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Top 50 prospects for 2012 draft


The final phase of scouting for 2012 begins this week with the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Now that the season and all of the following All Star games are complete, it's time to revisit and reshuffle the big board. Here are the top 50 players on's big board as we get ready for a busy week ahead (* denotes underclassman).

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford* -- Luck has been the top NFL prospect in the nation for almost two years and nothing has changed. He'll be the first player selected in the draft and the Indianapolis Colts will barely notice the bump in the road as they transition from the Peyton Manning era.

2. Matt Kalil, T, USC* -- Kalil's pass protection skills are on par with former Trojan great and All Pro tackle Tony Boselli. The junior needs to improve his run blocking, but possesses all the skills necessary to be a big-time left tackle in the NFL.

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama* -- Richardson is the most complete running back in this draft, and likely the only first-round pick from the position. He's a versatile ball-carrier who also positively effects the game as a pass-catcher. The junior has the skills to immediately produce as a rookie in the NFL.

4. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor* -- Griffin has the misfortune of being in a draft that includes Andrew Luck, the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning. Despite that, he's a legitimate franchise signal-caller and a great combination of athleticism, arm strength and maturity.

5. Quinton Coples, DL, North Carolina -- The top senior on this list is a pure dominator who can play several spots on the defensive line. He's a man amongst boys when on his game, but scouts question Coples' intensity on an every-down basis.

6. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State* -- His game was NFL ready last year, but Blackmon decided to return to school to improve his skills as well as work on his degree. Blackmon matured last season as a player and person. His style reminds many of Terrell Owens.

7. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU* -- Though not the caliber of athlete as former LSU star Patrick Peterson, the fifth pick in last April's draft, scouts think Claiborne is more polished in his ball skills. The junior has the ability to develop into a No. 1 corner for an NFL franchise.

8. Riley Reiff, T, Iowa* -- Reiff is a tremendous pass-blocking left tackle, though many scouts think he could shift to the right side. He possesses the footwork, body type and wherewithal to break into a starting lineup early into his rookie career.

9. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor -- Wright was the top recipient of passes coming from Robert Griffin, and scouts love his game. He's a legitimate field-stretcher with polished receiver skills. Wright's name sits atop the wideout position on a number of draft boards around the league.

10. Melvin Ingram, DL-OLB, South Carolina -- Few defensive prospects raised their game and draft stock as Ingram did last season. He's a playmaker who stands out in almost every aspect of the defense, with his ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage or out to the flanks.

11. David DeCastro, G, Stanford -- Andrew Luck's top blocker has been the dominant force on Stanford's offensive line the past two seasons. He's rightfully being compared to All Pro Steve Hutchinson and offers potential in a variety of NFL blocking schemes.

12. Michael Brockers, DL, LSU* -- Brockers capped off a tremendous sophomore season with an awesome showing in the national title game. He's an explosive interior lineman who eats up blocks and collapses the pocket.

13. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama* -- Kirkpatrick is a feisty corner who physically beats down opponents to defend passes. He possesses outstanding size, continues to display improved ball skills and projects as a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL.

14. Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State* -- Cox is one of the hidden values at the defensive line position. Scouts feel he's one of few available three-down defenders and offers the ability to play as many as four different positions on the defensive line.

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15. Courtney Upshaw, DE-OLB, Alabama -- Upshaw was the feared pass-rusher in Alabama's suffocating defense, and scouts expect much the same from him at the next level. The lingering question is which position will Upshaw play at the next level, outside linebacker or defensive end? Or both?

16. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame -- Floyd opted to return to Notre Dame for his senior season, and that choice is paying off for the big wideout. He's a game-controlling receiver and the go-to guy who cannot be stopped. Floyd is not a field-stretcher, but a large target who consistently comes away with the reception.

17. Mike Adams, T, Ohio State -- Adams returned to the Buckeye lineup after missing seven games last season due to suspension, then played inspired football. He's a terrific pass-protector at 330 pounds, with the strength to overwhelm defenders while run blocking.

18. Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina -- Brown is a terrific athlete who's been a consistent force for the Tar Heels. He's a three-down linebacker who stuffs the run or easily defends running backs and tight ends in coverage.

19. Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford* -- Martin is an athletic tackle who protected Andrew Luck's blind side on a weekly basis. He's rough around the edges and needs to complete his game, but comes with a big upside.

20. Nick Perry, DE-OLB, USC* -- The Trojan underclassman is a pass-rushing terror who combines quickness and speed to harass opposing quarterbacks. He offers tremendous potential and can stand up over tackle or be used out of a three-point stance.

21. Devon Still, DL, Penn State -- Still is a nuts-and-bolts type of defender in the middle of the line. He's explosive, tough and does the little things well. Still is not a play-maker with eye popping production, rather a steady lineman who won't make many mistakes.

22. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College* -- Kuechly offers some of the best instincts of any prospect in this draft. He possesses almost a sixth sense on the field and makes up for deficient size/speed with intelligent play.

23. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin* -- Konz is the best center prospect in the draft since Nick Mangold was selected in the first round in 2006. He's powerful at the point of attack as an in-line blocker and takes defenders from the action blocking on the move.

24. Don'ta Hightower, ILB, Alabama* -- A force in the middle of the Tide's defense, Hightower is a dominant run defender who controls the action in the box. He quickly makes waste of blockers and stop ball-carriers dead in their tracks. More of a two-down defender, Hightower can be a liability in coverage.

