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2012 NFL Draft Review: Power Ranking Every Team's Haul 1 Year Later

Russell S. BaxterContributor IJanuary 6, 2017

2012 NFL Draft Review: Power Ranking Every Team's Haul 1 Year Later

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    Mere hours after the three-day talent collection process known as the NFL draft is completed, out comes various opinions and those report cards evaluating how every team did when it came to adding players to its roster.

    It’s the natural thing to do, and no one is slighting any of the work the numerous analysts do. But as we all know, it’s hard to judge players before they hit the field. In fact, some prefer to wait three or four years to give you a proper evaluation.

    We’re not that patient around here, though there’s nothing wrong with that. So here’s a ranking of how each of the 32 teams did just under one year after selecting players in the 2012 NFL draft.

    Remember, the focus is on the entire draft, not just the team’s first-round pick(s) or top selection. And we’ll be highlighting the key members of the class rather than breaking each pick down. We’ll also be taking into account where some of these selections fit into the 2013 picture.

    And as the seasons go by, we’ll eventually see just who truly did the best when it comes to the draft class of 2012.

32. Oakland Raiders

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    3/95       G Tony Bergstrom (Utah)

    4/129     LB Miles Burris (San Diego State)

    5/158     DE Jack Crawford (Penn State)

    5/168     WR Juron Criner (Arizona)

    6/189     DT Christo Bilukidi (Georgia State)

    7/230     LB Nathan Stupar (Penn State)

    Minus a first-round pick for the second straight year, the Oakland Raiders owned just five draft choices (three of those compensatory selections) entering last year’s three-day extravaganza.

    As it turned out, the Silver and Black wound up with a half-dozen picks.

    Fourth-round linebacker Miles Burris was easily the most productive of the class, finishing second on the team with 96 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception.

    What’s interesting is that, via free agency, the Raiders have replaced their entire starting linebacking corps. In fact, it remains to be seen if any remaining member of this class figures as a starter come September. 

31. New Orleans Saints

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    Rd/Pk    Player (School)

    3/89       DT Akiem Hicks (Regina, Canada)

    4/122     WR Nick Toon (Wisconsin)

    5/162     DB Corey White (Samford)

    6/179      G Andrew Tiller (Syracuse)

    7/234      T Marcel Jones (Nebraska)

    Thanks to the trade that enabled the New Orleans Saints to draft running back Mark Ingram in the first round in 2011, there was no first-night pick for the team in 2012. And the franchise forfeited its second-round selection due to the “Bounty Gate” ramifications.

    Add in the fact that wideout Nick Toon spent the 2012 on injured reserve and not a lot came from this group. Both defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and cornerback Corey White saw action last season, the latter starting four games and winding up with 31 tackles and an interception.

    With the Saints losing Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod to free agency (Chicago Bears), Marcel Jones hopes to push Charles Brown for the starting job.

30. San Francisco 49ers

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/30       WR A.J. Jenkins (Illinois)    

    2/61       RB LaMichael James (Oregon)                          

    4/117     G Joe Looney (Wake Forest)                           

    5/165     LB Darius Fleming (Notre Dame)

    6/180     DB Trent Robinson (Michigan State)

    6/199     T Jason Slowey (Western Oregon)

    7/237     LB Cam Johnson (Virginia)

    When you’re coming off a loss in the NFC title game, you figure your roster is pretty set.

    Now off a loss in Super Bowl XLVII, the San Francisco 49ers are hoping to get more from their 2012 draft class this season.

    First-round pick A.J. Jenkins played in three regular-season games and two postseason contests and didn’t catch a pass.

    Second-rounder LaMichael James ran for 125 yards during the regular season and added 65 more yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. But the speedster led the team with 417 yards on 14 kickoff returns—an impressive 29.8 average.

    Those remaining on the squad are around for depth. And with 13 picks (as of now) in the 2013 draft, we’ll see how many of those spots are secure.

    It’s a nice problem to have.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/5         WR Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State)

    2/38       DE Andre Branch (Clemson)

    3/70       P Bryan Anger (California)                                                                

    5/142     LB Brandon Marshall (Nevada)

    6/176     DB Mike Harris (Florida State)          

    7/228     DT Jeris Pendleton (Ashland)

    The Jacksonville Jaguars suffered through a forgettable 2012 seasons thanks to a franchise-worst 2-14 record.

