The Longest Day: ultimate invasion of 2012 draft grades

Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 02, 2012



By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts Supreme Allied Commander


The Draft is D-Day for football fans: it’s The Longest Day, to steal the phrase Erwin Rommel used to describe the impending invasion of Europe back in 1944.
 
The Longest Day that Rommel’s forces faced against the awe-inspiring Allied invasion force was a deadly, chaotic swirl of flesh, blood, steel, intrigue and logistics upon which rested the fate of Europe and the free world. Rommel conveniently missed it all. His wife’s birthday was June 6 – the day of the invasion – and he was back in Germany to celebrate. Fate, you magnificent bastard!
 
The NFL’s version of The Longest Day is not nearly as dramatic – but you can’t kill a guy for extending an only loosely applicable metaphor, can you? D-Day in the NFL is also a chaotic swirl of flesh, blood, intrigue and logistics upon which rests the future of each NFL team.
 
Some teams hit an unexpected mother lode this weekend – pro football history is filled with players who emerged from the stormy waters of the late rounds of the NFL draft then maniacally overran every pigskin pillbox in front of them.  
 
Conversely, some teams hit a minefield of blown picks – pro football history is also filled with Big Guns upon which teams put their hopes and dreams, only to watch as the much needed heavy artillery fired blanks or simply sank into the shallow waters of a brief, underachieving NFL career.
 
General Norman Cota, as played by the late, great Robert Mitchum, allegedly put it best at Omaha Beach: “Only two kinds of people are gonna stay on this beach: those that are already dead and those that are gonna die. Now get off your butts and play football!”

Ok, we made up the “play football” part. But with that said, here are the teams that we expect will get off the beach and persevere and those likely to die on those same beaches thanks to the critical decisions they made under pressure on NFL’s Longest Day.
 
Remember, NOBODY knows which individual players are going to succeed or fail. The teams don’t. The “pundits” don’t. You don’t. And we don’t. We can only judge teams by the facts we can control: did each team address their greatest personnel liabilities, based upon their obvious statistical needs from the 2011 season?

Our "Fillability" draft grades are based solely upon the way in which each team attempted to fill those statisitcal holes, those statistical weaknesses, from 2011 (the first few teams are here; we’ll be unrolling the remaining teams as we go ... sorry for the delay, folks ... encountered a few technical issues late last weekbut we're back rolling today).

 
  THE ULTIMATE INVASION OF 2012 NFL DRAFT GRADES

ARIZONA

 
Round 1, Pick 13 (13) Michael Floyd WR 6'3" 220 Notre Dame
Round 3, Pick 17 (80) Jamell Fleming CB 5'11" 206 Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 17 (112) Bobby Massie T 6'6" 316 Mississippi
Round 5, Pick 16 (151) Senio Kelemete T 6'3" 307 Washington
Round 6, Pick 15 (185) Ryan Lindley QB 6'3" 229 San Diego St.
Round 6, Pick 7 (177) (From Redskins) Justin Bethel CB 6'0" 200 Presbyterian
Round 7, Pick 14 (221) Nate Potter T 6'6" 303 Boise St.
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB William Gay (Pittsburgh); DB James Sanders (Atlanta); G Adam Snyder (San Francisco)
 
Weakness in 2011: Offensive Line. Quarterback.
 
Overview: Michael Floyd was a huge mistake as a first-round pick. The “pundits” will tell you that he gives the Cardinals another WR opposite Larry Fitzgerald who will do all the proverbial bullsh*t that “pundits” like to talk about: he’s “another weapon” on offense who will open up the ground game, etc, etc.
 
Disciples of the Cold, Hard Football Facts know that no such thing will happen. The Cardinals win like every other team: when they have an elite quarterback distributing the ball, regardless of who’s playing wide receiver.
 
Arizona fans should have learned that lesson when they saw the team’s fortunes rise with Kurt Warner at QB and ebb when he was not at QB. Hell, Matt Leinart also threw the ball to Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson – and he didn’t win.
 
The Cardinals, however, are stuck in that rut. Anchored with a bad QB – a bad decision of their own choosing – they fall into the trap of chasing WRs. It happens all the time. In their defense, they did draft a QB late, perhaps hoping to uncover a Tom Brady-style gem. A better idea would have been not to hand millions of dollars to a QB who had thrown 11 TD passes in four years. But hey, live and learn – or live and lose in the case of the Cardinals.
 
Arizona also drafted three tackles and brought in Snyder, a long-time starter on the OL in San Francisco, to boost one of the worst offensive lines in football last year: No. 31 on our Offensive Hog Index in 2011.
 
Fillability Grade: B-
 
 
 

ATLANTA

 
Round 2, Pick 23 (55) Peter Konz C 6'5" 314 Wisconsin
Round 3, Pick 28 (91) Lamar Holmes T 6'5" 323 Southern Miss
Round 5, Pick 22 (157) Bradie Ewing FB 6'0" 239 Wisconsin
Round 5, Pick 29 (164) Jonathan Massaquoi DE 6'2" 264 Troy
Round 6, Pick 22 (192) Charles Mitchell SS 5'11" 202 Mississippi St.
Round 7, Pick 42 (249) Travian Robertson DT 6'4" 302 South Carolina
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: No major acquisitions
 
Weakness in 2011: Defensive line. Pass defense.
 
Overview: Thomas Dimitroff is rapidly shaping up as a major draft-day liability for the Falcons. First, there was the disaster of the 2011 draft-day effort to mortgage the future of the franchise for a single wide receiver; an effort that went predictably bad for anyone versed in the Shiny Hood Ornament Man Law. Fast forward to 2012: we understand long-time center Todd McClure is so old that moss is growing up to his ankles. But is that any reason to devote your very first draft pick, in the second round, to the center position? The Falcons went OL again in the second round.
 
Remember, center is the least-valued position in the NFL. Only five were drafted this year. Also Remember that the offensive line was Atlanta’s greatest asset in 2011: No. 6 on our Offensive Hog Index, Atlanta’s highest rank in any one of our Quality Stats.
 
But hey, at least Dimitroff didn’t give away five draft picks to land Peter Konz.
 
Meanwhile, Atlanta’s greatest weakness in 2011 was its defensive line, not its offensive line: No. 22 on our Defensive Hog Index, Atlanta’s lowest rank in any one of our Quality Stats. The Falcons waited until the 164th pick to address its weakest link. Inexcusable.
 
In addition to getting caught up in the superficial glamour of a Shiny Hood Ornament, Dimitroff suffers from a serious case of Anecdote-itis, a disease which infects many in football analysis. He said he tried to bulk up the offense this year because it was overmatched in short-yardsage situations.
 
In reality, the Falcons averaged more than 4.0 YPA and were among the best in football at converting third and fourth downs (43.5%).  If we look at short distances, the Falcons were again very effective. They converted 3 of 5 rushing attempts (60%) on 4th and 1; 12 of 17 rushing attempts on 3rd and 1 (70.6%); and 2 of 2 rushing attempts on 3rd and 2 (100%).

Sounds like the only place Atlanta needs to bulk up is in the front office.
 
Fillability Grade: D-
 

BALTIMORE

 
Round 2, Pick 3 (35) Courtney Upshaw OLB 6'2" 272 Alabama
Round 2, Pick 28 (60) Kelechi Osemele T 6'5" 333 Iowa St.
Round 3, Pick 21 (84) Bernard Pierce RB 6'0" 218 Temple
Round 4, Pick 3 (98) Gino Gradkowski G 6'3" 300 Delaware
Round 4, Pick 35 (130) Christian Thompson FS 6'0" 211 South Carolina St.
Round 5, Pick 34 (169) Asa Jackson CB 5'10" 191 Cal Poly
Round 6, Pick 28 (198) Tommy Streeter WR 6'5" 219 Miami
Round 7, Pick 29 (236) Deangelo Tyson DE 6'2" 315 Georgia
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB Sean Considine (Arizona); DB Corey Graham (Chicago)
 
Weakness in 2011: Joe Flacco.
 
Overview: The Ravens are in a tough spot. They were the most dominant team in football last year – everywhere but at the most important position on the field, at quarterback. Just look at their across-the-board rankings in each of our Quality Stats.
 
They were in the Top 8 in every single indicator not directly attributed to quarterback – and No. 1 in three of them!
 
In the indicators that are a direct reflection of the quarterback, they ranked No. 15, No. 18 and No. 19. So the harsh reality is evident right there: Joe Flacco is Baltimore’s biggest problem. There’s no debate, folks.
 
With that said, Flacco doesn’t suck bad enough, either, for the Ravens to give up on him. So they’re stuck with him for the time being.
 
Given that reality, and the fact that the Ravens suffered huge attrition on defense in free agency and lost Ben Grubbs from the offensive line, the team dealt with the draft in a rational and understandable way that represents and effort to best fill some holes. If these draft acquisitions pan out, there’s no reason to believe the Ravens aren’t contenders again – contenders who fall just short for the same reason they Ravens always fall short except for the one season they fielded the stingiest defense of the Live Ball Era.
 
Fillability Grade: B

 

BUFFALO

 
Round 1, Pick 10 (10) Stephon Gilmore CB 6'0" 190 South Carolina
Round 2, Pick 9 (41) Cordy Glenn T 6'5" 345 Georgia
Round 3, Pick 6 (69) T.J. Graham WR 5'11" 188 N.C. State
Round 4, Pick 10 (105) Nigel Bradham OLB 6'2" 241 Florida St.
Round 4, Pick 29 (124) Ron Brooks CB 5'10" 190 LSU
Round 5, Pick 9 (144) Zebrie Sanders T 6'5" 320 Florida St.
Round 5, Pick 12 (147)   Tank Carder ILB 6'2" 236 TCU
Round 6, Pick 8 (178) Mark Asper G 6'6" 319 Oregon
Round 7, Pick 44 (251) John Potter K     Western Michigan
 
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DE Mario Williams; DE Mark Anderson
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense. Defensive efficiency. The 2011 Bills ranked No. 26 across the board in Defensive Real Passing YPA (6.93), in Defensive QB Rating (84.0) and in Defensive Passer Rating (90.4). They were 30th in Bendability, our measure of defensive efficiency.
 
