Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2012 NFL Draft Early Entries - Stay Or Go?
Clemson TE Dwayne Allen
Clemson TE Dwayne Allen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 15, 2012


Is it the right or wrong move? Check back all day for the latest entries.

2012 NFL Draft Early Entries   

Good or Bad Move?


- The 2011 Early Entries
- The 2010 Early Entries
- The 2009 Early Entries
- The 2008 Early Entries
- The 2007 Early Entries

By Pete Fiutak

It's that time of year again when several superstar college players weigh whether or not they're ready to make the big leap into the land of the mercenaries. The top players take off early to save drafts from the mediocre seniors who chose to stick around, and this year is no exception.

The rule of thumb for pro prospects is this: If your game relies purely on speed, come out. Every football player needs speed to some degree, but a receiver, running back and defensive back only has so many years of blazing speed in them. Any slippage in that top gear, and you're out of the league. Running backs can only take so many shots and should come out as soon as humanly possible. Everyone else should stay in school unless they're a sure-fire first or second round pick. With that in mind, here are the early entries with where they're projected to go. 

Ten Best Pro Prospects Still In College Football 
1. QB Matt Barkley, USC
2. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
3. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
4. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
5. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
6. S Ray Ray Armstrong, Miami
7. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
8. LB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
9. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
10. OT Alex Hurst, LSU
QUARTERBACKS

Robert Griffin, Baylor
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? After Matt Barkley decided to return, and with Landry Jones coming back for another year, RGIII would’ve been crazy to return. He already has his degree and his stock will never be higher.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Projected: No. 1 Overall
Good or Bad Move? He would’ve been the No. 1 pick last year to Carolina and Cam Newton would’ve been taken by either Denver or Buffalo. Luck is widely considered to be the best NFL quarterback prospect since John Elway.

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? With a coaching change at ASU, it was time for the 6-7, 240-pounder to get out early. He’s a big, strong bomber with good mobility for his size. However, he doesn’t have a cannon.

Darron Thomas, Oregon
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? He never received enough credit in an Oregon offense that featured the ground game. It’s a curious move to leave this year considering he could’ve moved his way into a mid-round pick with one more year of development.

RUNNING BACKS


Alvester Alexander, Wyoming
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? Even though he has a decent blend of speed and size, he’ll have to make it as a special teamer. He could be a late round flier with a great workout but he’ll most likely be a camp cut.

Edwin Baker, Michigan State
Projected: Sixth Round
Good or Bad Move? His workload was going to fall off the map with the emergence of Le’Veon Bell. With good speed he could be taken late as a change-of-pace/third down back.

Mike Ball, Nevada
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? The talent and pure running ability are both there, but he likely won’t be drafted due to character concerns after being booted off the team for violating team rules. He’ll be a top free agent priority.

Jewel Hampton, Southern Illinois
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? How are his knees? He took off from Iowa after having problems staying healthy, and he proved at SIU that he could take a pounding again. While he won’t get drafted, considering his history the last thing he wanted to do was take any more chances.

Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? One of the nation’s most productive runners over the last few years wasn’t going to see his stock rise any higher with an extra year. The true sophomore is a home run hitter who gets the hard yards in the second level, but the scatback needs space to get past the line.

LaMichael James, Oregon
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? The 2010 Doak Walker winner is small, but he’ll be one of the quickest backs in the draft. After getting banged up last year with an elbow injury, he didn’t need another season of pounding considering he’ll be a top 75 pick.

Lamar Miller, Miami
Projected: Late First, Early Second Round
Good or Bad Move? While he might not be a huge name considering he went to Miami, he might be the next great NFL back from The U. A big back with speed, he’ll be a No. 1 feature back at the next level.

Bernard Pierce, Temple
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? While he was ultra-productive as the Owls' offensive star, he also took a beating and missed too much time hurt over the last few seasons. Ultra-productive and with power, he should go in the top 100 as a good part of a rotation.

