Mistakes from the 2012 NFL Draft That Must Be Corrected This Year

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2013

Mistakes from the 2012 NFL Draft That Must Be Corrected This Year

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    A wide receiver who never recovered from making a poor first impression and a defensive tackle who couldn't translate an impressive combine performance to the field headline the list of mistakes from the 2012 NFL draft that teams must correct this year.

    Other mistakes include a team that failed to address its issues at quarterback, despite two opportunities, and a pair of teams that failed to address weak defenses in 2012. Both paid for that error with disappointing seasons, and neither can afford to make that mistake again.

    Here are the biggest mistakes from 2012's draft that must be corrected this April 25th.

1. Carolina Panthers Failing to Address Defensive Tackle

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    Entering 2012's draft, the Carolina Panthers had a glaring weakness at defensive tackle. It was the main factor in their 2011 defense ranking 27th in points and 28th in yards allowed.

    Despite that, the Panthers ignored defensive tackle in last year's draft. They tabbed inside linebacker Luke Kuechly with their first pick.

    The ex-Boston College standout did win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Panthers' defense did improve in 2012, ranking 10th in yards allowed.

    However, the unit was still 18th in points allowed and deserves some of the blame for a disappointing 7-9 finish. Problems on the interior of the defensive line were again the main issue.

    That's despite veteran Dwan Edwards being a pleasant surprise. However, Edwards needs a dynamic youngster next to him.

    Fortunately for the Panthers, the 2013 draft class is loaded with quality defensive tackles. Three of NFL.com's four mock drafts have the Panthers selecting Missouri's Sheldon Richardson.

    If they hope to make a stronger push in the NFC South, the Panthers can't ignore defensive tackle again.

2. Tennessee Titans: Not Finding a Pass-Rusher

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    The Tennessee Titans, who only had 28 sacks in 2011, missed the chance to add a star pass-rusher last year.

    Their sack figure did improve to 39 in 2012. However, Tennessee's most prolific pass-rusher, Derrick Morgan, led the team with only 6.5.

    Morgan, the Titans' first-round choice in 2010, has failed to muster consistent pressure, forcing defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to create most of the team's sacks with different fronts and multiple blitz calls.

    Without a dominant pass-rusher, the Titans were the worst scoring defense in football in 2012. They also ranked 26th against the pass.

    Ziggy Ansah, Barkevious Mingo and Bjoern Werner are options the Titans can't ignore in this year's class.

3. Chicago Bears: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    It's hard to know exactly what the Chicago Bears were thinking when they ignored their woeful offensive line in 2012. Even after the trade for wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Bears had six picks and didn't target the O-line with one of them.

    Instead, they opted for defensive end Shea McClellin in the first round. That was a solid pick, but hardly one that addressed a major need.

    The same can be said for the decision to trade up and select wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round.

    The Bears might still feel burned from drafting Gabe Carimi in the first round in 2011. However, they can't refuse to address their many needs up front this time around.

    The Bears surrendered 44 sacks in 2012. If they hope to challenge the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, they have to protect quarterback Jay Cutler.

    Adding young linebackers may be high on the agenda after the release of Brian Urlacher. However, solid free-agent moves for D.J. Williams and, in particular, James Anderson, should keep that position strong.

    Fortifying the O-line has to come first. Signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency was a good start, but nothing more.

    The Bears need help at right tackle and along the interior. Alabama's D.J. Fluker would be a nice pick, as would North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper.

4. Kansas City Chiefs: Reaching for Dontari Poe

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    Dontari Poe should serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of being wowed at the combine. The ex-Memphis star thrilled scouts last year with an awesome display.

    That prompted the Kansas City Chiefs to use the 11th-overall pick to select him. Poe certainly failed to live up that billing.

    He was just too technically unsound to play nose tackle in a two-gap 3-4 front. The Chiefs had reached for the wrong player at the right position.

    That's a mistake the new regime of general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid can't make. If they opt to go defensive tackle at the top of this year's draft, Star Lotulelei and Shariff Floyd will be the choices.

    Getting that decision right could be the difference between a quick revival or another year of transition in Kansas City.

5. Detroit Lions: Not Doing Enough to Fix the Defense

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    Despite using six of their eight picks on defense, the Detroit Lions didn't do enough to address the unit in 2012. The problem was the Lions didn't draft any impact players.

    Linebackers Ronnell and Travis Lewis and Tahir Whitehead combined for 16 tackles and no sacks. Defensive backs Dwight Bentley, Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green had just one interception between them.

    The Lions prioritized offense in the first two rounds. They selected tackle Riley Reiff and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. They passed on the chance to add immediate help to a defense that consistently underachieves.

    Coming off a 4-12 campaign, they can't afford that mistake again. If they are smart, the Lions will address linebacker and secondary early on this year.

    When a defense with a front four as dominating as Detroit's routinely struggles, the fault is with the back seven.

6. San Francisco 49ers: Reaching for A.J. Jenkins

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    A.J. Jenkins was a complete bust in 2012. The first-round wide receiver was supposed to add greater downfield potential to the San Francisco 49ers' offense.

    Instead, he wasn't in good enough shape to even compete. CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco was the first to note Jenkins' poor conditioning at the 49ers' minicamp in May, 2012.

    The former Illinois ace soon went from prospective starter to appearing in only three games as a rookie. Jenkins didn't make a single catch during his first pro season.

    The defending NFC champions are stocked with a fine array of talent. However, that doesn't mean they can risk botching another first-round choice as badly as they did in 2012.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Not Drafting a Quarterback

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    Undoubtedly the biggest mistake of the 2012 draft was the Jacksonville Jaguars' failure to land a quarterback. They had more than one opportunity to fix the position.

    Yet the Jaguars still thought it smart to enter the season with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. They passed on the chance to select Ryan Tannehill.

    They even traded up to draft wide receiver Justin Blackmon, despite having no one to get him the ball. Worst decisions were to follow.

    Like many others, the Jaguars passed on Russell Wilson in the third round. However, the Jaguars' need for Wilson was so great, it defies belief they didn't take a chance on him.

    Coming off to 2-14 season makes this a pivotal draft for the Jaguards. If the AFC South cellar dwellers are serious about overhauling the team, they must find a new quarterback.

    If new head coach Gus Bradley finds anything he likes about Geno Smith, and he should, he must draft him second overall.