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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2012 NFL Draft – Last minute thoughts for round one

There is less than 100 hours to go before the 2012 NFL Draft.  Here’s a short blog on a) what the team is thinking about and b) what WE would do at each pick.

1.                  Indy:

Intel: Taking Andrew Luck

US:  A) Prevent Jim Irsay from ever tweeting again

B) Take QB Luck

2.                  Washington:

Intel: Taking RG III

US:  A) Fire Mike Shanahan

B)    Take RG III and throw a party!

3.                  Minnesota:

Intel: Taking OT Kahil, but also considering WR Blackmon

US:  A)  Take OT Kahil

B)    Trade with Tampa to #5 (they go for RB) and take Kahil

4.                  Cleveland

Intel: Probably RB Richardson over WR Claiborne, but draft team is often indecisive and could try to get cute and trade down.

US:  A) Make draft team use all 13 picks WITHOUT trading

B)    Draft RB Richardson

5.                  Tampa

Intel: RB Richardson is their 1st choice.  CB Claiborne is their 2nd choice.

US:  A) Take CB Claiborne

B) Trade up to #3 if the price is reasonable and take RB Richardson

6.                  STL

Intel: Looking at WR Blackmon, WR Floyd, or trading down to get an impact DL/OLB.  Might also look at CB Claiborne but not RB Richardson?

US:  A) Take CB Claiborne if available

B) Take WR Blackmon, or trade back slightly and take WR Floyd, OG DeCastro or an impact DL

7.                  Jacksonville

Intel: Wants to trade back, but draft team not good at this.  Might go UP to get Blackmon or Claiborne.  Looking hard at DE/OLB Upshaw.

US:  A) Take WR Blackmon or WR Floyd

B) Fire the draft team if they do not take an impact WR

8.                  Miami

Intel: With his former college Head Coach now in Miami (Sherman), the Dolphins seem destined to take QB Tannehill.  If they pass, or if he’s chosen before #8 then Miami is looking DL/OLB, CB or WR.

US:  A) PASS on a QB, and take a WR or OG DeCastro.  OG is a vital need here and DeCastro      has Steve Hutchinson qualities.

B) Trade BACK a bit and then take Tannehill.  Franchise QB’s are hard to come by, but Tannehill is not the 2012 answer and may not be that kind of QB.

9.                  Carolina

Intel: Looking DL, maybe Cox.  Was looking at DT Poe but may have soured on him.  DL is the place they want to go.

US:  A) Trade BACK, but no later than #18 (SD), who could offer them a 2013 pick in the 1st round considering AJ Smith is in a win now or be fired mode.  Other trading partners include Seattle, KC, Philly and the NYJ, all who may have specific players in mind.

B) Either way, we look at adding an impact DL, although if we trade back CB Gilmore or CB         Kirkpatrick will be fine choices.

10.              Buffalo

Intel: All signs have pointed to OT Reiff, but my sources tell me that his short arms are a concern and they may be willing to look elsewhere.  Some people were suggesting WR Floyd.  They could look CB or OLB.  OT Reiff did NOT work out with the Bills!

US:  A) They don’t usually trade, but moving down to the teams’ listed above in the Carolina preview is fine.  They can get an OLB or CB at any of the trade down spots.

B) If they stay, OT is a need so OT Reiff, while a risk, is still a fit.

11.              KC

Intel: Considering OG DeCastro and LB Kuechly, although Kuechly did not work out for the Chiefs!  Possibly considering QB Tannehill.

US:  A) Take QB Tannehill if available.  For THIS team, we like the move.  Cassell will not get any better and KC has enough other parts to take a QB risk.

B) If not Tannehill, consider DT/NT, sack help, LB or OG.  Poe is a NT, but his bust factor is too high.  Plenty of other options exist in these areas.

12.              Seattle

Intel: No one really knows what this draft team will do.  LB Kuechly is the favorite, but we think they may go DL or a LB with more sack promise.  DE Coples would be interesting.

US:  A) With just six draft picks, they could trade down to as low as #18 and pick up another 3rd rounder, while still getting an impact front 7 player.

B) OG DeCastro could be considered.

13.              Arizona

Intel: Considering OL or WR Floyd.  DeCastro is in play.  An OLB is another option.

US:  A) Either DeCastro or an impact DE/OLB (preferably OLB) is our choice.

B) Could consider OT Reiff if Buffalo passes.  The OL allowed 54 sacks in ’11.

14.              Dallas

Intel: Safety Barron is the primary target.  We don’t believe the DL hype, but it might be in play, along with OL.

US:  A) Safety Barron or OG DeCastro

B) DL/DE is a need for us, so Ingram would fit.  We would strongly consider CB Gilmore or CB Kirkpatrick as well.

15.              Philly

Intel: Trading UP, with Cox or Ingram the likely target.  We are slightly discounting a target of ILB Kuechly (would move to OLB if selected here).

US:  A) DL recorded 46 of Philly’s 50 sacks in ’11.  We don’t need another at this time.  1st looks for us include an OLB, Safety Barron, OT Reiff or OG DeCastro

B) In the highly unlikely event all options above are gone, we would hope Cleveland or someone else wants to give us a #1 pick next year.  Versatile OG/OT Glenn would be a lower option for us.

16.              NYJ

Intel: Wants to move UP.  No one can tell you exactly who they want, though many think they know.  DL, LB and even WR (Floyd) could be targets.

US: A) FORCE the NYJ to draft all ten players, with NO TRADES.  After selecting 23 players TOTAL in five years it is time to add depth.

B)    Cross our fingers and draft NT Poe.  He is not our favorite, but really fits this team and has the mobility to occupy blockers and make the other players better.

17.       Cincy

21.       Cincy

Intel: We lump these picks together.  We believe WR is in their blood and they will look once here.  The other choice is probably between CB and OL, with DL next.