    The good news was that wideout Justin Blackmon seemed to steadily improve as the season unfolded. The first-rounder led the club with 61 catches and finished second on the squad with five touchdowns.

    The team was hoping defensive end Andre Branch could help a pass rush that has struggled in recent seasons, but he totaled just 12 tackles and one sack in 13 games.

    There were plenty of giggles when the Jaguars took punter Byran Anger in the third round, but the rookie finished sixth in the NFL in gross average (47.8) and dumped 31 of his 91 kicks inside the 20.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/24       G David DeCastro (Stanford)           

    2/56       T Mike Adams (Ohio State)

    3/86       LB Sean Spence (Miami, Fla.)            

    4/109     DT Alameda Ta’amu (Washington)

    5/159     RB Chris Rainey (Florida)

    7/231     WR Toney Clemons (Colorado)

    7/240     TE David Paulson (Oregon)

    7/246     DB Terrence Frederick (Texas A&M)

    7/248      T Kelvin Beachum (SMU)

    The Pittsburgh Steelers may be looking for a little redemption after last season’s very disappointing 8-8 campaign. The same could be said for their 2012 draft class, which was affected by injuries and ineffective play and just didn’t have much of an impact this past year.

    Guard David DeCastro injured his knee in the preseason but returned late in the year. Tackle Mike Adams was in and out of the starting lineup for various reasons. The team is counting heavily on them in 2013.

    Meanwhile, linebacker Sean Spencer missed the entire season due to injury.

    The real impact rookie proved to be explosive running back Chris Rainey. But he was released by the team due to some off-the field issues.

27. Dallas Cowboys

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/6         DB Morris Claiborne (LSU)

    3/81       DE Tyrone Crawford (Boise State)                       

    4/113     DE Kyle Wilber (Wake Forest)          

    4/135     DB Matt Johnson (Eastern Washington)

    5/152     WR Danny Coale (Virginia Tech)

    6/186     TE James Hanna (Oklahoma)

    7/222     LB Caleb McSurdy (Montana)

    Give credit to Dallas Cowboys general manager Jerry Jones when it comes to being aggressive.

    Last April, the Pokes moved up in the first round to grab LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Combined with a free-agent pickup, the Cowboys were a much-improved team in that area.

    Now the question marks. The team used four of its six remaining picks on the defensive side of the football. The issue is how will defensive ends Tyrone Crawford (20 tackles in 2012) and Kyle Wilber (five tackles), as well as linebacker Caleb McSurdy, fit in new coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense.

    The team has turned to free agency (linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen) in response to some of these questions. Could the solutions be in the 2012 class as well?

26. Arizona Cardinals

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/13       WR Michael Floyd (Notre Dame)

    3/80       DB Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma)

    4/112     T Bobby Massie (Mississippi)

    5/151     G Senio Kelemete (Washington)

    6/177     DB Justin Bethel (Presbyterian)                                       

    6/185     QB Ryan Lindley (San Diego State)

    7/221       T Nate Potter (Boise State)

    Wide receiver Michael Floyd finished tied for third on the team with 45 receptions, good for 562 yards. But he also caught just two touchdown passes—hardly a surprise considering Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks combined for just 11 scores through the air.

    Quarterback Ryan Lindley played in six games (starting four), but he finished the season without a touchdown pass and threw seven interceptions.

    Finally, tackles Bobby Massie and Nate Potter saw starting duty last season on an offensive line that has been plagued by issues in recent years.

25. Denver Broncos

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    2/36       DT Derek Wolfe (Cincinnati)

    2/57       QB Brock Osweiler (Arizona State)

    3/67       RB Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)

    4/101     DB Omar Bolden (Arizona State)

    4/108      C Philip Blake (Baylor)

    5/137     DE Malik Johnson (Tennessee)

    6/188     LB Danny Trevathan (Kentucky)

    Executive vice president of football operations John Elway dealt out of the first round last April. And the Denver Broncos legend and executive was glad he did.

    Elway found himself a starter in Derek Wolfe, who lined up at left defensive end, totaled 40 tackles and finished third on the team with 6.0 sacks. He aided a unit that gave up the second-fewest total yards in the league in 2012.

    Third-round running back Ronnie Hillman contributed as well, rushing for 330 yards and a score. Hillman also added 83 yards rushing on 22 carries in the divisional playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens after Knowshon Moreno went down.

