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2012 NFL draft

Pick-by-pick analysis: Round Three

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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Posted April 15, 2013 @ 11:02 a.m.

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Posted April 27, 2012 @ 11:53 p.m. ET
By Nolan Nawrocki

1 (64)  Indianapolis Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson
The importance of the TE position in Bruce Arians' offense shows through with this pick. Allen is more athletic than strong, but has the capability to develop into a complete tight end. Chuck Pagano might have to tame Allen's competitiveness to keep him in check, but he has a passion for the game and could contribute quickly as a short-to-intermediate pass catcher.

2 (65)  St. Louis Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana
After selecting Janoris Jenkins in the second round, the Rams landed another talented cornerback with off-field concerns. Johnson slid to the third round in large part because of maturity questions, a lack of foot speed and not making enough plays against lesser competition. Has the size to project to safety.

3 (66)  Minnesota Vikings: CB Josh Robinson, UCF
The Vikings passed on Morris Claiborne with their first pick, but have not ignored the secondary, spending their next two picks on FS Harrison Smith and Robinson. On paper, Robinson looks like a first-round talent and has the size desired in Alan Williams' defense. Robinson is still raw and needs to learn to trust his instincts, but he has traits that cannot be taught and is a good fit for a predominantly zone-coverage team.

4 (67)  Denver Broncos (from Cleveland): RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State
With Knowshon Moreno not proving to be truly committed and Willis McGahee entering his 11th season, the Broncos needed to add more playmaking talent to their backfield and landed a dynamic, quick-cutting, zone runner in Hillman.

5 (68)  Houston Texans (from Tampa Bay): WR DeVier Posey, Ohio State
The Texans needed to add speed opposite Andre Johnson, plus Kevin Walter is coming off a career-worst season. Posey did not play until late last season following a suspension. However, he has big-play vertical speed and is a good fit for Gary Kubiak's big-strike offense. 

6 (69)  Buffalo Bills (from Washington): WR T.J. Graham, North Carolina State
Is underdeveloped at only 185 pounds, but he blazed 40-times in the low 4.3s at the Combine and has game-breaking return ability. He has 12 career fumbles and must learn to hang on to the ball.

7 (70) Jacksonville Jaguars: P Bryan Anger, California
Field-position weapon who consistently boomed punts, flipped the field and pinned opponents deep. The Jaguars ranked among the worst teams in punting last year and needed an upgrade over Nick Harris.

8 (71)  Redskins (from Buffalo): OG Josh LeRibeus, SMU
LeRibeus dropped 70 pounds prior to his senior season and elevated his stock. Is a strong fit for the Redskins' zone-blocking scheme and has the ability to function at center. Has eventual starter potential.

9 (72)  Miami Dolphins: DE Olivier Vernon, Miami (Fla.)
Koa Misi regressed in his second season and new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle needed to add another pass rusher capable of playing the run. Vernon has explosive body power and began climing draft boards after a strong Combine and pro-day workout. Despite not playing well during a suspension-shorted junior season, his sophomore tape showed big-time flashes.

10 (73)  San Diego (from Miami through Carolina and Chicago): S Brandon Taylor, LSU
Atari Bigby has limitations as a box safety and Taylor was drafted to replace him. With strong intangibles and physicality. Taylor has eventual starter potential.

11 (74)  Kansas City Chiefs: OT Donald Stephenson, Oklahoma
Stephenson could prove to be a tremendous value in the third round for the Chiefs, who have improved the left side of their offensive line already with the addition of Jeff Allen. Character concerns affected Stephenson's draft status, but he was one of the best testers at the Combine with outstanding foot quickness and agility. He could light a fire under the underachieving Branden Albert.

12 (75)  Seattle Seahawks: QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
The Seahawks signed Matt Flynn in free agency to compete with Tarvaris Jackson and, after selecting Russell Wilson, they could find a way to involve him in a situational role. He has a live arm and playmaking ability outside the pocket. Though he could always be troubled by his lack of height, he made believers with a sensational senior season.

13 (76)  Houston Texans (from Philadelphia): OG Brandon Brooks, Miami (Ohio)
The Texans needed to add more depth to the right side of their offensive line with ORG Antoine Caldwell struggling to stay healthy and Wade Smith entering his 11th season. Despite being snubbed by the Combine, Brooks produced an outstanding pro-day workout and is both quick and powerful.

14 (77)  New York Jets: OLB Demario Davis, Arkansas State
Davis stood out at the Senior Bowl and followed up with a strong performance at the Combine, where he was one of the best performers. Age is catching up to the Jets at the linebacker position and Davis can contribute immediately on special teams while being groomed to replace Bart Scott.

15 (78)  Miami Dolphins (from San Diego):
TE Michael Egnew, Missouri
The arrival of Joe Philbin changed the style of the Dolphins' offense from power to finesse and the team needed to add an athletic seam-stretcher who can open up the downfield passing attack and keep defenses honest. Egnew is an exceptional athlete who struggled through average quarterback play as a senior, but has big-play potential.

