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2012 NFL Draft: Full First Round Results and Analysis

Dan Van WieContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2017

2012 NFL Draft: Full First Round Results and Analysis

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    While some NFL teams were fortunate enough to address their primary holes for 2012 during the first or second phase of free agency, the rest of the NFL will attempt to shore up their weaknesses via the 2012 NFL draft.

    The NFL draft will be held in New York City starting today, April 26, and will continue for three days until April 28. The NFL draft is upon us, and we will know soon enough who else will be drafted after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has called out the names of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

    NFL teams have attached final grades to every eligible player. The big board is set for every NFL franchise. Once the seventh round is completed and all 253 players have been drafted, organizations can then start the process of trying to sign the undrafted rookies that slipped through the cracks. For the teams that were working with fewer draft picks, that will be a crucial time to try to sign some players with potential.

    We now present the biggest draft-day needs of every NFL team. Note that when we list a specific position as a team need, it could reflect that the team either must upgrade the starter at that position or add greater overall depth at the position in question.

    For every team slide, we will list the categories for either a top-10 or bottom-10 finish in 2011, analyze what the draft means for each team and toss out some names that make sense for consideration over the course of the first three rounds of the 2012 NFL draft.

Pick 1: Indianapolis Colts

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Andrew Luck - QB - Stanford

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: quarterback, tight end, guard, running back, wide receiver and offensive-line depth

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive tackle and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: DE Cory Redding, C Samson Satele, QB Drew Stanton, S Tom Zbikowski and WR Donnie Avery

     

    The Colts were as active as any NFL team in free agency, as players were coming in one door and departing out the other during the Colts' rebuilding process.

    Chuck Pagano was busy bringing over ex-Baltimore Ravens players that he was comfortable with, knowing that they would serve as good role models for what he is going to be preaching and coaching to his new team.

    The Colts were equally bad on both offense and defense in 2011, as you can tell by all the bottom-10 categories on both sides of the ball. Some franchises seem to struggle for a decade or longer to find a franchise quarterback, so the Colts should consider themselves very fortunate to go directly from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. The only casualties were the 2011 season and a few heads that rolled. In the grand scheme of things, that seems like a relatively small price to pay. 

     

    Bottom Line

    The Indianapolis Colts have already committed to selecting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall draft pick. We have been looking forward to Luck joining the NFL for close to two years now, and many fans have been anxiously waiting to see him perform as a rookie.

    Of course, it will help if the Colts can do a good job of surrounding him with some talent, but that will be up to the front office. They need to take advantage of their lofty draft status, as they draft from the first or second slot at the start of every round.

    The Colts caught a break when Reggie Wayne decided to re-up with the team; they have at least one solid veteran receiver that can help to break in whichever rookie receivers the team drafts. It will be interesting to see if the Colts try to draft Coby Fleener, who would be a very comfortable target for Luck.

    The Colts have a major overhaul job ahead of them, so don't be surprised if they are still drafting in the top five picks of the 2013 draft. 2012 is just phase one, with some growing pains sure to follow.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: QB Andrew Luck, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Kendall Wright, WR Juron Criner, TE Coby Fleener, DT Hebron Fangupo, CB Dwight Bentley, CB Coryell Judie and DT Kendall Reyes

    First Colts Draft Pick: No. 1 overall

    Indianapolis' 2011 Record: 2-14

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, rush offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, rush defense and sacks

Pick 2: Washington Redskins (Via St. Louis)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Robert Griffin III - QB - Baylor

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: quarterback, guard and offensive-line depth

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: safety, linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Pierre Garcon, WR Josh Morgan, S Brandon Meriweather and CB Cedric Griffin

     

    The Redskins pulled off the big trade of the offseason by swapping first-round draft picks with the St. Louis Rams to ensure Washington is able to draft Robert Griffin III—or, if the Indianapolis Colts pull a fast one, Andrew Luck. 

    The Redskins will have their franchise quarterback for years to come, and Daniel Snyder will make sure that Griffin is a wealthy player by the time his career is over.

    There is also the issue of the salary-cap hit the Redskins are battling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over due to the charge of front-loading 2011 contracts. The Redskins are said to have appealed the fine, but the outcome has not been decided as of yet. 

     

    Bottom Line

    Washington did a very nice job of completely overhauling its wide-receiver corps in anticipation of Griffin's arrival; it signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to go along with Santana Moss and tight end Fred Davis. That is a quality stable of targets for Griffin to throw to, and it takes some pressure off the Redskins in the draft since they can go in multiple directions with their picks.

    At the draft, once the Redskins select Griffin at No. 2, then they sit back and wait—and then wait some more. They don't have another pick until No. 69, which is their final pick for Day 2.

    Head coach Mike Shanahan now has the task of teaching Griffin the offense and getting him up to speed as fast as possible. Griffin will need to have a firm grasp on the offense to allow the Redskins to compete in the always-tough NFC East division. Both the Eagles and Giants finished in the top 10 in scoring average in 2011, so the Redskins offense has to follow suit.

    The Redskins lost safeties LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe to free agency, so that is a position they will have to address in the draft.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: QB Robert Griffin III, CB Casey Hayward, G Jeff Allen, G James Brown, S Markelle Martin, S Brandon Taylor, LB Ronnell Lewis, CB Brandon Boykin and DT Brandon Washington

    First Redskins Draft Pick: No. 2 overall

    Washington's 2011 Record: 5-11

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Picks 3 and 22: Cleveland Browns (Pick 3 Via Minnesota, 22 Via Atlanta)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Trent Richardson - RB - Alabama; Brandon Weeden - QB - Oklahoma State

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: quarterback, tackle, running back, guard and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive end and outside linebacker

    Key Free Agents Signed: DE Frostee Rucker and DE Juqua Parker

     

    The Cleveland Browns have a number of holes in their offense, which is something you can expect them to address early and often. In their favor is the fact that the Browns own three of the first 37 picks in the 2012 draft. Their offense was in the bottom 10 in 2011 in most key categories and needs a major infusion of talent across the board.

    What will the Browns do with the No. 4 pick? They will have their choice of at least three blue-chip players (presumably Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne). They could decide to invest in quarterback Ryan Tannehill's upside, or do they trade down again in the first round to acquire more draft picks? 

    Blue-chip players are hard to come by, so when you have the chance to add one to your roster, you do that and don't look back. This is an issue of quality versus quantity. Dropping back any further than No. 6 overall just doesn't make sense. The Browns already own the most picks in the draft with 13, so trading down to acquire even more picks seems like overkill.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Browns should have been in the driver's seat to draft Robert Griffin III, but they failed to seal the deal. That will come back to haunt the franchise. Perhaps they will get a reprieve in the 2013 draft with the crop of quarterbacks coming out then.

    Cleveland needs to come out of Day 1 with either Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon. The smart money is on Richardson. 

    With the No. 22 pick, the Browns need to draft another talented offensive skill-position player. That could be WR Stephen Hill, giving the Browns the talent they so desperately need. While I don't see a problem trading down from the No. 37 overall pick to acquire more picks, there should still be plenty of talented players there for the Browns to consider.

    The Browns have to add some quality depth to their offensive line. They can't just be focused on the skill positions, no matter how tempting it may be.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Trent Richardson, WR Justin Blackmon, WR Stephen Hill, T Mike Adams, QB Brandon Weeden, T Bobby Massie, WR Juron Criner, RB Doug Martin, G Cordy Glenn, CB Janoris Jenkins, G Kevin Zeitler and RB David Wilson

    First Browns Draft Picks: No. 4 and 22 overall

    Cleveland's 2011 Record: 4-12

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, rush offense and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense and points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense and sacks

Picks 4 and 29: Minnesota Vikings (4 Via Browns, 29 Via Ravens)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Matt Kalil - OT - USC; Harrison Smith - S - Notre Dame

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: left tackle and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive tackle, safety and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: G Geoff Schwartz, CB Chris Carr and TE John Carlson

     

    Minnesota was able to land three veteran free agents, but losing corner Cedric Griffin and guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera washes away the net impact. At least quarterback Christian Ponder will have another security blanket to throw to with tight end Carlson added to the mix.