Overview:The Bills made the biggest splash in free agency, signing for overall No. 1 pick (2006) Williams from Houston. It’s a nice pick up. The problem, of course, is that they wildly overvalued the defensive end, handing him the biggest contract for any defensive player in history. This is a guy with 22.5 sacks over the past three seasons and who missed most of last year with an injury – and the Houston defense actually improved without him. So, overall, nice addition; big mistake.
 
Anderson may actually prove the more valuable pick-up. He comes much cheaper and he took down 10 quarterbacks last year for the Patriots.
 
With all that said, at least Buffalo is moving in the right statistical direction. Their free-agent signing and their No. 1 pick, CB Gilmore, were all directly targeted at improving what was clearly the team’s weakest statistical link in 2011: pass defense.
 
The Bills added three more defenders, including another cornerback, later in the draft. If three of its off-season signings and picks pay off, Buffalo could find a vastly improved defense. Couple that with an offense that can harness some consistency – a major problem in 2011 – and it could prove a great draft for the Bills.
 
Fillability Grade: B+

 

CAROLINA

 
Round 1, Pick 9 (9) Luke Kuechly ILB 6'3" 242 Boston College
Round 2, Pick 8 (40) Amini Silatolu T 6'4" 311 Midwestern St.
Round 4, Pick 8 (103) Frank Alexander DE 6'4" 270 Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 9 (104) Joe Adams WR 5'11" 179 Arkansas
Round 5, Pick 8 (143) Josh Norman CB 6'0" 197 Coastal Carolina
Round 6, Pick 37 (207) Brad Nortman P 6'2" 213 Wisconsin
Round 7, Pick 9 (216) D.J. Campbell FS 6'0" 201 California
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB Haruki Nakamura, DB Reggie Smith, G Mike Pollak, RB Mike Tolbert
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense. Carolina finished No. 29 in Defensive Real QB Rating, No. 30 in Defensive Passer Rating and No. 32 in Defensive Real Passing YPA.
 
Overview: No. 9 overall pick Luke Kuechly is a player who appears to have it all: great physical skills and a rare nose for the ball, as evidenced by his 16 tackles per game last season at Boston College – an unofficial NCAA record. If he lives up to the potential as an impact player, he should have a material effect on the Carolina defense.
 
But he’s also not a shut-down corner or devastating pass rusher, the kind of player most likely to help create a dramatic immediate improvement in the team’s greatest area of trouble: arguably the worst pass defense in football last year.
 
Frank Alexander could prove a mid-round find as a pass rusher. He chalked up 15.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss in his last two years at Oklahoma – but the fourth round is also not the best place to find an immediate impact player. In free agency, the Panthers have not harvested a potential impact defender, either: Reggie Smith and a left-handed pitcher Haruki Nakamura from the Chunichi Dragons.
 
You can never have too many good offensive tackles. But given the fact that Carolina was No. 4 last year on the Offensive Hog Index, and so dreadful in pass defense, another stopper would have been ideal in the second round. Wide receiver Joe Adams was a wasted pick in the fourth round. Even if he makes the team or, hell, even if he becomes a starter, it’s a position the Panthers could have filled in free agency. Cam Newton is a stud – he’ll make any NFL caliber receiver look better; guys like Adams will not make Newton any better.
 
Overall, though, the team has recognized its statistical weak links and made efforts to improve them.
 
Fillability Grade: B
 
 

CHICAGO

 
Round 1, Pick 19 (19) Shea McClellin DE 6'3" 260 Boise St.
Round 2, Pick 13 (45) Alshon Jeffery WR 6'4" 230 South Carolina
Round 3, Pick 16 (79) Brandon Hardin FS 6'3" 217 Oregon St.
Round 4, Pick 16 (111) Evan Rodriguez TE 6'1" 242 Temple
Round 6, Pick 14 (184) Isaiah Frey CB 5'11" 188 Nevada
Round 7, Pick 13 (220) Greg McCoy CB 5'10" 181 TCU
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB Kelvin Hayden, DB Jonathan Wilhite, WR Eric Weems, WR Devin Thomas, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, LB Blake Costanzo, LB Geno Hayes, G. Chilo Rachal.
 
Weakness in 2011: Offensive line. Wide receiver. Pass rush.
 
Overview: The once-feared Bears pass rush was a shadow of its former self in 2011: Chicago was No. 28 in pressuring the passer, forcing a Negative Pass Play on just 7.98 percent of attempts. So McClellin at No. 19 overall could help immensely. He recorded 16.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss over his last two years at Boise State.
 
Elsewhere, the Bears have made strong efforts in both free agency and the draft to improve their passing game and their defense. They’ve been incredibly active in free agency. Jeffery is a big-play threat to averaged 16.6 yards per catch in his three years at South Carolina, highlighted by 88 catches for 1,517 yards and 9 TD in 2010.
 
One big concern remains: Chicago’s offensive line is still a disaster: No. 25 on the Offensive Hog Index in 2011 and dead last a protecting the passer. The team would be a legit threat with a better pass rush, AND an improved offensive line and a healthy Jay Cutler. Remember, the Bears were 7-3 last season before Cutler was injured. So a better pass rush and better weapons at wide receiver will be nice. But it’s still not going to change things dramatically in ChicagoLand if the QB is being hammered like a cheap French hooker every Sunday.
 
Fillability Grade: C+


CINCINNATI

 
Round 1, Pick 17 (17) Dre Kirkpatrick CB 6'1" 186 Alabama
Round 1, Pick 27 (27) Kevin Zeitler G 6'4" 314 Wisconsin
Round 2, Pick 21 (53) Devon Still DT 6'5" 303 Penn St.
Round 3, Pick 20 (83) Mohamed Sanu WR 6'2" 211 Rutgers
Round 3, Pick 30 (93) Brandon Thompson DT 6'2" 314 Clemson
Round 4, Pick 21 (116) Orson Charles TE 6'2" 251 Georgia
Round 5, Pick 21 (156) Shaun Prater CB 5'10" 190 Iowa
Round 5, Pick 31 (166) Marvin Jones WR 6'1" 199 California
Round 5, Pick 32 (167) George Iloka FS 6'4" 225 Boise St.
Round 6, Pick 21 (191) Dan Herron RB 5'10" 213 Ohio St.
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DE Derrick Harvey, DE Jamaal Anderson, DB Jason Allen, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, G Jacob Bell.
 
Weakness in 2011: Competitiveness against Quality Teams. Big play-ability. Defensive Passer Rating (17th). Offensive Hog Index (18th).
 
Overview: The Bengals were a fairly solid team in many areas. They weren’t really terrible in any one area, other than the fact that they went 0-8 vs. playoff teams (1-6 vs. Quality Teams). But nor were they very good in any particular area, either.
 
One big problem was big playmakers on both sides of the ball. The defense, for example, was No. 17 in Defensive Passer Rating, but their 10 INT were among the fewest in the NFL.

So Alabama playmaker Dre Kirkpatrick with the first pick could prove just what Dr. CHFF ordered for the team. Kevin Zeitler, the top player on Wisconsin’s dominant offensive line last year, represents two perfect needs picks in the first round alone.
 
Every impressive draft haul at the top, assuming the players pan out as expected. There are also some gems in free agency, too. Green-Ellis was probably the most underrated back in football during his time at New England: a guy who consistently bangs out tough yards, scores a lot of TDs and never fumbles. All in all, an exciting off-season so far for the Bengals.
 
Fillability Grade: A

CLEVELAND

 
Round 1, Pick 3 (3) Trent Richardson RB 5'9" 228 Alabama
Round 1, Pick 22 (22) Brandon Weeden QB 6'4" 221 Oklahoma St.
Round 2, Pick 5 (37) Mitchell Schwartz T 6'5" 318 California
Round 3, Pick 24 (87) John Hughes DT 6'2" 309 Cincinnati
Round 4, Pick 5 (100) Travis Benjamin WR 5'10" 172 Miami
Round 4, Pick 25 (120) James-Michael Johnson ILB 6'1" 241 Nevada
Round 5, Pick 25 (160) Ryan Miller G 6'7" 321 Colorado
Round 6, Pick 34 (204) Emmanuel Acho OLB 6'1" 238 Texas
Round 6, Pick 35 (205) Billy Winn DT 6'4" 294 Boise St.
Round 7, Pick 38 (245) Trevin Wade CB 5'10" 192 Arizona
Round 7, Pick 40 (247) Brad Smelley TE 6'2" 237 Alabama
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DE Frostee Rucker, DE Juqua Parker
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing game: No. 24 in Real QB Rating, No. 29 in Offensive Passer Rating, No. 30 in Real Passing YPA.
 
Overview: The Cold, Hard Football Facts generally frown upon teams that chase running backs so high in the draft – especially at the price the Browns paid: giving up four picks to move up one spot on the ladder to a team not likely to take Richardson from them. The reality is that the difference between a super-elite running back and a your everyday ordinary free agent RB is actually pretty slim as measured by average per attempt – so running backs are often largely overvalued. It was one of the worst moves of the draft, actually: almost as bad as the Falcons chasing Shiny Hood Ornament Julio Jones in the 2011 draft.
 
