NFL Draft 2012: 6 Biggest Losers from Draft Weekend
Every year, the NFL draft brings new players into the league. Some come in as premier talents destined for greatness while others hope to be that next sleeper everyone wishes they'd landed.
Good choices, bad choices or both, the focus is on who's drafted and how they will or won't help their team. It's which team aced their draft moves and which teams are already looking forward to the next year.
But for every rookie added to a roster there's a veteran without a job. Each younger, faster phenom displaces one of their own who has "lost a step" or is considered a "bust."
And they're not the only ones who lose out on draft day. Some players find themselves as round pegs drafted for square hole teams, while coaches and general managers paint themselves into a corner.
So while teams and fans alike are eager to get their new players on the field like kids with new toys on Christmas, here's a look at those players who took it on the chin and lost out on the 2012 NFL draft.
Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie
New Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie started out on the losing side of this year's draft, though he doesn't deserve the blame for it.
McKenzie's predecessors spent the top three picks of this year's draft well before Oakland came on the clock. In exchange, Oakland received one false start penalty on Terrelle Pryor, a full season from Joseph Barksdale, 76 rushing yards from Taiwan Jones and a 13-16 TD/INT ratio from Carson Palmer.
That's not a lot of production for a team's top three picks of a draft.
So McKenzie walks in like a parent coming home to find the aftermath of their teenager's wild party, only there's no one left behind to help clean up afterward. Al Davis and Hue Jackson mortgaged Oakland's future to accelerate their playoff window and missed anyway.
All is not lost, though, as McKenzie made some smart draft choices with the few picks he had. He upgraded the offensive line with Tony Bergstrom and increased the talent pool at linebacker with two Day 3 picks, Miles Burris and Nate Stupar.
Oakland's 2012 rookies will certainly contribute, and there's still plenty of talent on the Raiders' roster to compete in a dysfunctional AFC West. But Al Davis and Hue Jackson hindered McKenzie this year, and there's no comparison to what this draft class could have been with those premium first and second-day picks.
Miami Dolphins Left Tackle Jake Long
Jake Long's spent the last four years defending the Miami Dolphins' revolving door and the quarterbacks that keep rotating through it.
After hedging their bets on a series of second-round picks, the Dolphins finally went all in and selected Ryan Tannehill eighth overall in this year's draft.
The four-time Pro Bowler has a marquis quarterback to protect and a pair of solid running backs to clear lanes for in Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.
But this offense isn't complete, and won't be for at least another year. The Dolphins virtually ignored the receiver position. Miami only drafted tight end Michael Egnew to help Tannehill in the passing game. And Dolphins Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall landed in Chicago thanks to a pre-draft trade.
By the time Tannehill gets the wideouts he needs, Long might be headed out the door.
Long enters the final year of his contract this season. And despite four Pro Bowl appearances, Long could find himself with a new team if he and the Dolphins can't agree on an extension.
Miami also took out an insurance policy in case things don't work out. The Dolphins picked up Stanford's Jonathan Martin in the second round. Martin projects for the right side, but played left tackle during his college years. Martin can't seamlessly replace Long, but with solid development he could make Long expendable.
Cleveland Browns Quarterback Colt McCoy
In the craziness of the 2012 NFL draft, two people experienced more of an emotional roller coaster than anyone else.
The first was Mohamed Sanu. First he receives a call saying he's being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals only to find out it was a hoax. Then the Bengals (for real, this time) call him up to draft him in the third round.
Sanu won't get nearly as much money in his actual draft slot (the hoax call was for the 27th overall pick), but his weekend still ended on a high note.
So imagine the crash to Earth McCoy felt when Roger Goodell announced Brandon Weeden as the second of Cleveland's first-round picks.
A team drafting a quarterback in the first round is invariably the death knoll for the incumbent starter. In recent memory, only Drew Brees and Jon Kitna held off the inevitable for another year before moving on.
And they were the successful ones.
But for the Browns to bring in a top 25 pick who'll turn 29 this season, McCoy effectively received a 90-day "resource action" notice from his employer.
Cleveland brought Weeden in to play now; unless he looks completely lost in training camp, McCoy will lose his starting position before August.
Right now, McCoy better hope Weeden stuns coaches with a stellar camp performance so Cleveland can trade him soon. Even if he holds onto his job for now, it's only a matter of time before he trades in his helmet for a ball cap and clipboard.
Free-Agent Quarterback John Beck
Colt McCoy might face plenty of uncertainty the next few months, but at least he still has a job for now.
Or should we say former Washington quarterback John Beck, seeing as how the Redskins released him before the end of the fifth round in this year's draft.
Washington locked in on drafting Robert Griffin III long before the start of the 2012 NFL draft, trading a fortune in picks to the St. Louis Rams to select him second overall. With Griffin on board and Rex Grossman as the likely backup, Beck still had a chance to hold on as the Redskins No. 3 option.
That changed early in the fourth round when Washington surprised everyone, drafting Michigan State's Kirk Cousins. A value pick, Cousins comes in as insurance and future trade bait should he continue to develop.
But since Cousins rates too high to send to the practice squad, drafting him squeezed Beck out and the Redskins lost no time in releasing the former second-round pick for the Miami Dolphins.
In five seasons, Beck went from a franchise quarterback intended to replace Dan Marino to draft casualty. And despite having played for teams with marginal offensive talent that inhibited his development, Beck might be looking at the next step down in his career: being out of the NFL entirely.
Washington Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins might have unseated John Beck from the Washington Redskins roster, but that doesn't make him the winner in this situation by any stretch.
Having slid into the top of the fourth round, the Redskins picked up Cousins for additional insurance and to hopefully develop and trade Cousins later for a higher-value pick.
But where is Cousins going to get the reps necessary to improve as a professional quarterback? What about face time with the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator?
The fact of the matter is that every snap Cousins takes, every meeting that focuses on developing Cousins' not-inconsiderable skills is time taken away Robert Griffin III.
Washington dropped four draft picks in the top 40 selections to acquire Griffin. The Redskins front office can't afford to miss on this pick and will do everything possible to make him a success; their jobs depend on it.
But that leaves Cousins looking for table scraps in the ultra-competitive world of NFL quarterbacks.
St. Louis Rams Quarterback Sam Bradford
The top pick of the 2010 NFL draft came into the league like every other top pick in recent history has—with a lot of fanfare and even more money.
Sam Bradford became the last of the big-money draft picks, signing for $86 million over five years; $50 million of that was guaranteed. To contrast, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning signed for only $10 million more earlier this year; Manning's contract is also for five years.
After spending this enormous amount of money, the Rams then spent the next two years surrounding Bradford with minimal talent. St. Louis needs serious upgrades on offensive line and receiver, yet they have done little to fix those problems. And with Steven Jackson advancing in years, running back starts to be a concern.
To be fair, the Rams added two receivers and a running back in their first four rounds. However, Brian Quick should have been available much later in the draft, regardless of how high an opinion St. Louis' coaching staff had of him. Plenty of teams would jump at the chance to trade into the first pick of Day 2.
If they didn't want to trade down, Stephen Hill sat waiting; the tall, talented receiver's phone didn't ring for another 10 picks.
Most importantly, the Rams didn't address their offensive line concerns until late in the draft. Bradford missed six games last season with a high ankle sprain, but still ranked sixth for number of times sacked. The Rams offensive line led the league in sacks allowed at 55.
But St. Louis barely even paid lip service to improving Bradford's protection, and he has to think there's a better way of earning a living. The Rams need to take better care of their $86 million investment if they want to see some playoff games.
And Bradford needs to not take so many hits so he can have a long, successful career.
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