    Adrian Peterson continues to rehab from his knee surgery. The Vikings might want to think about adding another running back in the 2012 draft to give them some added depth in case he suffers a setback and to lessen some of the workload.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Vikings started their rebuilding efforts in 2011 when they decided to draft Christian Ponder, and he got some playing experience. He should make a noticeable leap in performance with a full offseason and training camp as the No. 1 QB on the team.

    In an ideal world, the Vikings could attempt to trade down in the first round if they knew they could still draft Matt Kalil. But if they trade too far down, a team like the Buffalo Bills could then step up to steal Kalil away from them. The Vikings have their fair share of holes, so even though they will claim they are open to trading down from No. 3, expect them to play it safe and just draft the blue-chip tackle, Kalil.

    The Vikings still are in need of more weapons on offense, so if they take Kalil, as most people expect, with the third pick, they will need to think about skill players in the second and third rounds. The Vikings find themselves in a division with two of the top five overall offenses in the entire NFL (Green Bay and Detroit), and both of those teams are also in the top five in points scored. The Vikings simply need to add more firepower if they intend to compete.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: T Matt Kalil, CB Morris Claiborne, WR Justin Blackmon, S Harrison Smith, WR Kendall Wright, WR Juron Criner, DT Jerel Worthy, CB Dwight Bentley, DT Brandon Thompson, CB Trumaine Johnson and WR Alshon Jeffery

    First Vikings Draft Pick: No. 3 overall

    Minnesota's 2011 Record: 3-13

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass offense and sacks allowed

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: points allowed and pass defense

Pick 5: Jacksonville Jaguars (vis Bucs)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Justin Blackmon - WR - Oklahoma State

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: pass rush and secondary

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Laurent Robinson, QB Chad Henne and CB Aaron Ross

     

    The Jaguars weren't huge players in free agency, but they were able to sign quarterback Chad Henne. He should push Blaine Gabbert and may even succeed in pushing him right to the bench.

    The Jaguars tried to get in on the Tim Tebow trade with the Denver Broncos, but the Broncos ultimately sent him to the New York Jets. Had it played out, the battle for the starting role would have been even more interesting to watch.

    Landing Laurent Robinson was a good start to adding some weapons for the Jaguars offense, but they will need more than just him. Jacksonville had the worst offense in the NFL in 2011, and the jury is still out on Gabbert. Does he have happy feet in the pocket? With a full offseason to coach Gabbert, you would hope to see some significant growth in his sophomore campaign.

    This could be the year that the Jaguars realize they made a bad judgment call on their franchise quarterback, but we will know soon enough.

    Ryan Tannehill could very well create an impact for the Jaguars in the 2012 draft. If any team decides that he is worth trading up for, or if Cleveland decides to draft him, that means that one of the original six blue-chip players in this draft would still be on the board for the Jaguars to steal with the No. 7 pick. If Tannehill is still on the board, any team that places value on him would need to jump over Miami to snag him, so the Jaguars' pick could be in play.

     

    Bottom Line

    Jacksonville not only was last in total offense but was also last in passing. Gabbert needs more weapons to work with, and wide receiver Michael Floyd might be very tempting for the Jaguars to take here. There will be attractive pass-rushers like Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples as well to consider. 

    The Jaguars boast a defense that was top 10 in 2011 in overall defense, pass defense and rush defense. The offense now has to step up and help out the defense.

    Maurice Jones-Drew can't do everything on his own. The Jaguars should be able to come out of the 2012 draft with some additional weapons to give the offense a boost.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE Melvin Ingram, WR Michael Floyd, WR Justin Blackmon, DE Quinton Coples, WR A.J. Jenkins, T Riley Reiff, DE Whitney Mercilus, DE Nick Perry, DE Vinny Curry, DE Jared Crick, T Tony Bergstrom, WR Ryan Broyles, T Brandon Mosley and CB Stephon Gilmore

    First Jaguars Draft Pick: No. 7 overall

    Jacksonville's 2011 Record: 5-11

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: turnover margin

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, sacks allowed and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense and rush defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

Pick 6: Dallas Cowboys (Via Rams, Via Redskins)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: nose tackle, safety, defensive end and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: CB Brandon Carr, LB Dan Connor, G Nate Livings, QB Kyle Orton, S Brodney Pool, FB Lawrence Vickers and G Mackenzy Bernadeau

     

    The Dallas Cowboys made their decisions for the 2012 draft much easier by being very proactive in free agency. Signing Kyle Orton should allow the Cowboys to breathe easier if something ever happens to Tony Romo.

    The Cowboys were able to address most of the key positions that they lost in free agency with replacements that were about as good, if not better. The one exception was at wide receiver, as Dallas lost Laurent Robinson and didn't sign another receiver to take his place. It can easily address that position at the draft.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Cowboys want to fortify their defensive line up the middle, and it seems that they're enamored with nose tackle Dontari Poe. There is a reasonable chance that he is headed to Dallas.

    The Cowboys improved their secondary by signing Brodney Pool and Brandon Carr. They could continue to add to the unit's depth at the draft in light of their bottom-10 finish in pass defense in 2011.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DT Dontari Poe, DT Michael Brockers, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Mark Barron, LB Dont'a Hightower, DE Courtney Upshaw, DL Fletcher Cox, G Kevin Zeitler, CB Stephon Gilmore, DE Quinton Coples, CB Janoris Jenkins, DE Cam Johnson and CB Josh Norman

    First Cowboys Draft Pick: No. 14 overall

    Dallas' 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: passing offense and turnover margin

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense and sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass defense

Pick 7 and 31: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Via Jags, Via Broncos)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Mark Barron - Safety - Alabama; Doug Martin - RB - Boise State

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver, running back and center

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, outside linebacker and safety

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Vincent Jackson, G Carl Nicks, CB Eric Wright, QB Dan Orlovsky, DT Amobi Okoye and T Jamon Meredith

     

    The Bucs took the NFL by storm in free agency by aggressively convincing Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks to sign new deals before any other teams had a chance to talk to them. It was a bold strategy by the Bucs to announce that the team was going in a different direction, and head coach Greg Schiano had some new leaders that he could work with to pave the way.

    This is a start, and for a team that lost 10 straight games in 2011, you have to start somewhere. The Bucs will be able to add another dynamic player to go with Jackson and Nicks with the No. 5 overall pick.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Bucs need to eliminate whatever lingering traits existed from the team that quit on Raheem Morris during the 2011 season. There is going to be a new attitude in 2012 in Tampa Bay, and you can be sure heads will start rolling if players don't buy into it.

    Head coach Schiano will be looking for the Bucs to draft players that fit the mold of what he expects the Bucs to look and play like. They will be disciplined and have passion. It takes time to turn around a team that lost 10 straight games, but the 2012 draft class will hopefully be a step in the right direction.