US:  A) As we’ve stated, signing WR Wallace away from Pittsburgh would have been a no-brainer for us.  You hurt a rival and help yourself, have the cap space, and STILL have a #1 pick!  WOW.  The other option is to trade 17-21 to go UP for RB Richardson.  You STOLE an extra #1 from Oakland in the Palmer move, so dealing it for a 3-down impact RB is the 2nd no-brainer.  This fits our #1 need.  They won’t do it, but as GM, we would!

B)    These are the positions and players on our draft board at 17/21: OG DeCastro, with OG Glenn farther down the list.  WR Wright, but not WR Randle for this team.  CB’s Gilmore and Kirkpatrick, but not Cincy CB Jenkins, who would be suspended eight times if drafted by this team!  DL/OLB, with names such as Ingram, Mercilus (lower), Perry (lower), Upshaw (likely gone), and Hightower.  This is a critical draft for Cincy.

18.              San Diego

Intel: AJ Smith, as mentioned, needs to win now or be fired.  He will look to trade UP if he can, and probably WILL make a deal.  Is their target WR Floyd or Safety Barron?  These players, along with perhaps a DL/LB are the target areas.

US:  A) Do NOT trade.  Take DeCastro if available or OT Reiff if he drops.

B) SS Barron is next on our list.  We wait on WR, and look DE or OLB if the names above are gone.

19.              Chicago

Intel: It’s a new draft team, so they may tip their hand closer to draft day and after we publish this report.  CB is a good guess, although a sleeper guess is DE Perry.  The only other area that really makes sense is OL.  The long shot here is WR Wright.

US:  A) Consider a small trade back.  Teams wanting this pick would clearly consider a top CB as well as perhaps a DE with pass rush skill or even a QB.  We need more picks.

B) Stay and draft an OL draft dropper, or take Kirkpatrick or Gilmore.

20.              Tennessee

Intel: Once thought to be DE, we think they are looking hard at DB.  They too have a new GM, so more information will slip through to us nearer to the draft.

US:  A) Our #1 need is CB.  Draft Gilmore or Kirkpatrick.

B) If both CB’s are gone, I draft an OLB with sack skill.  Many are available.

21.              Cincy

Intel: See Cincy at #17, above.

22.              Cleveland

Intel: With this draft team we would be shocked if we were right on the pick.  A trade would hardly surprise us, even with 13 picks.  WR, QB, and even TE are in play here, or with a trade down, but almost any position is possible.

US:  A) Shoot the draft team if they trade DOWN (violating the rule set above, pick #4)!

B) We would “consider” a move up for Tannehill if he got past KC at #11, but prefer to have added RB Richardson early and either WR Wright or an impact DL/OLB here.

23.              Detroit

Intel: They are thinking OL, DL or CB.  As Harry Hoo in Get Smart said, “Amazing”.

US:  A) Draft CB Kirkpatrick or CB Gilmore.

B) Do whatever it takes to draft CB Kirkpatrick or CB Gilmore.  If that does not happen, then the only thing we can do is repeat what we said in out 2011 NFL Draft Review.  Here it is:

As for CB, we were just informed of the real reason behind Detroit’s reluctance to EVER address this absolutely vital NFL position.  Michigan statute 25-AB179254633.2 reads as follows: It is forbidden by law for any professional football franchise in the state of Michigan to engage in the procurement of (talented) players whose sole purpose is to defend against the forward pass, which is now considered a legal maneuver in the game of professional football.  The penalty for such an action will be at a minimum 30 lashes, and at a maximum the team in question may be sentenced to playing additional games during the month of January.  Now we know!

24.              Pittsburgh

Intel: LB Hightower is getting the press, but another DL/OLB or an OL is possible.

US:  A) We’d prefer CB Gilmore or CB Kirkpatrick, even if it meant trading UP.  This team can handle the move up, just like they did a few years ago for Polamalu.

B)  Yes, we would consider DL or ILB Hightower, but a draft dropping OL would also receive strong consideration.

25.              Denver

Intel: It would be a major surprise if DL was not the choice.

US:  A) DL, DL or DL.  There is no other choice.

B)    See A), above.

26.              Houston

Intel: The intel goes in several different directions, from OL, to DE (Mercilus, similar to what Aldon Smith did for SF as a rookie) and to WR.  For now, Houston seems content to wait and see what position offers the best value.

US:  A) WR Wright or WR Randle.  Randle is a 2nd rounder on most boards, but fits this team.  He has had subpar QB’s from LSU throw to him.

B)    We would strongly prefer the WR, since we’d asked for this forever.  Just look at the    options when stud WR Johnson went down.  Our much further down the list options are OL and DL, with DT Poe not necessarily a bad fit for someone like DC Wade Phillips.

27.            New England

31.            New England

Intel: We lump these picks together.  As we’ve said countless # of times, the Pats figure to use one pick and trade out of the 1st round with the other.  The Pats love versatility and so guys like OT/OG Glenn, DE/OLB Perry and DT/DE Reyes are possibilities.  Only Reyes is receiving attention thus far.  OLB/DE McClellin may fit.  We see them looking for a lower level CB and a versatile Safety after the 1st round.

US:  A) Trade UP!  Get impact!  Give us any one of CB Gilmore, CB Kirkpatrick, DE/OLB Ingram, or an Alabama LB.

B) Keep BOTH picks.  We have zero interest in trading out of the round.  These are the positions and players on our draft board at 27/31: OG Glenn, with OT Martin lower on our list.  DE/OLB Curry, DT Brockers, Still, or maybe a couple of others.  We won’t see a CB at 27/31, so that need has to be addressed twice later on.  Their two picks in the 2nd round must include a CB, and should include WR Randle or similar or NT Chapman.  That is how we would approach this draft.

28.            Green Bay

Intel: DE/OLB is the area that they want to address.  I am hearing the name of Safety Harrison Smith an awful lot as well.

US:  A) Have GM Ted Thompson sign a document IN BLOOD that says he will exit this      draft with no more than seven or eight picks (they have 12).  They could trade back ONLY if the bounty includes a 1st round pick in ’13 or possibly a 2nd round pick from a perceived “poor” team.  Signing this frees us to move UP in the draft, and we consider that in the 1st round for players such as CB Kirkpatrick or CB Gilmore, and yes, maybe a sack specialist.

