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Old 04-21-2012, 01:37 PM    (permalink
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Default Joe ESQ's: NFL Draft 2012 Top Ten Players & Rankings By Position

I found this pretty interesting.

Here are some of the points he argues and attempts to defend-
* Mark Barron (Alabama, S) is the best player in this draft
* Robert Griffin over Andrew Luck
* Devon Still #5 Overall Player, Best Defensive College Football Player in 2011-2012
* Vontaze Burfict #8 Overall Player, worth drafting
* Lamar Miller over Trent Richardson

Joeís Top 10 Players Overall

The main complaint about my prior draft posts was that I was playing the result; using past drafts as examples, which anyone could do. While I disagree, with a week prior to the draft Iím putting this out to let you know where I stand about this yearís prospects. Below is my top 10, with a short explanation regarding each. Below that are my rankings at each position, along with a few guys who are over/underrated. The baseline used for the over/underrated assessment is that general consensus between Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who somehow manage to pretty much agree (within a spot or two on their lists) about practically everyone.

My lists are based on what I actually observed while these guys were in college; not combine numbers or Wonderlick scores, which I donít even pay attention to. Note that this is not a ranking of college players. This is a ranking of prospects based on their college performance and how I believe, based on observing those performances, they will perform on the next level. Note also that my list is based on quality, not importance of position.

Now, without further ado, hereís this yearís list-

Unlike most of the experts, I donít believe this is a particularly strong draft. There isnít an offensive player as good as Can Newton or a defensive player as good as N. Suh. There may be more depth at some positions, however.

1. Mark Barron- S- Alabama

Safeties never get considered for the top pick, and Iíve never understood why. First, itís a hugely important position on defense. Itís not a coincidence that the two best defenses over the last decade (Baltimore and Pitt) happen to have the two best safeties in football. Thereís nobody who changes what an opposing offense tries to do more than Ed Reed. Second, elite safeties are difficult to find. Itís not like running back, where you can stick some undrafted guy back there and it might work out, or wide receiver, where you can trade for or sign an elite guy any offseason if youíre willing to spend money. The position requires not only athleticism, but smarts and a strong work ethic. You have to know opposing offenses well enough to read plays instantly. You canít just remember a play or focus on covering one person.

Barronís not as good as Ed Reed, particularly in coverage. (It should be noted that, in my opinion, no football player Iíve ever seen is as good as Ed Reed.) Still, I see some similarities between the two. Both stood out while playing on great defenses. (Alabama and Miami). Both were the unquestioned leaders of their defenses. Both were great tacklers who could hit. Both would consistently prevent the big play, and both would make the game changing pick when their team needed it. Barron will instantly be one of the three or four best players at his position in the entire league. Heíll make any defense heís on significantly better. Barron is the best player in this draft.

2. Robert Griffin- QB- Baylor

Griffin is an exceptional player. Although itís tempted to credit his offenseís success at Baylor to Art Brilesí system, I canít because fast defenses usually slow gimmicky offenses like Baylorís, but none of the defenses Baylor faced were able to stop or really even slow Baylor last year. Griffinís offense, which didnít include any other superstar players, lit up everyone. Not only that, but it did so while failing to turn the ball over. A low interception total can sometimes be overstated because it results from a QB being too conservative; throwing check-downs and out-of-bounds. That was not the case with Griffin. He threw few interceptions despite aggressively throwing the ball downfield, which is a testament to his accuracy and his ability to read defenses. His athleticism is a plus, but even without it Griffin would be a legit prospect.

3. Michael Floyd- WR- Notre Dame.

This was a tough call between Blackmon (No. 7) and Floyd. Blackmon was more consistent and productive in college, and that was not simply the result of playing in a better offense with a better quarterback. For that reason, I have no gripe with people who rate Blackmon higher. The reason I disagree has to do with sheer athleticism. Iím not sure Iíve ever seen a guy with greater athleticism at wide receiver (size, speed, strength, the ability to catch the ball over defenders) than Floyd. Heís right up there with Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson in that regard. Had we seen him playing with a better quarterback, I think his athleticism would have been even more noticeable. At his best, I think Floyd can be a better player than Blackmon and just about every other receiver in the league. Whether the best WR can be as valuable as a great QB or DT is a question best left for another day though.