Chris Polk, Washington
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? Another year in Washington could’ve made him a first rounder and the possible top pick in the 2013 draft, but he won’t risk it. While he’s projected to be a second rounder, he could move up the draft charts in a hurry after the Combine; he’ll wow the scouts with his speed and 225-pound size.

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? The day and age of spending a high draft pick on a running back might be over – NFL teams are all about the rotation now – but Richardson could be the exception. Freakishly strong and with great hands, he’s an every down back to revolve an entire offense around. He won’t get out of the top ten.

Darrell Scott, South Florida
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? The one-time superstar high school recruit – who famously spurned Texas for Colorado, and busted – had a nice year with South Florida. Even with his 240-pound size and sub-4.5 speed, he’ll be a late round flier at absolute best. He needed another year.

Robert Turbin, Utah State
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? Considering he suffered a devastating knee two years ago and came back roaring, he needed to get out as soon as possible. He might not have his lightning speed back, and he hit most of his home runs because of the Utah State spread, but he’s a good-sized producer who’ll be taken in the middle of the draft.

David Wilson, Virginia Tech
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? It’s not like Virginia Tech running backs are lighting up the NFL, but Wilson might be the exception. Ryan Williams was a second round pick last year – but hurt his knee in the preseason – and Wilson is considered a stronger prospect with some of the best wheels in the running back class. He’s a high-character guy who’ll earn a few draft slots after interviews.

RECEIVERS

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? He’s not all that fast, but the two-time Biletnikoff winner is one of the most physical receivers in the draft. Is it too high for St. Louis to take the next Anquan Boldin at the two? Minnesota and Cleveland might hope so at the three and four, respectively.

Chris Givens, Wake Forest
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? While he’s not a household name, and he’s not a big prototype target, he’s ready to go to the next level with a chance to be taken in the top 50 with a big workout. Most likely a third or fourth rounder, he should be a consistent No. 2 target.

Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
Projected: Late Third Round, Early Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? Is he another Demaryius Thomas? Georgia Tech receivers do two things, 1) block, and 2) get deep. Hill is a 6-4 long ball hitter who averaged close to 30 yards per catch last year.

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
Projected: Late First Round, Early Second Round
Good or Bad Move? After seeing his role drop off the map in 2011 – thanks to inconsistent quarterback play – he went from being a predicted fop 15 pick to a possible second rounder. He’s the prototype with 6-4, 230-pound size and tremendous athleticism, but he might lose slots at the Combine with a mediocre 40.

Damaris Johnson, Tulsa
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? Talent-wise, he’s a gamebreaker who could be used as a jack-of-all-trades type of returner/receiver. However, he was suspended from the Golden Hurricane after a major legal issue – hit with felony embezzlement charges after allegedly working with his girlfriend to get several thousand dollars worth of Macy’s merchandise. Take away the legal problems and he’d be a mid-round pick.

Eric Page, Toledo
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? The top playmaker on one of college football’s most dangerous offenses over the last few years, he has great hands and is terrific in the open field as both a receiver and a returner. While he’s not all that big, some offensive coordinator will be desperate to get him.

Rueben Randle, LSU
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? With his combination of size and speed, he’ll be a top 50 pick as a potential No. 1 go-to receiver. While it’s the right move to get out now, his numbers and stock likely would’ve been much higher after next year with passing quarterback Zach Mettenberger throwing to him.

Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? There’s a chance he could move into the first round if everything breaks right. While he might not have gamebreaking speed, he has good size and is a terrific playmaker who can be used in a variety of ways. He has No. 1 target potential.

Tommy Streeter, Miami
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? Expected to get his degree, and with Miami almost certainly going to be hit with sanctions of some sort, he was ready to go. There’s a chance he could be the draft’s high-riser receiver after he gets a chance to show off his 6-4 size and 4.4 speed in workouts.

TIGHT ENDS


Dwayne Allen, Clemson
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? If he’s not the top tight end on the board, he’s No. 2. The Mackey Award winner is a pure pass catcher who can stretch the field, he be a big part of an offense right away. He’s expected to have his degree.

