2012 NFL Draft: Who Could Fall Into the 2nd Round?

Dont'a Hightower Patriots NFL Draft

Could a potential poor showing at the combine make Dont'a Hightower available to the Patriots in the second round?

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.

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13 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Who Could Fall Into the 2nd Round?”

  1. Bill says:

    Everything I read about Luke Kuechly says he’s a little slow, could use a little more aguility, and needs to add 15 lbs. BUT he has all the intangibles that you look for. Sounds like he’ll be a 2nd rounder too

  2. Bruschi54 says:

    Hightower will run 4.8 and be very solid pro on the outside. Bookend him with Ninko and we will have some playmakers that will have an impact. I agree that Ingram looks like he should be wearing a Steelers uniform, but they need to work the line on both sides of the ball with their early round picks. If no OLB is drafted I think that is a strong statement about what BB thinks of Markell Carter as a future contributor. Cunningham will be released during training camp, dead wood with no burst, bust.

    • Big Dan From Maine says:

      Markell Carter was not even a stud on his college team. He is like the recievers we draft, not proven in college, but someone thinks they are smart enough to turn a no talent guy into an all star.

  3. Bill says:

    There’s busts at the top and undrafted FA that become starters, so even the experts make mistakes, but speed always wins the heart, even id the guy can’t play.
    If Hightower runs 5+, he’ll never make the 1st round. Even the DE do that in the first. Spikes is that kind of speed and he’s a long way from 1st round talent.

  4. jim r says:

    On the other hand some suprises in the first round with good combines
    Jerel worthy,Vinny Curry, Jared Crick, Chase Minnefield, Chandler Jones and Irvin the LB from West Virginia.

  5. JI says:

    I’d add Mercilus to your list instead of Floyd – not buying the hype.

  6. JI says:

    Strongly disagree on Floyd, I think he goes top 10-15. Would love him on the Pats. He excelled in Weiss’ offense too.

  7. Dan says:

    I only watched some short film on Burfict…I wasn’t overly impressed…seems like a lot of talk and moving around, with less action. I saw a lot of missed plays and late to arrive plays…bad angles. Scouts has had him as a 3rd-rounder for months and I tend to agree, especially if he’s a problem off the field. Which means he’ll most likely go in the 2nd to some desperate team looking for some attitude who think they can control him.
    I’m not a big Dennard fan…not in the first. I’d rather one of the other CB’s with some length (and better skill set)
    Floyd will be a huge decision for the Pats if he slips to them…he’s what they need on the outside. I would gather it will come down to the interview and medicals. Like Gronk, if he’s given the clear on the meds BB will use that info/decision and run with it.

    Barron to me would be next to impossible to slip by the Pats at #27, even with him being a SS like Chung. We just need more talent back there. Again, his injuries could help us if he’s like Gronk and cleared to play (Gronk having back surgery that caused him to slip to the 2nd). We’ll still need a FS, but maybe they’ll seem him able to play this (better than what we currently have, unless they want McCourty to take this on more full-time). If we pass on him if he’s there and we don’t pick up a FS in free agency we’ll have our answer. Obviously, if we pass on others in the draft also, like Harrison in the 2nd/3rd and Iloka, maybe Henry.
    I think this is the story of the off season…the FS spot…how do they address it? We may have to wait for pre-season to get the final answer…with McCourty as a possible answer.

  8. Dan says:

    If Hightower is that slow…like Spikes…I see the Pats staying away. Spikes is ok in the middle, but he still is very slow, borderline awkward with his long, slow legs. He’s a nice player, but as long as he’s staying inside and using his instincts to make plays…and he does make plays…a nice looking player at this point.
    If Hightower shows more of the same I just don’t see a spot for him; I don’t see him playing the middle with Mayo & Spikes; and if we want that outside guy we would be better getting someone with “some” speed (if he does test slow). I think we’d want someone quicker like a Branch to play the outside, while still having the length and size to set the edge…3 down player etc…

  9. Dan says:

    Ingram is a dynamic DE/OLB…some system/team will jump at his elite talent and freakish play-making ability; although it may not be a the top of the draft where many are placing him. He is NOT a defensive lineman/tackle.

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