NFL Draft Winners/Losers
The 2012 NFL draft has come and gone in the blink of an eye. In case you missed it here are some winners and losers from this weekend.
1. Cincinnati Bengals (A)
The Bengals had five picks in the first three rounds and got tremendous value in some of their later picks but let's start at the top. Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama) was the second best corner available behind Morris Claiborne who went number 6 overall to Dallas. That was an easy choice. With their other pick in the first round they took Kevin Zeitler (G, Wisconsin). A tough lineman from the Big Ten he will be counted on to help keep Andy Dalton upright this year. The Bengals also got a gift when Penn State DT Devon Still was, well, still available midway though the second round. Many experts had Still projected as a first round talent. Whenever you can land a player of his abilities in the second round you only have the other 31 teams to thank. Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers) is another player who fell further than most expected. As a team that lost two of its top three receivers from last season Sanu can slide in opposite A.J. Green and give Dalton a reliable target.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (A)
The Eagles had one of the better drafts under head coach Andy Reid that I can remember. They traded up in the first round to nab Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) who immediately gives Philly one of the most imposing front fours in the NFL. While I love this pick, I think their second pick, linebacker Mychal Kendricks is even more important. The Birds have not had a formidible linebacker since the first go around with Jeremiah Trotter. Pairing Kendricks, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, with newly acquired DeMeco Ryans and Cox makes the Eagles biggest weakness from last year a strength. To say they will be solid up the middle is an understatement. Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall) was a steal at the end of the second round and Marvin McNutt is an intriguing receiving option coming out of Iowa.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (A-)
The consensus pre-draft pick here was Claiborne but Tampa traded down and ended up with safety Mark Barron out of Alabama, the top safety in the draft. The Bucs' secondary needed help be it a safety or corner so nabbing the top player at one of those positions is a win no matter how you look at it. They also traded back into the first round to take Doug Martin (RB, Boise State) . Martin is more of an every down back who can also assist in pass blocking. Incumbent LeGarrette Blount is more of a downfield runner. This gives the Tampa backfield some flexibility. Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska) is a hell of a pick late in the second round. He can be the second coming of Derrick Brooks in this defense.
Honorable Mention : Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers
1. Miami Dolphins (C-)
Miami has been looking for a quarterback since Dan Marino retired last century. There were clearly two possible franchise-altering QB's in this draft who went 1-2 to Indy and Washington. With Miami sitting at number 8 the thought process was to take Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M which would reunite him with Mike Sherman who is now the Dolphins offensive coordinator. Miami did just that. To me this is the biggest reach of the draft. Tannehill is a converted wide receiver with only two years experience under his belt. That is not enough for me to take him this high. While I agree it was too high for Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden in this spot Miami should have addressed other needs here. Wide receiver Michael Floyd from Notre Dame would have been a nice replacement for the departed Brandon Marshall. Second round pick Johnathan Martin (T, Stanford) was a nice pick but other than that the Dolphins did not improve themselves much from last year.
2. Seattle Seahawks (C-)
Seattle traded down with Philadelphia and it seemed everything broke right for them. All of the pass rushers were still on the board and they acquired more picks from the Eagles. Then, with the 15th pick overall, Seattle blew it by taking Bruce Irvin (LB, West Virginia). Irvin may be talented, but he is not an every down player. He doesn't stop the run and doesn't seem to have the drive or desire to become a complete player. Seattle needs to get more out of a high pick like this. At least Seattle got their QB of the future by signing free agent Matt Flynn from Green Bay. Or so we thought. The 'Hawks took Wisconsin signal-caller Russell WIlson with their third pick. While Wilson had a nice senior season he is undersized for the pros and may cause a controversy as to who should be the starter going into camp. An unnecessary pick to an uneventful draft.
3. Oakland Raiders (D)
This might be a little unfair as the Raiders had a total of six picks and did not have a selection until the 95th overall choice but Oakland didn't do much with what they had. Tony Bergstrom (G, Utah) and Miles Burris (LB, San Diego State) don't put much faith in the Raiders fan base There is potential with Jack Crawford (DE, Penn State) who is long, lean and consistent. He will be joined out west by fellow PSU teammate Nate Stupar who was taken midway through the last round. This draft did not resemble anything like the Raiders in the past which may be due to the fact it was the first one without Al Davis at the helm in the last 50 years or so.
Dishonorable Mention: Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams