2012 NFL Draft Review – Early Conclusions for the AFC East and AFC North

It won’t be until June before our 67 page NFL Draft Report is completed.  Meanwhile, here are my preliminary thoughts for each team.

This is Part One of a four part series.  The AFC North and AFC East are covered in this segment.

Baltimore:

What they did right: The Ravens like to move out of the 1st round.  Sometimes that works and it did initially when they found 1st round talent Upshaw at #35.  CB Asa Jackson was one of our sleeper specials and WR Streeter has upside.

What they did wrong: It means nothing to trade down and add a pick if the extra pick is wasted.  The Ravens reached at #98 for an unrated Guard.  Ignoring LB needs after that showed poor focus.

Best Pick: OLB/DE Upshaw

Worst Pick: Guard Gradkowski

One Sentence Summary: Baltimore is aging and while this draft was still productive, they can’t feel great knowing Divisional rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh had top five draft days.

Cincinnati:

What they did right: Almost everything!  We gave numerical ratings to close to 180 players in this draft, plus another 65 or so * (also-eligible) ratings.  The rest got grades of NR, meaning they are not NFL material.  In this 35th year of doing this, no team with eight or more picks had aced the board with all numerically drafted players.  Cincy just did it, going 10 for 10!

What they did wrong: Two things we would change.  OG Zeitzer is a fine player (4th rated guard), but trading back from #21 cost them OG DeCastro, and he is the best we’ve seen since Hutchinson.  RB Herron was drafted late, but Cincy needed to address RB earlier and get a higher rated player.

Best Pick: CB Kirkpatrick, particulary because they used pick #17 to get him.  He would have been gone by #21.

Worst Pick: All picks were rated, but of course we might have taken a different player once or twice.

One Sentence Summary: Prior to this draft we were leaning toward moving Cincy down but post draft it looks like this team could be moving UP!

Cleveland:

What they did right: Trent Richardson made sense.  They panicked in the trade up but got their man.

What they did wrong: EVERY pick after that went at least one round too early!  Cleveland started with 13 picks.  They could have used #22 on a stud WR or DeCastro and traded up to #31 to get Weeden.  All remaining picks were reaches when chosen.

Best Pick: RB Richardson

Worst Pick: DT John Hughes at #87.  He was rated NR by us.

One Sentence Summary: Richardson is elite, but in the NFL, running back success does not always equate to win success and the AFC North is a tough place to reside.

Pittsburgh:

What they did right: Switching off LB Hightower to go for stud Guard DeCastro was fantastic, and the card was up in one minute!  Trading up to get a nose tackle (Ta’amu) was value and need all at once.

What they did wrong: Did they do enough at RB considering their injury situation?  No CB’s were added.

Best Pick: DeCastro, the best pick in the draft after the top three.

Worst Pick: WR Clemons in the 7th round.

One Sentence Summary: They may only have WR Wallace for 2012 but considering what they just did in the draft, 2012 might be a very special year.

Buffalo:

What they did right: They couldn’t go wrong with Reiff or Gilmore as both filled a need.  They went Gilmore, but astutely came right back to get Guard/Tackle Glenn.  Value was added in the 5th round with another tackle and special teams ace Carder.

What they did wrong: They traded up two spots to get WR Graham.  That move was foolish, and in fact far better WR’s were available.

Best Pick: CB Gilmore

Worst Pick: WR Graham, due to lack of value and the loss of a draft pick.

One Sentence Summary: Buffalo is a contender for a playoff spot based on their defensive improvements as long as QB Fitzgerald takes better care of the football.

Miami:

What they did right: Tough question.  Overall they got a TE and that was necessary, took a rated tackle and drafted WR’s, a severe position of need.  As for Tannehill, Miami had no choice.

What they did wrong: The WR’s chosen were rated too low.  The trade up to get RB Miller was curious, since they have Bush and young RB Thomas on the roster.  They basically reached with 7 of their 9 selections, even though the players chosen were decent.

Best Pick: Tight End Egnew.

Worst Pick: DL Vernon, who clearly needed an extra year of college.

One Sentence Summary: There’s apathy for the football program right now, but rushing Tannehill into action would not be the wisest of moves for the new staff.

New England:

What they did right: The Pats finally got the memo, trading UP instead of down early on and finally not stockpiling picks.  Good to great teams need to go for the big prize.  Too often New England outsmarted themselves and have three times come up one play or one player short from adding more Super Bowl rings.  Jumping on Hightower was smart.  Taking a 7th round risk on troubled 2nd round talent Dennard was fine as well, especially given the needs of the team.

What they did wrong: Everything else!  They sent us looking for answers twice with ridiculous draft choices.  Taking unrated Illinois LB Wilson at 48 was awful.  Most boards had him in the 200’s.  Few people had even heard of 6th round choice Ebner.  This is the side of Belichick people are finally seeing; he has a high miss rate on draft choices.

Best Pick: LB Hightower

Worst Pick: Defensive back Wilson, considering the pick was at #48.  Picks 1-47 in the draft all were numerically rated (as they should be in these rounds).  Wilson skipped right by the * rating.

One Sentence Summary: With the AFC East gap so large there is no reason to believe the Pats won’t easily win the Division considering their multiple free agency moves, coupled with the draft’s round one selections.

New York Jets:

What they did right: Even with all their compensatory picks we are proud of the Jets for trading just once, and ending up with eight new faces.  They have risk with the top picks, but Coples should love playing for Ryan and Hill’s smile at the podium when drafted shows his high character and attitude.

What they did wrong: No picks for the offensive line, which underachieved in 2011.

Best Pick: Any one of five could qualify, although there’s boom or bust with the top two.  We rated Safety Allen (7-242) high so the value is potentially tremendous.

Worst Pick: Josh Bush of Wake Forest (6th round) was rated NR at (defensive back).

One Sentence Summary: The draft helped in a number of areas but ultimately it is up to QB Sanchez if the Jets are to make a serious move in the AFC.

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