    Finally, Elway secured what will hopefully be his quarterback of the future in Brock Osweiler.

24. Chicago Bears

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/19       DE Shea McClellin (Boise State)                       

    2/45       WR Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina)

    3/79       DB Brandon Hardin (Oregon State)                 

    4/111     TE Evan Rodriguez (Temple)

    6/184     DB Isaiah Frey (Nevada)

    7/220     DB Greg McCoy (TCU)

    When it’s all said and done, the 2012 draft class of the Chicago Bears may turn out to be better than this current ranking. But we’re on a wait-and-see basis with this group for now.

    Defensive end Shea McClellin showed some flashes as a pass-rusher, totaling 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Second-round wideout Alshon Jeffery displayed some real promise, catching 24 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. If both of these players improve in 2013, the-new look Bears could make things interesting for the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers.

    Evan Rodriguez started five games in 2012, and it will be interesting to see his role in Marc Trestman’s offense.

23. Atlanta Falcons

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    2/55       G Peter Konz (Wisconsin)

    3/91       T Lamar Holmes (So. Mississippi)

    5/157     RB Bradie Ewing (Wisconsin)

    5/164     DE Jonathan Massaquoi (Troy)

    6/192     DB Charles Mitchell (Mississippi State)

    7/249     NT Travian Robertson (South Carolina)

    Because of the trade with the Cleveland Browns in 2011, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t have first- and fourth-round picks in 2012.

    The team’s top two selections of a year ago figure to play much bigger roles this upcoming season. Offensive lineman Peter Konz did start 10 games this past season at right guard, but he will be the team’s new starting center with the recent retirement of veteran center Todd McClure.

    Meanwhile, third-round pick Lamar Holmes played in just one game last season. But the 6’5”, 333-pound blocker will take over at right tackle, as the Falcons released tackle Tyson Clabo.

22. Tennessee Titans

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/20       WR Kendall Wright (Baylor)              

    2/52       LB Zach Brown (North Carolina)                                      

    3/82       DT Mike Martin (Michigan)                                               

    4/115     DB Coty Sensabaugh (Clemson)

    5/145     TE Taylor Thompson (SMU)

    6/190     DB Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State)                                           

    7/211     DE Scott Solomon (Rice)

    The Tennessee Titans used five of their seven selections to bolster the defensive side of the ball. But you would have never known that, as Mike Munchak’s club gave up a league-high 471 points in 2012—the most in a season in the 53-year history of the franchise.

    Wideout Kendall Wright led the team with 64 receptions, but he averaged less than 10 yards per catch. Still, the former Baylor standout did tie for the club lead with four touchdown receptions.

    The Titans’ pass rush went from 28 sacks in 2011 to 39 sacks in 2012, and linebacker Zach Brown (5.5) and defensive tackle Mike Martin (3.0) were two of the reasons why. Brown also finished with three interceptions, returning two for scores.

21. Detroit Lions

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/23        T Riley Reiff (Iowa)           

    2/54       WR Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma)                                                                           

    3/85       DB Dwight Bentley (Louisiana-Lafayette)      

    4/125     DE Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma)

    5/138     LB Tahir Whitehead (Temple)

    5/148     DB Chris Greenwood (Albion)

    6/196     DB Jonte Green (New Mexico State)

    7/223     LB Travis Lewis (Oklahoma)

    The Detroit Lions were basically the polar opposite of the Green Bay Packers this past season—in more ways than one.

    While the division champion Packers finished 11-5, the Lions were dead last in the NFC North with a 4-12 mark.

    In April, Green Bay used the first six of its eight selections on the defensive side of the football. In contrast, Detroit added tackle Riley Reiff and wideout Ryan Broyles with its first two selections and then used its final six picks on defense.

    With the retirement of veteran left tackle Jeff Backus, the release of guard Stephen Peterman and the free agent departure of right tackle Gosder Cherilus, Reiff figures to be a regular starter somewhere at one of those three spots. Meanwhile, Broyles wound up catching 22 passes for 310 yards and two scores in 10 games last season.

    Elsewhere, cornerback Dwight “Bill” Bentley started three games a year ago and could be the regular starter at right cornerback.

20. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/11        NT Dontari Poe (Memphis)              

    2/44       T Jeff Allen (Illinois)

    3/74       T Donald Stephenson (Oklahoma)

    4/107     WR Devon Wylie (Fresno State)

    5/146     DB DeQuan Menzie (Alabama)

    6/182     RB Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M)

    7/218     DT Jerome Long (San Diego State)

    7/238     WR Junior Hemingway (Michigan)

    Although 2012 was a long year for the Kansas City Chiefs, it was also a learning experience for a club that will open the this season with yet another new head coach.

    Andy Reid is hoping that the on-the-job training the team’s top three picks received this past season will pay off.

    Nose tackle Dontari Poe started all 16 games, guard Jeff Allen was a 13-game starter and right tackle Donald Stephenson started eight games.

    With the new regime and a number of roster additions via free agency or trade, it remains to be seen how much of last season’s class will be around this fall.

19. New York Giants

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/32       RB David Wilson (Virginia Tech)

    2/63       WR Rueben Randle (LSU)

    3/94       DB Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech)

    4/127     TE Adrien Robinson (Cincinnati)

    4/131     T Brandon Mosley (Auburn)

    6/201     T Matt McCants (Ala.-Birmingham)

    7/239     DT Markus Kuhn (North Carolina State)

    What a difference a year makes.

    One season, a 9-7 record is good enough to win a Super Bowl and pick last in the first round of the draft the following April.

    All 9-7 got the New York Giants in 2012 was a second-place finish in the NFC East.

    Tom Coughlin’s team has made significant changes, and one was to let go of starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw. That job now belongs to David Wilson, who rushed for 358 yards and four touchdowns last season but did most of his work on kickoff returns.

    We saw more of wideout Rueben Randle as the year wore on. The former LSU standout finished 19 catches for 298 yards and three scores while handling punt return duties.

    Cornerback Jayron Hosley saw his share of duty in the secondary, totaling 40 tackles and an interception.

18. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/17       DB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama)

    1/27       G Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin)

    2/53       DT Devon Still (Penn State)

    3/83       WR Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers)

    3/93       DT Brandon Thompson (Clemson)

    4/116     TE Orson Charles (Georgia)               

    5/156     DB Shaun Prater (Iowa)

    5/166     WR Marvin Jones (California)

    5/167     DB George Iloka (Boise State)

    6/191     RB Dan Herron (Ohio State)

    The Cincinnati Bengals have been in the playoffs three of the last four years, and it’s been solid drafting by the organization that has led to the club’s recent revival.

    First-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick’s season was derailed before it ever began, though he finally saw action late in the year. Look for that to change in 2013.

    A fellow first-rounder, guard Kevin Zeitler was a 16-game starter on an offensive line that, admittedly, must play better than it did a season ago.

    The player to keep an eye on is wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Early in the season, he was throwing a touchdown pass to teammate A.J. Green at Washington. Later in the year, he was catching touchdown passes from quarterback Andy Dalton before getting hurt.

17. Houston Texans

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/26       LB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois)                          

    3/68       WR Devier Posey (Ohio State)

    3/76       G Brandon Brooks (Miami, Ohio)

    4/99       C Ben Jones (Georgia)

    4/121     WR Keshawn Martin (Michigan State)

    4/126     DE Jared Crick (Nebraska)

    5/161     PK Randy Bullock (Texas A&M)

    6/195     T Nick Mondek (Purdue)

    The Houston Texans are hoping they can stick around in the playoffs a little longer than the divisional round in 2013.

    They’re also hoping that last year’s first-round pick will stick it to opposing quarterbacks this season. With outside linebacker Connor Barwin now with the Philadelphia Eagles, Whitney Mercilus is the new full-time starter on the right side.

    Devier Posey only caught six passes last season and was injured in the playoff loss to the New England Patriots. On the other hand, Keshawn Martin handled the punt and kickoff return duties and Ben Jones was a 10-game starter in 2012.

16. San Diego Chargers

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/18       LB Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) 

    2/49       DE Kendall Reyes (Connecticut)

    3/73       DB Brandon Taylor (LSU)

    4/110     TE Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette)

    5/149     G Johnnie Troutman (Penn State)

    7/226      C David Molk (Michigan)

    7/250     RB Edwin Baker (Michigan State)

    The bottom finally fell out for head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith in 2012. The San Diego Chargers missed the playoffs for the third straight season and finished with a losing record for the first time since 2003.

    Still, there are some building blocks for new head coach Mike McCoy, especially on defense with outside linebacker Melvin Ingram and defensive end Kendall Reyes. Ingram finished with 41 stops, while Reyes was third on the team with 5.5 sacks in 2012.

