So it’s in the books. The 2012 NFL Draft is over. Every fan of every team can revel in common ground; they all think their teams “won the draft” and that “this is the year.” And Mel Kiper Jr. still think he knows more than NFL G.M.’s do. Or at least…. John Schneider.
Over the next month here at NFL Mocks we’ll be breaking down each team’s offseason. For now, here are my impressions of some of the winners and losers from this year’s talent dispersal. This isn’t a comprehensive list, just the things that stood out the most for me.
Philadelphia Eagles: Their glaring weakness last year – the front seven. They had already acquired DeMeco Ryans from the Texans, then over the weekend they added Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Mychal Kendricks. Cox can play DT and DE, Curry is a custom-built pass rusher for their system, and Kendricks was the most explosive sideline-to-sideline MLB in the draft. They got great value with CB Brandon Boykin in the 4th and WR Marvin McNutt in the 6th.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They got players who should start with their first four picks in Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Lavonte David and Najee Goode. Martin has been compared to Ray Rice, and who would know better than Greg Schiano, right?
Cincinnati Bengals: When did they learn how to work the draft? For the second year in a row they killed it. I can make a case for each and every one of their ten picks to play a significant role immediately.
Pittsburgh Steelers: They got lucky with a couple of perfect fits falling to them in David DeCastro and Alameda Ta’amu, but what I like is how they went very Un-Steeler in taking undersized but dynamic OLB Sean Spence, and…… undersized but dynamic RB Chris Rainey.
Detroit Lions: Under the radar this weekend, but they got great value at every pick and filled some big needs. Look for 5th round small-school pick Chris Greenwood to develop into a star at CB.
St. Louis Rams: Some are questioning what they ended up with in light of what they could have had (Morriss Claiborne or Trent Richardson), but when you have as much rebuilding ahead of you as the Rams do, sometimes quantity IS better than quality. It says here that they got both. I’m not a huge Michael Brockers fan, but he’ll keep guards busy while Chris Long and Robert Quinn work the pass rush. Janoris Jenkins is a risk, but if it pays off he’s nearly as good as Claiborne. Chris Givens is a potential steal in the 4th round. The Rams must know something we don’t about their offensive line, but they upgraded their skill positions and secondary significantly.
Nick Foles: When you’re a developmental QB like Foles, it’s all about the situation you land in. Philly is perfect for him. He won’t have any pressure to play right away (Mike Kafka is ready in the event Vick goes down), and he gets to learn from the best in Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. Foles is one of those boom-or-bust QB prospects for me. Good chance the Eagles get the best from him.
Courtney Upshaw: By falling to the Ravens in the second round, he ends up in a system and position perfectly fit for his skills, instead of having a more desperate team trying to make him fit in a role that doesn’t suit him. He’ll be a beast in Baltimore.
B.J. Coleman: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Green Bay Packers have a knack for developing quarterbacks. 7th rounder Coleman is more physically gifted than current backup Graham Harrell, and his intelligence and gym-rat mentality will suit him well in the Packers famed QB school. Mark my words, he’ll be a starter for someone else in 3-4 years a’la Matt Flynn.
Bruce Irvin: All the negative draft grades will only increase the chip on his shoulder. Irvin has a specialized skill-set that will be maximized in Seattle by a coaching staff who has a plan on how to use him, and complete long-term support from ownership. This is the kind of high-risk, high-reward move a coaching staff can make when they aren’t afraid for their jobs.
Kellen Moore: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Moore will ever be an NFL starter, but his best chance to be a long-term backup was to be able to pick his own landing spot. By not getting drafted, he was able to do that. Scott Linehan will be a great mentor, and Moore can certainly be better than Drew Stanton. He has a shot to stick there.
Andy Dalton: The Cincy signal-caller got a road-grading guard ahead of him (Kevin Zeitler) and two more weapons in Sanu and Charles. As much as I don’t think Dalton’s ceiling is much higher than we’ve already seen, he will continue to prosper.
NFL Network: Last year I started flipping back and forth between the coverage on ESPN and NFLN. This year I stayed put with the pros. They fill their set with former NFL execs and personnel guys, and it shows. They try to see each pick from the team’s point of view. Mel Kiper Jr., on the other hand, disagrees with any pick that doesn’t fit neatly into HIS rankings. They also focus more on the picks themselves, instead of missing so many while they blather on about how smart they all are.
Minnesota Vikings: After doing the smart thing by taking Matt Kalil with the 4th pick, the rest of their draft for me was just….. meh. Harrison Smith and Jarius Wright were reaches, Greg Childs knee injury may be a chronic issue, and Rhett Ellison in the 4th…. is a project. Their best pick may have been the value they got in the 7th with Cal’s Trevor Guyton, a solid 5-tech DE. Young QB, not enough weapons, poor offensive line and an injured franchise RB. This is the kind of draft that can get coaching staffs fired.
N.Y. Jets: Significant upgrades were needed, and I don’t think they accomplished that. We all know the risk associated with Coples, but my biggest concern is the faith they put in Stephen Hill to improve their WR core. He’s a project. Terrance Gannaway is a Shonn Greene clone.
Kirk Cousins: I like Cousins better than most; I don’t think there’s a lot that seperates him from Andy Dalton, but he won’t get the chance to develop properly in Washington. RGIII will get most of the reps, and Rex Grossman has to be kept to aid in his development. Maybe Cousins begins that development next year when Grossman is jettisoned, but it’s a shame he didn’t end up with an organization who viewed him as a potential starter.
Blaine Gabbert: His only chance to succeed is for the Jags to provide him with a stellar supporting cast. Justin Blackmon was a nice start, but they veered off wildly after that. A punter in the 3rd? You’ll need one after all those 3-and-outs. Jacksonville is my early pick for the #1 spot in next year’s draft…. where they will certainly be choosing from among the attractive group of QB prospects. Maybe that’s the plan, after all.
Chris Polk: There were already concerns about his lack of explosiveness and his underwhelming approach to the evaluation period, but a report of degenerative arthritis in his shoulder left him undrafted. Dr. James Andrews himself refuted the shoulder report, and Polk ended up in a good situation with the Eagles. But as one of the most polished all-around backs in the country last year, he should have been a 4th rounder, at worst.
Brock Osweiler: I love Osweiler as a prospect, and feel he can be an elite QB with the right development. There’s a chance he won’t get that in Denver as Peyton Manning is notorious for wanting to take EVERY practice rep. The other potential downfall, if Manning goes down Osweiler may have to play before he’s ready.
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