    The Bucs found themselves ranked in the bottom 10 in a number of categories on both sides of the ball. The Bucs can safely draft the best player available on the board, knowing that they have plenty of positions that require an upgrade.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: CB Morris Claiborne, RB Trent Richardson, LB Lavonte David, LB Mychal Kendricks, WR Alshon Jeffery, LB Bobby Wagner, RB David Wilson, RB Doug Martin, RB LaMichael James, CB Dwight Bentley, WR Nick Toon and CB Brandon Boykin

    First Buccaneers Draft Pick: No. 5 overall

    Tampa Bay's 2011 Record: 4-12

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, rush defense and sacks

Pick 8: Miami Dolphins

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Ryan Tannehill - QB - Texas A&M

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive line, inside linebacker and safety

    Key Free Agents Signed: QB David Garrard, CB Richard Marshall and G Artis Hicks

     

    The city of Miami erected a billboard to demonstrate its desire for Peyton Manning to come to Miami. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross launched a "full-court press" to land Manning, but the bad news just seems like a broken record playing over and over again.

    The Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Henne, their leading tackler in safety Yeremiah Bell, defensive end Kendall Langford and their No. 1 wide receiver by trading away Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears. The 2012 season doesn't look very bright right now for the Dolphins.

    It was all but a given that the Dolphins were going to let nose tackle Paul Soliai walk away, but for whatever reason he decided to return to Miami. That was one piece of good news, but the team needed much more than just that.

     

    Bottom Line

    Can the Dolphins possibly salvage the front-office fiascoes of the 2012 offseason by coming up with a banner draft class? While it is plausible, it seems rather unlikely based on how many gaffes the front office and ownership have been responsible for. It seems like the Dolphins are riding on a rudderless ship, and there is no bright light off in the distance.

    The 2012 season is the first year for head coach Joe Philbin, and it may be up to him to rebuild the Dolphins in his vision. That won't happen overnight, so Dolphins fans will have to be patient with the 2012 version. As things stand now, if defenses focus on stopping Reggie Bush, who else is left for the Dolphins to turn to on offense? This could be a very long year in Miami.

    At least we will find out how creative Mike Sherman can be as an offensive coordinator.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: QB Ryan Tannehill, DE Andre Branch, T Riley Reiff, DE Quinton Coples, DE Jared Crick, WR Mohamed Sanu, S Harrison Smith, WR Chris Givens, WR Marvin Jones, T Tony Bergstrom, S Antonio Allen and T Mitchell Schwartz

    First Dolphins Draft Pick: No. 8 overall

    Miami's 2011 Record: 6-10

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass offense, sacks allowed and turnover margin

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: points allowed, rush defense and sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass defense

Pick 9: Carolina Panthers

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Luke Kuechly - LB - Boston College

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver, tackle and guard

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive tackle, defensive end and outside linebacker 

    Key Free Agent Signed: RB Mike Tolbert

     

    The Panthers offense appears to be in fine hands with the emergence of 2011 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton. Newton brings so many dimensions to the Panthers offense that he will keep them competitive, but the Panthers need their defense to step up and do its part as well. 

    Carolina's defense ranked in the bottom 10 in five major categories, yet it didn't sign any impact free agents on defense in the offseason due to salary-cap limitations. You can imagine that is where the main focus will be in the upcoming draft. Look for the Panthers to shore up the defensive line, pass rush and outside linebacker.

     

    Bottom Line

    "Defense, defense, defense" should be the mantra for the Panthers at the 2012 draft, in addition to needing another wide receiver to pair with Steve Smith.

    The Panthers had some defections along the offensive line, as Geoff Schwartz and Travelle Wharton will be elsewhere in 2012. They will have to invest a pick or two there as well.

    Due to the trade for tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers only possess two draft picks in the first three rounds, at No. 9 and 40. That means their work will be cut out for them, and the pressure to nail those two picks is greater since they will have a long wait until overall pick No. 104 to draft again.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DT Dontari Poe, DT Michael Brockers, DT Fletcher Cox, CB Janoris Jenkins, G Amini Silatolu, WR Juron Criner, WR Alshon Jeffery and G James Brown

    First Panthers Draft Pick: No. 9 overall

    Carolina's 2011 Record: 6-10

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, rushing offense and points scored

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, pass defense, rush defense and sacks

Pick 10: Buffalo Bills

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Stephon Gilmore - CB - South Carolina

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: left tackle, wide receiver and backup quarterback

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: pass rush, outside linebacker and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: DEs Mario Williams and Mark Anderson

     

    When the Buffalo Bills lost Demetress Bell in free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles, it created the first true position of need for the Bills in the 2012 draft. That is why the Bills have frequently been tabbed to draft Iowa tackle Riley Reiff with their first pick. But is Reiff ready to start as a rookie at left tackle?

    The Bills had attempted to sign Robert Meachem and Mario Manningham in free agency, so you know they obviously want to upgrade the No. 2 wide receiver position opposite Steve Johnson. The jury is still out on speedster Marcus Easley, who has yet to play for the Bills in a regular-season game.

    The Bills' pass-rushing woes should be a thing of the past now that they boast a front four of Williams, Anderson, Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. If the Bills get any kind of production from other key front-seven defenders like Shawne Merriman, Chris Kelsay, Nick Barnett, Alex Carrington and Torell Troup, they could move into the top 10 in the NFL in sacks.

    That would also make life much easier for the Bills secondary, which was asked to defend on pass plays when the quarterback had all day to throw.

    When the Bills are on the clock, they have to decide if they are willing to reach for the best left tackle on the board, take the best player available or trade down to acquire additional picks. The big concern is that none of the other tackles in the 2012 class are worthy of the pick at No. 10 once you get past Matt Kalil, so settling for a tackle with the first-round pick would be considered a reach.

     

    Bottom Line

    Don't be surprised if the Bills take the best player available, a la their first-round pick of C.J. Spiller in the 2009 draft. Buddy Nix could tab anybody from Michael Floyd, Luke Kuechly or David DeCastro. If the Bills draft DeCastro, they would intend for him to start at left guard, bumping Andy Levitre out to left tackle. If Nix is ever going to trade down in the first round, this seems like the appropriate year to do it. 

    The franchise rebuilding efforts of Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey have now reached the stage in the third year that they can start to draft to build depth at key roster positions. That's a sign that this team is getting closer to becoming a contender.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: T Riley Reiff, LB Luke Kuechly, G David DeCastro, WR Michael Floyd, CB Stephon Gilmore, T Bobby Massie, WR Brian Quick, DE Vinny Curry, LB Bobby Wagner, CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Alshon Jeffery, DE Chandler Jones, DE Jared Crick, CB Brandon Boykin and T Matt McCants

    First Bills Draft Pick: No. 10 overall

    Buffalo's 2011 Record: 6-10

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, rush defense and sacks

Pick 11: Kansas City Chiefs

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Dontari Poe - DT - Memphis

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: inside linebacker, nose tackle and safety

    Key Free Agents Signed: T Eric Winston, RB Peyton Hillis, CB Stanford Routt and TE Kevin Boss

     

    The Chiefs were able to sign some key veteran free agents to help get a head start on filling out the 2012 roster. Gone is the confrontational head coach Todd Haley, and the Chiefs retained interim coach Romeo Crennel, as the team seemed to enjoy playing for him. He led them to hand Green Bay its only loss in the 2011 regular season. Will Crennel lead them to a better record than 7-9 in 2012?

    Kansas City lost Brandon Carr and Kyle Orton in free agency, so the signing of Routt helped to ease the blow of Carr leaving for Dallas. The Chiefs still need to find a better backup quarterback for Matt Cassel, because Tyler Palko is not the answer. They will probably draft somebody that has the ability to leapfrog Palko, which shouldn't be that hard.

     

    Bottom Line

    Injuries are a part of the game, but the injuries that struck across the board to so many key players in 2011 simply decimated the Chiefs' season. It was almost over before it began, so it is a tribute to the team's character that it rallied to make things close in the .500 AFC West 2011 campaign.

