NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Every draft season, there seems to be one player with a consensus first round grade that drops for one reason or another to the middle of the second round or even further.
In the recent past, we’ve seen players like Da’Quan Bowers, Justin Houston, Carlos Dunlap, Ryan Mallett, Brandon Spikes, etc. all fall because of injuries, character issues, or whatever was going on with Ryan Mallett last season.
Here are some players in the 2012 Draft class that I could see fall out of the first round:
Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina
Brown certainly has first round talent, but he doesn’t have the scheme versatility that teams are looking for lately. I’ve questioned whether he can play MLB, but he’s likely limited to playing WLB in the NFL. Brown is a player known for his speed, and if his game speed doesn’t translate to the Lucas Oil Stadium turf at the combine, that might also drag him down some boards.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Floyd was arrested for drunk driving last March and was suspended during the offseason without missing any games. It wasn’t his first run in at Notre Dame with alcohol, as he got in trouble earlier in his career for underage drinking. He also suffered hamstring and shoulder injuries during his time at Notre Dame. Usually a player can get by with one red flag, but with two, some teams might be wary of Floyd.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Questions surround Jeffery about his conditioning, especially after some less than flattering press photos surfaced prior to the 2011 season. With such a talented wide receiver crop this season, I can see teams staying away from Jeffery in the first round.
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
The other highly touted Gamecock prospect is another player I could see fall in April. Ingram has a lot of positional versatility, but might not have one true fit. James said on Twitter the other day that Ingram’s best position might be a rotational sub-DT in a 4-3, which I can see. I think he will have trouble anchoring as a DT and might not have the elite pass rush skills to consistenly get pressure from the edge.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
This one is based more off speculation, but I could see Hightower show up less than impressive in the speed department. We saw Spikes fall right into the Patriots arms a couple seasons ago due to a 5.0 40, lets all hope the same happens with Hightower this season.
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Another Alabama product, Barron has the most serious (and recent) injury concerns of all of the top tier prospects. I suspect Barron is still the first safety taken in April, but double hernia surgery that will keep him out of the combine will certainly hurt his stock.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Dennard seemed to be the consensus no. 4 CB this year before some of his flaws showed up at the Senior Bowl. He was having trouble turning his hips and running with faster receivers. He might only be a fit in zone coverage schemes which should scare some teams off.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
A combination of immaturity and lack of progress could push Burfict into the second round or beyond in the 2012 Draft. He had a number of mental lapses throughout his career resulting in personal fouls and will need to have strong interviews to compensate for that. He also didn’t show the progression throughout his Sun Devil career that scouts expected to see after his standout freshman season.
Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington
I’ve seen Ta’amu mocked as highly as 6th overall, while most analysts and scouts are giving him a 2nd round grade. I tend to agree more with the latter. He’s a talented player with a ton of upside, but he’s had consistency issues having great games (Washington State) and terrible ones (Baylor). There are also doubts despite his size that he can ever be a prototypical nose tackle.