NFL draft: Big 5 winners and a loser

Indianapolis Colts number one NFL draft pick, quarterback Andrew Luck, smiles while answering a...

Indianapolis Colts number one NFL draft pick, quarterback Andrew Luck, smiles while answering a question during his initial news conference in Indianapolis April 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Brent Smith)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:25 PM ET

NEW YORK - Which teams are the Big Five winners after the three-day 2012 NFL draft, which concluded here Saturday night?

We'd prefer to answer that in about five years. But you didn't want to wait that long, and my boss sure as heck didn't either.

So, at first glance, we're picking the St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans.

And the biggest loser here at Radio City Music Hall? See below.

1. ST. LOUIS RAMS

New head coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead have the Rams shooting toward greatness in a few years, folks.

The two first-round trade-downs with the Redskins and Cowboys already have paid off, big-time.

The Rams got the stud defensive tackle they badly needed in the first round, in Michael Brookers of LSU. In Round 2 they got the wideout they needed for QB Sam Bradford — Brian Quick, a big and, yes, quick wideout from Appalachian State.

Also in the second, St. Louis was the team that decided to take the chance on toxic but uber-tatlented cornerback Janoris Jenkins of North Alabama, who has almost as many transgressions with pot (three) as he does children (four). If anyone can keep him in line, gotta think it's Fisher.

Adding change-of-pace running back Isaiah Pead of Cincinnati will help prolong Steven Jackson's career.

Trumaine Johnson of Montana (third round) is another highly regarded corner, and burner Chris Givens of Wake Forest once was a Top 5 WR and was a steal in Round 4.

And the Rams have a pair of first-round picks the next two years.

2. GREEN BAY PACKERS

The Packers had arguably the league's best offence last year, averaging 428 yards a game. So why fix what ain't broke? You don't.

The Packers' defence is broken though, and horribly so; it was the league's worst, surrendering 412 per game.

Each of the Packers' six picks after six rounds was a defender:

• Nick Perry, DE, USC (1st round, 28th overall)

• Jerel Worthy, DT, MSU (2R, 51st)

• Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt (2R, 62nd)

• Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa (4R, 132nd)

• Jerron McMillian, S, Maine (4R, 133rd)

• Terrell Manning, OLB, NC State (5R, 163rd)

Perry is a versatile, super-athletic pass-rusher. Worthy dominated Big Ten offensive linemen last fall. And Hayward was underrated.

Even if these newbies help make the Pack defence just average, look the heck out for Green Bay in 2012.

3. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Guess what? The Pats did the exact same thing as the Packers.

The team with the league's No. 2 offence (428 ypg) and fifth worst defence (411 ypg) selected nothing but defenders through six rounds.

And, like the Pack, they picked up difference-makers, starting with two first-rounders: defensive end Chandler Jones of Syracuse (a 6-foot-5, 266-pound QB crusher) and Dont'a Hightower, an impact linebacker from Alabama.

Bill Belichick got a second defensive end in Jake Bequette of Arkansas (third round), plus two safeties — Tavon Wilson of Illinois (second) and Nate Ebner of Ohio State (sixth).

As I wrote yesterday, believe this for a livin' fact no matter what Belichick might say: they're trying to win for today, for aging QB Tom Brady.

4. PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The Steelers had one major shortcoming in 2011 — a porous offensive line that couldn't protect QB Ben Roethlisberger.

To rectify that, Pittsburgh drafted hard-nosed David DeCastro of Stanford (the top-rated guard) in the first round, and tackle Mike Adams of Ohio State in the second.

Most draftniks rated Adams as a lower first-rounder until his positive test for pot was leaked last week.

Adding small but tough University of Florida running back Chris Rainey should help the offence, too.

On defence, tackle Alameda Ta'amu of Washington (fourth round) plugs a hole better than anyone in this draft, physically — he's 6-foot-3, 348 pounds!

5. HOUSTON TEXANS

They lost the game's most dynamic pass-rushing defensive end, Mario Williams, to the Buffalo Bills in free agency.

No worries. They picked up DE Whitney Mercilus of Illinois with the 26th pick — a blitzer extraordinaire who had 14 sacks in 12 games.

Jared Crick of Nebraska (for some reason I like the sound of his last name) was a dynamic defensive end at Nebraska before a serious injury. The Texans nabbed him in the fourth.

On offence Houston plugged its offensive-line holes, with guard Brandon Brooks of Miami-Ohio (third) and the second-ranked centre in the draft, Ben Jones of Georiga (fourth).

And they picked up two of the best playmaking wide receivers in the Big Ten last fall, DeVier Posey of Ohio State and Keshawn Martin of Michigan State, who's also an electric punt and kickoff returner.

The Texans got a good kicker to boot, Texas A&M's Randy Bullock (fifth).

And the loser of the draft? You might think it's piling on, but it's warranted.

Miami.

The Dolphins needed to take the best available quarterback, and everyone knew who it would be. Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, eighth overall.

But he had only 19 college starts, was a wideout until October 2010, and threw nine picks total in the Aggies' three biggest games in '11. Most experts think he'll need time to figure it all out at the NFL level.

The Fins also needed a good wide receiver, after dealing their only playmaker there, Brandon Marshall, to the Bears.

But Miami waited until its seventh pick (in the sixth round, 183rd overall) to pick one — B.J. Cunningham of Michigan State, a Michael Floyd clone who was productive in college, but lacks any separation speed.

Neither running back Lamar Miller from backyard Miami-Florida (4th round, 97th) nor tight end Michael Egnew of Mizzou (3rd round, 78th) is seen capable of making either a big or immediate impact on offence, either.

Miami GM Jeff Ireland's collar has got to be feeling a bit tighter today.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants


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