    The offense needs to add more dynamic weapons and improve the overall depth, as the Chiefs proved they were too thin and vulnerable in 2011.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: LB Luke Kuechly, DT Devon Still, G David DeCastro, CB Stephon Gilmore, QB Brandon Weeden, DT Alameda Ta'amu, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Brandon Boykin, CB Trumaine Johnson, S George Iloka , LB Dont'a Hightower, DT Dontari Poe, QB Ryan Tannehill, QB Kirk Cousins, DT Michael Brockers and DT Fletcher Cox

    First Chiefs Draft Pick: No. 11 overall

    Kansas City's 2011 Record: 7-9

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense and sacks

Pick 12: Philadelphia Eagles (Via Seahawks)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Fletcher Cox - DT - Miss St

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: linebacker and defensive tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: T Demetress Bell

     

    The Philadelphia Eagles now have the chance in 2012 to transform the new talent they brought in during the wild free-agency frenzy of 2011 and work everybody in to form a more cohesive team. The Eagles were starting to put things together in the final month of 2011, so they are hoping the team can build off that momentum.

    There really wasn't any need to overhaul the roster. They focused on re-signing their own key free agents and were able to land free-agent left tackle Demetress Bell after Jason Peters went down with an Achilles injury.

    The Eagles traded Asante Samuel prior to the draft so they could take advantage of the extra draft pick that he would command. Due to his excessive salary, though, it was only a seventh-round pick.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Eagles have signed DeSean Jackson to a long-term deal, so he should be a much happier player in 2012. Philadelphia seems poised to make a serious run in 2012, so the draft will be used to shore up any depth issues and fix some of the holes in the front seven on defense.

    The Eagles also could use some reinforcements on the offensive line. With all of the free agents that the Eagles brought in last year, this roster only needs a little tweaking to keep them competitive for 2012. They could use another quarterback to back up Michael Vick. There hasn't been any activity to speak of with free agent Vince Young, so maybe Young plans to return to the Eagles to keep the dream alive.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, LB Luke Kuechly, DT Dontari Poe, DT Fletcher Cox, LB Zach Brown, DT Michael Brockers, DT Devon Still, S Harrison Smith, RB Lamar Miller, OLB Demario Davis, S Markelle Martin, WR Nick Toon and OLB Josh Kaddu

    First Eagles Draft Pick: No. 15 overall

    Philadelphia's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, rush offense, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: turnover margin

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense, sacks and points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 13: Arizona Cardinals

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Michael Floyd - WR - Notre Dame

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: tackle and tight end

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: outside linebacker and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: CB William Gay and G Adam Snyder

     

    The Arizona Cardinals stepped up to the plate in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and lost. No harm, no foul. They gave Kevin Kolb his 2012 bonus, and now he has a full offseason to prepare for the 2012 season and prove that he was worth the investment.

    One objective for the Cardinals is to improve their offensive line, so don't be surprised if you see them draft at least two or three linemen to upgrade the talent level and increase competition for starting jobs.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Cardinals need to make a solid investment in their offensive line. Another priority would be to find an additional target for Kevin Kolb, which would also take some of the defensive focus off Larry Fitzgerald. You won't find the Cardinals offense breaking into the top 10 in any major categories unless they decide to improve their pass protection. The 54 sacks they allowed in 2011 is simply unacceptable.

    What isn't helping the Cardinals' cause is that they only own two draft picks in the first three rounds, at No. 13 and 80. They have to nail both of them, as it will become that much harder to find gems when you get around to Day 3.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: T Riley Reiff, G David DeCastro, T Jonathan Martin, G Cordy Glenn, DE Melvin Ingram, WR Michael Floyd, T Mike Adams, OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, T Matt McCants, DE Cam Johnson, DE Chandler Jones, CB Brandon Boykin and CB Josh Robinson

    First Cardinals Draft Pick: No. 13 overall

    Arizona's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense, sacks allowed, turnover margin and points scored 

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 14: St. Louis Rams (via Dallas)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Michael Brockers - DT - LSU

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, wide receiver, running back and tight end

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: CB Cortland Finnegan, DE Kendall Langford, C Scott Wells and WR Steve Smith

     

    The Rams traded down in the first round with the Washington Redskins. This gives the Redskins the chance to draft Robert Griffin III but also allows the Rams to pick up an extra second-round draft pick. It was a win-win for the Rams to still stay in the top six overall picks, assuring the team of drafting a blue-chip stud.

    St. Louis still needs to surround Sam Bradford with more talent, and the 2012 draft class should provide new head coach Jeff Fisher with plenty of ammunition to upgrade the next-to-last NFL offense from 2011. The Rams lost Brandon Lloyd to New England in free agency, so they will look to the draft to replace Lloyd with Justin Blackmon, or possibly Michael Floyd, who has been moving up the big board.

    Maybe the Rams will reunite Bradford with his old college teammate Ryan Broyles, as Broyles should be available in the third or fourth round.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Rams hold four of the first 65 draft picks, and the Rams are drafting with the sixth, 33rd, 39th and 65th selections. If they don't come away with a great haul, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    Jeff Fisher has to be excited that he has three quality draft picks to work with. He can use them to draft three potential starters or he can use one pick to trade down to acquire more picks, a la Bill Belichick.

    The Rams need to provide better pass protection for Bradford, so look for the Rams to use this draft to make that happen. The defense is marginally better, so the Rams are making progress—just not on both sides of the ball at the same time.

     

    Names to Consider on Day 1 and Day 2: WR Justin Blackmon, WR Michael Floyd, DT Jerel Worthy, T Mike Adams, T Riley Reiff, DT Kendall Reyes, RB David Wilson, RB Lamar Miller, CB Janoris Jenkins, T Zebrie Sanders, WR Ryan Broyles, CB Dwight Bentley and T Brandon Mosley

    First Rams Draft Pick: No. 6 overall

    St. Louis' 2011 Record: 2-14

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, rush offense, sacks allowed and turnover margin

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: points allowed, rush defense

Pick 15: Seattle Seahawks (Via Eagles)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Bruce Irvin - LB - West Virginia

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, improved pass blocking

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: QB Matt Flynn, DT Jason Jones and T Frank Omiyale

     

    The Seahawks re-signed their key free agents in Marshawn Lynch and Red Bryant. The biggest development was getting ex-Packers quarterback Matt Flynn to sign on the dotted line. While Flynn will be asked to compete with Tarvaris Jackson, it would be a surprise if he didn't win the starting QB battle.

    Then we will find out if Flynn is more like Aaron Rodgers or Kevin Kolb. The Seahawks are probably dying to find out that answer as well.

    Jason Jones was a key acquisition to help the Seahawks defense become even stronger. They were already a top-10 overall unit before they picked up Jones. However, the team did lose one of their leaders when David Hawthorne left to play for the New Orleans Saints. He will be missed.

     

    Bottom Line

    Seattle may still want to draft a quarterback in 2012 to develop. Jackson will be a free agent in 2013, so while Jackson and Flynn are battling it out to see who starts this year, the rookie can watch and learn.

    The Seahawks had a number of injuries on the offensive line in 2011, but giving up 50 sacks is still way too many, regardless of the injuries. That area has to improve.

    The offense needs some more weapons to add to the mix, and a change-of-pace back to go with Marshawn Lynch would also make sense. Seattle lost free-agent tight end John Carlson, so expect them to try to draft a replacement for him, as well as another linebacker to replace Hawthorne.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE Quinton Coples, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Dont'a Hightower, S Mark Barron, DE Melvin Ingram, DE Andre Branch, LB Ronnell Lewis, LB Lavonte David, RB Lamar Miller, G James Brown, TE Orson Charles, LB Audie Cole, RB LaMichael James and QB Kirk Cousins

    First Seahawks Draft Pick: No. 12 overall

    Seattle's 2011 Record: 7-9

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: turnover margin

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, points scored and sacks allowed

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense and points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 16: New York Jets

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Quinton Coples - DE - UNC

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver, running back and guard

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: outside linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: S LaRon Landry

     

    The New York Jets have openly discussed locker-room rifts and questions about confidence in Mark Sanchez. Once the dust settled a little bit, the news surfaced that the Jets had traded for Tim Tebow in a suspenseful on-again, off-again, on-again trade.

