Since the 2000 season, 3 teams have dominated the NFL landscape in the department of Super Bowl appearances and wins. The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants have combined for 11 appearances and 7 wins over the past 12 seasons. Sounds like the other 29 NFL franchises need to take a good glimpse at what’s made those 3 organizations the most successful, and that’s draft and approach the free agent market aggressively and keeping the system intact better than the rest of the bunch.
The Patriots, Giants and Steelers continued their offseason ways by replacing the old with the new and filling the void of key positions that should keep the ship moving in the right direction. Defending champion New York lost Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham via free agency to San Francisco, two key players that helped New York in route to their Super Bowl title. To replace Jacobs, the Giants selected David Wilson in the 1st round of the draft, a running back with huge upside out of Virginia Tech. And to fill the void of Manningham’s departure, the team took receiver Rueben Randle out of LSU in the 2nd round, another player with huge upside that will be Eli Manning’s third option at receiver.
The New England Patriots have been known to tackle free agency aggressively and that didn’t change a bit. The Patriots added more ammunition to an already prolific passing game by signing Brandon Lloyd, a receiver with tremendous deep threat ability. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, Stanford guard David DeCastro, a prime example of an organization that understands the importance of protecting your quarterback and creating running lanes for the running game. And in the works of trying to find a steal in draft, the Steelers may have hit a homerun by taking Florida Gator speedster Chris Rainey who fell deep into the 5th round.
As we approach the new year with a continuing episode of new faces in different places the league system provides due to free agency, the time has come for me to look deep into my crystal ball and give you my outlook on what I think will take place in 2012.