2012 NFL Draft Order: Playoff Losers That Will Uncover Gems

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals reacts against the Houston Texans during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Another team bites the dust in the 2012 NFL playoffs, and the result is an NFL draft order that is becoming clearer by the weekend. 

The top picks have been certain since New Year's Day, and the speculation surrounding the early- to mid-round prospects has been nonstop, but what about the late-round picks from some of the more talented teams?

No one ever talks about which playoff teams will improve through the draft in order to avoid being knocked out of the postseason tournament the following season. Until now.

Join Bleacher Report as we examine two playoff losers that have the track record and the pieces in place to uncover a diamond in the rough late in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.

No. 17/21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

The Bengals were one-and-done in the playoffs, suffering a brutal 21-point defeat to the Houston Texans on the road on Wild Card Weekend. Still, it was an impressive season for Cincinnati, who was led by a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton.

2011 draft sensations Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green were phenomenal for the Bengals in 2011 despite their youth.

Green caught 65 balls for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns, leading many to believe that Cincinnati will draft another star this spring.

A lift at running back would really add another dimension to Cincy's offense, considering Dalton will be improved in his second year in the league. Cedric Benson's numbers weren't horrible this season, but he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry, and the Bengals were forced to rely on the passing game offensively for the most part.

Virginia Tech's David Wilson would be an excellent addition at this point in the draft. He's likely to be available, and if Cincinnati can land him at the 17 or 21 spot, their running game will be better for it next season. Wilson is small in stature, but a burner nonetheless.

No. 24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Pittsburgh has a rich draft history of talented names that goes on and on. However, their early exit from the postseason at the hands of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos last weekend means they will pick in the early stages of the mid-to-late first round.

Injuries certainly put a hamper on the Steelers' season and ultimately held them back from going deeper, but there can always be improvements. The most glaring spot was at defensive back in their last loss of the season, where Pittsburgh was burned countless times.

Sure, part of that was the result of a bold Pittsburgh defensive scheme, but still, an upgrade at corner wouldn't hurt. No Steelers defensive back had more than two interceptions in 2011, and age is becoming a factor.

Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard would be a solid pickup for Pittsburgh at No. 24 if he's still available. Their defense is their calling card and has been for years. Dennard would bring youth in early enough to learn and develop before the veteran production falls off. 

2012 NFL Draft Order (through Jan. 14 divisional games)

No. 1. Indianapolis Colts (2-14)

No. 2. St. Louis Rams (2-14)

No. 3. Minnesota Vikings (3-13)

No. 4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)

No. 5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

No. 6. Washington Redskins (5-11)

No. 7. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)

No. 8/9. Carolina Panthers (6-9) No. 8/9 to be determined by coin flip.

No. 8/9. Miami Dolphins (6-9) No. 8/9 to be determined by coin flip.

No. 10. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

No. 11/12. Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) No. 11/12 to be determined by coin flip.

No. 11/12. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) No. 11/12 to be determined by coin flip.

No. 13. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

No. 14. Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

No. 15. Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)

No. 16. New York Jets (8-8)

No. 17. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders 8-8)

No. 18. San Diego Chargers (8-8)

No. 19. Chicago Bears (8-8)

No. 20. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

No. 21. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

No. 22. Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta Falcons 10-6)

No. 23. Detroit Lions (10-6)

No. 24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

No. 25. Denver Broncos (8-8)

No. 26. New England Patriots (via New Orleans Saints 13-3)

No. 27. New York Giants (9-7)

No. 28. Houston Texans (10-6)

No. 29. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

No. 30. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

No. 31. New England Patriots (13-3)

No. 32. Green Bay Packers (15-1)

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