The 2012 NFL Draft is finally finished and now all the experts are breaking down the big winners and losers, but what teams made the biggest improvements with all their off-season moves? Here is a breakdown of the top teams this off-season and what moves they made to make their fans excited about the 2012-13 season.
On the Rise
Buffalo Bills – Chan Gailey’s bunch is certainly worth mentioning as a team on the rise. The Bills made some impressive roster moves since the end of last year. The team added pass rush specialist Mario Williams during free agency and followed that up with a terrific draft. Corner Stephon Gilmore will solidify the Bills secondary and adding offensive lineman Cordy Glenn in round two was a terrific move as he can play either guard position and will give Buffalo some much-needed depth on their line.
Dallas Cowboys – The ‘Boys have been a trendy pick for the past several years and fans constantly hear how the their team is set to become contenders for a Super Bowl title, but they haven’t been able to avoid a late season swoon. However, after the moves the team made this off-season, 2013 could become their year to get over the hump. Dallas has terrific talent on offense, but defensively they have suffered with their lack of pass defense, but with free agent corner Brandon Carr now on the roster and the team trading up in the draft to take Morris Claiborne, Dallas is set in the secondary and it allows the ‘Boys’ to pay their blitz style defense with great effectiveness.
Philadelphia Eagles – The “dream team” entered the 2011-12 season as a favorite to win the Super Bowl as the Eagles added several talented free agents, but the defense didn’t play well and the team chemistry was missing in the first half of the season and it cost the team a shot at the playoffs. This year the team has added tackling machine DeMarco Ryan at linebacker and with the draft choices of Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, and Vinny Curry this team has added depth and talent all across their defensive roster and will enter the season looking to overtake the New York Giants as the best team in the NFC East.
Combining youth and veteran players doesn’t always mix, but these three NFL teams have added the pieces necessary to become winners. Improvements might be slow, but with moves like these this off-season, it won’t be long before fans of these teams have reason to cheer.
Cincinnati Bengals - While most teams hope to add depth and a couple starters from a draft, the Cincinnati Bengals could have added the best group of youngsters in 2012 with their selections. The Bengals made huge strides last year and did so with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, but the players they added over this past weekend could surpass the class of 2011.
The front office added talent all across their roster and it started in round one with the picks of corner Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama and guard Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin. Both players will jump into the starting rotation and give the Bengals more talent then they currently have on their roster.
San Francisco 49ers - As I said in my post a few days ago, the 49ers were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL last season and I expected a lot from them in the draft. For me, I feel they left something to be desired with their selections. Frankly, I feel like they reached early for some guys that probably would have been available in later rounds. Just some odd picks. A.J. Jenkins is a good football player, but better than Alshon Jefferey, Rueben Randle and a host of other wide receivers? I don’t think so. LaMichael James is a peculiar pick too. Not bad value, but not great either so why take a player who plays a position of absolute strength if it’s only moderate value? I like the Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson picks. Just some odd ball picks early for me.
Jacksonville Jaguars - You can’t draft a punter in the third round and not be held accountable. I don’t even hate the move as much as everyone else because the way I see it if he’s a really good punter then you got a guy who can play the position the next 15 years–and no other 3rd round pick will give you that longevity. Still I find it hard to believe that he would have been drafted by anyone else in the third, and probably even the fourth round. This is the very definition of a reach–getting a guy you could not get if you waited. I also don’t love Justin Blackmon or the Andre Branch fit. None of the day three picks excite me.
Seattle Seahawks - I will probably be battled on this, but I didn’t like what the Seahawks did here. We’ll see. Pete Carroll has done a solid job despite going against the grain before. Still right now Bruce Irvin is Aaron Maybin coming out of college. Can the Seahawks get him to be more? I like the Jaye Howard and Winston guy picks, the rest I would have gone a different direction.
