2012 Draft – What to look for: Scouting the teams

I’ve covered the draft for over 30 years, both in preview and review format.  The preview phase is OVER.  The review phase is just about to begin.

The review phase is most appropriately done team by team.  Not every player fits a team the same way.  Let me repeat: It matters not only when a player is drafted, but to what team, what scheme, and what coaching staff.  I have finalized my pre-draft rankings of each player, but depending on where they go, those ratings can change.  I’ve had success in doing this over the years, from moving Big Ben Roethlisberger up to #1 30 seconds after his best fit team (Pittsburgh) selected him, to last year moving a guy like WR/KR Cobb (Green Bay) up due to person-team fit.

Obviously, each NFL draft team wants to fill their draft needs and grade out as high as possible.  Then why do some teams completely blow it on draft day?  I often wonder if all GM’s see the big picture when they make their choices.  A movie writer (in my opinion) KNOWS how the story ends, and can work backward to make the storyline fit.  A good business executive charts what the company should look like it 6 months or a year and then works backward to put a design in place to make that happen.  Shouldn’t NFL GM’s be thinking the same thing.

As with every year I have expectations for each NFL team.  This report goes by Division, covering just a little of what I will be looking at for a many NFL teams during the draft.

AFC East:

Miami: Do they draft Tannehill?  If so, do they give him some WR’s, something NOT done in Jacksonville last year?

New England: Just once I’d like to see them draft for IMPACT!  Not only have they traded back far too often, costing them star players at RB and CB for example, but sitting on a 3rd round pick and drafting Ryan Mallett prevents this team from getting better, NOW.  New England was one play away from winning a pair of Super Bowls vs. the NYG.  What if they had just one more top draft pick?

New York Jets: My curiosity here is with the 10 picks.  Tired of seeing them draft an average of 4.6 players per year, it’s time to draft in quantity.  I’m also interested in their top selection.

AFC North:

Cleveland: What happens at picks 22/37?  Can Cleveland get better on offense?

Cincinnati: They have a chance to add major talent with picks 17 and 21.

AFC South:

Houston: It’s time to get that #2 WR.  My draft review hinges on Houston making this happen.

Indy: I am curious to see this new draft team in action.  Are the days of drafting lighter front seven defensive players and defensive backs who can’t cover at all over?

Jacksonville: Enough with the multiple small college picks.  It’s time to draft a WR and a CB with proven ability.

AFC West:

Denver: They have rented a defensive line for a half-dozen years.  Is there a plan in place this time?

KC: I’m mildly curious to see what they do at QB.  Why is no one talking about that position?

San Diego: This is it for GM Smith.  Picks 18 and 49 will become something else.  The players they get will help decide Smith’s and Norv Turner’s future.

NFC East:

Dallas: They’ll get a good player at #14, but must come out of this draft with rated players for their secondary.

New York Giants: I want to see how they handle the RB need and with what player.

NFC Central:

Detroit: Please tell me they are going to draft a CB, or 2, or 3, or 4?  If not, I need to get started early on the sarcasm part of their draft review.

Green Bay: Shouldn’t this be the year the GM trades UP and not down?  What would the Packers do with 12 new faces?  I will grade their draft based on the impact they get.

NFC South:

Carolina: Sitting at #9, the Panthers will/should have plenty of trade options.  The draft team selected way too many lower rated players in ’11 (after Cam).  Can we trust them to trade down at #9, and draft better players now?

NFC West:

Arizona/Seattle: They sit next to each other on draft day.  They share similar needs.  Will OG DeCastro be considered?  With Seattle, we expect some wheeling and dealing?


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