There is nothing like a die-hard football fan.
Not the fan who only watches the team when they’re in the playoffs or goes to a game strictly for the tailgate.
I’m talking about the real fans, the ones who bleed their team’s colors. Those fans who are second or third generation faithful, who cry when their team has a victory, and throw chairs across the room when their team is defeated.
Those are the fans who are going to have a lot to say about who their team picks during the NFL draft.
And with some of the offseason craziness that some of these teams have seen, who can blame their fanbases for having extreme reactions to their draft picks?
Here’s a look at a couple fanbases that are going to freak out over who their team may take in the 2012 NFL draft:
It’s too facile to say that Raider fans bleed black and silver.
This fanbase has lived and died by their team, no matter how down-trodden and ridiculous their franchise gets. Keep in mind, Raider fans are used to the late Al Davis calling the shots.
Now, under the thumb of new GM Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Dennis Allen, the Raider Nation will be taking extra notice of what prospects Oakland will be picking up.
Oakland has been relatively quiet during the open free agent market, and they’re first pick is at No. 95, in the third round.
Not to mention that the Raids have seen a handful of players go either to the free agency market or because they got cut: Michael Bush, Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley, just to name a few. And having to battle to get under the cap didn’t help.
But Allen seems confident that the team is in a building mode, and “excited about trying to build on that and develop this team into a playoff-caliber team.”
Fans will surely be on the edges of their seats, wondering who this new legion of shot-callers will be picking up in the draft.
Unlike the Raiders, the Browns have two picks in the first round. And with the fourth and 22nd picks, Cleveland needs to make those picks wisely.
You can bet that Cleveland fans would like to see the Browns use those picks to draft some help on that 28th-ranked rushing offense and 24th-ranked passing offense.
It would behoove them to use that No.4 spot to pick up Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Or even take a grab at wide receiver Justin Blackmon, if he isn’t picked up by Minnesota with the No. 3 pick.
With a so-far dismal offseason, the Dolphins need to make a splash—no pun intended—with their first-round pick.
NFL Network’s Charley Casserly, Chad Reuter and Brian Baldinger all seem pretty certain that Miami will use that No.8 spot to scoop up Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, which makes perfect sense, seeing as how Miami is still in need of a franchise QB.
And with back-to-back picks in the third round—with the ninth pick, and the 10th from Carolina through a trade with Chicago—there is no reason for the Dolphins to not pick up some decent players.
That is, providing that the lack of luck that they’ve seen in the free agent market doesn’t follow them into the draft.
The likelihood of unsavory picks could leave Dolphins fans biting their nails until the draft is over.
Remember: This is the fan base that staged a protest against GM Jeff Ireland earlier this off-season. How much are they going to freak out over bad draft picks?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
A suspended coach, a disgruntled quarterback and a bounty scandal that appears to be lingering for a while.
That doesn’t sound like a happy offseason for the 2009 Super Bowl champs.
To put it simply, Saints fans need a little levity. And some solid pick-ups in the draft might be just what this fanbase needs to boost their spirits a tad.
One glitch: As part of the Saints punishments for “Bounty Gate,” they’ve lost their pick spots for the first two rounds. They won’t be making their first pick until the No. 26 slot of the third round.
And though I don’t deny the Saints ability to draft wisely, their fanbase might not be happy with who’s still available by that third round.
NEW YORK JETS
It’s possible that the shenanigans of this offseason have left Jets fans numb to anything that this franchise does.
But with that in mind, you can bet that Jets fans will still be very invested in their team’s picks on draft day. No matter how ludicrous or out-of-left-field those picks might be.
The Jets still have needs on both sides of the ball. They’re going to need a starting running back and another wide receiver—because, I don’t care how much Santonio Holmes complained last season about Sanchez not giving him the ball, he can’t play the field all by himself.
They also need some beefing up at both inside and outside linebacker, and safety. With that No.16 pick, they might want to consider starting with Mark Barron from Alabama, and going from there.
With the holes they need to fill, the only thing the Jets really need to do to prevent giving their fanbase an all-around heart attack is to not draft another quarterback.
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