2012 NFL Draft Results: The 20 Biggest Winners and Losers of the NFL Draft
It typically takes three years to get a good handle on the outcome of an NFL draft. However, some teams did a great job, making it hard to not call them early winners. Conversely, other teams made some poor selections that seem obvious.
This slideshow doesn't only identify specific teams as a winner or loser; it also looks at some players situations. The lead picture should tell you that I have a strong opinion about how the Cincinnati Bengals orchestrated their draft.
The Bengals added a ton of talent and seem like the early winners.
Winner: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills added a wide range of talent at several different positions. Adding Stephon Gilmore helps solidify the back end of the defense, which looks like a much-improved unit. Gilmore is a tough and hard-working player who's capable of developing into a shutdown cornerback.
While I love the Gilmore pick, I'm even more impressed with the improvements made along the offensive line. Cordy Glenn is a stud and deserved to come off the board in the first round. His versatility will allow the Bills to get their five best players on the field. Zebrie Sanders is a work in progress, but he has a lot of physical abilities and upside.
T.J. Graham has a chance to be one of the best late-round receivers in this draft. He didn't receive a lot of attention from the media, but he's a terrific player.
Loser: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns will be leaving the draft with more questions at quarterback than answers. Adding Brandon Weeden puts Colt McCoy on the hot seat, and likely on the bench. However, Weeden will still have to deal with the lack of talent at wide receiver.
It's difficult to get a good evaluation on a quarterback when he doesn't have the weapons needed to succeed. The concerns about Weeden's age are warranted, as it will limit his ability to have a long-term impact. During Jon Gruden's quarterback camp, it was easy to see that Weeden isn't ready to make an immediate impact.
He rarely worked from under center or called plays in the huddle. Oklahoma State's wide-open system didn't allow him to learn pro-style concepts.
Trent Richardson was a great pick, but pulling the trigger on Weeden at No. 22 could derail the rebuilding process.
Winner: Chandler Jones
The New England Patriots made a move up the draft in order to secure the rights to Chandler Jones. He was targeted because of his ability to rush the passer. Jones is lucky to land with such a stable franchise where he'll be expected to make an instant impact.
New England's lack of pass-rush options means Jones will see the field early and often. His high motor and physical abilities will help him find success in Bill Belichick's system. Look for him to rack up a ton of sacks and compete for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Loser: Seattle Seahawks
This is the second draft in a row where the Seattle Seahawks dramatically reached for a player. Bruce Irvin can create pressure on the quarterback, but he's not a good overall football player. He struggles playing the run and diagnosing developing plays.
Selecting a situational pass-rusher with the No. 15 pick is a mistake. The only way the Seahawks can salvage this pick is if they find a way to develop Irvin. They must get him into the film room and work on his overall knowledge of the game.
Winner: Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are always very aggressive in the way they add talent to their roster. Their bold move up to grab Morris Claiborne will pay immediate dividends. Dallas' desperate need for help in the secondary is what likely sparked the trade.
Teaming Claiborne with Brandon Carr gives the Cowboys a very talented duo. These two players can really take a team's top two weapons out of the game. It also allows Rob Ryan to continue his blitz-happy attack because he won't have to commit extra defenders to pass coverage.
Loser: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears made some puzzling choices with their first three selections. Shea McClellin is a talented pass-rusher, but projected better as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He doesn't play the run well enough to immediately play every down at the defensive end position.
Alshon Jeffery has excellent size, but lacks the quickness to create separation. There's also concerns about his character, and it isn't a good idea to put an immature player alongside Brandon Marshall. This pick is a little more questionable because they needed to move up to acquire him.
Lastly, selecting Brandon Hardin in the third round was a stretch. He's stock was hurt because of an injury and he would have likely been around a few rounds later.
Winner: Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck feels great about being the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. However, it's the way the Indianapolis Colts surrounded him with talent that should make him really happy. He gets to start a new chapter in his life alongside college teammate Coby Fleener.
Fleener is a terrific athlete and will be a great security blanket for Luck. The Colts also brought in Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton and Vick Ballard. Allen is a great pickup because it will allow the Colts to run two-tight end sets, which Luck ran a lot in college.
Hilton is a promising player who will have an opportunity to sit and learn behind Reggie Wayne. Ballard is a tough runner who's capable of breaking off long runs.
Loser: Kirk Cousins
The Washington Redskins didn't do Kirk Cousins any favors by making him their fourth-round pick. He enters a situation where he has no chance to contend for a starting spot. Washington didn't move up to the No. 2 pick to make Robert Griffin III its backup.
Landing on the Redskins is just the cap on a likely terrible draft experience for Cousins. There was a possibility that he would come off the board in the second round. Falling to the fourth round and landing with the Redskins had to be disappointing.
Winner: Brandon Weeden
Despite the presence of Colt McCoy on the roster, Brandon Weeden has to feel that he has a great chance to start immediately for the Cleveland Browns. Weeden's age means that Cleveland must get him on the field early to ensure they get value.
The Browns didn't invest a first-round pick to bring in competition for Colt McCoy; they did it to add someone who can replace him. Weeden's age likely turned a lot of teams off, and the fact he was able to convince the Browns he's a first-round player is a win.
