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2012 NFL Draft: Players Who Will Have a Better NFL Career Than Many Drafted Higher Than Them (Part I, Offense)


Nick Foles, Arizona – When the draft process started, Foles was in the running to be the fourth-rated quarterback behind Luck, RGIII and Tannehill.  Weeden outplayed him during Senior Bowl practices and, rightfully so, moved up to most draft analysts’ number four ranked quarterback; Foles started sliding.  However, in the Senior Bowl game, Foles outplayed Weeden, as well as all the other quarterbacks.  Yes, he may look more surfer-dude than quarterback, but Foles has fallen too much on many draft analysts’ boards.  Foles completed 69% of his passes at Arizona in 2011 and had a 2:1 TD to interception ratio.  Foles has the potential to be an effective NFL starter, and worst case, will be a top backup.  He will carve out a nice NFL career while some drafted higher than him will flame out.

B. J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga – Of all the quarterbacks who played in All Star games this post-season, Coleman impressed me the most.  Since he played in the East West Shrine Game, and not the Senior Bowl, my expectations are tempered somewhat.  The Senior Bowl consists of more highly-regarded players, so the competition is fiercer.  However, Coleman has a good size, a good arm, and a quick release.  Add to this that many scouting reports laud his competitiveness, his work ethic, and his love of the game and he could be a steal in this draft.

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin – If only he was 6’3” or even 6’2” instead of 5’10.5”.  Wilson has the athleticism, intelligence, accuracy, and arm strength to be a top tier prospect.  In 2011, he completed 72.8% of his passes with an impressive 10.26 YPP and a 33:4, TD to interception ratio.  If he gets his chance, he could be a pleasant surprise and develop into a solid starting quarterback.  However, the history of short quarterbacks succeeding is not very good;  they often have trouble finding throwing lanes and seeing the field.  However, Wilson, worst case, should be a solid backup.

Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi - Davis is another undersized quarterback, but at 6’1.4” is just a half-inch shy of the 6’2” imaginary “minimum height for success” line.  Davis is a mobile quarterback who started as a walk on and won the Burlsworth Trophy in 2011.  The Burlsworth Trophy is given to most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on.  In 2011, Davis completed 60.2% of his passes and had a TD to interception ratio of 30:11.  Davis will develop into a solid backup quarterback in the NFL, while others, drafted higher than him, will eventually find themselves on practice squads, fighting for roster spots, or are out of the league.

Running Backs:

Doug Martin, Boise State - What a difference a couple of months make.  When I started this process I thought I would be one of the few to have a first round grade on Martin.  Then he looked great in the Senior Bowl and suddenly, he was rising fast.  Now he has a shot to go in the second half of round one which is where I had him slotted initially.  Oh well, I still believe he will have a better NFL career than many drafted higher than him.  He is a bull and can run inside, he has enough speed to get to the outside and make big plays, he blocks well and he catches well.  His path and skills remind me a bit of Matt Forte, a player who was on my list in 2008.  Numbers-wise, he ran a 4.47 forty, had 28 bench presses (tied for the best amongst running backs), and was near the top in quickness, cutting ability and athleticism with a 4.16 sort shuttle, an 11.29 long shuttle, a 6.79 three-cone, a 36” vertical and a 10’0” broad jump.

David Wilson, Virginia Tech –Interestingly, while Doug Martin was rising, Wilson, who had a terrific workout at the Combine, became somewhat of a forgotten man.  Wilson ran an unofficial 4.40 at the Combine, while showing good quickness and movement skills (4.12 short shuttle, 7.09 three-cone) and top notch athleticism (11’0” broad jump and 41” vertical).  He has wrestled the number two spot on my running back list from Martin. This is the opposite of many other draft analysts who initially had Wilson rated more highly than Martin.  Having just read what I think of Martin, understand how good I believe Wilson will be in the NFL.  He has the ability to make explosive plays and is more effective between the tackles than his 5’9.5”, 206 frame would indicate.

Robert Turbin, Utah State – In Animal House, the line “fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son” is a keeper.  Here I will do the opposite and say, “big, fast and strong is the way to enter the NFL son.”  That describes Turbin.  At 5’10”, 222 pounds, he has good size; a 4.44 forty which is good speed for a kid his size; and with 28 bench presses he tied with Doug Martin for the most by running backs in this draft class (for running backs on my web site at the time I wrote this article).  And having run for 1,517 yards with a 6.1 ypr average, he backed up his physical skills with production last year at Utah State .

Chris Rainey, Florida – Rainey has the best mix of speed, quickness and athleticism of all the running backs in the draft.  At 5’8.3”, 180 pounds he will not be an every down player.  However, he can be used as a runner, can be used as a receiver, and can be used in the return game.  He will also be a big-play waiting to happen every time he steps on the field.  FYI, his numbers were very impressive: 4.35 forty, 16 bench presses, 3.93 short shuttle, 11.06 long shuttle, 6.50 three-cone, 36.5” vertical and 10’0”.  Wow!

