2012 NFL Draft Recap: A Look at Each Team's Best Pick
The 2012 NFL Draft is over, mini-camps are underway and players are already being signed to contracts with their new teams. Draft experts are already looking to the 2013 class of players as the evaluations are underway.
There is incredible value in each and every draft class and this year was no different. The great teams always find players in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft who turn into important pieces.
It is remarkable when looking at a team's roster to see how many players it has developed from middle-to late-round picks into starters or very adequate backups.
Here, we will unearth the gem in each team's draft class. In some cases, it is simply that a team picked a great player at a position of need, and in other cases, the organization picked the best player available.
In a perfect world, it is a combination of both.
Let's look at the players that each franchise and their fanbase will be smiling about over the next few years.
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Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
While looking at the Buffalo Bills' draft class, it is hard to pick just one player who fits the category of "best" pick. There are arguments that can be made for several players, but the one who best fits is former Georgia guard Cordy Glenn. It would be hard to find anyone that wouldn't call Glenn a steal at pick No. 41 overall.
Glenn fills a need for the Bills, as he is versatile and can play all over the offensive line. He is a massive football player and upgrades both the running and passing game for the Bills.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)
The Dolphins have a draft class that will be considered a success or a failure based on the future of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Some consider him to be a reach and too much of a project to be taken so high in Round 1. The real value for the Dolphins comes at the running back position, in the form of Miami (FL) running back Lamar Miller, who most had projected to go early in Day 2.
Miller is a real value at No. 97 overall. He is a lightning-fast running back who instantly upgrades the position for the Dolphins, especially in the long term.
Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Patriots are another team that has a draft class that includes several players who could be named here. They selected several players at points in the draft where those players should not have been. Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette at No. 90 overall is a candidate. Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, at pick No. 224 overall, is another player to be considered, solely from a value standpoint.
But the player who gets the call here has to be Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower. There might not be another player in the entire draft that fits a team as well as Hightower fits the Patriots. He fills a need instantly and is a great value for the scheme the Patriots run. The team and its fans are going to love Hightower and what he can do for their defense.
Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State
The New York Jets continue to get taken by workout warriors, players who lack production on tape but look great in the workout room. North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill both lack productivity on the football field and need some real development to become legitimate NFL players.
Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis is the opposite of a workout warrior.
He is a very good football player, one who can make an impact immediately on the Jets defense. He has good ability to tackle and generate some pop at the point of contact. He is a player who can make a difference from a depth perspective now and take Bart Scott's position in the future.
Davis is a great value at pick No. 77 overall.
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Kelechi Osemele, G, Washington
This is another case in which the rich get richer, as the Ravens add guys who can play football even though they drafted late in Round 1. When you think of the Ravens, you think of big, physical football. Getting a player at No. 60 overall who can add a lot of short-space physicality and then some, is a coup for the Ravens.
Washington guard Kelechi Osemele is also position-versatile and he will instantly bolster the offensive line. Some considered him a late-first-round prospect as a guard who can play for years at a high level.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
The Bengals had a great draft and I could pick three or four names from their draft class and make a great argument for all of them. Considering that I don't necessarily care for either of their first-round selections, it speaks volumes of their class that I could still pick out so many. California wide receiver Marvin Jones certainly qualifies at pick No. 165, as does Boise State safety George Iloka at pick No. 166.
Considering the Bengals offense and their need for a compliment to A.J. Green, the player who comes out of this group is Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. The Bengals got a steal when they grabbed Sanu in the third round with the 83rd overall pick.
He represents a great combination of need and best-player-available for the Bengals. Sanu steps into this offense immediately as a possession receiver opposite Green. His selection has to make Andy Dalton smile.
Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
The Browns had 11 selections in the 2012 NFL Draft and they hit on more than their share of them. It's easy to like Alabama running back Trent Richardson and he should be a great NFL running back.
Other players to like are Nevada linebacker James-Michael Johnson at No. 120 overall and Boise State defensive tackle Billy Winn at No. 205 overall. Both are great values for a team really in need of talent.
The player who I like the most, considering everything, is California tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
The Browns got Schwartz in the second round with the 37th overall pick. He is position-versatile, having played both right and left tackle in college. He is also a very smart football player and a one who is tough, having started 51 straight games.