B) If “forced” to stay at #28, we pick a DE with run stopping ability, or a sack specialist who has dropped or an OL who has dropped.  But we must get two CB’s     later, and trade up to ensure they are highly rated ones (Josh Robinson preferred).

29.            Baltimore

Intel: Most say it is a done deal for OC Konz.  We disagree.  We see them taking a draft dropper for value, trading slightly back, or to a lesser extent, slightly up if value exists.

US:  A) OG and 1-2 LB’s represent our top needs.  A draft dropping LB will be available.

B) Trade UP for DeCastro or the CB’s we have listed throughout this report.  Baltimore is so close, and can go for impact.

30            San Francisco

Intel: OL and WR are possibilities, but this secretive draft team could easily surprise.

US:  A) While WR and DL are needs, we get the WR later, and to get an impact DL we would have to trade up.  We look at OL 1st (too many sacks allowed) and DL 2nd.

B) Have a long discussion with Harbaugh about CB and include troubled CB Jenkins in the mix.  Trading up is an option for the top CB’s or DeCastro, or maybe take OC Konz?

31.           New England

Intel: See New England at #27, above.

32.           NYG

Intel: Hopefully not TE.  They have injuries that won’t heal soon, but what would they do with five TE’s in 2013?  They will lose DL/OLB after 2012 so this could be the target area.

US:  A) There is no need to switch from their best player available approach.  OL, DB and even the front seven on D are all in play.

B) If not satisfied, a RB fits perfectly in this spot.

The 2012 NFL Schedules came out on April 17th.  This report takes a quick look at what each team’s schedule looks like.  Some interesting games will be noted, along with comments about the pace of the schedule, trap games, etc.   We go in alpha order.  This is part two – Part one, showcasing the first 16 teams was posted earlier today.

NOTE: Pre-draft Power ratings have been assigned.  Schedule difficulty has NOT been determined.  Sometime in May-June, after the draft has long been completed we will assign Post-draft Power ratings.  At that time we will compute the schedule difficulty for each team, obviously based on the opponents each team will face and their Power #’s, which are not based on the win-loss record of a year ago.  The post-draft ratings and schedule difficulty will remain in place until after week #3 of the pre-season.  At that time we will finalize our opening 2012 seasonal Power #’s and schedule difficulty.

MIAMI :

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Miami and their new staff have an interesting schedule.  They open at Houston and then host Oakland and their new staff.  Next they host the NYJ.  Ex-HC Sparano is now the Jet’s OC and he brings Tebow and the Wildcat formation back with him.  Games at Arizona and Cincy won’t be easy although this team clearly has defensive talent.  Hosting STL before the bye should be interesting as it brings Jeff Fisher to town.  He turned down the coaching offer!  The game after the bye at the NYJ is favorable, with the Jets off a game at New England.  Miami’s prime time game is 11/15 at Buffalo.  December is not easy, but Miami may get to face ex-QB Henne when the Jags visit on 12/16.  Under “normal” circumstances this would be a team on the rise in our eyes.  They have a + point ratio and a -9 fumble ratio that could be corrected.  They actually closed ’11 with a Power # of 26.5, and had 28 potential.  For now we have them at 25, but will be curious to see how the draft goes and what August looks like.  Maybe they can have some hidden +’s, but will the new staff be ready to go?

MINNESOTA:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The ’12 schedule gives Minny a shot at a confidence building 2-0 start with games vs., Jacksonville and their new coach and at Indy and their new coach.  Week three sees Minny and LB coach Singletary hosting his former SF team.  That could be highly interesting.  Games 5-10 are before the bye and read Tennessee, at Washington, Arizona, Tampa (SNF), at Seattle and hosting Detroit.  If Peterson is healthy and if Ponder can improve perhaps Minny makes a little bit of noise with this schedule.  Remember, the Vikings open ’12 with a + point ratio.  Games 11-16 are far tougher, with road games vs. Chicago, GB, STL and Houston and home games vs. Chicago and GB.  What we don’t like is the defensive coaching staff and that awful pass D%.  The Power # could rise, but for now we have it at 20.

NEW ENGLAND:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: By record the Pats have the NFL’s easiest schedule.  They open with three of four on the road (Tennessee, Baltimore in playoff revenge and Buffalo) so a fast start is not a guarantee.  They play just three teams who had winning records in ’11.  After Baltimore, it’s not until games 13 and 14 (Houston, at SF) that the Pats face winning teams.  Game #8 is in London vs. STL and is technically a road game for New England, giving them just seven true road games.  WR Manningham helped win the Super Bowl for the NYG and the Pats will see him and fellow ex-NYG Jacobs when they host SF.  New England’s only “trap” game may be the week after that when they travel to Jacksonville.  No team on their schedule will have a bye week prior to facing the Pats!  We will start New England with the 2nd highest Power # (31) and could move it up if they actually stick around in the early part of the NFL draft and take highly rated players instead of trading back as usual.

NEW ORLEANS:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: New Orleans will be challenged in ’12 thanks to coach and probable player suspensions but the schedule they were given is somewhat generous!  Games 1-3 are vs. Washington and a potential rookie QB, at Carolina and home to KC.  They play on SNF 10/7 vs. San Diego, meaning it’s Brees vs. Rivers, with ex-Charger Sproles also in the mix.  Games 7-13 are a bit trickier then people might think, and that is where New Orleans will either make or miss the playoffs.  It starts at Tampa and at Denver, with Denver having an enormous situational plus.  It continues with great road team Philly coming to town on MNF, followed by rival Atlanta with the Saints having one less day of preparation time.  The Saints must avoid a letdown heading to Oakland before facing a determined SF team, and later traveling to Atlanta and to the NYG.  Games 14-16 are easier but will it matter?  Will the upgrade at DC and team personnel trump all the turmoil?  We start the Saints at a Power # of 30, of course pending who will be suspended in the opening week and month of the season.

