Big Picture: 2012 and 2013 NFL Draft

Written by Mike Daneshgar on March 8, 2012



When looking at any draft, it is important to grasp the big picture. Not only should the positional depth of the current draft be looked at, but that of the next year’s draft as well. If there are 5 players of equal talent available at a position, why choose one when you can trade down, pick up additional draft choices, and end up with a player whom you would have taken at the earlier draft slot? Or, worst case scenario – pull a Minnesota and don’t turn in your card.

 

Every fan wants to fix their team in one offseason. As nice as that would be, it’s just not realistic. Two teams that have consistently won over the past decade are the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles – and it’s no coincidence that they both are known to maneuver quite a bit on draft day to acquire future picks. That long term approach increases the odds that they win the crapshoot that is the NFL Draft. Most importantly, it takes into account positional strengths of current drafts and compares them to that of the following draft. Big picture, folks!

 

Which leads me to the point of this article – how does the talent of the 2012 NFL Draft line up to that of which we COULD see in 2013? I’m glad you asked.

 

Here are the combined top prospects at each position. I’m not a big fan of numerically ranking players because so much depends on team scheme and whether you prefer taking a chance at upside or going with a safe choice. As a result, I’ve broken it up into tiers. Tiers of joy.

 

 

(2012 NFL Draft prospects are identified with an asterisk)

 

 

Quarterback

 

Tier 1

*Andrew Luck, Stanford

 

Tier 2

*Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Matt Barkley, USC

 

Tier 3

Tyler Bray, Tennessee

*Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

Geno Smith, West Virginia

*Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

 

Tier 4

Keith Price, Washington

*Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

E.J. Manuel, Florida State

 

 

Translation: 2012 was supposed to be the year of the quarterback, but with Matt Barkley returning it’s shaping up so that 2013 is that year. Granted, there will be no Andrew Luck next season, there are quite a few players who could shoot up boards with impressive final years. In other words, if you can’t get Andrew Luck or RG3, there’s no need to panic and reach for the next best quarterback.

 

 

Running Back

 

Tier 1

*Trent Richardson, Alabama

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

Michael Dyer, Auburn

 

Tier 2

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

*David Wilson, Virginia Tech

*Lamar Miller, Miami

*Doug Martin, Boise State

Knile Davis, Arkansas

 

Tier 3

Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State

Montee Ball, Wisconsin

Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

*Robert Turbin, Utah State

*Chris Polk, Washington

Zach Stacy, Vanderbilt

 

Translation: 2013 could end up as one of the best running back groups ever – which makes Montee Ball returning all the more confusing. After Tier 2, you may just be better off waiting for next year or picking up a rental. If there were a Tier 4, it would be comprised of several more prospects not in the 2012 draft, with so many of them just seething with potential but not thick enough resumes to include in this list.

 

Wide Receiver

 

Tier 1

Robert Woods, USC

*Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Keenan Allen, California

Marquess Wilson, Washington State

 

Tier 2

*Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

*Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

Justin Hunter, Tennessee

Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee

*Kendall Wright, Baylor

Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas

Kenny Stills, Oklahoma

 

Translation: Are you sure that you want to take Justin Blackmon top 5? The college level is completely loaded at the WR position, don’t feel the need to reach for one in 2012.

 

Tight End

 

Tier 1

*Dwayne Allen, Clemson

Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame

*Coby Fleener, Stanford

*Orson Charles, Georgia

Joseph Fauria, UCLA

Philip Lutzenkurchen, Auburn

 

Tier 2

*Michael Egnew, Missouri

Jordan Reed, Florida

Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State

Chris Gragg, Arkansas

*Ladarius Green, ULL

 

Translation: 2012 has an edge in the Joker TE/WR department, but severely lacks at the in-line blocking category. Rather than taking on a project of trying to mold a Joker into a blocker, you may just be better off waiting for one of the guys in 2013.

 

Offensive Tackle

 

Tier 1

*Matt Kalil, USC

 

Tier 2

*Riley Reiff, Iowa

*Jonathan Martin, Stanford

Barrett Jones, Alabama

Seantrel Henderson, Miami

Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Chris Faulk, LSU

Chaz Green, Florida

 

Translation: After the big 3 (Kalil, Reiff, and Martin) there is no need to reach for a tackle if that is what your team needs. I’m looking at you, NFL team considering drafting Mike Adams in the top 20.

 

Interior Offensive Linemen

 

Tier 1

*David DeCastro, Stanford

Chance Warmack, Alabama

 

Tier 2

*Peter Konz, Wisconsin

*Cordy Glenn, Georgia

Andrew Norwell, Ohio State

James Hurst, UNC

Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

*Brandon Washington, Miami

 

Translation: This year and the next are going to be two of the best guard classes ever. If you miss out on stud David DeCastro, there are plenty of consolation prizes to go around.

