The 2012 NFL Draft is coming up and perusing the various mock drafts and rankings it looks like the Boise St. Broncos will be leading the way for Mountain West teams this year. Most mock drafts have one round but a few have multiple rounds already set up. We will take a look at the mock drafts from Walter Football and the Sporting News.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State. Cedric Benson is a free agent this offseason, and the Bengals likely will go the route of finding a younger replacement than spending big money to keep him.
Over at Walter Football they go a bit deeper and have a three round mock by two different writers on their site.
No. 60 San Francisco 49ers: Billy Winn, DE/DT, Boise State
Defensive ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald have been amazing this year for the 49ers. This pick is more for depth and future purposes. Smith will be 33 at the beginning of next year, so San Francisco could stand to have a fall-back option in the event of a major decline for Smith.
In Charlie Campbell's mock draft for Walter Football he has Winn projected higher at the No. 50 selection:
A physical pass rusher, Winn is strong at the point of attack and would be a good five technique. He got 2011 started with a good game against Georgia. Winn recorded four tackles and .5 sacks to help Boise State beat up on the Bulldogs' offensive line. He had 34 tackles with eight tackles for a loss and three sacks on the season. Winn had a sack-fumble against Fresno State but was not credited for the sack by the NCAA official scorers.
Winn (6-4, 300) looks like an ideal fit as a 3-4 defensive end. He is a quality run defender with the ability to contribute some pass rush. Winn was an AP All-American third-teamer last year, recording 10.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He also had a quality sophomore season with 12.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks.
Campbell has Potter going to the Cardinals with the No. 76 pick:
No. 76 Arizona Cardinals: Nate Potter, OT, Boise State
The Cardinals could use a pass protector like Potter. If they land him, they could move Levi Brown out of left tackle.
Potter has done a fabulous job protecting Kellen Moore over the past two seasons. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder made his way into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman. As a sophomore, he locked down the left tackle position, and since then was the leader on a Boise State line that yielded, on average, fewer than one sack per game.
Potter has very good feet and the strength to keep edge rushers at bay, while also being a quality run blocker. He also has good recoverability, and performed well against Georgia's defensive ends in the first game of the 2011 season. For the next level, Potter should add some strength to help him in the ground game. Defensive linemen and linebackers can get physical with him in run blocking. He should be able to add some bulk and power in an NFL strength and conditioning program to become a more well-rounded player.
No. 92 Pittsburgh Steelers: Tank Carder, LB, TCU
The Steelers could use a young inside linebacker to develop behind James Farrior.
The 6-foot-3, 237-pounder is a hard-nosed football player who looks like he would have the ability to add some more bulk and play on the inside of a 3-4 defense. That could be his best fit in the NFL. To open the 2011 season, Carder was quiet, but he finished the year playing really well. This season, Carder totaled 70 tackles with three passes broken up and two interceptions returned for touchdowns. He played well late in 2011 including strong games against BYU and Boise State. The senior has the ability to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
In 2010, Carder had 60 tackles last season with 9.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery. In 2009, he broke into the starting lineup and registered 89 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss. For both 2011 and 2010, Carder was the conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was also the Rose Bowl MVP for TCU's 2010-season win over Wisconsin.
Leading up to the NFL Draft we will have more draft coverage with more mocks when they become available as well as scout notes, pro day updates and rankings of Mountain West players.