NYG:             

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: According to those who compute schedule strength just by won-loss records from the previous year, the NYG are the 1st Super Bowl winning team to come back the next year with the NFL’s toughest schedule.  Once we do our post-draft Power #’s we will see where they are on our list, but suffice to say that games vs. the AFC Central and the NFC South will be challenging.  Don’t forget that SF’s 1st place schedule also means revenge games for Green Bay and SF.  Still, games 1-5 are not bad, with the opener vs. Dallas, a Thursday game at Carolina, and extra time to prepare for the road affair at Philly.  When they visit SF the Giants will meet up with former teammates Jacobs and Manningham.  When they travel to Cincinnati on 11/11 they will bring ex-Bengal Keith Rivers with them.  The bye week is late, but at least when they host revenge-minded Green Bay they will have the extra time and the Packers will be off a road game at Detroit.  Perhaps the savvy Gaints survive all this, but the December slate is not conducive to a fast finish.  It reads at Washington on MNF, a short week before hosting New Orleans, at revenge-minded Atlanta, at Baltimore and home to Philly.  The Giants are a solid team that finished with a Power # of 28 after the ’11 regular season.  We’ll move it up now to 29.

NYJ:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The Jets had a + point ratio going for them in ’10, but the double digit turnover ratio angle was a negative last year.  There are no angles to report now, but the pre-bye schedule (weeks 1-8) could be a killer!  We’ll know early what Mark Sanchez’s confidence level will be after facing four of the top six point defenses from a year ago, back-to-back-to back-to back!  OUCH!  This happens in games 2-5, at Pittsburgh, at Miami, home to SF and home to Houston.  Week #7 is at New England and week #8 is home to Miami.  The Jets are awful past and present as a HF and Miami will be off a bye.  The schedule lightens up after the bye but still features five road games (two are back-to-back) and tough home games vs. New England on SNF and San Diego, also on SNF.  Do the Jets need to be a better team to mange this schedule?  The answer seems to be yes.  Our starting Power # is 27, but given the early schedule we may not keep it there come opening day.

OAKLAND:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Oakland once again opens the season by playing in the nightcap of the opening week MNF doubleheader.  Last year they snapped a string of eight opening day losses.  The staff is new and must come out ready to roll not only playing SD, but with the short week going to Miami, the host of veteran Pittsburgh and the trip to Denver.  These games will not be easy so having the bye after the 4th game is a good chance for the new staff to regroup.  Games at Atlanta, KC and Baltimore will be tough, and the game hosting a probably fully stocked New Orleans team in week 11 will be tough as well.  Traveling to Cincy will be pressure packed and full of emotion for former Cincy QB Palmer and former Oakland HC Jackson.  Oakland gets three home games in a row after that but must be careful not to have an immediate letdown.  The final two games are at Carolina and SD.  With a – point ratio and a new staff once again we don’t have high expectations for ’12.  Oakland is barely participating in this draft as it is.  After ending ’11 with a Power # of 24.5 we start them now at 23.

PHILLY:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Philly continues to have a knack for winning the tough games and letting down in easier games.  This year their mantra should be to strive for greater consistency.  They have situational plusses opening at Cleveland, but situational minuses next, hosting Baltimore.  The last time they visited Arizona they were upset in the NFC Championship game.  Andy Reid is 13-0 SU off a bye and they face Atlanta this year in that scenario.  New Orleans is a solid team but the Eagles are amazing as a road dog, and 10-5 ATS as a MNF road dog.  Maybe that translates into a SU win.  They are strong at home on MNF and face Carolina at home week 12.  An interesting December game is hosting Cincy on a Thursday night.  Cincy is 7-3-1 SU in the series.  You ask about the tie?  That was the game QB McNabb found out NFL games can end in a tie!  Closing games are in Division vs. Washington and at the NYG.  Expectations should be high for the Eagles in ’12, with player continuity, a + point ratio, and an easy opportunity to erase a -14 turnover ratio.  The Power # starts at 30.

PITTSBURGH:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Pittsburgh has a tough 1st six games, four of which are on the road.  They have trouble in road openers but do have overtime playoff revenge at Denver.  They struggle as a road favorite in October and must play at Cincy and Tennessee, both in prime time!  The battle vs. Philly is always tough.  This is an older team that has to play 13 games in a row beginning 10/7, so watch for late fatigue.  Games 8-12 are highly interesting.  They go to the NYG, face KC on MNF with former HC Haley now the Steeler’s OC, face Baltimore with one less day of focus, and have a trap game at Cleveland right between Baltimore games.  December continues tough with a host of SD and a trip to Dallas, but the closing games are home to Cincy and Cleveland.  We’ll start Pittsburgh with a Power # of 29, watching the OC transition and the new faces on defense.

SAN DIEGO:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: San Diego’s schedule is fair and at 1st glance, nicely paced.  They open at Oakland on MNF, and then host Tennessee, a team they’ve easily handled the last twenty years.  QB Rivers likes revenge games and he gets them week four at KC and week six at Denver.  Between those games the Chargers must travel to New Orleans and face old teammates Brees and Sproles.  Games 6-9 after the bye are manageable, with SD taking a trip to Tampa where Vincent Jackson now resides.  A three game stretch vs. physical Baltimore, home to Cincy and at Pittsburgh won’t be easy, and in fact SD has lost their last 14 regular season games at Pittsburgh.  SD closes at the physical NYJ and home to Oakland.  We’re used to setting Power #’s here around 30 but SD has regressed from that level.  Still, as the only AFC West team heading into the ’12 season without a – point ratio we are going to give them the top Divisional #, right now at 27.

ST LOUIS:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The Rams have started awfully slow lately but Jeff Fisher gets a September schedule that offers some hope.  Games 1-6 are at Detroit, Washington (new QB), at Chicago, Seattle, Arizona, and at Miami (new staff).  QB Bradford is healthy and in year #3 so maybe they can get to at least 3-3.  Unfortunately, the Rams wanted so badly to play in London that they gave up a home game this year and will return to London in the future.  The 2nd half of the schedule is tougher.  Games 9-12 include a pair with SF along with a trip to play the Jets.  Games 13-16 feature three road games,  STL finished LAST with a Power # of 14.5 (circled, with Bradford out) in ’11.  We have them 27th as of now, with a pre-draft Power # of 21.

