Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: AFC Review

Now that the NFL Draft has ended and the dust has clear it is time for me to give out my grades for each team in the NFL.  First up, the teams in the AFC


Buffalo Bills
Good Picks: Stephon Gillmore (CB – 1st rd), Cordy Glenn (OL – 2nd rd), T.J. Graham (WR – 3rd), Zebrie Sanders (OT – 5th), Tank Carder (LB – 5th), Mark Asper ( OG – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Ron Brooks (CB – 4th), Nigel Bradham (LB – 4th), John Potter (K – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The 2012 draft was an opportunity for Buffalo to improve upon their already good offseason.  Adding top prospects at Cornerback (Gillmore) and offensive line (Glenn) shows the Bills are commited to becoming contenders in the AFC East.  They also got solid players in the late rounds that gives them added depth at positions of need such as Tank Carder (Linebacker) and Mark Asper (Guard).

Miami Dolphins
Good Picks: Ryan Tannehill (QB -1st), Jonathan Martin (OT – 2nd), Michael Egnew (TE – 3rd), Lamar Miller (RB – 4th), BJ Cunningham (WR – 6th), Kheeston Randle (DL – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Oliver Vernon (DE – 3rd), Josh Kaddu (LB – 5th), Rishard Matthews (WR – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: If he had been drafted by any other team I would question Tannehill being drafted in the first round due to his lack of starting experience at quarterback (he became a starting quarterback in college, was wide receiver in high school).  But since Miami’s Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill’s college coach this is a perfect match for both player and team in order to get the most out of Tannehill's potential.  On top of that the Dolphins add a top notch Offensive tackle (Martin) along with an underrated Tight End (Egnew), undervalued Running Back (Miller), and overlooked talented Wide Receiver (Cunningham).

New England Patriots
Good Picks: Chandler Jones (DE – 1st), Dont’a Hightower (LB -1st), Tavon Wilson (S – 2nd), Alfonzo Dennard (DB – 7th), Jeremy Ebert (WR – 7th)

Questionable Picks: Jake Bequette (DL – 3rd), Nate Ebner (S – 6th),
Grade: A-
Review: The Patroits greatest need this offseason was to improve their defense.  Head Coach Bill Belicheck pulls off another great draft by selecting versatile, athletic, and smart players such as Chandler, Hightower, and Dennard.  All of these players have the potential to be pro bowl defensive selections.  Also Ebert has the talent to be a similar player to Wes Welker (who just happens to play for New England).

New York Jets
Good Picks: Stephen Hill (WR – 2nd), Demario Davis (OLB – 3rd), Terrance Ganaway (RB – 6th), Antonio Allen (S – 7th), Jordan White (WR – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Quinton Coples (DE – 1st), Josh Bush (S – 6th), Robert Griffin (OG  - 6th)
Grade: B-
Review: The biggest problem with the Jets draft is that their first round pick Quinton Coples is best suited to play in a 4-3 or Cover 2 defense.  Rex Ryan’s New York Jets run a 3-4 defense.  Coples may be a great athlete but we saw what happened when an experienced, talented NFL defensive end tried to play in Ryan’s 3-4 defensive scheme with limited results (Jason Taylor).  The good news for Jets fans is that they got a great slot receiver (Hill), a versatile linebacker (Davis) and an undervalued running back (Ganaway) who played “Robin” to RG3’s “Batman” at Baylor.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
Good Picks: Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB – 2nd), Kelechi Osemele (OG – 2nd), Gino Gradkowski (OG – 4th), Tommy Streeter (WR – 6th) 
Questionable Picks: Bernard Pierce (RB – 3rd), Christian Thompson (S – 4th), Asa Jackson (DB – 5th), DeAngelo Tyson (DT – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Ravens are a good team that got even better by picking “Terrell Suggs 2.0” in Upshaw and beefed up their offensive line depth with 2 offensive lineman (Osemele and Gradkowski).  The downside is that Pierce, Thompson and Jackson were not the best players available at their positions when the Ravens drafted them so one can only hope that Baltimore will be able to maximize each players potential.