Orson Charles, Georgia
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? A star recruit with terrific speed and athleticism to go along with good size and nice hands, he played up to his potential and should be a top 50 pick. Ready to go pro as a freshman, he’s more than due for the next level and should be the second or third tight end off the board after Dwayne Allen.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN


David DeCastro, Stanford
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? Guards don’t get taken too high, and it’s always a hard sell to the fan base to take one in the top ten, but DeCastro could go in the first half of the first round. He’s easily the best guard prospect in the draft.

Peter Konz, Wisconsin
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? While he was banged up late in the season, and even though Michigan’s David Molk won the Rimington Award, he was still considered by many to be far and away the nation’s best center. He could move into the first round.

Matt Kalil, USC
Projected: Top Five Overall
Good or Bad Move? He might not be big and hulking like some teams might like, and he isn’t a prototype anchor for a line, but he’s a technician who’d be in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in most years. He’ll go in the top five and would be a steal if he’s still on the board midway through the first.

Jonathan Martin, Stanford
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? He could slide a little bit, but he’s a lock to go in the first round and could go in the top 15 with the right workout. A big part of Andrew Luck’s success, the left tackle was a good recruit and a cornerstone of the success over the last few years. He likely would’ve been a top 20 pick if he was able to come out last year, too.

Bobby Massie, Ole Miss
Projected: Late Second Round, Early Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Even though he had a disappointing 2011, he’s a right tackle prospect with good feet and terrific upside. The one-time superstar recruit got into better shape over the last few years and now he’s a strong 6-6 and 325 pounds with the versatility to be tried out at several spots.

Riley Reiff, Iowa
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? A slam-dunk first rounder, he won’t be the first tackle taken but he could be the second one off the board after Matt Kalil. There’s a chance he could to in the top ten. He’s not massive, but he’s 6-6 and 300 pounds with a good frame and great feet.

Brandon Washington, Miami
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? Originally, it seemed like he wanted to come back. That quickly changed this offseason. There’s not going to be much of anything to play for in Miami, and he could end up going in the first round with a strong workout. He’ll be one of the top 50 players off the board.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Michael Brockers, DT LSU
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? A terrific playmaker with excellent quickness, he can work in just about any system. Instead of coming back as an anchor for a great-looking 2012 LSU team, he should be a top 50 pick. However, with his talent and upside, he might have been a top 15 choice in 2013.

Fletcher Cox, DE/DT Mississippi State
Projected: First Round
Good or Bad Move? As versatile as any lineman in the draft, the 6-4, 295-pounder can work as an end or a 4-3 tackle without a problem. Very quick and very active, he should be a late first round pick and won’t slide too far, if at all, if he gets into the second.

Marcus Forston, DT Miami
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Health is a slight question after having knee issues last summer, but he’s a quick and athletic interior presence who can take on double teams without a problem. He could slide into the late second round with a big set of offseason workouts.

Max Holloway, DE Boston College
Projected: Free Agent
Good or Bad Move? A tweener, he’s part outside linebacker and part defensive end. He already has his degree, but he could’ve returned for his fifth season. Instead, he’ll try to make it as a speed-rushing specialist.

Chandler Jones, DE Syracuse
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? He was ready to turn pro as a freshman. An explosive player, with good speed and long arms, he has big-time pass rushing potential. His real worth is as a three down defender with the toughness to hold up against power running games.

Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB Oklahoma
Projected: Late Second Round, Early Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Considering he was suspended for the bowl win over Iowa after being declared academically ineligible, the writing was on the wall long ago. A hybrid pass rusher, he’ll be taken in the first 50 picks thanks to his athleticism and burst off the edge.

Whitney Mercilus, DE Illinois
Projected: Late First Round, Early Second Round
Good or Bad Move? A bit of a one-year wonder, he was the nation’s top pass rusher earning the Hendricks Award – the top defensive end in college football - along the way. A disruptive force, he’ll likely be a late first round draft pick to be turned loose from Day One.

