2012 NFL Draft: Five “Forgotten” Potential First Rounders

Vinny Curry Patriots NFL Draft

Why is no one talking about this Conference USA pass rusher?

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

Every year during draft season there are prospects who get dissected to death and those that fly under the radar. I want to talk about those forgotten prospects today.

Over the last few months we’ve talked enough about Michael Brockers, Ryan Tannehill, Janoris Jenkins and most of the sure thing first round picks. I wanted to talk about some of the guys who have become slightly unheralded over the last couple of months. Guys that draft analysts don’t seem to want to talk about or like talking about.

All of these guys have the potential to go in the first round, and they’re all potential fits for the Patriots.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
There’s rumors that Reiff could drop all the way to the end of the first round or even into day two and that teams aren’t nearly as high on Reiff as the media is. I think that’s crazy and I also think Reiff has even been forgotten by the media lately. Reiff is an athletic prospect who was recruited as a tight end and could definitely be a left tackle in the NFL. He may have short arms, but he has very few weaknesses on tape and is a prospect that’s falling for all the wrong reasons: measurements and workouts. On tape, I see Reiff as having no problem athletically kicking out against speed rushers. I think he’s still growing into his body and could develop more power in the run game. Reiff is also a prospect who I think would have no problem playing LT, RT, LG or RG.

If he truly falls to the end of the first round, he’s a classic Patriots offensive lineman. He’s a tight end conversion who played under Belichick’s buddy Kirk Ferentz at Iowa that can play tackle or guard.

Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Branch is one of few prospects that I think projects at OLB better than DE and that teams that run a 3-4 will be grading very high. He lined up extremely wide at Clemson and has the athleticism and flexibility to make it work. He also looked good when standing up and proved himself adept at dropping back into coverage. He was a disruptive force at Clemson and has one of the best size/speed combos in the draft. Clemson prospects have been disappointing in the past, but I have a feeling that Branch is going to break the mold.

With the Patriots likely going back to more 3-4 looks in 2012, Branch could be the perfect OLB prospect for them and could be a surprise pick at 27 or 31.

Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG, Iowa State
For some reason no one wants to talk about this massive, powerful Cyclones lineman. He’s shaped like Cordy Glenn and Marcus Cannon and plays a similar game. I loved the fact that he dropped weight for the Senior Bowl and looked more nimble on his feet from it. Some may say he projects better as a guard or right tackle because of his strength, but he’s another guy like Reiff that I’d feel comfortable putting anywhere. So many prospects during this process need to add bulk or strength, you’re not going to read that about Osemele. His technique could still use some work, but he’s been training for months now improving his speed and skills.

With size and versatility reminiscent of Cannon, it’s easy to find a connection to the Patriots. Belichick seems to love the massive offensive lineman lately and Osemele certainly fits that bill.

Vinny Curry, OLB/DE, Marshall
He’s not going to wow you with his athleticism, but in my opinion he’s one of the safer pass rushers in the draft. I think he’s equally adept at standing up or rushing with his hand down and he’s one of the better power rushers in the draft. For a team like the Patriots that use a hybrid defense, Curry can be very attractive. You’re not going to see him dropping back into coverage, but he can set the edge against the run and he’ll definitely be able to get into the backfield.

In the Patriots hybrid defense, Curry could be a perfect fit. His skills translate to three and four man fronts and he’s certainly got the Patriots prototype size.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Worthy is one of many players this year whose motor is being questioned. He’s also a player that’s been pigeon holed into a penetrating DT role. Many teams need a strong pass rushing DT at 3-technique and Worthy can do that and more. Regardless of whether Worthy is drafted in a three-man or four-man front, I think he’ll start his career as more of a situational pass rush specialist who will be able to transform into more of an every down player when he fixes his technique. Even with Worthy’s tendency to get too upright at times, there’s a lot to like in his game, he’s equally skilled at rushing with his power and with a mixture of moves and fluidity. He can get skinny into gaps to get into the backfield extremely well for a player his size.

Even after signing Jonathan Fanene to play a penetrator role, the Patriots could still use help in that role. Mike Wright is now retired and Myron Pryor is an injury risk.

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7 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Five “Forgotten” Potential First Rounders”

  1. qwerty says:

    anybody moving up the draft board makes me suspicious

  2. Dan says:

    I agree, I think Reiff will not make it out of the first, but I do agree that he may have been projected too high all along. It’s pretty simple, either you feel he’s a LT and worthy of a top 15 pick, or he’s a RT and and should fall into the 2nd half of the first.
    With the weak quality of tackles in this draft any team that needs a very solid RT would jump on him from 20 on; and if you feel he may end up at guard he still is worth a 1st round pick with that flexibility and talent.
    I always thought Branch & Worthy are 1st round talents, but late first and more on potential and measurables than on their obvious lack of big-time production. But, this draft is filled with over-hyped players that are marginal and look to be JAGS.
    This draft is deep with potentially average players…there are not any great LT’s, no great pass rushers, a few potentially very good corners and a bunch of potentially average CB’s, 1-2 safeties that could be nice players (Barron should be very good), and a handful of other nice players that may make some pro bowls.

    We tend to get too into this and forget to look at this with perspective…who of these players (how many?) will be very good at their projected position in the NFL??? I’m not sure there are a whole bunch this year.

  3. Dale says:

    I’m starting to think that Branch is starting to get overhyped. I watched most Clemson games this season and he, like Da’Quan Bowers last season, benefited greatly by playing alongside Brandon Thompson….now there is a guy who probably deserves more attention but is among a very loaded DT class.

  4. Dave says:

    I love dog

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