SAN FRANCISCO:            

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: SF’s schedule has its good and bad points.  The good is that after playing at the NYJ on 9/30 the 49ers have just one more road game before 11/25.  Most of these five home games have situational plusses, and all except the revenge game vs. the NYG are against non-playoff teams from ’11.  The road game is also winnable, at Arizona.  The bad is playing a tough 1st four games, playing four of five road games between weeks 11-15, and the overall schedule difficulty increase.  Games 1-4 are at GB, home to Harbaugh’s head coaching “friend” in Detroit, at Minny, where Mike Singletary now resides as LB coach, and at the NYJ.  Games 11-15 include a pair of back-to-back road trips.  The 1st pair starts at New Orleans in an emotional game and then they need to regroup at STL.  The 2nd pair sees them on the east coast at NE and then back on the west coast at Seattle.  Playing the AFC East, NFC North, New Orleans and the NYG makes this a tougher task than in ’11.  SF also has five prime time games.  The Power # is currently set at 29, still clearly higher than their Divisional foes.

SEATTLE:               

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Seattle’s schedule isn’t bad, but the 1st half of the schedule is definitely tougher than the 2nd half.  Not one of these games is a guaranteed win, so Seattle better be ready at QB, WR and with special team play.  They host GB on MNF, meaning ex-Packer Flynn may be facing his old teammates.  The short week may hurt them, traveling to STL off this emotional game.  They are 0-2 at improved Carolina and after that play in succession New England, at SF and at Detroit.  This almost looks like a 2-6 start!  Three of the 1st four games after the week 11 bye are on the road, but maybe only the game at Chicago will be a cold weather affair since the Buffalo game is in Toronto and they have a closeable roof.  Should Seattle still be in the wildcard and/or Divisional race, getting home games vs. SF and STL to close out the season is a good thing.  Again, like most teams with QB uncertainty, the Power # is a bit lower.  23 is our #, and the early schedule will test it.

TAMPA BAY:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Tampa has a new coach, and being from the college ranks we tend to feel a greater adjustment time may be necessary.  The team looks improved and certainly underachieved in ’11 so the potential for improvement is there.  The September schedule is not an easy one for a new staff, with games 2-4 at the NYG, at Dallas, and vs. their former coach Morris, now on the staff at Washington.  New coaches need an earlier bye week, so the week five bye is a good thing.  The rest of the schedule is fairly manageable.  The roughest stretch starts 11/18 at Carolina, but even that game has been winnable in the past.  Games after that include Atlanta, at Denver in possibly their only cold weather game, home to Philly and at New Orleans.  We’re setting a Power # of just 19 thus far, but so much needs to be deciphered before the real games start.  Plusses include free agency gains and a shot to fix a -16 turnover ratio, especially with a HC who had a string of + turnover ratios in college.  Minuses include a – point ratio (so they were even worse than their 4-12 record), and an adjustment time for the new staff, especially with a somewhat tricky early schedule.

TENNESSEEE

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Tennessee has one of the toughest opening schedules for ’12.  They host three playoff teams (New England, Detroit, and Pittsburgh) and travel to four sites (SD, Houston, Minny and Buffalo) where they may just go about 1-3.  If they come away 3-4 after this the Titans could easily make a playoff push.  They will still have five Divisional games left, have a bye between their only back-to-back road games, and face just one team (at GB) that realistically would factor in the loss column.  Indy and Jacksonville have new staffs and the Titans play four games vs. these opponents as part of their final nine games.  There’s hope, IF they can get through the early schedule.  The Titans are an incomplete team but maybe with more upside at QB as compared to Power rated teams in the 23 range.  We are looking at 25 (average) as a start.

WASHINGTON:     

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: How will Mike Shanahan handle his young QB and RB’s this year?  Washington must play three of its first four games on the road, with game #4 at Tampa, where current DB coach Morris was the head guy last year.  Their 1st Divisional game is not until week seven, at the NYG.  The Giants won’t take the Redskins lightly after going 0-2 vs. Washington.  Both were double digit losses!  The bye is late, at week 10.  Whatever the record is, the schedule-maker has done Washington a small favor, scheduling five of their six Divisional games in weeks 10-16.  This means the Redskins should stay motivated all season long.  The team looks improved and even with a new QB has a chance to make inroads toward fixing their -14 turnover ratio, but winning the close games requires strong 4thquarter coaching adjustments plus clutch field goal kicking and this team suffers in both areas.  The Power # is the Power # is set at 23, with any adjustments to be made after August.

The 2012 NFL Schedules came out on April 17th.  This report takes a quick look at what each team’s schedule looks like.  Some interesting games will be noted, along with comments about the pace of the schedule, trap games, etc.   We go in alpha order.  This is part one – Part two will showcase the final 16 teams, and will be available later today.

NOTE: Pre-draft Power ratings have been assigned.  Schedule difficulty has NOT been determined.  Sometime in May-June, after the draft has long been completed we will assign Post-draft Power ratings.  At that time we will compute the schedule difficulty for each team, obviously based on the opponents each team will face and their Power #’s, which are not based on the win-loss record of a year ago.  The post-draft ratings and schedule difficulty will remain in place until after week #3 of the pre-season.  At that time we will finalize our opening 2012 seasonal Power #’s and schedule difficulty.

ARIZONA:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Arizona plays the AFC East and NFC Central this season.  They open hosting Seattle and may need to win this one (6-16 SU in home openers) with games at NE and vs. Philly next.  Former Eagle QB Kolb missed the win vs. Philly last year.  Minny and Arizona have played six times in the last seven years.  Arizona has had a poor record in that stadium.  Games 7-16 are difficult.  The bye is in week 10, but the Cards might have to fight to be 5-4 by this time.  Arizona has a tentative Power # of 23 for now, typical of teams with some talent but with QB inconsistency (league average 25.3).  Reducing their -13 turnover ratio would go a long way to making that Power rating stand up or even improving.