    Rex Ryan is done making Super Bowl guarantees for the immediate future, but one thing is for sure: With Tim Tebow on the Jets roster, their games will be far from dull.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Jets will need to gear up the offense to play a physical style under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. They will be able to run the ball more thanks to the 20 snaps or so that Tim Tebow will receive every game running the Wildcat offense. It remains to be seen how much unique personnel the Jets will require to facilitate those 20 snaps.

    In 2011, the Jets didn't excel at running or passing the ball (they failed to crack the top 20 in either category). The team had a negative turnover ratio, yet it still somehow ranked No. 13 in points scored. That doesn't seem to correlate, so there could be a correction coming.

    Is it possible that the Jets will discover somewhere during the 2012 season that the best quarterback on the team turns out to be Greg McElroy? He certainly knew how to manage a game plan at Alabama.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: S Mark Barron, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Stephon Gilmore, OLB Courtney Upshaw, DE Melvin Ingram, WR Michael Floyd, WR Kendall Wright, T Bobby Massie, S Harrison Smith, DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, RB Lamar Miller, RB Chris Polk, WR Mohamed Sanu, T Mitchell Schwartz, WR Chris Givens and S Antonio Allen

    First Jets Draft Pick: No. 16 overall

    New York's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense and pass defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Picks 17 and 27: Cincinnati Bengals (Pick 17 Via OAK, Pick 27 Via NE, Via NO)

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Dre Kirkpatrick - DB - Alabama; Kevin Zeitler - OG - Wisconsin

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: running back, offensive line and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive tackle, cornerback and safety

    Key Free Agents Signed: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CB Jason Allen and G Travelle Wharton

     

    Despite having a favorable salary-cap situation, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't strike very quickly in free agency, as they started becoming more of a player in the second wave. They picked up BenJarvus Green-Ellis to replace Cedric Benson at running back, but the Bengals will probably add a change-of-pace back in the draft to round out the backfield.

    Other needs will be addressed early in the draft thanks to the Bengals owning three picks out of the first 53 selections.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Bengals made some positive strides in 2011 and surprised many people by reaching the playoffs. The overall defense looks solid, so if the Bengals can come out of the draft by surrounding Andy Dalton with more weapons, they stand a good chance to make a repeat appearance in the playoffs. The Bengals will look to improve the overall team depth in the 2012 draft.

    Cincinnati possesses a solid defense, and that area of strength will keep it in many games. The Bengals offense added some major talent in the 2011 draft; they'll look to build on that momentum by adding some more weapons at the skill positions and improving the depth on their offensive line.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: G David DeCastro, S Brandon Taylor, RB David Wilson, DT Devon Still, G Cordy Glenn, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Lamar Miller, G Jeff Allen, WR Stephen Hill, G Amini Silatolu, DT Dontari Poe, CB Stephon Gilmore and RB Doug Martin

    First Bengals Draft Pick: No. 17 overall

    Cincinnati's 2011 Record: 9-7

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense, rush defense, sacks and points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 18: San Diego Chargers

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Melvin Ingram - OLB/ DE - South Carolina

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: inside linebacker, safety and nose tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Robert Meachem, LB Jarret Johnson, WR Eddie Royal and QB Charlie Whitehurst

     

    When the Chargers saw free agent Vincent Jackson sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the start of free agency, they reacted quickly by reaching an agreement with Robert Meachem to a contract before he ever met the team in person. That was a sign of the aggressive approach that the Chargers took in free agency, as it looks like they are serious about contending again in the AFC West.

    In addition to Meachem, the Chargers also added Eddie Royal to give them another talented receiver for Philip Rivers to target. They retained Jared Gaither and Nick Hardwick to keep their offensive line together, and they also brought back Luis Castillo for the defensive line.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Chargers realize that this is the last chance for Norv Turner to lead them to the playoffs. Either the team steps up in 2012 or major changes will be made. Philip Rivers had a nightmare 2011 season due to his wild stretch of interceptions, so the Chargers hope he has gotten that out of his system.

    The draft will focus on inserting some needed talent to upgrade the defense. The Chargers will also be wise to add some depth to the offensive line, as the left tackle position proved to be a challenge at times in 2011. 

    The Chargers had the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL in 2010, and one year later they plunged all the way down to No. 16. Improving the defense is vital if the Chargers are to return to the playoffs.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2:  DE Nick Perry, G David DeCastro, G Cordy Glenn, DT Michael Brockers, OLB/DE Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB Chandler Jones, S Mark Barron, S Harrison Smith, RB Doug Martin, DE Quinton Coples, T Mike Adams, G James Brown, DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, WR Mohamed Sanu, DE Cam Johnson, RB LaMichael James and DE Jonathan Massaquoi

    First Chargers Draft Pick: No. 18 overall

    San Diego's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: turnover margin

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

Pick 19: Chicago Bears

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Shea McClellin - OLB/DE - Boise State

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver, tackle and offensive line depth

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive end, safety and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: RB Michael Bush, WR Eric Weems and QB Jason Campbell

     

    Chicago finally added a quality backup quarterback in the offseason when it signed Jason Campbell. He is a necessity as long as the offensive line keeps giving up roughly 50 sacks per season. Jay Cutler is tough, but he isn't Superman.

    Will Brandon Marshall clean up his act in Chicago now that he is reunited with Cutler, or will he continue to worry everybody that he is one more incident away from a major suspension?

    One local player to keep an eye out for is Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus. He had a great year in 2011, and the Bears defense might want to scoop him up.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Bears took some of the load off star running back Matt Forte by signing free agent Michael Bush. The problem is that Bush got a long-term deal before Forte did. The Bears need to make Forte happy, and so far they haven't been able to do that.

    In the draft, the Bears need to invest in their offensive line if they want to bring their offense up from the depths of an overall bottom-10 unit. As explosive as the offenses are for NFC North rivals Green Bay and Detroit, the Bears have to follow suit or they will be left out of the playoff chase again.

    Shoring up the secondary is another area of concern for the Bears, which they can address after the first round.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: T Jonathan Martin, T Mike Adams, DE Whitney Mercilus, WR Michael Floyd, DE Andre Branch, DE/LB Bruce Irvin, DE Vinny Curry, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Trumaine Johnson, DT Brandon Thompson, DT Mike Martin, S Harrison Smith, WR Rueben Randle and WR Kendall Wright

    First Bears Draft Pick: No. 19 overall

    Chicago's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense and sacks allowed

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass defense

Pick 20: Tennessee Titans

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Kendall Wright - WR - Baylor

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, center and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, outside linebacker, defensive tackle and safety

    Key Free Agents Signed: LB Kamerion Wimbley and G Steve Hutchinson

     

    The big news for Tennessee was that it had hoped to sign native son Peyton Manning to finish his career where he played his college ball, but it wasn't meant to be. Quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker seemed to take the whole episode in stride, so they can go back to getting ready to battle for the starting QB job.

    The Titans lost corner Cortland Finnegan to the St. Louis Rams in free agency. His fiery demeanor will be hard to replace, as he excelled at getting under the skin of the receivers he faced each week.

    Tennessee lost out on Mario Williams while it was chasing Peyton Manning, but at least it recovered in time to land Kamerion Wimbley after he became a free agent.

