2012 NFL Redraft

Colts logoIndianapolis- Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The top pick in the draft stays the same four years later. Luck had an injury riddled 2015 season, but the Colts would be average at best without him.

Washington made up logoWashington- Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Wisconsin
Washington still elects to take a mobile quarterback at number two, just a different one. Odds are Wilson would not have had the same amount of success as he did in Seattle, but Washington would have the quarterback position solved for the next ten years.

Browns logoCleveland- Luke Keuchley, Middle Linebacker, Boston College
Cleveland ignores all of the talk about Keuchley not being athletic enough and take him at three instead of Trent Richardson. The Browns’ defense instantly gets better and gives Head Coach Pat Schumur a great piece to pair with D’Qwell Jackson.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
Like Indy, Minnesota replicates its 2012 pick. Kalil hasn’t been always consistent but he has been great at times for the Vikings and continues to start for them today.

Jaguars logoJacksonville- Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Instead of wasting a top five pick on a receiver with off the field issues, Jacksonville picks a slam dunk wide out instead in Jeffrey. Blaine Gabbert looks a whole lot better throwing to this big target, but still gets replaced in 2014.

Cowboys logoDallas- Josh Norman, Cornerback, Coastal Carolina
Jerry Jones originally picked Morris Claiborne here, but after several seasons of failing to take hold, Dallas moves on. Instead, Norman comes in and develops nicely into a shutdown corner for the Cowboys.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
Mark Barron was a decent player for the Buccaneers, but Harrison Smith would have been even better. Smith might not put up huge interception numbers, but he is one of the most reliable safeties in the league.

Dolphins logoMiami- Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
There are some who would say Miami should have made a different selection. However, Tannehill has been solid and plays better than anyone else the Dolphins had on their roster in 2012. And we know they aren’t taking RG3 in the top ten.

Panthers logoCarolina- T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Florida International
With Keuchley off the board, Carolina has to improvise. They take the speedy Hilton to give second-year quarterback another weapon alongside Steve Smith.

Bills logoBuffalo- Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
With the defensive line already set, Buffalo addresses corner again. Gilmore has been a solid starter for the Bills over the last four years. No need to change that.

Chiefs LogoKansas City- Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
The run of repeat picks continues here with Kansas City plugging up the middle of their defense with Poe.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
He has started every game over the past three season and registered 9.5 sacks last year. The Eagles would be smart to pick Cox again.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona- Bobby Wagner, Middle Linebacker, Utah State
Wagner does a little bit of everything. He is good in pass coverage, defends well against the run and even rushes the passer on occasion. Plugging him in to replace the aging Paris Lenon prepares this Cardinals defense for the future.

Rams logoSt. Louis- Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU
He might not be fast or put up great numbers, but Brockers is a handful for offensive lineman to deal with. His ability to eat up blocks makes the Rams defense click and gives guys like Chris Long and Robert Quinn an opportunity to get to the quarterback.

Seahawks logoSeattle- Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
Pete Carroll misses out on stealing Russell Wilson, but Jones would be a nice upgrade over Bruce Irvin. Let’s see how the Legion of Boom does with him rushing the passer.

Jets logoJets- Damon Harrison, Defensive Tackle, William Penn
Quinton Coples was a bust in New York, so the Jets take a defensive tackle instead to bolster their line. Harrison turns out to be a huge steal or the Jets after they sign him as an undrafted free agent.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Vontaze Burfict, Middle Linebacker, Arizona State
Another undrafted rookie ends up going in the first round and to the team that later signed him. Burfict lead Cincy in tackles as a rookie and hasn’t looked back.

Chargers logoSan Diego- Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
The Chargers needed defenisve help and they get it here in the form of Mercilus. He has been the other half of the Houston wrecking crew, opposite J.J. Watt. San Diego could use a little bit of that.

Bears logoChicago- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The Bears needed to give quarterback Jay Cutler a new target and Floyd becomes exactly that. He fits in nicely opposite Brandon Marshall, giving Chicago a solid tandem at receiver.

Titans logoTennessee- David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
DeCastro goes one pick sooner in the redraft, as Tennessee decide to pass on Kendall Wright. Instead, they bolster the offensive line while Chris Johnson and second-year quarterback Jake Locker try to jumpstart the offense.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh- Kevin Zietler, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
As a result of DeCastro going, Pittsburgh takes the next best guard available. The Steelers desperately needed line help to protect Ben Roethlisberger and Zietler has been a solid piece of the division rival Bengals’ line since he was drafted.