ATLANTA;

A FIRST LOOK PRE-DRAFT AT THE 2012 SEASON: Atlanta’s unique schedule features alternating road and home games!  They open with at KC, with TE Gonzalez visiting his old home.  They host Peyton Manning and Denver on MNF and then have to travel to SD with a short week.  They have some tough games following the week seven bye, and must avoid a letdown vs. a well rested Arizona team week 11.  They have 24-2 playoff revenge hosting the NYG on 12/16.  We show Atlanta with a solid 29 Power #.  To move into the more elite group the Falcons need to have a strong defensive draft and play better on the pass D.

BALTIMORE:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Baltimore has been a playoff fixture for years and the NFL knows that.  The Ravens play three of their 1st four games in prime time, two in Division and one being AFC Championship revenge vs. New England.  Games five and six interest us because they have to avoid a letdown at KC and then host a Dallas team with two weeks of rest.  Add in game #7, with Houston hosting Baltimore with playoff revenge as well and one can see ’12 may be a bit tricky.  There’s very little time between games vs. Pittsburgh, the most physical rivalry in the NFL.  The sandwich west coast game at SD and the beltway game at Washington could represent additional letdown situations.  Baltimore hosts the Manning brothers weeks 15 and 16 before closing at Cincy, just like they did in ’11.  At 1st glance, this schedule is not good.  We have the Ravens starting at a Power # of 30, pre-draft.  All ratings are finalized in early September.  This one could actually go down, especially considering the fact that DC Pees is not one of our favorites!

BUFFALO:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2011 SEASON: Buffalo started fast in ’11 before fading.  A good start in ’12 might be sustainable thanks to what looks like a winnable slate of December games, beginning with three straight at home vs. non-playoff teams Jacksonville, STL and Seattle.  Overall, Buffalo plays five of their final seven at home and all seven games are vs. teams who did not make the ’11 playoffs!  Mario Williams and Buffalo travel to face his old Houston team 11/4.  Buffalo looks improved but if still error prone at QB then even the “easy” games won’t be automatic wins.  We have them with a Power # of 24.

CAROLINA:            

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2011 SEASON: Year two for Ron Rivera and Cam Newton begins with the Panthers playing Divisional opponents three times in September.  Going 2-1 in these games and at least 3-2 before the bye would propel them to serious playoff contender.  They’ll host Dallas right after the bye and the Cowboys will be off an intense game at Baltimore.  Ron Rivera was a DC for a number of years in Chicago.  His Carolina team lost at Chicago 34-29 last year.  Conversely, ex-Panther HC Fox brings Denver into Carolina on 11/11.  Not everyone was sad to see Fox gone.  Carolina plays one MNF game, at Philly.  They will have a short week before staying on the road to face KC.  December features games with Divisional playoff teams Atlanta and New Orleans, but also finds Rivera returning to SD where he was a (successful) DC just prior to obtaining this job.  Carolina is the trendy team to pick as much improved, and with a + point ratio they may deliver.  We have them with a Power # of 25 but might consider moving that # up if the draft produces some ready to go talent.  Hopefully their special team play will improve.

CHICAGO:              

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The biggest challenge to Chicago’s ’12 schedule is dealing with a NFL high three MNF games.  Their overall record on MNF is dismal, but comes in around 50% the past decade.  Chicago is 16-3 SU in home openers and gets a brand new Indy team to open the season.  A key game is 10/7 at Jacksonville.  This is a winnable game but comes with a short week and is the 2nd of back-to-back road games.  Their other MNF road game is at dangerous SF.  This game is followed by a host of Minnesota, who will have two weeks to prepare.  Chicago must handle these challenges if they want to return to the playoffs.  They close on the road at Arizona and Detroit and have to hope they don’t need a sweep to make a playoff entrance.  The team appears a bit better (and healthier) as of now so our current Power # is 26.

CINCINNATI:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Cincy seldom makes the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.  If they want to make the playoffs in ’12 a fast start is imperative.  Games 2-6 are hosting Cleveland, at Washington, at Jacksonville, hosting Miami and at Cleveland.  These four teams combined to go 20-44 in ’11!  Games 7-9 are all at home, with a bye week thrown in.  Cincy faces the AFC West four times in weeks 9-13.  The schedule is not easy in the middle but all these home games helps to put them on at least equal footing.  LB Rivers and Cincy host the NYG week 10.  CB Newman and Cincy host Dallas week 14.  These affairs pale in comparison to the return of Carson Palmer (and Oakland) on 11/25.  Palmer himself vowed that he would “never set foot” in Paul Brown stadium again.  Adding to the drama is Oakland’s old HC, Hue Jackson is with Cincy now.  That should be fun.  Cincy’s final five games are the toughest, beginning with a possible letdown trip to SD week #13, before closing December hosting Dallas, at Philly and Pittsburgh and hosting Baltimore.  Cincy closed ’11 with a Power # of 24 and that is where we open ’12, although the Bengals, with choices 17 and 21 could see that # move up before September.

CLEVELAND:        

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Those in the media say that Cleveland has the toughest ’12 schedule of all the non-playoff teams from a year ago, based on record.  We base our schedule difficulty on each opponent’s Power #, and will tabulate that closer to the start of the ’12 season.  Cleveland does have to face tough Divisional rivals and face the NFC East, but also gets a break in facing the AFC West.  This will be the 13th time in the past 14 years that the Browns open the season at home.  Unfortunately, they are 1-11 in those games.  They finish playing rivals Cincy and Baltimore before their week 10 bye.  They travel to Dallas off the bye, hoping to catch the Cowboys napping after playing at Philly the week before.  RB Hillis, HC Crennel and OC Daball all used to be with Cleveland.  They return to Cleveland 12/9 as part of the KC Chiefs.  Cleveland closes at Denver and at Pittsburgh.  Local writers can’t find many wins for the Browns.  We have them currently with a Power # of 20.