     

    Bottom Line

    Even with Chris Johnson at running back and a head coach with in-depth knowledge of run-blocking in Mike Munchak, Tennessee finished the 2011 season with a running attack that ranked next to last. Look for that to be an area of improvement in 2012.

    The Titans have to become tougher at the line of scrimmage, as both the run defense and run offense were in the bottom 10. The 2012 draft class will no doubt include several players the Titans hope will make them stronger at the point of attack.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE Vinny Curry, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus, S Mark Barron, CB Jayron Hosley, CB Josh Robinson, CB Dwight Bentley, C Philip Blake, DT Brandon Thompson, G Kelechi Osemele, G Amini Silatolu and C David Molk

    First Titans Draft Pick: No. 20 overall

    Tennessee's 2011 Record: 9-7

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense and sacks

Picks 21 and 25: New England Patriots (Pick 21 Via CIN, Pick 25 Via DEN)

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    Round 1 Draft Need: Chandler Jones - DE - Syracuse; Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver and offensive-line depth

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: safety, pass rush and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Brandon Lloyd, G Robert Gallery, DE Jonathan Fanene, DE Trevor Scott, WR Anthony Gonzalez and S Steve Gregory

     

    New England was as active as any NFL team during free agency, as it signed veterans to address concerns on both sides of the ball. It did lose two key players in free agency, as Mark Anderson left for Buffalo and BenJarvus Green-Ellis left for Cincinnati.

    The Patriots have reloaded at wide receiver with the addition of Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez. Even though they have worked out deals for Chad Ochocinco and Deion Branch, there is no guarantee that both of those returning veterans will make the final roster.

     

    Bottom Line

    As usual, Bill Belichick has been able to finesse the NFL to keep supplying him with multiple picks for each of the first two rounds of the 2012 draft. This year, the Patriots own four of the first 62 picks, as they are currently scheduled to be on the clock at No. 27, 31, 48 and 62. Belichick will probably use any three of those picks to draft with and can leverage one of the four to acquire additional picks for the 2013 draft.

    While you think that the Patriots are going to be loaded in the draft, keep in mind that even though they have those four high draft picks, they possess only six total picks.

    With so many teams looking to acquire additional picks, you wonder if this is the year that Belichick will package a couple of his draft picks to move up and land a key impact player that would otherwise not be available to them at either No. 27 or 31.

    You have probably read about NFL players that go on various NFL-sponsored workshops where they can start to learn about a different profession for when their playing days are over. Bill Belichick could run a symposium for NFL coaches and general managers on how to work the draft when he has decided to retire as a head coach. He is the master.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: OLB Bruce Irvin, DL Devon Still, S Harrison Smith, OLB Shea McClellin, DT Derek Wolfe, DE Andre Branch, G Cordy Glenn, G Kevin Zeitler, CB Alfonzo Dennard, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Kendall Reyes, DT Jerel Worthy, T James Brown, S Markelle Martin, C Ben Jones, G Brandon Washington, C Philip Blake and OLB Sean Spence

    First Patriots Draft Pick: No. 27 overall

    New England's 2011 Record: 13-3

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, turnover margin, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense and pass defense

Pick 23: Detroit Lions

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Riley Reiff - OT - Iowa

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: linebacker and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: CB Jacob Lacey

     

    Detroit was busy in free agency, signing its own free agents and making sure that Calvin Johnson doesn't play for any other team by locking him up to a long-term deal. Bringing back Stephen Tulloch was a key deal as well. 

    The team did lose Eric Wright and Drew Stanton to free agency, however.

    The Lions still have concerns at running back, as evidenced by their bottom-10 ranking in the running game, so it wouldn't be a surprise at all if they draft a running back this year—especially in light of Mikel Leshoure's recent problems with marijuana possession. Nick Fairley was arrested for marijuana possession as well, which is troubling for the Lions.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Lions offense took a major step forward in 2011, mainly due to Matthew Stafford staying healthy for an entire season. As long as Stafford remains healthy, the Lions proved that their offense is something to be reckoned with, but it still has room for improvement. A more balanced attack with a better running game will help the Lions' overall offense and will make them harder to defend.

    The Lions will need to fortify the defense with their 2012 draft picks. The defensive line is solid, but the back seven needs improvement. If the Lions continue to have their defense finish in the bottom 10, they will face an uphill battle. However, the New York Giants proved last year that a bottom-10 defense isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.

    The loss of Drew Stanton isn't that bad, since the Lions re-signed Shaun Hill to a contract extension.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DT Dontari Poe, T Jonathan Martin, CB Trumaine Johnson, T Mike Adams, DE Andre Branch, DE/LB Nick Perry, CB Josh Robinson, CB Dwight Bentley, CB Coryell Judie, DE Jake Bequette, DE Chandler Jones and DE Malik Jackson

    First Lions Draft Pick: No. 23 overall

    Detroit's 2011 Record: 10-6

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed and rush defense

Pick 24: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: David DeCastro - OG - Stanford

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, running back and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: inside linebacker and defensive tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: none

     

    The Steelers are in the process of replacing some of the seasoned veterans with some young blood, which is a move that was probably overdue. Gone are James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Hines Ward and William Gay. They have been diligently trying to free up cap space so that they can match any offers that might still be coming for restricted free agent WR Mike Wallace.

    Pittsburgh doesn't want to lose Wallace, so while its attention has seemingly been more internally focused than external, other AFC teams have been making moves to try to narrow the gap.

    Rashard Mendenhall's injury in the playoffs means that he will be out for a good portion of the 2012 season, if not all of it, so the Steelers need to find a running back that can make an impact.

    The Steelers defense was still as dominating as ever, and even though they had a hiccup in the playoff loss to Denver, the Steelers should still have a strong defense again in 2012.

     

    Bottom Line

    One of the glaring issues that came out of the 2011 season was the unacceptable number of turnovers that the offense committed. That has to be a major focus for the 2012 campaign. Another issue is the number of sacks Ben Roethlisberger takes. The Steelers will look to rely more on the ground game going forward, much to the chagrin of Roethlisberger.

    The Steelers will be able to make some more smart draft picks to shore up their depth and get a little bit younger. They will look to address both the offensive and defensive lines in the draft.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: ILB Dont'a Hightower, DT Dontari Poe, DT Michael Brockers, DT Fletcher Cox, DT Jerel Worthy, DT Derek Wolfe, RB David Wilson, RB Doug Martin, RB Lamar Miller, RB Robert Turbin, G/T Kelechi Osemele, G Cordy Glenn, G Amini Silatolu, RB Chris Polk, DT Kheeston Randall and DT Brandon Washington

    First Steelers Draft Pick: No. 24 overall

    Pittsburgh's 2011 Record: 12-4

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: pass offense

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: turnover margin and sacks allowed

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense, rush defense and points allowed

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 26: Houston Texans

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Whitney Mercilus - DE/ OLB - Illinois

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver and guard

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: nose tackle, safety, outside linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agent Signed: none

     

    Houston Texans fans must have been wondering what the heck was going on this offseason when one key free agent after another kept abandoning ship and signing elsewhere around the league. First it was former No. 1 overall pick DE/OLB Mario Williams going to Buffalo, and the mass exodus continued, as T Eric Winston, TE Joel Dreessen, CB Jason Allen, G Mike Brisiel and FB Lawrence Vickers are all gone.

    In addition to those departures, the Texans traded away DeMeco Ryans to Philadelphia. The Texans had depth prior to the start of free agency, but that is an awful lot of talent leaving in one year.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Texans defense blossomed under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips immediately in 2011 and become one of the best overall units in the NFL. They were ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in almost every major category, so for the returning starters, this is a solid unit that should again rank up there.

    Houston will have to try to find a way in the draft to replace as much of the lost talent from free agency as it can. The team still doesn't have many holes, but its depth has been seriously compromised. If many key starters are lost to injury, like they were in 2011, the bubble could burst.