Schwartz will stabilize the right side of the Browns offensive line for a long time. This pick is a gift to the offense considering that left tackle Joe Thomas is here also.
David DeCastro, G, Stanford
This is another case where he rich get richer. The Steelers offensive line has been bad and really needed an infusion of youth, size and talent. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger extends plays with his feet and that makes his linemen look bad because they have to hold blocks for a long time. When lineman can't hold blocks for a long time it leads to the quarterback getting drilled a lot.
This is where Stanford guard David DeCastro enters the picture—and I expect him to stay in it for a very long time.
DeCastro was picked with the 24th overall selection in the draft. He is exactly what the Steelers needed and they got a gift. They essentially flopped the nuts, to coin a poker phrase.
The ability to line up DeCastro next to Maurkice Pouncey is going to stabilize the passing game but really improve the running game for the Steelers.
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Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska
The Houston Texans lost defensive end Mario Williams in free agency and they need to replace the production they will miss from him. There are a few players to like in the Texans' draft class from a defensive perspective, and certainly Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus will help in this area. Mercilus was an expensive pick, though, at No. 26 overall.
There is another player in this group that stands out from a value and production standpoint and that is former Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick.
Crick was selected in Round 4 with the 126th overall pick. Crick can play in multiple fronts and will excel in the Texans 3-4 base defense. He is a good run defender as well, and should pair very well with the talent the Texans have accrued along their defensive front.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
The Colts did a very good job of getting some talent on the offensive side of the ball for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck, quarterback out of Stanford.
They used eight of their 10 picks on offense. Some of the players I really like are Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman at No. 136 overall. He is a steal there. Other players to like are Florida International wide receiver T.Y. Hilton at No. 92 and Georgia tackle Justin Anderson at No. 208 overall.
The fate of this entire group is on Andrew Luck's shoulders, and for that reason, considering his incredible talent, he is the player whom the Colts get the most out of. He is the real deal, as much as a college player can be coming into the NFL.
Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
The Jaguars traded up to secure the player they coveted, and that player is Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The addition of Blackmon gives the Jacksonville offense a wide receiving threat it has lacked for some time. The Jaguars' draft class is a strange one, considering they took a punter in the third round. It's not too difficult to find the only real value that they got in the draft.
That value is defensive end/outside linebacker Andre Branch from Clemson.
Branch was a steal where the Jaguars got him at No. 38 overall. Most considered Branch a first-rounder and the fact that they got him where they did tells me that they got good value and a very good player. Branch is an outstanding athlete who will create mismatches on the field as a pass rusher.
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
The Titans have a nice group of players in this class and there could be an argument for a few of them. Players to like are Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin at No. 82 overall and Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin at No. 190. They did a nice job of addressing their defense using five of their seven picks on that side of the ball.
The player who really stands out is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright.
Wright was selected with the 20th overall pick. He is a player that can grow with young quarterback Jake Locker and put up great numbers as a compliment to wide receiver Kenny Britt.
Wright plays extremely fast and will pull coverage from Britt's side of the field as well as keep defenses from loading the box to stop the run. The Titans offense has improved with this selection.
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Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee
The Denver Broncos did a solid job of addressing needs with their 2012 draft class. They selected three players on the offensive side of the ball and four on defense. Players to like are San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman at pick No. 67 and Baylor center Philip Blake at No. 108 overall. Looking at the entire group, there is one player who stands out as a steal and one who could make noise for the Broncos.
That player is Tennessee defensive end Malik Jackson. Jackson has very good abilities against the run and as a pass-rusher.
He is a bargain for the Broncos at No. 137 overall. Jackson is versatile, can play in multiple spots along the defensive line and he has the makings of a very good football player. He is one who might make us wonder why he lasted so long in a few years.
DeQuan Menzie, CB, Alabama
The Chiefs bought what Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe was selling and that will either be a really good thing or a bad thing. They did a decent job addressing needs selecting five offensive players and three defenders. While looking through their draft class, it is easy to pick the one player that was a really nice value for them.
Alabama defensive back DeQuan Menzie was selected by the Chiefs at No. 146 overall in the fifth round. He is a really nice value at that point of the draft. He is a good, physical press cornerback from a school known for their defense. With all the star power at Alabama, he might have been an afterthought, but he can play.