    This summer, it will be interesting to see how Johnnie Troutman and David Molk figure on an offensive line that's very much in transition.

15. New York Jets

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/16       DE Quinton Coples (North Carolina)                               

    2/43       WR Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech)

    3/77       LB Demario Davis (Arkansas State)                 

    6/187     DB Josh Bush (Wake Forest)

    6/202     RB Terrance Ganaway (Baylor)

    6/203     G Robert T. Griffin (Baylor)

    7/242     DB Antonio Allen (South Carolina)

    7/244     WR Jordan White (Western Michigan)

    Although it was a dismal season for head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets in 2012, the team added some intriguing pieces and some much-needed youth to what is now an overhauled roster.

    Defensive end Quinton Coples was one of the bigger topics during the preseason. He wound up with 30 tackles and a team-high 5.5 sacks. Also on defense, linebacker Demario Davis added 35 tackles and will team with David Harris inside on a larger basis.

    Second-round wideout Stephen Hill had his ups and downs, catching 21 passes for 252 yards and three scores. He is certainly a talented work in progress.

    Defensive backs Josh Bush and Antonio Allen will also press for more playing time in a new-look secondary in 2013.

14. Green Bay Packers

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/28       LB Nick Perry (Southern Cal)                            

    2/51       DE Jerel Worthy (Michigan State)

    2/62       DB Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt)

    4/132     DE Mike Daniels   (Iowa)

    4/133     DB Jeron McMillian (Maine)

    5/163     LB Terrell Manning (North Carolina State)

    7/241      T Andrew Datko (Florida State)

    7/243     QB B.J. Coleman  (Tenn.-Chattanooga)

    After giving up the most passing yards in a season in NFL history in 2011, the Green Bay Packers drafted for need. Make that needs.

    General manager Ted Thompson used his first six selections to bolster the defensive side of the ball. Starting outside linebacker Nick Perry totaled 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks but was lost for the season after six games. Defensive end Jerel Worthy totaled 2.5 sacks in 14 games, Mike Daniels totaled two sacks and safety Jerron McMillian racked up 27 stops and an interception.

    The star of the group was cornerback Casey Hayward, who finished fifth on the team with 53 tackles, picked off a team-high six passes and totaled a club-best 21 passes defensed.

13. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/12       DT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State)

    2/46       LB Mychal Kendricks (California)      

    2/59       DE Vinny Curry (Marshall)

    3/88       QB Nick Foles (Arizona)

    4/123     DB Brandon Boykin (Georgia)

    5/153       T Dennis Kelly (Purdue)

    6/194     WR Marvin McNutt (Iowa)

    6/200     G Brandon Washington (Miami, Fla.)

    7/229     RB Bryce Brown (Kansas State)

    For the first time since 1998, the Philadelphia Eagles will not call Andy Reid head coach. That title now belongs to Chip Kelly, and he hopes to benefit from a decent 2012 draft class Reid left behind.

    First-rounder Fletcher Cox, who tied for the club lead with 5.5 sacks last season, will line up at defensive end in the team’s new 3-4 alignment. Outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, third on the team in both tackles and passes defensed, could excel in this new look.

    Likewise for speedy running back Bryce Brown, the team’s seventh-round selection. Unfortunately, when he wasn’t breaking loose for his 564 yards rushing, he was fumbling—something Kelly needs to rectify.

    And finally, we’ll find out sooner than later just how quarterback Nick Foles fits into the Eagles’ plans this season.

12. Buffalo Bills

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/10       DB Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina)                 

    2/41       T Cordy Glenn (Georgia)   

    3/69       WR T.J. Graham (North Carolina State)

    4/105     LB Nigel Bradham (Florida State)

    4/124     DB Ron Brooks (LSU)

    5/144     T Zebrie Sanders (Florida State)

    5/147     LB Tank Carder (TCU)

    6/178      G Mark Asper (Oregon)

    7/251     PK John Potter (Western Michigan)

    The Buffalo Bills, last-place finishers in the AFC East five straight seasons, hope they turned the corner with their last draft class.

    Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and left tackle Cordy Glenn started 16 and 13 games, respectively, for the team as rookies. Gilmore finished with 61 tackles and just one interceptions, but he forced three fumbles and led the club on passes defensed (16).

