2012 NFL Power Rankings: Comparing Every Team's Offseason

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IMay 14, 2012

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Comparing Every Team's Offseason

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    The dust has finally settled from the frenzy of free agency and the NFL draft. Therefore, we must have a paper championship that means absolutely nothing but compares every team's offseason.

    The determination of the title has been taken very seriously. Every move was evaluated, from draft picks to signings to suspensions. 

    The value of certain contracts can't always be foretold, as the cap hits can be shifted around through extensions, yet most moves were determined on the merits of what they added to the team.



    All signing, trades and draft picks information obtained from www.NFL.com.

32. New Orleans Saints

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    Things can't get much worse in the bayou.

    The New Orleans Saints are the equivalent of a punch-drunk boxer at this point. They're just trying to remain standing when the bell rings. 

    The full-season suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and head coach Sean Payton put the Saints in an insurmountable hole. 

    Vilma will be replaced by the stud signings of Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne. Unfortunately, there isn't an adequate fix for losing the brains of the operation: Payton.

    The Saints are also trying to deal with recent allegations levied against general manager Mickey Loomis.

    To make matters worse, New Orleans can't seem to come to terms with Drew Brees. Franchising the soul of the organization during such difficult times is not a positive message.

    When the above is coupled with a weak draft and the loss of premier guard Carl Nicks, there isn't much to celebrate in the area except for the LSU Tigers prospects.

31. Oakland Raiders

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    The Carson Palmer trade occurred during the season, yet the repercussions are still being felt.

    The swap left the Oakland Raiders without a selection in the 2012 NFL draft until the 95th overall pick. With the six choices made, none of them will have any impact soon.

    The Raiders parted ways with another starting cornerback this offseason when they released Stanford Routt. Oakland did retain safety Tyvon Branch, so there is at least one player in the secondary carrying over. 

    This offseason has left little for Raiders fans to discuss. The loss of Michael Bush hurts, especially if the Mike Goodson trade doesn't work out.

    Basically, the offseason is only important for one player: Palmer. If he doesn't become an above-average starting quarterback, the entire operation is a continued bust due to his acquisition. 

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The recent change in ownership has not had the desired effect on the day-to-day operations of the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

    Their draft ranked near the bottom of the league in terms of value. The most confounding selection was grabbing a punter in the third round.

    Regardless of whether he becomes a great punter or not, that is not the way a successful organization conducts itself. 

    The aggression demonstrated by trading up for Justin Blackmon shows a willingness to surround their young signal-caller with talent. Although, between him and the recently signed Laurent Robinson, it is unclear if the Jaguars still need to find a lead receiver.

    The remaining signings were middling at best. Chad Henne provides a competent backup Blaine Gabbert and Aaron Ross will be an average addition to the secondary.

    However, average is progress in Jacksonville. Perhaps this offseason should be applauded. 

29. Atlanta Falcons

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    There is little to be happy about for the Atlanta Falcons faithful.

    The secondary is undoubtedly going to be incredible. The retention of rising star Brent Grimes and addition of Asante Samuel will make things difficult on any quarterback.

    Yet those were the only moves that significantly benefited the Falcons. John Abraham is fighting off Father Time and Atlanta did little to complement him.

    Lofa Tatupu, who missed all of 2011 due to a knee injury, will be relied on to replace the departed Curtis Lofton. Tatupu hasn't recently been as effective on the field as he was during the first three years of his career. 

    The Falcons received great value when they selected Peter Konz with the 55th overall pick. However, there weren't many picks left after the ransom given up for Julio Jones last year. 

28. Cleveland Browns

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    Mike Holmgren hasn't enjoyed the success he did at his two previous stops. This offseason added a highly talented running back, but won't be looked back on as the turning point of the franchise.

    The Cleveland Browns felt the need draft 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round. A team should only make that move if it feels it is one move away from contending. 

    However, Cleveland won't be challenging for the AFC North crown anytime soon, much less the Super Bowl.

    The trade for Trent Richardson was shrewd since they did not give up any high draft pick. The later selection of tackle Mitchell Schwartz will give them a solid tackle duo when coupled with stud Joe Thomas.

    The Browns also made the right move in locking up D'Qwell Jackson for five more years, but it doesn't quite offset the head-scratching move to franchise kicker Phil Dawson. 

