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2012 NFL Rookie – Tiers

As a standard exercise every year, I not only rank the top rookies but, as a second exercise, split them into tiers to provide for a more effective value  display for potential trades, draft pick valuation and overall talent depth.

As I’ve mentioned previously regarding the 2012 class, it’s a relatively deep group at the running back position and extremely talented at the very top of the first round (in fantasy drafts).  The receivers beyond Blackmon are talented in their own right but there exists a high degree of variability in 2012 with regard to predicting which of the receivers beyond the WR1  (Blackmon) is likely to have the best career.

In using these tiers, your first consideration is, most often, team need(s).  That said, the first tier of players will usually represent the first players off the board, almost without respect to need.  As the last player in this year’s first tier is a quarterback, it is likely that he will/could slide a pick in many drafts.  Regardless of this fact, I stand by those players in the first tier as being the most talented players in the draft which should represent the first selections, although not necessarily in order.

Please note that I have yet to slot Tight Ends so they are not included in this study.  They will be coming soon.

Let’s get to the tiers:

Tier I

1.  Andrew Luck, QB Stanford
2.  Trent Richardson, RB Alabama
3.  Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma St.
4.  Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Tier II

5.   Lamar Miller, RB Miami (FL)
6.   David Wilson, RB Virginia Tech.

Tier III

7.    Chris Polk, RB Washington
8.    Michael Floyd, WR Notre Dame
9.    Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
10. Dough Martin, RB Boise St.
11.  Alshon Jeffery, WR  South Carolina
12.  Ryan Tannehill, QB Texas A&M

Tier IV

13. Mohammed Sanu, WR Rutgers
14. Rueben Randle, WR LSU
15. LaMichael James, RB Oregon
16. Dwight Jones, WR North Carolina
17. Nick Toon, WR Wisconsin
18. Jeff Fuller, WR Texas A&M

Tier V

19. Nick Foles, QB Arizona
20. Bernard Pierce, RB Temple
21. Isaiah Pead, RB Cincinnati
22. Cyrus Gray, RB Texas A&M

Tier VI

23. Brandon Weeden, QB Oklahoma St.
24. Ryan Lindley, QB San Diego St.
25. Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
26. Kirk Cousins, QB Michigan St.
27. Case Keenum, QB Houston

As mentioned previously, the player slotted at 1.04 (Griffin III), may slide a pick or two based on the need of the team selecting at 1.04.  If this team is already quarterback-rich, look for a selection of one of the running backs in Tier II.  While that may be the case, I still would suggest a selection of Griffin as the BPA (Best Player Available) in my rankings.  Griffin is rated very highly and rates higher than any of this year’s Tier II running back rather easily.

2012 finds a relatively thin Tier II, comprised only of Lamar Miller and David Wilson.  Many have Wilson ranked above Miller, but my tape review narrowly favors Miller.

Tier III is headlined by Washington’s Chris Polk, who reminds me of a young O.J. Simpson, in talent and style that is.  I have only recently downgraded him from Tier II but he may slide back up before my rankings are finalized, prior to the combine.  Further evaluation has narrowed the small gap between Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Wright could overtake Floyd, but my ranking system does strongly favor size.  As you can tell, I am not a big fan of So. Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery, but more review is forthcoming.   I am also not as high on Tannehill as the draft experts are.

Tier IV is comprised mainly of wide receivers, with the single exception being Oregon’s LaMichael James.  Trying to pick which receivers from this group will be the most successful at the next level may be a fool’s errand, but I will be focusing on this group exclusively in the coming weeks in an attempt to give you a leg up come draft time.

Tier V finds Nick Foles as headliner, an intriguing prospect to me.  Foles may climb a tier level in the coming weeks.  The three backs sharing this tier are very close in talent and ability.  Drafted situation will play a heavy role in their future success.

In Tier VI, keep an eye on San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley.  He’s got a lot of what the experts look for in a quarterback and a few of traits that you don’t, but he’s got the “it” factor and a huge arm.  He has very little touch at this point in his development but he has a high upside quotient.

I hope you find these early tiers somewhat helpful in defining the talent pool of our current grouping of ranked rookies.  I will be updating these tiers and the number of players within them continuously, so keep it tuned here throughout the off-season.

 

 

 

Jeff Haverlack
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10 years ago

Sawp out WR Nick Toon with RB Bernard Pierce and get rid of Case Keenum altogether and I think I’d agree 100% with these rankings. Great job!