    Meanwhile, wideout T.J. Graham and linebacker Nigel Bradham also made their presence felt in their debut campaigns, Graham with 31 catches (322 yards, one touchdown) and Bradham with 57 tackles.

    It should also be pointed out that the team’s bottom-three selections—linebacker Tank Carder, guard Mark Asper and kicker John Potter—aren’t on the current roster.

11. Cleveland Browns

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/3         RB Trent Richardson (Alabama)

    1/22       QB Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State)

    2/37       T Mitchell Schwartz (California)

    3/87       DT John Hughes (Cincinnati)

    4/100     WR Travis Benjamin (Miami, Fla.)

    4/120     LB James-Michael Johnson (Nevada)

    5/160       T Ryan Miller (Colorado)

    6/204     LB Emanuel Acho (Texas)

    6/205     DT Billy Winn (Boise State)

    7/245     DB Trevin Wade (Arizona)

    7/247     RB Brad Smelley (Alabama)

    2/SUP    WR Josh Gordon (Baylor)

    It’s time for yet another new era in this newest era of the Cleveland Browns. But new head coach Rob Chudzinski definitely has some young tools to work with.

    The Cleveland offense and new coordinator Norv Turner have talented running back Trent Richardson, who just missed out on a 1,000-yard rushing season but did finish second on the team with 51 catches. Richardson also scored 12 of the team’s 28 offensive touchdowns.

    Third on the club in catches was 2012 supplemental draft choice Josh Gordon, who will cost the Browns a second-round pick this April. Gordon’s 50 grabs were good for team-highs in yards (806) and touchdown grabs (five).

    Mitchell Schwartz was a fixture at right tackle, while speedy Travis Benjamin touched the ball rushing, receiving and on both punt and kickoff returns last season.

    On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle John Hughes added 34 tackles and totaled 3.0 sacks.

10. New England Patriots

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/21       DE Chandler Jones (Syracuse)

    1/25       LB Dont’a Hightower (Alabama)

    2/48       DB Tavon Wilson (Illinois)

    3/90       DE Jake Bequette (Arkansas)

    6/197     DB Nate Ebner (Ohio State)

    7/224     DB Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska)

    7/235     WR Jeremy Ebert (Northwestern)

    Although the New England Patriots defense still has some significant work to do, the future foundation was perhaps laid by their latest draft.

    Instead of stockpiling future picks per usual, the team traded up in the first round to nab defensive end Chandler Jones and later traded back into the first round to take linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

    The first-round duo combined for 10.0 sacks, six of those by Jones. Hightower also finished fifth on the club with 61 tackles.

    Rookie defensive backs Tavon Wilson (four) and Alfonzo Dennard (three) combined for seven of the team’s 20 interceptions. In fact, Wilson totaled six of the Patriots’ AFC high 41 takeaways.

    Sadly, Dennard’s future is up in the air due to an off-the-field incident.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/7         DB Mark Barron (Alabama)

    1/31       RB Doug Martin (Boise State)

    2/58       LB Lavonte David (Nebraska)

    5/140     LB Najee Goode (West Virginia)

    6/174     DB Keith Tandy (West Virginia)                        

    7/212     RB Michael Smith (Utah State)

    7/233     TE Drake Dunsmore (Northwestern)

    At 6-4 late last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were amongst the surprise teams in the league. But a late slump kept the team out of the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

    Still, keep the shades around, because the future looks bright.

    Start with safety Mark Barron, fourth on the team in tackles (89) and second on the club in passes defended (10).

    Speaking of tackles, Lavonte David led the club with 139 stops. He was a big contributor to a club that finished No. 1 in the league in rushing defense.

    Saving the best of the bunch for last, running back Doug Martin led the team in total touchdowns (12) and finished third in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage (1,926). That included 1,454 yards rushing and another 472 yards on 49 catches.

8. Miami Dolphins

26 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/8         QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M)       

    2/42       T Jonathan Martin (Stanford)          

    3/72       DE Olivier Vernon (Miami, Fla.)

    3/78       TE Michael Egnew (Missouri)

    4/97       RB Lamar Miller (Miami, Fla.)

    5/155     LB Josh Kaddu (Oregon)

    6/183     WR B.J. Cunningham (Michigan State)

    7/215     DT Kheeston Randall (Texas)

    7/227     WR Rishard Matthews (Nevada)

    For the first time since 1983, the Miami Dolphins opted to draft a quarterback in the first round. And they seem awfully glad they did.