With that said, Cleveland pretty much had a banner draft. Richardson does in fact fill a statistical need. The Browns last year were 31st running the football, averaging just 3.7 YPA. So there is statistical justification for the decision to draft Richardson, even if he was overvalued.
 
Plus, the Browns also drafted a potential franchise quarterback later in the first round to attempt to find a solution to their biggest problem in 2011, a dreadful passing attack. Quite frankly, the 1985 Bears would have been lucky to do much better than 4-12 with the same passing agame Cleveland put on the field last year.

Weeden is interesting for two reasons. One, he’s a dinosaur by the standards of a rookie pro athlete. He turns 29 in October, which makes him older than 2010 Super Bowl champ and 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and just a year younger than Pittsburgh’s two-time Super Bowl champ Ben Roethlisberger. And two, Weeden produced quite a season in 2011. He lit up the Big 12 with record numbers while knocking off each of the three QBs taken ahead of him: Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl. Pretty intriguing.
 
Meanwhile, Cleveland still drafted more players in 2012 (11) than any other team and took big steps to shore up the biggest weakness on a relatively sold defense: a front unit that ranked No. 26 on our Defensive Hog Index.
 
Fillability Grade: A-

DALLAS

 
Round 1, Pick 6 (6) Morris Claiborne CB 5'11" 188 LSU
Round 3, Pick 18 (81) Tyrone Crawford DE 6'4" 275 Boise St.
Round 4, Pick 18 (113) Kyle Wilber OLB 6'4" 249 Wake Forest
Round 4, Pick 40 (135) Matt Johnson SS 6'1" 212 Eastern Washington
Round 5, Pick 17 (152) Danny Coale WR 6'0" 201 Virginia Tech
Round 6, Pick 16 (186) James Hanna TE 6'4" 252 Oklahoma
Round 7, Pick 15 (222) Caleb McSurdy ILB 6'1" 245 Montana
 

Veteran acquisitions: G Mackenzy Bernadeau, G Nate Livings, LB Dan Connor, DB Brandon Carr, DB Brodney Pool, QB Kyle Orton, T Marc Colombo.
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense. Pass rush.
 
Overview: Dallas ranked 25th in Defensive Passer Rating in 2011 (88.4), surrendered 4,146 yards through the air and 7.6 yards per attempt. They did force 42 sacks, a pretty good haul in this day and age of pampered passers. But nearly half of those came from DeMarcus Ware (19.5) alone. So the team has a big need for play-making pass defenders, especially in the secondary.
 
Of course, as we noted in our SI draft grades, the team has devoted incredible efforts to drafting pass defenders in recent years, including 15 cornerbacks in the 10 drafts from 2002 to 2011, two more than any other team.
 
But we don’t know how this year’s crop of talent – including defenders with the first four picks – will turn out at this point. We grade teams only on what we know. And what we know is that Dallas is clearly in touch with its problems and took a lot of stops to solve those problems in the draft. Uncle CHFF must be getting soft in his old age, handing out some many high grades – or, perhaps, teams finally know that their statistical bread is buttered with our Quality Stats.
 
Fillability Grade: A
 
 

DENVER

 
Round 2, Pick 25 (57) Brock Osweiler QB 6'7" 242 Arizona State
Round 2, Pick 4 (36) Derek Wolfe DT 6'5" 295 Cincinnati
Round 3, Pick 4 (67)   Ronnie Hillman RB 5'9" 200 San Diego St.
Round 4, Pick 6 (101) Omar Bolden CB 5'10" 202 Arizona State
Round 4, Pick 13 (108)   Philip Blake C 6'2" 311 Baylor
Round 5, Pick 2 (137)   Malik Jackson DT 6'4" 284 Tennessee
Round 6, Pick 18 (188) Danny Trevathan OLB 6'0" 237 Kentucky
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: QB Peyton Manning, QB Caleb Hanie, WR Andre Caldwell, TB Joel Dreessen, TB Jacob Tamme, DB Mike Adams, DB Tracy Porter.
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing offense. Passing defense.
 
Overview: It’s something of a statistical miracle that the Broncos made the playoffs last season – a miracle largely made possible by the fact that the NFL has a disappointingly low threshold for the playoff: you merely have to be better than three other teams.
 
The miracle, though, is that you succeed in the NFL with a superior passing game on both sides of the ball. Denver had neither:  No. 26 in Offensive Passer Rating (73.5), No. 28 in Defensive Passer Rating (93.1), and No. 28 in Passer Rating Differential (-19.7) – in the case of DPR and PRD, they were among the worst of any playoff teams in history.
 
The Broncos have made dramatic steps to improve the passing game – dumping the wildly popular but unorthodox Tim Tebow, bringing in aging thoroughbred Peyton Manning and then bringing in the proverbial quarterback of the future, Brock Osweiler, with their first pick in the draft (second round).
 
The team was not nearly as aggressive remaking its pass defense. Free agent Adams started only one full season in his eight years at Cleveland; free agent Porter had a very memorable 2009 season in New Orleans, but intercepted just seven passes in four years and never started more than 12 games. Denver’s top draft pick in the secondary did not come until the fourth round.
 
A good draft, but not a great one, considering the issues to resolve on both sides of the ball. As we noted earlier this off-season, Denver is STILL a long way from being a Super Bowl contender, even with Manning at QB.
 
Fillability Grade: B-


DETROIT

 
Round 1, Pick 23 (23) Riley Reiff OT 6'6" 313 Iowa
Round 2, Pick 22 (54) Ryan Broyles WR 5'10" 192 Oklahoma
Round 3, Pick 22 (85) Dwight Bentley CB 5'10" 182 Louisiana-Lafayette
Round 4, Pick 30 (125) Ronnell Lewis OLB 6'1" 253 Oklahoma
Round 5, Pick 3 (138) Tahir Whitehead OLB 6'1" 233 Temple
Round 5, Pick 13 (148) Chris Greenwood CB 6'1" 193 Albion
Round 6, Pick 26 (196) Jonte Green DB 6'0" 184 New Mexico St.
Round 7, Pick 16 (223) Travis Lewis OLB 6'1" 246 Oklahoma
 
Veteran acquisitions: no major free agent signings
 
Weakness in 2011: Run offense and run defense.
 
Overview: You have to admire the Lions for resisting in recent years the allure of the Shiny Hood Ornament wide receiver that haunted them in comic fashion during the Matt Millen Era: they’ve now drafted potential building-block lineman first in four of the past five drafts. Riley Reiff could be the tackle of the future to replace Jeff Backus and could help improve a running game that was very inconsistent in 2012.
 
But then the team couldn’t resist the SHOWR with the second-round pick. In their defense, Ryan Broyles was an absolute stud at Oklahoma, averaging 101 catches, 1,300 yards and 13 TDs each of the last three years but was overshadowed by another Sooner State star, WR Justin Blackmon of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Hell, Broyles could prove better in the NFL, though he is much smaller than Blackmon.
 
With that said, the Lions really didn’t need him. Detroit’s problems last year were all on defense, a fact the team acknowledged by devoting its final six picks to defenders. But they need impact players on defense, and they devoted the picks most likely to provide impact players to offense. 
 
Fillability Grade: C


GREEN BAY

 
Round 1, Pick 28 (28) Nick Perry DE 6'3" 271 USC
Round 2, Pick 19 (51) Jerel Worthy DT 6'2" 308 Michigan St.
Round 2, Pick 30 (62) Casey Hayward DB 5'11" 185 Vanderbilt
Round 4, Pick 37 (132) Mike Daniels DT 6'0" 291 Iowa
Round 4, Pick 38 (133) Jerron McMillian SS 5'11" 203 Maine
Round 5, Pick 28 (163) Terrell Manning OLB 6'2" 237 N.C. State
Round 7, Pick 34 (241) Andrew Datko T 6'6" 315 Florida St.
Round 7, Pick 36 (243) B.J. Coleman QB 6'3" 233 Tennessee-Chattanooga
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: C Jeff Saturday, DE Tony Hargrove
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense: 30th in Defensive Real Passing YPA (7.2); surrendered more passing yards (4,988) than any team in history.
 
Overview: Amazing that a team so good and so dominant for large stretches of an entire NFL season could also be so obviously flawed. So it was pretty simple: the Packers acknowledged the problem that haunted them in 2011 and, like any good organization would do, moved very aggressively to resolve those problems. The team’s first six draft picks all went to defenders.
 
It was the only rational thing for Green Bay to do in the draft after the disaster of 2011: a team that went 15-1, scored 560 points, second most in history, and scored 35.0 PPG, sixth most in history, was embarrassed defensively in their lone playoff game. The Packers surrendered a grotesque 9.56 yards every time Eli Manning stepped back to pass in the Giants’ divisional playoff win at Green Bay.
 
It was clear that the great pass-rushing, playmaking defense of 2010 that lifted the Pack to a Super Bowl title had fallen off dramatically in 2011. So, given all the evidence, Green Bay had only one path to follow in the draft and they followed it with religious zeal. Cheeseheadism, folks. It's contagious.
 