27. New York Jets

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    Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there is nary an analyst who would find the New York Jets offseason to be attractive.

    "Puzzling" is probably the proper adjective.

    The Jets handed Mark Sanchez an extension that was surely only a salary-cap move and not an endorsement of his play. At least, that's the only reasonable interpretation based on the lack of real value going forward.

    And the addition of Tim Tebow

    Rex Ryan has stated that Tebow will get approximately 20 plays per game. NFL teams do not play musical quarterbacks with the abandon of a college squad. This move will surely backfire. 

    Additionally, the Jets did not do well in the draft. Quinton Coples doesn't seem to have the proper build to play inside and he will be an awkward fit within the 3-4 scheme.

    Stephen Hill will keep opposing safeties at bay with his speed. He will help open up the middle of the field and give Sanchez a receiver capable of picking up chunks of yardage.

    New York did little in free agency, with the exception of adding LaRon Landry on a one-year prove-it deal. 

26. Miami Dolphins

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    Ryan Tannehill will make or break the Miami Dolphins offseason. However, if anyone knows his capabilities and limitations, it's his former college coach, Mike Sherman.

    The Fins made other quality picks. Tight end Michael Egnew embraces the latest trend of tall, athletic pass-catchers who provide more than a safety valve for the quarterback.

    Jonathan Martin will bookend former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long quite well. B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State's all-time leading receiver, could blossom into a late-round steal.

    Miami made smart moves by locking up the backbone of their defense. The Dolphins simply couldn't chance losing the talents of Cameron Wake and Paul Soliai.

    Alas, this offseason will surely be remembered for the "loss" of Peyton Manning and the gamble on Tannehill. 

25. New York Giants

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    The smartest move the New York Giants made was to hold on to Osi Umenyiora. He was the subject of constant trade chatter right up until the draft.

    In the end, the Giants didn't pull the trigger. Bravo.

    The window to win championships can close quickly. The trio of Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and James Pierre-Paul give them the best chance at repeating.

    Eli lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, but picked up David Wilson and Rueben Randle. The latter two have legitimate unproven potential.

    Randle could thrive as a role player. He wouldn't be relied upon to be explosive with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz on the outside. 

24. Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals needed a great draft to overcome their free-agency activity and came out somewhere in the middle.

    Michael Floyd is the running mate that Larry Fitzgerald has required since Anquan Boldin forced his way out of town. Kevin Kolb now has two bail-out receivers to grab his hurried passes.

    In addition, Early Doucet was re-signed and will thrive as a third receiver.

    Fourth-rounder Bobby Massie has the capability of becoming a legitimate NFL starting offensive lineman. The Cards also took a well-advised flier on Ryan Lindley as a developmental quarterbacking project. 

    The acquisition of William Gay and retention of Levi Brown will not prove to be great moves. Brown can be decent at times, but Gay is no longer an above-average cornerback. 

23. Tennessee Titans

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    After not landing Peyton Manning despite heavy flirtation, the Tennessee Titans are now squarely in the hands of Jake Locker.

    He may be up to the task after Tennessee drafted a great complement to Kenny Britt in Kendall Wright. The speedy Wright has the ability to take short gains and turn them into footraces for the goal line.

    The obvious benefit to the team is seven points. The clandestine positive for Locker is a swollen stat line and improved confidence.

    It's much easier to grow when you don't have the public trumpeting for your benching. The best way to keep the crowd happy is to put up stats, regardless of their actual origin.

    Other draftees include Zach Brown and Mike Martin. Brown will add athleticism to the linebacking unit, while Martin is a spitfire who will find his way into the backfield to make plays. 

    The Titans added a much-needed pass-rusher in Kamerion Wimbley, but made the troubling decision to franchise tag safety Michael Griffin. Perhaps it was to stop the defensive talent exodus furthered along with the defection of Cortland Finnegan. 

22. Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears needed to provide Jay Cutler with help. Now we'll see if their proactive-over-protective approach will pay dividends. 

    The Bears traded two third-round picks for star receiver Brandon Marshall. He has a relationship with Cutler dating back to their time with the Denver Broncos.

    As always with Marshall, there are concerns about his character, but he certainly makes the team much more explosive.

    If second-round selection Alshon Jeffery lives up to his potential, Chicago will have two huge, fast targets that can simply overpower most secondaries. There just aren't any guarantees that one—much less both—excel in their new locale.