Patriots LogoNew England- Dont’a Hightower, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
With Chandler Jones off the board, New England settles for the guy they took later in this round. Hightower has been a rock for the Patriots defense since he entered the league.

Browns logoCleveland- Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
I really thought about making this RG3, but Cousins has shown signs of being the better option over the last four years. He finally hit his stride in year four, throwing for over 4,000 yards.

Lions LogoDetroit- Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
He certainly hasn’t been perfect, but the Lions need someone to protect Matt Stafford’s blindside. Reiff has started since day one in Detroit. No reason to change this pick.

Patriots LogoNew England- Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
This time around, Martin is the first running back off the board. New England always loves drafting versatile running backs. After a year or two though, Martin would likely take over the lead role in this backfield.

Texans logoHouston- Lavonte David, Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
The Texans went defense initially in 2012, but with Mercilus off the board already, they nab the former Cornhusker David. He might not be the pass rusher Mercilus was for Houston, but he is a tackling machine.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
Originally, the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick, but with Jenkins emerging as a solid number one corner, Cincinnati would much rather take him. Jenkins soon takes over the starting role for the aging Terrance Newman.

Packers logoGreen Bay- Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
You are probably thinking, well what about Eddie Lacy? Lacy was still in college and the Packers needed help in the backfield. Miller ends what had been a carosel of running backs starting the year before.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Tashaun Gipson, Safety, Wyoming
Harrison Smith got taken much earlier this time around, but Minnesota still needs help in the secondary. Gipson has turned into a very good safety in his time with both Cleveland and Denver.

49ers LogoSan Francisco- Olivier Vernon, Defensive End, Miami
A.J. Jenkins was a bust. Justin Smith turned 33 in 2012. The 49ers create a contingency plan for when he leaves and look to find receiver help later in the draft.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Alfred Morris, Running Back, Florida Atlantic
With Doug Martin off the board, Tampa takes the next best running back they can get in Alfred Morris. He completely fell off with Washington this year, but he has a couple of great seasons already under his belt.

Giants LogoGiants- Mychal Kendricks, Middle Linebacker, California
New York has needed to address the need at linebacker for years now. Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley were serviceable at best. Kendricks can come in a make a big difference in the pass coverage right away and provides a boost to the run defense.

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Why Griffin Makes Sense in Cleveland

So I was right! I was just about six months early.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has 40 career touchdown passes from his time in Washington.

Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns this afternoon, joining the laundry list of quarterback to play for Cleveland over the last 15 years. While the internet might have had some fun with this, signing Griffin makes a lot of sense for the Browns.

It’s not like the Browns have many better options on their roster right now. Josh McCown is 36 going on 70 and that Manziel guy is now a free agent with some legal trouble. The only other guy on the roster is Austin Davis, whose 13 career NFL starts have left a lot to be desired.

So instead, the Browns are taking a gamble on the former Heisman trophy winner. And there is really no harm in that. Cleveland will likely draft a quarterback with the second overall pick and all signs point to it being Carson Wentz.

Wentz has looked solid during the pre-draft process and he is seemingly pro ready. However, the Browns know better than anyone else on planet Earth that forcing quarterbacks to play in the NFL before they are ready can be catastrophic.

Griffin’s contract is reportedly for two years and maxes out at $15 million. Paying about $7.5 million per year for a short term starting quarterback isn’t a bad deal and because the deal is short, the Browns are not really committed to Griffin. He essentially has a two-year window to show if he can still play in the league. If the answer is no, then start Wentz in 2017.

RG3
Griffin is 15-24 over the first three seasons of his career. 

The reality is that the Browns need someone to play quarterback and they are taking a low-risk high-reward gamble on RGIII. And this is not Denver where they are likely just a quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Cleveland would miss the playoffs this year with Russell Wilson under center. There just isn’t enough talent. Getting Griffin gives the Browns a stopgap while they continue to try to improve in other areas of the roster and groom a future starter.

Imagine for just a second if Griffin somehow reverts to his 2012, rookie of the year form during the next two seasons with the Browns. First of all, Griffin would then have suitors around the league after his contract is over and Cleveland would have the happy situation of having two starting quarterbacks.

In the best case scenario, Griffin proves to be a stud and the Browns ship him off to Denver or Philadelphia after his first season for some draft picks. Worst case scenario is that Griffin flounders again, or even more likely gets hurt, and Cleveland turns the keys over to Wentz at the start of his second year.

All in all, I think this is a great deal for both sides. Cleveland gets a two-year rental at quarterback and Griffin gets one last shot to prove he can still play in this league.

Could RG3 be headed for Ohio?

RG3
Griffin was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.

