2012 NFL Draft Picks By Team: Bengals
Alabama has very real National Championship hopes mainly because of its defense. The Tide 'D' is not just one of the best defenses this season, but it may be one of the best defenses in college football (along with the current LSU unit). A big reason is Kirkpatrick, a junior cornerback and an in-state product who was rated No. 1 at his position coming out of high school by ESPNU and Rivals.com.
Kirkpatrick already has plenty of experience and will likely be making his way to the next level after this season. He played in all 12 games as a freshman, became a starter in 2010, and has emerged as arguably the best cornerback in the nation. Through six games in 2011 (obviously all Alabama wins), Kirkpatrick has 14 solo tackles (one for loss) and he leads the team with eight pass breakups, eight passes defensed, and two forced fumbles.
One of the tallest cornerbacks in the business, Kirkpatrick stands at 6'2'' and 192 pounds. He doesn't have top-notch speed to go along with his size, but he generally runs a 4.50 in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as fast as 4.42 from that distance. Kirkpatrick will have to add some bulk to his lanky frame before he heads to the NFL (he someti... [Read More
Kevin Zeitler may be one of the better interior linemen in the nation. Using great technique and blessed with a frame with long arms and strong base, he's tough in the middle. Zeitler really gets after defenders and plays tough until the whistle. He's a multi-year starter on the interior.
If he can work on his reaction time off the snap, there wouldn't be much to critique in his game. Most of his problems stem from the occasions when the defenders gets their hands on him first. When he can drive forward and lean into his block, he can manhandle his man and open things up inside. As a pass protector, he does well to anchor and to hold his ground while absorbing the pass rush. He is one of the better run-blocking prospects in this draft class.
Improving his hand placement (which isn't bad by any means) will make up for what he lacks in athleticism. His footwork is solid, but he is so strong in his lower half that he hasn't yet needed refinement.
His continued development should make him a reliable offensive lineman in the NFL for many years.... [Read More
Still is a big-bodied, thick defensive tackle prospect for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Entering the 2012 NFL Draft, there is room for improvement in his draft stock since he is widely-viewed as a interior run stopper only. He tore his ACL as a true freshman, which will be a concern for some coaches during the interview process.
The great thing about this year's defensive tackle class is that there is still the prospect that someone can emerge and break into the Top 5 at the position. Still, for now, is the de facto top prospect but he can be overtaken. Teams are always looking to improve their defensive line, which will carry a player like Still's draft stock a bit higher than projections may indicate.
Still is a tough mauler on the inside who can move bodies between the tackles. He lacks the ability to chase down ball-carriers, but his extreme height and bulk make him a serious handful for offensive linemen.
At the next level, his pass rush needs work. Whether he is shooting the gaps or improving his first step, teams will need to polish his game if they want him to be able to play all three downs. He doesn't have wide hips, but since he is so lean, he can add weight. ... [Read More
Sanu is a three-year starter for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Although the team is not known for their passing attack, Sanu does it all for his team in the air. Through eight games, he has 70 receptions for 731 yards and seven TDs. These numbers account for nearly half of the receiving statistics for Rutgers across the board.
Sanu has good, above average size, height and speed. Although he can get a bit sloppy in his technique while making catches, he has shown the ability to snag the ball at its highest point. He can also catch the ball with his hands effortlessly. He will need to improve his release off press coverage and needs to explode off the line.
He isn't afraid to make plays once the ball is in his hands. Sanu can work the middle of the field as well as the edges. He is quick for his size and flows to open spaces very well. He needs to get tougher as a blocker and show more willingness to get physical when up in the air during 50-50 balls.
If paired with a quality No. 1 WR who commands double teams, Sanu is near impossible to cover in single man coverage. He's just too physical and uses his body really well to shield defenders. Let him work the short and intermedi... [Read More
Thompson has a ton of experience as he prepares to depart Clemson and take his talents to the next level. The defensive tackle played in 12 games as a freshman, started 24 games over his sophomore and junior campaigns, and has started all nine games so far this season. He had 7.5 tackles and 15 quarterback hurries last year and this season he has 52 tackles (third on the team) and 14 quarterback hurries (second on the team).