Fillability Grade: A+

 

HOUSTON

 
Round 1, Pick 26 (26) Whitney Mercilus DE 6'3" 261 Illinois
Round 3, Pick 5 (68)   DeVier Posey WR 6'1" 211 Ohio St.
Round 3, Pick 13 (76) Brandon Brooks G 6'5" 343 Miami (OH)
Round 4, Pick 4 (99) Ben Jones C 6'2" 303 Georgia
Round 4, Pick 26 (121) Keshawn Martin WR 5'11" 192 Michigan St.
Round 4, Pick 31 (126) Jared Crick DT 6'4" 279 Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 26 (161) Randy Bullock K 5'9" 205 Texas A&M
Round 6, Pick 25 (195) Nick Mondek OT 6'6" 304 Purdue
 
Veteran acquisitions: LB Bradie James, P Donnie Jones
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing game. As noted by our Naughty Nurse of statistical analysis, the Texans were VERY good in almost every area across the board last year. In fact, they were No. 1 across the board in our Quality Stats Power Rankings. As a result, the fairly good passing game was Houston's weakness almost by default, not to mention by injury. Losing Matt Schaub was obviously a critical blow for a team that probably would have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl had he stayed upright.
 
Overview: The Texans hit home runs with its young defensive draft picks of 2011 – so much so that the defense actually got better in 2011 after losing longtime face-of-the-(terrible)-defense Mario Williams to injury. The Texans were both smart and happy to let the big-bucked defender go, after Buffalo signed Williams to a ridiculously rich contract.
 
But Houston did go after a playmaker at DE to replace him in first-round pick Mercilus, who was a big-time playmaker for Illinois last year with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. The dangerous Houston defensive front, No. 7 on the Defensive Hog Index and No. 4 at pressuring the passer, could be even better in 2012.
 
The team also made strong moves to shore up its offensive line and add some weapons to the arsenal for Schaub, T.J. Yates or whoever may end up behind center in 2012.
 
But with no clear direction of need, it’s hard to say one way or the other if the Texans reloaded properly. The team merely has to repeat last year, and stay healthy, to have a legit shot at the Super Bowl.
 
Fillability Grade: B

INDIANAPOLIS

 
Round 1 Pick 1 (1) Andrew Luck QB 6'4" 234 Stanford
Round 2, Pick 2 (34) Coby Fleener TE 6'6" 247 Stanford
Round 3, Pick 1 (64) Dwayne Allen TE 6'3" 255 Clemson
Round 3, Pick 29 (92) T.Y. Hilton WR 5'10" 183 Florida International
Round 5, Pick 1 (136) Josh Chapman DT 6'1" 316 Alabama
Round 5, Pick 35 (170) Vick Ballard RB 5'10" 219 Mississippi St.
Round 6, Pick 36 (206) LaVon Brazill WR 5'11" 192 Ohio
Round 7, Pick 1 (208) Justin Anderson T 6'4" 335 Georgia
Round 7, Pick 7 (214) Tim Fugger DE 6'3" 248 Vanderbilt
Round 7, Pick 46 (253) Chandler Harnish QB 6'2" 219 Northern Illinois
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: NT Brandon McKinney, DE Cory Redding, S Tom Zbikowski, G Mike McGlynn, C Samson Satele, WR Donnie Avery
 
Weakness in 2011: Everything. The Colts finished the year No. 32 in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, which measures teams by their average ranking in each of our indicators. They finished 30th or worse in 8 of these 13 Quality Stats, along with 28th in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
 
Overview: The 2011 Colts grappled with more debilitating weaknesses than an alcoholic gambler working in a late-night Las Vegas liquor store stockroom.

The loss of Mega-QB Peyton Manning obviously hurt the team badly. But he didn’t play cornerback and even he would have struggled to win six or eight games paired with what was easily the worst pass defense in franchise history. Indy’s 103.4 Defensive Passer Rating in 2011 was much worse than the organization’s previous weakest: a 95.7 for the 1998 Colts (3-13), in Manning’s rookie year; and, going back to the franchise’s Baltimore days, a 100.6 DPR for the dreadful 2-14 team of 1981.
 
Oh, those 1981 Colts? They hold the distinction of giving up more points than any team in the history of football (533), 16 more than the 0-16 Lions of 2008.
 
With that said, you gotta give credit where credit is due: the Colts knew they needed to blow it up all up begin anew, and they’ve done it at every level of the organization and in dramatic fashion. They kicked face-of-the-franchise Manning, his injuries and his $20 million bonus to the curb, sent him to Denver, and have begun anew with Andrew Luck as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

The team also bid a cold adieu to about a dozen free agents, including many of the team's most familiar names (Jeff Saturday, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, Joseph Addai, among others).
 
Few draft picks have ever faced more pressure than Luck, given the confluence of circumstances (bad team at all levels and replacing a legend). But if he pans out, Indy should have a very brief visit to the bottom of the NFL – no small feat in a league in which some teams linger for years and even decades in mediocrity or worse.
 
They used their next three picks to arm him with weapons and they raided the mighty Baltimore defense for three different free agents who may not start but will certainly contribute. Redding, for example, had 4.5 sacks with the Ravens last year and Indy needs ALL the help it can get on the DL.
 
The only criticism you can make is that Indy may have been wiser taking a potential defensive game-breaker with their second or third pick, or a stud OL to help rebuild the cast that will protect Luck. Remember, the defense last year was just as bad as of the offense. And to return to contender status, they’ll need defensive playmakers. Right now, they have none. But you can only plug so many holes at once.
 
All in all, definitely the boldest off-season of any team this year and in recent history.
 
Fillability Grade: A-

 

JACKSONVILLE

 
Round 1, Pick 5 (5) Justin Blackmon WR 6'1" 207 Oklahoma St.
Round 2, Pick 6 (38) Andre Branch DE 6'4" 259 Clemson
Round 3, Pick 7 (70) Bryan Anger P 6'3" 208 California
Round 5, Pick 7 (142) Brandon Marshall OLB 6'1" 242 Nevada
Round 6, Pick 6 (176) Mike Harris CB 5'10" 188 Florida St.
Round 7, Pick 21 (228) Jeris Pendleton DT     Ashland
 
Veteran acquisitions: WR Laurent Robinson, QB Chad Henne, DB Aaron Ross
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing offense, with whatever is the opposite of the old phrase “with a bullet” that was once used to indicate a hot record climbing fast up the Billboard charts. If there is an opposite, that's what Jax put on the field last season. The Jags were No. 32 across the board in Real Passing YPA, Real Quarterback Rating and Offensive Passer Rating.
 
Overview: The Jaguars are in a tough place as a franchise. They have a new owner and a new coach and they’re stuck for the time being with a young quarterback who they didn’t draft and with whom they may not be too enthusiastic.
 
They can’t give up yet on the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Blaine Gabbert, nor should they at this point. But let’s face it: the early results on Gabbert were dreadful, as evidenced by Jacksonville’s Stone Age performance in the passing game.
 
But let’s give Gabbert, and the Jaguars, some benefit of the doubt here. Jacksonville’s terrible passing game may have been more indicative of the style of football favored by the mis-master of Stone Age offense himself, former coach Jack Del Rio.
 
Perhaps a Mike Mularkey offense will have more luck. So given all that background, the Jaguars behaved the way teams predictably do in similarly tough situations: the drafted a slick wide receiver in the first round and will wish really, really hard with pinky prayers for the best. We don’t really blame them given the circumstances. We don’t have a lot of hope for the pick – but nor do we blame them. The organization’s hands are tied at this point.
 
The bigger issues for Jacksonville were found later in the draft: the Jaguars were a respectable No. 11 on the Defensive Hog Index last year, yet a meager No. 29 on the Offensive Hog Index. Thoe rankings reflected almost perfectly the performances of each unit: a respectable No. 11 in scoring defense and No. 28 in scoring offense. Naturally, given those statistical circumstances, the team loaded up on offensive linemen to protect Gabbert so he could get the ball downfield to Blackmon and improve a terrible offense. Right?!
 
Wrong!
 
They devoted four of their final five picks to three Defensive Hogs and, inexcusably, a punter in the third round. 
 
Fillability Grade: F-

 

KANSAS CITY

 
Round 1, Pick 11 (11) Dontari Poe DT 6'3" 346 Memphis
Round 2, Pick 12 (44) Jeff Allen T 6'4" 307 Illinois
Round 3, Pick 11 (74) Donald Stephenson T 6'6" 312 Oklahoma
Round 4, Pick 12 (107) Devon Wylie WR 5'9" 187 Fresno St.
Round 5, Pick 11 (146) DeQuan Menzie CB 5'10" 195 Alabama
Round 6, Pick 12 (182) Cyrus Gray RB 5'10" 206 Texas A&M
Round 7, Pick 11 (218) Jerome Long DT     San Diego St.
Round 7, Pick 31 (238) Junior Hemingway WR 6'1" 225 Michigan
 
Veteran acquisitions: RB Peyton Hillis, QB Brady Quinn
 
Weakness in 2011: Scoring offense (31st with 13.2 PPG), worst in franchise history.
 
Overview: The draft started off ugly for the Chiefs. Remember, the offense was a disaster in 2011, especially late – 84 points total in its final nine games. But the team was able to muscle out seven victories during the season thanks to a decent defense and a defensive line that ranked No. 6 league-wide on our Defensive Hog Index.
 
So what did the Chiefs do with their first pick? They made a potential reach for a small-school defensive tackle – a classic case of drafting to accentuate a strength rather than to improve a weakness.
 
The rest of the draft was better: Kansas City took two shots at potential franchise tackles to shore up an OL that was No. 24 on the Offensive Hog Index; and there were some moves to provide some potential playmakers on offense. That need became woefully evident, first with the early loss of Jamaal Charles and then with the mid-season loss of Matt Cassel.
 
If the skill players return to form, Kansas City’s offense should be something better than the worst in franchise history, as it was in 2011. But a more aggressive move in the draft would have increased the likelihood.
 