    The rest of the draft and free-agent signings left something to be desired. The offensive line wasn't addressed and first-rounder Shea McClellin appears overrated. 

21. San Diego Chargers

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    The draft filled some serious needs for the San Diego Chargers.

    Melvin Ingram is the pass-rusher that the Chargers have been looking for since Shawne Merriman first got injured. In addition, Brandon Taylor will make on a mark on the defense teaming with stalwart safety Eric Weddle. 

    Seventh-round pick David Molk can provide depth in the short term and start with the proper development.

    The defection of Vincent Jackson seriously depletes Philip Rivers' quiver. Robert Meachem is a solid signing, but there is a serious gap in talent between the two wideouts.

    The offensive line will miss Marcus McNeil and his Pro Bowl experience. San Diego was at least able to retain Jared Gaither to keep some continuity up front.

    Finally, Roscoe Parrish should prove a speedy complement to the remaining Chargers pass-catchers. 

20. Carolina Panthers

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    The 2011 offseason was never going to repeat itself for the Carolina Panthers. Last year saw the Panthers add a franchise quarterback and spend ridiculous amounts of money.

    By comparison, Carolina has been much more reserved the past few months. 

    The best move was re-signing veteran playmaker Steve Smith. His 17.6-yard average last season illustrated that Smith's wheels are still in fine shape.

    The Panthers brought in bulldozing running back Mike Tolbert to provide even more ammunition for a loaded backfield. The use of money on another ball-carrier doesn't seem to be prudent, but definitely adds another element to the offense.

    The draft was a middling effort that brought at least two pieces to build upon. First-round pick Luke Kuechly should be an immediate presence in the middle of a porous defense, while Josh Norman will become a competent starter.

19. Baltimore Ravens

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    Any discussion regarding the Baltimore Ravens offseason has to begin with Terrell Suggs. The Ravens, and possibly no team, can replace the all-world linebacker with one player.

    However, Baltimore isn't completely helpless. The drafting of Courtney Upshaw and return of Sergio Kindle will hopefully help assuage the concern caused by the injury and the loss of Jarret Johnson in free agency.

    The rest of the draft was filled with talent, but no real standout studs. Kelechi Osmele will immediately add depth to the interior of the offensive line. 

    So will Matt Birk. The stalwart center had seriously considered retirement before management persuaded him to come back for at least one more season. 

    The retention of Lardarius Webb will certainly help keep continuity in the secondary with Ed Reed and Jimmy Smith. 

    The only issue left is Ray Rice's long-term future. The 25-year-old running back wants a multi-year deal and has a couple months before he must sign the $7.7 million franchise tag.

    The Ravens would do well to keep the engine of their offense happy.

18. Minnesota Vikings

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    Adrian Peterson understands that his team is in transition. However, that hasn't stopped him from continuing to aim for an opening-weekend comeback.

    If he accomplishes his goal, that will improve the Minnesota Vikings' ranking in this list.

    Minnesota made some decent moves this offseason. General manager Rick Spielman seemed like he might have lost it when he kept prodding teams into trading for his pick.

    Then he coerced the Cleveland Browns into giving him a fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round pick for the right to move up one spot. Despite the drop, the Vikings still got their man in tackle Matt Kalil.

    Kalil has the ability to anchor the offensive line for the next decade. If Christian Ponder has the talent, this selection will certainly help his development.

    The addition of tight end John Carlson will also aid in Ponder's aspirations to become a viable NFL starter.

    All in all, it wasn't a bad offseason for the Vikings.

17. Green Bay Packers

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    There were a lot of things to like about the Green Bay Packers this year. However, Ted Thompson's first real swim in free agency is only capable of a "C" grade before the season even starts.

    The Pack signed Jeff Saturday to stabilize the offensive line, but Anthony Hargrove will be absent for the first eight games.

    Hargrove was signed to help the defensive line have an impact. Unfortunately, he will be sidelined for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.

    On the bright side, Green Bay retained the services of tight end Jermichael Finley for the next two years at a reasonable price.

    The Packers also did quite well in the draft. Jerel Worthy could become a real steal and Nick Perry has the raw tools to bolster an ailing pass rush.

16. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks offseason is one of the most difficult to gauge.