Michael Smith, Utah State – Hmmm, there’s a second running back on this list from Utah State?  Well, Turbin’s backfield partner isn’t too shabby.  He ran for 870 yards (7.63 yards per rush), including 157 yards on 12 carries in the Idaho Potato Bowl; and caught 16 balls for 181 yards.  Smith is an explosive athlete as demonstrated by his 40.5” vertical and 10’7” broad jump.  He also has speed to burn running a 4.33 forty with a 1.48 ten-yard split.  However, while his speed is more straight line, he has the strength to break tackles (23 bench presses) and the size 5’8.4”, 206 to be hidden behind big offensive linemen.  He won’t be a starter, but should excel as a change-of-pace back who can take it the distance both on offense as a kick returner.

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Wide Receivers:

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina – This is where being a draft analyst and not a GM has its advantages.  The main concern for Jeffery is conditioning, more specifically, keeping his weight in check.  On the field he is a bigger, faster version of Brandon Lloyd.  Jeffery, like Lloyd, make amazing catches.  Jeffery has long arms and big, reliable hands.  He also got himself in shape after the Combine and put up impressive numbers on his Pro Day.  Jeffery ran a 4.47 forty (many draft analysts expected a time around 4.60), a solid 4.17 short shuttle, an impressive 6.71 three-cone, and had a 36.5” vertical and 10’2” broad jump.  However, what impressed me the most, which resulted in Jeffery jumping up my wide receiver draft board to number two behind Blackmon was his 11.11 long shuttle.  Long shuttles are as much about conditioning and desire as anything else.  In a short time he went from a receiver weighing in the 230’s to a receiver weighing 213 in peak physical condition at his Pro Day.  So even if he slips a bit in the offseason, it won’t take him long to get back into top playing shape.  I expect Jeffery to remain committed in the NFL and develop into a receiver his quarterback loves to throw to.

Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech – Over the long haul, I like Hill’s potential as a big, fast, game-breaking receiver more than Floyd’s, although there is less risk with Floyd.  How does that translate to draft position?  In the top 12 to 15 picks or so, I would draft Floyd over Hill because of the risk.  However, starting at pick 20 or so, I would draft Hill over Floyd.  As a lower first round pick I would go with upside potential.  Higher in round one, you need to be sure you draft a player who will be a significant contributor to your team.  While everyone marveled at his workout numbers (including 4.30 unofficial forty, 1.44 unofficial ten yard split, 39.5” vertical and 11’1” broad jump), I loved how he ran routes and caught the ball during drills.  He looked especially terrific in both gauntlet drills.

Chris Givens, Wake Forest – Initially a player in Mike Mayock’s top five receivers, but nowhere to be found on other top five lists, Givens has fallen off Mayock’s list.  But that doesn’t mean he should be forgotten.  He has game breaking speed, and gets to his top speed quickly (4.37 forty, 1.45 ten-yard split).  He also has reliable hands.  Givens will develop into a good number two who will stretch the field, open things up for a team’s top wideout, and make teams pay if they roll coverage too often to a team’s number one receiver.

Greg Childs, Arkansas – With the depth at receiver, a player with a tremendous mix of size, long arms, big hands, speed, quickness and athleticism has been somewhat overlooked.  Childs numbers:  6’3.1”, 219, 4.39 forty, 1.50 ten-yard split, 4.09 short shuttle, 6.90 three-cone, 40.5” vertical, 10’7” broad jump).  Before the draft process started Childs was considered a good route runner with good hands and good body control.  His speed and quickness were questioned, in large part because of a past knee injury.  However, his workout shows he has excellent speed and quickness.  Based on where he is likely to be drafted, Childs could end up being the steal of this draft.

Chris Owusu, Stanford – Owusu has the talent and measureables to be towards the top of the list of receivers, but injury concerns will knock him down in the draft.  However, if he stays healthy he has the tools to be a top starter in the NFL.  At 6’0.1”, 196, Owusu ran an unofficial 4.31 forty (4.33 official), had an unofficial 1.48 ten-yard split, a 4.11 short shuttle, a 11.22 long shuttle, a 6.85 three-cone, a 40.5” vertical, a 10’9” broad jump and had 19 bench presses.

Joe Adams, Arkansas – I doubled up for a school at running back and I am doing it again at wide receiver.  Adams really impressed me at the Senior Bowl.  He was the best receiver, and maybe the best player in the game.  In addition to his receiving ability, Adams returned four punts for touchdowns at Arkansas last year.  Adams is not a burner but has deceptive speed and moves and will make a good living as a slot receiver and return specialist in the NFL.

