2012 Draft Rankings: Safeties and Linebackers
These are my final position rankings. You can find the rest here: cornerback, defensive tackle, interior line, edge-rusher, offensive tackle, and skill positions. I hope to have a Big Board up by early next week.
- The round listed after each prospect’s name is the grade I have provided him, NOT where I think he will get selected. I view players with two rounds listed as on the border of each.
- Players with the *** designation are higher than consensus rankings, while those with ^^^ after their names are lower than the consensus.
- Linebackers are all non-rushers (4-3 linebackers or 3-4 inside linebackers). You can find 3-4 backers in my edge-rusher rankings.
1. Mark Barron, Alabama (First Round)
2. Brandon Taylor, LSU (Second Round)
3. Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State (Second/Third Round)
4. Harrison Smith, Notre Dame (Third Round) ^^^
5. Trenton Robinson, Michigan State (Third Round)
6. Kelcie McCray, Arkansas State (Third Round) ***
7. Aaron Henry, Wisconsin (Third/Fourth Round)
8. Tramain Thomas, Arkansas (Third/Fourth Round)
9. George Iloka, Boise State (Third/Fourth Round)
10. Corey Mosley, Virginia Tech (Fourth Round)
11. Janzen Jackson, McNeese State (Fourth Round)
12. Christian Thompson, South Carolina State (Fifth Round)
1. Luke Kuechly, Boston College (First Round) ***
2. James-Michael Johnson, Nevada (First/Second Round) ***
3. Mychal Kendricks, Cal (Second Round)
4. Nigel Bradham, FSU (Second Round) ***
5. Dont’a Hightower, Alabama (Second Round) ^^^
6. Emmanuel Acho, Texas (Second Round) ***
7. Lavonte David, Nebraska (Second/Third Round) ^^^
8. Bobby Wagner, Utah State (Third Round)
9. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma (Third/Fourth Round)
10. Tank Carder, TCU (Fourth Round)
11. Zach Brown, UNC (Fourth Round) ^^^
12. Sean Spence, Miami (Fourth Round)
13. Jerry Franklin, Arkansas (Fifth Round)
A few thoughts. . .
- I wasn’t originally extremely high on Barron, but he’s grown on me in the last few weeks. I’ve watched a whole lot of his tape, and although I don’t think he’s a top 15 talent, I wouldn’t be totally bummed if the Cowboys grab him at No. 14.
- Harrison Smith just doesn’t do it for me. I’m sure he’ll be a solid pro, but I don’t see the upside here. He’s not rangy in the least, and he might need to come off the field in nickel.
- Watch out for safety Kelcie McCray. No competition at Arkansas State, but he has big-time range and is a play-maker in the deep half.
- I actually like quite a few linebackers in this draft class. Kuechly is a can’t-miss guy and, although he plays a relatively “invaluable” position, I think he’s worthy of a top 10 pick.
- No one has James-Michael Johnson rated anywhere near as high as me, but I think he has superstar potential. He’s a heck of an athlete, has great feet, and can turn and run. The same goes from FSU’s Nigel Bradham, who, unlike Johnson, played top-notch competition.
- Both Dont’a Hightower and Zach Brown have poor hips, in my opinion. I know that isn’t as important at linebacker as safety or cornerback, but neither plays shows the change-of-direction you’d like in a linebacker.