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.
Obviously the Indianapolis Colts hit a home run with the selection of Andrew Luck. But their Day 2 selections took this draft class to a new level.
Coby Fleener was a no-brainer in the 2nd round. While I didn’t have a high 2nd-round grade on him, his value to the Colts exceeds his value to any other team due to his connection to Andrew Luck. Every young quarterback needs a security blanket, and Fleener will be that guy.
The selection of Dwayne Allen may seem redundant, but Fleener and Allen are actually very different players. Fleener is essentially an oversized wide receiver, while Allen is more of the traditional tight end. I expect the Colts to use Fleener in the slot frequently, much the same way the Packers have used Jermichael Finley in recent years. Allen, on the other hand, will be used more as a blocker and a short-yardage receiver.
In the 3rd round, T.Y. Hilton adds a new dimension to the offense. He has the speed to consistently stretch the field and, even if he’s only targeted a few times per game, his presence on the field will affect how defenses line up.
I haven’t loved every pick made by the Cincinnati Bengals, but the class as a whole is a phenomenal haul for one of the up-and-coming teams in the league.
Dre Kirkpatrick gives the Bengals a very deep secondary, and he should compete for a starting job. It wasn’t necessarily a glaring need, but the value made it the right choice.
Kevin Zeitler was a reach in my opinion, but he will step into a starting role and help solidify the offensive line. He’s a power run blocker, which is the type of team the Bengals appear to be morphing into with the combination of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott at running back.
The additions of Devon Still and Brandon Thompson give the Bengals an extremely deep group at defensive tackle, which should allow them to use a rotation to keep every fresh. The Steelers, Ravens and even the Browns all feature power-running offenses, which the Bengals are now equipped to stop.
Mohamed Sanu was hurt by poor quarterback play at Rutgers, and his best football is ahead of him. He’s exactly the type of possession receiver the Bengals needed to pair with A.J. Green.
The Cleveland Browns may have been better off selecting the late, great filmmaker John Hughes, rather than the defensive tackle.
I did not have a draftable grade on John Hughes and, to be honest, did not even bother scouting him in depth. I saw him while studying teammate Derek Wolfe and absolutely nothing about his game stood out. I assumed Hughes would be picked up as a free agent after the draft.
In Cleveland he will strictly be a backup to Taylor and Rubin and is a longshot to ever make a significant impact at the next level.