The 2012 draft is in the books. As of now, there is an abundance of NFL teams thinking they have all the components to go all the way. (I’m sure those words were used from many GM’s to Owners). Now free agency has slowed to a crawl. Now it’s about chemistry and avoiding injuries and coaching back-ups to be ready to perform. It’s about having no off the field issues, which as silly as it seems in hindsight in most cases, continues to embarrass and have Coaches pulling out their hair! So after a draft in which potential franchise quarterbacks went first and second, has the league’s balance of power been altered? In short, not really. The Giants, thanks to a Super Bowl title and another solid offseason, remain No. 1. The Colts, despite landing Andrew Luck and other offensive firepower, are still last. The Patriots, after using six draft picks to fortify a much-maligned defense, remain a viable force at No. 2. While we have yet to see a team have so much as a minicamp, we can certainly start to look at how these teams stack up against each other.
SAN FRANCISCO - Randy Moss reported to camp this week and said the 49ers are ahead of schedule. While Randy Moss, Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham grabbed headlines, the thinking here is that former Oregon running back LaMichael James, who the Niners grabbed in the second round of this weekend’s draft, will turn out to be a key component of the 49ers’ offensive improvement.
ARIZONA CARDINALS - Larry Fitzgerald wanted the Cardinals to draft Michael Floyd, and they got him. If only they had been as successful in their pursuit of Manning. The Cardinals drafted three offensive linemen and a wide receiver to help out quarterbacks.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS - Already strong on defense, the Seahawks drafted a league-high five players for their front seven. I actually like what some have seen as a reach for Bruce Irvin, and I thought the Bobby Wagner selection was great as well. The Seahawks could surprise with a real challenge for the division crown.
ST LOUIS RAMS - The Rams loaded up, taking an NFL-high six players among the top 96 overall selections in draft.
ATLANTA FALCONS - Draft class featured no first-round pick, a second-round guard, a third-round tackle and no drama.
NEW ORLEANS - The NFL’s delay in announcing bounty punishment for Saints players is punishment in itself.
CAROLINA PANTHERS - Cam Newton recently purchased a $1.6 million condo in Charlotte. He’ll own the town eventually. The Panthers drafted linebacker Luke Kuechly in the first round and he should help improve their defense and should be the cornerstone of the Panthers defense for years to come.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - The Bucs used four of their first five draft choices to address a defense that ranked last in yards allowed per play. The drafting of Alabama safety Mark Barron and running back Doug Martin, and the Bucs at least have some talent to take the field with in September.
NY GIANTS - The defending champs needed a running back and got one, just probably not the one they wanted.
DALLAS COWBOYS - The Cowboys made a huge move by jumping up to get LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. But after that, they didn’t get much. The Cowboys added basically one player in the draft that’s expected to have any real 2012 impact.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS - Finally, a legitimate franchise quarterback in Washington. Welcome, Robert Griffin III. The excitement surrounding RGIII is understandable, but this team is far from ready to start putting up huge numbers on offense.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES - Eagles general manager Howie Roseman liked his draft. He should have. Philadelphia got better on defense. The Eagles spent a good part of their draft getting their embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo some help. Everybody loves the Eagles’ offseason. We all loved the Eagles’ offseason last year, too.
GREEN BAY PACKERS - GM Ted Thompson used a six-pack of defensive draft choices to fix the league’s lowest-rated defense. When your team sets a franchise record for points scored the same season your team gives up an NFL record for yardage allowed through the air, it’s pretty clear which side of the ball needs work.
DETROIT LIONS - The Lions have done an excellent job of assembling an extremely deep and talented roster. The Lions’ draft was solid, but they sure have a lot of questions at cornerback.
CHICAGO BEARS - GM Phil Emery showed a lot of aggressiveness in the draft and free agency.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS - GM Rick Spielman should enter world championship poker tournaments after bluffing the Browns in a draft trade. Rick Spielman absolutely crushed the draft. Getting picks from Cleveland to move back one spot and take the player they most likely wanted anyway was a great start to a great weekend for Spielman and the personnel group in Minnesota.
DENVER BRONCOS - They drafted only one additional weapon for Peyton Manning, running back Ronnie Hillman. Will Brock Osweiler pan out as the project quarterback? It’s all about Peyton Manning in Denver, but the key will be improvement on defense.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS - The Chargers look to have had a very solid draft, and I’m expecting a big bounce back from Philip Rivers. The Chargers had a tremendous draft after a strong free-agency period. This team got better.
OAKLAND RAIDERS - New general manager Reggie McKenzie will spend 2012 digging out from the gigantic mess that Hue Jackson left behind. Without a first- or second-round pick, the Raiders got to sit and contemplate life under Dennis Allen with Carson Palmer.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - With veterans returning from injury plus a nice draft influx, Romeo Crennel will have a lot of pieces to sort through. General manager Scott Pioli had a solid, if not spectacular, draft.
HOUSTON TEXANS - They replenished need areas in the draft. If DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin pan out as wide receivers, the options for Matt Schaub could be great across the board. The Texans added key pieces to both sides of the ball in the draft in outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and center Ben Jones.
TENNESSEE TITANS - They added a receiver and a tight end who can expand the passing offense, but they didn’t do much to address interior line questions or the pass rush.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS - The Jaguars landed Justin Blackmon in the draft to pair with free-agent acquisition Laurent Robinson in an attempt to give beleaguered second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert some help in the passing game. Attention over the third-round pick of a punter overshadowed a solid one-two punch of receiver Justin Blackmon and defensive end Andre Branch.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - The first overall pick in the draft is also the quarterback of this team. He has the size, skill set and intangibles of a franchise quarterback. They surrounded Andrew Luck with weapons, but the Colts are really thin at cornerback, and the transition to a 3-4 will require a lot more people. The Colts and their fans will have to settle in for a long, frustrating season. I think they could actually win around four to five games.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - The Patriots drafted defense in the first six rounds. Smart move. Adding Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, along with defensive end Jake Bequette, should help upgrade a Patriots defense that gave up way too many yards last year.
NEW YORK JETS - The boom-or-bust potential of DE Quinton Coples and WR Stephen Hill will determine this draft class. New York’s offseason acquisitions of quarterback Tim Tebow and top draft picks Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill didn’t do much. The Jets will win games; I don’t see them winning a lot of them against the better teams on their schedule.
MIAMI DOLPHINS - The Dolphins are excited about QB Ryan Tannehill. But he won’t help the team this year. The Dolphins are solid on defense but could struggle on offense. The Dolphins wasted little time putting their first choice in the 2012 draft to work, sending out a voice mail to season ticket holders on Friday morning from new quarterback Ryan Tannehill, exclaiming how excited he is to be the Dolphins’ new quarterback.
BUFFALO BILLS - The Bills have sleeper potential. They plugged two big holes at cornerback (Stephon Gilmore) and left tackle (Cordy Glenn) in the draft. I think the Bills have some great pieces for a chance to end the drought and get to the playoffs.
BALTIMORE RAVENS - The Ravens didn’t need more monsters on defense, but they got another one in LB Courtney Upshaw.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS - The Steelers might have extended QB Ben Roethlisberger’s career a few more years by upgrading their offensive line.
CINCINNATI BENGALS - A good draft should keep the young Bengals competitive. The Bengals can compete for the division crown this year!!
CLEVELAND BROWNS - The Colt McCoy era was a quick one. Now, Cleveland’s hopes rest on 28-year-old rookie QB Brandon Weeden. The Browns got their man in the draft in running back Trent Richardson, who should become an instant fan favorite in Cleveland.
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