Apr 16, 2012
The 2012 NFL Draft is nearly upon us, and this edition is much clearer than last year, at least in terms of team needs, because free agency has already taken place. Here on the staff blog, I’m going to break down each team’s top needs and fantasy outlook for the draft, going division by division. Today we head to the NFC East, and, if you missed them, check out the AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, and AFC West. Got a player you want your team to target? Let me know in the comments.
Also, be sure to take a look at our massive 2012 Pre-Draft Rookie Report, which takes an in-depth look at all the top fantasy prospects.
Picks: 14, 45, 81, 113, 135, 152, 186, 222
1. Safety – The Cowboys signed former Jet Brodney Pool, but this unit is still in need of a playmaker. The Cowboys have had frequent issues on the back end, and they could be in perfect position with the 14th overall pick to draft Alabama SS Mark Barron, who is easily the best all-around safety in the draft, capable of making plays in the run game and against the pass.
2. Cornerback – The Cowboys made a significant upgrade by signing former Chief Brandon Carr to replace the inconsistent Terence Newman, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need more help. Mike Jenkins missed four games last year, and the depth behind him isn’t very good. Given that the Cowboys already invested a lot of money into the CB position in free agency, don’t expect them to draft one in the 1st round, but Day Two is a possibility.
3. Wide Receiver – The Cowboys have two of the league’s most talented WRs in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, and they struck gold last year by bringing in Laurent Robinson last year. However, Robinson cashed in by signing with the Jaguars, leaving the Cowboys with little depth behind Bryant and Austin, who both have durability issues. As of now, Kevin Ogletree is slated for the #3 WR spot, with Dwayne Harris and Andre Holmes in the mix. Given the injury history at WR, the Cowboys would be wise to use a Day Two pick on a WR like Wisconsin’s Nick Toon or Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu.
Fantasy Outlook: Depth at WR is the biggest need with Robinson gone, but the Cowboys also need to target depth at TE. Jason Witten is still effective but has lost a step, and backup Martellus Bennett signed with the Giants. John Phillips is a decent backup, but the Cowboys could look to add someone in the middle rounds. Unless they trade Felix Jones, they’re in good shape in the backfield.
New York Giants
Picks: 32, 63, 94, 127, 131, 201, 239
1. Offensive Tackle – The defending Super Bowl champs did a solid job protecting Eli Manning, allowing 28 sacks last year, but this unit could use an infusion of young talent. RT Kareem McKenzie is a free agent, and injuries have been a problem. At the end of the 1st round, the best hope is probably that Ohio State’s talented OT Mike Adams somehow falls to pick #32.
2. Running Back – Especially given his foot issues, Ahmad Bradshaw probably needs to share the load with someone. Brandon Jacobs signed with the 49ers, leaving Bradshaw with D.J. Ware and Da’Rel Scott. Ware is a decent all-around player, and Scott has impressive speed, but the Giants may want to target someone who could be a featured runner. Boise State’s Doug Martin and Virginia Tech’s David Wilson are both worth targeting in the first couple rounds.
3. Wide Receiver – Like the Cowboys, the Giants are in excellent shape with their top two receivers. Hakeem Nicks is one of the best all-around receivers in the league, and Victor Cruz emerged as a big-time deep threat last year. However, depth is a huge concern, especially since Nicks has had injury problems. Mario Manningham is gone, and everyone competing for the #3 job is unproven. The Giants could benefit from spending a Day Two pick on someone like Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu, who projects as a possession receiver best out of the slot.
Fantasy Outlook: Aside from RB and WR, the Giants could look at bringing another TE, where they’re in an odd position. They signed former Cowboy Martellus Bennett, who did not live up to his potential in Dallas, and otherwise they have Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, who both tore ACLs. Making things worse, Ballard underwent microfracture surgery, so he is very questionable heading into the season.
Picks: 15, 46, 51, 88, 114, 153, 172, 194, 200
1. Safety – The Eagles are often the most difficult team to figure out in terms of draft needs because they often do the unexpected with an eye toward the future. They could trade up, they could trade down, they could target a QB, etc. But, on paper, the biggest need is probably at safety, especially after they added DeMeco Ryans at LB. They drafted Jaiquawn Jarrett last year, but this position was a disaster. Kurt Coleman should be a backup, while Nate Allen’s durability remains an issue. If Mark Barron is on the board at pick #15, the Eagles need to consider him.
2. Outside Linebacker – Ryans fills a gaping hole at middle linebacker for the Eagles, but they still need some more help. That may not come via the draft, and history shows that the Eagles probably won’t draft Luke Kuechly and move him to the outside, although they probably won’t have to worry about it since he’ll likely be off the board. Still, this remains a need, as the Eagles could use someone to compete for an outside spot opposite Brian Rolle with Ryans in the middle.
3. Defensive Tackle – The Eagles clearly enjoy drafting defensive linemen, and expect them to go for a DT if they stay put with the 15th overall pick. It’s not a desperate need with Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson on top of the depth chart, but DL coach Jim Washburn likes an active rotation up front. LSU’s Michael Brockers and raw but athletic Memphis DT Dontari Poe are possibilities.
Fantasy Outlook: Never rule out anything with the Eagles. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Eagles had discussions with the Browns about the #4 overall pick, which would presumably indicate that they’re interested in Ryan Tannehill. That’s probably not going to be happen, but don’t rule out a QB fairly early for the Eagles, given Michael Vick’s lack of reliability. Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden is a possibility on Day Two. Elsewhere, a bigger backup RB to replace Ronnie Brown could be targeted, and depth at WR and TE could be drafted as well.
Picks: 2, 69, 102, 109, 141, 173, 213
1. Quarterback – Well, this is one of the most obvious calls ever. The Redskins re-signed Rex Grossman, but he’s clearly headed for a backup role. The Redskins three 1st-round picks to St. Louis for the #2 overall pick, and that means, barring a massive surprise, Robert Griffin III will be playing QB for Washington in 2012.
2. Inside Linebacker – The Redskins wisely re-signed London Fletcher, but they have no depth on the inside of their 3-4 scheme behind Fletcher and Perry Riley. Plus, Fletcher is 36 years old, so it’s pretty clear they need to address this position. St. Louis owns their 2nd-round pick, though, so they’ll have to wait if they want to draft somebody.
3. Offensive Tackle – LT Trent Williams was suspended for a failed drug test at the end of the season, while RT Jammal Brown has durability issues and hasn’t been consistently good. The Redskins aren’t going to get an elite prospect, but they’ll still probably target a tackle with one of their middle-round picks for depth.
Fantasy Outlook: Griffin is essentially a lock to end up in Washington, so what about his supporting cast? The Redskins signed the inconsistent Pierre Garcon to a big contract at WR, and the unit features a bunch of solid players with Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, and Josh Morgan, in addition to young players like Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul. They have a lot of decisions to make, and it doesn’t appear that a WR will be drafted after they signed two this year and drafted three last year. Elsewhere, they have a pair of solid young RBs in Roy Helu and Evan Royster, and they could re-sign Tim Hightower, but it’s pointless to predict what Mike Shanahan will do at RB in April.