Tonight will mark the one week anniversary of the end of the 2012 NFL Draft, and here at NPC we have been providing deep analysis on all of the Steelers draft picks and undrafted Free Agent pickups. Last Sunday, Dom filled you in on the players that would join the Steelers as UFA’s. Craig graded out the entire Steelers draft class on as well, introducing Steeler Nation to the nine newest players for the Black and Gold. On Monday, I posted my 2012 NFL Draft Winners and Losers article. The NPC Staff asked our readers for their opinions on the Steelers picks on Monday, a poll that included over 2300+ fan responses. We followed that up with several articles focusing on individual selections by the team, including TE David Paulson and LB Sean Spence. The most controversial article of the week was DBuzards look into the questionable character issues that have followed a few of the Steelers picks.
Needless to say, when it comes to your Steelers Draft news, NPC has had it covered better than any other outlet on the big bad web.
Amazingly enough, the demand for even more draft data is still at a fevered pitch. So tonight, I will give you my Ten Best Value Picks of the 2012 NFL Draft. These are players who I believe will provide the best value for their teams in relation to the round they were chosen in, and my opinions are based off of deep statistical analysis and how the player fits with their new NFL team. We will concentrate on players picked in the mid-to-late rounds.
10. OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia (drafted by Buffalo Bills with 2nd round pick #41) – Was it just simple team needs that allowed one of the top three offensive tackle prospects to fall into the mid-second round, where Buffalo quickly snagged him to become their new plug-and -play left tackle? With all of the trades and odd selections made at the tail end of round one, Glenn – who was pre-ranked as a possible top 10 pick by NFL.com – ended up as the fifth offensive tackle drafted. This is a player who tied a school record by starting 50 games in the SEC and gained an All-American selection in 2010. At 6-foot 5, 343 lbs., Glenn will most likely start immediately for the Bills at right tackle, replacing incumbent Erik Pears. Glenn has the potential to be a dominating right tackle for the Bills, a team that desperately needed an upgrade to their offensive line after allowing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to be sacked 22 times in 2011. In the second round, Cordy Glenn is a great value pick for Buffalo.
9. WR Rueben Randle, LSU (drafted by New York Giants with 2nd round pick #63) – The Champs lost starting WR Mario Manningham to free agency, pushing 2011 phenom WR Victor Cruz into the #2 WR slot behind Hakeem Nicks. With that change, the Giants needed to add another WR weapon for QB Eli Manning and they found their man at #63 overall in WR Rueben Randle. A 2011 first-team All-SEC selection, Randle opted out of his senior season with the Tigers to enter the draft at just 20-years old. He started 21 games for LSU between 2010-2011 and was the premiere receiver on the 2011 team that reached the BCS National Title Game. At 6-foot 3, 210 lbs. he provides another large target for Manning, and should be used as both a #2 and slot receiver for the Giants. Randle was considered a late-first round draft grade, and ended up being the ninth WR taken in the draft. The Giants are excellent at fitting players into their offensive scheme, and Randle has a chance to catch 40-50 passes in his rookie season. An excellent value for New York, drafting out of the final slot of each round after winning Super Bowl XLVI.
8. DT Mike Martin, Michigan (drafted by Tennessee Titans with 3rd round pick #82) – Martin was a four-year letterman at Michigan, starting 37 games at nose tackle for the Wolverines. Anyone who watched Michigan over the past two years would have noticed #68 making tackles all over the field. His non-stop motor and ability to get to the ball carrier will immediately pay dividends for the Titans, who lacked aggressive players on their defense in 2011 and lost defensive leader All-Pro CB Cortland Finnegan to free agency. Martin is a born leader who will provide a solid presence at whichever position Head Coach Mike Munchak decides to play him at, possibly DE but most likely DT. The leadership qualities he will bring to the defense will make every player around him better, and his presence will solidify a defense that allowed 4.5 YPG on the ground in 2011.
7. LB Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma (drafted by Detroit Lions with 4th round pick #125 overall) – Lewis is another early entry player who skipped his senior season with the Sooners. He was extremely productive in the Oklahoma defense, tallying 10.5 sacks and 118 tackles over just 14 starts, and adding 2 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. He was graded as a 4th round pick, so he was drafted right about where he was expected to go. However, his athletic ability and size (6-foot 2, 244 lbs) should enable the Lions to use him at several different slots, depending on the defensive set on the field. If he had stayed at Oklahoma for his senior season, Lewis would have easily been a first-round pick next year. The Lion get a young player who will be able to play special teams and situational defense in 2012 while he prepares to take over a starting slot at ILB the following season. Detroit grabbed Lewis at #125 overall and probably scored a starting defensive player, making this a great value pick.
