Last year in my opinion was a bad year to try and draft a pass rusher. Though there were some quality players available none came with out their share of question marks. The "elite" player last year were considered to be Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw but I didn't see either really dominate in fact Ingram wasn't even the best pass rusher on his team. (but that's a story for 2014) This year is a far different story. This post will highlight the potential pass rushers you could see in the 2012 draft. This is not a ranking of the prospects but rather an introduction to them.
Barkevious Mingo, DE LSU-
The 6'4" 240lbs Mingo has probably the best first step of any in this draft. He has long arm and uses them combined with his surprising athleticism and ability to turn the corner. Mingo is a pure pass rusher hands down. He has failed to show he can handle the running game or set the edge. Often he is easily washed out of the run play by inferior tackles. Mingo will has to transition to a 3-4 OLB position in the NFL. He has dropped back into coverage a few times and looks like with practice can be good enough in this aspect of the game. Mingo is instinctive and much like Von Miller for the Bronco's should come in and terrorize QBs in passing downs.
Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia-
Jarvis Jones is 6'2" 242lbs and has the advantage of playing the 3-4 OLB position already in Georgia's defense. When I watch Jones I don't see and amazing first step, I don't see ankle breaking quickness either. What I see when I watch Jones is a very instinctive, and technically sound player. He reads the play very well with his eye to find the football. He uses his hands to disengage from tackles and has a nice rip move to get around the edge. Jones understands how to set the edge and actually excels in doing so. He has dropped a lot into coverage in Georgia's defense and is good in this aspect as well. Where Mingo fits the Von Miller pure pass rusher mold, I think Jones fit more of the James Harrison type mold. He is someone who can win in all aspects of the game just not sold on him as an elite pass rusher and he may start to drop because of it. (Not far though probably around pick 10)
Bjoern Werner, DE Florida State-
Werner is a German born player who is 6'4" 255lbs. Werner like many FSU defensive ends has developed a nice rip move. This accents his natural power in his game and non-stop motor. He has long arms and uses them well to keep his body clean. It is incredibly fun to watch his play. He is very technically sound and can beat a tackle both inside and out will holding up against the run. He will need to get bigger for the NFL but I can see Werner as a 4-3 RE. However when you watch FSU tape Werner has dropped in coverage from time to time. He has 5 pass break ups this year already to go with 6.5 sacks and 10 TFL. This leads me to believe he may be able to play at the 3-4 OLB pretty well. He finsihed with 7 sacks last year and is looking to improve on that mark.
Sam Montegomery, DE LSU-
Sam Montegomery is much more of the prototypical 4-3 DE at 6'5" 260lbs. Montgomery has very good athleticism and made an effort this offseason to bulk up to help his run play. It worked he has looked much more stout against the run then last year. Montegomery's long arms will only benefit him as his technique improves. He has had a slow start to the season in terms of sack but really step his play up last week. While his sack total is down watching the tape you can see he has done a better at keeping his LBs clean. He still needs to develop more pass rushing moves and need to do a better job using his hand but he has all the tools to be great . 4-3 teams should be looking at this guys size and athleticism and be salivating.
DaMontre Moore, DE/OLB Texas A&M-
Moore is 6'4" 250lbs and has played in Texas A&M Joker position as well as the traditional 4-3 DE. This is actually someone I thought would have a good year back in July. He really stood out to me when I was watching film of the 2011 Texas A&M defense originally to scout Sean Porter. I thought he was going to shine this year and said it in the comments section here. Well all Moore has done is put up 8.5 sacks so far this year 15 TFLs. To my surprise very few people are talking about Moore despite his production trust me they will be. ( I am blaming Jadeveon Clowney) Last year he only had 8.5 sacks ad 17.5 TFLs and that was in the Big 12 not the SEC. Moore has a burst of the line that is very, very good. He uses his hands well and is beating SEC tackle with both inside and outside moves. He can hold up against the run and is a very disciplined backside defender. Moore looks football smart. I have seen numerous times in his tape where he was the QB spy and he would sit in coverage until he saw that there was a hole in the O-line and the QB wasn't looking at him. At this point I think Moore would be a great fit for the Steelers at ROLB and he should be draft around the 10-15 range.
Dion Jordan, OLB/DE Oregon-
Jordan is a very long player at just over 6'6" 243lbs. When you put on his film you see a very quick first set and surprising agility and body control for a person his size. He has a nice swim move for the outside rush to beat tackles. Jordan has coverage experience too. He is often asked to cover a TE split wide or a WR because of his size. Jordan flys around the field and has a good eye for the ball. Where Jordan comes up short is in the run game. He can't hold up against the run and Oregon knows this. That is why he is often split wide on a WR on obviousness downs. At this point Jordan is another pure pass rusher that you'd draft as a situation guy first. However his body size suggests he can put on more mass and hopefully keep his agility. I don't see Jordan as a 4-3 DE unless it is just on passing downs. I could see him in a 3-4 team in a scheme that doesn't require him to respect the run as much as the Steelers does.
Alex Okafor, DE/OLB Texas-
Okafor is 6'5" roughly 260lbs. He plays his game with a nice display of power and uses his hand very well to disengage from the offensive linemen. He is not as explosive as other prospects but he can get the job done. When I watch his tape I see a 3-4 LOLB. He is asked to drop into coverage a lot for a 4-3 DE in Texas' scheme which was surprising. In my opinion both of the Texas DE are flawed. I don't think Okafor will every be a major the pass rushing threat but he can be a consistent starting player who will put up 7-10 sacks a year and still hold up against the run. This could be a good compliment on a team that already has a star pass rusher.
If you counted them up there are potentially 7 pass rushers who could go in the first round. 5 of the seven are scheme diverse and have had experience dropping into coverage as well as playing the 4-3 end. Interestingly 7 pass rushers went in the first round in the 2012 draft. however last year the first one taken wasn't until the 15th pick. This year 5 of these players could and probably will be selected in the top 15 picks.