DALLAS:                 

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: At 1st glance the schedule is not unreasonable but Dallas does have to beware of some letdown situations.  NFL 2012 begins on a Wednesday, with the Cowboys traveling to the Super Bowl champion NYG.  Had Dallas won once vs. the NYG last year these Giants would not have even made the playoffs!  They have plenty of time before heading to Seattle week two.  When last there, Tony Romo was seen fumbling a snap that led to a playoff loss.  They play at Baltimore after the bye week, and are 0-3 lifetime vs. the Ravens.  They stay on the road to face Cam Newton and Carolina, and the Panthers will be off a bye week.  Playing at Atlanta and at Philly after hosting the NYG won’t be easy.  Playing Cleveland with the Browns off a bye week could result in an upset with a letdown clearly possible.  The December schedule is tricky (Philly, at Cincy, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, at Washington).  Dallas lost five games they led in the 4th quarter last year.  That must stop.  We list them with a Power # of 28, about 10th or 11th thus far in the pecking order.

DENVER:                

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Denver enters ’12 with a – point ratio, meaning they were more like 6-10 and not 8-8.  Couple that with a 1st place schedule and games vs. the tough NFC South and AFC Central and this could be a disaster.  Honestly, if Peyton Manning was NOT here this would be last place material!  The good news is a likely fix of the fumble ratio (saving them points) and a decent DC (Del Rio).  Pittsburgh has playoff revenge on SNF in the opener.  Denver has a pair of MNF games and must reverse their poor track record in these games.  They have excellent trends off a bye week and may need to grab that 10/28 win vs. New Orleans to offset the schedule bump.  HC John Fox returns to Carolina week 10.  December looks manageable but these Broncos have to again reverse poor records in their last road game and last home game.  This is by far the toughest team to set a Power # on!  Setting them at an average # of 25 makes them the BEST in the AFC West, but their schedule is likely the toughest of the group.  We’ll certainly need to use the preseason to make a full team assessment.

DETROIT:               

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: The Lions have an interesting schedule path in ’12.  They have a quartet of back-to-back road games and have a total of just three home games before Thanksgiving.  Is this team solid enough (especially on defense) to handle any of the back end road games?  Game #2 is at SF, where “coaches hand shake gate” takes center stage.  That could lead to a letdown at Tennessee.  They travel to Chicago right after playing at Philly and the Bears will be off a bye week.  On the plus side, the week eight game hosting Seattle could be a chance for the Lions to gain revenge vs. new Seahawk QB Flynn, who torched them for 480 yards last year.  The Lions stay home weeks 11-13, and hope to gain their 1st Turkey Day win since ’03 when they host Houston.  The 4th and last set of back-to-back road games is at GB, followed by at Arizona.  That’s hard, especially since the Lions are not that good historically after playing the rival Packers.  They’ll be happy if the week 17 game hosing Chicago is for a playoff berth (good last home game history).  We are looking at a solid 28 Power # opening.  What has us worried is the schedule, the pass D%, and the +11 turnover ratio which is probably going to be hard to replicate.

GREEN BAY:         

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: GB is one of just two teams to play three consecutive road games in ’12.  Those games are in October and are at Indy, Houston and STL.  The bye comes after hosting Jacksonville and Arizona, meaning GB has a nice stretch of winnable games.  Considering that games 1-4 are vs. SF (13-1 SU last 14), vs. Chicago, at Flynn and Seattle, and vs. New Orleans (with Haley, Vitt and probably a few suspended players not there), it sure seems like the Packers will get off to a roaring start.  Five of their final seven games are inside the Division, with a week 12 game at the NYG showing playoff revenge, but also finding the NYG off a bye week.  Can the Packers continue to produce double digit + turnover ratios?  We’re giving them a tentative Power # of 33 (#1 in the NFL), but might lower it before the season starts

HOUSTON:              

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Will Houston be able to handle the prime time bump in the schedule?  They’ll be in the spotlight five times, but just once at home!  They draw the AFC East and NFC Central, plus 1st place Baltimore this season.  September is manageable.  October starts on MNF at the NYJ, followed by three straight at home, but a short week to host GB.  They play Buffalo the week following the bye, a game which ex-Texan Mario Williams called “judgment day”.  They, like GB have three straight on the road, but at least the 1st one is on Thanksgiving, giving them extra time before moving on to Tennessee and New England.  If Houston proves they can handle all of this then there is good news at the end of the year, with games 14-16 vs. Indy twice, and Minnesota.  They have the + point ratio which indicates value, but the roster is weaker.  For now we are at a conservative Power # of 27, but perhaps that # will rise before the season starts.

INDY (22, 53, 87):

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Each team now has at least one prime time game thanks to the expanded Thursday night schedule.  The Colts will be at Jacksonville week 10 on Thursday night, but unfortunately it will be in a slightly negative situational spot.  Indy’s September schedule is fair, featuring games vs. 3 non-playoff teams.  That is a hopeful sign for any new staff, as is the early bye week so that adjustments can be made.  All Sunday games kick off at 1:00 PM!  This is the 10th straight season and 13th game in 10 years that Indy will play New England.  We’ll be interested to see how the new management drafts and if the new staff can coach.  The roster purge is amazing.  Indy starts out with our lowest Power #, 16.

JACKSONVILLE:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Like the Colts, this new coaching staff gets a chance to win some early games.  Games before the (nice) early bye week are at Minny, Houston, at Indy, Cincy and Chicago.  Game six is at Oakland, but these Jags have two weeks to prepare while the Raiders will have had an east coast road game (Atlanta).  Compared to the double whammy of ’11 (- point ratio, difficult schedule) this gives QB Gabbert a shot at improvement, OR, it gives Chad Henne a shot to get some wins.  We applaud the NFL for perhaps the fairest schedule rollout we’ve seen, both in rhythm and with respect to most of the new coaches.  Speaking of Henne, will he be the starter when the Jags go to Miami week 15?  December is their toughest month, but perhaps early success can translate into late season opportunity.  The Power # starts at just 19 however.