    While Ryan Tannehill didn’t post a winning record and didn’t put up big numbers like some of his fellow quarterback classmates in 2012 did, he steadily improved as the season wore on and could be a big time breakout player in 2013.

    With Jake Long gone to free agency, starting right tackle Jonathan Martin is the new starting left tackle for head coach Joe Philbin.

    Defensive end Olivier Vernon totaled 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles to go with a pair of blocked field goals. And Lamar Miller ran for 250 yards last season and could challenge Daniel Thomas for the starter’s role now that Reggie Bush left for Detroit.

7. Baltimore Ravens

27 of 33

    2/35       LB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)

    2/60       T Kelechi Osemele (Iowa State)

    3/84       RB Bernard Pierce (Temple)

    4/98        G Gino Gradkowski (Delaware)

    4/130     DB Christian Thompson (South Carolina State)

    5/169     DB Asa Jackson (Cal.-Poly)

    6/198     WR Tommy Streeter (Miami, Fla.)

    7/236     DE Deangelo Tyson (Georgia)

    Back in April, the now-defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens didn’t like what they saw when their turn came up in the first round.

    And that’s what makes executive Ozzie Newsome one of the best in the business at his craft.

    The team landed outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele in the second round, and both played pivotal roles for the team in 2012. Including playoffs, Osemele started all 20 games for the Ravens at two different spots on the offensive line. Meanwhile, Upshaw added 60 tackles for the injury-plagued Baltimore defense.

    Finally, third-round running back Bernard Pierce, who ran for 532 yards and a score, teamed with Ray Rice to give John Harabugh’s team a great one-two punch out of the backfield.

6. Carolina Panthers

28 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/9         LB Luke Kuechly (Boston College)                                   

    2/40       G Amini Silatolu (Midwestern State)             

    4/103     DE Frank Alexander (Oklahoma)

    4/104     WR Joe Adams (Arkansas)

    5/143     DB Josh Norman  (Coastal Carolina)

    6/207       P Brad Nortman (Wisconsin)

    7/216     DB D.J. Campbell (California)

    While the Carolina Panthers failed to record a winning season for a fourth straight year, it may surprise some that this club made some big-time strides on defense.

    Ron Rivera’s club finished 10th in the league in total yards allowed, and you can credit NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly for a bit of that improvement. The first-round linebacker led the team with 164 tackles, adding a sack and five takeaways.

    Second-round guard Amini Silatolu was a regular on the offensive line, while defensive end Frank Alexander totaled 18 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.

    Cornerback Josh Norman finished third on the team with 73 stops, and punter Brad Nortman was fairly solid in his debut season.

    A nice class indeed.

5. Washington Redskins

29 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/2         QB Robert Griffin III (Baylor)

    3/71       G Josh LeRibeus (SMU)

    4/102     QB Kirk Cousins (Michigan State)

    4/119     LB Keenan Robinson (Texas)

    5/141     G Adam Gettis (Iowa)

    6/173     RB Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic)  

    6/193     T Tom Compton (South Dakota)

    7/213     DB Richard Crawford (SMU)

    7/217     DB Jordan Bernstine (Iowa)

    Yes, we’re aware of the fact that the Washington Redskins won the NFC East last season for the first time since 1999.

    We’re also aware that quarterback Robert Griffin III won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, throwing for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, along with just five interceptions and seven total turnovers.

    And lest we forget sixth-round running back Alfred Morris, who finished second in the NFL with 1,613 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.

    You can add backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to the mix as well. The former Michigan State star was solid in relief of Griffin, most notably late in an overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens, as well as his start and victory over the Cleveland Browns. 

4. Minnesota Vikings

30 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/4         T Matt Kalil (Southern Cal)

    1/29       DB Harrison Smith (Notre Dame)

    3/66       DB Josh Robinson (Central Florida) 

    4/118     WR Jarius Wright (Arkansas)            

    4/128     TE Rhett Ellison (Southern Cal)

    4/134     WR Greg Childs (Arkansas)

    5/139     DB Robert Blanton (Notre Dame)

    6/175     PK Blair Walsh (Georgia)

    7/210     LB Audie Cole (North Carolina State)

    7/219     DT Trevor Guyton (California)

    General manager Rick Spielman did an outstanding job restocking the Minnesota Vikings with some young talent. And this club may be just one more solid draft away from bigger and better things.

