With so much hype leading up to the NFL draft, fans naturally get excited about all the possibilities for their teams. But that excitement can also lead to some letdown with poor execution on draft day.
Obviously, some teams have a better chance to land top prospects based on where they select. Other times, teams are handicapped due to prior trades. And in rare cases, organizations simply botch their draft by making poor selections.
This article presents five fanbases that are likely disappointed after the 2012 NFL draft for various reasons.
This doesn’t necessarily suggest that their teams’ drafts were bad; rather, they left fans something to be desired.
It’s difficult to argue with grabbing wide receiver Justin Blackmon in the first round, but for a team with so many other pressing needs, trading up to grab him may not have been the best idea.
Jacksonville entered the draft with several holes, including defensive end, receiver and offensive tackle. While giving up a fourth-round pick to move up two spots isn’t much, it’s still a pick with good value that could have led to an immediate contributor.
The move will be further scrutinized if Blackmon fails to shine in year one. And with Blaine Gabbert tossing him balls, that’s certainly a possibility.
While Jacksonville did address needs in the first two rounds, a better approach may have been to use their original No. 7 pick to select Michael Floyd, who may have actually been a better fit at receiver to help out Gabbert. Blackmon is a playmaker, but Floyd may have been just as good in that offense.
In fact, the Jags may have even been able to trade back to draft Floyd and gain picks rather than lose a pick.
Second-rounder Andre Branch filled another need at defensive end, though he’s more of a pure pass-rusher who is still a little rough around the edges against the run.
In Round 3, the Jags drafted a punter, bypassing a lot of quality players still on the board. Regardless of how good a punter Bryan Anger turns out to be, it was still too early to take him.
Overall, Jacksonville tried to make a splash with Blackmon, but outside of him it was a draft that screams average (at best).
The Atlanta Falcons entered the draft with a pretty strong overall roster. However, they were also shorthanded on draft picks due to last year’s trade up for wide receiver Julio Jones.
While they didn’t have many holes to fill, the Falcons also didn’t make any obvious upgrades through the draft. Peter Konz highlights the group, who was a great value in Round 2. Konz dropped due to injury concerns, and although he isn’t a sexy pick, he’ll be an important part of Atlanta’s offensive line over the next several years.
Atlanta had only five picks after Konz (who was the Falcons’ first selection), and there aren’t many notable names thereafter.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff filled needs along the offensive line with his first two picks, and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (Round 5) is intriguing. But fullback Bradie Ewing (Round 3) is unexciting, and Lamar Holmes was over-drafted, considering the talent that was still available at offensive tackle at pick No. 91. Furthermore, both Charles Mitchell and Travian Robertson will fight to even make the final roster.
This definitely wasn’t a flashy draft for the Falcons, nor did it need to be. Not all successful drafts have to scream fireworks and pizzazz.
But Atlanta didn’t upgrade in any spot other than center, and even that upgrade will have to wait until long-time veteran Todd McClure retires or moves on. In the meantime, Konz will plug in at guard.
In a division that features the New Orleans Saints and the uprising Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Falcons better hope their current roster has enough to fend off the mighty forces in the NFC South.
New GM Reggie McKenzie and new head coach Dennis Allen are trying to right the ship out in Oakland, but it was a tough start considering they didn’t have a first-rounder. Or a second-rounder. Or their own third-rounder.
The Raiders could have selected an immediate playmaker at No. 17 overall, which would have been their original choice had they not traded it to Cincinnati last year to acquire Carson Palmer. They also traded this year’s second-rounder during the 2011 draft and gave up a third-rounder for the rights of Terrelle Pryor.
But all that’s in the past, more or less.
The rest of the Raiders’ draft was actually pretty smart, as they fortified the trenches and took only one skill position in Arizona’s Juron Criner.
Some people will look at the list and think boring. But for the Raiders and a new regime, the approach makes sense.
Tony Bergstrom has a lot of upside on the offensive line and could have a permanent role in the future. Miles Burris is a versatile linebacker who needs to work on his coverage skills. Defensive ends Jack Crawford and Christo Bilukidi are projects, and of the two, Crawford has more of a chance to stick. And Penn State outside linebacker Nate Stupar has enough athleticism to provide some depth at the position.
All of these were logical moves, but perhaps the biggest indication of a new regime was the selection of wide receiver Juron Criner. Criner lacks elite speed, making him the antithesis of what Al Davis would usually look for at the position. He could be a nice red-zone threat, something the Raiders couldn’t get out of Chaz Schilens due to constant injuries.
Ultimately, this wasn’t necessarily a bad draft for Oakland, but the fact that it missed out on so many good players with their original picks in the first three rounds is a bit of an anti climax.
But Raiders fans will take this in stride, see how the prospects pan out and re-energize their batteries for next year’s draft.
Luke Kuechly is a great linebacker, but taking him at No. 9 overall seems more like a luxury pick for a team trying to get over the hump.
Carolina’s biggest need heading into the draft was defensive line. With Fletcher Cox, Dontari Poe, Michael Brockers, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram all still on the board, the Panthers could have opted for one of them at No. 9, or could have even traded back to get one of those players while also acquiring extra picks. Then, someone like linebacker Mychal Kendricks could have been an option in Round 2.
The secondary was another need, and South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore was sitting there for the taking.
Instead, the Panthers stayed true to their big board and picked the highest rated player in Kuechly. They at least deserve some credit because of that. Kuechly should be solid at the next level and is good insurance next to linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis.
However, the Panthers failed to address the defensive line until they traded up for Frank Alexander at pick No. 103. In doing so, Carolina gave up a 2013 third-rounder and the 180th pick in the 2012 draft.
While Amini Silatolu, Joe Adams and Josh Norman are all solid picks with good value, Carolina could have executed better in shoring up the pass rush early on while grabbing a linebacker later in the draft. But it is what it is.
A stronger linebacker unit could help the front four in 2012, but a stronger front four could have helped the entire defense even more.
Panthers fans are hoping it pans out so that the team can continue to gain ground in the division.
Handicapped by “Bountygate” penalties and last year’s trade to New England for Mark Ingram, the New Orleans Saints were never in position to have a strong draft.
Nonetheless, they did what they could.
They attempted to address their need at defensive tackle with their first pick (No. 89 overall) by selecting Akiem Hicks out of Canada. Although Hicks has good upside, selecting him here may have been a slight reach. The Saints could have feasibly moved back a couple of spots, picked up an extra pick or two and still selected their player.
Nick Toon is an intriguing fit with the wide receiver corps. According to ESPN.com, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael compares Toon to current Saints wideout Marques Colston. If Toon can live up to that comparison, he could be a great weapon for Drew Brees. But there is a lot of skepticism surrounding his game tape.
Safety Corey White, offensive guard Andrew Tiller and offensive tackle Marcel Jones are all average selections who fill positions of need, but they will have to claw for roster room.
While it’s more of a result from the Saints’ draft situation than their actual selections, their draft is nothing exciting.
Fortunately, the Saints did a great job in free agency. They extended cornerback Jabari Greer. They also replaced Carl Nicks by signing Ben Grubbs, and they covered themselves at linebacker with David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton if/when Jonathan Vilma misses time.
Perhaps Saints fans can overlook the draft and think of those moves instead.