2012 NFL Draft Order: 5 Teams That Must Trade into the Top 10
This is always one of the best times of the year for the NFL.
The best 12 teams in the league are left to battle it out for their chance to make it to the Super Bowl and be crowned the champions of the NFL.
The rest of the league has their draft position set for the most part and are looking ahead to how they can improve their team. We see some of the best college football players in the nation playing what will be their last career games in their schools' respective bowl game.
The mock drafts begin and we begin analyzing which top college players will go where.
As much as the draft order is broken down, once draft day comes we know there will be changes. Some team or multiple teams will be willing to shake up the draft and move up. There is usually that one player the team feels it needs to have.
There are some teams in the bottom half of the draft that should be moving up to the top 10.
Here are five of them.
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The Oakland Raiders have never been afraid to make a big splash on draft day.
They typically go outside the box with their picks and value pure athleticism sometimes more than they do a polished skill set.
The Raiders came very close to making the playoffs this year and had they been able to beat the San Diego Chargers Week 17, they would have won the AFC West. They have a great running game when both Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are healthy. Their defense needs some serious work both in run and pass defense, as they ranked 27th in the league in both categories.
Oakland also needs to start thinking about a quarterback for the future.
The Raiders did give up a ton to bring in Carson Palmer, but he didn't pan out quite the way they expected. They can manage to get by with him if they improve the talent around him. However, trading up and drafting a young quarterback like Robert Griffin III or Landry Jones wouldn't be a bad move.
If they decide to stick with Palmer, grabbing one of the elite cornerbacks like Morris Claiborne or Dre Kirkpatrick would be a great start in retooling that defense.
The Raiders are one of the few teams willing to make big moves, and that is exactly what they should do on draft day.
New York Jets
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It is hard to imagine that anyone had a tougher finish to their season than the New York Jets.
You had players refusing to talk to the media and head coach Rex Ryan crying in his final team meeting. Their franchise quarterback Mark Sanchez is being scrutinized by the media and the organization. Everything that looked so promising at the beginning of the year came crashing down on the Jets when the final whistle blew in Week 17.
Now they are sitting with the 16th pick in the draft and many changes in their future.
There have been votes of confidence for Ryan and Sanchez. If they are going ahead with those two as the leaders of the team, they will need to give them some serious help on the offensive side of the ball.
The Jets could trade up to grab one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft. There are several offensive linemen projected to go in the top 10, and more protection for Sanchez can't hurt.
While it is highly unlikely, the Jets could trade up and look to make a bigger splash in a skill position. It would cost them a boatload, but trading up to give Sanchez a weapon like Justin Blackmon or some run support from a horse like Trent Richardson would certainly change the outlook of that offense.
Again, both of those scenarios are incredibly unlikely, but it is clear the Jets need to make some changes and quick before the whole organization faces an overhaul.
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The Dallas Cowboys had a playoff berth snatched from them at the very end of the season.
A loss to the New York Giants sent the Cowboys packing and they are now forced to ponder how they can improve and become a legitimate contender. The Cowboys have some of the best skill position talent in the NFL, but they lack the grinders to really win those tough games.
One of the first areas to start would be improving the offensive line.
The Cowboys have tweaked their offensive line quite a bit over the past few years and really could use some promising young talent if they plan on keeping Tony Romo healthy. The top 10 is home to some of the cream of the crop of this year's offensive linemen class. It wouldn't be a huge jump for the Cowboys, who are picking at 14 already, but it could make all the difference.
If they decide to go away from the linemen, they could look to grab one of the top cornerbacks on the board. They were 23rd in passing defense this year, and after missing out on Nnamdi Asomugha this past offseason they could use a shutdown presence in the secondary.
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This may seem strange as Seattle is barely outside the top 10.
However, it's in dire need of a quarterback. Seattle managed to get to an impressive 7-9 record considering it was 2-6 at one point.
The defense played incredibly well this year, including some Pro Bowl-caliber play from their safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Marshawn Lynch was a work horse for the Seahawks down the stretch and needs the threat of a passing game if he wants to continue that level of success in the future.
Neither Tarvaris Jackson nor Charlie Whitehurst is the answer long term at quarterback for the Seahawks.
This year's draft has three quarterbacks that could go within the top 10. You have some very quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft, and Seattle simply cannot afford to miss out.
It shouldn't be too difficult to hurdle a team like the Miami Dolphins to assure Landry Jones or Robert Griffin III is available. The 'Hawks may not have the ammo to jump up to No. 1 overall for Andrew Luck, but they need to make sure they get one of the big three.
New England Patriots
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We all know this one is a long shot.
To be honest, I'd be willing to bet all the money in my wallet the Patriots do not jump up to the top 10 of this year's draft. Their drafting history shows they are much more likely to take one of their two first-round picks and trade it for more picks in later rounds.
That doesn't mean trading up isn't the right choice for them this year.
The Patriots managed to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC despite having one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Tom Brady and that prolific offense carried New England through some brutal, high-scoring games against opponents they should have easily beat.
New England has its first-round pick as well as the New Orleans Saints', which it acquired in last year's draft. It could use those two picks as a base for a deal to get it into the top 10.
Dre Kirkpatrick and Morris Claiborne are two incredibly promising cornerbacks that could be had in the top part of this year's draft. Either would be a great selection for a Patriots secondary that is currently made up of scraps from other teams.
Of course, it would be a great "what if" scenario to think about Justin Blackmon catching passes from Tom Brady, but the realistic pick should be to improve that defense.
While it remains to be seen whether or not the Patriots can overcome their poor defense in this year's postseason, it is clear they need to start rebuilding that defense if they want to maintain the great success they've had.