KANSAS CITY:

A FIRST LOOK AT THE 2012 SEASON: Interim HC Crennel got the full time job, but unlike Indy and Jacksonville this early schedule is not conducive to winning early.  Weeks 1-5 are hosting Atlanta, at Buffalo, at New Orleans, hosting SD and hosting Baltimore.  A win in any of these games (Berry a score to settle vs. Bills, Saints with suspensions, SD September issues) is possible, but the likelihood of about 2-3 to start is far more probable than a 3-2 start.  KC’s job is to avoid September disaster.  On week 10 they travel to Pittsburgh for a MNF game vs. old HC now Pitt OC Haley.  Games 10-12 are all at home, against Cincy, Denver and Carolina.  These games could go either way!  The final four games are vs. teams 8-8 or worse, but three of the four are on the road.  KC was hit with key injuries EARLY in ’11 but they must overcome a – point ratio and have a very conservative HC in Crennel.  Teams with KC’s Power # (23) have QB inconsistency.  Cassell is a marginal NFL starter.

Today’s blog will reach into the mailbag and answer a few questions related to the NFL Draft.

NOTE: There may be time for one more mailbag closer to the draft.  Submit your questions to ronace2477@aol.com and I will make every effort to respond either in a future blog or via e-mail.

 

Question from Joey P:  What players are rising on draft boards?  Falling?

With most NFL teams having set their draft boards, the risers and fallers look like this:

Rising: QB Weeden, WR Hill (remember, not all teams need to like him, but enough do to put him back in the 1st round), OG Zeitler, OG Silatolu (Midwestern State), DE/OLB McClellin, CB Norman.

Falling (again, it only takes one team to love a draft pick and end the fall): QB Cousins, TE Charles, DE Perry, CB Jenkins (No. Alabama).

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Question from Fast Eddie: Give me a sleeper player to look at at each position, a guy who will easily outperform where he is drafted.

Interesting question.  Not all positions are created equal, so I may list more than one at WR for example.  Here’s what I have:

QB: None come to mind, as I am not high on the QB crop after the top 2, but I’m rooting hard for Boise QB Moore, who has all the intangibles.

RB: Robert Turpin as a two-down back and Florida’s Chris Rainey as a 3rd down pass catching back and return specialist.

WR: Broyles will give a team future value.  Deep sleepers I like are Brazill from Ohio U and Jordan White from W. Michigan

TE: Missouri’s Egnew was highly productive in college.

OL: At tackle, FSU’s Datko has upside, at OG, I can’t pick Silatolu as he’s no longer a secret but the versatile Nate Potter can start in the NFL.

DE: I like Jared Crick and Vinny Curry if they get drafted by the right teams

DT: Josh Chapman is hurt but the former Alabama player has the skill set to out-perform his draft grade.

LB: None readily come to mind, but watch deep sleeper DeMario Davis from Arkansas St.  He is fast and strong, did well on the field and in drills and can play OLB or ILB.

CB: Coastal Carolina’s Josh Norman in the mid-rounds and I’m taking a hard look at very deep sleeper Asa Jackson of Cal Poly.

Safety: Not a particularly strong position this draft.  Keep your eyes on SJ St’s Duke Ihenacho and Wisconsin’s Aaron Henry.

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Question from Paul 7666: What do you see the New York Giants doing at the end of the 1st round?

The Giants usually go for the best player available, and that technique has served them well.  Last year they got a CB who dropped (Amukamara) and a DT at #52 (Austin) who I had in my top 30-35.  Both got hurt but have a chance to be really fine players.  If they find a draft dropping DL they may go in that direction.  The same is true if one of the OL fall.  If value is not available at either position I see them taking a RB at #32, perhaps Doug Martin or David Wilson.

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Question from anonymous: What shocking story could happen on Thursday’s first day of the draft?

First, could we see WR Floyd drafted ahead of Blackmon?  Second, what about Tannehill NOT being selected by Miami, where his college coach is now the offensive coordinator, putting either KC or Cleveland back in the mix (sorry, not Seattle).  Third, a player like OT Martin or OG Glenn gets selected AFTER Center Konz.. 4th, could ILB Kuechly fall out of the top part of the draft?

Now, what would be the story I most want to see?  Here it is: As Cincy GM, I would take one of our 1st round choices and sign Pittsburgh WR Wallace away from Pittsburgh.  Cincy has PLENTY of cap space.  They would instantly improve at WR while stealing talent from a key Divisional rival and STILL have a #1 choice.  They won’t do it!

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Question from anonymous: What blockbuster trades might happen on Thursday? (1st round)

I wrote an earlier blog which can we read right on my blog site about each teams’ trade likelihood.  As I see it, Jacksonville and Carolina are in prime trading spots, and teams like Philly, San Diego and maybe the Jets might move up to those spots.  Denver or Pittsburgh are longer shots to move up.  Could Jacksonville shock us all and move UP in the draft?

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Final question, again anonymous: What team or teams do you see making a big mistake in the first round of the draft?  What player or players will be drafted early that should not be drafted early?

Regarding teams, I am always skeptical of what Jacksonville may do, and worry that San Diego will over trade or reach for a diamond in the rough.  Both teams will do this later in the draft but hopefully not this early.

Mistakes are made when a team reaches for a player that does not fit their team scheme or could have been drafted 20 or so picks later.  I would not take Ryan Tannehill in the top 10, but do think he has 1st round value because of the position he plays and the new more friendly NFL rookie wage scale.   I would not take Dontari Poe in the top part of the draft because there has been no on-field production, and he played in Conference USA where he should have been more dominant.  Perhaps he fits at #16 to the Jets but I’m not sure he fits before that.  “Insiders” such as Peter King have people believing OG Zeitler goes #24 to Pittsburgh, QB Weeden goes in the 1st round and Safety Harrison Smith also sneaks into the 1st round.  All three of these prospects fit in the 2nd round for me.

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Got a draft question.  E-mail it to me at ronace2477@aol.com.