View Mike's final mock first-round projections for the 2012 draft here (PDF).
Mike discusses two different paths taken to reach the NFL: Janzen Jackson and Rueben Randle. Read the Houma Courier article here.
Mike Detillier's top prospects for the 2012 Draft:
1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford
2. Cleveland Browns, Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor
(Look for the Browns to trade up in Round One with the St. Louis Rams to acquire Griffin.)
3. Minnesota Vikings, Matt Kalil, offensive tackle, USC
4. St. Louis Rams, Justin Blackmon, wide receiver, Oklahoma State
(Look for the Rams to trade down and acquire the Browns' spot in Round One.)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama
6. Washington Redskins, Morris Claiborne, cornerback, LSU
7. Jacksonville Jaguars, Courtney Upshaw, outside linebacker, Alabama
8. Carolina Panthers, Michael Brockers, defensive tackle, LSU
9. Miami Dolphins, Riley Reiff, offensive tackle, Iowa
10. Buffalo Bills, Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina
11. Kansas City Chiefs, Dontari Poe, defensive tackle, Memphis
12. Seattle Seahawks, Nick Perry, defensive end, USC
13. Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Martin, offensive tackle, Stanford
14. Dallas Cowboys, Devon Still, defensive tackle, Penn State
15. Philadelphia Eagles, Luke Kuechly, middle linebacker, Boston College
16. New York Jets, Mark Barron, safety, Alabama
17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland), Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers, Melvin Ingram, defensive end/outside linebacker, South Carolina
19. Chicago Bears, Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Notre Dame
20. Tennessee Titans, Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Baylor
21. Cincinnati Bengals, Lamar Miller, running back, Miami (Fla.)
22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta), Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, South Carolina
23. Detroit Lions, Alfonzo Dennard, cornerback, Nebraska
24. Pittsburgh Steelers, David DeCastro, guard, Stanford
25. Denver Broncos, Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Mississippi State
26. Houston Texans, Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver, Rutgers
27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans), Whitney Mercilus, defensive end, Illinois
28. Green Bay Packers, Zach Brown, outside linebacker, North Carolina
29. Baltimore Ravens, Peter Konz, center, Wisconsin
30. San Francisco 49ers, Dwayne Allen, tight end, Clemson
31. New England Patriots, Brandon Thompson, defensive tackle, Clemson
32. New York Giants, Cordy Glenn, guard, Georgia
One young man getting plenty of buzz in the NFL scouting circles is UL-Lafayette senior cornerback Dwight Bentley.
Bentley, a former prep standout at Pahokee High School in Florida, the same high school that produced former Saints All-Pro and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson, looks a lot like former Nicholls State University All-American and current Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb.
Webb, a former college cornerback was moved to free safety at Nicholls State because of the fact that teams just would not throw the ball in his direction, and college teams have found out that Bentley, like Webb, has excellent foot speed, terrific ball skills with the ball in flight, and he will come up quickly to aid in run support. The 5-9 ½, 185-pound senior has recorded 43 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 3 pass interceptions, 3 pass break-ups, and he has forced 2 fumbles in 2011.
Bentley’s quick hips, first-rate plant and drive skills to the ball and very good recovery speed will likely land him a spot in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, but he could vault himself into the second round with excellent post-season workouts.Bentley is currently ranked as my 61st best player available for the 2012 NFL draft and that is two spots higher than another highly regarded pro prospect from UL-Lafayette in tight end Ladarius Green.Green has caught 22 passes for 236 yards, averaged 10.7 yards per catch and scored 5 touchdowns in 2011.
LSU has two players in my Top 50, and Alabama has seven players in my Top 50. … But LSU’s squad is loaded with top ranked pro talent who are either freshman or sophomores.
Saturday's LSU-Alabama game marked the biggest array of potential pro talent on one field at one time at the college level since the 2005 National Championship game when the Texas Longhorns upset the USC Trojans. That game featured Reggie Bush in his final game as a collegiate player, and it also put Texas quarterback Vince Young on a higher plateau for the pro game when he completed 30 of his 40 passes for 267 yards and rushed for 200 yards on 19 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. In that game, USC and Texas combined for 66 players who eventually were either drafted into the NFL or signed as undrafted free agents. You will see similar numbers come out of that LSU-Alabama contest over the next three to four years.