25. Mark Barron, S, Alabama -- Barron performed brilliantly as a senior at Alabama after a tough campaign in 2010. He's a dominant run defender who does not get enough credit for his coverage skills. Recent hernia surgery will set Barron back, but he'll quickly produce in the NFL once at full health.

26. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis* -- Poe is a massive defender who easily moves his body around the field, making plays behind the line of scrimmage or out to the flanks. He offers a tremendous amount of upside potential and has the ability to play in a variety of defensive systems.

27. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina* -- Red flags have been raised recently on Jeffery, but he's still a quality prospect. The big-bodied receiver has the ability to out-jump or out-muscle defenders and consistently comes away with the tough reception.

28. Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia -- Glenn has been an impressive offensive line prospect scouts have watched the past three years, and he continues to improve his game. He's a big-bodied lineman who excels as a pass-protector and run-blocker. The ability to line up at right tackle or offensive guard further enhances Glenn's attractiveness to NFL teams.

29. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M -- The Aggies senior has been much talked about in recent months, and his draft stock has been all over the map. He's a talented athlete who grew as a passer in '11 and a quarterback prospect who offers a large upside.

30. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama -- The former Gator proved his worth to NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl, and is fighting for a position in the late part of the first round. He's a talented cornerback who shuts down opponents with regularity.

31. Vinny Curry, DE-OLB, Marshall -- Curry harassed quarterbacks for three years playing at Marshall and is one of the best pass-rushers in this draft. He's athletic, fluid and exceptionally quick. Whether Curry lines up at outside linebacker or defensive end all depends on how fast he runs at the Combine.

32. Whitney Mercilus, DE-OLB, Illinois* -- Mercilus is yet another pass-rusher who graces the top part of the draft. He came out of nowhere in 2011 and was omnipresent behind the line of scrimmage. He's another prospect who projects to multiple positions in the defense.

33. Rueben Randle, WR, LSU* -- The LSU junior could be the most underrated receiver in the draft. He's a tall wideout with deceptive speed and the ability to beat defenders down the field or in underneath coverage. His game is not as polished as many of the top receivers in the class, but Randle comes with a large upside.

34. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson* -- Allen is shorter than some of the elite tight ends in the NFL, but his physical skills and pass-catching abilities measure up with the best. He's a natural receiver who consistently gets downfield and creates mismatches in the opponent's secondary.

35. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State -- Martin is a complete back who beats opponents carrying the ball, catching it out of the backfield or stopping opponents cold as a blocker. He's not as physically gifted as many of the junior running backs available in April, but his attention to detail will have Martin off the board early in round two.

36. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson -- Thompson is the top player from a talented Clemson defense. He's a penetrating tackle who opponents struggle to stop from the snap of the ball. He's also well-liked by scouts for his ability to lead by example.

37. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (Fl)* -- Miller offers tremendous ball-carrying skills and home-run speed. He has the ability to quickly get through running lanes, then take it the distance. Miller needs a little more experience, but comes with big-time potential.

38. Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina* -- Gilmore has the makings of a fast riser in the draft if he turns in good workouts at the Combine. He's a speedy cornerback with developing ball skills and a prospect with unlimited potential.

39. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers* -- Teams that need a dependable possession receiver will look to Sanu in the second frame. He's well built, resilient and constantly comes away with the difficult catch in a crowd.

40. Alameda Ta'amu, DL, Washington -- Ta'amu turned a lot of heads during the Senior Bowl and is well thought of in the scouting community. He's a powerful plugger who can line up at defensive tackle or on the nose.

41. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford -- Fleener is a tremendous pass-catching tight end who moves around the field like a large possession wideout. He has reliable hands and a body that should only get bigger and stronger in the future.

42. Andre Branch, DE-OLB, Clemson -- Branch is the next in a long line of athletic pass-rushers who have come from the Clemson program. He forcefully makes plays behind the line of scrimmage and easily chases the action in pursuit. Like many of his predecessors from the school, many question his every-down intensity.

43. Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State -- Wagner is possibly the most underappreciated linebacker in the draft. He combines instincts, athleticism and passionate play to stop opponents. Wagner also offers the potential to play in a variety of defensive systems at the next level.

44. Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State -- Osemele was a fine left tackle for Iowa State, exceeding expectations along the way. He possesses the skill set to move to the right side and offers the body type to play guard. Wherever he ends up, Osemele should be a productive starter in the NFL.

45. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska -- Dennard consistently shut down opponents in college, but a poor week of practices at the Senior Bowl has caused his draft stock to plummet. He needs to run fast at the Combine or a move to safety could be in the offing.

46. Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia -- Boykin is a solid cover corner whose game has been getting better since September. He offers elite speed, which he uses to shut down opponents or break games open returning punts.

47. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State* -- The junior is an explosive interior lineman who consistently penetrates the line of scrimmage, then makes plays in the backfield. Worthy offers starting potential for the next level, but must attend to the details of his position and consistently play with proper mechanics.

48. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State -- Weeden was the arm behind Oklahoma State's lethal passing game. He offers what every NFL team wants in a starting quarterback, but will turn 29 years old during the season, which has some franchises looking away from him.

49. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech* -- Wilson turned in a career season with the Hokies and hopes to cash in during the draft. He's a game-breaking back who can immediately switch gears and run away from opponents. Wilson is not the most instinctive ball-carrier, but comes with a lot of potential.

50. Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State* -- Burfict, once considered a top-10 selection, has taken a big tumble down draft boards. He's a dominant defender at the top of his game, but Burfict was plagued with inconsistency, poor decision-making and a lack of maturity much of last season.