2015 DRAFT GUIDE
What to watch for in NFL draft

By BARRY WILNER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-04-25 03:09

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL draft begins Thursday night with the first round, continues Friday night with the second and third rounds, and runs through Saturday, when the final four rounds will be held at Radio City Music Hall. The Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams both went 2-14 last season and had the top two picks, but the Rams traded the second spot to Washington.

Some things to look for in this year's draft:

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AT THE TOP

The first two picks will be quarterbacks: Andrew Luck of Stanford, who will go to the Colts, followed by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor, who is headed to the Redskins.

Luck is considered the most NFL-ready quarterback since Peyton Manning left Tennessee in 1998 for the Colts. Oddly, he will wind up as Manning's replacement in Indy after the four-time MVP was released by the Colts and signed with Denver. Rarely do college quarterbacks call their own plays or have total freedom behind center. Luck did.

RGIII is more of a running threat than Luck and has a stronger arm. He did not play in a prostyle offense the way Luck did in college, but Griffin's skill set and intelligence make him just as attractive as Luck.

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A CRIMSON FIRST ROUND

From national champions to first-round draft picks.

Five members of the Alabama Crimson Tide could have their names called Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, four from the outstanding defense.

Safety Mark Barron and linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Trent Richardson all are highly touted. Richardson is expected to go in the first six picks.

``We want to help them develop as a football player, which means have a great career here, win a championship and see if you can play at the next level,'' Tide coach Nick Saban said.

Alabama has eight players likely to be drafted. The others are nose tackle Josh Chapman, cornerback DeQuan Menzie and wide receiver/kick returner Marquis Maze.

Roll Tide.

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TOP JUNIORS

The first round will be packed with players who had eligibility remaining, including top choices Luck and Griffin. Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, all projected to go in top 10, are underclassmen.

A total of 65 underclassmen, the most ever, applied for the draft. Not all of them will get picked, but some will earn big bucks. Look for other non-seniors to go in the first round, such as Alabama's Hightower and Kirkpatrick, linebackers Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, defensive linemen Nick Perry of Southern California and Michael Brockers of LSU, and guard David DeCastro of Stanford.

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STRONGEST POSITION

Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defensive ends who pile up sacks are the glamour positions. They are not always the deepest positions in the draft.

This year, only three quarterbacks are expected to go in the opening round: Luck, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. The strength in this grab bag of a draft is at cornerback and on the defensive line.

It's possible that four cornerbacks will come off the board in the first 32 picks, beginning with Claiborne. Others to watch for at that position are Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jackson of North Alabama. Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron is another defensive back almost certain to go early.

Defensive lineman likely destined to disappear in the first round are Perry, Brockers, Cox, Quinton Coples of North Carolina, Melvin Ingram of South Carolina, Kendell Reyes of Connecticut, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, Devon Still of Penn State, and Upshaw, who can play linebacker or end.

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SLEEPERS

Five players who could sneak into the first round:

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - At 6-foot-4, 346 pounds, he can clog the middle by himself, but he is incredibly streaky. His workouts showed more talent than his game tapes.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - Experienced receiver with lots of speed and the moves to be a factor from the slot. Excels after the catch.

Cordy Glenn, OT-G, Georgia - Started as a freshman in the SEC, which is impressive. Versatile and durable, outstanding in the run game.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State - A 28-year-old who played minor league baseball before college football. Brings maturity, accuracy and NFL-caliber arm strength and size.

Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State - Has the size to play inside or outside, and he never backs down. Could also be a factor on special teams.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Travis KelceSep 1 03:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) would be able to play if the Chiefs had a game Tuesday, Sept. 1, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kelce is recovering from an ankle sprain.

