The 2012 NFL Draft, like those which preceded it, boasts an abundance of freakishly athletic prospects that will descend down the board due to various concerns. This season's draft contains five that are the black sheep amongst their more traditional peers.
Every year, these collegiate standouts riddle NFL scouts with astounding numbers and unique gifts, but embody several questions capable of halting productivity when jumping to the pros.
The following athletes will be presented with the task of proving that their abilities transcend above and beyond the collegiate game.
Dontari Poe is undoubtedly the riskiest pick in the draft. His scouting report is a two-sided tale.
His combine numbers raised more eyebrows than any other player partaking in the drills. Poe pushed out 44 reps of 225 pounds, showcasing nearly unparalleled power that could be effectively harnessed when bull-rushing—a necessary characteristic for defensive tackles (especially in regards to 3-4 schemes.)
The 346-pounder also demonstrated that he's remarkably fleet of foot, turning in an unofficial 4.98 40-time comparable to much lighter athletes.
However, for all of his unique attributes, he never dominated Conference USA—a league full of second-tier football schools.
If a team gambles on Poe in the first round, it will invest more into the stock of numbers than in-game footage.
Jones' genetic DNA is second to none. His bloodline has produced three professional athletes, including himself.
Jon Jones is a household name throughout America. Not only is he the only fighter to be sponsored by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, "Bones" is the company's youngest mixed martial artist to capture a UFC championship.
Then there's Chandler, himself, a freakishly athletic defensive end hailing from Syracuse.
Jones has a diverse barrage of moves, and an explosive dash off of the line to precede them. However, he lacks the overall speed to consistently threaten offensive tackles.
Forty-nine career receptions spanning a three-year career isn't remotely impressive, but Stephen Hill was a simple cog in a rushing machine. Georgia Tech's offense rarely utilized his abilities, so Hill's opportunities to demonstrate his athletic prowess were few and far between.
The NFL Combine quieted the naysayers, though.
Hill's fastest 40-time was reportedly 4.28 seconds, and his vertical was half-an-inch short of breaking an even 40".
However, his aforementioned statistics won't help him on paper. He also shows average acceleration and mediocre route-running.
Stephen Hill's potential is evident, but he's in the early stages of honing his craft.
A perennial Heisman contender in the final two seasons of his collegiate campaign, the name "LaMichael James" reproduces flashbacks of elusive agility and red-line speed.
James amassed 18 touchdowns, 1805 yards and an eye-popping 7.3 YPC average to conclude his junior season. To put that into perspective, Darren Sproles—a running back of similar stature who broke the NFL's single-season all-purpose yards record—only averaged 5.4 yards per rush during his senior year.
However, like Sproles, James' frame shrouds his frame of work. His durability tops the list of concerns in making the transition to the NFL. Oregon's favorite rusher will most likely be viewed as a secondary back that complements a larger starter.
A gigantic question mark orbits around Coples in virtually every aspect of his capabilities.
Is he a defensive tackle or defensive end?
Is his motor running on fumes, or is his heart even into the game?
If it was possible for a scout to create his ideal defensive end's body, the outcome would be Quinton Coples. The North Carolina product stands 6'6", weighs 284 and his arm length measures 33.25". But, he doesn't illustrate the necessary speed to be an elite pass-rusher.
He possesses the overwhelming power of a dominant tackle, along with sound technique. However, his towering height and athletic frame make it relatively easy for interior lineman to gain leverage and conceal their blocks on the prospect.
Coples' engine seems to lose horsepower throughout games as well, which always raises concern about a player's character.
If properly trained and mentored, Coples has the potential to be an effective outside rusher, but it will take a heavy dose of patience.
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