LSU is a very young football team, and the Tigers are actually built to play again for a national championship in 2012, if they can get consistent play from Zach Mettenberger at quarterback. In this game for the 2012 NFL draft Alabama had six players in halfback Trent Richardson, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, strong safety Mark Barron, free safety Robert Lester and inside linebacker Donta’ Hightower, rated in my top 42 players who are either seniors or junior eligible for next spring’s draft.
This season the guy I firmly believe will be the pacesetter is Rueben Randle. This summer I did an article detailing the workouts at Sonic Boom Training for Randle under the tutelage of workout guru Wyatt Harris. Harris explained that Randle, who had played wide receiver as a high school sophomore and junior before being moved to quarterback as a senior, was on the verge of being a top-flight wide receiver at the college level. “We just worked the fundamental part of playing wide receiver,” said Harris, a former wide receiver at the college and pro level. “Rueben needed to learn how to get out of his cuts and breaks cleaner and quicker, and he also worked on his adjustment skills with the ball in flight. He has excellent size, he is deceptively fast, and he has tremendous run-after-catch skills. He didn’t have to come here and fine tune his skills, but he knew it was important to take his game to another level. The young man is a very hard worker, and he has a lot of pride in his work. He is going to explode onto the college scene this season.” Harris made those remarks for a column I did in late July.
This season Randle leads the team in receptions with 33 for 638 yards, averaging 19.3 yards per catch and he has scored 7 touchdowns. What is interesting is that Harris also worked out in the summer with Alabama junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Mike Detillier’s Top 63 Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft
*** Junior Eligibility
1. Andrew Luck-Quarterback, Stanford***
2. Matt Barkley-Quarterback, USC***
3. Landry Jones-Quarterback, Oklahoma***
4. Matt Kalil-Offensive Tackle, USC***
5. Justin Blackmon-Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State***
6. Jonathan Martin-Offensive Tackle, Stanford***
7. Quinton Coples-Defensive End, North Carolina
8. Alshon Jeffery-Wide Receiver, South Carolina***
9. Morris Claiborne-Cornerback, LSU***
10. Trent Richardson-Halfback, Alabama***
11. Brandon Jenkins-Defensive End/OLB, Florida State***
12. Dre Kirkpatrick-Cornerback, Alabama***
13. Riley Reiff-Offensive Tackle, Iowa***
14. Alfonzo Dennard-Cornerback, Nebraska
15. Jerel Worthy-Defensive Tackle, Michigan State***
16. Courtney Upshaw-Outside Linebacker, Alabama
17. Michael Floyd-Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
18. Janoris Jenkins-Cornerback, North Alabama
19. Zach Brown-Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
20. Robert Griffin III-Quarterback, Baylor***
21. Chase Minnifield-Cornerback, Virginia
22. Cliff Harris-Cornerback, Oregon***
23. Peter Konz-Offensive Center, Wisconsin***
24. Brandon Thompson-Defensive Tackle, Clemson
25. David DeCastro-Offensive Guard, Stanford***
26. Jeff Fuller-Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
27. Mark Barron-Strong Safety, Alabama
28. Vontaze Burfict-Inside Linebacker, Arizona State
29. Ronnell Lewis-Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma***
30. Manti Te’o-Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame***
31. Jared Crick-Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
32. Melvin Ingram-Defensive End/OLB, South Carolina
33. Ryan Tannehill-Quarterback, Texas A&M
34. Dwayne Allen-Tight End, Clemson***
35. Cordy Glenn-Offensive Guard, Georgia
36. Stephon Gilmore-Cornerback, South Carolina***
37. Devin Taylor-Defensive End, South Carolina***
38. Ray Ray Armstrong-Strong Safety, Miami (Fla.)***
39. Luke Kuechly-Inside Linebacker, Boston College***
40. Robert Lester-Free Safety, Alabama***
41. Alameda Ta’amu-Defensive Tackle, Washington
42. Donta’ Hightower-Inside Linebacker, Alabama***
43. Billy Wynn-Defensive End, Boise State
44. Rueben Randle-Wide Receiver, LSU***
45. Mike Adams-Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
46. Whitney Mercilus-Defensive End, Illinois***
47. Mohamed Sanu-Wide Receiver, Rutgers***
48. Jayron Hosley-Cornerback, Virginia Tech
49. Ryan Broyles-Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
50. Josh Chapman-Defensive Tackle, Alabama
51. Bruce Irvin-Outside Linebacker, West Virginia
52. Kevin Zeitler-Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
53. Devon Still-Defensive Tackle, Penn State
54. Coby Fleener-Tight End, Stanford
55. Nick Toon-Wide Receiver, Wisconsin
56. Andre Branch-Defensive End, Clemson
57. Mike Brewster-Offensive Center, Ohio State
58. Lavonte David-Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
59. Brandon Boykin-Cornerback, Georgia
60. Kelechi Osemele-Offensive Guard, Iowa State
61. Dwight Bentley-Cornerback, UL-Lafayette (Louisiana)
62. Vinny Curry-Defensive End, Marshall
63. Ladarius Green-Tight End, UL-Lafayette (Louisiana)
It’s early, but everyone wants to know who are the top senior and select junior prospects for the 2012 NFL draft. Here are my top 32 senior and junior eligible prospects for next April’s draft. Let’s get this college football season started. — Mike D.