Cincinnati Bengals
Good Picks: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB – 1st), Kevin Zeitler (OG – 1st), Mohammed Sanu (WR – 3rd), Brandon Thompson (DT – 3rd), Orson Charles (TE – 4th), Shaun Prater (DB – 5th), Dan Herron (RB – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Devon Still (DT – 2nd), Marvin Jones (WR – 5th), George Iloka (S – 5th),
Grade: B+
Review: After a very good draft last year, the Bengals follow up with another draft full of talented, pro ready football players.  Four of their top Six selections could play key roles for them in 2012 (Kirkpatrick, Zeitler, Sanu, and Charles).  Bengals starting Quarterback Andy Dalton may be the happiest person in Bengal nation after the team added weapons and protection to the offense.

Cleveland Browns
Good Picks: Trent Richardson (RB – 1st), Brandon Weeden (QB – 1st), Mitchell Schwartz (OL – 2nd), Travis Benjamin (WR – 4th), Billy Winn (DT – 6th), Brad Smelley (TE – 7th)
Questionable Picks: John Hughes (DT – 3rd), James-Michael Johnson (LB – 4th), Ryan Miller (OG – 5th), Emmanuel Acho (LB – 6th), Trevin Wade (CB – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: Trent Richardson is arguable the top player in this year’s draft and the Browns got him.  But without him their draft grade would be much lower.  Although they drafted a pro ready QB (Weeden) and an underrated talent at Wide Receiver (Benjamin) the Browns selected a slew of underachieving college players.  Typically players do not play better at the NFL level then they did at the collegiate level so many of these "Questionable picks" could be busts as professional athletes.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Good Picks: David DeCastro (OG – 1st), Mike Adams (OT – 2nd), Alameda Ta’amu (DT – 4th), Chris Rainey (RB – 5th), David Paulson (TE – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Sean Spence (LB – 3rd), Toney Clemons (WR – 7th), Terrence Frederick  (CB – 7th), Kelvin Beachum (OG – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Steelers addressed two important needs in this draft: offensive line and team age.  DeCastro is an NFL ready offensive starter while Adams needs some grooming but he has tremendous upside as an NFL Tackle.  Ta’amu can step in and be a good Nose tackle on the defensive line while Rainey is a talented player who can be used as a running back, wide receiver and punt returner.  The reason for the grade is because they used all three of their seventh round picks on suspect prospects while their third round pick was used on a player who has shown lapses in maturity and judgment while in college.

AFC South

Houston Texans
Good Picks: Whitney Mercilus (DE – 1st), DeVier Posey (WR – 3rd), Ben Jones (C – 4th), Jared Crick (DE – 4th), Nick Mondek (OL – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Brandon Brooks (OG – 3rd), Keshawn Martin (WR – 4th), Randy Bullock (K – 5th),
Grade: B
Review: After winning the AFC South and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Texans used the draft to reload their team with more talent.  They got more talented on defense with Mercilus and Crick while giving the offense another weapon (Posey) and gained offensive line depth (Jones and Mondek).  All of these picks should equal another winning season in Houston and potentially another division title.

Indianapolis Colts
Good Picks: Andrew Luck (QB – 1st), Coby Fleener (TE – 2nd), Dwayne Allen (TE – 3rd), Josh Chapman (DT – 5th), Vick Ballard (RB – 5th), LeVon Brazill (WR – 6th),
Questionable Picks: T.Y. Hilton (WR – 3rd), Justin Anderson (OG – 7th), Tim Fugger (LB – 7th), Chandler Harnish (QB – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Colts are in rebuilding mode.  So they draft this year's top quarterback prospect (Luck), his college teammate (Fleener), an underrated running back (Ballard), and an overlooked talent at wide receiver (Brazil).  They could have done better but they decided to get a lot of “project” players instead of NFL ready players with their other picks.  But the goal was to load of with players to fill the roster and they did accomplish that for sure. 

