Despite finishing second in their division, the Buddies still ended up with the 4th pick in the draft after a season that saw them score the second fewest points in the league. Josh Freeman took a huge step backwards in 2011 and now finds himself playing for a coach that loves to run the ball. Hopefully the addition of Vincent Jackson in Tampa Bay leads to a better season for Freeman. Peyton Manning returns to the Buddies after taking a year off to get healthy. His absence last year was a major obstacle as it prevented the Buddies from dealing Freeman when his value was sky high. The return from a trade of Freeman or even Manning a year ago would have allowed the Buddies to field a better team.Hey guys, remember me?
Which direction to go at the draft. Should the Buddies draft a RB, draft a WR, or trade the pick? I'm sure Mike would disagree with me but the Buddies are lacking the talent to compete for even a wild card. Looking at the point totals for a few of his players can be deceiving. Beanie Wells did 60% of his scoring in 3 games, Pierre Garcon scored 40 of his 56 in 3 games, and Plaxico Burress scored 35% of his points in 1 game. Darren Sproles was pretty much the only player who could be relied upon on a weekly basis. Unless Mike is sure that the player he is taking 4th is a surefire star, I would consider shopping the pick and seeing if I could land 2 solid starters.
Player to Watch
Peyton Manning, QB - All eyes at Buddies camp will be on Manning as he attempts to resurrect his career after having three neck surgeries in the past 12 months. Once he proves healthy he will probably be shipped out of town. A 36 year old QB with neck problems is not who the Buddies will be building their team around. I think Manning will prove healthy enough that Mike can land a starter and a first round draft pick for him.
Peyton Manning, Beanie Wells, Darren Sproles, Pierre Garcon, Doug Baldwin, Greg Olsen, Sebastian Janikowski, #4 Draft Pick
Manning and Freeman will really determine the success of this franchise in 2012 and success will not be determined in wins and losses but in how well the Buddies position themselves for 2013. If Freeman can overcome his running game driven coach to be the 150 point player he is capable of, it will allow the Buddies to deal Manning once he proves healthy to get the pieces they need to return to competing for the division crown in the AFC West.
4-9; 480 Points; 4th Place AFC West