2012 NFL Rookie Predictions: 5 Biggest Weapons from the 2012 NFL Draft
The best teams in the NFL use the draft to replenish and retool themselves for another championship run. Much of that involves finding some offensive and defensive weapons that can help you win football games in the clutch.
This isn't a list of the guys with the most potential to be weapons, but rather a diagnosis of the players who have the best chance to be the biggest and most explosive rookies for their respective teams in 2012.
Let's take a look at the five biggest weapons from the 2012 draft.
5. Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks
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I'll preface this by saying that I absolutely hated the Irvin pick by the Seahawks. At No. 15 in the first round, there was better talent still on the board that could have helped Seattle.
With that said, Irvin can be the Seahawks' Aldon Smith this season.
Seattle is lacking up front and doesn't really have an elite pass-rusher across their defensive line. I really like Chris Clemons and think he's one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the game, but they need someone else who can get to the quarterback.
Although he wasn't an every-down player at West Virginia, Irvin still managed to record 22 sacks in his two seasons with the Mountaineers and forced five fumbles.
Irvin will need to add to his frame, but I could see this guy being a real threat in any passing situation.
Don't be shocked to see Irvin finish the season with double digits in the sack column.
4. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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5,260 yards from scrimmage, 50 total touchdowns, 5.4 yards-per-carry—yeah, Greg Schiano knew how to use Ray Rice pretty well at Rutgers.
If he uses Boise State rookie running back Doug Martin anything like that, watch out.
Martin has a very similar skill set to that of Rice, and that was one of the major reasons the Bucs traded back into the first round to snag the former Smurf-Turf Sprinter.
Besides running for 1200 yards in each of the past two seasons at Boise State, Martin also caught 56 passes and scored 32 total touchdowns in the same time frame.
Martin will lose goal-line carries to LaGarrette Blount, but he still should be the team's feature back come August. Schiano molded Rice pretty well, so look for a similar style of offense.
By the way, Schiano's record with Rice in the backfield was 26-12. Not bad for Rutgers.
3. Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
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I was amazed to see Sanu still on the board in the third round. The Cincinnati Bengals took advantage of that and added to an already-stellar draft.
Sanu was fantastic at Rutgers in 2011, catching 115 passes and scoring seven times. His crisp route-running and ability to make plays across the middle of the field make him a pretty covetable commodity, especially in a Bengals offense that already features a deep threat in A.J. Green.
And it's Green's presence that will make Sanu such a weapon for the Bengals.
After his fantastic rookie performance, defenses will make it a priority to shut down Green, leaving Sanu mostly in one-on-one coverages.
I wouldn't be at all shocked if Sanu ended up leading the Bengals in receptions, just based on the attention Green will draw.
In all seriousness, I think Sanu is a perfect fit for the Bengals' situation. He could top guys like Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Brian Quick in catches and yards in 2012.
2. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
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Trent Richardson is so high on this list for two reasons.
One, Richardson is an elite-level talent who might be the best running back to enter the draft since the Vikings took Adrian Peterson in 2007.
Two, he's the only weapon the Browns offense has.
With a rookie quarterback slated to start and a major lack of talent at wide receiver, Cleveland will have to rely heavily on Richardson in 2012.
Like his time in college, some question Richardson's durability when being thrust into a feature role. At Alabama, he seemed to make that transition seamlessly. He carried 283 times for over 1600 yards and scored 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Richardson is going to be the Browns' biggest offensive weapon since Jim Brown was winning championships. They have a long way to go, but this young man is a good start.
1. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
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For some teams, their biggest weapon is under center.
Ask the Panthers, Patriots and the Manning-led Broncos about who their biggest playmaker is, and they'll point you right in the direction of their signal-caller.
RGIII can be the Skins' biggest weapon with both his arm and legs.
In his final two years at Baylor, Griffin threw for 7,794 yards and 59 touchdowns, leading Baylor to 17 wins in that time frame.
Griffin also carried for over 600 yards in each of those seasons and scored 18 TDs with his legs.
You know with Mike Shannahan running the show that the Redskins are going to attack via the ground. But Griffin gives Washington a dual-threat presence at quarterback they haven't had since Sammy Baugh rocked the leather helmet.
RGIII is the early candidate for Rookie of the Year, and he should be. Andrew Luck, although athletic and probably a more polished passer, won't beat out Griffin because the team around him stinks.
Griffin has a real shot to do some damage in the NFC East in his first NFL season. With his receivers and defense, watch out for Washington.