Fillability Grade: C

MIAMI

 
Round 1, Pick 8 (8) Ryan Tannehill QB 6'4" 221 Texas A&M
Round 2, Pick 10 (42) Jonathan Martin OT 6'5" 312 Stanford
Round 3, Pick 9 (72) Olivier Vernon DE 6'2" 261 Miami
Round 3, Pick 15 (78) (From Chargers) Michael Egnew TE 6'5" 252 Missouri
Round 4, Pick 2 (97) (From Colts through 49ers) Lamar Miller RB 5'11" 212 Miami
Round 5, Pick 20 (155) (From Titans) Josh Kaddu LB 6'3" 239 Oregon
Round 6, Pick 13 (183) (From Chargers) B.J. Cunningham WR 6'1" 211 Michigan St.
Round 7, Pick 20 (227) (From Titans) Rishard Matthews WR 6'0" 212 Nevada
Round 7, Pick 8 (215) Kheeston Randall DT 6'4" 293 Texas
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB Richard Marshall, DB Tyrell Johnson, LB Gary Guyton, WR Legedu Naanee, G Artis Hicks
 
Weakness in 2011: Offensive line. Mediocre play at QB.
 
Overview: Huzzah! Huzzah! The Cold, Hard Football Facts, and contributor Luis DeLoureiro in particular, began harping on the curious state of the QB position in Miami back before the 2011 season.
 
You know the story. The Dolphins devoted woefully few resources to the QB position in recent decades and it had the predictable result on the field: the Dolphins had woefully bad production at the QB position.
 
So Miami finally made the much-needed aggressive move and took a highly-touted QB high in the draft. Of course, the questions are many: Tannehill may have been a reach at No. 8 overall. It certainly seemed a bit on the desperate side.
 
With that said, nobody knows how Tannehill will perform. Right now, you can judge teams and their drafts only by whether or not they addressed their biggest statistical needs. And QB has in fact been Miami’s biggest statistical need for about a decade now.
 
Specifically in 2011, however, the team’s greatest need was an offensive line that ranked No. 26 on the Offensive Hog Index, Miami’s lowest ranking in any one of our Quality Stats. The club did grab OT Jonathan Martin early in the second round. So the Dolphins addressed their two biggest statistical needs with their first two picks.
 
The biggest flaw in Miami’s draft strategy, however, was that it devoted only one of nine picks to the OL, its greatest problem in 2011. Tannehill will have a better chance to succeed with a better OL in front of him. But Miami’s O-Hogs ranked No. 30 when it came time to protect the passer last year. One rookie offensive tackle will not dramatically improve that situation all by himself.  

Good luck, Ryan. You'll need it.
 
Fillability Grade: B-


MINNESOTA

 
Round 1, Pick 4 (4) Matt Kalil OT 6'6" 306 USC
Round 1, Pick 29 (29) Harrison Smith FS 6'2" 213 Notre Dame
Round 3, Pick 3 (66) Josh Robinson CB 5'10" 199 Central Florida
Round 4, Pick 23 (118) Jarius Wright WR 5'10" 182 Arkansas
Round 4, Pick 33 (128) Rhett Ellison FB 6'5" 251 USC
Round 4, Pick 39 (134) Greg Childs WR 6'3" 219 Arkansas
Round 5, Pick 4 (139) Robert Blanton CB 6'1" 208 Notre Dame
Round 6, Pick 5 (175) Blair Walsh K 5'9" 187 Georgia
Round 7, Pick 3 (210) Audie Cole ILB 6'4" 246 N.C. State
Round 7, Pick 12 (219) Trevor Guyton DE 6'3" 285 California
 
Veteran acquisitions: DB Zackary Bowman, LB Marvin Mitchell, WR Jerome Simpson, RB Jerome Felton, TE John Carlson.
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense (No. 32 in Defensive Passer Rating); Minnesota’s 107.6 Defensive Passer Rating was the second worst in history, behind only the 110.9 of the 0-16 Lions of 2008.
 
Overview: What do you get the team that sucks at everything (No. 29 overall in our Quality Stats Power Rankings)? How about a nice, robust 10-member draft class. That’s a good start to refresh the talent pool.
 
The most obvious problem with Minnesota’s draft is that the offensive line may have been the team’s greatest strength in 2011: the No. 14 ranking on the Offensive Hog Index was the team’s highest in any one of our Quality Stats. Of course, the team had a lot of attrition on the offensive line, namely cutting Steve Hutchinson. And you can’t quibble with the potential of a highly touted franchise tackle such as Kalil.
 
So it’s something of a nit to pick to fault them the Vikings in this case for drafting to accentuate a strength.
 
It’s NOT a nit to pick to say the team simply did not do enough to improve the second worst pass defense in the history of football. The Vikings devoted only five of 10 draft picks to defenders – two of them in the seventh round – and just three of those picks to the secondary.

Along the way toward only tepidly improving one of the worst pass defenses in the history of football, Minnesota drafted two Shiny Hood Ornament wide receivers, an antiquated fullback and, yes, even a kicker.
 
Many opportunities were lost in Minnesota’s 2012 draft class.
 
Fillability Grade: D+


NEW ENGLAND

 
Round 1, Pick 21 (21) Chandler Jones DE 6'5" 247 Syracuse
Round 1, Pick 25 (25) Dont'a Hightower ILB 6'2" 265 Alabama
Round 2, Pick 16 (48) Tavon Wilson FS 6'0" 205 Illinois
Round 3, Pick 27 (90) Jake Bequette DE 6'5" 274 Arkansas
Round 6, Pick 27 (197) Nate Ebner DB     Ohio St.
Round 7, Pick 17 (224) Alfonzo Dennard CB 5'10" 204 Nebraska
Round 7, Pick 28 (235) Jeremy Ebert WR 5'11" 200 Northwestern
 
Veteran acquisitions: DE Jonathan Fanene, DE Trevor Scott, DB Will Allen, DB Steve Gregory, LB Bobby Carpenter, RB Spencer Larsen, TE Dan Fells, WR Anthony Gonzalez, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Donte’ Stallworth
 
Weakness in 2011: Lack of playamakers on defense.
 
Overview: The Patriots let three likely Super Bowl championships slip through their fingers – in 2006, 2007 and 2011 – because of a defense that couldn’t make big plays in big moments when it counted most in the biggest games of the year.
 
After stubbornly trading down draft after draft, sacrificing talent for value and whiffing on a number of picks, they finally aggressively moved to change the dynamic, the lack of defensive playmakers, that has haunted it for several years. The team has also been very busy in free agency.
 
The Patriots devoted their first six picks to defense, each of them specifically targeting an obvious area of need, especially on the defensive line and secondary.
 
The offense has been so good for so many years that largely ignoring it in the 2012 draft is hardly a problem. Remember, the Patriots won Super Bowls in years in which they scored 437, 371 and 348 points. They lost Super Bowls in years in which they scored 513 and 589 points and failed to win so much as a playoff game in a year in which they scored 518 points.
 
Clearly, they can afford to suffer a little offensively if it leads to grand improvements defensively.
 
Fillability Grade: A

NEW ORLEANS

 
Round 3, Pick 26 (89) Akiem Hicks DE 6'5" 318 Regina
Round 4, Pick 27 (122) Nick Toon WR 6'2" 215 Wisconsin
Round 5, Pick 27 (162) Corey White SS 5'11" 206 Samford
Round 6, Pick 9 (179) (From Dolphins) Andrew Tiller G 6'4" 324 Syracuse
Round 7, Pick 27 (234) Marcel Jones T 6'6" 320 Nebraska
 
Veteran acquisitions: LB Curtis Lofton, LB David Hawthorne, LB Chris Chamberlain, DT Brodrick Bunkley, G Ben Grubbs.
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense. Run defense.
 
Overview: Looks so weak and paltry there, the Saints 2012 draft class, exposed like a side of beef in a butcher shop and all its stark, denuded lack of glory. Just five picks, the first at the end of the third round. It’s like another kick in the nuts for a team that will enter the 2012 season without its coach, without its GM, without several key players and without its dignity.
 
The bottom line here is not good, Saints fans. Sorry. In addition to all the other issues haunting the team in the wake of the Bounty-Gate scandal, New Orleans desperately needs to improve a pass defense that consistently let you down last year, especially away from the cozy confines of the Superdome.
 
The Saints ranked 22nd on in Defensive Passer Rating and 31st when it came to pressuring the passer, forcing a Negative Pass Play on just 6.37 percent of opponent dropbacks. Only the Colts and Vikings forced fewer INTs than the 9 hauled in by Saints defenders. Oh, and just for good measure, the Saints were No. 29 in run defense, allowing opponents to gash them for 4.95 yards everytime they ran the ball.
 
It’s hard to aggressively address those huge statistical holes with just five draft picks. But the Saints compounded the problem by selecting a wide receiver with its second pick – accentuating an obvious strength in the process. The Saints scored 547 points in 2011, the fourth most in the history of football, while passing for more yards than any team ever.

We understand Robert Meachem is gone. But New Orleans needs wide receivers like the CHFF crew needs another round of beignets for breakfast.
 
The Saints also compounded the problem by devoting two of its five picks to the offensive line, another obvious position of strength. The Saints were No. 1 on the Offensive Hog Index in 2011.
 
Fillability Grade: D

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

 
Round 1, Pick 32 (32) David Wilson RB 5'10" 206 Virginia Tech
Round 2, Pick 31 (63) Rueben Randle WR 6'4" 210 LSU
Round 3, Pick 31 (94) Jayron Hosley CB 5'10" 178 Virginia Tech
Round 4, Pick 32 (127) Adrien Robinson TE 6'4" 264 Cincinnati
Round 4, Pick 36 (131) Brandon Mosley OT 6'5" 314 Auburn
Round 6, Pick 31 (201) Matt McCants T 6'5" 308 UAB
Round 7, Pick 32 (239) Markus Kuhn DT 6'4" 299 N.C. State
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: T Sean Locklear, TE Martellus Bennett, DT Shaun Rogers, DB Antwaun Molden
 
Weakness in 2011: Ground game.  
 
