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:
- ESPN’s Mel Kiper’s draft grades (ESPN Insider subscription required)
CBS Sports Draft Grades