    Tarvaris Jackson was certainly not the answer at quarterback, so the Seahawks landed Matt Flynn. If Flynn can produce 80 percent of what he has in his previous appearances, Seattle will be just fine.

    Seattle also did well to bring in Barrett Ruud. His 2011 was cut short, but Ruud has shown the talent to make a difference at linebacker.

    The draft was quite puzzling for Pete Carroll. He obviously loved Bruce Irvin and grabbed him with the 15th overall pick to ensure nobody else did. 

    Although draftniks didn't see that pick coming, that doesn't mean it wasn't a good pick. Ultimately, their best two picks were probably Utah State products: Bobby Wagner and Robert Turbin.

    The selection of Russell Wilson is head-scratching considering the amount of money already invested in the position, but some scouts feel that he can develop into a valuable commodity.

15. Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys drummed up plenty of media interest this offseason. 

    Their extravagant spending during the capless 2010 league year resulted in some serious consequences. The Boys took a $10 million cap hit before they even had a chance to spend any money. 

    That didn't stop Dallas from grabbing a marquee player by inking Brandon Carr to a five-year deal. The team also addressed quarterback depth by signing veteran Kyle Orton to back up Tony Romo.

    However, the boldest move was trading up and grabbing Morris Claiborne with the sixth pick. Carr and Claiborne instantly turn one of the Cowboys' biggest liabilities into a much more legitimate unit. 

14. Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs placed their bet this offseason on a workout warrior without a productive track record.

    Dontari Poe set the draftniks abuzz with his virtuoso combine performance. However, he will need to improve on his 21.5 tackles for loss in three years at Memphis.

    The Chiefs' next pick was an unimpressive reach for Jeff Allen. He may end up contributing some day as a guard, but that will not be anytime soon.

    The biggest positive in Kansas City was removing Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry from the Injured Reserve list. Although the franchising of Dwayne Bowe should also prove smart as it will keep a proven stud at wideout.

    The Chiefs made an intelligent move bringing in Peyton Hillis on a "cash-incentive" deal. The one-year contract requires him to perform if he wants to sign for any money next season. 

    Kansas City will attempt to replace now-Dallas Cowboy Brandon Carr with Stanford Routt. The trade-off isn't terrible, but it is certainly a step back. 

13. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers endured a nail-biting offseason. They began with little space left on the salary cap, but seemingly came away without a rather significant blow.

    Mike Wallace was given a restricted-tender offer at the first-round level. If any team had offered him a larger contract with the willingness to part with the pick, the Steelers wouldn't have been able to match it.

    Pittsburgh can breath a sigh of relief until next season, when the saga is certain to continue.

    The Steelers were smart and fortunate during the draft. David DeCastro fell to them in the first round, as did Mike Adams in the second. 

    The rest of the draft built depth, including running back Chris Rainey. He should add some playmaking ability out of the backfield.

    The Steelers will recover from cornerback William Gay moving on. However, there is still serious concern about the outside of the offensive line.

12. Detroit Lions

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    First and foremost, the Detroit Lions locked up the best playmaker in the league. Calvin Johnson signed the largest wide receiver contract in NFL history and will remain Matthew Stafford's best friend for another eight years.

    Additionally, the draft began well with the Lions snatching up Riley Reiff with the 23rd pick despite prognostication of a top-10 selection for the Iowa tackle. 

    However, fans are concerned with the second-round selection of Ryan Broyles. He had a great college career before injuring his ACL and the Lions need serious secondary help.

    It should be noted that Broyles ran 4.57-second 40-yard dash just five months removed from the knee injury. His incredible progress demonstrates a great work ethic and serious potential. 

    The offseason hasn't been all roses for Detroit, though.

    Negotiations with Cliff Avril are ongoing. There is a possibility that impending free agents will view the situation as the Lions refusing to act in good faith when it comes time to reward their productive players.

    Lastly, the Lions lost starting cornerback Eric Wright to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. While they certainly shouldn't have matched the contract given to Wright, Detroit can hardly stand to lose any secondary talent.  

11. New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots brought in a ridiculous haul of wide receivers: Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez. Unfortunately, they haven't agreed to terms with the most important piece—Wes Welker.

    It's getting late in the game for Tom Brady to build the kind of chemistry he has with Welker. The new recruits will certainly help, but it's doubtful anyone can replace the mustached man's production. 