With the second pick in the 2012 draft, Washington selects…

I bet that’s a moment fans in the Nation’s capital would love a do-over on. 2012 turned out to be one of the most talent-filled drafts the NFL has seen in some time. Between Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Luke Keuchley, Bobby Wagner, Chandler Jones and the list goes on.

Washington gave up eight picks to move up to second overall in that draft. The belief was that there were two franchise-altering quarterbacks set to join the league in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Washington put itself in the position where whichever quarterback Indianapolis didn’t select would fall to them at two.

Indy took Luck and the rest is history. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the AFC over the last three seasons while Washington has gotten progressively worse.

After one fantastic year in DC that ended with a shocking knee injury, RG3 has had a rough time in the NFL. Griffin threw 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions his rookie year. In the last two years, he has only managed to throw 20 more scores while 18 of his passes were picked off. Griffin has been notorious for fumbling throughout his career as well. Not to mention the numerous reports that Griffin has a bit of an attitude problem and blames his teammates. It is clear that he has strayed from the path of franchise QB.

However, there is some upside to the former Baylor quarterback. His career completion percentage sits at a healthy 63.9 for his career, including last year when he completed 68.7 in limited appearances. He also has a respectable 7.62 yards per attempt passing during his career.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has missed 10 games over the last two seasons due to injury and benching.

Teams could do a lot worse than having Griffin as their starting quarterback. He is definitely injury prone but still has the ability to be successful. Part of his being prone to injury might be due to the number of times Griffin has been hit when he drops back. Washington’s line has allowed more sacks each year since Griffin entered the league, ending last season with a whopping 53 sacks allowed, representing the second worst mark in the NFL. Griffin sustained a concussion during this preseason after he was sacked on three of his eight drop backs against Detroit as well. That stuff doesn’t happen to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.

The management in Washington has also ruined any chance RG3 has of succeeded there. The coaching staff has made it clear that they want him out, as has the management, but rumor has it that Dan Snyder is insistent on keeping Griffin on the team. Washington is in a state of complete disarray at the moment and the best thing for both sides would be to trade or release Griffin. Washington simply needs to wash their hands of the terrible trade they made in 2012 and move on.

It seems unlikely that a trade would happen but it is more than possible that Griffin could hit the open market. Several teams have mentioned that they would have “medium” interest in RG3 if he was a free agent. No one seems overly eager to bring him in.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel, a former first round pick himself, has taken strides but is not ready to be the starter.

One team that makes more sense than probably anyone else to sign him has to be Cleveland. The Browns have had the worst luck in terms of quarterbacking play over the last three decades. They have their project Johnny Manziel in progress right now but he is nowhere near ready to roll quite yet. They also have Josh McCown under contract and he will likely be the team’s starter come week 1.

Believe it or not, Griffin would probably be a major upgrade for Cleveland. Bringing him in from Washington on a contract that doesn’t have a ton of guaranteed money over the next two years or so could make a lot of sense. Griffin desperately needs a fresh start and the Browns are searching for the answer at quarterback. Letting Griffin take the reins in Cleveland might just be the spark they need.

The Browns probably still aren’t going to be in the playoff picture but it could be a step in the right direction. It also gives Cleveland another option at quarterback to ensure that they will not need to prematurely throw Manziel on the field.

While moving to Cleveland would be a downgrade for Griffin in terms of his offensive weapons around him, he would have a much better offensive line. Cleveland allowed 31 sacks last season which was in the top half of the league. With five-time All-Pro Joe Thomas protecting his blindside and two-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack organizing the line at center, Griffin will have some time to survey the field from the pocket.

Josh_McCown_Browns_2015
McCown spent most of his career as a backup and had a very inconsistent year with Tampa Bay last season.

When given time, Griffin has proven that he can be an above average quarterback. He still has to learn how to play without relying on his legs quite so much but there is some hope for him. He is only 25-years old and has plenty left in the tank. He might be fragile but if the Browns can limit the number of times he is hit, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

A strong defense and an run-first offensive approach could benefit Griffin as well. Washington’s poor defense often meant that he was playing from behind but if the Browns can control the clock and the defense improves against the run then Griffin will be in a much better system.

Griffin moving to Cleveland makes a lot of sense. Washington already has a contingency plan in the form of Kirk Cousins. For the Browns, it means bringing in a quarterback with some potential without risking much. Griffin could be the ultimate low-risk high-reward type of player that Cleveland should take a chance on.