Overview: This is how we put it with our first-round draft grades on SI.com: “The Giants have a rep as a classic old-school offense that pounds away with an array of ball carriers to open up the passing lanes for its quarterback. But on draft day the team has devoted very few resources to the ground -- just four draft picks over the past 10 years went to RBs, fewest in the NFL.
 
“With that said, Wilson could prove to be a smart pick. The Giants won the Super Bowl last season despite a pathetic rushing attack. They averaged just 3.5 yards per rush attempt, worst in the NFL. Great needs-based pick for the champs.”

 
So you can't argue with the top pick. With that said, the Giants are a fascinating statistical case study, perhaps the most fascinating in the history of the NFL. Twice they were purely mediocre in the regular season (2007, 2011); twice they won Super Bowls with the two worst statistical profiles of any champions in the history of football, and by almost any measure.
 
The Giants were not great in any one area throughout the 2011 season, but nor were they poor in any one area. And that balance was really the key to the success over the long haul. Weak links snap in big games. The Giants did not have any truly weak links.
 
The only thing the Giants obviously should have done differently in the draft is go more aggressively after pass defenders. They were a mere No. 20 in Defensive Passer Rating, the worst pass defense fielded by any champion in NFL history. So if there was one area they clearly needed to shore up for 2012, that pass defense was it. Yet, to that end, they drafted only a cornerback in the third round.
 
If the Giants fail to be key contenders in 2012, you can almost guarantee that a porous pass defense will be the reason why.
 
Fillability Grade: B-


NEW YORK JETS

 
Round 1, Pick 16 (16) Quinton Coples DE 6'6" 284 North Carolina
Round 2, Pick 11 (43) Stephen Hill WR 6'4" 215 Georgia Tech
Round 3, Pick 14 (77) Demario Davis OLB 6'2" 235 Arkansas State
Round 6, Pick 17 (187) Josh Bush S 5'11" 208 Wake Forest
Round 6, Pick 32 (202) Terrance Ganaway RB 6'0" 239 Baylor
Round 6, Pick 33 (203) Robert T. Griffin G 6'6" 335 Baylor
Round 7, Pick 35 (242)   Antonio Allen SS 6'1" 210 South Carolina
Round 7, Pick 37 (244) Jordan White WR 6'0" 208 Western Michigan
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: QB Tim Tebow, QB Drew Stanton, WR Chaz Schilens, DB LaRon Landry
 
Weakness in 2011: Offensive line. Defensive efficiency.  
 
Overview: The 2011 season for the Jets devolved into the worst identity crisis since J. Edgar Hoover wore a pink chiffon prom dress to the FBI’s spring cotillion.  
 
The Jets fancy themselves an old-school “ground and pound” team that enforces its will upon other teams under the domineering personality of Rex Ryan.
 
Yawn. Spare us the useless, trite and statistically irrelevant “old school” clichés.

That philosophy is barely even relevant in high school football, let alone in pro football. Teams don’t win in the NFL with “ground and pound” football – especially the Jets. They could neither ground nor pound, and compounded the problem with a startlingly porous defense.
 
Gang Green was No. 28 on the Offensive Hog Index, No. 29 in Bendability, our measure of defensive efficiency, which led to an un-Ryan-esque No. 20 in scoring defense (22.7 PPG); and No. 30 running the football (3.82 YPA).

So much for the clichés. Once again, they were grounded and pounded into irrelevant statistical dust by the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
 
But, hey, at least Mark Sanchez couldn’t get the ball downfield (the Jets were No. 25 in Real Passing YPA). So at least the Jets didn’t have the QB position working for them.
 
So what did the Jets do to improve arguably the worst offensive line in football? They drafted a guard in the sixth round.
 
Coples can help solve the defensive issues if he lives up to the hype. And the team has clearly realizes it has issues at QB, after bringing in Tebow and Stanton in the off-season. But otherwise, Gang Green produced a non-descript draft with little direction. Next step for the Jets is to draft a new coach.
 
Fillability Grade: C


OAKLAND

 
Round 3, Pick 32 (95) Tony Bergstrom OT 6'5" 313 Utah
Round 4, Pick 34 (129) Miles Burris OLB 6'2" 246 San Diego St.
Round 5, Pick 23 (158) Jack Crawford DE 6'5" 274 Penn St.
Round 5, Pick 33 (168) Juron Criner WR 6'3" 224 Arizona
Round 6, Pick 19 (189) Christo Bilukidi DE 6'5" 290 Georgia State
Round 7, Pick 23 (230) Nathan Stupar OLB 6'2" 241 Penn St.
 
Veteran acquisitions: DE Dave Tollefson, LB Philip Wheeler, DB Patrick Lee, G Mike Brisiel
 
Weakness in 2011: Defensive line (No. 28 on the Defensive Hog Index). Team-wide efficiency (No. 24 in Scoreability; No. 25 in Bendability).
 
Overview:The Raiders were a fairly respectable team last year except with a notable glaring hole in their game: the defensive line was atrocious, marred by the worst run defense in football last year. Opponents gashed Oakland’s defense for 5.07 YPA. In fact, that lack of performance puts the Raiders on the very short list of worst run defense in the history of football, an ignominious group we call the 5.0 Club.  
 
Naturally, the razor-sharp Raiders loaded up defensive linemen to stop the blood that poured out of that ugly defensive gash. Right??
 
Well, in their defense, they largely did. But they just didn’t do it fast enough. The Bengals had Oakland's first-round pick; the Patriots its second round pick. The Raiders did not enjoy their first pick until the end of the third round, and then used that pick on an offensive tackle.
 
Given that move, it should be noted that the Raiders, No. 28 on the Defensive Hog Index, were a respectable No. 15 on the Offensive Hog Index. They were one of the best teams in football – seventh, actually – with an average of 4.53 YPA on the ground.
 
So drafting an OT first is what a fishermen might call bass-ackwards.

Oakland did grab four Defensive Hogs with its final five picks. So that effort was smart given the team’s statistical needs. But the first selection did not come until the fourth round and the 129th pick. Impact players are obviously easier to find higher in the draft. But time will only tell if this pool of defensive talent was too little, too late.  
 
Fillability Grade: B-


PHILADELPHIA

 
Round 1, Pick 12 (12) Fletcher Cox DT 6'4" 298 Mississippi St.
Round 2, Pick 14 (46) Mychal Kendricks ILB 5'11" 239 California
Round 2, Pick 27 (59) Vinny Curry DE 6'3" 266 Marshall
Round 3, Pick 25 (88)   Nick Foles QB 6'5" 243 Arizona
Round 4, Pick 28 (123) Brandon Boykin CB 5'9" 182 Georgia
Round 5, Pick 18 (153) Dennis Kelly OT     Purdue
Round 6, Pick 24 (194) Marvin McNutt WR 6'3" 216 Iowa
Round 6, Pick 30 (200) Brandon Washington OG 6'3" 320 Miami
Round 7, Pick 22 (229) Bryce Brown RB 6'0" 223 Kansas St.
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: C Steve Vallos, T Demetress Bell
 
Weakness in 2011: Ineffective effort in the passing game on both sides of the ball. Defense up the middle.  
 
Overview: The 2011 season was hugely disappointing for the “Dream Team” Eagles. But they were also on a short list of statistically solid teams. Only four teams last year finished in the Top 21 in every single one of our Quality Stats:
  • The statistical juggernaut Texans, whose legit Super Bowl dreams were hijacked by injuries at QB.
  • The AFC runner-up Ravens, who fell two painful gaffes short of the Super Bowl.
  • The Super Bowl champ Giants.
  • And, yes, the disappointing 8-8 Eagles.
So yes, Philly underperformed expectations, thanks largely to underperformance in the two most important aspects of winning football: passing offense and passing defense. The Eagles finished the season No. 19 in both Offensive Passer Rating (78.3) and Defensive Passer Rating (85.7). And, as a result, No. 21 in the mother of all stats, Passer Rating Differential (-7.4).
 
Only two teams since 1940 have won an NFL championship under water in PRD, and both under extenuating circumstances. So Philly’s 8-8 record and failure to make a title run makes perfect sense based upon their statistical signatures.
 
With that said, the team committed ridiculous money ($40 million guaranteed) to QB Michael Vick before the 2011 season. So clearly, for better or worse, they're not making huge changes at QB anytime soon.
 
So that leaves open only one direction on draft day: devoting heavy resources to defense. The Eagles did head in the right direction: their first three picks were all on defense. But they were all Defensive Hogs, despite the fact that this unit was a key strength in 2011: Philly was No. 8 on the Defensive Hog Index last season, its highest ranking in any single Quality Stat.
 
They did need help at linebacker. But keep in mind this defensive front is the same one that led the league in sacks (50) in 2011 (tied with Minnesota).
 
There is obvious concern that the team did not more heavily pursue help in the secondary after finishing the year just 21st in Defensive Passer Rating despite a league-leading pass rush.
 
