2012 NFL Draft is In The Bagg – AFC North

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What is better than the NFL Draft?  How about taking the draft cap off and putting it back on?  Here are some of the more interesting picks from this year’s draft.

Baltimore Ravens

This is a prototypical Ravens draft here.  Guys that fit not only their scheme but their team personality as well.

Needs to Produce:  Kelechi Osemele G, Iowa St.  The Ravens would like to run the ball more and their weakness on the interior of the line prevented them from doing that as effectively last year.  Osemele will need to step in quick and open up wide holes for Ray Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce in order for the Ravens’ offense to work the way they draw it up.  If he doesn’t the Ravens might not be able to get over the hump in the AFC and have to repeat their role of spectator for this year’s Super Bowl.

Under the Radar Values:  Courtney Upshaw DE/LB, Alabama.  Honorable mention to Asa Jackson CB, California Polytechnic State.  It’s hard to be an under the radar value when you go early in the 2nd round and you are your team’s first pick, but that is exactly the case with Upshaw.  The Ravens deftly traded down, most likely knowing that the 1st round talent Upshaw would slip to the beginning of the 2nd, and got a couple extra picks in the mix.  Upshaw fits the Ravens personality to a T and will benefit from learning under some of the most tenacious defenders in the game.

Huh?:  I don’t think there are any but if you want to pick one it probably is Bernard Pierce.  With some good OTs still on the board selecting Pierce in the 3rd is a tad questionable.  I think Pierce will end up being a good pick though and should spell Ray Rice very well.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals had multiple high picks and did a good job at getting value at positions of need.  In fact the Bengals probably had one of the better drafts this year.

Needs to Produce:  Dre Kirkpatrick CB, Alabama.  The Bengals’ defense was better two years ago mainly because it had to very good corners in Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph.  Joseph move on to Houston last season and Hall was often hurt.  Kirkpatrick should fill the void Joseph left behind.  Kirkpatrick is a very physical corner that should help against the run oriented offenses in the AFC North, however he will have to make sure he can hang with the speedster WRs in Mike Wallace and Torrey Smith as well.  If he can do that the Bengals could become a force in the AFC North.

Under the Radar Values:  Mohamed Sanu WR, Rutgers and Marvin Jones WR, California.  Both of these guys fell a little farther than they should and, when coupled with last year’s beast 1st round WR A.J. Green, could create some very nice weapons for second year QB Andy Dalton.  Jones especially could be a steal as a late 5th round pick when some had him as a 3rd round talent.

Huh?:  Devon Still DT, Penn St.  This might be the most questionable pick of the entire Cincy draft, mainly because Still is not regarded as having enough stamina to stay on the field.  The longer he stayed on the field the less effective he became.  However, Still will most likely not be pressed into every down duty as a rookie and he could be a destructive interior force that can penetrate if not used too much.

Cleveland Browns

I really think the Browns did a nice job this year.  Unfortunately they couldn’t or didn’t address their still gaping need at WR but they did a very good job at not only building for the future but also being more competitive in the present.

Needs to Produce:  Brandon Weeden QB, Oklahoma St.  Trent Richardson would be a good pick here too but Weeden is the more controversial pick.  If Weeden doesn’t prove to be a significant upgrade over the QB incumbent Colt McCoy there will be serious doubts about that pick, especially with some good WR/OT talent on the board where Weeden was picked.  With Weeden’s age there isn’t a long time for a learning curve either and I think it would put Browns’ fans at ease if he could come out of the gates strong.

Under the Radar Values:  Emmanuel Acho LB, Texas.  Acho was one of those guys who had all the physical tools but never produced up to his capability at Texas.  There was some coaching turnover, however, through his tenure so that could be part of the reason.  In any case Acho could end up becoming a nice sleeper pick down the road if he receives some good coaching that can get him to play the way he is capable of playing.

Huh?:  Mitchell Schwartz OT, California.  The selection of Schwartz is more of a question of where he projects on the field than his capability of playing in the NFL.  Many regard Schwartz as being more of a finesse LT than a roadgrading RT.  With Joe Thomas firmly entrenched on the left side Schwartz will have to add muscle and become more tenacious if he hopes to be a force on the right side.  I still think the pick is good but with guys like Cordy Glenn still on the board, Schwartz is a little puzzling.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers may have benefited the most from the luck of the draw in this draft.  They selected the guys that they probably wanted the most without having to do any trading up or down while being able to have a need fulfilled.

Needs to Produce:  Mike Adams OT, Ohio St.  In recent years the Steelers’ offensive line has been shoddy at best.  They always seem to have a few guys injured and a bunch of no names and retreads filling in by the end of the season.  Adams’s work ethic is his biggest concern but the Steelers are hoping he can become a starting OT fairly quickly.  He has prototypical size for the position and if they can make him work and get NFL ready they could have one of the better OTs in this year’s draft.  If Adams does not prepare himself properly the Steelers’ offensive line woes will continue.

Under the Radar Values:  David DeCastro G, Stanford.  The Steelers really lucked out with DeCastro slipping all the way to 24th overall.  They want to run the ball more effectively and needed some interior linemen to do so, and they got the best interior lineman in this draft.  Not only that but DeCastro was widely considered one of the best G prospects in a long time and many thing he could become one of the best the game has seen in a while.  It is hard to be an under the radar prospect when you are selected in the first round, but considering his slip on draft day and his position DeCastro fits the bill.

Huh?:  Sean Spence OLB, Miami.  Spence is a bit of a reach in the 3rd round.  While his instincts are among the best of any linebacker prospect in this draft, he doesn’t show the toughness or tenacity that encompasses being a Steelers defender.  They are hoping they can instill that Steelers mentality in him.  If not Spence may be a perennial special teamer.

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