From top talents who slid due to injury to players who simply got passed up on for lower-ranked players at their position, several teams managed to find terrific value later than it was expected to be available.
So here we go; my Top 10 steals of the 2012 NFL Draft and what makes them steals.
10. Arkansas WR Greg Childs: Minnesota Vikings, No. 134
Before the beginning of the 2011 season, Childs was considered a first-round receiver talent. Unfortunately for the former Razorback, a lingering knee injury hindered his ability to be effective throughout his senior season. Still, if Childs can stay healthy and prove that he’s at 100%, he could finally provide the Vikings with the deep threat that their offense has been lacking over the past couple of seasons.
9. Mississippi OT Bobby Massie: Arizona Cardinals, No. 112
It was a bit worrisome to see Massie slide all the way down to the fourth round, but when the Cardinals were finally on the clock, it was time for his fall to end. With terrific size and surprising athleticism, Massie has the talent to develop into one of the best offensive lineman to come out of the 2012 draft. To make matters even better for the Cardinals, he could be ready to step in and contribute immediately as part of their subpar offensive line.
8. Cal ILB Mychal Kendricks: Philadelphia Eagles, No. 64
For the past few seasons, the Eagles have been without a dominant middle linebacker who can be a consistent enforcer. Well, when they drafted Kendricks, they got exactly that. Arguably one of the most underrated players in the draft, Kendricks proved during his days at Cal that he can be extremely productive from the middle linebacker spot. He has the leadership skills to step in immediately and should alleviate some of the woes that the Eagles’ linebacking corps has been suffering from lately.
Before a torn pectoral cut Crick’s 2011 season short, he was considered one of the top defensive line prospects available for the 2012 NFL Draft. So when such a talent began to slide down the boards, it was uncertain how far the injury would let Crick fall. And then, the Texans caught him at No. 126 and landed themselves a top talent at a terrific price. If Crick can stay healthy and prove that he’s at full health, the Texans might have landed a player who can produce efficiently for the next decade.
6. Washington DT Alameda Ta’amu: Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 109
Aguably one of the best nose tackles in the 2012 draft class, it was a bit surprising to see Ta’amu slide all the way into the fourth round. Combining surprising athleticism with an impressive ability to stuff up running lanes, Ta’amu was seen as a second-third round pick heading into the draft. The Steelers were looking to find the successor for aging Casey Hampton, and found the steal they needed with Ta’amu in the fourth round.
5. LSU WR Rueben Randle: New York Giants, No. 63
As the rest of the NFL continued to overlook Randle, the Giants jumped at the opportunity to land one of the draft’s top wide receivers when he fell to them at the end of the second round. Especially after the loss of Mario Manningham during free agency, Randle should be able to step in immediately and make an impact for the Giants’ passing attack. Don’t be surprised to see Randle make the rest of the NFL regret passing on throughout the 2012 regular season.
4. South Carolina OLB Melvin Ingram: San Diego Chargers, No. 18
For years, the Chargers have been searching fruitlessly for an outside linebacker who can compliment Shaun Phillips and put some consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. Back in 2009, they thought it would be Larry English, but that never panned out. So when Ingram fell into their laps at No. 18, there was no way that they were going to let the opportunity pass them by. Ingram should step in from Day 1 and find himself in opposing backfields more often than not.
3. Georgia G/OT Cordy Glenn: Buffalo Bills, No. 41
Easily considered a first-round talent, it was a bit surprising to see Glenn start to slide down the board as Day 2 wore on. So when the Bills were finally on the clock and nabbed the former Georgia Bulldog, you knew that Buffalo had gotten something special. More than anything, Glenn will bring tenacity and toughness to the Bills’ offensive line while delivering the versatility to play at four positions. He might not be Matt Kalil, but Glenn is a terrific addition to their offensive line nonetheless.
Heading into the draft, Upshaw was given several first-round grades. Instead, the Ravens watched him fall right into their laps at the beginning of the second round. A terrific pass-rusher with elite speed and strength, Upshaw should be able to fill in for Terrell Suggs, who recently fell to a torn Achilles that could keep him out for the entire 2012 campaign. He’s a potential-laden prospect who should thrive under the tutelage of Ray Lewis in Baltimore.
1. Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox: Philadelphia Eagles, No. 12
Once the Eagles realized that Cox was slipping out of the Top 10, they knew what they had to do to land one of the top talents in the 2012 draft class. So when they traded up to nab Cox at No. 12, the Eagles knew what they were getting and were happy to give up whatever was necessary to get it. Cox will immediately provide the Eagles with a dominant force at the three-technique who can clog run lanes and pressure the passer. With one pick, the Eagles defensive line upgraded tremendously.