- Keenan Allen, WR, California
- David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State
- Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas
- Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia
- David Bakhtiari, OL, Colorado
- Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
- Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
- Josh Boyce, WR, Texas Christian
- Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee
- Terrence Brown, CB, Stanford
- Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
- Mike Edwards, CB/KR, Hawaii
- Matt Elam, S, Florida
- Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
- Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
- Chris Faulk, OT, Louisiana State
- Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
- D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
- Michael Ford, RB, Louisiana State
- Travis Frederick, OL, Wisconsin
- Kwame Geathers, DT, Georgia
- William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
- Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
- Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers
- Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada
- Jelani Jenkins, OLB, Florida
- Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
- Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
- Brandon Kaufman, WR, Eastern Washington
- Joe Kruger, DE, Utah
- Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
- Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
- Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn
- Bennie Logan, DT, Louisiana State
- Stansly Maponga, DE/OLB, Texas Christian
- Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Louisiana State
- Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
- Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, Louisiana State
- Kevin Minter, ILB, Louisiana State
- Sam Montgomery, DE, Louisiana State
- Brandon Moore, DT, Texas
- Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
- Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
- Kyle Padron, QB, Eastern Washington
- Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
- Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
- Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
- Jordan Reed, TE, Florida
- Eric Reid, S, Louisiana State
- Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
- Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
- Nickell Robey, CB, Southern California
- Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech
- Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
- Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina
- Darrington Sentimore, DE, Tennessee
- Tharold Simon, CB, Louisiana State
- Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State
- Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
- Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
- Levine Toilolo, TE, Stanford
- Trabis Ward, RB, Tennessee State
- Spencer Ware, RB, Louisiana State
- Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
- Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
- Steve Williams, CB, California
- Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State
- Brad Wing, P, Louisiana State
- Cierre Wood, RB, Notre Dame
- Robert Woods, WR, Southern California
- Tom Wort, ILB, Oklahoma
For the first time years, Washington State has legitimate draft prospects. Based on preseason rankings, the Cougars have a pair of seniors who definitely look to be drafted; quarterback Jeff Tuel and defensive end Travis Long. They also have a playmaking junior receiver Marquess Wilson who may be the best WSU prospect of them all. These three players are the top Cougs on preseason radar and the only ones who seem to have a legit shot at hearing their names called come April.
Except the 15th pick, the draft was pretty predictable. There were eight draft day trades on day one with three in the top seven alone. Last year, there were a total of four trades in the whole first round. Due to the rookie wage scale included as part of the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams could actually afford the cost of a top pick and are willing to trade up for their guy.
I can never fault a team for moving up to get their guy. If a team really thinks a player can make a big difference to their team, I applaud them for moving up. However, to grade picks and provide analysis you must base it on how the player fits the team and its scheme and the value of the pick.
1) Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
No surprise here. The Colts grab a franchise quarterback who can turn this franchise around for the next decade. Luck will be the starter from day one. He’s the real deal. If he can avoid injury in his career, we’ll be talking about him being a hall-of-famer in 20 years. GM Ryan Grigson is now tasked with getting some weapons around him.
Initial Grade: A+
2) Washington Redskins (from STL) – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Again no surprise. The Redskins swapped picks plus two more firsts and a second to get their franchise quarterback. Griffin has all the tools to be an elite QB, but he’s still a slight project to me at this point. His legs allowed him to make mistakes in the NCAA, but will he be able to do that in the NFL while he learns? Shanahan is “all in” now, in what may be his last season as Washington’s head coach.
Initial Grade: A
3) Cleveland Browns (from MIN) – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
About 45 minutes before the draft started Cleveland sent gave up their first and three additional picks to move up one spot and secure their guy, Richardson. Can’t fault them for doing it. They had 13 picks in this draft before that trade and Richardson will instantly revitalize that offense. Great move to make sure they get their guy.
Initial Grade: A+
2012 NFL MVP
Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers led the Packers to one game from a perfect season, but lost their first playoff game. Statistically, Rodgers had one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. He may not have had the flashy season Drew Brees did while breaking Dan Marino’s season yardage record, but a 122.1 passer rating and a 14-1 record as a starter isn’t too shabby.
Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Like I said before, Brees was an offensive machine this season shattering Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record and Peyton Manning’s completion record. He very well could be the MVP of the league, but a few hiccups and an opening week loss to Rodgers gave him the edge.
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Smith, DL, San Francisco 49ers
Usually a 3-4 defensive lineman’s job is to take on blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays. Smith did that, but made plays when he needed to. He finished with 7.5 sacks and required multiple blockers to slow him down. He helped revitalized this defense and team to make them one of the best in the league.
Comeback Player of the Year: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
With his first two seasons in the league spoiled by injuries, Stafford came back in his first full season passing for more than five thousand yards and 41 touchdowns. Things look bright in Detroit.
2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Despite all the naysayers before and after the draft, Newton proved everyone wrong his first season breaking Peyton Manning’s rookie yardage record. Newton totally revitalized the Panthers and could be a force in this league for years to come.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers
It helps when you play on the best team in your conference, but Aldon Smith showcased a unique skill set that will only get better. Smith got better as the year went on and finished fifth in sacks.
Most Disappointing Player: Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The whole Tampa Bay team was a disappointment this year and a lot of that has to do with a terrible season by Josh Freeman. Freeman passed threw 22 interceptions this season after only throwing six in 2010. Another disappointing season may cost him his job.
Coordinator of the Year: Wade Phillips, Houston Texans
Some may question his head coaching abilities, but Wade Phillips is one the best coordinators in the game. In his first season as with Houston (and their first running the 3-4), they finished second in the league in total defense.
Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
A lot of people thought it was a huge mistake for Harbaugh to leave Stanford. After their postseason free agency losses, some people (including myself) thought the 49ers were going to be contenders for the first overall pick, but Harbaugh turned this team around leading to a 13-3 record and an NFC Championship game appearance.
The season is over for 28 teams already as they begin to plan how they will improve their teams. Scouts are in St. Petersburg analyzing draft prospects at the East-West Shrine Game while others prepare for next week’s Senior Bowl practices and games. The offseason is here.
With underclassmen declared and the draft order nearly set, mock drafts are flying around the internet. (You can see mine at www.josephdcurtis.com/2012-nfl-mock-drafts.html.) The 2012 NFL Draft begins April 26 while free agency begins March 13. Possibly one of the more intriguing free agents is Matt Flynn, the clear top QB free agent. After four seasons as a backup in Green Bay, Flynn is now an unrestricted free agent. In limited time, he showed off his abilities including nearly upsetting New England in 2010 and a Week 17 480-yard, six-touchdown performance against Detroit. In this article, I’ll take a look at teams who may pursue Flynn and how it’ll shape the draft.
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