2012 NFL Draft Preview: Wake Forest

Wake Forest’s Chris Givens Has Seemingly Proved Doubters Wrong With a Strong Showing Leading Up to the NFL Draft

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.

Wake Forest benefits from having a young team to build off of from 2011, however, that doesn’t mean they still won’t lose some key pieces. On both sides of the ball, the Deacons’ most productive player departs, something not to be taken lightly. While the projected draft positions for these players may very wildly, don’t mistake their value — both to their former team, nor the future NFL squad they’ll call home.

Chris Givens, WR, Junior

There was some initial confusion as to why Givens, only a junior, declared early for the draft. However, it appears he’s cleared all of that up in the lead-up to the big day(s). Clocking in at 4.41 in his 40-yard dash, showing off some impressive leaping ability and even some surprising upper-body strength for his 5’11”, sub 200-pound frame, he’s vaulted himself into the first two rounds. In that regard, it’s debatable whether another year of college ball would’ve really helped him any more. After catching over 80 passes for nine scores and over 1300 yards, his stats at that level have likely peaked, though his route-running and football IQ may still have some developing to do. Beyond his size though, the big concern will be his big-play ability. His longest scoring play in college was just 22 yards — low for the speed he’s displayed in workouts. While that type of ability may work in the slot, the potential for that type of play needs to be there at the NFL level. Still, he’s a second-round pick that can jump in and immediately be productive.

Kyle Wilber, OLB, Senior

A natural outside linebacker, Wilber has all the tools to produce at the position once he arrives at the pro level. His 6’5″, 240-pound build translates well to his NFL peer group, as does his 4.64 pro day speed — even if he only clocked a 4.86 40-time at the combine; calling into question his ability to make plays coming around the end. Probably most importantly, Wilber has showed an ability to be productive both in contain-mode along the edge, or as a pass-rusher, adjusting to the situation at hand. The key may end up being the scheme he’s plugged into, though. In a 3-4, he’ll get the help he needs to cancel out the lack of upper-body strength. Open-field tackling could also become a concern, which is why he slips to the fourth round.

Joe Looney, OG, Senior

One of a bevy of players whose draft stock’s been hampered by injury this year, Looney would normally be a fourth- or fifth-round pick based on his overall body of work as a productive blocker with quick feet (he ran a 5.02 40-time; impressive for any offensive linemen, but especially one standing at 6’3″, 320 pounds). Unfortunately, however, a lingering ankle injury has prevented him from truly giving scouts a fair assessment of what he’s got to give, scaring a few off. On top of that, his strength can also leave a bit to be desired — especially given his size — assisting further in the projection drop. He’ll likely be selected in the late-sixth or early-seventh round, but if he can recover from the pesky ankle issue, it could be a great, late-round steal.

Josh Bush, FS, Senior

Despite a productive senior season that featured six picks as part of a very active Wake secondary, Bush doesn’t get a real look from scouts mostly due to his less-than-stellar 40-time (4.50) and size (just 5’11”). Additionally, his agility isn’t exactly up to par either, nor does he possess the type of strength that lets teams insert him as a hard-hitting safety. On the plus-side, however, his coverage abilities are well above the level of many of his fellow prospects at the position, perhaps even warranting a change of position. Bush’s speed prevents him from excelling as a starting corner, but he could be a very serviceable addition as a third DB in certain sets, and could see extended time on special teams. If he’s not selected in the seventh round, he should see an invite to camp this summer.

Previously: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami (FL), NC State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech

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