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2012 NFL Draft Early Entry Report: D-Line
By Jonathan Hull

DEFENSIVE LINE

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Brockers is the only third-year sophomore to enter the draft early. it's the right move as he cashes in on a stellar season at LSU. Brockers has an elite combination of speed and size, evidenced by his 10.5 tackles for loss this season. He's pushing Devon Still and Fletcher Cox to be the first DT taken in the draft. This is a talented DT class, and Brockers is one of the best it has to offer. He's got value in a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme.
Projection: Top 20.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: As mentioned above, Cox is one of the best DTs in a talented class at the position. There could be as many as five DTs taken in the first round and Cox could end up being the first. Like Brockers, Cox could be valuable in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Cox led Mississippi State with 14.5 TFL and five sacks. He was the one real bright spot during what was a fairly disappointing year for Mississippi State.
Projection: Top 20.

Marcus Forston, DT, Miami, Fla.
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Forston is one of many highly toute players from Miami who never quite lived up to expectations. At one point, some thought Forston could be a first-round pick in 2012. But its injuries that have derailed his promise at the collegiate level, including a season-ending knee injury in the fourth week of the season. Forston was also tagged in the booster scandal at Miami before the season started. When he's on the field, the results have been impressive. He's never been able to prove he can stay on the field, though, which is what pushes him down a couple rounds below his potential.
Projection: Late third to early fourth round.

Max Holloway, DE, Boston College
Right or Wrong?: Wrong.
Analysis: In 32 games, Holloway registered just 7.5 sacks. As a junior, he had just 2.5 sacks and 9 TFL. This isn't the type of production that's going to bring a player much notoriety. Holloway is too small to hold up as an every down DE in the NFL, too, at 6-2, 250 pounds. He's got some speed, but he needs to prove he's got the athleticism to line up on his feet as a 3-4 OLB. Right now, the Boston College early entry is getting ready to go undrafted.
Projection: Undrafted.

Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Right or Wrong?: Wrong.
Analysis: Jones certainly looks the part of a NFL DE, but he's never played up to his naturaly gifts. Jones is a very raw pass rusher. He's got some natural abilities, but it has never translated into great numbers. Had a solid junior year with 4.5 sackls and 7.5 TFL despite missing five games. He's got to become more consistent, and could have used another year to refine his skills. However, Jones should still go in the first three rounds based on his natural physical abilities.
Projection: Third round.

Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Mercilus could be viewed as a tweener, standing at 6-4 and weighing 265 pounds. He's got enough explosion off the edge that will have NFL scouts wanting to see how he performs from a standing position as a potential OLB in a 3-4. Mercilus was arguably the most productive DL in the country last season with 16 sacks and 22.5 TFL. It won't be surprising if Mercilus ends up being the second, or perhaps even the first, DE taken in the draft.
Projection: First round.

Donte Paige-Moss, DE, North Carolina
Right or Wrong?: Wrong.
Analysis: Once considered a top 10 prospect, it's a feasible argument to say no player in the country had a more disappointing season than Paige-Moss. He had just two sacks and four TFL this season. That's a huge departure from the seven sackls and 13.5 TFL he had as a sophomore. Any momentum Paige-Moss had coming out of his sophomore season has completely fallen by the wayside.
Projection: Seventh round.

Nick Perry, DE, USC
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Perry bounced back from a disappointing sophomore campaign to have a strong junior year with 9.5 sacks and 13 TFL. There are some draftniks who like Perry more than even Quinton Coples as a DE. Perry is incredibly athletic and could potentially move to OLB in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL. His inconsistency from season to season worries me some, and I'm not ready to declare him a first-round pick quite yet. There's some things I want to see in his work outs first.
Projection: Second round.

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Poe is extremely off the radar for the casual football fan due to playing at Memphis and not putting up big time numbers. But at 6-5, 350 pounds, Poe wasn't expected to put up huge sack or TFL numbers. He's there to clog gaps and it's something Poe does naturally well. He screams 3-4 NT and will be valued by teams who run the scheme. He's likely not a first-round pick, considering he's not an every down player, but there is a better pure NT to be had in the draft.
Projection: Second round.

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami, Fla.
Right or Wrong?: Wrong.
Analysis: Vernon is yet another underachiever at Miami. He showed glimpses during his sophomore year, but missed the first half of his junior season due to a suspension stemming from the booster issues at Miami. He was actually suspended the longest of the eight who were punished. Maybe the early entries from Miami simply started to flee when they smelled smoke, but almost all of them should have returned to school.
Projection: Seventh round or free agency.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan
Right or Wrong?: Right.
Analysis: Worthy was the type of DT who could take over a game at times. He's not going to put pressure on the QB, but opposing offenses find it difficult to run at the big DT. He's the biggest part of the reason Michigan State ranked ninth in run defense this season, giving up a little more than 100 yards a game. Worthy might have saved his best game for his last one, too, racking up 4.5 tackles, including two for loss in Michigan State's 33-30 overtime victory against Georgia in the Capital One Bowl. He's a first-round pick and belongs in the discussion as to who the first DT off the board shall be.
Projection: First round.

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