CokeAndBacardi
Reply to  The Lung
10 years ago

Did Case steal your girl or something? You definitely have it out for the last player on this list. Ha.

tim
10 years ago

Great stuff. Tier based ranking of rookies is the best approach to blend value and team need. I think you’re a tad high on Polk and low on Sanu. But to each his own.

Gregofthedead
10 years ago

Loved this article- I have pick 1.2, 1.4 and 2.4 so I appreciate it!!

Ray
10 years ago

I think you are a tier low on Polk and a tier high on Wilson. Anyone that thinks Polk should be lower isn’t looking at film and only his numbers. What he did with a weak oline vs top ten teams speaks volumes plus he never got to pad stats vs inferior teams since he never played on a top 25 team. Love the rest.

DLF_Jeeff
Reply to  Ray
10 years ago

I wanted to wait to respond until I did further tape watching on the two. Not that I have though, I can’t say that I agree with the move of Polk up a tier, especially as it relates to Wilson.

Wilson to me is clearly a Tier II talent. Polk often shows Tier II talent but isn’t dynamic enough to really ascend to that level in my eyes. He has elite vision that I love and great instincts, but lacks that “it” factor that I like to see in my RBs.

vtejrep
Reply to  DLF_Jeeff
10 years ago

I have to disagree a bit on Wilson. As a loyal VT alum, I’ve seen every one of his games and though his physical gifts are impressive, he is not a natural runner and does not have great instincts or vision. He can make something out of nothing but many times he loses yards and his ypc around inside the 20 was less than 3 yards per carry. A good back with good hands, despite his paltry receiving numbers, but will never have tremendous TD numbers.

tim
10 years ago

Polk has apparently been very disappointing at the #seniorbowl.

Reply to  tim
10 years ago

i’ve read that also in other articles that scouts are down big on polk

Greg G.
10 years ago

I have noticed a stream of hesitation (from many) in anointing Trent Richardson the “real deal”. Don’t get me wrong, he receives positive marks from most analysts out there. The fact that he is a skilled player at a fading (in terms of workhorse numbers) position. What, if any, are the knocks on T. Rich? He seems to be motivated, strong, elusive, fast, good hands. Is it the lack of opportunity for a featured role? What would be the best case scenario for him? I hear Cleveland is now looking to re-sign Hillis. Is T. Richardson truly the best back to come out since Adrian Peterson or is there something substantial behind the doubts? Thanks. I’ll hang up and listen!

Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

i see the “work horse” feature role as RB gone or disappearing fast. that may have the most to do with it. some rbs say they have to have the rock 25-30 times a game to build a rythem in the offense, but teams are’nt running that style of systems anymore to justify it? everyone is now looking at GBay and Norleans as the proto type Off. 2-3 steady ball carriers and a recieving rb style, and big fast tes with a stable of wrs…..get ready cause things will really change this next year.

Greg G.
Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

With that being said, where does the value of a guy like Richardson lie? It makes sense to have two backs for a number of reasons. But he can catch the ball, block, and find the hole. Where should he be ranked amongst the current runners in the NFL? Does he qualify as a receiving back or is he just a serviceable receiver?

Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

my position has always been; you can rank em, tier em, or spot them, abut nothing will really work till the NFL draft and you can actually place them on a team in a specific offensive scheme. this maybe a copout answer, but is really the whole truth of the matter. these articles are good in reasonably checking and estimating the talent, but things do change drastically when that player is fitted to a system. mark ingram last year was ranked as the no.1 rookie in most drafts, but when he got to norleans, and got lost in the crowd? can you say darren sproles? this still determines most for me personally. you can say what you want, but for me i wait till the meal is cooked before i eat????? have you ideas in place with these guys, but you’ll still have to wait for the draft to unfold before real choices can be counted on?

Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

my example is this; what if richarson goes to washington? see what mean? what if the rams surprise everyone and take him at 2? they could. fisher loves his backs and sjax has been around for 10. he may want a young horse. would you rank blackmon ahead if the rams took him and richardson went after him, to washington?

10 years ago

hate to come off sounding like i disagree with anything here, but i just wait for the nfl draft to make my final assessments. thats just my personal way of drafting….jeff did another fantastic job as always. i love this stuff.

DLF_Jeff
Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

Absolutely … the Draft is the cherry on the sundae for sure. And it’s why draft picks are always more valuable before the draft than after. When a player like David Wilson goes to the Jacksonville instead of CIN, player values start coming down.

10 years ago

And Case Keenum goes undrafted.

I certainly have made my share of egregious misses over the years, but this is one thing I was quite certain about, and for good reason.

9 years ago

And Case Keenum got cut by the Texans today.

I hate to say “I told ya so” but this one was plain as day.

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