NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With the 2012 NFL Draft officially in the books, months and months of preparation and speculation are behind us. Today, I wrap up the 2012 Draft with what stood out to me about the three day draft.
What did I like about the draft? What teams draft impressed me? What teams had a poor draft? I discuss all that and a lot more in this week’s 15 Thoughts.
1. I thought Minnesota Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman played his hand perfectly while holding the #3 pick in the draft. The player he wanted all along was USC OT Matt Kalil, who was the right choice in my opinion.
Spielman held his cards close to his chest and let it leak out that he really liked Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne, which left the teams directly behind the Vikings in a precarious situation. On draft day, Spielman was able to play the Cleveland Browns and their desire to draft Alabama RB Trent Richardson against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Spielman was able to get the Browns to think Tampa Bay was going to be moving up to the 3rd pick and were going to steal Richardson from the Browns.
After losing out on RG3, Browns President Mike Holmgren couldn’t afford to lose Richardson and Spielman knew it. Ultimately, the Browns ended up giving up 4th, 5th and 7th round pick to switch spots with the Vikings. The Vikings were still able to get the player they wanted and who knows if Tampa Bay was ever going to move up to #3. Spielman sure made it seem they were and the Vikings got three extra picks because of it.
2. The Cowboys moving up to get Morris Claiborne was a bold more and I can’t fault them for that. Giving up a 2nd round pick to move up eight spots and get the top defensive back in the draft is worth it. The Cowboys had major holes in the secondary entering the off-season and have now added Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to the cornerback ranks. That is no doubt an upgrade over Terrence Newman.
After the Claiborne selection though, I am not sure how much the Cowboys really helped themselves in this year’s draft. The safety position was an even bigger problem than corner back and they only added Brodney Pool (who is terrible) and then draft Eastern Washington’s Matt Johnson in the 4th round. I don’t think that solves the problem.
Tyrone Crawford in the third round is a solid but not spectacular pick and I don’t know how they plan to use Kyle Wilber. After getting a potential star in Morris Claiborne in the first I thought the Cowboys were in position to really hit a home run in this year’s draft and each pick after that was underwhelming.
3. The Denver Broncos in my opinion had one of the more puzzling drafts in the entire league. Let’s start with Derek Wolfe. I like the fact that they traded down multiple times before taking him with pick #36, but he was nowhere near the best player on the board.
It seems to me that the Broncos had their heart set on Derek Wolfe and weren’t going to change their minds no matter who fell to them at pick #25, and that can be dangerous. Wolfe has trouble keeping weight on and isn’t quick or explosive off the ball. Wolfe may end up being a solid player, but I think it’s very unlikely that he ever becomes a star. At pick #36 it was way too early in the draft for him.
I thought the Broncos were going to focus heavily on fortifying their defense and adding a couple of receiving weapons for Peyton Manning early in the draft. After adding Wolfe to help the poor run defense they come back and take Brock Osweiler at #57. Once again I believe this is too early for Osweiler who is a developmental QB. If Peyton Manning goes down, he isn’t going to be able to step in and play. I would have liked to see them add another defensive player with that pick.
I really didn’t like them taking Ronnie Hillman in the third round either. I don’t think Hillman’s running style is conducive to the NFL. He has trouble running north and south, and likes to dance way too much behind the line of scrimmage. How is he different from Knowshon Moreno? I did like some of their day three selections, especially the picks of Omar Bolden and Philip Blake in the fourth round. However, the first, second and third rounds are where teams get immediate impacts, and I’m not sure how much impact the Broncos got.
4. I thought Tampa Bay, with Greg Schiano in his first year in the draft room, had a very solid draft, especially in the early rounds. The philosophy of the Buccaneers has seemed to change with the Buccaneers focused on drafting players who have a high football IQ, high character and players who play a “hard-nosed” brand of football. This is a departure from past years where the Bucs focused more on young, athletes who have a high ceiling, but also have some character or on the field concerns.
It was evident last season that the Buccaneers lacked leadership and passion, especially once things started going badly. By adding Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David with their first three selections, the Bucs have added three players who can play from day one, add leadership and solidify a position.
Drafting Doug Martin in round one, probably means the end for LeGarrette Blount, who can’t catch the ball, can’t pass protect and is a poor short yardage back. Martin is the most complete running back in the draft outside of Richardson and should be on the field for 80% of the carries.
Mark Barron becomes the immediate leader of the defense. Being a two time captain on a National Championship team gives Barron tremendous credibility in the locker room and not to mention a hell of a football player on the field. I don’t think there was a better fit for the Tampa Bay defense than Lavonte David. David is an undersized, but fast, smart and tough Tampa-2 backer who will be an immediate starter at one of the line-backing spots. Keith Tandy and Michael Smith in the later rounds were good value picks. A very solid first draft from top to bottom for the Greg Schiano administration.
5. Since all the Bounty-Gate talk is on while I am writing this article, I might as well talk about the Saints draft. I know it is tough to make much of an impact with out a first or second round pick, but nevertheless I wasn’t very fond of the Saints draft and don’t see much impact at all from this draft class.
In the 3rd Round the Saints took Akiem Hicks, who is a defensive tackle who originally signed with LSU, but was unable to stay eligible so had to play in Canada. One thing has stuck in my mind with Akiem Hicks. Talking with a General Manager of a CFL team at the Senior Bowl he said this about Hicks “hit motor doesn’t always run, he doesn’t play real hard and I don’t think he likes to work.”
He also told myself and fellow NEPD Writer Doug Kyed that if you play college football in Canada you should be absolutely dominate if you are an athlete of that caliber, and by watching some of Hicks tape I don’t see it.
Nick Toon is a decent wide receiver when healthy and that isn’t often. Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones are two developmental offensive linemen who aren’t very athletic or mobile. If Hicks or Toon don’t produce I believe that two-three years down the road this draft class could be a complete bust.