1. Andrew Luck — Quarterback, Stanford
Luck is my highest-rated college quarterback prospect for the pros since Troy Aikman was at UCLA.
2. Quinton Coples — Defensive End, North Carolina
Coples has skills similar to former Tar Heel Robert Quinn, who the St. Louis Rams took in the opening round in April. Long, very lean pass rush ace who can turn the corner in a flash. Coples racked up 15½ tackles for losses, 10 quarterback sacks and 10 pressures in 2010.
3. Landry Jones — Quarterback, Oklahoma
Jones is not as athletic as former Sooner QB Sam Bradford, but he is an accurate downfield passer who possesses excellent size and very good arm strength. He also is a student of the game. In two seasons as a starter, Jones has completed 62.5 percent of his throws for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdown passes and 26 pass interceptions.
4. Alshon Jeffery — Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Alshon looks a lot like what Arizona Cardinals All-Pro end Larry Fitzgerald did at the University of Pittsburgh. Big, strong, very physical end who has deceiving open field moves and speed.
5. Matt Kalil — Offensive Tackle, USC
Kalil has some strong football genes running through him. His dad, Frank, played in the USFL in the 1980s, and his brother, Ryan, is an All-Pro center with the Carolina Panthers. Kalil started at left tackle for the Trojans, keeping Tyron Smith — the 9th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys — at right offensive tackle. Kalil, a 6-6, 300-pounder, has quick feet, excellent lateral movement skills and does a very good job tying up the quick pass rushers coming off the edge.
6. Jonathan Martin — Offensive Tackle, Stanford
The 6-6, 310-pound, two-year starter at left tackle was instrumental in giving QB. Andrew Luck plenty enough time to lead the PAC-10 in passing efficiency. Martin has great size, quick feet, long arms, and he is a first-rate technician.
7. Matt Barkley — Quarterback, USC
On the verge of being an elite quarterback at the college level — Smart, efficient, accurate and a great leader, but he has been a bit streaky as a passer.
8. Justin Blackmon — Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State
The former prep basketball standout reminds me so much of former Alabama standout and 2011 Atlanta Falcons No. 1 pick Julio Jones. The 6-1½, 220-pound end is physical, not intimidated running the inside pass routes, has excellent hands and is dangerous out in space. Last season Blackmon caught 111 passes for 1,782 yards, averaged 16.1 yards per catch and scored 20 TD’s.
9. Donte Paige-Moss — Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Another UNC top defensive line prospect who is starting to live up to his high school press clippings, Paige-Moss has tremendous edge quickness and pass rush potential. He racked up 13½ tackles for losses and seven quarterback sacks in 2010. He could play defensive end or as a standup outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment in the pros.
10. Brandon Jenkins — Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Florida State
Jenkins looks an awfully lot like Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith, who the San Francisco 49ers selected in Round 1. Jenkins is super quick off the snap, very flexible to bend the edge and has excellent closing speed to the QB.
11. Zach Brown — Outside Linebacker, North Carolina
Brown is a tremendous all-around athlete who excelled as a running back in high school. He was a tremendous prep wrestler and a sprint champion in track. Brown has tremendous foot speed and lateral quickness, and he also excels dropping back in coverage. Zach was in on 72 tackles and had three pass interceptions in 2010.
