TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils warms up before the college football game against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on September 9, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Inevitably, there's a player or two in the NFL Draft who plummets way beyond his projected draft position. Aaron Rodgers was one, but he's hardly been alone.
I'm going to go out on a short limb and say that 2012 will not be an exception. Whether it's by virtue of perhaps not being a three-down player (Luke Kuechly) or by following Nate Dogg's advice a little too closely (Janoris Jenkins), someone's going to take a hefty fall next week.
The question is, who? I have two suggestions, one of which will be a surprise, the other of which will probably not be, especially to draft junkies.
The obvious choice is Vontaze Burfict. Projected as a first-day pick at one point, Burfict's attitude, lack of interest and off-the-field concerns have come to outweigh his talent on it, and teams are treating him like he's radioactive. This probably isn't a surprise to you, because these stories have been swirling for a while. But it's fair to say that Burfict will be in freefall unless some team goes batcrap crazy.
I don't expect Burfict to fall all the way out of the draft, though. He does have talent, and some team will take a crack on him in round five or later. He's just going to be a huge gamble.
The other, less obvious choice is Courtney Upshaw. He's a terrific talent, but there's a growing sense that he might slip out of the first round entirely after being considered a borderline Top 10 pick earlier on. The reason? He's being considered another Ray Edwards, a guy with a cap of about eight sacks a season but someone who's fantastic against the run. If teams are thinking that way, it would not surprise me to see him drop to the very bottom of the first or into the second. Sadly, he won't make it to the Falcons, either way.
Who do you think will fall?