As a football fan, I hope Washington releases Griffin and he gets a chance to start elsewhere. I think RG3 could succeed in the right environment and I think it would be a lot of fun to see him in a Browns uniform. If Griffin has something of a turn around and survives the season, Cleveland suddenly would have someone to attract free agents for the first time in years.

Who knows, maybe three years from now we will be talking about how good the Browns are with their stud QB Robert Griffin III. Probably not, but all the same, it really couldn’t hurt the Browns to try. He can’t be much worse than McCown right?

Falling stars

Football is a brutal sport. You know that going into it. It is still demoralizing to have your season cut short by injury nonetheless. It is even more so when that injury occurs in a game that counts for absolutely nothing. The season ends before it ever really begins.

Jordy Nelson Already this year, we have seen stars get hit hard by preseason injuries. Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin have both torn their ACL. Robert Griffin III is out with a concussion. And those are just some of the bigger name stars that have gone out due to injury. There are dozens of other players who already have seen their season’s cut short or put on hold.

The problem is that the NFL doesn’t really have a solution to this. You play preseason games as an attempt to develop chemistry or give guys fighting for a roster spot an opportunity to play in a game like setting where the coaches don’t have to worry about the outcome. They are essential to team development and preparation. No one has yet to come up with an alternative to these games. The NFL also isn’t the only one who plays preseason games but that doesn’t make these injuries much easier to stomach for fans.

However, these injuries could provide new opportunities for other players. In Green Bay, Davante Adams showed flashes of his ability particularly in the team’s playoff win against Dallas. Now, he has an opportunity to show what he can do as a main target.

RG3For Washington, this could spell the end of the RG3 era if the concussion is serious. That could be a good thing though for both sides. Griffin probably needs a fresh start away from Washington and the team definitely needs to wipe its hands clean of the franchise altering trade and move on.

Down in Charlotte, Cam Newton might have to showcase his running abilities once again with Benjamin out and this could be a chance for other young receivers like Corey Brown and Devin Fuchness to display their skills in a much bigger role. 

This is an optimistic approach to these terrible situations. It is not easy for teams to rebound from monumental injuries. Very few teams in NFL history are built to. And yes, it sucks that these guys were hurt in completely meaningless games.

Kelvin_BenjaminAt the same time though, they still should be playing. I know it’s easy to just say that starters should play in the preseason but that is just foolish. These few games allow players to work on timing, new plays, cohesion with new players. Without any of that, it is very likely that the first two or three weeks of the regular season would be fairly rough and probably even sloppy. Realistically, as a fan, would you be able to simply look on and say, “Oh, my team’s star player suffered a season ending injury. Well at least it was in a meaningful game,” and actually mean that? No. There is no way you could. Whether these injuries happen in week 3 or the preseason or week 13 of the regular season, they are going to be crushing either way.

My point is that this should not be a cause for every starter to sit out the entire preseason. Maybe there are ways to be more cautious when these players are in but overall, the whole point of preseason is to put players in a game environment and see how they react. This grace period before everything starts to count is vital to the development of players in the league, especially rookies.

Can you imagine if Marcus Mariota had turned the ball over on the first two series of his career in a regular season game? That wouldn’t exactly be a confidence booster. There would be no chances for the coaches to say, “OK, don’t worry about the score, just try to learn from those mistakes.” The NFL is a win now league. Teams always want to win as soon as possible. There is simply no room for complacency.

Preseason helps avoid those situations and gives players a chance to grow. In the end, it makes for much better games to watch once the regular season rolls around because now these guys are warmed up and ready for the long haul. 

Players in make or break years

Every NFL player is under intense scrutiny but these ten players have the heat turned up just a bit higher.

Mike_WallaceMike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings
The speedster who looked like an inevitable star in Pittsburgh took his talents to South Beach and then disappeared. Well not completely disappeared but he never became the star that the Dolphins paid him to become. He was still productive though, tallying 1792 yards and 15 touchdowns during his two years in Miami. However, Wallace found himself looking for a job at season’s end and now joins a young Minnesota team. With Charles Johnson bursting onto the scene and Corradelle Patterson still trying to find his way, there is room for Wallace in this team. However, if Patterson rediscovers his rookie year form and either Stephan Diggs or Jerrell Wright starts showing promise, don’t be surprised if Wallace’s time with the Vikings is short.

Trent_RichardsonTrent Richardson, Oakland Raiders
The 2012 draft is full of running backs that failed to live up to their billing. The most successful pick turned out to be Alfred Morris and that was in a draft where the potential of guys like Doug Martin and David Wilson had GMs drooling. Richardson is likely the most disappointing of them all though and now entering his fourth season, Richardson is joining his third team in as many years. Averaging a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry heading to Oakland is not a good sign. This is likely the former Alabama products last chance to stick in the league. If he fails in Oakland, no one else is going to gamble on him again.