12. Alfonzo Dennard — Cornerback, Nebraska
Dennard was somewhat lost in the shadow of Prince Amukamara last season, but this 5-10, 205-pound cover man has been well-schooled at Nebraska. He has excellent foot speed, very good recovery ability and finds the ball quickly in flight. Dennard intercepted four passes and had seven pass break-ups last season for the Cornhuskers.
13. Jerel Worthy — Defensive Tackle, Michigan State
Worthy is a disruptive force in the middle. The 6-2¾, 310-pounder is strong at the point of attack, he has very quick reaction skills, and he does an excellent job pushing the inside pocket. Worthy recorded 40 tackles, eight tackles for losses and four QB sacks in 2010.
14. Riley Reiff — Offensive Tackle, Iowa
The 6-5½, 300-pound left tackle has flashed some dominating traits as a run blocker and pass protector for the Hawkeyes. Reiff has quick feet, long arms and has been well trained at Iowa. The three-time South Dakota state wrestling champion has excellent tie-up skills and first-rate body balance ability.
15. Travis Lewis — Outside Linebacker, Oklahoma
Lewis is always in the thick of the action. Lewis has led the Sooners in tackles each of the past three seasons, and he has recorded 360 tackles, 47½ tackles for losses and eight pass interceptions during his college career. He's one of the most instinctive college players I have graded over the past five college seasons.
16. Chase Minnifield — Cornerback, Virginia
Minnifield’s dad, Frank, was one of the top cover men in the NFL in the 1980s. Minnifield has good size, outstanding ball reaction skills and excellent recovery speed. Minnifield intercepted six passes in 2010, and his trackdown skills with the ball in flight are first-rate.
17. Courtney Upshaw — Outside Linebacker, Alabama
This young man has great size, (6-2, 260), he is very physical at the point of attack, and he can accelerate quickly when heading up the field. He led Alabama in tackles for losses with 14½ and quarterback sacks with seven in 2010. His foot speed and pursuit skills are outstanding for a big man.
18. Michael Floyd — Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Floyd has had multiple run-ins with the law due to alcohol, but if he can straighten out his life the 6-3, 222-pound end is one of the most intimidating offensive players in college football. Floyd has great size, he knows how to block out smaller defenders with his big body, and he has deceiving foot speed. He holds the Irish record for touchdown catches with 28, and he is second in school history with 171 catches.
19. Jared Crick — Defensive Tackle/End, Nebraska
The 6-4¾, 288-pound interior defensive lineman has been a dominant player for the Cornhuskers over the past two seasons. He's a very good overall athlete who runs the field effectively from sideline to sideline. Crick is quick off the snap, and he does a good job pushing the inside pocket. Crick has recorded 143 tackles, 32 tackles for losses and 19 quarterback sacks over the past two seasons.
20. Devin Taylor — Defensive End, South Carolina
Taylor, a 6-6½, 255-pound All-SEC performer in 2010 looks as though he is on the verge of developing into a star college player. The former South Carolina state champion in the triple jump as a prepster has long arms, a very quick initial step off the snap and first-rate closing speed in attacking the ballcarrier. Taylor registered 13 tackles for losses, 7½ QB sacks and eight pass break-ups in 2010.
21. Dre Kirkpatrick — Cornerback, Alabama
The 6-2, 195-pound junior is starting to develop into the elite cover man everyone thought he would turn out to be when he came out of Gadsden City High School in Alabama. The former Parade magazine and USA Today newspaper All-American has great size for a cornerback, a huge wingspan to knock away potential completions and very good recovery skills. He also is being coached by the one of the very best defensive backs mentors in college football in Nick Saban.
22. Cliff Harris — Cornerback/Punt Returner, Oregon
Harris is a dynamite performer as a one-on-one cover cornerback and as a punt returner. Harris has had some off-the-field problems with speeding tickets, but he has shutdown skills as a cover man and first-rate ball reaction skills. The 5-10½, 170-pound “blanket” cover man intercepted six passes and had 17 pass deflections in 2010. Harris is also a tremendous punt return artist with great speed and elusive openfield moves. He averaged 18.8 yards per runback in 2010, and he brought four punts back for scores.