    After the high of finally qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2011, the Texans need to stop the downward spiral of an understandably bad 2012 offseason. A great draft class would do wonders to lift the spirits of the Houston fanbase.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: WR Kendall Wright, LB Dont'a Hightower, G Cordy Glenn, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Marvin Jones, T Zebrie Sanders, DE/OLB Ronnell Lewis, OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, DE Cam Johnson and CB Dwight Bentley

    First Texans Draft Pick: No. 26 overall

    Houston's 2011 Record: 10-6

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, pass defense, rush defense and sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 28: Green Bay Packers

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: Nick Perry - OLB/ DE - USC

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, center and quarterback

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: safety, outside linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: C Jeff Saturday and DE Anthony Hargrove

     

    Just realized that the Lions offense finished in the same top-10 categories as the Packers, as well as the same offensive bottom-10 category, the run offense. You can consider that ironic or copied very well, depending on your point of view.

    The Packers lost C Scott Wells to free agency but quickly recovered by landing Jeff Saturday. Saturday doesn't have many years left, so Green Bay would be wise to draft another center that it can groom until Saturday is ready to call it a career.

    Not that they needed much additional help, but the Packers were awarded four extra draft choices due to compensatory picks that were added. 

    With Matt Flynn signing with Seattle in free agency, the Packers have Graham Harrell on board to back up Aaron Rodgers. They'll look to draft a quarterback that they can develop for depth purposes.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Packers need to focus the 2012 draft on improving their pass rush, pass coverage and offensive line depth. Owning 12 overall draft picks, the Packers have the ability to bring in some competition for all three areas. The offense should be solid, but adding a good running back makes tremendous sense.

    Green Bay wants to find a linebacker that can be as effective as Clay Matthews; it remains to be seen if somebody will fit that description with the Packers' first pick at No. 28. The Packers released safety Nick Collins, as there is no way yet of knowing if he can still play or if he will retire.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE/LB Nick Perry, DE Jared Crick, DT Kendall Reyes, DE/LB Bruce Irvin, OLB Shea McClellin, LB Ronnell Lewis, OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, CB Josh Norman, C Peter Konz, DT DaJohn Harris, RB Doug Martin and QB Kirk Cousins

    First Packers Draft Pick: No. 28 overall

    Green Bay's 2011 Record: 15-1

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, turnover margin and points scored

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense and sacks

Pick 30: San Francisco 49ers

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    Round 1 Player Drafted: AJ Jenkins - WR - Illinois

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, wide receiver and tight end

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: WR Randy Moss, RB Brandon Jacobs, WR Mario Manningham, QB Josh Johnson and CB Perrish Cox

     

    The San Francisco 49ers were active players in free agency, addressing their need to upgrade the wide receivers by signing Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, which helped to offset the loss of Josh Morgan to Washington.

    Since nobody knows for sure how much Moss has left in the tank, don't be surprised to see the 49ers still spend a draft pick in Day 1 or Day 2 on a wide receiver to add more competition and depth to this group.

    The 49ers lost CB Shawntae Spencer but were able to sign CB Perrish Cox.

     

    Bottom Line

    The 49ers were a late entrant to the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, and things got more than a little interesting when Alex Smith flirted with the Miami Dolphins for a brief spell. But order was finally restored, and Smith signed an offer to remain the 49ers quarterback.

    At the draft, the 49ers want to continue adding more weapons to the offense. They don't hope to resemble the offense that completed just one pass to a wide receiver in the NFC championship game. 

    While Andrew Luck wouldn't mind having the chance to throw passes to tight end Coby Fleener at Indianapolis, what about Fleener's old coach from Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, snagging Fleener to pair him with Vernon Davis? That would give the 49ers dual tight ends that are solid receivers, like the New England Patriots have with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

    San Francisco has a very solid defense, and that should again be a major strength of the team in 2012. The 49ers can draft to add depth where they are a little thin on defense, as well as improving the pass-blocking for Alex Smith.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: WR Stephen Hill, TE Coby Fleener, G James Brown, G Kevin Zeitler, DT DaJohn Harris, G Amini Silatolu, S George Iloka, G Brandon Washington, G Tony Bergstrom, S Trenton Robinson, TE Orson Charles, DT Mike Martin and G Brandon Brooks

    First 49ers Draft Pick: No. 30 overall

    San Francisco's 2011 Record: 13-3

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense and turnover margin

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, passing offense and sacks allowed

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, rush defense, points allowed and sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 32: New York Giants

28 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: David Martin - RB - Virginia Tech

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: tight end, wide receiver, running back and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: linebacker and defensive tackle

    Key Free Agents Signed: TE Martellus Bennett

     

    The New York Giants have survived the major rush of free agency, which includes the annual rite of raiding the roster of the new Super Bowl champions. The key players that the Giants lost were Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross, Brandon Jacobs and Dave Tollefson. They also told tackle Kareem McKenzie to find work elsewhere.

    The Giants don't appear to have many holes on the team. The 2012 draft will be more about replenishing depth and addressing positions with lingering injury issues such as running back and tight end.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Giants' reward for winning the Super Bowl is that they get to draft last at the end of every round. New York watched two of its tight ends suffer injuries in the Super Bowl, so it would make sense to draft at least one tight end. Coby Fleener could still be on the big board at No. 32, but it isn't a high priority since the Giants signed free agent Martellus Bennett from Dallas. 

    New York will have Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara in the secondary for 2012, and it hopes that duo will do wonders to improve its anemic ranking in pass defense (No. 29) in 2011. The Giants finished at No. 29 even with their great pass rush (ranked as No. 3 in the NFL). Just imagine how much worse their pass defense would be without the pass rush there to take pressure off it.

    Don't be surprised if the Giants select some players to improve the secondary depth or even to challenge the starters. Another smart draft pick would be a running back as insurance against any setbacks in the rehab of Ahmad Bradshaw's injury now that Brandon Jacobs has left.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: TE Coby Fleener, OLB Zach Brown, WR Kendall Wright, LB Lavonte David, RB David Wilson, WR Juron Criner, RB Chris Polk, T Zebrie Sanders, CB Dwight Bentley, TE Michael Egnew, RB Lamar Miller, RB Doug Martin, WR Nick Toon and TE Orson Charles

    First Giants Draft Pick: No. 32 overall

    New York's 2011 Record: 9-7

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, turnover margin, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed and pass defense

Pick 35: Baltimore Ravens

29 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: 

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: tackle, guard and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: inside linebacker, defensive end, safety and cornerback

    Key Free Agents Signed: none

     

    The Ravens re-signed their own free agents Matt Birk and Jameel McClain, in addition to placing the franchise tag on Ray Rice. However, losing Ben Grubbs and Jarret Johnson will hurt. The Ravens didn't sign any free agents from other teams, so they will have to rely on the draft and the third wave of free agency after the draft to address their areas of concern.

    The Lee Evans experiment failed due to constant injuries, so the Ravens will look to add a third receiver in the draft to go along with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.

    Is it possible that the Ravens have a pair of brothers on the roster in 2012? They already have Arthur Jones on the defensive line, and his younger brother, Chandler Jones, is a viable option to help out the pass rush.