RG3Robert Griffin III, Washington
RG3 has had expectations heaped on him since day one. He electrified the league as a rookie but a knee injury and some adjustment to the read option offense have largely quashed what looked to be a promising career. However, the Redskins have not had a whole lot of success rotating other quarterbacks into the lineup, spare a Monday Night Miracle by Colt McCoy. Griffin is going to get one last shot at turning it around in Washington and recapturing his Rookie of the Year performance. This is the final year of his contract and if he does not show signs of marked improvement, you can be sure that Washington will not be looking to renew his deal. That would definitely put Griffin in the conversation for biggest draft bust of all time.

Geno SmithGeno Smith, New York Jets
Geno Smith probably doesn’t need reminding that he is running out of time in New York. Smith has failed to make a great first impression in his first two season with the Jets and now with Ryan Fitzpatrick waiting in the wings, Smith has real competition. Pair that with the fact that the team has a new coach and a new GM and that spells the end of Smith’s tenure in the Big Apple at the first sign of trouble. The Jets have indicated that they will give Geno every chance to win the starting job and grow but if he struggles at any point, don’t be surprised to see Todd Bowles turn to Fitzpatrick.

Percy_HarvinPercy Harvin, Buffalo Bills
Joining his fourth team in as many years is not how most people thought you would be describing Percy Harvin back in 2012. But after a trade to Seattle that was marred with injuries and another trade to the Jets that was average at best, Harvin is now set to join the Bills. He could fit the roll of a C.J. Spiller type of do it all player. However, this team is searching for an identity with a new coach. Harvin has some background with the coach in question as he played for Rex Ryan in New York just last year. If Harvin fails to impress though or cannot stay on the field, he could find himself bouncing to yet another team.

Prince_AmukamaraPrince Amukamara, New York Giants
The former first round pick is set to enter his fifth big league season. However, Amukamara has only played all 16 games once so far in his career. Over the past four years, Prince has been unavailable for 20 of New York’s games. Amukamara started off last season promising with 3 picks and 11 pass deflections in the first half of the year before once again suffering a season ending injury. With Dominique Rogers-Cromartie on one side, the Giants will be relying on Amukamara on the other. If he fails to hold up or cannot survive the rigors of a full season, New York will more than likely begin searching for his replacement.

Jarvis_JonesJarvis Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers
58 total tackles and 3 sacks is not what Pittsburgh thought they were getting when they drafted Jarvis Jones in 2013. The former first rounder came in with a lot of promise as a pass rusher but has failed to make much of an impact. Jones hasn’t managed to stay healthy either, appearing in only 21 games over the past two seasons. The Steelers’ once great defense is now a shell of itself in need of some new stars. The chance for Jones to step up is certainly there but with Pittsburgh tabbing Bud Dupree in the first round of this year’s draft, he will certainly have some competition.

Jay_CutlerJay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Believe it or not, Jay Cutler wasn’t always unpopular in Chicago. After the last two years of mediocre play which included being benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen, Bears fans’ indifference towards Cutler has turned to anger and disgust. He hasn’t always had the best offensive line in front of him, but Cutler has certainly had his fair share of targets to throw too. With Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett in his arsenal Cutler had no excuses. Yet he still tossed 18 interceptions in 15 games. At 32, Cutler is running out of time to win over the fans, and the management in Chicago.

May 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bjoern Werner (92) walks off the field after practicing in the Colts Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Bjorn Werner, Indianapolis Colts
Two years into his professional career, Werner has failed to turn too many heads. He was selected in the first round by Indianapolis back in 2013 with the label of a project. However, he has failed to develop a whole lot with only 68 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 28 career games. Nagging injuries have certainly played into Werner’s slow development but that isn’t a reassuring excuse. Werner will likely have to duke it out with Trent Cole and Erik Walden just to get playing time. Once he gets it, he needs to capitalize or he will be out of a job.

Sam_BradfordSam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Signing the richest rookie contract in history at the time was great for Sam Bradford. It turned out to not be so great for the Rams. Bradford only managed to play 49 games in 5 seasons for St. Louis. Coming off his second ACL tear in as many years, many doubt that Bradford is a reliable starting quarterback option. Bradford might be the player with the best chance to breakout this year on this list joining the playoff-hopeful Eagles. Chip Kelly has high hopes for him but if he hits the shelf again due to injury, don’t expect Bradford to be back again.