Posted: Monday February 20, 2012 12:17PM ; Updated: Monday February 20, 2012 2:10PM
Tony Pauline

Top 50 prospects for 2012 draft

Story Highlights

Trent Richardson will almost definitely be the only RB taken in the first round

Morris Claiborne and Dre Kirkpatrick can both be No. 1 cornerbacks in the NFL

Alabama leads the way with five players in the top 50; Stanford has four

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Trent Richardson
Even in an age where running backs are devalued, Trent Richardson has the skills to be a top selection in April's draft.
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The final phase of scouting for 2012 begins this week with the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Now that the season and all of the following All Star games are complete, it's time to revisit and reshuffle the big board. Here are the top 50 players on's big board as we get ready for a busy week ahead (* denotes underclassman).

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford* -- Luck has been the top NFL prospect in the nation for almost two years and nothing has changed. He'll be the first player selected in the draft and the Indianapolis Colts will barely notice the bump in the road as they transition from the Peyton Manning era.

2. Matt Kalil, T, USC* -- Kalil's pass protection skills are on par with former Trojan great and All Pro tackle Tony Boselli. The junior needs to improve his run blocking, but possesses all the skills necessary to be a big-time left tackle in the NFL.

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama* -- Richardson is the most complete running back in this draft, and likely the only first-round pick from the position. He's a versatile ball-carrier who also positively effects the game as a pass-catcher. The junior has the skills to immediately produce as a rookie in the NFL.

4. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor* -- Griffin has the misfortune of being in a draft that includes Andrew Luck, the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning. Despite that, he's a legitimate franchise signal-caller and a great combination of athleticism, arm strength and maturity.

5. Quinton Coples, DL, North Carolina -- The top senior on this list is a pure dominator who can play several spots on the defensive line. He's a man amongst boys when on his game, but scouts question Coples' intensity on an every-down basis.

6. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State* -- His game was NFL ready last year, but Blackmon decided to return to school to improve his skills as well as work on his degree. Blackmon matured last season as a player and person. His style reminds many of Terrell Owens.

7. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU* -- Though not the caliber of athlete as former LSU star Patrick Peterson, the fifth pick in last April's draft, scouts think Claiborne is more polished in his ball skills. The junior has the ability to develop into a No. 1 corner for an NFL franchise.

8. Riley Reiff, T, Iowa* -- Reiff is a tremendous pass-blocking left tackle, though many scouts think he could shift to the right side. He possesses the footwork, body type and wherewithal to break into a starting lineup early into his rookie career.

9. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor -- Wright was the top recipient of passes coming from Robert Griffin, and scouts love his game. He's a legitimate field-stretcher with polished receiver skills. Wright's name sits atop the wideout position on a number of draft boards around the league.

10. Melvin Ingram, DL-OLB, South Carolina -- Few defensive prospects raised their game and draft stock as Ingram did last season. He's a playmaker who stands out in almost every aspect of the defense, with his ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage or out to the flanks.

11. David DeCastro, G, Stanford -- Andrew Luck's top blocker has been the dominant force on Stanford's offensive line the past two seasons. He's rightfully being compared to All Pro Steve Hutchinson and offers potential in a variety of NFL blocking schemes.

12. Michael Brockers, DL, LSU* -- Brockers capped off a tremendous sophomore season with an awesome showing in the national title game. He's an explosive interior lineman who eats up blocks and collapses the pocket.

13. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama* -- Kirkpatrick is a feisty corner who physically beats down opponents to defend passes. He possesses outstanding size, continues to display improved ball skills and projects as a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL.

14. Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State* -- Cox is one of the hidden values at the defensive line position. Scouts feel he's one of few available three-down defenders and offers the ability to play as many as four different positions on the defensive line.

15. Courtney Upshaw, DE-OLB, Alabama -- Upshaw was the feared pass-rusher in Alabama's suffocating defense, and scouts expect much the same from him at the next level. The lingering question is which position will Upshaw play at the next level, outside linebacker or defensive end? Or both?

16. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame -- Floyd opted to return to Notre Dame for his senior season, and that choice is paying off for the big wideout. He's a game-controlling receiver and the go-to guy who cannot be stopped. Floyd is not a field-stretcher, but a large target who consistently comes away with the reception.

17. Mike Adams, T, Ohio State -- Adams returned to the Buckeye lineup after missing seven games last season due to suspension, then played inspired football. He's a terrific pass-protector at 330 pounds, with the strength to overwhelm defenders while run blocking.

18. Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina -- Brown is a terrific athlete who's been a consistent force for the Tar Heels. He's a three-down linebacker who stuffs the run or easily defends running backs and tight ends in coverage.

19. Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford* -- Martin is an athletic tackle who protected Andrew Luck's blind side on a weekly basis. He's rough around the edges and needs to complete his game, but comes with a big upside.

20. Nick Perry, DE-OLB, USC* -- The Trojan underclassman is a pass-rushing terror who combines quickness and speed to harass opposing quarterbacks. He offers tremendous potential and can stand up over tackle or be used out of a three-point stance.

21. Devon Still, DL, Penn State -- Still is a nuts-and-bolts type of defender in the middle of the line. He's explosive, tough and does the little things well. Still is not a play-maker with eye popping production, rather a steady lineman who won't make many mistakes.

22. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College* -- Kuechly offers some of the best instincts of any prospect in this draft. He possesses almost a sixth sense on the field and makes up for deficient size/speed with intelligent play.

23. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin* -- Konz is the best center prospect in the draft since Nick Mangold was selected in the first round in 2006. He's powerful at the point of attack as an in-line blocker and takes defenders from the action blocking on the move.

24. Don'ta Hightower, ILB, Alabama* -- A force in the middle of the Tide's defense, Hightower is a dominant run defender who controls the action in the box. He quickly makes waste of blockers and stop ball-carriers dead in their tracks. More of a two-down defender, Hightower can be a liability in coverage.

25. Mark Barron, S, Alabama -- Barron performed brilliantly as a senior at Alabama after a tough campaign in 2010. He's a dominant run defender who does not get enough credit for his coverage skills. Recent hernia surgery will set Barron back, but he'll quickly produce in the NFL once at full health.
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