Tony Bergstrom, OT, Utah
Considering that the Raiders didn't have a pick until the last selection of the third round, they did a nice job of getting players late who might be able to help soon.
Players to like are San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris at No. 129 and Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner at No. 168 overall. The Raiders really got value with an interior lineman, though, and he is the player who should make an impact soon for them.
Utah tackle Tony Bergstrom was a steal for the Raiders that late in the draft. He will kick inside and play guard in the NFL, but he will add some grit and toughness to the interior of the offensive line.
The Raiders are going to want to be a little more balanced in their attack, and bringing in a player that can move well but has the physicality to play inside should pay nice dividends for them.
Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina
There is a lot to like about the San Diego Chargers' group. They seemed to get nice value with almost every pick. Players to like are LSU safety Brandon Taylor at No. 73 and Michigan center David Molk in the seventh round with pick No. 228.
There are two standouts in this class and it is difficult to pick the best one. Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes is a really nice player and a phenomenal value where the Chargers got him in the second round with pick No. 49.
The Chargers have struggled to get to the quarterback for a few years. They are desperate to get a player to come off of the edge to threaten an offense. This is where South Carolina linebacker Melvin Ingram enters the picture.
Ingram was the 18th overall selection in the draft. He is a menace and is a freakish athlete. He is going to pressure the passer and he will get home for the Chargers. Ingram is exactly what the Chargers needed and he is a gift for them in the middle of Round 1.
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Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
The Dallas Cowboys did a nice job reloading their defense in this draft, as they selected five defensive players out of the seven total picks they had.
Players to like in the Cowboys' class are Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford at No. 81 and Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale at No. 152 overall. The player who really stands out is one that the Cowboys traded up for.
The Cowboys made a bold move by trading up to grab Morris Claiborne and he is the player who will make this draft class.
Claiborne is a very good cover-cornerback and a is player who should really improve this defense, perhaps not in 2012, but certainly soon. The Cowboys signed Brandon Carr in free agency and the pairing of Claiborne and Carr has the potential to be as good as any combination in football.
Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
The Super Bowl champions had a really nice draft, getting value almost everywhere. They selected five offensive players out of the seven picks that they made.
Players to like are Virginia Tech running back David Wilson at pick No. 32, Auburn offensive tackle Brandon Mosley at pick No. 131 and Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Matt McCants at pick No. 201 overall.
The Giants got incredible value late in Round 2, taking LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle with pick No. 63. Randle was considered by some as a late-first-round talent and he represents a need also.
The Giants lost wide receiver Mario Manningham to free agency and Randle is an instant upgrade over what Manningham was delivering for the Giants. Randle is a nice long-term solution for the Giants.
Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
The Eagles had a great draft and there is a problem finding just one player to pick out of this class.
I like Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin at pick No. 123 and Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt at pick No. 194, both being really good values. I love the selection of California linebacker Mychal Kendricks with pick No. 46. He is an incredible athlete and a great football player. The division that the Eagles play in dictates the player who stands out for me, as getting pressure on the quarterback is crucial here.
Vinny Curry should not have been available for the Eagles when they were on the board with pick No. 59.
Curry is a steal here and will be a player who will put pressure on the edge of an offense. That will be critical in the pass-happy NFC East. The Eagles have a player in Curry who can drop back and play linebacker or pressure the edge as a pass-rusher. He brings young talent to this defense.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
The Redskins had a very productive draft, considering they gave up their second-round pick in a pre-draft day deal that netted them the big fish they wanted in Robert Griffin III.
They also used a fourth-round pick on another rookie quarterback. They did a great job addressing needs and getting players who will be productive for the systems that they run.
Players that I really like are Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson at pick No. 119, South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton at pick No. 193 and SMU cornerback Richard Crawford with pick No. 213. Iowa guard Adam Gettis is a steal for the Redskins at No. 141 as he is perfect for the zone blocking scheme the Redskins run.
Everyone knows that this draft class is all about Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III because of the amount that the Redskins gave up to get him. He is in a great position to be successful early in his career and Redskins fans have to be thrilled that Griffin III is on his way.