Fillability Grade: B-

PITTSBURGH

 
Round 1, Pick 24 (24) David DeCastro G 6'5" 316 Stanford
Round 2, Pick 24 (56) Mike Adams OT 6'7" 323 Ohio St.
Round 3, Pick 23 (86) Sean Spence LB 5'11" 231 Miami
Round 4, Pick 14 (109) Alameda Ta'amu DT 6'3" 348 Washington
Round 5, Pick 24 (159) Chris Rainey RB 5'8" 180 Florida
Round 7, Pick 24 (231) Toney Clemons WR 6'2" 210 Colorado
Round 7, Pick 33 (240) David Paulson TE 6'3" 245 Oregon
Round 7, Pick 39 (246) Terrence Frederick CB 5'10" 187 Texas A&M
Round 7, Pick 41 (248) Kelvin Beachum T 6'2" 303 SMU
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: TE Leonard Pope
 
Weakness in 2011: Defensive Hogs. Offensive efficiency.  
 
Overview: The offensive line was not Pittsburgh’s biggest problem in 2011. In fact, the unit was No. 10 on the Offensive Hog Index and No. 11 running the ball (4.38 YPA). But as we reported during Round 1 of the draft, Pittsburgh’s offensive line has never quite returned to dominance since future Hall of Famer Alan Faneca left town after the 2007 season.
 
So we don’t really quibble with the team’s decision to go heavy OL early in the draft. Plus, these are the Steelers, the team that makes old clichés about mud-and-spittle football sexy and that has done it with unprecedented long-term success.
 
Perhaps an improved offensive line can help the team play smarter situational football. Pittsburgh was No. 27 in Scoreability in 2011, far and away its worth performance in anyone of our Quality Stats.
 
With that said, it would have been preferable from a statistical point of to go hotter and heavier after Defensive Hogs. Pittsburgh was a D-Hog juggernaut for year, including No. 1 on the D-Hog Index as recently as 2010. That unit tumbled to No. 19 in 2011 and struggled to pressure the passer, forcing a Negative Pass Play on just 8.14 percent of dropbacks (26th).
 
We saw that weakness haunt the Steelers in their historic defensive meltdown against Denver in the 2011 wildcard playoffs. Pittsburgh not only got torched for a playoff record 15.0 yards per pass attempt, they did not force a single sack or INT against a QB, Tim Tebow, considered by many observers to be a huge liability in the passing game.
 
Fillability Grade: C+

SAN DIEGO

 
Round 1, Pick 18 (18) Melvin Ingram DE 6'1" 264 South Carolina
Round 2, Pick 17 (49) Kendall Reyes DT 6'4" 299 Connecticut
Round 3, Pick 10 (73) Brandon Taylor SS 5'11" 209 LSU
Round 4, Pick 15 (110) Ladarius Green TE 6'6" 238 Louisiana-Lafayette
Round 5, Pick 14 (149) Johnnie Troutman G 6'4" 325 Penn St.
Round 7, Pick 19 (226) David Molk C 6'0" 298 Michigan
Round 7, Pick 43 (250) Edwin Baker RB 5'8" 204 Michigan St.
 

Veteran acquisitions: QB Charlie Whitewurst, WR Michael Spurlock, WR Robert Meachem, WR Roscoe Parrish, WR Eddie Royal, RB Le’Ron McClain, TE Dante Rosario, DB Atari Bigby, LB Jarret Johnson
 
Weakness in 2011: Pass defense: No. 27 in Defensive Passer Rating, No. 28 in Defensive QB Rating, No. 28 in Defensive Real Passing YPA.
 
Overview: The Chargers had two real problems in 2011: One, Philip Rivers had a sub-par campaign lowlighted by 20 INT, easily the most of his statistically prolific career. And two, the pass defense was a sieve, among the worst in the league by every major of performance.
 
Despite Rivers’ proclivity for picks, San Diego still finished the year No. 5 in scoring offense. The defense was a mere 22nd.
 
The team acknowledged its defensive woes by using its first three picks on that side of the ball. However, the first two picks went to the defensive line – a unit which was fairly decent in 2012. Meanwhile, the team is still desperate for new talent in the secondary.
 
The team did not do enough o strengthen this weak link in the draft and utterly failed in free agency, choosing instead to engage in an orgy of wide receiver signings that will do little to change the team’s fortunes in 2012 if the defense performs near the level it did in 2011.
 
Fillability Grade: D

SAN FRANCISCO

 
Round 1, Pick 30 (30) A.J. Jenkins WR 6'0" 192 Illinois
Round 2, Pick 29 (61) LaMichael James RB 5'8" 194 Oregon
Round 4, Pick 22 (117) (From Lions) Joe Looney G 6'3" 309 Wake Forest
Round 5, Pick 30 (165) Darius Fleming OLB 6'2" 245 Notre Dame
Round 6, Pick 10 (180) (From Panthers) Trent Robinson FS 5'10" 195 Michigan St.
Round 6, Pick 29 (199) Jason Slowey C 6'3" 303 Western Oregon
Round 7, Pick 30 (237) Cam Johnson DE 6'3" 268 Virginia
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: WR Mario Manningham, RB Rock Cartwright, QB John Johnson.
 
Weakness in 2011: Downfield passing game (No. 20 in Real Passing YPA). Offensive line (No. 26 on the Offensive Hog Index). Third-down offense (31st in conversion rate).
 
Overview: If we suffered the misfortune of human emotion, Jim Harbaugh might already be our favorite coach, just one season into his career running an NFL sideline.
 
The 49ers were not only the surprise team of 2011, they were the best-coached team in football – no small feat for a club with a rookie head coach unable to get a jump start on his first season because of the NFL lockout. We reported on the statistical manifestations of his coaching capabilities several times last season both here on CHFF and on SI.com.
 
Those skills manifested themselves in a smart draft class that was clearly and obviously chosen based upon the team’s statistical signatures ... based upon the Cold, Hard Football Facts, in other words.
 
As you know, we usually frown on any team that takes a WR No. 1. But here’s how we put San Francisco's decision to take a Shiny Hood Ornament in the first round on SI.com: “Grabbing wide receivers in the first round is almost always a bad move. They bust at a high rate and rarely improve a team's overall fortunes … But the 49ers were in an ideal spot to grab a potential game-breaker at wideout: they were solid everywhere else last year and need a little help to open up the passing game for Alex Smith.”
 
The 49ers added another weapon in the second round with the hugely explosive LaMichael James, who is most likely a third-down type back – another huge need. Only the lowly Rams converted third downs less often than the 49ers.
 
And with San Francisco’s third pick, they went after a much-needed offensive lineman, while adding another potential future O-Hog later in the draft.
 
Essentially, the best-coached team in football used the Cold, Hard Football Facts to guide their draft-day decisions – which is the way every team should draft. If these players live up to expectations the 49ers will certainly be a contender again in 2012.

Fillability Grade: A+

SEATTLE

 
Round 1, Pick 15 (15) Bruce Irvin DE 6'3" 245 West Virginia
Round 2, Pick 15 (47) Bobby Wagner ILB 6'0" 233 Utah St.
Round 3, Pick 12 (75) Russell Wilson QB 5'11" 204 Wisconsin
Round 4, Pick 11 (106) Robert Turbin RB 5'10" 222 Utah St.
Round 4, Pick 19 (114) Jaye Howard DT 6'3" 301 Florida
Round 5, Pick 19 (154) Korey Toomer ILB 6'2" 234 Idaho
Round 6, Pick 2 (172) Jeremy Lane CB 6'0" 184 Northwestern St. (LA)
Round 6, Pick 11 (181) Winston Guy DB 6'1" 218 Kentucky
Round 7, Pick 18 (225) J R Sweezy DE 6'5" 298 N.C. State
Round 7, Pick 25 (232) Greg Scruggs DE     Louisville
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: QB Matt Flynn, G Deuce Lutui, DE Jason Jones, LB Barrett Ruud.
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing offense (No. 26 in Real Passing YPA); offensive line (No. 30 on the Offensive Hog Index).
 
Overview: The Seahawks were a fairly interesting team in 2011. Despite huge problems in the passing game and on the OL, which struggled to both run the ball and protect the passer, Seattle finished the year No. 13 overall in our Quality Stats Power Rankings. They were also No. 7 in scoring defense.
 
In other words, Seattle is not really a bad team. They were 7-9 and have a lot of the building blocks of success in place if they can only solve the immediate problems at hand.
 
The Seahawks took aggressive steps to take care of the biggest problem, the one at quarterback. Matt Flynn has shown some signs that he could be a legit starter in the NFL. He played very well and nearly beat the 14-2 Patriots in Foxboro in 2010 and in, in the 2011 finale against the Lions, he only gave the most prolific passing performance in franchise history (480 yards, 6 TD). Seattle also picked up athletic but under-sized Wilson out of Wisconsin in the third round as some insurance.
 
The Seahawks failed miserably, however, to address the huge problems on the offensive line. They signed free-agent Lutui away from NFC West rival Arizona. But with 10 chances in the draft, they failed to select a single offensive lineman.
 
Instead, they devoted six of those 10 picks to Defensive Hogs, including both their first- and second-round picks.
 
It’s worth noting that Seattle was No. 4 on the Defensive Hog Index in 2011, No. 4 against the run (3.81 YPA) and No. 13 pressuring the passer (9.71 Negative Pass Play percentage).
 
Only two of Seattle’s 10 picks went to aid an offense that was very poor in 2011; eight of 10 picks went to aid an defense that was very good in 2011.
 
In terms of doing the right thing – i.e., drafting to solve statistical problems – Seattle simply failed to do the right thing. Instead, the ‘Hawks drafted to accentuate their greatest strength: the defense in general and the defensive line in particular. The poor, Cold, Hard Football Fact-less draft strategy in Seattle stands in sharp contrast to the strong Cold, Hard Football Facts-filled draft strategy from division rival San Francisco.

