2012 NFL Draft Predictions: Struggling Teams That Will Give Fans Hope

Daniel KockContributor IIIApril 26, 2012

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The teams selecting early in the first round of the draft Thursday night are searching for a player to provide a spark to their team and help get them into the playoffs.

The 2012 NFL Draft is hours away, and teams are doing last minute preparations in order to help build their team with the right selections.

Teams drafting in the top 10 have more pressure to pick an impact player, and fans expect to get a significant contributor.

The 2011 NFL Draft proved that an organization can improve dramatically with the right selection.

The Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers all drafted in the top 10 and all made the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons also drafted in the top 10 but moved up to the sixth pick in a trade.

The Carolina Panthers didn't make the playoffs but have instilled a feeling of hope in the fan base due to the historic rookie season by quarterback Cam Newton.

The NFL has more parody than any other professional league, and teams can go from worst in the division to a playoff contender with good drafting.

There is hope if your team is drafting in the top 10 in Thursday's draft, and if your a fan of one of these three teams you should be even more excited.



Washington Redskins

The Indianapolis Colts have officially announced they are selecting Andrew Luck with the first pick, which leaves the Redskins with the obvious choice of Robert Griffin III.

It is no secret who the Redskins were targeting when they moved from No. 6 to No. 2 in this year's draft and traded away a second round pick this year and two first round picks in the next two drafts.

They are targeting a franchise quarterback and will have that in Griffin III.

Since Mark Rypien, the Redskins have had a revolving door at the quarterback position featuring Gus Frerotte, Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell and most recently Rex Grossman.

The results have not been pretty and at times were just plain ugly. The Redskins are a proud organization with a passionate fan base. Now, the fans in Washington have someone to be excited about. The quarterback position should be set for the next 15 years with Griffin III leading the way.

Griffin III showed this past season at Baylor he could be accurate by completing over 70 percent of his passes and also dynamic by connecting on the deep ball. He is also explosive as he showed with his blazing speed as plays break down.

It will be tough for the Redskins to make the playoffs next year coming out of the NFC East Division with the defending Super Bowl champs and two talented teams in the Eagles and Cowboys. However, the quarterback position is solidified in Washington and will bring excitement to the organization for years to come.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on January 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Just two years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker.

Last season, the team and quarterback Josh Freeman took a step back and finished 4-12. The season quickly got out of control as they lost their last 10 games, which led to head coach Raheem Morris' firing.

Now, the Buccaneers sit at No. 5 in the draft under new head coach Greg Schiano.

The Buccaneers can go a number of different directions with their pick and any of those directions would be an upgrade.

They could take cornerback Morris Claiborne who many consider the safest pick in the top five. Claiborne would be Ronde Barber's future replacement, and there have been rumors of the Bucs trying to trade cornerback Aqib Talib.

Strong secondary play is vital in the NFC South with quarterbacks Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.

If he's unavailable, either Matt Kalil or Trent Richardson would help. While offensive line is not a huge need, they could select Kalil, which would allow Donald Penn to move to right tackle and bench Jeremy Trueblood.

Adding Kalil to the offensive line along with newly acquired Carl Nicks would give Freeman comfort.

If Richardson somehow falls to five, just say thanks and select the best running back in the draft. Richardson and Legarrette Blount would be a lethal running back tandem.

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15:  Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers against the Tennessee Volunteers tat Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Buccaneers have already made huge improvements with free agent signings of Nicks, Eric Wright and Vincent Jackson.

The Bucs still have good young talent on this roster and will add another talented young player Thursday night.



St. Louis Rams

People were ready for the St. Louis Rams to take the next step in 2011 but suffered injuries throughout the season which set them back.

The schedule at the beginning of 2011 was rough, and the combination of a bad start and injuries were too much to overcome.

Now, Sam Bradford and Danny Amendola are both coming back healthy and can add another playmaker with the No. 6 selection.

All signs point to the Rams selecting wide receiver Justin Blackmon, which is just what this offense needs.

Bradford would finally have a legitimate number one target, and Amendola can be used more in the slot, which is his strength.

The Rams also hold two early selections in the second round due to their trade with the Redskins.

The Rams will most likely look to the defensive side with those selections and could upgrade at the defensive tackle and secondary positions.

By finishing last in the division in 2011, the Rams will also have an easier schedule while the 49ers will get to play the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints as their two other NFC opponents.

The NFC West is one of the weakest divisions in the league, and the Rams will have a chance to compete.

Adding Blackmon and some quality players in the second round will lead to a much more improved Rams team in 2012.