Who are the Real Winners from the 2012 NFL Draft?

With the 2012 NFL draft in the books, experts and pundits will spend the next several weeks debating the winners and losers.

While analysts hand out grades and debate sleepers and busts, which three teams have bookmakers identified as the real winners from last week’s NFL Draft?

We examined Pinnacle’s future odds before and after the draft to determine which teams were on the rise, and which were on the decline, and what we saw was shocking. Only four teams saw their odds increase (Dallas, Denver, Detroit and New England) while every other team saw their odds drop slightly.

The table below compares the change in future odds at Pinnacle to the draft grades given by ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole:

Team Pre-Draft Odds
Post-Draft Odds
Difference Kiper’s Grade Cole’s Grade
Dallas Cowboys +2659 +2364 +11.09% C+ B
Detroit Lions +2324 +2187 +5.89% B C
New England Patriots +678 +649 +4.28% B- A

The Cowboys were the most notable movers, and this is due in large part to their acquisition of Morris Claiborne. Dallas dealt their first round pick (#14) and their second round selection (#45) to St. Louis for the sixth overall pick which they used on the former LSU cornerback. Claiborne is regarded as a shutdown, cover corner with excellent ball skills and should immediately help upgrade a Cowboys secondary that ranked 23rd in the league against the pass.

Detroit was another intriguing team — especially considering most analysts seem lukewarm on the Lions draft. Last week, we projected the top 10 based on future odds at Bovada and OT Riley Reiff was favored to be taken by the Bills at #10. However, the Lions were able to snag the Iowa product with the 23rd overall pick. This selection seems to be an excellent value and, perhaps more importantly, should help QB Matthew Stafford remain upright and under center.

The selection of WR Ryan Broyles also raised many eyebrows amongst commentators. After selecting Titus Young last season to join a receiving core that included Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, the Lions were not thought to be in the market for another receiver. In addition, Broyles suffered a season ending injury when he tore the ACL in his left knee — making the former Sooner a very high-risk pick. The silver lining? With 349 career catches (including 131 in his last full season) the 5’10 receiver holds the FBS career receptions record.

Going into the draft the Patriots trailed only the Packers as Super Bowl favorites and seemed unlikely to climb any higher regardless of the draft outcome. They owned two first round draft pick but — given New England’s past behavior — seemed unlikely to use both picks. Bucking tradition, the Pats actually traded up twice and were able to address their needs on defense by selecting Syracuse OLB Chandler Jones and Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower. These two versatile players will join a historically bad defense that allowed 411 yards per game — good for 31st in the league. The Pats spent their next four picks on defense, before using a late seventh round selection on offense (Northwestern WR Jeremy Ebert). This includes the selection of Rugby standout Nate Ebner and troubled CB Alfonzo Dennard, who was considered a borderline first round talent before character concerns caused his stock to plummet.

It was surprising to see only four teams had their future prices raised and it is also worth noting that we cannot use solely future odds to analyze the success teams had in this draft. Like any draft, that information will not be clear until years down the line. Many teams selected players based on potential, and will not reap the benefits from their selection until those players begin to develop. Still, with everybody and their mother offering their two cents on the draft it’s interesting to follow the money to determine who was truly a winner this weekend.

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