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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

NFL draft: Off the clock and under review

Times NFL writer Sam Farmer looks at the bold (and potentially backward) draft decisions of each NFL team.

April 28, 2012|Sam Farmer

ARIZONA

Heady move: Fourth-rounder Bobby Massie of Mississippi can play right tackle, and some scouts had him going in the second.

Head scratcher: In taking Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming in the third, the Cardinals picked up their ninth corner.

ATLANTA

Heady move: The Falcons have a 35-year-old center and need help on the interior of the offensive line, so getting Wisconsin's Peter Konz in the second was huge.

Head scratcher: Took Southern Mississippi's Lamar Holmes in the third, a player Mel Kiper rated as the 29th tackle.

BALTIMORE

Heady move: Bailed out of the first and got a steal in the second in Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

Head scratcher: It might be splitting hairs, but the Ravens didn't get a top-shelf receiver with Anquan Boldin finding it increasingly difficult to get open.

BUFFALO

Heady move: South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore upgrades a secondary whose two starting corners turn 32 this season.

Head scratcher: T.J. Graham is light (188 pounds) and light on catches, but the North Carolina State receiver adds speed on the outside for an offense that can already attack the middle.

CAROLINA

Heady move: Adding the sure-tackling Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is vital with Panthers linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis coming off major leg injuries.

Head scratcher: Fourth-rounder Joe Adams is an outstanding returner but had 11 fumbles at Arkansas.

CHICAGO

Heady move: Bears identified the receiver they wanted — South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery — traded up, and got him. That was decisive.

Head scratcher: Time for Chicago's annual drafting of a safety. This time, the Bears used a third-round pick on Oregon State's Brandon Hardin, who missed the entire 2011 season because of a shoulder injury.

CINCINNATI

Heady move: Very shrewd of the Bengals to trade down in the first, pick up an extra third-rounder, and still get the guard they wanted in Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler.

Head scratcher: Two defensive tackles in three picks might have been overkill for a franchise that's already pretty deep at the position and is light on pass-rushing defensive ends.

CLEVELAND

Heady move: By jumping up from the fourth to third spots just before the draft, the Browns ensured Tampa Bay couldn't leapfrog them to get Alabama's Trent Richardson. As a result, Cleveland got the running back it sorely needed.

Head scratcher: After assuring Colt McCoy they wouldn't take a quarterback in the first round, the Browns used No. 22 on Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

DALLAS

Heady move: Impressive by the Cowboys to trade all the way up to No. 6 to get LSU's Morris Claiborne, the best corner in the draft. The last two years, the Cowboys had the worst pass defense in team history.

Head scratcher: The Cowboys had a great draft, but did they do enough to ramp up the pressure on opposing quarterbacks? DeMarcus Ware is their only proven pass rusher.

DENVER

Heady move: Trading out of the first round and taking Cincinnati defensive tackle Derek Wolfe could really pay off. He can line up inside or outside and punch holes in a pocket.

Head scratcher: Yes, the Broncos needed a backup for Peyton Manning, but Arizona State's Brock Osweiler is a second-round project who — if all goes as planned — probably won't see the field, and might not even take meaningful snaps in practice.

DETROIT

Heady move: Tackle Jeff Backus will be 35 this season, so the Lions made a smart move in securing their next left tackle in Iowa's Riley Reiff. Matthew Stafford has taken a beating.

Head scratcher: Detroit's most pressing need was at cornerback, and the Lions didn't take one until the third round. By the time the club picked at 23, the best defensive backs were gone.

GREEN BAY

Heady move: Know thyself. The Packers, who have seldom traded up under GM Ted Thompson, did so three times to take defensive players they had identified: Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward and N.C. State's Terrell Manning.

Head scratcher: By focusing on defense, the Packers let a lot of quality centers and (backup) quarterbacks slip past — both positions of need.

HOUSTON

Heady move: Whitney Mercilus of Illinois could wind up being the best pass rusher in this draft class. He's certainly a welcome addition to the Texans, who lost Mario Williams to Buffalo.

Head scratcher: Texas A&M's Randy Bullock, Houston's fifth-round pick, has already made team history. He's the first kicker the franchise has drafted.

INDIANAPOLIS

Heady move: Goodbye, Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark. Hello, Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener. Reuniting that Stanford quarterback and tight end was a wise decision. That familiarity will pay off.

Head scratcher: With all the needs they have, the Colts didn't need to use consecutive picks on tight ends. But that's what they did, taking Fleener in the second and Clemson's Dwayne Allen in the third. Then again, Stanford frequently used multiple tight ends.

JACKSONVILLE

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