Thompson has good size at 6'2'' and 310 pounds. He generally runs around 5.0 in the 40-yard dash and has been clocked as fast as 4.92 from that distance. The Thomasville, GA native is explosive off the ball with a quick first set and he can cause havoc in the trenches. Thompson is far from a stat machine, but he draws double-teams from opposing offensive lines and manages to disrupt plays on a consistent basis. In the NFL, Thompson could play either in a 4-3 scheme or line up at nose tackle in a 3-4. He probably doesn't have time left this season to amp up his stock, but with a decent combine he should be a first-round pick in the 2012 draft.... [Read More
Charles has made consistent contributions and impressive progress in three years at Georgia. The tight end caught 23 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns in his first season, garnering First-Team Freshman All-American honors from multiple publications. He hauled in 26 passes for 422 yards and two scores as a sophomore, while being named a Second Team All-SEC performer by the conference's coaches. Charles is in the midst of his best campaign as a Bulldog right now. Through nine games he has 32 receptions for 395 yards and five touchdowns as the 'Dawgs appear headed to the SEC Championship.
The Tampa, FL native has good but not great size at 6'3'' and 241 pounds. He generally runs around a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and he has been clocked as fast as 4.54 from that distance. Charles is a great red-zone target and his speed can create mismatches with opposing linebackers. Other attributes include soft hands and durability. His relative lack of size can be an issue and he has to improve his blocking as he prepares for the next level. If Charles goes pro, he could be a second or third-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.... [Read More
Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater has mixed reviews about his long-term potential. During his time with his Hawkeyes, he was a productive three-year starter. His senior season showed a regression in his skills and he has slid down draft boards in that time.
Prater is an athletic cover corner. With the ball in the air, he lacks the instincts and 'quick twitch' ability to make a play for the ball. He does well to mirror receivers and has adequate speed to stay with them downfield. Prater does well to break on throws that are in front of him and will struggle to catch up with balls thrown behind him.
He is an average tackler who will need to work on his physicality and show a more convincing willingness to scrap with ball-carriers. Does not break down and wrap up consistently. Prater needs to improve his backpedal, although he is flexible and loose through his hips.
Prater can be a contributor in nickel and dime packages after a full year of development, though he may never be a starter.... [Read More
In today's NFL, the most successful receivers are at least 6 feet tall and that describes Marvin Jones out of Cal.
By running a 4.46 at the combine, Jones did a lot to bolster his draft stock. Most saw him as a 4.55 possession receiver, but his postseason evaluation can only help him. Jones is a natural fit as a No. 2 receiver who can beat press coverage and turn a short route into a big play. He possesses a great short area quickness, yet he may not play as fast as his timed speed.
Jones is a good short-to-intermediate route runner, but gets lazy when running longer routes down field. He adjusts to the ball in the air well and has average body control. An average leaper. He reads defenses and can find open areas under 10 yards. Rarely secures the ball using his body and can catch with his hands extended. He needs to show more burst and snap when route running. Corners can usually stay with his him since he bends the corners of his routes.
If Jones can add suddenness to his game, he can take a big step toward becoming a full-time starter.... [Read More
George Iloka is a tall safety prospect who is really shooting up draft boards after a strong Senior Bowl. With his display of size and speed, he'll definitely catch the attention of NFL teams looking for a safety who can cover bigger tight end targets.
Iloka has a great feel for the game, whether it is reading routes or feeling receivers in zone coverages. He sits in his drop and can keep his pad level low as he moves around the field. His speed is more than adequate, but he's a long athlete so he doesn't have a special initial burst. He can track the football well behind him and make plays on the ball. He can line up in the slot and hold his own in man. Once he gets moving, he can really click and make the bang-bang play.
As a tackler, he uses his length well to wrap up and close on the ball-carrier. He needs to do a better job of bringing the man down to the ground, but he certainly doesn't shy away from contact. Iloka is only average moving laterally, but he can make up for his lack of quickness by utilizing his strong football IQ. Some teams are looking specifically for this type of safety, so he could go a bit earlier than where he is currently projected.... [Read More
Ohio State Buckeyes running back Dan Herron is a bit undersized as a power runner, but he doesn't shy away from contact and can churn through arm tackles. Herron will need to show good quickness and straight line speed at the NFL combine in order to improve his draft stock.
Herron isn't a natural shifty back, especially when you consider his size. For a 5'10" back, he takes a lot of unnecessary punishment by seeking out contact. He has remained durable through college, which is a good sign. He can do a lot of the little things some younger backs can't -- like block out of the backfield -- and has decent enough hands to play on third downs. The underlying problem here is that Herron doesn't do anything special as a runner. He's not fast or particularly elusive. He can make guys miss in a phone booth on occasion.
In the end, Herron is a guy who can play in a split backfield, take pressure off a team's featured back and further develop his game in that No. 2 role. With his good balance and short area quickness, he should be a solid contributor sooner rather than later.
Herron projects as a fourth to fifth round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.... [Read More