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

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

This is Part four of a four part series.  The AFC teams and other NFC Divisions can be found in a earlier blogs.

Atlanta:

What they did right: Without a pick until late in round two, Atlanta did the best it could, grabbing a potential pass rush specialist, a draft dropping Center (Konz) who some people had in the 1st round and a FB they hope will help them improve in short yardage situations.

What they did wrong: Four of six selections were drafted too early.  Atlanta split picks evenly between offense and defense but the defense needed more.  They failed to address some key free agency losses.

Best Pick: Center Konz

Worst Pick: Tackle Holmes

One Sentence Summary: Poised to take advantage of the troubles in New Orleans, these Falcons lost ground in free agency and had a lackluster draft.

Carolina:

What they did right: In 2011 the Panthers misfired often on draft day.  Of course that was masked by Cam Newton’s fantastic debut.  Carolina did better this time, bolstering the OL and LB early, adding a dynamic return man and getting a promising CB.

What they did wrong: They traded up for a DE (Alexander) who looks more like a role player.  Kuechly is a solid player but for this team was DL/DT a better place to go?  Alexander alone doesn’t make the DL better.  Second tier needs of OLB and Tight End were not addressed, although Kuechly may be tried outside.

Best Pick: LB Kuechly

Worst Pick: Alexander went too high, and an unrated Punter was drafted at 207 when this team had other needs.

One Sentence Summary: As long as Cam beats the sophomore slump (and the film teams have on him) then Carolina can move up with Atlanta and New Orleans looking vulnerable.

New Orleans:

What they did right: This is a stretch, but trading the 2012 1st round pick LAST YEAR for RB Ingram was in hindsight, fantastic.  That pick was as good as gone once “Bounty-Gate” surfaced.

What they did wrong: Staying just with the draft, the Saints did little to help them in the back seven.  Reaching as they did 3 times in this draft is never good when the total number of picks is just 5.

Best Pick: WR Nick Toon, a nice fit in this system.

Worst Pick: DT Hicks.  Hicks may turn out fine, but you can’t take a developmental player right out of the box.

One Sentence Summary: The team took LB Lofton from rival Atlanta but until Drew Brees is signed where does the leadership come from?

Tampa Bay:

What they did right: Tampa drafted 3 possibly ready to go players and another 3 who can contribute.  The trade up to get RB Martin was solid.  RB Blount is not the new staff’s’ type and Tampa knew the New York Giants were going to take him at pick 32.  Ditto with LB David, who never would have been available 10 picks later at Tampa’s choice. 

What they did wrong: Barron or Claiborne?  Both are good players but Claiborne was higher rated. 

Best Pick: Safety Barron

Worst Pick: TE Dunsmore, but he’s not horrible and the pick was at #233.

One Sentence Summary: The NFC South race just got tighter as Tampa closes the gap, as long as the new staff can assimilate quickly to the NFL way of life.

Arizona:

What they did right: It was a tough choice early with several OL available but Floyd makes this offense dangerous.  Arizona went 3 times late to try and help the OL and all 3 are rated! 

What they did wrong: No LB’s were added.  Arizona could have gone in another direction at pick #80, or selected a higher rated CB. 

Best Pick: WR Floyd

Worst Pick: None!  Even scatter-armed QB Lindley was picked by the right team, with WR’s capable of adjusting to his throws.

One Sentence Summary: Arizona is a playoff team IF Kolb delivers and if the Pittsburgh connection at defensive coordinator pays off.

St. Louis:

What they did right: The team got better with this draft, and any holes remaining will be fixed with a pair of 1st round choices in each of the next two drafts.  Brockers should help fix an awful run D.  Unlike Houston, who REALLY needed quality WR’s, the Rams, with Quick and Givens blew them away.  Pead adds critical speed.  CB’s Johnson and especially Jenkins are risks, but both are highly rated (by us) and together with new Ram Finnegan this secondary might really improve. 

What they did wrong: The Rams could have done more, simply by delaying taking Quick by just 12 picks,  That gets them Alabama’s Upshaw in an area of need!  STL could have done better for the OL.  This could have been magic!

Best Pick: Maybe DT Brockers, but it’s close with a few others.

Worst Pick: OT Watkins was chosen far too early at #150.

One Sentence Summary: The Rams are not so quietly building a team that might be in the playoff mix each and every year, soon!

San Francisco:

What they did right: SF got faster, both with WR Jenkins and RB James. 

What they did wrong: SF did not properly address OL at least not with highly rated players.  The same holds true for CB.  Only 7th round pick Cam Johnson was a value pick.

Best Pick: WR Jenkins, and he might be the only contributing pick if things go poorly.

Worst Pick: OG Looney.  Some like him, but at #117?

One Sentence Summary: There’s no question that Harbaugh can coach, but if future drafts continue to show poor quantity then the staff will be tested even more.

Seattle:

What they did right: The betting proposition on Bruce Irvin was over or under pick 54.5.  Our Intel said he was going between 27 and 35, and our value on him was between 35 and 40.  THAT WAS FUN!  This heading asked what Seattle did right.  As far as we know, Pete Carroll has his health, and that can never be underestimated.

What they did wrong: Show up?  Most picks were wasted (Wilson, especially on day #2) chosen too early, or should never have been chosen!  Seattle actually hit our need board, but there are severe differences in who they drafted and who we would have drafted.

Best Pick: RB Turbin.  This position was thin and Turbin might be the answer.

Worst Pick: Was QB Wilson worth a 3rd round pick?  Is he that much better than Jackson and the recently signed Flynn?

One Sentence Summary: Carroll can coach, but the talent gap has sunk below Arizona’s and might soon be passed by the draft rich Rams.

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