23. Trent Richardson — Halfback, Alabama
With Mark Ingram off to the New Orleans Saints, Richardson is now the bellcow runner for the Tide. The former high school All-American running back from Escambia High School in Florida has the running skills, foot speed, elusiveness and the ability to gain extra yardage after initial contact, to be in the running for the Heisman Trophy in 2011. The 5-10½, 222-pounder runs low to the ground, he has another gear to kick into out in the open field, and he averaged 6.2 yards per rush in 2010. Richardson is also a good receiver coming out of the backfield.
24. Vontaze Burfict — Inside Linebacker, Arizona State
Tough, very powerful “Mike” linebacker who is physical at the point of attack, he has no let up on the throttle when on the field. The 6-2, 252-pound inside linebacker has recorded 159 tackles, 15½ tackles for losses and caused four forced fumbles over the past two seasons for the Sun Devils. Burfict reminds me a lot of current New York Jets standout inside linebacker David Harris.
25. Jeff Fuller — Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Fuller's dad, Jeff Fuller, was an intimidating hitter playing safety for the San Francisco 49ers, and the young Fuller is an intimidating force on offense. The 6-3, 220-pound end has excellent size, sure hands and outstanding box-out skills, keeping defenders away from the football. He is fearless running the crossing patterns and has first-rate eye-hand coordination. Fuller caught 72 passes for 1,066 yards and a new school record 12 TD’s in 2010.
26. Brandon Lindsey — Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, Pittsburgh Lindsey, a 6-1¾, 252-pounder from Aliquippa High School in Pennsylvania, has quickly developed into one of the top edge rushers in the country. Lindsey has a very quick initial burst upfield, and he has outstanding lateral foot speed. Lindsey recorded 51 tackles, 17½ tackles for losses and 10 QB. sacks in 2010. Lindsey comes from an athletic family. His dad, John, played basketball at Memphis State, and his brother, Willie, played football for Northwestern.
27. Kirk Cousins — Quarterback, Michigan State
The 6-2½, 210-pound senior has recorded three straight seasons of completing over 60 percent of his throws. He's a super smart, very accurate passer who has a quick release, and he is a tremendous leader on and off the field. Reminds me a lot of Andy Dalton from TCU. Cousins has thrown for 5,815 yards and 41 touchdowns for the Spartans.
28. Ray Ray Armstrong — Strong Safety, Miami (Fla.)
Armstrong, a former prep quarterback, has developed into an intimidating hitter and physical presence in the Hurricane secondary. Armstrong has great size at 6-3½, 215 pounds. He is rangy, and the former signal-caller matches up very well in one-on-one coverage situations. Armstrong recorded 79 tackles, 4½ tackles for losses, and he intercepted three passes in 2010.
29. Morris Claiborne — Cornerback, LSU
The former high school quarterback turned cornerback in college more than held his own last season starting opposite Patrick Peterson. The 5-11½, 180-pound speedster has very good ball reaction skills, quick feet, excellent recovery speed, and he really upgraded his technical skills as a sophomore. He has a shot to be a huge breakout performer in 2011.
30. Brandon Thompson — Defensive Tackle, Clemson
The 6-2, 315-pound noseguard has been a major inside defensive force for Clemson the past two seasons. Thompson is built low to the ground, he is very strong in the upper-body, and he is stout when holding his ground against multiple blockers. The big man in the middle recorded 56 tackles, 7½ tackles for losses and had 15 QB pressures as a junior. He could well emerge in 2011 like Phil Taylor did at Baylor in 2010.
31. Manti Te’o — Inside Linebacker, Notre Dame
Te'o, a two-time recipient of the Gatorade Prep Player of the Year in Hawaii, has developed into one of the top defensive forces in college football. Last season the very physical and active inside linebacker recorded 133 tackles, 9½ tackles for losses, and he had three pass break-ups. The 6-2, 250-pounder really runs the field well for a big “Mike” linebacker.
32. Stephon Gilmore — Cornerback, South Carolina
Another standout prep cornerback turned cornerback in college. The 6-0, 192-pound cornerback has excellent one-on-one coverage skills, quick feet, outstanding ball reaction skills and first-rate recovery speed. Gilmore is also double-tough in run support. Last season Gilmore led South Carolina in tackles with 79, and the 1st team All-SEC cornerback also picked off three passes. Stephon is a real defensive playmaker for the Gamecocks.