Posts Tagged ‘2012 nfl draft’


Jared Crick might be the best NFL prospect in the B1G class of 2012

Big Ten Nation did a series recently about the top NFL prospects for every team in the conference, so I thought it would be good to put them all in one post for your viewing pleasure!

Iowa Hawkeyes

Michigan Wolverines

Penn State Nittany Lions

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Michigan State Spartans

Northwestern Wildcats

Ohio State Buckeyes

Wisconsin Badgers

Illinois Fighting Illini

Indiana Hoosiers

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Purdue Boilermakers

 

The Big Ten is pretty rich in NFL talent, especially with the addition of Nebraska to the conference. Be sure to check out NFLMocks.com for more NCAA football and NFL Draft analysis from all over the country.

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Ralph Bolden returns from injury, potentially as one of the top backs in the Big Ten

Purdue head coach Danny Hope has provided the Boilermakers with exactly that–hope–and while Purdue is certainly not known as an NFL pipeline, they have put some of the best players in the league. Drew Brees is obviously the pride and joy for former Boilermakers in the NFL, and if you’re looking for something a little more recent, one of the best sack artists in the nation was just selected 16th overall by the Washington Redskins, former Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.

Purdue might not have a blue-chip player right now like Kerrigan, but there are certainly some guys who could have impact careers in the NFL…

23 Ralph Bolden (RS Junior), RB, 5’9″ 194

Speedy running back who missed the entire 2010 season due to knee surgery. Returns for his redshirt junior season to a very, very thin Purdue running back corps. As a sophomore in 2009, he really showed what kind of skill he possesses, running the ball 200 times for 935 yards and nine touchdowns, as well as catching 20 passes for 261 yards and two more scores. Bolden has a ton of speed and playmaking ability, but can he stay healthy? With such a thin group of backs at Purdue, he is probably set to return for a senior season, but the risk of injury is always in the back of players’ minds as they approach the next level. He is undersized, but he definitely has some power in his game, and he is not afraid to stick his shoulder down and get the extra yardage. Slippery between the tackles, but he’s definitely not a power back by any means. He is deadly in the open field, and with Purdue’s typically bad offensive line finally gaining some continuity, he could have a huge year provided he can stay healthy. In the NFL, he could be that change of pace type of runner, the guy who comes in on third downs and can catch the ball out of the backfield or take the ball on a draw. Probably not built to be an every-down NFL back, but if he can stay healthy and productive for a year or two, he could make significant contributions at the next level.

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Will Trulon Henry's past affect his NFL future?

Illinois doesn’t always have a good regular season record, and this past year, inconsistency was somewhat expected with young quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase at the helm, but they still produce fantastic athletes seemingly every year, and guys who really intrigue NFL scouts with their size and speed combinations. You saw it this past year with guys like Mikel LeShoure, Martez Wilson, and Corey Liuget, all underclassmen who went in the first few rounds.

This year, Illinois might not have similarly talented players at least as they compare to the crop that came out in 2011, but they boast a solid group of players, and with consistency at the quarterback position, they could be a force in the Big Ten.

3 Tavon Wilson (Senior), CB/S, 6’0″ 205

Wilson doubles as a cornerback and strong safety, and is one of the most versatile players in the Illinois secondary. He became a full-time starter in 2009 when he had 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, seven passes broken up and an interception, and he followed it up in 2010 with 48 tackles and another interception. As was mentioned before, Wilson has an excellent combination of size and speed, and has been timed in the high 4.3 range. Known as a leader on the field and in the weight room. Coach Ron Zook had great things to say about Wilson as he transitioned from CB to S due to a rash of injuries in the defensive backfield:

“He was not fired up about it,” coach Ron Zook said. “If you ask him, he probably didn’t like it. But he’s a team guy, he’s a winner. He said, `I’ll do whatever I have to for this team.'”

Wilson had a lot of success with the move to safety, as he led the Illini in passes broken up and passes defensed last year. He should have an NFL future either at CB, S, or as a special teams ace or nickel/dime defensive back.

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Does Damarlo Belcher have Sunday football in his future?