Jacksonville Jaguars
Good Picks: Justin Blackmon (WR – 1st), Andre Branch (DE – 2nd), Brandon Marshall (LB – 5th),
Questionable Picks: Bryan Anger (P – 3rd), Mike Harris (CB – 6th), Jeris Pendleton (DT – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: When you draft the top wide receiver in this year’s draft (Blackmon) and then have the fortune of selecting a 1st round talent in the 2nd round (Branch) that is a good draft.  But after making two great picks they overreach by selecting a punter in the third round (Anger) and then select two average skill defensive players with their final two picks.  Not exactly what Jaguar fans what to see happen after a poor past season that saw long time Head Coach Jack Del Rio fired.

Tennessee Titans
Good Picks: Kendall Wright (WR – 1st), Zach Brown (LB – 2nd), Mike Martin (DT – 3rd), Coty Sensabaugh (CB – 4th), Markell Martin (S – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Taylor Thompson (TE – 5th), Scott Solomon (DE – 7th)
Grade: B+
Review: The Tennessee Titans have emerged from the 2012 NFL Draft with a good group of players who improve their team not just for the 2012 season but also for the future as well.  With their second through fourth round picks they upgraded their defense while using the first round pick to draft an offensive playmaker (Wright).  Although I have Thompson listed as a “questionable pick” he has great upside and the potential to become an elite tight end in the NFL.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
Good Picks: Derek Wolfe (DT – 2nd), Ronnie Hillman (RB – 3rd), Omar Bolden (CB – 4th), Philip Blake (C – 4th)
Questionable Picks: Brock Osweiler (QB – 2nd), Malik Jackson (DE – 5th), Danny Trevathan (LB – 6th)
Grade: C
Review: The Broncos selected some nice players in the draft but they underachieved compared to last year’s draft.  Wolfe, Bolden, and Jackson add depth to their defense but the Broncos passed up on other talented defensive players along the way.  Hillman was a good collegiate running back but the Broncos passed up more talented backs who could have fit playing with Peyton Manning.  Their best pick was probably snagging Baylor Center Philip Blake in the fourth round; Blake did a good job as the leader of the Offensive Line and starting center for Heisman Trophy winner RG3.  But there are still questions about whether Brock Osweiler has what it takes to play in the NFL after an above average collegiate career.

Kansas City Chiefs
Good Picks: Donald Stephenson (OT – 3rd), Devon Wylie (WR – 4th), De’quan Menzie (CB – 5th), Junior Hemingway (WR – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Dontari Poe (DT – 1st), Jeff Allen (OG – 2nd), Cyrus Gray (RB – 6th), Jerome Long (DT – 7th)
Grade: C
Review: Despite listing Dontari Poe as a “Questionable Pick”, being drafted by the Chiefs could be the best situation for Poe.  The Chiefs may be the team best equiped to maximize Poe's talents with a defensive minded head coach in Romeo Crennel.  Their best picks came in the late rounds where they got a talented wide receiver (Wylie), an overlooked cornerback (Menzie) and an underrated wide receiver (Hemingway).

Oakland Raiders
Good Picks: Miles Burris (LB – 4th), Juron Criner (WR – 5th), Nathan Stupar (LB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Tony Bergstrom (OG – 3rd), Jack Crawford (DE – 5th), Chris Bilukidi (DT – 6th)
Grade: C-
Review: The Raiders were without a couple high draft picks because of the Carson Palmer trade, which may have led to the firing of their former Head Coach Hue Jackson.  They got mixed results in this year's draft with some players they hope are “steals” and others that causes one to question their scouting department.  Burris and Stupar add talent to their Linebacker core and that will help them in the long run.  Otherwise their selections still leaves the team needing to fill needs on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary.

San Diego Chargers
Good Picks: Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB – 1st), Kendall Reyes (DT – 2nd), Brandon Taylor (S – 3rd), Edwin Baker (RB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Ladarius Green (TE – 4th), Johnnie Troutman (OG – 5th), David Molk (C – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Chargers snagged the steal of the first round by selecting a defensive pheonom Melvin Ingram who can play any of the positions on the defensive line or linebacker unit.  In college he play numerous positions and dominated at all of them.  San Diego continued to upgrade their defense with underrated talents Reyes and Taylor.  Another positive was in the seventh round picking up an experienced collegiate running back (Baker) who can be a change-of-pace back for third down.