The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

2012 Draft Rankings: Safeties and Linebackers

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Jonathan Bales

These are my final position rankings.  You can find the rest here: cornerbackdefensive tackle, interior line, edge-rusher, offensive tackle, and skill positions.  I hope to have a Big Board up by early next week.

Notes

  • 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.

Safety

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)

Linebacker

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.
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5 Responses to 2012 Draft Rankings: Safeties and Linebackers

  1. john coleman says:

    I’m not as high on Markelle Martin as you and hope he doesn’t become a Cowboy. I also think Brandin Hardin deserves a mention. He could even play some nickel ILB, if the safety gig doesn’t work out.

    As far as ILB goes Kuechly has the production. What bothers me about him, is that he isn’t meeting guys in the whole. He seems to be a chase tackler and a nickel guy. I don’t want to say Bobby Carpenter, but watch out. If we were to draft him, I’ll trust the scouts. He just needs a little more physicality.

    On the other hand, I think Franklin is better than where most have him and would like to see him in the star.

    Also concerning Harrison Smith he looked good in his fluidity drills at the combine and his production suggest he can play 3 downs.

  2. Derek says:

    Can’t say that I’m not disappointed. I peg Harrison Smith as better than Barron, but if The Cowboys could get him in the third, I’d be all for it.

    I’m not sure why you think Harrison doesn’t have range. He seems to play the ball in the air alot better than Barron does. But if Barron is anything like the recently retired Brian Dawkins, then taking him in the first would be tremendous.

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I like the Taylor kid out of LSU. Best value.

  4. Derek–posted a scouting report on Harrison Smith in case you wanted more details on my analysis.

  5. john coleman says:

    The only thing with the Taylor kid is his coverage skills are nonexistant. Very little production history regarding the pass.

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