The Redskins have been searching for a quarterback for years and he should finally be the answer.
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Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
The Chicago Bears did a nice job of addressing needs and finding players who can help them down the road. They only had six selections and they used four of those selections on defense, drafting a safety and two cornerbacks later in the draft.
Players to like are Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin at pick No. 19 and Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin at pick No. 79 overall.
The Bears have been searching for a legitimate threat in the passing game ever since they traded for quarterback Jay Cutler. South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery should remedy this problem relatively quick, as he could be the most talented wide receiver in the entire draft. The fact that the Bears got him with pick No. 45 is just silly.
The pairing of newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall and Jeffery is a nice one and it takes the wide receiver position for the Bears from a significant weakness to a strength.
Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
The Detroit Lions addressed major needs on defense, as they selected six defensive players out of their eight picks. They selected three cornerbacks and are hoping to get one or more of them to turn into something for them.
Players that I like in this class are Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles at pick No. 54, Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight Bentley at No. 85 overall and Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis at pick No. 125.
This is easy to say, but the real value for the Detroit Lions comes from Riley Reiff falling all the way to pick No. 23.
He is a great value at this point in the draft, not only from a talent perspective, but more because he fits a massive need for the Lions. Reiff can step in immediately and play on the right side, either at tackle or guard and that means he brings a lot of value. He is a long-term solution at left tackle.
Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
The Green Bay Packers are always a team that drafts well. This year brings a few question marks with their first few picks, but the talent is certainly there. As always, the Packers draft class is good and will bring players who will make a difference in a few years.
Players to like are North Carolina State linebacker Terrell Manning at pick No. 163 and Florida state offensive tackle Andrew Datko in Round 7 with pick No. 241 overall.
The player I like the most is Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward at the end of Round 2, with pick No. 62.
Hayward is a very good read-and-react cornerback, who will do really nice things playing in zone coverage. He played in the SEC and help up very well against the great competition there. He should fit in nicely with the Packers' cornerback rotation early in his career and eventually he will become a very good starting-caliber cornerback for them.
Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
The Minnesota Vikings did a nice job of bringing in talented players through the draft. They had 10 picks and used five on defense, four on offense. They also used a pick on a kicker.
Not surprisingly, the Vikings drafted a safety and two cornerbacks. Players who look especially good in this class are USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil at pick No. 4, Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith at pick No. 29 and North Carolina State linebacker Audie Cole in the seventh round with pick No. 210.
The value of the class comes with Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson. He was selected by the Vikings in the third round with pick No. 66. Robinson can flat-out fly and will be able to turn and run with the speedsters in the NFL, especially the wide receivers in the NFC North.
Robinson will take a little coaching to bring him to the NFL level, but the physical gifts he brings to position are hard to ignore. The Vikings secondary has gotten better because of this draft and it will really start to show in 2013.
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Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
The Atlanta Falcons had six picks in this year's draft after giving up a first and fourth-rounder in last year's draft-day trade with the Cleveland Browns, which got them wide receiver Julio Jones.
The Falcons did not make a selection until pick No. 55, late in Round 2. They added some talent and addressed some needs, selecting three players on each side of the ball. Players to like are Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing with pick No. 157 and South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson with pick No. 249.
The real value comes at the middle of the offensive line with Wisconsin center Peter Konz, a player who lasted all the way to late in Round 2 at No. 55 overall. Konz is a gigantic center who can get to the second level and really help out in the run game. He is position-versatile as he can play guard also. Konz is a player who can step into the offense and play at a high level as a rookie.
Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
The Carolina Panthers had seven selections in this draft and they came away with some nice talent. They selected two players who play on the offensive side of the ball, four defenders and a punter.
Players that I like are Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams at pick No. 104 and Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman in the fifth round at pick No. 143. The Panthers did a good job of walking away from the draft with young talent in important places.
The Panthers got great value in Round 2 with the selection of guard Amini Silatolu at No. 40 overall. He is a monster at the guard position and a player who is a mean run-blocker. He can move well, has great size and is a guy who loves to finish blocks. He will instantly upgrade the Panthers' running game. His combination of size and strength should put him in a position to start right away for the Panthers.
Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin
The New Orleans Saints traded away their first-round pick to get running back Mark Ingram in the 2011 NFL Draft and had to forfeit their second-round selection because of the bounty system they were running.
They did not make a pick until very late in Round 3 and they only had five picks in total. The still managed to get a decent crop of players, but they missed out on this year's group of elite prospects.
Players who I like are Regina defensive end Akiem Hicks at pick No. 89 and Nebraska offensive tackle Marcel Jones in the seventh round at pick No. 234 overall.
The value for the Saints in this class is Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Toon.
The Saints selected Toon in Round 4 with pick No. 122 overall. He is a good wide receiver with great bloodlines. Toon is known for his route-running ability and as a receiver with great hands. The Saints use every wide receiver they have to spread out defenses for quarterback Drew Brees, and Toon will replace Robert Meachem who departed in free agency. Toon should see time in three and four-receiver sets immediately for the Saints.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a savvy move by trading down two spots while still getting the player they wanted all along in Alabama safety Mark Barron. They did a great job getting players who will help them now and in the future.
Players who I really like are Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David at pick No. 58 and West Virginia inside linebacker Najee Goode at pick No. 140. David is a really good prospect and a great value where they got him.
The real value is getting Boise State running back Doug Martin late in Round 1 with pick No. 31 overall.
Martin is an every-down back and will upgrade the Tampa Bay running game instantly. Running back LeGarrette Blount will be relegated to short-yardage and goal line duty as Martin is simply a better running back in almost every way.
Martin will help quarterback Josh Freeman with check downs and in their screen game. Martin is an upgrade for the Buccaneers and is a player who will make their offense more explosive in every way.
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Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi
The Arizona Cardinals had a great draft as they seemed to get nice value from almost every pick they made. The Cardinals had seven picks and used five on the offensive side of the ball. They selected two tackles and an offensive guard, as they seem intent on bringing in youth to bolster their offensive line.
Players who I like in particular are Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming at pick No. 80 and Washington guard Senio Kelemete at pick No. 151 overall.
Bobby Massie was a steal where they got him, as they selected him in the fourth round with pick No. 112 overall. He is a big, mobile athlete who does a nice job in both the run and passing game. Massie projects to play right tackle in the NFL and should strengthen and stabilize the right side of the offensive line for the Cardinals.
San Francisco 49ers
Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
The San Francisco 49ers had seven picks in this year's draft and they used four on offense and three on defense. Some of the picks that they made were curious, but they have built a potential powerhouse.
Players I like include Oregon running back LaMichael James at pick No. 61 and Notre Dame linebacker Darius Fleming at pick No. 165. James will bring explosiveness to an offense that really needs it.
The player who brings the most value is Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. The 49ers selected Johnson in the seventh round with pick No. 237 overall. It is confusing why Johnson was available at this point in the draft.
Johnson will fit nicely with the 49ers and the defense that they run. There are playmakers all over the field on defense and Johnson becomes another one. He is solely a pass-rusher at this point and he should do a nice job getting to the passer sooner rather than later.
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
The Seattle Seahawks made the most surprising pick of the entire first round with the selection of West Virginia linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall. The group of players who they drafted are talented, but the approach was confusing.
Players who I like are Utah State running back Robert Turbin at No. 106 and Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard at pick No. 114.
The Seahawks did find some real nice value with Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner was a standout at the Senior Bowl and the Seahawks got him in Round 2 with pick No. 47 overall.
Wagner is an excellent athlete and a really good football player who should step in and start quickly for the Seahawks. He can do it all from the middle of the defense and he should really be an upgrade for the Seahawks.
St. Louis Rams
Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
The St. Louis Rams did a great job of accumulating really good talent in positions where they had needs. They had 10 picks in this draft, as they used five on offensive players, four on defensive players and they drafted a place kicker.
Players I like include LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14, Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead at No. 50, Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson at No. 65 and Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens at No. 96 overall.
The player who stands out in this group though is North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
The Rams are rolling the dice with this selection. Jenkins is a massive risk, but his talent is undeniable. He is a very good press-corner and he does a nice job of staying on the hip of the man he is covering. Jenkins will instantly upgrade the coverage ability of the secondary as long as he keeps himself on the field and not in trouble elsewhere.