2012 NFL Draft Review Part 2 of 4 – Early Conclusions for the AFC South and AFC West

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

This is Part two of a four part series.  The AFC East and AFC North can be found in an earlier blog..

Houston:

What they did right: The Texans selected a pair of front seven defensive players (Mercilus and Crick) that fit the Wade Phillips system.  Desperately needing a #2 WR, Houston selected a pair or rated guys.  Stung by defections along the right side of the offensive line, the Texans drafted a pair of decently rated guys to restock the shelf.  Drafting the #1 rated PK late to replace the departed Rackers closed out a draft with exceptional focus!

What they did wrong: Houston moved BACK from pick 58, selecting lower rated WR Posey at 68.  The guy we wanted them to take was WR Randle, and he was available at 58.  Bad move!  Other than that, adding more for the interior of the DL could have been done.

Best Pick: Tossup between Center Jones and Jared Crick, who was a value pick at 126.

Worst Pick: While WR Posey may be just fine, skipping WR Randle was a mistake.

One Sentence Summary: After losing more talent than expected in free agency, the Texans are back on track following a nicely focused draft.

Indianapolis:

What they did right: Forgetting about defense for a minute, the Colts selected the top two Tight Ends in the draft, an electrifying slot receiver and return specialist and our sleeper WR (Brazill) in round six.  Seven of their first eight picks were for the offense and that should jump start the Luck era.  Their first of just two defensive picks, nose tackle Chapman was absolutely solid!

What they did wrong: Luck is going to love having Wayne, the tight ends and the ’11 line draftees, but Indy made little attempt to get bigger in the trenches defensively and seemingly forgot that they set an NFL record by allowing in excess of 71% in completions.  Oh well.

Best Pick: Indy got value with 7 of 9 selections which was very well done, but of course Andrew Luck is the best of the bunch.

Worst Pick: Ignoring defense was the biggest issue, since it wasn’t until round #7 that a poorly rated player was chosen.

One Sentence Summary: Look for the Colts offense to be better than expected but the coaching staff has its work cut out for them defensively.

Jacksonville:

What they did right: The Jags have no clue how to trade back in the draft, so they traded up.  That enabled them to draft WR Blackmon to a unit that along with Cleveland’s was the worst in the NFL (and still needs help).  Blackmon was the only offensive player selected.

What they did wrong: USA Today lists the college of 7th round pick Pendleton as UNKNOWN.  That can’t be a good thing (He went to Ashland, in Ohio).  Meanwhile, drafting a Punter at pick 70 must mean that this team has no pressing needs!  The Jags needed to pay attention to OL in order to protect its young QB, and needed to upgrade its pass rush.

Best Pick: WR Blackmon

Worst Pick: Punter Anger, who was our #1 guy but who chooses a punter this early?

One Sentence Summary: Despite an early schedule that is made for success the Jags seem to have too many holes to take full advantage of the situation.

Tennessee:

What they did right: Tennessee got faster at LB with Zach Brown, and added WR depth with Wright.  Many of their picks were rated ones, and the secondary did get some attention.

What they did wrong: Was WR the right move early on?  They missed on CB Kirkpatrick but Guard DeCastro was available.  There were no pizazz to picks made after Zach Brown in the 2nd round.

Best Pick: Speedy LB Brown

Worst Pick: There was no one poor pick, but as a group the five selected after the 2nd round are relatively marginal players who at best will need time to develop.

One Sentence Summary: Houston showed vulnerability prior to the draft, but Tennessee lost ground on draft day and as a result remains an underdog in the Division.

Denver:

What they did right: Peyton Manning is a Bronco.  Don’t ask about the draft!

What they did wrong: Needing a major face-lift along the DL, Denver traded down TWICE from pick 25 and ended up selecting a lower rated DE who can’t anchor at the point of attack.  Selecting QB Osweiler in the 2nd round does NOTHING to help this team in the short run.  If he plays it will mean Manning is not playing and the rookie won’t be ready, and the team won’t be either.  Taking a RB in the 3rd round extended the lack of focus.  CB Bolden is a risky pick for a team that needed to build with safer picks.  Does John Elway still own car dealerships?

Best Pick: Let’s try CB Bolden, which would have been a decent risk had Denver addressed DL twice with better players earlier.  He has upside, yet was selected a round too early.

Worst Pick: Take your pick, but we would have stayed at 25 and taken Hightower, or moved up for a DT.

One Sentence Summary: Faced with a really rough schedule, Denver hopes Manning does for them what he used to do consistently with Indy, make up for a team whose talent level is clearly below playoff type status.

Kansas City:

What they did right: Time will tell if underachieving nose tackle Poe is the answer, but in KC’s traditional defense this position is vital and no one on the roster carried that skill.  The OL just got about 650 pounds larger.  RB Gray has upside and adds depth behind returning starter Charles who is off a severe injury.

What they did wrong: There are no sure things with KC’s draft.  Poe did not perform on the field in college, the OL players are not camera ready and the rest of the group may or may not ever see significant playing time.  LB needs were ignored.  No QB was selected.

Best Pick: Let’s hold our breath and say DT Poe.  Crennel is the right coach to make this work.

Worst Pick: Failing to get impact at pick 44 or anywhere in the draft was a mistake.

One Sentence Summary: Of all the NFL teams, KC was the one that needed a QB upgrade the most.

Oakland:

What they did right: They did NOT draft a QB.  Remember, Oakland lost picks in the first (QB Palmer), 3rd (QB Pryor) and 4th (QB Campbell) in this draft.  The also lost their 2nd round pick for a marginal RB.  At least signing another QB (Leinart) won’t cost them a draft choice.

What they did wrong: Guard/Tackle Bergstorm, DE Crawford and WR Criner are all numerically rated, but way down on our overall list by position.  Oakland lost ground this offseason.

Best Pick: WR Criner.  He was a value pick and adds to a WR group that is getting better.

Worst Pick: LB Burris.  Better was available and DL and CB are areas of greater concern.

One Sentence Summary: Unless Palmer can regain his form the Raiders have gone through too many on and off-field changes to challenge in the AFC West with this current roster.

San Diego:

What they did right: Did GM Smith get bored with the draft?  He shocked us by keeping his early picks, took safe players in the early rounds and drafted overachievers late.  While not a wow draft, San Diego made fewer mistakes than usual.

What they did wrong: The Chargers have a nasty habit of ignoring OL, preferring always to take marginal talent on or after the 5th round of the draft.  Ignoring WR in a rather deep draft for that position was certainly a mistake.

Best Pick: OLB/DE Ingram.  Will the staff know how to use his talents?

Worst Pick: There were no awful picks, but the focus was poor.  If pressed we’d say Guard Troutman, selected at a spot where either better OL or a WR could have been the choice.

One Sentence Summary: With all other teams in the Division coming off our famed – point ratio trend, San Diego, despite missing on WR and not correctly addressing OL needs is still our favorite to win back the AFC West.

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