4. Andrew Luck- QB- Stanford

Iíve outlined some of my concerns with Luck in a previous post ďJoe ESQ Responds to Criticism and Say Andrew Luck is OverratedĒ. The main one is the fact that Jim Harbaughís offense made Alex Smith look like an all-star, so how do we know it didnít do the same to Luck? Yeah, the guy looked great, but a lot of QBís look great when their team runs the ball well and allows most of their throws to come on play action. Can Luck consistently move the ball down the field when opposing teams know he has to? Can he read defenses well enough to avoid costly interceptions (like against USC in í11 and Cal in í09), and make progressions beyond his primary and check down receivers? I think he can. I just donít think itís a sure thing.

Luck is extremely athletic. I was in the stands at the 2012 (2011 season) Orange Bowl. He had us in awe on one play in which he scrambled to the left and threw deep and accurate while getting hit and falling backward. Heís tall, fast and has a great arm. By all accounts, heís an intelligent guy. Stanford had more success with Luck than it had in years prior to his arrival.

5. Devon Still- DT- Penn St.

Still was the best player on the best defense in the country. I know, the stats say Alabama was the best, but there are a number of factors involved in that. Penn State played much better offenses than Alabama; its own offense was so terrible that it had to stay on the field way too much, usually in lousy field position; and the Sandusky scandal was one hell of a distraction late the year. The fact is that great offenses, offenses with above average offensive lines, couldnít run the ball or score on Penn State largely because of Still. He was a force. Heíll continue to be a force on the next level. How a DT from a horrible Memphis defense is considered better than him is beyond me (Poe).

6. Justin Blackmon- WR- Oklahoma St.

Blackmon was unstoppable at Oklahoma State. Teams knew they were going to him, and they went to him anyway. Heís tall and fast; basically everything you want in a receiver. As stated above, I would have no gripe with him being ranked above Floyd.

7. Marvin Ingram- DE- S. Carolina

Ingram was a great DE, wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. I have two concerns with him though. First, playing with other good defensive lineman and a good defensive backfield tends to make a defensive end look better. Second, he was going against lousy offenses for the most part this yearĖ lines that couldnít block and QBís who didnít know what they were doing.

8. Vontaze Burfict- MLB- Arizona State

This is where my list really starts to drastically differ with those of the experts. Burfict didnít have a great season this year. He supposedly has character issues. What I know is, when healthy and motivated, Burfict was the most dominant player on the field. He was Ray Lewis-esq in that he was involved in every play. Sideline-to-sideline, at the line of scrimmage or 20 yards downfield; Burfeit was where the ball was wherever the ball was. I donít know his 40 team, but on the field heís fast. He hits like a freight train. He knows where the ball is going. He intimidates an opponent and makes them take notice of where he is. I think heís worth whatever risk comes with him.

9. Jenoris Jenkins- CB- North Alabama/Florida

Jenkins also may have character problems, but heís one hell of a cover corner. He was a key player on the 2008 UF national championship team that won the title with its defense. He more than held his own against A.J. Green and Jones, two other top-10 picks. He even played well in 2010 when the rest of his defense was terrible. If other people like Claiborne here instead, I wouldnít have much of a gripe. Iíd go with Jenkins though.

10. Lamar Miller- RB- Miami

Miller did have some nagging injuries this year, and as a result his numbers werenít great. When healthy though, Millerís the total package. Heís fast enough to outrun anyone, has patience and vision, and has the ability to break tackles and make people miss. Miamiís offense was great with him and lousy without him, and he played his best games against the best defenses he faced. Trent Richardson was a better college running back, but he lacks the speed to do well in the pros, as he struggled against defenses like Penn St. and LSU. Thereís a reason Saban replaced him in the title game once they passed midfield. Richardson looks like a mediocre pro RB at best..

* Joe ESQ Notes: I watched a few USC games, but never focused on Kahil, so Iím not qualified to say whether and where he should be on this list
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