     

    Bottom Line

    As it was, the Ravens were one dropped pass from advancing to the Super Bowl, so there is still hope. The Ravens need to sign Ray Rice to a long-term deal. They hope to find adequate replacements for Grubbs and Johnson in the draft, but general manager Ozzie Newsome usually finds a way to keep the Ravens competitive.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DE Melvin Ingram, DE Whitney Mercilus, DE Andre Branch, DE Nick Perry, DE Chandler Jones, WR Stephen Hill, G Cordy Glenn, G Amini Silatolu, C Peter Konz, T Zebrie Sanders, G Kevin Zeitler, S Markelle Martin and LB Terrell Manning

    First Ravens Draft Pick: No. 29 overall

    Baltimore's 2011 Record: 12-4

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, points allowed, pass defense, rush defense and sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 36: Denver Broncos (Via NE)

30 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: 

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard, running back and wide receiver

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: nose tackle and cornerback 

    Key Free Agents Signed: QB Peyton Manning, CB Tracy Porter, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Andre Caldwell and S Mike Adams

     

    For a team that finished in the bottom 10 in the NFL in both points scored and points allowed, it is somewhat of a miracle that the Broncos won the AFC West and advanced past the first round of the playoffs. There is little wonder why they were so interested in signing Peyton Manning when he became a free agent.

    Despite having Manning on board, the Broncos weren't able to sign very many Colts free-agent players, but Jacob Tamme is a very nice addition. The Broncos will use the draft to deal with the losses of Eddie Royal and Brodrick Bunkley, but signing Manning more than makes up for trading away the polarizing Tim Tebow.

    When Bunkley left during free agency, the Broncos knew that the 2012 draft class was deep in talent at that position.

     

    Bottom Line

    The Broncos now need to surround their legendary quarterback with as many weapons as they can. No matter how many years Manning has left in his body, the realization for the Broncos is that they need to win now.

    How quickly can the Broncos transform from the best rushing attack in the NFL behind Tim Tebow into a multi-faceted offense led by Manning? It might take some time, but if anybody can pull this off, you know that Manning can.

    There has been no guarantee that Manning will be 100 percent healthy in 2012, so the Broncos would be wise to draft a quarterback that could step in and run a game plan like T.J. Yates did for the Houston Texans last year. As things stand now, the only backup to Manning is Caleb Hanie, and he looked anything but solid last year when he started for the injured Jay Cutler.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 1 and Day 2: DT Dontari Poe, DT Michael Brockers, DT Alameda Ta'amu, DT Brandon Thompson, DT Kendall Reyes, DE Andre Branch, C Peter Konz, RB Robert Turbin, RB LaMichael James, QB Kirk Cousins and OLB Sean Spence

    First Broncos Draft Pick: No. 25 overall

    Denver's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush offense

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, sacks allowed, turnover margin and points scored

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: sacks

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: points allowed

Pick 55: Atlanta Falcons

31 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: 

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: offensive line and tight end

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback, linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: LB Lofa Tatupu and G Vince Manuwai

     

    The 2012 NFL draft will probably be very difficult on the Falcons front office, as they have to patiently wait for their turn to arrive at No. 55. Crossing off 54 names from their big board without having a draft pick will teach them a frustrating lesson about trading away future first-round picks.

    The Falcons did a good job at retaining most of their key free agents from the 2011 team, as the only key players they lost were Curtis Lofton and Eric Weems. Hard to say if legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez will hang it up after the 2012 season, so it would make sense to find a tight end that the Falcons can start grooming to replace him.

     

    Bottom Line

    Due to drafting so late, the impact of the 2012 draft class will be negligible. The Falcons can't afford to reach at No. 55, and they have enough positions to address that they can afford to take the best player on the board that helps fill one of their holes.

    The first three rounds is comprised of 95 picks, and the Falcons only own two of those picks at No. 55 and 84. The way things look now, the 2012 version of the Atlanta Falcons will largely resemble the 2011 version. There won't be a major influx of new faces at the starter positions the way that things appear to be headed.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 2: TE Dwayne Allen, T Zebrie Sanders, DE Vinny Curry, DT Brandon Thompson, DT Mike Martin, DB Brandon Boykin, T Jeff Allen, LB Mychal Kendricks and TE Deangelo Peterson

    First Falcons Draft Pick: No. 55 overall

    Atlanta's 2011 Record: 10-6

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, turnover margin, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: rush defense

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

Pick 89: New Orleans Saints

32 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: 

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: wide receiver and tackle

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: defensive tackle, cornerback, linebacker and defensive end

    Key Free Agents Signed: DT Brodrick Bunkley, LB Curtis Lofton, G Ben Grubbs and LB David Hawthorne

     

    When free agency began in 2012, the New Orleans Saints didn't just sit back and wait to find out how many defensive players NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was going to suspend. They were proactive and began signing free agents in advance.

    Thus, if linebacker Jonathan Vilma is suspended for any real length of time, the Saints have already got his position covered.

     

    Bottom Line

    Let's be real here: The Saints' 2012 season is going to be pretty crazy. We still don't know how many players will be suspended for the bounty-hunting ordeal, nor do we know how many games they will miss.

    We don't know who their head coach is going to be or how the NFL will allow Sean Payton to communicate with his team or coaches. The team is already up against the salary cap and couldn't come to an agreement with Drew Brees on a new contract.

    Can this situation possibly get any worse? I suppose it can. The Saints won't have a draft pick until choice No. 89 rolls around. By then, a high percentage of the cream of the crop will be off their big board. The Oakland Raiders can relate, because they will also be patiently waiting for their first turn at No. 95.

    The Saints lost Tracy Porter and Robert Meachem and will have to try to replace them somehow in the draft.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 2: DT Brandon Thompson, DT Mike Martin, DT DaJohn Harris, WR Chris Rainey, T Matt McCants, WR Nick Toon, T Nate Potter, CB Josh Norman and DE Chandler Jones

    First Saints Draft Pick: No. 89 overall

    New Orleans' 2011 Record: 13-3

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, pass offense, rush offense, points scored and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense and pass defense

Pick 95: Oakland Raiders

33 of 33

    Round 1 Player Drafted: 

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Offense: guard and running back

    Biggest Draft-Day Needs on Defense: cornerback and outside linebacker

    Key Free Agents Signed: CB Ron Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer, G Mike Brisiel and DE Dave Tollefson

     

    While the Oakland Raiders and their fans are patiently watching the first 94 players be drafted, they can reflect on the players that cost them their first three draft picks: Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Joseph Barksdale and Taiwan Jones.

    General manager Reggie McKenzie walked into a salary-cap mess when he took the Raiders job. Since coming on board, he has either released or let the following veterans walk away in free agency: Kamerion Wimbley, Stanford Routt, Michael Bush, John Henderson, Jason Campbell, Kevin Boss, Samson Satele and Trevor Scott.

    Like we said, he had a major mess on his hands, but he did what was needed to reel the Raiders back in line with the 2012 salary cap. Once McKenzie created enough salary-cap space, he went out and signed some veterans to fill some holes since he knew the Raiders could only get limited help from the draft.

     

    Bottom Line

    Once the Raiders step up to make their first draft pick, they have to hope that some of the depth in the 2012 draft class is still there for the taking. The Raiders need to bring in some new talent at outside linebacker and cornerback. The best players will be gone at No. 95, but there should still be some talent left to work with.

    It seems that while McKenzie is running the Raiders, they will be more careful going forward with how they dispose of draft picks. Due to all of the problems, the Raiders will be hard pressed to find a quality replacement if any key starter goes down with an injury in 2012. If Darren McFadden gets hurt again, that could be a big problem with Michael Bush gone to Chicago.

     

    Names to Consider for Day 2: DT Mike Martin, TE Orson Charles, TE Michael Egnew, WR Nick Toon, OLB Sean Spence, RB Robert Turbin and T Matt McCants

    First Raiders Draft Pick: No. 95 overall

    Oakland's 2011 Record: 8-8

    Offense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall offense, rush offense and sacks allowed

    Offense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Top-10 Category Rankings in 2011: none

    Defense Bottom-10 Category Rankings in 2011: overall defense, pass defense, rush defense and points allowed

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