16 (79)  Chicago Bears: FS Brandon Hardin, Oregon State
Rod Marinelli's defense forces safeties to collide often and the Bears have cycled through safeties as a result. Hardin should contribute readily on special teams and has the striking ability desired to become a factor in run support. He has eventual starter potential.

17 (80)  Arizona Cardinals: CB Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
Patrick Peterson made an instant impact, but the Cardinals needed to add more depth at the position. With Richard Marshall departing in free agency, Fleming has ideal size, flash playmaking ability and should contribute readily on special teams.

18 (81)  Dallas Cowboys: DE Tyrone Crawford, Boise State
Kenyon Coleman is 33 years old and on his last legs and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan could benefit from the addition of an energetic five-technique. Crawford is strong, physical and tough and can be groomed to take over the spot.

19 (82)  Tennessee Titans: DT Mike Martin, Michigan
The Titans found Karl Klug in the fifth round a year ago and he proved to be a strong rookie contributor. GM Ruston Webster landed a similar, albeit more athletic, talent. Martin has an outstanding motor and toughness and could be an inside force.

20 (83)  Cincinnati Bengals: WR Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers
Sanu is an extremely productive inside receiver with the toughness desired to do the dirty work. Despite being the focus of extra attention on an offense lacking talent and having to overcome young, inconsistent QB play, he proved to be a steady producer with the maturity and work habits to become a fine pro. He could be a great fit as an underneath receiver in Jay Gruden's offense and take some attention away from A.J. Green.

21 (84)  Baltimore Ravens (from Atlanta): RB Bernard Pierce, Temple
With Ray Rice's long-term contract situation still to be resolved, the Ravens found an insurance policy in Pierce. Questions about his toughness and competitiveness were the biggest concern. He has clear starter-caliber physical traits and looks every bit the part.

22 (85)  Detroit Lions: CB Dwight "Bill" Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette
Cornerback has been a pressing concern for the Lions for several years and their situation did not get any better when Eric Wright signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason. Bentley lacks ideal size and bulk, but he has a feisty temperament that fits well with Gunther Cunningham's defense. His stock climbed with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and he could have an opportunity to start.

23 (86)  Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Sean Spence, Miami (Fla.)
Spence has outstanding instincts and feel for the game and noticeably stands out on the field for his playmaking ability. However, he is very undersized, having played as a senior at less than 220 pounds and did not look as explosive in the postseason after bulking up. He could make an immediate impact as a core special-teams player.

24 (87)  Cleveland Browns (from Denver): DT John Hughes, Cincinnati
Hughes warranted some mid-round grades from evaluators after making his senior season his best. He projects as a two-down run stuffer who can clog the middle.

25 (88)  Philadelphia Eagles (from Houston): QB Nick Foles, Arizona
Foles is a heavy-footed pocket passer with questionable makeup and toughness. He produced big numbers in a dink-and-dunk college offense, but might struggle to ever be more than a backup.

26 (89)  New Orleans Saints: DE Akiem Hicks, Regina (Saskatchewan)
With Shaun Rogers departing, the Saints could use another massive body to plug the middle. Hicks is a dancing bear with very good movement skill for his size and terrific length.

27 (90)  New England Patriots (from Green Bay): DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas
The Patriots entered this draft with a strong need for pressure players and they landed their third in four picks with the addition of Bequette, who has drawn comparisons to Jared Allen for his motor and energy.

28 (91)  Atlanta Falcons (from Baltimore): OT Lamar Holmes, Southern Mississippi
Holmes shed 30 pounds and showed much better as a senior. He continued to gain momentum in the postseason with a strong East-West Shrine performance and solid Combine. With 35-inch arms, he has ideal length to handle the edges. It might take him a year to acclimate to the NFL game, but he can improve protection for Matt Ryan, a clear priority for GM Thomas Dimitroff.

29 (92)  Indianapolis Colts (from San Francisco): WR T.Y. Hilton, Florida International
The Colts' offense added its third weapon for QB Andrew Luck. Questions about Hilton's toughness and durability have been called into question, but he is elecric with the ball in his hands and shows some resemblance to DeSean Jackson, whom GM Ryan Grigson had a hand in drafting in Philadelphia. The Colts will be looking for a similar spark.

30 (93)  Cincinnati Bengals (from New England): DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
Medical concerns pushed Thompson down draft boards, but he is extremely tough and could prove to be the second value pick the Bengals landed on Friday, having already chosen Devon Still.

31 (94)  New York Giants: CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech
The Giants have a history of weighing risk and reward, having found talents such as Mario Manningham and Ahmad Bradshaw in the mid-to-late rounds. Hosley tested positive for drugs at the Combine and teams have expressed concern for off-field issues, but he is a solid coverman who can contribute readily in the slot and return punts.

32 (95)  Oakland Raiders (compensatory selection): OG Tony Bergstrom, Utah
With the first pick of the Reggie McKenzie era, the Raiders landed a very solid, workmanlike zone blocker. He played left tackle in college but projects better inside because of his short arms. He could compete for the starting OLG job alongside recently acquired Mike Brisiel, improving the middle of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme.

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