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 03:03p

Carolina Panthers WRs Jarrett Boykin and De'Andre Presley were waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jace AmaroSep 1 01:33p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (shoulder) will have season-ending shoulder surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Erik LorigSep 1 12:33p

New Orleans Saints FB Erik Lorig was cut Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Nathan PalmerSep 1 11:53a

Denver Broncos WR Nathan Palmer was waived Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Devonta FreemanSep 1 11:32a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman was the most active in practice Monday, Aug. 31, that he was been since a hamstring injury Aug. 6. It's unclear whether he'll play [ More ]

Jarrett BoykinSep 1 10:33a

Carolina Panthers WR Jarrett Boykin was released Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Jalen SaundersSep 1 09:13a

New Orleans Saints WR Jalen Saunders is being traded to the New England Patriots Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a conditional draft pick, according to a league source.

Caleb SturgisAug 31 11:32p

Miami Dolphins PK Caleb Sturgis remains the front runner in his competition with PK Andrew Franks. Sturgis said he did not have a good early camp, 'but I've been hitting the ball better lately.'

K. ThompkinsAug 31 07:52p

Oakland Raiders WR Kenbrell Thompkins was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Trent RichardsonAug 31 07:22p

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson was released Monday, Aug. 31, according to a source.

Josh BoyceAug 31 06:42p

New England Patriots WR Josh Boyce and TE Jimmay Mundine were released Monday, Aug. 31.

E.J. GainesAug 31 05:52p

St. Louis Rams CB E.J. Gaines (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 31. WR Damian Williams was subsequently released.

Travis KelceAug 31 05:32p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (leg) left practice early Monday, Aug. 31, because of a right leg injury. Kelce was able to walk off the field but did not return to practice.

Brad SmelleyAug 31 05:32p

St. Louis Rams WR Tyler Slavin was waived and TE Brad Smelley (undisclosed) was waived/injured Monday, Aug. 31.

Julius ThomasAug 31 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (finger) is expected to need surgery on a tendon in his finger and is expected to be out four to five weeks, according to [ More ]

Garrett HartleyAug 31 04:32p

Pittsburgh Steelers PK Garrett Hartley (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 31.

Kevin NorwoodAug 31 04:32p

Seattle Seahawks WR Kevin Norwood was traded to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a conditional draft pick, according to a source.

Martavis BryantAug 31 04:02p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant's appeal of his suspension has been denied, and he will sit out the first four games of the regular season.

Phil BatesAug 31 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys WR Phil Bates was released Monday, Aug. 31.

Alan BonnerAug 31 03:12p

Houston Texans WRs Alan Bonner and Travis Labhart were released Monday, Aug. 31.

Joique BellAug 31 02:42p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (knee, Achilles') was activated from the Phyiscally Unable to Perform list Monday, Aug. 31.

DeVante ParkerAug 31 01:32p

Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (foot) said he is making progress in his recovery from foot surgery but would not say if he will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Kirk CousinsAug 31 12:52p

Updating an earlier report, Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins will be the starting quarterback moving forward, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden said 'it's Kirk's team.'

Victor CruzAug 31 12:22p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf, knee) still hasn't received clearance to practice Monday, Aug. 31. Cruz said that the inflammation has gone down and that the team [ More ]

Aldrick RobinsonAug 31 12:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR DeAndre Carter, WR Aldrick Robinson and WR Trent Steelman were cut Monday, Aug. 31.

Tyrod TaylorAug 31 11:42a

Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was named the starting quarterback Monday, Aug. 31, over QB Matt Cassel an QB EJ Manuel.

Devin FunchessAug 31 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Devin Funchess (hamstring) left practice Monday, Aug. 31, with hamstring tightness.

Jeremy StewartAug 31 10:52a

Denver Broncos QB Zac Dysert, TE Joe Don Duncan, TE Jake Murphy and RB Jeremy Stewart were waived Monday, Aug. 31. TE Jeff Heuerman (knee) was placed on Injured Reserve.

Josh ScobeeAug 31 10:42a

Jacksonville Jaguars PK Josh Scobee was acquired by the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday, Aug. 31.

Fred JacksonAug 31 10:42a

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson was released Monday, Aug. 31. He was slated to make $2.35 million this year and wasn't asked to take a pay cut.

Jalen ParmeleAug 31 10:22a

Cleveland Browns RB Jalen Parmele, TE Anthony Ezeakunne and WR Shane Wynn were cut Monday, Aug. 31.

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