Loser: Chuck Pagano
I'm sure Chuck Pagano is trilled to have Andrew Luck as his starting quarterback, but might be a little disappointed by the lack of defensive talent brought in. The Indianapolis Colts used their first four picks on the offensive side of the ball, leaving the defense with little to work with.
Pagano comes from a defensive background, and was likely pounding his fist for some of the available defensive players. There will be some pressure on him to make this defense better, but that will be a tough task.
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars are winners because they weren't afraid to make an aggressive move to get their man. They wanted to add Justin Blackmon to the mix, and were willing to part with an extra pick in order to add him. Blackmon will be a great target for the developing Blaine Gabbert.
Jacksonville also gets a hard-working and flashy player to help with ticket sales. Most football fans recognize Blackmon because of his excellent production at Oklahoma State. Fans typically like to see their team add exciting playmakers.
Loser: Mike Jenkins
The Dallas Cowboys' addition of Morris Claiborne likely signals the end of Mike Jenkins' career in Dallas. Jenkins hasn't played at a high level for a few years, but likely still had a starting job if Claiborne wasn't brought on board.
Dallas' starting cornerbacks next season will be Claiborne and Brandon Carr, with Jenkins likely landing on another team. He loses the stability of a likely starting spot, but a change of scenery might be a good situation for him.
However, being forced to depart from Dallas should also impact the amount of money Jenkins is able to pull in next season.
Winner: Ben Roethlisberger
The Pittsburgh Steelers' ability to land two starting-caliber offensive linemen should bring a smile to Ben Roethlisberger's face. These past few seasons have featured a lot of pressure and big hits on Pittsburgh's franchise quarterback. Adding Mike Adams and David DeCastro will immediately help in pass protection.
These two players also do a good job opening running lanes, and Roethlisberger will benefit from an improved rushing attack. Selecting two offensive linemen isn't sexy, but it will play major dividends for the Steelers offense.
Loser: New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints only had five picks in the 2012 draft, not making their first pick until the third round. They are still in the middle of the bounty scandal, and are likely facing some hefty player suspensions. This should have made adding talent on the defensive side of the ball a priority.
However, New Orleans was only able to add two defensive players with one of them coming from Canada. The Saints obviously did the best they could with their limited resources, but they are one of the biggest losers of the 2012 draft.
Winner: Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins paid a high price in order to move up and land Robert Griffin III. However, this is a move the franchise needed to make. Their quarterback situation has been among the league's worst over the past few seasons.
Washington is a winner because it finally landed itself a young franchise quarterback. This team can now move forward focusing on surrounding Griffin III with talent. The Redskins no longer need to face the questions about who'll be the long-term starting quarterback.
Loser: Jeff Ireland
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland is going to face heavy scrutiny after a disappointing offseason. The fans are already calling for him to lose his job because of his inability to land Peyton Manning. His job status might have taken another hit because of their decision to add Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill has a ton of upside, but isn't ready to make an instant impact. If he's forced on the field too early, it could really impact his development. However, Ireland needs Tannehill to find some early success if he hopes to keep his job.
Not everyone is sold on Tannehill, and placing your future in the hands of an unknown is a risky situation.
Winner: San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers' first three picks could all start from day one. Melvin Ingram gives this team another pass-rusher who can play all over the field. He's a hard worker and someone who'll raise the intensity of the entire defense.
Kendall Reyes is a very underrated player, and should immediately contend for playing time at the 5-technique positions. He's a versatile player who does a good job stuffing the run and penetrating the pocket. Teaming Reyes with Corey Liuget gives the Chargers a good defensive end tandem.
Brandon Taylor is also a very underrated player who will look good lined up next to Eric Weddle. The Denver Broncos' addition of Peyton Manning forced the Chargers to consider adding more talent in the defensive backfield.
Loser: Mark Barron
Mark Barron could be considered a winner because he was selected in the top 10 by a team that is on the rise. However, there will be a lot of pressure placed on Barron to instantly play at a high level. Safeties are rarely selected this high, and when they are, there tends to be some disappointment (see LaRon Landry).
Barron can have a good career, but it will be tough to live up to the billing of the No. 7 pick. There's also some concern about the other talent in the secondary. He may be forced into tough situations because of poor play by his teammates.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles' struggles with defending the run contributed to their issues last season. They made adding talent on defense one of their priorities in this draft. Fletcher Cox is a pressure player who can also play the run. He'll be moved all around the defensive line and work hard to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Mychal Kendricks gives the Eagles a quick and productive player in the linebacking unit. He's a sideline-to-sideline player who will fit in nicely at the outside linebacker position. This unit was a weakness last season, but now is a strength because of Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans.
Vinny Curry will work his way into the rotation and get after the quarterback. He uses his quickness and savvy to work his way into the backfield. Curry has a lot of the same skills as current Eagle Trent Cole.
Loser: Jacob Bell
The Cincinnati Bengals signed Jacob Bell with the idea that he would give them a solid veteran presence at the guard position. Bell isn't an elite player, but he has experience and has showed promise. However, Bell's starting chances took a major hit after the Bengals selected Kevin Zeitler in the first round.
Zeitler is athletic and does a good job of opening running lanes. He wasn't selected to sit on the bench, as first-round guards typically see the field early in their careers. Bell should prepare himself for a major battle in training camp. His only hope might be beating out Travelle Wharton for the other guard spot.