 

4-3 Defensive End

 

Tier X

Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas

Barkevious Mingo, LSU

*Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

Corey Lemonier, Auburn

*Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

Sam Montgomery, LSU

Kareem Martin, UNC

*Nick Perry, USC

 

Tier X.5

Alex Okafor, Texas

Dion Jordan, Oregon

Brandon Jenkins, FSU

*Chandler Jones, Syracuse

 

Translation: Yuck. The 2012 class is so full of question marks that they don’t even get to be considered tier 1. On the other hand, the college pool is very talented but lacks the production to justify being called tier 1 either. Thus, tier X and X.5 it is. Still, pass rushers tend to break out in their final years in school, so keep an eye on these guys still in school. If I had to choose, I’d take my chances on a DE from the 2013 class outshining those of the 2012 class once they are draft eligible.

 

3-4 Defensive End

 

Tier 1

*Quinton Coples, UNC

Dominique Easley, Florida

Bjoern Werner, FSU

William Gholston, Michigan State

 

Tier 2

*Devon Still, PSU

*Jared Crick, Nebraska

Bennie Logan, LSU

John Simon, OSU

*Kendall Reyes, Connecticut

Margus Hunt, SMU

 

Translation: Both classes are solid but the monster potential of having 3 players in tier 1 gives a slight edge to 2013.

 

Defensive/Nose Tackle

 

Tier 1

Sharrif Floyd, Florida

John Hankins, OSU

*Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

 

Tier 2

*Michael Brockers, LSU

*Dontari Poe, Memphis

Star Lotulelei, Utah

Kawaan Short, Purdue

 

Tier 3

*Brandon Thompson, Clemson

Kwame Geathers, Georgia

*Jerel Worthy, Michigan State

 

Translation: This year and next are super loaded at DT. There may not be a Ndamukong Suh standing out just yet, but there’s very good value here in both drafts.

 

3-4 Outside Linebacker

 

Tier 1

Jarvis Jones, Georgia

*Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

 

Tier 2

Sean Porter, Texas A&M

Ronald Powell, Florida

Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

Barkevious Mingo, LSU

 

Tier 3

Chase Thomas, Stanford

*Shea McClellin, Boise State

Trevardo Williams, Connecticut

*Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma

Nico Johnson, Alabama

Roosevelt Nix, Kent State

*Andre Branch, Clemson

*Cam Johnson, Virginia

 

Translation: This draft seriously needed Jarvis Jones and his pass rushing ability.

 

4-3 Outside Linebacker

 

Tier 1

*Zach Brown, UNC

*Bobby Wagner, Utah State

Jelani Jenkins, Florida

 

Tier 2

*Lavonte David, Nebraska

 

Tier 3

Arthur Brown, Kansas State

Khaseem Green, Rutgers

Dion Bailey, USC

*Terrell Manning, North Carolina State

*Sean Spence, Miami

*Josh Kaddu, Oregon

Kenny Tate, Maryland

 

Translation: Teams that need a 4-3 weakside linebacker are in luck.

 

Inside Linebacker

 

Tier 1

*Luke Kuechly, Boston College

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

Shayne Skov, Stanford

 

Tier 2

*Dont’a Hightower, Alabama

Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

Tom Wort, Oklahoma

C.J. Mosley, Alabama

Kevin Reddick, UNC

 

Tier 3

Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech

Dede Lattimore, USF

 

Translation: There is a pretty large drop-off at middle linebacker after Kuechly and Hightower. If you miss out on them, your best bet is to wait.

 

Cornerback

 

Tier 1

*Morris Claiborne, LSU

David Amerson, North Carolina State

 

Tier 2

*Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

*Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

Xavier Rhodes, FSU

 

Tier 3

*Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

*Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Bud Noel, Wake Forest

Ahmad Dixon, Baylor

*Brandon Boykin, Georgia

 

Tier 4

*Chase Minnifield, Virginia

Greg Reid, FSU

*Leonard Johnson, Iowa State

Dee Milliner, Alabama

Tharold Simon, LSU

*Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska

*Josh Robinson, UCF

 

Translation: He may be really good, but looking at the big picture taking Morris Claiborne in the top 5 may not be the most thrify move to make.

 

Safety

 

Tier 1

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

Lamarcus Joyner, FSU

Eric Reid, LSU

 

Tier 2

*Mark Barron, Alabama

Matt Elam, Florida

T.J. McDonald, USC

Bacarri Rambo, Georgia

Robert Lester, Alabama

Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami

 

Tier 3

*Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

Prentiss Wagner, Tennessee

Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

 

Translation: Don’t even think about reaching for a Safety this year. Personally, I’m not sure I would take one at all in 2012 as 2013 could be the first strong Safety class in years.

 

 

Mike Daneshgar

Mike is a contributor to the DraftBreakdown team whose obsession with talent evaluation and teambuilding sprouted from the many failures of his beloved Cleveland Browns. His goal is to one day say that he gets paid to work in football. In between being a Master's student at the University of Florida and working with DraftBreakdown, Mike also writes pieces for the ProFootballFocus.com Dynasty staff. See all posts by Mike Daneshgar.