Nick Perry, DE USC
Projected: Late First Round
Good or Bad Move? Perry didn’t want to be around for the potential fun of 2012 when the Trojans return loaded. With next-level pass rushing talent, he has the potential to be the first end off the board with top 15 potential depending on the workouts.

Dontari Poe, DT Memphis
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? The top pure nose tackle in the draft, the 350-pound mountain will be a brick wall of a run defender to work around. Stunningly quick for his size, he won’t just be a stick in the mud. He could stand to slim down a bit, but he carries his weight relatively well on his 6-5 frame.

Olivier Vernon, DE Miami
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? If Miami wasn’t in such hot water, this would be a bad move. The talent and potential are there to become a terrific pass rusher, but he hasn’t done enough to create a big buzz. He’ll be a mid-level draft pick, but he could’ve been a top 50 selection had he returned for another year.

Jerel Worthy, DT Michigan State
Projected: Late First Round
Good or Bad Move? How bad does he want it? A top five overall talent, the question mark throughout the year was whether or not he’d bring the fire every game. Some teams will have him as the No. 1 tackle on the board, but he’ll likely slide to the mid-to-late first round.

LINEBACKERS


Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? A top 15 talent, he’ll go flying down the draft board after having problems in what should’ve been a dominant All-America season. A personal foul machine, he clashed with coaches and never lived up to his potential.

Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? The question is speed. He’s a good tackler and a peerless leader, but he’s purely an inside defender. He won’t wow anyone at the Combine or in private workouts, but he could still get into the first round with the right breaks.

Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Projected: Mid-to-Late First Round
Good or Bad Move? He deserved to be considered for the Butkus as a freshman, and wasn’t, and should’ve won it as a sophomore, and didn’t. More than ready to bolt for the next level last season, he came back and took home almost every major defensive award as the nation’s top tackler.

Terrell Manning, NC State
Projected: Fourth Round
Good or Bad Move? Expected to come back for another year, he’ll enter the NFL as a pass rushing threat and disruptive playmaker. His problem is his size, built a bit tall and rangy at 6-3 and 225 pounds to be used as a defensive end. He could’ve used one more year to try and bulk up.

Jonathan Massaquoi, DE/OLB Troy
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? Considering he’s going to be 25 next NFL season and has his degree, his time is now. A phenomenal pure passer, he can be used as a tweener and a speed rusher from the outside. Some defenses will want to put him on the line, but his money will likely be made as an outside linebacker.

DEEFNSIVE BACKS


Morris Claiborne, CB LSU
Projected: Top Ten Overall
Good or Bad Move? He might not be Patrick Peterson in terms of raw talent, but the Thorpe winner is considered the best shutdown corner prospect in college football and should easily be the first defensive back taken.

Stephon Gilmore, CB South Carolina
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? At 6-1 and 194 pounds, he’s a big, physical corner who saw time earlier in his career as a Wildcat quarterback. While he’s not a blazer and could spend most of his career as a safety, he’ll sit on the outside at corner. His size should keep him in the top 50.

Cliff Harris, CB Oregon

Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? Since he wasn’t exactly a part of the Ducks last year – suspended throughout the season for a variety of driving issues – he didn’t have too many choices. He’s an NFL corner and returner, and someone could take a chance on him in the top 50, but he’ll slide because of his character issues.

Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
Projected: Second Round
Good or Bad Move? An interception machine, Hosley has a knack for always being around the ball. While he’s not all that big and he’s only a corner, he’s a blazer who was ready for the next level last year.

Dre Kirkpatrick, CB/FS Alabama
Projected: Top 15 Overall
Good or Bad Move? A no-doubt NFLer coming out of high school, the 6-3, 192-pounder has had the talent to be a first round pick from the moment he stepped on campus. With speed to go along with the size, he’ll be an almost certain top 20 pick as either a cover-corner or a dream of a Cover-2 safety.

Josh Robinson, UCF
Projected: Third Round
Good or Bad Move? One of the best unsung defensive backs in college football, he made his money last year when he held A.J. Green in check in the Liberty Bowl. It’s a stacked year for corners and there might be several taken ahead of him, but he should still go in the top 100.