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Ask the experts: Favorite Day Two pick

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By PFW staff

More intriguing picks flew off the board on Day Two of the 2012 NFL draft, so we asked several PFW editors to reflect on their favorite pick from the evening.

Senior editor Mike Wilkening
OLB Courtney Upshaw | Ravens | No. 35
The Alabama linebacker looks to be an ideal fit for the Ravens’ defensive scheme and mentality. Physical and tough, Upshaw could push for immediate playing time as Baltimore tries to replace Jarret Johnson, another Crimson Tide product. If Upshaw pans out, he could have a LaMarr Woodley-type impact on the Ravens’ defense, which already has one elite pass rusher in his prime in Terrell Suggs and would benefit from the emergence of another difference-making edge presence both now and in the future. Upshaw isn’t a slam dunk — he did, after all, slide out of Round One — but this was the right pick at the right time for the Ravens.  

Associate editor Kevin Fishbain
WR Stephen Hill | Jets | No. 43
There were mock drafts that had WR Stephen Hill going late in the first round, and when he was still on the board early in the second, Mike Tannenbaum made his move, trading up to make Hill a Jet. The Jets' biggest need on offense (apologies to the Wayne Hunter haters) was finding a deep threat at wide receiver. Hill has the size and speed to be a vertical threat in the NFL, and he immediately provides a boost to Mark Sanchez and a Jets offense that had been devoid of playmakers. The biggest knock on Hill is his lack of experience after playing in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, but Tony Sparano’s offense with the Jets shouldn’t be too complicated for Hill, who will provide the vertical receiver the offense needed.

Associate editor Arthur Arkush
OLB Courtney Upshaw | Ravens | No. 35
Although it hardly qualified as a surprise, the Ravens trading out of the first round and still landing a first-round talent in Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw with the 35th overall pick was a savvy and very Ravens-like move that I foresee paying off in a major way. Upshaw is a spitting image of what a Ravens linebacker looks like, and at No. 35 overall, he represented serious bang for the Ravens’ buck. What I love most about the move is how perfect of a situation the occasionally undisciplined Upshaw steps into. Who better to light a fire under this kid’s butt than the greatest linebacker of our generation, Ray Lewis? Upshaw is pure power and aggression, and he makes an already-intimidating Baltimore “D” that much scarier. Bravo, Mr. Newsome.

Associate editor Eli Kaberon
TE Coby Fleener | Colts | No. 34
Sometimes the best picks are the most obvious ones. The Colts proved that in Round One by grabbing QB Andrew Luck, and then did it again in Round Two by selecting Luck’s former Cardinal teammate, TE Coby Fleener. An athletic and competitive playmaker, Fleener should have little worry adjusting to life in the NFL, given that the man who threw him passes for three years in college will be doing the same thing for the foreseeable future in Indianapolis. The Colts could have reached for a defensive player or a wide receiver with pick No. 34. Instead, they used common sense and got Luck a target he’s familiar with and the best tight end in the draft

Associate editor Dan Parr
OLB Courtney Upshaw | Ravens | No. 35
Courtney Upshaw to the Ravens would have been a contender for my favorite pick of Day One of the draft. The fit is just that good. To have him fall to Baltimore in the second round makes my decision for favorite pick of Day Two a relatively easy one. Upshaw is a first-round talent who slid because of some character and makeup concerns. The Ravens made a terrific value pick. He can be an immediate starter at outside linebacker and will make a big impact for the next decade after learning from some of the best in the game, with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs serving as his mentors.

Senior producer Adam Anshell
RB LaMichael James | 49ers | No. 61
LaMichael James isn’t the prototype for what an NFL running back should be. He isn’t big enough. He isn’t durable enough and he doesn’t even fill an immediate need for the 49ers. What he is, though, is an explosive player who can change the complexion of a game on any given play. He’ll never be a 20-carry guy, but as we’ve seen with Darren Sproles, that’s not a prerequisite for being a difference maker. When they look back on the 2012 draft, a lot of teams are going to regret not looking outside the box and snatching up a game-changer like James.

Senior editor Eric Edholm
WR Rueben Randle | Giants | No. 63
When college scouting director Marc Ross spoke of why Randle — considered a top-40 pick by many — might have fallen to the Giants at the end of Round Two, Ross didn’t mince words. “The way LSU plays, they run the ball, they play defense … and those two quarterbacks, to be quite honest, are not very good,” Ross said. “So (Randle) didn’t get a lot of chances.” But he certainly made the most of them — nearly 17 yards per reception and 13 scores on 97 catches in a run-based attack with, well, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee at quarterback. Guess you can file that Ross quote away for your 2013 mock drafts. But Randle fits a perfect spot as the “X” receiver in the Giants’ offense, which was vacated by Mario Manningham, and it keeps Victor Cruz in the slot, where he’s best. With Hakeem Nicks on the other side — and the run game boosted with speedy David Wilson in Round One — Eli Manning has to be tickled. Randle will be a bargain replacement for Manningham in the team’s three-WR sets.

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