How Will the 2012 Draft Class Turn Out? The Crystal Ball Reveals All!

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What's this all about, guys?
In case you missed the NFL draft, here’s a brief synopsis of how things went:
 
 
- Neither ESPN nor the NFL Network understands just how angry I get when they tell us who is about to get picked. Seriously, let me watch the freaking draft! If I wanted to just find out the pick, I’d watch whatever crappy movie is on F/X and look up the draft results later!
 
- The Jaguars selected a punter – A PUNTER!!! – in the third round. A punter. In the third round.
 
A punter…
 
(I keep saying it in my head, waiting for it to make sense. It still doesn’t.)
 
- 253 Pro Bowlers were selected overall. That’s right, 253!

Of course, we all know that isn’t true, but you might think so from the gushing analysis offered after each and every pick. Every CB has great ball skills, every DE is explosive off the end, and every LB is amazingly instinctual. Yes, this is shaping up to be the greatest draft of all time!
 
 To be fair, it’s hard to place the blame at the feet of last weekend’s analysts. After all, what are these guys supposed to do when tasked with breaking down the selection of 253 guys over the course of many hours?
 
               Chris Berman: Hey Mel, what do you think of this pick?
 
               Mel Kiper: What a terrible pick! This guy probably won’t even make the team! 
               He can’t do anything right!
 
That scenario seems unlikely, even if it is probably closer to reality than the drivel substituted for it. Not only that, but how in the world can you expect anybody to have an adequate knowledge of 253 different players? Honestly, the deck is very much stacked against the broadcast team. Seven rounds and 253 picks is just way too much to televise.
 
Unfortunately, this “excuse” cannot offer to return you the countless hours of your life you spent on this draft. It also cannot undo the “analysis” you heard. And so, here you are, lost and confused, wondering how both Robert Griffin AND Kirk Cousins can possibly make the Pro Bowl at the same time. It must be tough. Thankfully, I’ve taken a look in my crystal ball, and I’m now offering you some clarity as to how this draft will turn out.
 
(Note: My crystal ball is very difficult to cipher at the moment, mostly because I kept throwing it across my basement during and after each Cowboys meltdown. Those happened. A lot.)
 
(Other note: Please don’t confuse this with the common “Draft Grades” type of column. I will not be throwing around arbitrary A’s and B’s like Mel Kiper, mostly because it’s stupid. Moving along…)
 
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Andrew Luck will vastly outplay Robert Griffin in Year One
 
Sure, it’s easy to kick the Colts while they’re down (and kinda fun!), but Indy is clearly a much better situation than Washington.  Not only will Luck have the benefit of a real professional football player at WR (Reggie Wayne), he’ll have Austin Collie in the slot and the draft’s top two TE’s causing all kinds of matchup problems. Meanwhile, Griffin will have to make do with a guy the Colts decided not to pay, mostly because he can’t actually catch (Pierre Garcon), one solid TE (Fred Davis), and a 70 year old (Santana Moss). Give me the Colts, please.
 
It’s not just the weapons, though. It’s the preparedness, and the ability to quickly grasp what the NFL game is all about. A lot of college QB’s talk about coming from a pro-style system, but few really understand what the heck they’re talking about. Take Mark Sanchez, for example. He was touted as a “pro-style guy” coming out of USC…three years later, and we’re still waiting on him to actually figure out the pro game. Andrew Luck? Look, if there’s anyone who’s ever had an advantage coming out of college, it’s him. His dad played QB in the NFL, his college coach just won NFL Coach of the Year, and he has been doing things at Stanford that even current NFL QB’s don’t do. I’m not saying he’s going to be Peyton Manning out of the gate (or ever, for that matter), but if I had to bet my life on one guy figuring this thing out next year, it would definitely be Luck. Long term, maybe Griffin is the better prospect…I highly doubt it, but I’ll concede that it’s possible. But this year will probably be a much bigger struggle for him than most think. He’s on a bad team, he’s in a brutal division, and his adjustment from the spread to Mike Shanahan’s system will not be easy.
 
Trent Richardson will not break 100 yards in a game until Week 7
 
Uh-oh, Browns fans! These are fighting words! The Browns, who still suck, open up against Philly, Cincy, Buffalo, Baltimore, New York Giants, and Cincy before playing Indianapolis in Week 7. Aside from the Bills, those are some pretty strong defensive fronts. Also, there’s this one little problem that the Browns seem to have forgotten…you can’t really run the ball in the second half when you’re losing by a bunch. If my memory serves me correctly, the Browns are often losing by a bunch.
 
(OK, I’m not actually sure I believe this one. You got me! I just wanted to take another opportunity to point out how stupid the Trent Richardson pick was!)
 
Michael Floyd will catch at least 3 more TD’s than Justin Blackmon
 
My initial prediction was going to be that Justin Blackmon catches 0 TD’s. In a related story, I was also going to predict that BADGAB would make it through 16 straight games with no TD’s.
 