6. DT Alameda Ta’amu, Washington (drafted by Pittsburgh Steelers with 4th round pick #109 overall) – The Steelers needed to find a true zero-technique NT to be the heir apparent to Casey Hampton, as Hampton enters what will most likely be his final season in 2012. Pittsburgh traded up to pick Ta’amu, giving up just a late 6th rounder to move ahead of potential suitor San Diego, who were ready to take him at #110. Ta’amu is a monster (6-foot 3, 348 lbs) and made a name for himself at the NFL Combine, where he showed unbelievable athletic ability and speed for a player his size. He will spend a season as the backup to Hampton, learning the Steelers NT position from the best player to ever play there. He should see some snaps in 2012 as the Steelers limit Hampton even further, and he could end up starting quickly if Hampton is unable to fully return from the injury that ended his 2011 season. This was a case of a team that needed a specific type of player – zero technique defensive tackles were very limited in this draft – and was able to secure him for a very small price. I was trying to avoid placing Steelers draft picks on this list, but to leave Ta’amu off would have been a travesty.
5. DT Josh Chapman, Alabama (drafted by Indianapolis Colts with 5th round pick #136 overall) – The Colts had a great draft as they rebuild their franchise, and have plans on transitioning to a 3-4 in 2012. Needing to secure bigger players to fill out the positions for that scheme, they set their sights on finding a solid DT to build around. Chapman was the anchor on a championship Alabama defense for the past two seasons, starting 25 games. His experience in big game situations should enable him to step in right away and start for the Colts. At the outset of the draft, some experts had Chapman going as high as the early 2nd round – making his selection here in round five a major value pick for a team that needed to draft as many future starters as possible. Chapman is not a flashy player, but he is solid against the run and can stuff the line to allow Indianapolis pass-rushers open lanes to the opposing QB. A sound pick for the Colts.
4. WR Juron Criner, Arizona (drafted by Oakland Raiders with 5th round pick #168 overall) – The Raiders needed to find another solid WR for their offense, and in keeping with tradition they selected Criner, a speedy playmaker who was expected to be one of the top five WR taken in the draft. At 6-foot 3, Criner has the length to become a major red-zone target and has the speed to line up anywhere on the field. A lack of consistent play was a primary reason for the drop to the 5th round, but the Raiders feel that Head Coach Dennis Allen should be able to coach up Criner. If the young wideout buys into the coaching and learns to show up every Sunday, the Raiders may have scored the offensive steal of the draft.
3. RB Dan Herron, Ohio State (drafted by Cincinnati Bengals with 6th round pick #191 overall) – Herron was a very productive running back at Ohio State, rushing for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010. His senior season was not as prolific, as he shared time in the backfield. He is an extremely physical runner who could work his way up a weak Bengals depth chart in 2012. If Herron had entered the draft in 2011, prior to the Ohio State NCAA violation scandal, he may have been a second round pick. He has the ability to run between the tackles, and will start out as a 3rd down RB. Herron was a highly-recruited player out of high school, and ran into a loaded depth chart with the Buckeyes that never allowed him to fully take the starting RB position for himself. Drafting Herron in the 6th round is great value and brings a local product into the Bengals system. A solid late round pick that could eventually provide starter value.
2. T Bobby Massie, Ole Miss (drafted by Arizona Cardinals with 4th round pick #112 overall) – How Massie fell into the 4th round after being universally considered a possible first round pick is unknown. What is known is the Cardinals had a major need at right tackle and were able to draft a three-year starter at Mississippi, and will plug him in immediately as the starter. While scouts are split on his ability, Massie presents as a huge right tackle who should be able to manhandle smaller defensive ends and create space for the edge running game. As far as value picks go, Massie could end up as one of the biggest values for a mid-round pick in the past few years. You just shouldn’t be able to find players with his size, experience, and skill set in the 4th round. GREAT value.
1. RB Lamar Miller, Miami (FL) (drafted by Miami Dolphins with 4th round pick #97 overall) – The Dolphins won’t know what they have in 1st round pick QB Ryan Tannehill until he is able to start – probably a year or two from now. What Miami does know is they have a lousy record when it comes to early round RB picks. When Lamar Miller fell into the 4th round, the Fish were smart enough to draft the kid from their own backyard, who showed explosive power and speed at Miami (FL) and comes to the Dolphins as a 21-year old back who could become a fantastic strength element to compliment resurgent Reggie Bush’s speed. Miller started one year in college, rushed for 1,272 yards and 9 touchdowns and was considered a potential late first-rounder. Overall, he was thought to be one of the first five backs off the board. This is the type of pick that could not only provide benefits immediately, but will also help the Dolphins in another area they have failed at recently – selling tickets. He is a Florida product, a former Hurricane, a current Dolphin, and future star – it doesn’t get much better than that.
QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State at #185 overall by Arizona Cardinals – a QB-hungry team finds a potential gem in the 6th round.
CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech at #94 overall by New York Giants – a special teams dynamo, a solid cover corner. Lack of size kept teams away, Giants know value when they see it.
WR Junior Hemingway, Michigan at #23 overall by Kansas City Chiefs – a big, talented WR who was handicapped by playing with QB Denard Robinson at Michigan. Watch out for him in 2012.
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