina

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    Why they love him

    North Carolina's Quinton Coples has a rare combination of size and athletic ability. His length, explosiveness and strength allows him to generate a ton of pressure on the quarterback. He's capable of employing a wide array of pass-rush moves. Opposing offensive linemen must prepare for both speed and power.

    Coples isn't just a pass-rush threat, as he also does a good job holding up against the run. He exhibits the potential to develop into a Mario Williams-type difference-maker.

    Why they hate him

    Based on his athletic ability and experience, evaluators expected Coples to dominate during his senior season. However, his season was less than impressive, only registering 7.5 sacks. This limited production forced many to question his effort and tenacity.

    Defensive end draft busts like Derrick Harvey and Aaron Maybin raise the level of concern with targeting this position early in the draft. Organizations want to know they're adding a player who's passionate about the game.

Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU

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    Why they love him

    LSU's Michael Brockers saw an instant spike in his draft stock the second he declared. During the past season, he showed a ton of promise and flashes of brilliance. He's a versatile player capable of penetrating the pocket and holding at the point of attack.

    Brockers' wide range of skills means he fits multiple positions and schemes. The fact that he's an unfinished product intrigues coaches. They feel he only needs their guidance to become a dominant player.

    Why they hate him

    This is the type of prospect who could cost a general manager or coach his/her job. He only showed flashes of success, but nobody really knows what to expect. Selecting him early in the first round is a risk because he may never live up to his potential.

    His less-than-impressive workout numbers at the combine raised questions about his overall athleticism. He does a good job holding up against the run, but isn't elite in this area. Possessing limited explosiveness and average run-stuffing ability tells me he might be overrated.

Luke Kuechly, Linebacker, Boston College

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    Why they love him

    Boston College's Luke Kuechly is the type of prospect who will step in and make an immediate impact. Because of his leadership, he could change the entire atmosphere of the defensive unit. His instincts and athleticism help him make plays from sideline to sideline.

    Kuechly's consistency makes him a very safe pick. Teams know he will make smart decisions and always give 100 percent effort.

    Why they hate him

    Despite good workout numbers, Kuechly doesn't show elite explosiveness on the field. This really limited the amount of plays he made behind the line of scrimmage. He's also more of a catcher than a big-hit tackler.

    Overall, Kuechly doesn't excite evaluators like other more explosive prospects. This doesn't mean he won't have a great career, but it does mean he may drop a little in the draft.

Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama

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    Why they love him

    North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins possesses all the tools needed to develop into an elite NFL cornerback. He's an instinctive player capable of quickly diagnosing a developing play. His quick burst allows him to click and close on the football. Jenkins combines his instincts and quickness with good balls skills, making him a major threat to pull down an interception.

    It wouldn't be a stretch to call Jenkins the most gifted defensive back in this draft class.

    Why they hate him

    The biggest concern facing Jenkins is his off-the-field problems. Throughout his college career, he continually made poor decisions. His recurring struggles with drug-related citations definitely raise a red flag. He's a legitimate risk to face multiple suspensions throughout his NFL career.

    Teams will hesitate to invest a high draft pick on someone so unreliable. It's going to be very difficult for them to weigh the "risk versus reward" factor with Jenkins.

Kellen Moore, Quarterback, Boise State

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    Why they love him

    Boise State's Kellen Moore is a winner, having registered 50 wins during his college career. He has that "it" factor, which helps him lead his team to victory even in the most pressure-filled situations. Knowing how to win is an underrated attribute for a quarterback prospect.

    Moore finds success because of his ability to read a defense and anticipate his throws. He trusts his reads and isn't afraid to release the ball before his target comes out of his break.

    Moore complements his anticipation with good accuracy. He does a great job locating the football where only his target can make a play.

    Why they hate him

    Arm strength, size and his throwing motion are the biggest knocks on Kellen Moore. He doesn't have the ability to deliver the ball on a line. This will be a problem in the NFL because the defensive backs are much better at breaking on the ball.

    At 6'0", 197 pounds, Moore will struggle to find good throwing lanes. He's not going to be able to see over the massive offensive linemen in the NFL. His limited athleticism means he'll struggle to move in the pocket and find possible lanes.

    Moore's long throwing motion limits his ability to get rid of the ball quickly. He'll have a hard time completing a pass when faced with immediate pressure.

LaMichael James, Running Back, Oregon

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    Why they love him

    The explosiveness of Oregon's LaMichael James makes him a potential game-changer. He's capable of scoring in a hurry from anywhere on the field. His elusiveness makes it difficult for defenders to bring him down on initial contact.

    James does a good job in the passing game, with the potential to be a dynamic pass-catcher. There might not be a better change-of-pace back in this draft class. He's capable of quickly making an impact on third-down situations.

    Why they hate him

    Size and durability have plenty of evaluators questioning the value of James. He's unlikely to develop into anything more than a situational player. This makes getting a handle on his draft stock very difficult. He's a second-round talent with question marks likely pushing him into the third.

    If a franchise feels James can make a major impact, it might have to pull the trigger in the second round.


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