The 2012 NFL draft kicks off Thursday night, and it's always interesting not only to see what players from our area colleges like WVU, Ohio State and Marshall end up being selected and by who, but also to find out what our three closest pro teams in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati do with their picks.
For this column, I ran across a pretty knowledgeable article by columnist Chris Rolling of the Bleacher Report website, featuring draft predictions for Thursday's first two rounds.
Ony three local college players are mentioned - and none in the first round, but one at the top of the second.
That would be offensive tackle Mike Adams from OSU, as the 33rd pick by the St. Louis Rams.
''Adams is the best player on the board by then at the tackle position and will slide into a starting role with relative ease for St. Louis,'' said Rolling. ''He's an upgrade on a offensive line that was a disappointing unit in 2011. The Rams could do a massive favor for quarterback Sam Bradford with this pick as Adams will help stop Bradford from getting his head knocked off with regularity.''
Rolling sees the 43rd selection, by the Seattle Seahawks, as Marshall outside linebacker/defensive end Vinny Curry
''The Seahawks need versatile players who do a better job of getting to the quarterback than the guys they had last year,'' wrote Rolling. ''And with that, taking Curry makes a lot of sense here. He is predominantly a defensive end, but can rush the passer while standing up as well. Curry will wreak havoc while allowing those around him to make plays as well. At a second-round value, Curry is a steal.''
And with the last pick in the second round, Rolling looks for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants to choose WVU's Bruce Irvine, a outside linebacker, noting ''the rich get richer here, adding another piece to their elite pass rush as Irvine is an animal when it comes to rushing the quarterback, so will fit right in.
''He should have a seamless transition to the NFL, and only cause more frustration for the fans of the remaining 31 teams.''
First up is Cleveland with the fourth overall selection, which Rolling thinks will be Alabama running back Trent Richardson and sees as ''a great one. He's the best back to enter the draft since Adrian Peterson and will immediately provide a massive boost to the Browns' offense.''
The Bengals, with both the 17th and 21st picks in Round 1, are seen by Rolling selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro and cornerback Stephone Gilmore from South Carolina, ''filling two of their most pressing needs with potentially the best guard to enter the draft in quite a while - he was dominant at the collegiate level - and Gilmore, an aggressive player who matches up well with most receivers and has a knack for breaking up passes.''
At No. 22, another player from Stanford, OT Jonathan Martin, goes to the Browns, according to Rolling, ''as the best tackle probably left by then,'' and at No. 24, Pittsburgh should opt, said Rolling, for Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who ''fits perfectly into the Steelers' defensive schemes..''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at email@example.com