The Indiana Hoosiers are typically not known for their prowess on the football field, and lately they are not known for their prowess in either basketball or football, the two major collegiate sports. The Hoosiers, like a few of our previous teams, are going to endure a change at the head coaching position. Kevin Wilson takes over a team that has really struggled over the last few years, though they are slightly improving every year, with three, four, and five wins in the last three seasons.

Wilson’s crew doesn’t feature a ton of staggering NFL talent, but there are some guys that could make an impact at the NFL level in 2012 or beyond, and one big receiver in particular…

88 Damarlo Belcher (Senior), WR, 6’5″ 214

Belcher is a big possession receiver who had a great season in 2010, leading the Hoosiers’ very balanced passing attack with 832 yards on 78 catches. He also added four touchdowns, and has vaulted himself into the Indiana football record books. Belcher is third in Indiana history with 164 career receptions, and sixth with 1,939 yards. As a true freshman, he played in 12 games and started two of them, and has been extremely productive for them ever since. Since 2008, Belcher has found the end zone 11 times, and is the leader of probably the best overall unit on the entire Indiana team. As a sophomore, Belcher caught 61 passes for 770 yards and five touchdowns, and really has shown over the last two years that he can be a big play guy for the Hoosiers. He is tall and has great overall length, and while he’s not exactly “fast” he is a long strider and he can make plays down the field, where he is a serious mismatch. His NFL potential is higher to me, though I don’t know if he will be drafted higher than Tandon Doss was this past year, though he certainly could be. Ben Chappel is no longer the quarterback at Indiana, so that will be an adjustment in and of itself. Chappel was very good at distributing the ball to all of the receivers, but without him, you have to wonder if the new, younger quarterback is going to lock in on the experienced Belcher to bail him out of situations.

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6 Da’Jon McKnight (Senior), WR, 6’3″ 214

McKnight might not be on the radar right now, but he certainly will be, especially if MarQueis Gray can perform at the quarterback position like he is capable of. Last season, McKnight really broke out as a big play threat for the Gophers, catching 48 passes for 750 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns. He averaged 15.6 yards per reception last year, and really showed how valuable he can be. McKnight is a big receiver who knows how to use his body, and he knows how to  get open. He didn’t start playing football until his last year of high school, and he is still somewhat raw, but there is no denying his playmaking ability. He should creep on the national radar as the season progresses if he can harness that momentum he had in 2010.

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Wisconsin RB Montee Ball could make an impact in the NFL

1 Nick Toon (RS Senior), WR, 6’3″ 213

Nick Toon, aside from having an awesome name, is a big play wide receiver who missed some time last year (four games) due to injury, but is a guy who can really come into the NFL and help someone’s team. He’s probably not going to be a superstar, and I think he compares favorably to Niles Paul, who went in the fifth round to the Washington Redskins. He doesn’t offer similar upside in the return game because he lacks the experience that Paul has in that area, and with such a young quarterback, he probably won’t put up huge numbers as a receiver either. However, he returns for his senior season as the unquestioned top receiver on the team, and has shown an ability to make plays in his career. Over the last two seasons, he has caught 90 passes for 1,364 yards and seven touchdowns. Big possession receiver who will have a lot of experience blocking downfield, and understands route running concepts. I would probably give him a late round grade at this point, but if he can prove healthy and show that he is the playmaker we all know he can be, he could sneak into the middle rounds because of his size and experience in a pro style offense.

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Is Terrelle Pryor as good as Cam Newton?

50 Mike Brewster (Senior), C, 6’5″ 305

Bar none, the best center prospect in the 2012 crop of players. Brewster is entering his fourth year as the starting center for the Buckeyes, and has been a rock for that offensive line. Former freshman All American and a technician on the offensive line. Enters his senior year after being considered a first round talent as a junior. Brewster will likely be the top ranked interior lineman heading into the 2012 draft barring injury, and there’s really not a whole lot you can say about him. He is solid as a rock, durable, reliable, smart, and he is a team leader. Add to that the requisite NFL size, and a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, and you have yourself a top of the line NFL prospect.

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