Every year there are teams who find a way to shape a very strong and well-rounded draft, while others fall into the category of ordinary in a time greatness is needed. Sometimes it's risky trades, simply a bad pick or maybe the luck just isn't within their graces on this day, and they find targeted players going earlier than expected.
As the draft approaches, these are the teams that are most likely to fall short of a good draft:
For most of the past decade, the New England Patriots have been one of the better, if not the best, drafting teams. For years, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have had the luxury of stockpiling picks for the future, mostly due to having an already well-rounded team with few holes to fill.
This year, however, there are an exceptionally large sum of voids within the depth of this team. In all likelihood, New England will be focusing on DE, DT, DB, C and WR.
Above all, the positions of defensive end and defensive back are most important. With Mark Anderson and Andre Carter no longer with the team, the current roster looks inept as a pass-rushing defense. In a league dominated by passing, this is a crucial missing element.
Why will this cause trouble for the Pats in this year's draft? Well, I can't remember the last dominant pass-rusher drafted by the organization, never mind just under the Belichick era.
The defensive backfield was atrocious in 2011, with former draftees Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling having very disappointing seasons. Patrick Chung, also a former draftee, felt the effects of injuries for the entire year and now has an injury-prone label attached to his name.
With two picks at 27 and 31 in the first round, along with another two in the second round, the Patriots have a few options as to which way to go.
They can try to trade up and select one of the better defensive players, like defensive tackle Michael Brockers, strong safety Mark Barron or defensive end Quinton Coples. This scenario seems almost likely but may put a stranglehold on the Patriots later in the draft or in 2013.
The team could decide to stay put and have two quick selections to help fill voids. This seems out of the ordinary, though, since Bill Belichick has traded 10 first-round draft picks since 2001.
If we see no changes in draft position, however, the targets will likely be the next tier of defensive players like outside linebackers Shea McClellin and Courtney Upshaw, or strong safety Harrison Smith.
As usual, fans may be waiting longer than expected to hear who will call Foxboro their new home. If the Patriots were to trade down, they would likely receive later round selections as well as future draft picks, which would help in 2013 considering their looming contract situations.
With the amount of help needed on the defensive side of the ball and the options available, the Patriots find themselves in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable position of relying on this draft.
With nearly zero draft history success with pass-rushers and the recent failures in drafting defensive backs, Coach Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have too many holes to fill with too few picks—opposite of what has been in the past.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been, in all honesty, one of the worst teams for the last decade, both on the field and in the war rooms on draft day.
For the past four years, the Jags have had a draft position within the top 10. This is not an accomplishment, unfortunately. In two of the four years, the Jaguars have traded up into the top 10 to take quarterback Blaine Gabbert and left tackle Eugene Monroe. Monroe was cut before the 2011 season, and Gabbert struggled immensely as a rookie.
The issue with the Jaguars picking seventh is not necessarily bad, but risky. The Jaguars will be hoping wide receiver Justin Blackmon will fall into their laps, but that is unlikely. After the top six players—presumably being Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne and Blackmon—Jacksonville finds themselves on an island.
Gene Smith and the Jags have a couple routes to take if Blackmon comes off the board before seventh. The needs of the team consist of WR, DE, ROT, C and CB.
The obvious route: move on and target the next need. Defensive end Whitney Mercilus will be available, and he is no slouch as a seventh pick.
Michael Floyd will be available, but the seventh overall pick would be a reach, and Jacksonville would miss out on better talent at the defensive end position.
The issue is not whether or not Jacksonville will secure a good first-round pick; the problem lies within the depth of the draft and their team. Missing out on Blackmon and having no shot of drafting Michael Floyd unless it is in the seventh slot leaves much weaker options catching the ball.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the DE position has much more potential and depth entering the second round, so they will have to either overdraft Michael Floyd or settle for a less talented receiver such as Rueben Randle out of LSU.
With the offense looking completely disastrous outside of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars may find themselves coming up short with firepower during the 2012 NFL draft.
My third and final team that will come up short in the 2012 NFL draft is the Miami Dolphins—yet another top-10 team this year.
My reasoning behind the Dolphins failing to succeed in the draft relies solely on the idea that they will draft quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If so, Miami will have to expect at least a couple years worth of development before they find success in their selection.
Coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman both prove to be the perfect developmental team for the young QB, but the short-term gains are not there, and Miami risks finding themselves at the top of the draft yet again in 2013.
Even if Tannehill were to immediately play, he would have to do so with lack of depth at the wide receiver position. We have seen what this can be like when Jacksonville drafted Blaine Gabbert. If Miami decided to pass on a quarterback, Michael Floyd will be available at WR.
Drafting Michael Floyd would immediately make the offense in South Beach better. With that said, the future still looks grim without a solid quarterback.
You can see the dilemma here. No matter which way Miami goes with their eighth overall selection, there are equal negative aspects contradicting the positives.
With Tannehill the likely selection, Miami may be able to say they had a good first day in the 2012 NFL draft—but in two or three years. As of now, Miami may be in the toughest position during the draft: choosing between a long-term investment or quick success and possibly determining the future of the franchise for quite some time.
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