The 2012 NFL Draft finally gets underway tonight at 6:00 p.m. MT and while we won't see any Colorado Buffaloes picked tonight, we should see a few selected in the later rounds. This used to be more than just the first round, and it also used to fall on a Friday, but things changed, and now we only have 32 picks to look forward to on day one.
Last year, the Buffaloes had a banner year (especially for a team that had suffered through 5-straight losing seasons and fired its head coach before the year ended). Two first round picks, Nate Solder and Jimmy Smith (and not only were they picked high, but they were pretty huge contributors to their teams, both of which made it to the conference championships, with Solder's Patriots playing in the Super Bowl), and two day three picks, with Jalil Brown (4th) and Scotty McKnight (7th). This year, there's chance we have just as many, or more players picked, just none nearly as high as Nate or Jimmy in the 1st round.
With day one now only including the 1st round, we most likely won't see a Buffalo selected today. But since the NFL Draft begins, it's probably time we look at the Buffs that have a shot to hear their name called over the next three (it feels like more) days.
Follow the jump to see my quick, night-before-the-draft analysis!
The guy most likely to be picked is Ryan Miller.
I think he's a right tackle at the next level, despite moving to Guard early in his career at CU. While a recent DC article states that he may get picked sometime on day 2 (Rounds 2 & 3), I think he's not going to hear his name until day 3. He's given his all to the Buffaloes cause, but he's kind of a 'tweener at the next level in a way that won't necessarily work to his favor. He's got enough physical ability to play RT in most schemes, while he doesn't bend enough to play inside and generate the kind of leverage he would need to hold up there consistently. In fact, I only saw him generate good leverage in three games during his career inside, but he got away with it because he can move. One of those games was that epic matchup with Ndamukong Suh, where he was mostly able to neutralize the Heisman candidate (though they beat us anyway).
I think next we're going to have one team go ahead and take Toney Clemons. I know he doesn't have the body of work that the next couple of guys do, but he's got the physical ability/potential, and that starts to become more important as the draft rolls on.
He had a good second half of his final season, ending up with nearly 700 yards and 8 TDs. If he's lucky, it'll be a team that doesn't need him right away, so he can get in behind someone who has well-developed habits and learn how to do this professionally. The fact that he played in a west coast offense for his final season may give us some clues about who will take him. Keep that in mind.
This is where the order gets fuzzy to me. I think Rodney Stewart will be a very valuable 3rd-down and change-of-pace back, but also as a guy who can handle a bunch of carries in a pinch. He may last until rounds 6 or 7, but someone should take him and I don't think they'll regret it. We all saw just how hard of a worker he is, and those are the kinds of guys that can stick around at RB in the pros. If he's proven to teams that he can add value on ST, whether it's returning punts, kicks, or even as a gunner, I think he's cemented himself in the late-round consideration.
Ethan Adkins is a guy who is just big enough to get a look because of the number of starts he got. I know he's not a great athlete, and I was not the most complementary of him throughout his time here, but he developed into a solid lineman by the time he was done here. He may not get picked, having to make his way via the UFA (undrafted free agent) route, but I can see him getting at least a couple of seasons of bouncing between practice squads and rosters, if not finding his role as a reserve on a team that likes his style of play.
Tyler Hansen will be somewhere come training camp time. Whether it means he was picked late or was signed as a UFA, I don't know. But he got experience under former NFL coaches in his last year at CU, and that's something that current NFL coaches do value. We'll see.
There's always a market for pass-rushers, so Josh Hartigan will be at a training camp for sure. In fact, I've got my money on Green Bay. They like Brad Jones, after all, and Hartigan is another undersized guy from Boulder that can get after the QB. They may just go back to the well another time.
Ryan Deehan is a guy that deserves a look, but I can't see him getting picked earlier than the 7th round, if at all. He just doesn't have the measurables at a slightly-less-than-desirable size for the NFL. Again, hopefully he'll get a chance to go to a training camp somewhere, because he has shown the ability to be involved in a pro-style offense. We also have a number of TEs around the NFL, though many of them are at the bottom of the rosters. Scouts know to take a second look at CU tight ends, so maybe that will benefit Mr. Deehan.
We should have multiple picks in the 2012 draft, but we may have to wait a couple of days before CU gets in on the action. Our best bet to sneak into day two (rounds 2 & 3) is Ryan Miller, so keep an eye out for his name beginning Friday evening.