Fillability Grade: F-


ST. LOUIS

 
Round 1, Pick 14 (14) Michael Brockers DT 6'5" 322 LSU
Round 2, Pick 1 (33) Brian Quick WR 6'3" 220 Appalachian St.
Round 2, Pick 7 (39) Janoris Jenkins CB 5'10" 193 North Alabama
Round 2, Pick 18 (50) Isaiah Pead RB 5'10" 197 Cincinnati
Round 3, Pick 2 (65) Trumaine Johnson CB 6'1" 204 Montana
Round 4, Pick 1 (96) Chris Givens WR 5'11" 198 Wake Forest
Round 5, Pick 15 (150) Rokevious Watkins OT 6'4" 338 South Carolina
Round 6, Pick 1 (171) Greg Zuerlein K 6'0" 187 Missouri Western
Round 7, Pick 2 (209) Aaron Brown LB     Hawaii
Round 7, Pick 45 (252) Daryl Richardson RB 5'10" 192 Abilene Christian
 

Veteran acquisitions: WR Steve Smith, G Quinn Ojinnaka, C Robert Turner, C Scott Wells, DT William Hayes, DT Trevor Laws, DE Kendall Langford, DB Cortland Finnegan, DB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
 
Weakness in 2011: Quarterback (No. 31 in Real Passing YPA, Real QB Rating and Offensive Passer Rating). Offensive Line (No. 31 on Offensive Hog Index). Offensive efficiency (No. 32 in Scoreability).
 
Overview: The Rams fall into that list of teams stuck in a bad place institutionally because they’re stuck with a bad quarterback – at least for near future. In the case of the Rams, they’re stuck with Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Yes, he won Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, more by default than anything else. The reality is that’s he’s shown very little in his season and a half under center. His dismal effectiveness getting the ball downfield – 6.0 YPA in 2010; 6.1 YPA in 2011 – is a disturbing statistical signature for Rams fans.

But it’s also too early to pull the plug on him, especially considering the shocking amount of money St. Louis handed out to the unproven QB before he ever took an NFL snap. So the Bradford situation left the Rams handcuffed in the draft, unable and unwilling to address their biggest on-field issue last year.
 
St. Louis responded with a drifting, directionless draft class that provides little confidence that new coach Jeff Fisher and his compatriots are ready to take big steps forward in 2012.
 
For example, the Rams’ first pick was a defensive tackle and its third pick was a cornerback – despite the fact that defensive front and pass defense were the team’s two greatest strengths in 2011. St. Louis was No. 20 on the Defensive Hog Index and No. 16 in Defensive Real Passing YPA. Strength is a relative term, of course, and those were the only two areas in which the Rams approached competency last year. They were 31st overall in our Quality Stats Power Rankings.
 
The Rams did pick up several offensive lineman in free agency. But they otherwise largely failed to address the league’s 31st-ranked Offensive Hogs in the draft, picking six different players before finally landing an O-Hog in the fifth round.  
 
St. Louis’s effort to solve its statistical problems in the draft wasn’t as ugly as Seattle’s F- performance. But it was pretty close. Hell, and people wonder why the NFC West sucks so bad.
 
Fillability Grade: D

TAMPA BAY

 
Round 1, Pick 7 (7) Mark Barron SS 6'1" 213 Alabama
Round 1, Pick 31 (31) Doug Martin RB 5'9" 223 Boise St.
Round 2, Pick 26 (58) Lavonte David OLB 6'1" 233 Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 5 (140) Najee Goode ILB 6'0" 244 West Virginia
Round 6, Pick 4 (174) Keith Tandy CB 5'10" 200 West Virginia
Round 7, Pick 5 (212) Michael Smith RB 5'9" 205 Utah St.
Round 7, Pick 26 (233)   Drake Dunsmore TE 6'2" 241 Northwestern
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: QB Dan Orlovsky, WR Vincent Jackson, G Carl Nicks, DT Amobi Okoye, DB Eric Wright.
 
Weakness in 2011: Defense. Pass Defense. Defensive line.
 
Overview: The Buccaneers were comically bad on defense in 2011, fielding the worst performance in franchise history by almost every measure, from points allowed (30.9 PPG) to Defensive Passer Rating (97.2).
 
For a little perspective, compare those numbers to the performance of the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers of 2002: 12.3 PPG and 48.4 Defensive Passer Rating.

The 2011 Bucs were even among the worst defenses in history at stopping the run.
 
So they clearly needed to attack top-flight defenders in the draft, especially pass defenders. The Bucs devoted four of their first five picks to stoppers, led by top pick Barron in a secondary that desperately needs to improve.
 
If you’re going to quibble about anything in Tampa’s draft it’s the fact that the team devoted two picks to running backs, including one in the first round. The reality is that running the ball was about the only thing the Bucs did competently in 2011, with an average of 4.21 YPA (16th). Those picks, at least one of them, would have been better spent on defense.
 
Still, the offense didn’t exactly light the world on fire (17.9 PPG, 27th). So you can’t blame them to trying to find a spark on that side of the ball, too.
 
Fillability Grade: B+

TENNESSEE

 
Round 1, Pick 20 (20) Kendall Wright WR 5'10" 196 Baylor
Round 2, Pick 20 (52) Zach Brown OLB 6'1" 244 North Carolina
Round 3, Pick 19 (82) Mike Martin DT 6'1" 306 Michigan
Round 4, Pick 20 (115) Coty Sensabaugh CB 5'11" 189 Clemson
Round 5, Pick 10 (145)   Taylor Thompson TE 6'6" 259 SMU
Round 6, Pick 20 (190) Markelle Martin FS 6'1" 207 Oklahoma St.
Round 7, Pick 4 (211) Scott Solomon DE 6'3" 262 Rice
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: No major veteran acquisitions.
 
Weakness in 2011: Defensive line. Lack of playmakers on offense.
 
Overview: Our Naughty Nurse of analysis took the statistical temperature of the Titans this off-season and found two major problems: lack of playmakers and a weak group of Defensive Hogs (30th on the DHI).
 
The Titans stepped out to address both of those issues early in the draft, grabbing a wide receiver and two defensive hogs with its first three picks. They added another pass catcher and another defensive hog later in the draft.
 
The big problem is with Wright, the Shiny Hood Ornament wide receiver drafted in the first round. Oh, sure, Wright may turn out to be a fine ball player. But as we noted in the immediate aftermath of that pick, no team over the past decade has devoted more picks and draft value to the wide receiver position than the Titans.
 
The results have been utterly miserable by every measure.
 
Even if Wright pans out and touches the ball a whopping six times per game – a great number for the position – the pick probably would have been better spent on a bigger impact position.
 
Otherwise, though, the Titans did largely address their statistical needs. The failures of the past should not have cowed the team into changing its draft strategy. But it does offer plenty of evidence that suggests a different tack at  the top would have been a smarter tack. 
 
Fillability Grade: B

WASHINGTON

 
Round 1, Pick 2 (2) Robert Griffin III QB 6'2" 223 Baylor
Round 3, Pick 8 (71) Josh LeRibeus G 6'3" 312 SMU
Round 4, Pick 7 (102) Kirk Cousins QB 6'3" 214 Michigan St.
Round 4, Pick 24 (119) Keenan Robinson OLB 6'3" 242 Texas
Round 5, Pick 6 (141) Adam Gettis G 6'2" 293 Iowa
Round 6, Pick 23 (193) Tom Compton T 6'5" 314 South Dakota
Round 6, Pick 3 (173)   Alfred Morris RB 5'9" 219 Florida Atlantic
Round 7, Pick 10 (217)   Jordan Bernstine CB     Iowa
Round 7, Pick 6 (213) Richard Crawford DB     SMU
 
 
Veteran acquisitions: WR Josh Morgan, WR Pierre Garcon, T James Lee, LB Bryan Kehl, LB Jonathan Goff, DB Madieu Williams, DB Leigh Torrance, DB Brandon Meriweather, K Neil Rackers.
 
Weakness in 2011: Passing offense. Pass protection. Front office.  
 
Overview: The Redskins lost 11 games in 2011 for the same reason teams usually lose 11 games in a season: because they couldn’t pass the ball effectively. Washington posted a respectable 16th-ranked performance in Real Passing YPA, but that effort was hijacked by 24 INTs. Only the Bills and Eagles threw more more picks (25).
 
As a result, the Redskins tumbled to No. 27 in Offensive Passer Rating and No. 28 in Real QB Rating. Hell, they were lucky to win five games given those rankings.
 
So credit Washington for aggressively addressing its worst problem in both free agency and in the draft. Most notably was the fact the team moved up to the second overall pick to grab 2011 Heisman Trophy winner RGIII.
 
Griffin is not only prolific, he’s INCREDIBLY careful with the football. In his four years at Baylor, RGIII threw just 17 INTs in 1,192 career attempts. Wow. That’s an INT rate of just 1.4 percent. That’s phenomenal.
 
So Griffin not only offers the promise of an exciting upgrade in the most important position in sports. His statistical history, if it holds true in the NFL, provides an immediate solution to the team’s greatest problem in 2011: turnovers out of their quarterbacks.
 
Washington curiously added another quarterback in the fourth round, either as insurance, future trade bait or a warning shot that their top pick needs to produce … or else.
 
The Redskins also resisted the urge to draft wide receivers and instead added to that position via free agency – usually a more sound strategy. Neither Morgan nor Garcon are superstars. But both have proven competent as NFL pass catchers, maybe even something more than competent in the case of Garcon. Proven competency is better than what you usually get out of many drafted wide receivers.

All in all, it's shaping up as rare smart off-season from a team whose owner is famous for falling in love with players and throwings gobs of d-oh! at these objects of his affection ... his pigskin paramours, if you will. 
 
Fillability Grade: B+

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