    The loss of Matt Light won't help a suddenly shaky offensive line. However, the addition of Joseph Addai will aid in softening up defenses up the middle.

    The draft brought about a few rare occurrences for the Pats. Not only did they use a first-round pick, they even traded up to make a another selection during opening night.

    New England grabbed Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower to help the pass rush. Seventh-rounder Alfonzo Dennard should add some much-needed talent to a depleted secondary. 

10. Washington Redskins

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    The Washington Redskins put their fans through a roller coaster. Ultimately, the highs certainly outweighed the lows.

    Like the Dallas Cowboys, the league came down hard on the Skins for unruly spending in 2010. The difference in the numbers was staggering: $36 million for Washington.

    Hope still springs eternal after the Redskins gave up two extra first-round picks and a second-rounder to swap spots with the St. Louis Rams. Of course, that pick was used to select Robert Griffin III.

    Griffin has an incredible chance to be the franchise quarterback that Washington hasn't been able to find. 

    That's why the Kirk Cousins pick was ill-advised at best. Management should have been using every pick they had to surround RG3 with weapons since the roster lacks playmakers and there isn't any available cap space.

    An optimist would say that Cousins could prove valuable if he wins a few games while RG3 is out with an injury. The surest way to get a quarterback hurt is to leave him without firepower and force him to make plays on his own.

    In addition, there aren't enough reps to develop two quarterbacks. It'll be difficult to create two reliable NFL players during the same time period.

    However, none of it will matter if Griffin pans out. That's all a fan can ask for.  

9. San Francisco 49ers

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    A trip to the Super Bowl was within grasp of the San Francisco 49ers. They only needed someone besides Vernon Davis to make an offensive play.

    It didn't happen.

    Thus, the Niners wasted little time addressing their underwhelming receiving unit by signing Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. They also bolstered their rushing attack by bringing in Brandon Jacobs.

    San Francisco infused the offense with electric draftees wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and change-of-pace back LaMichael James. 

    There will be no more excuses for the returning Alex Smith. The former top pick must deliver this year or be prepared for job competition.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    LeGarrette Blount has to be one happy dude.

    He wasn't shy about declaring his disdain regarding the prospect of Trent Richardson joining the organization. Instead, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers complemented him with scat back Doug Martin.

    Most importantly, the addition of Vincent Jackson will take a safety out of the box. If the powerful Blount can get through the first line, he'll meet much less opposition en route to large gains.

    Plus, the Bucs brought in All-Pro Carl Nicks, who will only aid the offense in finding itself. Josh Freeman will have time to pick holes in the coverage and LeGarrette will actually have holes to run through. 

    To round everything out, Tampa Bay also drafted linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron. The Bucs promise to build on their 2010 season and forget that 2011 ever happened.

7. Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles continued their win-now attitude while also preparing well for the future.

    The discussion has to start with their draft. Fletcher Cox, Brandon Boykin and Marvin McNutt highlight a superb class.

    Especially the selection of Boykin in the fourth round. The pick represents great value and offset the cap and chemistry move of shipping out Asante Samuel.

    The Eagles made an impact in every possible way.

    The trade for DeMeco Ryans has risk due to his declining play, but makes the defense much more stout up the middle when coupled with Cox.

    They also retained key free agents Trent Cole and DeSean Jackson. The formerly malcontent wideout has a lot to prove and should respond with a huge season.

    The loss of Jason Peters was a large blow. However, Philly quickly signed Demetress Bell to remedy the problem.

6. Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills made a few strides last season as they briefly challenged for the AFC East throne. The midseason faltering proved how crucial the current offseason is if the Bills are to take the next step.

    Buffalo made a giant leap towards sustained respectability when they inked superstar Mario Williams to a six-year deal worth a possible $100 million. Despite the price tag, this deal was monumental for the organization.

    This particular free-agent acquisition put the world on notice that Buffalo can be a destination for top-notch players. A precedent of this magnitude shouldn't be dismissed easily.

    The Bills put together a solid draft class with some amazing value picks. Stephon Gilmore has the size to be an impact player from the first snap. In addition, Cordy Glenn and Zebrie Sanders can hold down the line for the next decade.

    While the re-signings of Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson will certainly prove valuable, staying the execution of Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the smartest move of the offseason. Fitzpatrick has improved steadily over the course of his career and the continuity of this trio will stabilize a once-befuddled franchise. 

