2012 NFL Draft Order: 4 Teams That Will Be Drafting in the Top 15 Next Year
Every year the NFL features a team that has a surprising turnaround. However, rebuilding a team doesn't happen overnight, and the surprise turnarounds usually come after years of struggles. The Detroit Lions, who have finally gotten on the right track after years of problems, might be the best example.
More than a handful of teams in this year's NFL draft will find themselves taking in the top 15 for the next few years. The decisions made with these early picks will result in either a quick turnaround or a prolonged slump.
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Next season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be breaking in a new head coach and continuing the development of Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert's rookie season provided him with experience, but he failed to show any real development. Mike Mularkey and the rest of the coaching staff will need to find a way to get their young quarterback on the right track.
The biggest issue at this point is that the offense doesn't have many explosive players. Maurice Jones-Drew solidifies the running game, but the wide receivers don't inspire confidence.
Jacksonville needs to add explosive playmakers in either free agency or the upcoming draft. However, this still doesn't ensure high level play from Gabbert.
Jacksonville's schedule also figures to be tougher next year. The Indianapolis Colts will get improved quarterback play from either the return of Peyton Manning or the start of the Andrew Luck era. Both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans figure to field a strong team, with the Jaguars likely being the underdog in all four of those matchups.
All of these factors will result in another top 10 selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.
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For a few weeks, the Buffalo Bills looked like they'd make a realistic push towards a playoff berth. However, this team eventually started to play to their talent level, which ultimately kept them out of the playoffs. Chan Gailey and the Bills coaching staff deserve a lot of credit, as this team played well above expectations.
Looking up and down this roster, you'll have a hard time finding many extremely talented players. Offensively, only CJ Spiller can boast being an early draft selection, and he really hasn't lived up to that billing. Players like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson all emerged as surprise talents.
The defensive side of the ball features even less talent than the offense. Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams are the unit's top players, with the rest of the defense consisting of aging vets and middling talent. The defense might be five or six players away from becoming a consistently strong unit.
Basically, the Buffalo Bills just don't have enough talent to win on a consistent basis. Factor in that they play in the tough AFC East division, and you can expect to see the Bills selecting early in the 2013 draft.
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The Minnesota Vikings appear to be heading into a long and painful rebuilding stretch. This team consists of young inexperienced players and aging vets.
The offensive side of the ball is the unit that features mostly inexperienced players. They'll start next season with a second-year quarterback, third-year running back and very limited talent at wide receiver and along the offensive line.
Having most of your young talent on offense typically equates to struggles. The offense is about timing, experience and confidence, something that is developed over time. Minnesota should be mostly concerned about the weak offensive line. This is going to limit the effectiveness of both the running and passing game.
Defensively, the Vikings have a group of vets who are starting to show signs of their age. The secondary is the weakest link and may take several years to rebuild. By the time this unit is back to full strength, other stars will have either moved on or be playing at a much lower level.
Expect to see the Vikings selecting in the top 10 of the draft for the next two or three seasons.
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Colt McCoy hasn't played well enough to lock down the starting position, but he hasn't played poorly enough to warrant replacement either. Because of this lack of direction at quarterback, the Cleveland Browns figure to be selecting in the top 15 of the draft for the next several years.
McCoy isn't the only reason the Browns will continue to struggle, as there are other issues on both the offense and the defense. Many feel that McCoy's struggles are due to the lack of surrounding talent. His top receiving target is Greg Little, who struggled with consistency and drops.
McCoy isn't the type of quarterback that relies on big plays. He needs his wide receivers to consistently catch the football and methodically move down the field.
Defensively, the Browns continue to face some issues transitioning to the 4-3 system. They made strides last season but are still a few players away from fielding a strong unit.
Of all the teams on this list, Cleveland is the one that could surprise everyone. If they're able to find a top level receiver and add one or two pieces on defense, this team could have a major turnaround. However, it all depends on the development of Colt McCoy.