2012 NFL Draft Talk from Pigskin Paul
1) ANDREW LUCK/QB
2) ROBERT GRIFFIN/QB
3) MATT KALIL/LT
4) QUINTON COPLES/DE
5) JUSTIN BLACKMON/WR
6) MORRIS CLAIBORNE/CB
7) TRENT RICHARDSON/RB
8) MICHAEL FLOYD/WR
9) LUKE KUECHLEY/LB
10) DAVID DeCASTRO/OG
11) COURTNEY UPSHAW/OLB
12) FLETCHER COX/DT
13) DONTARI POE/DT
This list is based on three factors:
- My perception of their pro potential.
- The importance of the positions they play to NFL teams in 2012.
- Their actual physical attributes and potential.
It is not based on who I think specific teams are enamored with for their myriad of reasons. That I leave to the MOCK DRAFT process, which I guess I am about due to participate in.
Questions I have, some with answers, coming out of the COMBINE:
How high in the First Round did DONTARI POE place himself with his huge numbers at the COMBINE? Quite frankly I think the kid is somewhere between HALOTI NGATA & B. J. RAJI, when it comes to pure talent and potential NFL impact. I don’t think he’s MT. CODY at all. He’s huge, but is squarely built. AS for the rap that he seems to take plays off… welcome to the world of really big buys along the DL. On teams that don’t regularly rotate their DL all big guys get a series off here or there during a game, or they take a breather occasionally on the field. Guys that big can only be conditioned to a certain degree, which does not include running at full speed all day long.
I’d take POE in the second ten Picks of Round 1 if I needed a huge athlete to shake things out up front.
So what did we really learn about BRUCE IRVIN, from West Virginia, as a projected NFL player? Not much more than we already knew, plus a big question about how he get his weight up to 245 lbs. I am not aware of him ever being listed that heavy while in college. Amazingly he burned a 4.50/40 at his new heavier weight. But for a guy who never really had a true position in college, and whose only apparent attribute on the field is incredible quickness to the QB, I am still wondering how any team can look at him in the first 3 rounds of the Draft and calculate his worth on an NFL team. Certainly, today’s NFL puts a premium on rushing the QB so there is going to be demand for his services. So really, my question is who is going to give in to temptation and over-Draft him 2-3 rounds too early?
I’m still in a bit of a state of shock over the decision by BROCK OSWEILER not to throw in Indy. He has so much to prove and had gained a little momentum simply by measuring in at just under 6’7 rather than 6’8. That was actually a big deal to more than a few teams in the NFL given the sad history of really tall QBs in League history. Even though he would have been throwing to mostly new receivers in Indy he still could have displayed his mechanics and arm strength to the entire League. Based on events at the COMBINE I would even say that I think KIRK COUSINS has moved back ahead of OSWEILER in overall QB rankings.
Speaking of COUSINS I would like to reiterate one more time that I have been favorably impressed in several aspects by COUSINS since the beginning of the year. I thought he had a very solid Bowl Game. His stats were not overwhelming but his leadership and poise were exemplary. He had a productive week in Mobile and I was very impressed with his personality and intelligence during dinner conversation on Media Night. Then he followed up with some solid work in Indy. He’s closing in on a spot as my No. 4 ranked QB, which should mean late Round 2 or early Round 3 in April.
I have been stunned by talk I hear that DAVID DeCASTRO/OG/STANFORD disappointed in Indy. I will agree that he didn’t wow everyone with his numbers there, but I didn’t feel like he exhibited any fatal flaws. He is after all going to OG not LT in the NFL. At his size I did not expect him to run a sub-5.00/40. If you look at the overall package of size, strength, attitude and skills that he brings to the table it is clear that he should be the first OG taken in April and has STEVE HUTCHINSON potential.
What is the League to think of a kid named CHRIS OWUSU/WR/STANFORD, who was tied with two other guys as the recording the second fastest 40-time in Indy, regardless of position. At about 5’ 11.5” tall and 196 lbs. he ran a 4.36/40. He was supposed to be ANDREW LUCK’s main downfield target this past season, but suffered about his umpteenth career concussion and missed much of the year. His size was certainly less than his his listed 6’2/200 from the Stanford media guide, but he is bigger and faster than DOUG BALDWIN who surprised the Sea Hawks as a Rookie Free Agent in 2011. But I just have to wonder what League medical staffs are thinking given his concussion history.
I don’t think there can be much, if any, doubt that VONTAZE BURFICT/LB/ARIZONA STATE, has fallen as far from grace as a player possible can in one year without sitting in a prison cell. And his COMBINE work was like the cherry on a spoiled cake. Running a 5.09/40 alone could be the kiss of death to a highly regarded athlete around Draft time. But then when you factor in talk (and lots of it) that he was one of the worst interviews in COMBINE history, and the only question is really exactly how far has he factually allen on Draft Boards? I once had him in Round 1, and now am saying he’s into Saturday, and not necessarily early. I can tell you in good faith that double-figure NFL teams have completely taken him off their Boards. Talk about bungie jumping without a cord!
In the QB group it was a huge positive to see how athletic both LUCK & GRIFFIN are. Obviously disappointing, no matter what the apologists say, was the fact that neither participated in the throwing work. Both players demonstrated that they are physically gifted well beyond even most premier QB prospects. I don’t think anyone was surprised at anything RGIII did, but it’s still nice to see him parade around in the flesh looking like an Olympic decathlete. Maybe more impressive, in a sense, was seeing ANDREW LUCK post numbers almost identical to those of CAM NEWTON last year. Whether it’s racial profiling or stereotyping, let’s just be candid and say the general assumption that LUCK’s numbers in events like the vertical and broad jump would be fractionally inferior to those posted by last year’s darling CAM.
