The two most interesting sets of selections in the 2012 NFL Draft will undoubtedly be the first eight picks and the last nine picks. In the case of the first eight picks – their significance is fairly obvious. That’s where the franchise-changing impact guys like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and so on and so forth end up going. If they work out, they can alter a given team’s fortunes for the next decade. If they don’t, they can wreck a team for the next decade. Nobody doubts or questions the importance of the first eight selections.
Interestingly enough, though, nobody gives that same respect to the final nine picks. When you think about it, the final nine picks belong to just every single Super Bowl contender in the NFL, and if they find that one necessary missing link to patch up a hole, they’re suddenly in prime position to take home the title. And yet, it’s almost never brought up just how impactful the tail end of the first round can be.
This year, you have the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants all picking at various points from No. 24 to No. 32. (Sometimes twice, even.) What if the Steelers bolster their already fierce defense with some additional depth? What if the Patriots finally add some legitimate playmakers to the non-Tom Brady side of the ball? What if the Baltimore Ravens spruce up their defense with some youth? What if the New York Giants are able to give Eli Manning some additional offensive studs that will take a bit of the load off his shoulders?
Would none of those moves really be as significant as Luck to Indy or RGIII to Washington?
The one interesting thing to keep an eye on in this portion of the draft is whether teams start picking for need or depth. For example: the Packers have a need for a defensive tackle, so that’s probably the direction they will end up going in. The Ravens, on the flip side, don’t need a strong safety, but if one is available by the time they’re up to bat – will they be able to resist?
Because of the domino effect that ensued when we changed the Cleveland Browns’ No. 4 overall pick from someone to someone else, a few of these picks are slightly different than they were last time around.
Did your squad end up with a new prospect?
Note: Tune in on Tuesday to the Bottom Line Sports Show as they talk all things NFL and have one lucky NFL Draft prospect on to discuss what the future holds.