2012 NFL Draft: Predicting This Year's Biggest Steals

Jon SiddowayCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2012

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Ryan Lindley #14 of the San Diego State Aztecs signals his teammates during the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on September 5, 2009 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Bargain hunters must love the NFL Draft. 

The thrill of finding the best product at the best price, without sacrificing quality. 

That Armani suit oddly hanging in the clearance rack. Air Jordans at half-off. A heavily discounted Louis Vuitton bag (trying to get the ladies involved). 

Tom Brady still available in the sixth round. 

When the draft finally arrives on April 26-28, teams will rummage through Rounds 1 to 7 for the future faces of their franchise. First-round prospects attract the hype, but sometimes late-round bargains get the job done better than their early-round counterparts.

The great Joe Montana was a third-round pick in 1979. He won four Super Bowls during his Hall of Fame career. 

Shannon Sharpe slid to the seventh round in 1990. He won three Super Bowls and is considered one of the top tight ends to ever play. 

Terrell Davis was a sixth-round selection in 1995. The running back was a three-time Pro Bowler and helped his team to two Super Bowl titles. 

Here are some of this year's potential steals.


RB Robert Turbin, Utah State


I have been quite vocal about my thoughts on Turbin as not only a bargain, but as a top running back in the entire draft class. I'd shout it from a mountaintop, but I feel more people will hear me this way. Plus, the mountains are a bit far from here and gas is much too expensive these days. At the combine, Turbin checked in at 5'10" and 222 pounds. He looks like an inside runner, but has the quickness to bounce outside, too. The impressive combination of size and speed has scouts gushing over him. His official time in the 40-yard dash was 4.50 and game tape reveals an explosive burst in and out of cuts.

Any team that lands Turbin will be very pleased with the results. 

Projected round: 3-4

DT Akiem Hicks, University of Regina

A former prized recruit, Hicks took a bizarre journey north of the border to land at Regina. Scouts have kept an eye on him from afar, where he has since been a big hippo (6'5", 325 lbs.) in a small pond. He was a standout player for the Rams, but faces a major learning curve before becoming an impact player at the next level.  

At the combine, the defensive tackle displayed an intriguing blend of size and athleticism. Hicks' techniques are still raw, but can be corrected with proper coaching. Down the road, he could develop into a solid starter.  

Projected round: 6-7


WR T.Y. Hilton, Florida International

What Hilton lacks in size (5'10", 180 lbs.), he more than makes up for in pure speed and elusiveness. He plays for a smaller program, but has been productive against all levels of competition. For the season, he compiled 72 receptions for 1,038 yards and seven touchdowns. He also found the end zone as a runner and in special teams as a return man.Hilton's versatility will be a huge asset for the team that selects him. He was a dynamic playmaker in college, and should be the same in the NFL.

Projected round: 4

OG Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State

This secret may not be a secret anymore after a strong showing at last week's combine. Silatolu, an interior lineman, had an overall rating of 84.7, which means he could catapult up draft boards as high as the second round. He is large, quick off the line and has the strength to hold blocks. 

He remains unrefined in his mechanics and rarely faced elite competition while attending Division II Midwestern State. Silatolu will likely slide to the third or beyond, but will be a starter within a couple seasons (at the latest) and dominant soon after. 

Projected round: 2-3


QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State

Lindley is a prototypical quarterback (6'4", 220 lbs.) with superior arm strength—probably the best in the draft. He can make every throw at the next level, but struggles with inaccuracy (52 percent completion rate his senior season). He is a first-round talent, though inconsistencies will drop him much farther down.

An above-average athlete, yet slow inside the pocket with his movements, Lindley may take a little time to develop. The reward, however, outweighs the risk.

Projected round: 5-6

While these players may never replicate the careers of Tom Brady or Joe Montana, they will be sorely undervalued on draft day. 

Add to the list, if you feel compelled.