When the Denver Broncos signed a 36-year-old future Hall of Famer to play quarterback, everyone assumed they were gearing up for a serious run at the Super Bowl. But this draft class tells a different story.
We'll be seeing a lot of this from Osweiler.
The Broncos only landed one player, Derek Wolfe, who will compete for a starting job in 2012. They also only added one offensive weapon, Ronnie Hillman, who is nothing more than a 3rd-down back who will have to fight for carries with Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno.
But the most surprising selection was Brock Osweiler, who will be groomed as Manning’s eventually replacement. Osweiler is a nice developmental prospect, but in the late 2nd round the Broncos could have added another impact player who would actually help in their pursuit of a Super Bowl title during the Manning era.
It would be very interesting to hear Manning’s reaction to this draft class. He can’t be happy about the lack of support he’ll receive from the Broncos rookie class.
When you’re as close to a Super Bowl berth as the San Francisco 49ers were in 2011, you need to add some impact players in the draft to push you over the top. Unfortunately, the 49ers failed to add a single starter, instead settling for developmental prospects who will do little to help in 2012.
A.J. Jenkins was a reach in the late 1st-round and will take time to develop. His speed may be an asset in certain situations, but he’ll be competing with veterans Randy Moss and Ted Ginn Jr. just to get on the field.
LaMichael James was another luxury pick who will have to fight just to get on the field. He may be nothing more than a return specialist early in his career, an area which was not a need in San Francisco.
Overall, this was a disappointing draft class for a team that had an opportunity to solidify a few holes in an effort to make another deep playoff run in 2012.
The Seattle Seahawks made the reach of the draft by selecting Bruce Irvin in the 1st round, but that wasn’t the last of their poor decisions. And for the second straight year, Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider demonstrated a complete lack of understanding as to how to use the draft to effectively improve their roster.
Irvin's workout numbers landed him in the 1st round
2nd-round pick Bobby Wagner is the Seahawks only draftee with a reasonable chance to start in 2012, and even he will be forced to compete with Barrett Ruud for the starting job at inside linebacker.
The selection of Russell Wilson, who projects as a career backup, raises further questions about the Seahawks draft strategy. It’s difficult to imagine how the Seahawks front office could justify a draft class filled with career backups when their current roster is filled with so many glaring holes.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft was a little top heavy due to trades, but they came away with three players who will start from day one and immediately turn them into legitimate playoff contenders.
Martin will be among the game's most dangerous backs even as a rookie.
Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David are each among the most NFL-ready prospects at their positions. And the addition of these three new starters, along with an impressive free agent class, has given the Bucs roster a much-needed makeover.
While Mark Barron will immediate become a leader on defense, the real difference maker from this class is Doug Martin. He has the skills to be a game-changing running back from the minute he sets foot on an NFL field, and will give Josh Freeman the support he needs in the running game.
This new-look Bucs team should be in the mix in the NFC South in 2012.
The Green Bay Packers needed to address their defense, and did so in a big way this weekend. The Packers used each of their first five picks on defensive prospects, and added at least three players who will play significant roles in 2012.
Perry will start from day one in Green Bay.
Nick Perry will immediately step into a starting role opposite Clay Matthews at outside linebackers, while Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward will be expected to compete for starting jobs with the veterans already in place.
One of my favorite picks for the Packers, however, was 5th-round selection Terrell Manning. I gave Manning a 2nd-round grade and believe he has the skills to be an impact player at inside linebacker in Green Bay. He’s stuck behind A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop for now, but limited depth behind those the veterans should allow for him to make the roster in a reserve role.
Overall, the Packers completed a defensive makeover which should allow them to make another serious run a Super Bowl title.
The Cincinnati Bengals used 10 picks and managed to land eight players to whom I had given 3rd-round grades or better. This was truly an unprecedented haul for a franchise that needed to make a splash in order to compete with the Steelers and Ravens.
Dre Kirkpatrick adds impressive depth to the Bengals secondary
Looking at the newly revamped Bengals roster, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the depth at nearly every position. Most of the rookies brought in won’t play significant roles early on, but just having quality depth behind their entrenched starters will make a difference over the course of a 16-game season. You never know when someone will go down with an injury, and the Bengals now have the depth to fill holes as they arise throughout the course of the season.
With the help of this draft class, the Bengals should be considered legitimate contenders in the AFC North in 2012.
The Pittsburgh Steelers typically take a conservative approach to the draft, which has served them very well in years past. But they’re breaking the mold this year, and targeting players with a ton of upside who have fallen to due some off-field concerns.
The first gamble was with Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, who failed multiple drug tests in college and failed another test at the combine. On top of the off-field concerns, Adams also shows inconsistent effort on the field. He has the size to dominate, but often does just enough to get by.
In the 4th round, the Steelers also gambled on Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. While Ta’amu does not come with any major character concerns, he is still a risk due to issues with his weight. Ta’amu has played at 400 pounds at various points in his career and has never demonstrated the ability to keep his weight under control. In general, when guys can’t stay in shape in college they typically don’t turn things around once they’re collecting an NFL paycheck.
The Steelers are definitely in position to take these risks, but it is interesting that it seems to stray from their typical draft strategy.
The Seattle Seahawks may have added some competition for Marshawn Lynch in the 4th round with the selection of Utah State running back Robert Turbin.
Turbin enters the league with some injury concerns, which caused him to fall down draft boards, but if he stays healthy he has the potential to develop into a starter at the next level.
Like Lynch, Turbin has a small, compact build and does a great job running between the tackles. He’s also an explosive runner, who hits holes with an impressive burst. The Seahawks now have a nice trio at running back with two between-the-tackles types (Lynch and Turbin) and a change-of-pace back in Leon Washington.
The Washington Redskins wasted no time finding a backup quarterback for Robert Griffin. The Redskins selected Kirk Cousins in the 4th round, and will likely allow him to compete with Rex Grossman for the backup role.
Despite some overdramatic reactions around the league, there will never be a competition between Griffin and Cousins. No matter where Cousins was drafted, he was going to be a backup quarterback. So does it really matter if the guy ahead of him on the depth chart is a rookie or a 10-year veteran?
Cousins has limited physical tools and will never be a long-term starter at the next level. However, he is an intelligent player and exactly the type of guy you want on the sidelines. He should have a long career as a backup, but he will never seriously challenge Griffin for playing time.
The only concern I have with this pick is the fact that the Redskins have so many other holes. Were they really in the position to draft a backup quarterback with other impact players still on the board?
One of the biggest names on the trading block today is Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. The Browns are reportedly shopping him around due to the fact that they are more comfortable with Seneca Wallace as Brandon Weeden’s backup in 2012.
However, McCoy has very little value on the market. He’s viewed as a career backup now and many teams likely have some prospects such as Kirk Cousins rated higher than McCoy. At this stage of the offseason, most teams are comfortable with their backup quarterback situations. Teams would much rather bring in a young, unproven quarterback to develop than a guy like McCoy who has two years of experience under his belt already.
If McCoy does get moved, the Browns will likely won’t get anything more than a 6th or 7th round pick.