What They’re Saying
As for the other teams in the draft, here’s what the experts are saying:
CBS Sports Draft Grades
The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft has come and gone (in just over 3 hours), teams are now settling in and getting ready for the second and third rounds, which will take place tonight. Outside of the first two spots occupied by Andrew Luck and RG III, the first round was highlighted by a flurry of activity with teams wheeling and dealing to jockey for positioning to get the player(s) they coveted. In fact, the wheeling and dealing began roughly 45 minutes prior to Andrew Luck being announced as the first pick. The Cleveland Browns — who started the night with 13 picks — traded the fourth pick over all and their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rounders to take over the Minnesota Vikings’ third overall pick (detailed below). Apparently concerned that another team was going to try to get in front of them, the Browns made the move to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson. That was the first of a record 19 trades, the most since 1970, including two out-of-character moves up by the New England Patriots, which they used to shore up their defense.
The trades were made easier and more appealing by the rookie wage system that went into place when the new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to last summer. That system reduced the price tag of the top picks by about half from what they were paid before the new deal, reversing the trend of just two years ago, when the price of the top few picks was so prohibitive that nobody wanted them.
Here’s a breakdown of each one of the trades made in round 1 on Thursday night:
- Cleveland gives up a 4th, 5th and 7th round pick to Minnesota to move up from 1.4 to 1.3 - Minnesota made a killing! They got 3 picks for a player they clearly were not going to draft by simply threatening Cleveland with the idea that they could make a deal with someone else to jump up and get Trent Richardson. Minnesota gets the player they were going to take at 3 anyhow at 4 and now add 3 more picks. Nice move for them. Cleveland better hope Richardson is the real deal and is another Adrian Peterson-like performer o else they got fleeced on this one, big time.
- Jacksonville gives 4th rounder to Tampa Bay move up from 1.7 to 1.5 - Huge move for Jacksonville! They got what they see as the best offensive playmaker in the receiving game and they only had to give up a 4th rounder to do it!
- Dallas gives up a 2nd rounder to St. Louis move up from 1.14 to 1.6 -Bold trade by Dallas. They saw that Tampa Bay moved back to #7 and they immediately trade up in front of them to nab Morris Claiborne. Getting the best CB in the draft is worth giving up their 2nd rounder. As for the Rams, they have turned the #2 pick into the #14 pick and 2 second rounders this year and 2 first rounders next year. Awesome job by a team with lots of needs!
- Philadelphia gives up a 4th and 6th round pick to move up from 1.15 to 1.12 – Seattle does well to get a 4th and 6th rounder to only move down 3 spots. Good move for them. But the Eagles get arguably a top-8 player in this draft in Fletcher Cox and only have to give up two late round picks to move up to get him. That is the definition of a great trade!
- New England gives up a 3rd round pick to move up from 1.27 to 1.21 – We are so used to seeing New England move down and get better picks or future picks, that I am surprised to see them move up for once. They know what they are doing. And only giving up a 3rd rounder to end up with Chandler Jones is a hell of a move. Being the anti-Boston fan I hate them!…..but damn they are smart and good at what they do during the draft.
- New England gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 1.31 to 1.25 – And the rich just keep getting richer. After one heck of a move to get Jones they land Hightower for simply a 4th rounder to move up. I am sick. Nice job New England.
- Minnesota gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.03 to 1.29 – The trade itself was fair for both sides. But I did not like the selection for Minnesota. Baltimore does a nice job to fall back only 6 or so picks and get a player that is the same caliber of what they would have picked at 29 while adding another 4th rounder.
- Tampa Bay gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.05 to 1.3 1- Nice job by Tampa. They moved back and still got Barron then used the pick Jacksonville gave them to move up in order to move up here and select the second best RB in the draft. Hell of a job working the board by TB.
Now that I’ve taken a look at the trades from round 1, it’s time for the winners and losers despite it being way to early to make any such determination but what the hell? Let’s do it anyway!
Minnesota Vikings – Able to trade down one spot, still get the player they wanted.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are great at evaluating players and the really good ones tend to fall in their laps. This year was no different when they grabbed David DeCastro at #24
San Francisco 49ers – The surprise team of 2011 surprised everyone with the selection of WR A.J. Jenkins at #30. Jenkins is a very good receiver who might start at the next level. The question here is whether his value justified the selection.