Conversely, KELLEN MOORE & CASE KEENUM pretty much reaffirmed that they are superior college QBs with some significant size and strength limitations when it comes to NFL potential. I backed off the BREES comparisons early last Fall and saw nothing in Indy to reconsider having done so. IF either gets drafted it will be very late in the process.
CHRIS RAINEY was indeed not the fastest RB in Indy. LAMAR MILLER/Miami (F) posted the fastest RB time at 4.40, and that’s coming off of an injury. RAINEY was next with a 4.45/40, but was tied at that time by RONNIE HILMAN & LaMICHAEL JAMES. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the RB group was ROBERT TURBIN/Utah State. The 5’10/222 lb. TURBIN timed in at 4.50 and looked like one giant muscle from head to toe. He was very productive in college and should draw a huge crowd for his Pro Day. He showed his Achilles heel running the 20 yard shuttle, which could end up earning him the label as a limited straight line runner. Most of the remainder of the RB group looked to be who we thought they were coming into town.
The WR workout turned into a seeming lovefest for 2 players on Sunday. And in both instances I think the love was well deserved. STEPHEN HILL/Ga. Tech set the pace by running a 4.36/40, which tied him for fastest of any offensive player who participated in the 40. Officially, TRAVIS BENJAMIN & CHRIS OWUSU shared that clocking with him. But HILL got most of the love because it was not expected that he would lad the pack in speed, and he stands 6’4 and weighs 215 lbs. He also looked fluid, with good hands, in most of he drills. This makes him an intriguing prospect, plus, when you consider he was underutilized in the GA TECH running offense. You’d better believe the film is coming back out to watch every one of his 28 catches from the 2011 season at most team headquarters. No this does not make him a first rounder like JOHNSON & THOMAS from Tech who came before him, but I’ll bet it puts him firmly in most people’s TOP 100, heading for their TOP 50.
Another previously underrated player who has become a darling of sorts in the post-season is DEVON WYLIE/WR/RS/Fresno State. The little guy (5’9/187) blazed his way to a 4.39/40. He is also incredibly quick to change direction and has caused potential tacklers to literally fall on their butts during punt returns. I think much of the fascination is that lots of folks have been waiting for the next WES WELKER to surface for at least the past five years. This could be the guy. His straight line speed is complimented by his burst and quickness in and out of cuts. Because of WELKER’s NFL success it won’t take much at his Pro Day to get WYLIE into an early Saturday Draft slot.
A big name guy who did not let anyone down was MICHAEL FLOYD/Notre Dame. No other receiver with his size (6’3/220) could beat his 4.47/40 (except HILL & STREETER). He displayed good hands and very fluid running motion. He’s not going to win too many short shuttles with his size, but he’s certainly not a big stiff athlete by a long shot. Assuming JUSTIN BLACKMON has a solid Pro Day I would expect FLOYD to hold down the second WR slot in Round One handily.
So if you had any doubts before the weekend about whether or not MATT KALIL was the best OL available for the 2012 DRAFT you shouldn’t any longer. The 6’7/305 lb. specimen ran a smooth as silk 4.99/40 ranking him only behind work-out warrior STEPHENSON. The “40” isn’t a terribly meaningful exercise for the big uglies, but when an elite prospect of that size breaks the 5.00/40 barrier it’s pretty special. He also showed a greta combination of agility and foot movement in just about every drill he faced.
I also felt that CORDY GLENN continued to solidify his place in Round 1 with some good running work for his size. A 5.15/40 is pretty special for a 345 lb. man. And arms that are just under 36” long also get my attention. I like him as a dancing bear OT for a power running team like the CHARGERS (replacing McNEILL?) or maybe a power upgrade in Baltimore.
I want to make one more functional observation on a pet peeve topic of mine. DAVID MOLK, a decent zone blocking scheme prospect from Michigan set the offensive gold standard for the bench press with 41 reps. I don’t mean to diminish completely his feat of strength, but I did want to mention that his arm length was measured at 32” even. Only MIKE BREWSTER had shorter arms of the OL who lifted. Shorter arms push the bar a shorter distance. It’s just a fact, nothing more or less.
A few more general observations and/or questions.
I lived full time in Wisconsin for 40 years. It seemed to me that weight room strength was a big deal in Badger Land, but I am beginning to wonder if that has changed in recent years. How in the world does 314 lb. PETER KONZ/OC only post 18 reps? NICK TOON the Badgers 215 lb. WR had 18 reps. How does 239 lb. bruising FB BRADIE EWING only post 14 reps? Thank goodness for KEVIN ZEITLER with his 32 reps.
After watching the few QBs at the COMBINE who dared throw it is painfully obvious to me that any team needing a QB beyond the top of the Draft has to be praying for a complete recovery from foot woes by RYAN TANNEHILL, and that he puts on one hell of a show when he is finally ready to show his wares. The door is wide open for him to show enough that some desperate team will go after him late in Round One. What other choices do they have beyond MATT FLYNN and possibly PEYTON MANNING?
One of the biggest mysteries to me is how/why DeANGELO PETERSON/TE/LSU shows up in Mobile and weighs in at 230 lbs. He then runs patterns and catches the ball like a really big WR. Then he shows up at the COMBINE and weighs 243 lbs. and runs a pedestrian 4.76/40. The combination of circumstances makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Is former LSU-star JaMARCUS RUSSELL his personal advisor?
Pigskin Paul is a guest NFL Draft columnist here at AllGreenBayPackers.com. To read more of his work, head on over to Pigskin Paul’s Place.