Danny Coale, Virginia Tech – A slot receiver and punt returner who could serve as an emergency punter, Coale has very good hands, deceptive speed and is the type of kid who earns one of the last spots on an active roster, ends up contributing more than anticipated, and becomes a integral part of the team.  Coale ran a 4.38 forty.  His 4.09 short shuttle and a 6.64 three-cone demonstrate that he is quick as well as fast.  He also punted 13 times last year for a 43.5 average.

Cody Pearcy, Huntingdon - No, I haven't seen him play.  However, none other than Bill Parcells indicated he was a sleeper on ESPN.  Looking at his workout numbers, he may be the best athlete in the draft.  At 5'10.1", 161 he needs to add bulk, however, a 4.31 forty with a 1.47 ten yard split, a 2.43 twenty yard split (this would have tied for the third best time ever at the NFL Combine since 2000 - over 4,600 players have been invited to the Combine since 2000), an amazing 3.76 short shuttle (this would have tied for the third best time ever at the NFL Combine since 2000), a 6.67 three-cone, a 44" vertical (this would have tied for the sixth best time ever at the NFL Combine since 2000)and 10'6" broad jump are all eye-opening numbers.  He also has production with 97 receptions for over 1,800 yards the last two years.  This is a blind recommendation based on his production, his workout numbers, Parcells' classification of him as a sleeper and ASU coach Reggie Barlow, a former NFL receiver, saying he has NFL talent.

Tight Ends:

Michael Egnew,  Missouri – In today’s NFL, the tall tight end with speed and good hands is becoming more of a necessity than luxury.  Egnew, at 6.5.1”, 252 pounds, who ran a 4.53 unofficial forty at the Combine (4.54 official) has great hands and fits this bill.  He is also an explosive athlete as demonstrated by his 37.5” vertical and phenomenal 11’3” broad jump.

James Hanna, Oklahoma – Hanna could be this draft’s Aaron Hernandez. He won’t step in day one, but has the skills to develop into a difference-maker on the field.  His numbers: 4.42 unofficial forty time at the Combine, 4.11 short shuttle, 6.76 three-cone, 36” vertical and 10’2” broad jump are all amongst the best in this tight end draft class.

Chase Ford, Miami – Ford didn’t play much football at Miami .  However, he impressed as a pass catcher in the East West Shrine Game and has excellent size at 6’6.5”, 265 pounds.  His measureables aren’t great, but they’re good enough.  Ford can be a big, reliable target who can get down the seam from time to time to make big plays.  He will need time to develop, but could turn into a later round steal.


Michael Brewster, Ohio State – Brewster is a center who can also be a backup at guard and tackle.  A very strong kid with good feet, Brewster gets extra points for his versatility. While many offensive linemen may get cups of coffee only, Brewster could stick as a long time as a backup even if he doesn’t win a starting job.


Cordy Glenn, Georgia – Glenn impressed me more than any other offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.  He followed up that performance with a great Combine.  At 6’5.6”, 345 with long arms and big hands, Glenn ran a 4.96 unofficial forty at the Combine.  Glenn will be killer at guard and could even be solid at right tackle.

Brandon Brooks, Miami (OH) – Not invited to the Combine, Brooks will be a better NFL player than many of the guards that were invited.  Brooks is a big kid (6’4.5”, 346) who is amongst the strongest, most athletic, and quickest guards in the draft.  He had 36 bench presses, ran a 4.98 forty, had a 4.52 short shuttle, a 7.37 three-cone, a 32” vertical and an 8’9” broad jump.  All of his numbers were in the top third of the guards in the draft.  Best of all, reports have it that Brooks has looked good in position drills on his Pro Day.

Amini Silatolu,  Midwestern State – Silatolu may not be known by casual college football fans, but he has gotten the attention of Pro scouts.  Silatolu is a good athlete who has an intriguing skill set.  Coming from Midwestern State he will need some time to develop, but has the potential to be a long term starter in the league.


Jonathan Martin, Stanford – Martin is one of the most controversial players in terms of being projected as a first round pick in this draft.  Many love him; many feel his is being over-valued in round one.  He is on my list so obviously I stand on the first round grade side.  Martin will be a very good NFL player.

Bobbie Massey, Mississippi – Massey is a good player and a safe pick in this draft.  He can start off at right tackle and has the potential to be groomed as a left tackle.  He also could kick in to guard and be a solid starter there as well.

Brandon Mosely, Auburn – A latecomer to the offensive line, Mosely has a tremendous upside.  He was recruited as defensive end and played some tight end early in his career.  Mosely is strong (30 bench presses), and has quick feet (4.78 short shuttle, 7.43 three-cone).  At 6’5.5”, 314 with 34” arms and 11” hands, Mosely many NFL offensive line coaches drooling to get to work developing Mosely into an NFL stud lineman. 

Jeff Adams, Columbia – A more traditional development prospect than Mosely, Adams needs some work in the weight room and some reps against better competition, but has the skill set to develop into a starting tackle in the NFL.  He looked good at the East West Shrine Game and coming from Columbia, it’s safe to assume he is a smart kid.