What can we expect when rounds 2 and 3 get started tonight at 7:00PM? More trades? We’ll all have to tune in and find out. I’ll be back tomorrow to give my winners and losers just as I did today.
NFL fans around the country are buzzing about the upcoming draft as their favorite teams look to add talent for the upcoming season.
Most fans know the big name players, but several young men have impressed scouts and GMs with their off-season workouts. Most small college players finally got their chance to play in off-season games against big college talent, and for a few, it was the chance they needed to get noticed.
Here are some late round sleepers to keep an eye on.
Ron Brooks (CB/LSU): Brooks played behind two of the country’s best college football corners, but his size and speed won’t go unnoticed, and the young man will get a shot playing professional football. Brooks should hear his name called in the later rounds of the upcoming draft, but his skills could make him a solid pick and a special team’s standout for any team willing to take a gamble on his upside.
Austin Davis (QB/Southern Mississippi): Brooks had a solid career with the Golden Eagles. Davis has good size, speed, and arm strength, and though he won’t be one of the top quarterbacks taken in the draft, he will make an NFL team this fall as a backup and with some good coaching and hard work, could become the steal of the 2012 draft.
Lennon Creer (RB/Louisiana Tech): In my opinion, Creer is perhaps the biggest sleeper at running back. Granted, he’s missed several games with injuries this past season, but has proved when healthy, he has the skills to play at the next level. He has has good size and speed, but his vision is what sets him apart, and any team willing to take a late round gamble will get a solid player for the upcoming football season.
Several great stories will come out of the upcoming draft, but watch these names as these young men will get their chance this fall and could become the next Tom Brady or Arian Foster.
The 2012 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday in primetime on ESPN.
It’s a good time to be RG3 a.k.a. Robert Griffin III. The reigning Heisman trophy winner is wowing scouts and making headlines this week at the draft combine in Indianapolis. The former Baylor quarterback has already recorded the fastest 40 time for a quarterback, and continues to impress potential employers in the interview process. He’s got the entire league drooling over him and would surely be the first overall pick in the draft if it wasn’t for that guy Andrew Luck.
As if that isn’t enough to brag about, the man known as RG3 has made his way to the cover of EA Sports NCAA Football ’13 video game. There’s nothing else left to say except…
Let the bidding begin!
Two months shy of the NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams have already made it known that they intend to trade their No. 2 pick in the draft to some NFL team desperate for a franchise quarterback. That quarterback will undoubtedly be Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, and the potential suitors are rumored to be the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. The Rams, of course, are set at QB with Sam Bradford.
Griffin was impressive enough running and jumping and cajoling at the NFL combine, that he’s got the the entire league drooling over him. Sure, he didn’t throw a single pass at the combine, but Tim Tebow has already proven that it’s ok now for NFL quarterbacks to be terrible passers. So somebody move up and snag Griffin! You got nothing to lose.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King calls Griffin the most intriguing second pick in the draft since 1998, when Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were both expected to set the world on fire coming out of Tennessee and Washington St. As the NFL has shifted even further toward a pass-first, quarterback-dominated league, the 2012 demand for Griffin is even higher than th 1998 demand for Leaf — which was immense. Every NFL team knows that you can no longer win in the league without a franchise QB, and there just aren’t enough of them to go around.
Matt Flynn, who was Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay, is expected to get a nice free agent contract to be someone’s starter next season. But under the new NFL collective bargaining agreement in which the contracts given to top draft picks will be more reasonable, Griffin — and the No. 2 pick — is even more valuable.
“The Rams will drive a hard bargain,” King writes. “Cleveland (fourth overall pick), Washington (sixth) and Miami (eighth) will be in the derby to move up; Seatlle (12) and a couple of mystery teams could too.
“Add the fact that the money involved (four years, about $22 million) is likely to be less than the money paid to the top (current) free agent Matt Flynn, and the market for Griffin will be hopping.”
The Rams, King says, will be hoping for two teams with top-ten picks to get in a bidding war.
“You can’t tell what the musical chairs will do,” said Rams COO Kevin Demmoff. “Maybe someone will get left out and need Griffin. You don’t know.”