Seriously though, there is no one in this draft I feel sorrier for than Justin Blackmon. First, he had to sit back and watch “experts” basically burn all of his stellar game tape because he ran a few tenths of a second slower than expected. Then, he found out he would be catching passes from BADGAB. And by “catching passes” I really mean watching wobblers hit the ground five yards in front of him. On the plus side, he’ll probably make Sportscenter more than a few times since he’ll have to lay out for any and every catch.
 
As for Floyd, he’s in a pretty good situation. No, Kevin Kolb isn’t anything special, but he really wasn’t as pathetic last year as everyone made him out to be. With even a little better protection, there’s no reason he can’t be a weaker armed Joe Flacco*. And with Fitzy on the other side, Floyd will see plenty of single coverage with little to no safety help over the top.
 
*Wow, is that the ultimate of backhanded compliments or what?!
 
Ryan Tannehill will start 6 or more games next year
 
Miami is going to continue to feed us the “sit and develop” line for as long as they can. Don’t believe it. As the losses mount, the pressure to get the youngster in will increase exponentially. Fans will clamor for him, the media will debate it endlessly, and eventually the franchise will cave. I’m going to predict that Tannehill gets his shot after a disastrous Week 11 loss at Buffalo drops the Dolphins to 2-8. Also, I will predict that the Tannehill experiment is an utter disaster, and that he turns the ball over 24 times in their Week 14 game at San Francisco.
 
Riley Reiff will do something heroic in helping Jon Snow defend The Wall
 
Wait…I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing here. Let’s just move on.
 
(Seriously though, they look exactly alike! It’s uncanny!)
 
Doug Martin will not play defense for the Bucs
 
That’s really too bad for Tampa, since they gave up over 30 PPG and all. But I can definitely see why a team that allowed that many points would need a RB…especially a RB that is exactly the same player as the RB they already have (the one they got as an undrafted rookie free agent…and not as a costly first round pick).
 
(Insert snarky comment about David Wilson and the Giants)
 
(Insert snarky comment about how David Wilson was a terrible pick and he won’t make the Giants even a little bit better)
 
LaMichael James will turn into LeSean McCoy-lite
 
Even if Trent Richardson’s rushing numbers are always better than James’, I think James will end up as the more valuable player. In fact, I’m gonna go out on a ledge and say that LaMichael James will be the best RB from this draft. Not only is he a far better value than Richardson, but he’s a much better fit for the NFL game. His speed, change of direction, and versatility in the passing and return games give him much more utilization in the fast paced, high octane NFL game. His opportunities will obviously be limited early on, but I expect Harbaugh to get him more involved in the offense as the year wears on. By the end of the season, he will be a dangerous weapon.
 
Courtney Upshaw will notch double digit sacks
 
Like Blackmon, Upshaw fell in the draft thanks to a worse than expected Combine. Again, I will never understand why so much is put on these stupid workouts. In a way, though, Upshaw has to be thrilled that things worked out this way, considering where he landed. Not only is the Ravens defensive scheme tailor made for Upshaw’s game, but I hear they just had an opening pop up for a rush LB.
 
Lavonte David will lead all rookies in tackles
 
For two reasons:
 
1. Opposing offenses have the ball for the majority of the game, so there will be A LOT of tackles out there.
 
2. David might be the best LB in the draft. That’s right; I’m talking to you, Luke Kuechly. I’m a bigger fan of David due to his range and athleticism, something that will make him much more valuable in coverage and will allow him to make plays all over the field. Also, there’s literally zero competition for playing time in Tampa, while Kuechly will have a healthy Jon Beason (maybe), and James Anderson to contend with.   
 
Peyton Manning will say less than 7 words to Brock Osweiler during training camp
 
This is self-explanatory, right?
 
Jared Crick and Jake Bequette will both be key players by the end of their rookie season
 
Both Crick and Bequette play like their lives depended on it, and isn’t that really half the battle with defensive linemen? As for the talent, they have that covered as well. Crick looked like a potential top 10 pick at one point in his career, only to have his senior season marred by constant injures (which he played through, and fairly well). Similarly, Bequette fought through injuries last year, posting 8 sacks in the toughest conference in the country. Both players are versatile enough to move around, and both will be heard from by the end of the season.
 
Bruce Irvin will beat out Janoris Jenkins as the first rookie to be arrested
 
Of course, if we were counting undrafted guys, then Vontaze Burfict would win this hands down. Perfect fit for Cincy!
 
The Rhett Ellison era in Minnesota will not last long
 
Prince (a Vikings fan) and I were sitting in BW’s when the Vikings chose Ellison, a FB, in the fourth round, prompting laughter from me and a sorrowful shake of the head from Prince. Why do I feel so confident in Ellison’s failure? Well, maybe it’s because he said the following things:
 
1. I didn’t expect to get drafted at all
 
2. I don’t have any specific skills
 
Sounds like a winner…

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