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals set themselves up perfectly for the 2012 NFL draft by trading Carson Palmer for a first-rounder this year and a second-rounder the next. 

    As a sign of the changing times in Cincinnati, the Bengals refused to bungle their new-found riches. The playoff team added pieces that will only strengthen their position in the notoriously difficult AFC North.

    Dre Kirkpatrick was widely considered the second-best cornerback in the draft and immediately fills a need. Kevin Zeitler will find a starting spot along the interior of the offensive line.

    Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and tight end Orson Charles round out an excellent draft.

    The Bengals retained most of their players of note, but no one player really stands out.

    The signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis should aptly replace the departed Cedric Benson. Considering Benson's lingering presence in the free-agency pool, it appears the rest of the league agrees with Cincinnati's move. 

4. Denver Broncos

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    Peyton Manning means you're getting a top-five ranking. It's just what happens when you sign a top-five all-time quarterback.

    The Denver Broncos didn't do too poorly with their other acquisitions. Tracy Porter brings big-play ability to the secondary, while tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen will thrive with Manning.

    Peyton will go from Hall of Famer Jeff Saturday in front of him, to either J.D. Walton or rookie Philip Blake. Surely, Denver is taking a risk protecting its surgically repaired signal-caller in such a fashion.

    The draft doesn't stand out. Brock Osweiler is a possible future value pick that doesn't make sense considering the marquee signing. 

    The Colts did grab Ronnie Hillman. He should provide some electricity for a backfield led by Willis McGahee.

    It must also be noted that Ryan McBean, Virgil Green and D.J. Williams will miss time due to drug-related suspensions. 

3. St. Louis Rams

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    First and foremost, the St. Louis Rams didn't just improve their team this offseason, they set themselves up extremely well for the future.

    Jeff Fisher engineered the trade with the Washington Redskins that netted the Rams two extra first-rounders and a second. In exchange, he passed on Robert Griffin III and gave an unequivocal vote of confidence to the recently struggling Sam Bradford.

    To be fair, Bradford already flashed his immense potential in his rookie season. If Fisher had given up on his "known" quantity for the potential of Griffin, he would have been crucified. And rightfully so.

    The Rams cleaned up in the draft. Michael Brockers was considered the best defensive tackle prospect by some and the rest of the picks demonstrate real value. 

    Isaiah Pead will bring an explosive element to the backfield and Brian Quick will provide the big pass-catching target that is en vogue in the league right now. In addition, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have the potential to hold down the corner spots for years.

    Except neither of them will be counted on to be the top dog of the secondary. The five-year signing of Cortland Finnegan gave this team even more secondary help. 

    Well done.

2. Indianapolis Colts

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    Lucas Oil Stadium should rightfully be called the House that Peyton Built. The new master of the house has the capability to succeed him admirably.

    The Indianapolis Colts have written a new book in terms of rebuilding. The concrete blocks of a new foundation are solidly set.

    Andrew Luck is the most celebrated college quarterbacking prospect since Manning. To aid in his development, the Colts grabbed two receiving tight ends in old running mate Coby Fleener and new acquaintance Dwayne Allen.

    Reggie Wayne decided to stay and he will be paired with explosive rookie T.Y. Hilton. There should be enough firepower left for Luck to have an acceptable debut.

    Lastly, Indianapolis was smart to send a sixth-rounder for tackle Winston Justice.

    The old guard has moved on (Peyton, Jeff Saturday, etc.), but a new army is quickly being built up.

1. Houston Texans

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    Rarely can a team lose possibly the best player on the free-agency market and still have a successful offseason.

    Yet the Houston Texans far exceeded mere success.

    The strength of the last few months, and indeed the last few seasons, has been the result of excellent drafts. 2012 was quite possibly the best effort in franchise history.

    Whitney Mercilus will help ease the loss of Mario Williams and Jared Crick should be a contributor within a couple years. Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones will strengthen the offensive line, while dynamic slot man Keshawn Martin will exploit the space provided by Andre Johnson.

    The Texans did not fare as well in the free-agent market. The departures of Williams, Eric Winston and Jacoby Jones were not ideal, but did not sink the franchise.

    The reason being that they were able to hold on to their most important player, possibly since the team returned to Houston: Arian Foster.

    The Texans will be making plenty of noise in 2012.