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2012 NFL Draft Re-grade: NFC North

by Joshua Doering

Perhaps the only thing more impressive about the NFL draft than the amount of time it takes to complete all seven rounds is the amount of grades produced in the aftermath of each selection. The draft’s winners and losers are decided before any pick plays a down of professional football. 

For all the immediate evaluation that is done, it is impossible to fairly assess a draft class without data and the gift of time. Starting with 2010, 110 Sports is going back and grading every NFL draft of the past decade on a team-by-team basis. 

These grades are based first and foremost on production. Other factors were taken into consideration, but the primary goal is figuring out how successful teams were at identifying talent. 

Our attention turns to the NFC North as our 2012 NFL Draft re-grade continues.

*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com and accurate through the end of the 2019 season.

Chicago Bears

Picks: DE Shea McClellin (19th overall), WR Alshon Jeffrey (45), DB Brandon Hardin (79), TE Evan Rodriguez (111), DB Isaiah Frey (184), DB Greg McCoy (220)

Best pick: Alshon Jeffrey 

Jeffrey wins out simply because he is the only one who played in a game past 2016. He also happens to have five seasons with more than 800 receiving yards and 45 career touchdown receptions. He has started 95 games over his eight seasons, 60 more than the next closest player Chicago drafted.  

Worst pick: Brandon Hardin

Serious injuries in back-to-back preseasons prevented Hardin from ever playing in a regular season game. A neck injury in 2012 put Hardin in the hospital for a day and on injured reserve for the season. He broke his scapula in the final preseason game the next year and was let go on Aug. 31, 2013. Hardin attempted to return with the Jets in 2014 but got released during training camp. 

Grade: C+

McClellin recorded 202 tackles and 8.5 sacks in five seasons. He and Jeffrey were the only ones to appear in more than 27 games. Rodriguez caught four passes and Frey made 47 tackles in 2013. Jeffrey’s one Pro Bowl appearance is not enough to compensate for the lack of production from McClellin and Hardin. 

Detroit Lions

Picks: OT Riley Reiff (23), WR Ryan Broyles (54), DB Bill Bentley (85), LB Ronnell Lewis (138), Tahir Whitehead (138), DB Chris Greenwood (148), DB Jonte Green (196), LB Travis Lewis (223)

Best pick: Tahir Whitehead

Whitehead has played in 125 of a possible 128 games in his career, starting 87 of them. He was on the field for every defensive snap in 2018. Last year marked the fourth season in a row Whitehead started at least 15 times and ended with over 100 tackles. His 633 career tackles are the eighth-highest total of any player drafted in 2012, and the seven guys ahead of him were all taken at least two rounds before him. 

Worst pick: Ryan Broyles

Broyles’ professional career got off to a decent enough start, as he caught 32 passes and scored two touchdowns in 2012. He only appeared in 11 more games and never produced 100 receiving yards in a season again. Broyles requested to be released before the 2015 season and the team obliged. He appeared in 21 games. 

Grade: B-

Everyone except Reiff and Whitehead made fewer than 10 starts and didn’t play in a game past 2015. Reiff has started 112 times and while Whitehead’s evolved into a very good linebacker, it is worth mentioning he has only been a starter for six seasons. The reliability of Reiff and emergence of Whitehead bail out the Lions for missing in rounds two, three and four, at least to a certain extent.

Green Bay Packers

Picks: DE Nick Perry (28), DT Jerel Worthy (51), DB Casey Hayward (62), DT Mike Daniels (132), DB Jerron McMillian (133), LB Terrell Manning (163), OT Andrew Datko (241), QB B.J. Coleman (243)

Best pick: Casey Hayward 

Hayward picked off six passes his first year in the NFL despite starting only seven times. He led the league with seven interceptions in 2016 and made the first of two straight appearances in the Pro Bowl that year. This past season marked the third year in a row Hayward started every game. It was also the eighth time in his career he participated in all 16 contests. He is one of 25 players with at least 20 interceptions over the last 10 seasons. 

Worst pick: Jerel Worthy

The only four starts of Worthy’s career came as a rookie. He appeared in 16 games over two seasons with the Packers and was traded to the Patriots in August 2014. Worthy lasted less than a month with New England. He did not end up on an active roster again until Dec. 22, 2015, when the Bills promoted him. From then until Oct. 1, 2018, Worthy played in 24 games with the Bills and Buccaneers. Worthy never recorded a sack after 2012 and played four games in the ill-fated Alliance of American Football in 2019. 

Grade: A-

The first four guys taken by Green Bay saw action in 2018, and Hayward and Daniels are both Pro Bowlers. Perry and Daniels reached the 30-sack mark in their careers. Those facts are good enough for an A-, but just barely. McMillian played in 28 games, more than twice as many as Manning (11). Datko and Coleman never appeared in an NFL game. 

Minnesota Vikings

Picks: OT Matt Kalil (4), DB Harrison Smith (29), DB Josh Robinson (66), WR Jarius Wright (118), FB/TE Rhett Ellison (128), WR Greg Childs (134), DB Robert Blanton (139), K Blair Walsh (175), LB Audie Cole (210), DE Trevor Guyton (219)

Best pick: Harrison Smith

Harrison is the sole NFL player with more than 20 interceptions and 550 tackles over the past eight seasons. It should be noted he surpassed the 550-tackle threshold in 2018 and is up to 658 now. That’s how far ahead he is of the other guys with 20 interceptions. Harrison has made five straight Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro in 2017. He boasts 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles in addition to the tackles and interceptions. 

Worst pick: Greg Childs

Torn patellar tendons in both knees during training camp more or less ended Childs’ NFL career before it started. Childs never got on the field for the Vikings and the team released him on March 6, 2014. The Jaguars invited him to their rookie mini-camp in 2014 but he was not offered a contract. Childs then spent 17 days on the Toronto Argonauts practice roster in the Canadian Football League. 

Grade: A

The eight players who got on the field in an NFL game appeared in at least 57 contests over a minimum of five seasons. Kalil — who was a Pro Bowler as a rookie — started all 82 games he played in. Wright hauled in 224 passes and scored 11 touchdowns. Before the unceremonious end of his career, Walsh led the NFL in made field goals twice and earned First Team All-Pro honors in 2012. There may not be a deeper class at any point in the decade. 

Click here to see the entire draft grades series. 

Photo by carmine19jock / Flickr

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