2012 NFL Draft Grades: Teams Bound for Playoffs After Remarkable Weekend

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalSenior Writer IIJanuary 19, 2017

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Dre Kirkpatrick (R) of Alabama holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was selected #17 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The NFL Draft isn't always a pretty endeavor for teams, and we are looking at you Seattle Seahawks. However, there are a few middling franchises that are not bound for better days after a solid weekend from start to finish. 

The only reason to enter into the mind-numbing task of sifting through so much talent is to make your team better, and return to the postseason. 

It's easier said than done, but the following franchises are well on their way to special seasons in the next few years. 

After maturity and instruction wash over some fine talent, these teams will be looking stout and ready to contend. 

1. St. Louis Rams: Grade B+

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Defensive back Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama participates in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Rams clutched up and went for a Hail Mary deep into the end zone. This draft wasn't about playing it safe, and I love that about it. 

They took some measured gambles, but did so on the exact athletes they needed to, all the while getting tremendous value for their incessant moving down. 

Janoris Jenkins plummeted to the point that his elite talent could fall no further. Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead are solid picks with top-level upside. 

2. Cincinnati Bengals: Grade A

EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 26:  Mohamed Sanu #6 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights carries the ball as Yawin Smallwood #33 of the Connecticut Huskies defends on November 26, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Huskies def
Elsa/Getty Images

I know the Bengals are already a playoff team, but this draft keeps them there with a heavy chance they contend for a title in a few years. 

Dre Kirkpatrick is a huge find for the secondary, instantly making the Bengals a formidable task for any offense, and guard Kevin Zeitler will make an immediate impact. 

I also really enjoyed the pick of Mohamed Sanu, a player that is big, strong and ready to dominate at the point of impact. 

3. Carolina Panthers: Grade A- 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Linebacker Luke Kuechly of Boston College takes part in a drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Panthers needed a great deal of grit on the defensive end of the ball. There is no question this team can put up a great deal of points, but they need to stop some teams if they are going to feature in the postseason. 

That is why I love them getting the best linebacker in the draft in Luke Kuechly. I even like Josh Norman as a corner that will come in and contribute right away. 

The real steal was lineman Amini Silatolu who will make a dangerous offense a scary one. The last thing you need to give Cam Newton is more space and time, but that is exactly what they get.