    Left tackle Matt Kalil helped paved the way for running back Adrian Peterson’s 2,097 yards rushing, while safety Harrison Smith was second on the team with 103 tackles. Smith also returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns.

    Cornerback Josh Robinson had a pair of picks last season and looks like the heir apparent to the released Antoine Winfield. Wideout Jarius Wright added 22 catches, including two for scores.

    And who could forget rookie placekicker Blair Walsh, who not only scored 141 points—fourth-highest total in the NFL in 2012—but was a perfect 10-of-10 on field-goal attempts from 50-plus yards, setting a new NFL standard in the process.

3. St. Louis Rams

31 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/14       DT Michael Brockers (LSU)

    2/33       WR Brian Quick (Appalachian State)

    2/39       DB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama)

    2/50       RB Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati)

    3/65       DB Trumaine Johnson (Montana)

    4/96       WR Chris Givens (Wake Forest)

    5/150     G Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina)

    6/171     PK Greg Zuerlein (Missouri Western)

    7/209     LB Aaron Brown (Hawaii)

    7/252     RB Daryl Richardson (Abilene Christian)

    Defensive tackle Michael Brockers was the latest first-round defensive line choice for the club, which has assembled quite a front four that was the basis for the Rams tying for the league lead with 52 sacks in 2012.

    Cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored four touchdowns on takeaways and teamed with Cortland Finnegan to form quite a duo.

    Wideout Chris Givens finished tied for third on the team with 42 catches and led St. Louis with 698 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Daryl Richardson was the club’s second-leading rusher with 475 yards and is now the heir apparent to running back Steven Jackson.

    Finally, placekicker Greg Zuerlein showed a big leg, hitting on 23-of-31 field goal attempts, including seven boots from 50-plus yards.

2. Indianapolis Colts

32 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/1         QB Andrew Luck (Stanford)

    2/34       TE Coby Fleener (Stanford)

    3/64       TE Dwayne Allen (Clemson)

    3/92       WR T.Y. Hilton (Florida International)

    5/136     DT Josh Chapman (Alabama)

    5/170     RB Vick Ballard (Mississippi State)                                                                   

    6/206     WR Lavon Brazill (Ohio)

    7/208     G Justin Anderson (Georgia)

    7/214     LB Tim Fugger (Vanderbilt)

    7/253     QB Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois)

    In his first year on the job, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson did a fairly spectacular job. The team’s rookie draft class had a huge impact on the club’s surprising appearance in the playoffs this past season.

    Quarterback Andrew Luck did total as many turnovers as touchdown passes (23), but he was the heart and soul of a club that never stopped playing hard.

    Fifth-round running back Vick Ballard led the Colts with 814 yards rushing, while third-round selection T.Y. Hilton led the team with eight total touchdowns.

    All told, Chuck Pagano’s team scored 40 touchdowns in 2012, and 22 of those scores came courtesy of their top six picks on the offensive side of the ball.

    Enough said.

1. Seattle Seahawks

33 of 33

    Rd/Pk     Player (School)

    1/15       DE Bruce Irvin (West Virginia)

    2/47       LB Bobby Wagner (Utah State)

    3/75       QB Russell Wilson (Wisconsin)

    4/106     RB Robert Turbin (Utah State)

    4/114     DT Jaye Howard (Florida)

    5/154     LB Korey Toomer (Idaho)

    6/172     DB Jeremy Lane (Northwestern State, LA)

    6/181     DB Winston Guy (Kentucky)

    7/225      T J.R. Sweezy (North Carolina State)                             

    7/232     DE Greg Scruggs (Louisville)

    That big "Wow!" you heard coming from the Pacific Northwest was the Seattle Seahawks organization perhaps congratulating itself on a job well done.

    All kidding aside, Pete Carroll and company took a few hits on draft day with the first-round pick of Bruce Irvin. But the designated pass-rusher finished second on the team with 8.0 sacks.

    Second-rounder Bobby Wagner led the ‘Hawks with 140 tackles, while running back Robert Turbin rolled up 535 yards from scrimmage in spelling Marshawn Lynch on occasions. Even seventh-round defensive end Greg Scruggs added a pair of sacks.

    But the cherry on the sundae proved to be quarterback Russell Wilson, who got better as time wore on. The third-round pick tied the NFL rookie record for touchdown passes in a season (26) and helped lead the club to the playoffs. 

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